Big cities don’t thrill me, but Seattle, Washington, has many fun and out-of-the-ordinary things to do, beautiful scenery, friendly people, good food . . . I could go on.
During a recent trip, we spent a few days in Seattle, sightseeing and catching up with an old friend. Though it was typical weather for the US Northwest—with gray skies, occasional mist, and one day of actual rain—we made the most of our time there. And once again, we arrived back at our hotel one evening wondering why we thought we could pack so much into a day—at our ages.
Out and About
When visiting Seattle, many people enjoy tourist activities that abound in and near this beautiful city. Planning to take in some of the well-known sights and activities, we purchased passes that provided us with considerable savings. With the CityPASS, we visited the world-famous Space Needle, originally opened for the World’s Fair in 1962; the adjacent and spectacular Chihuly Garden and Glass; and the Museum of Pop Culture, also in the stunning Queen Anne neighborhood. We even took an Argosy Locks Cruise from Lake Union through a lock, where our tour boat was lowered into Puget Sound, and then we motored south along the Seattle waterfront. Finally, we marveled at the splendor of the Seattle Aquarium.
Packing a few more fun activities into our few days, we managed to venture along with Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour in the historic Pioneer Square—an area where we happily found a nice Mexican restaurant. At Casco Antiguo, we enjoyed great food, original drinks, and wonderful service in a fun, quirky atmosphere.
We also rode in the very touristy Seattle Great Wheel, a large Ferris wheel at Pier 57 on the waterfront. You can’t miss this Ferris wheel with its large glass gondolas. The views are spectacular.
And we made the tourist-required trek to Pike’s Place Market—three different times. There is so much going on, and there are so many things to see at this famous market that we found ourselves drawn back. Visitors take in fishmongers throwing fish, hear vendors yelling or singing out to hawk their wares, stroll through the beautiful flower market, or eat at one of several restaurants. Pike’s Place Market is always busy with locals completing their errands while navigating through the scads of tourists milling about.
Most activities were in reasonable walking distance from our hotel, the Hotel 1000 on 1st Avenue. Hotels in Seattle are expensive, and Hotel 1000 is no exception. Keep in mind where you are, and consider the demand for rooms, especially in summer.
We rode the Link light rail into the city center from SeaTac airport. Make sure to know which stop is closest to your lodgings. Stops are close together once in the city, but knowing ahead of time which is the closest to your hotel will save you a few blocks dragging or carrying your bags.
There is a rather old monorail that runs from the financial district to the Space Needle. It may save some walking distance but not time. By the time we purchased tickets and waited for the train, we could have walked to Queen Anne.
All of this travel and sightseeing can sure build up an appetite, and there are many good seafood restaurants on the waterfront. These places are touristy and expensive, but the location and scenery are outstanding. We tried Elliott’s Oyster House, where our waiter was most helpful in selecting from the lengthy oyster menu. The next day, we found ourselves at Ivar’s, beside the Bainbridge Island ferry building. We happened to hit this place at a busy hour and were told there was open seating at the bar and tables nearby. Wandering in, we found a table by the window looking out onto the sound. Another lucky encounter with great food was Fisherman’s Restaurant, beside the Great Wheel. Here, we sat outside on a stunningly beautiful evening, just at sunset.
If you have the time, take a ferry to one of the island communities on Puget Sound. We visited Bainbridge Island on a midday crossing for lunch and shopping. It was magnificent, peaceful, quiet, and all just a half-hour ferry ride from the city.
On the advice of the concierge in our hotel, we avoided the hop-on/hop-off Emerald City Trolley. We have used similar types of buses in many cities to gain a quick lay of the land. That’s not really needed in Seattle, even though they are cute trolleys.