Before I’d ever been to Seattle, I’d heard about the Pike Place Market, seen pictures of the Space Needle, watched episodes of Frasier and listened to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. As you look around the city, there are a lot of green spaces and flowers, from parks to rooftop landscapes with trees and gardens.
On Alaskan Way, there was the historic streetcar, which runs from Pier 70 and Myrtle Edwards Park to Pioneer Square
passing Pike Place Market on the way (It’s been replaced by a bus currently). There’s bus service around downtown and the Seattle Center Monorail, which is across from the Space Needle, runs to Westlake Center Mall at Fifth and Pine Streets, making it easy to get around Seattle.
On my first visit I stayed on Alaskan Way, across the street from the piers of Seattle. Along Alaskan Way there are seafood restaurants, the Cruise ships terminal, shops, a museum and the Edgewater Hotel, the only waterfront hotel in Seattle. I do recommend staying downtown because there’s a lot to do and see. Many fine accommodations are available, examples range from a B & B near the Pike Market to the luxurious Renaissance Seattle on Madison. If public transportation is not your preference for getting out, there are plenty of cabs to get you around downtown or you can rent a car by the hour with Zipcar or for your stay from a traditional car rental company.
Activities and Eats
The Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair whose theme was Century 21. It has since become known as the international symbol for Seattle. The view from the top is spectacular.
Pike Place Market is like a farmer’s market plus stores that are always there. There are lots of great handmade items, jewelry, clothing, candles, natural body products and fresh cut bouquets sold at all of the outdoor stalls, open by 8am during season: May – October. The rest market’s inside stores are open from 11 -5 every day of the week.
Sunday brunch at Salty’s is unbelievable until you experience it. It starts with local, fresh seafood a’ plenty, plus breakfast entrees, omelets, waffles, carved roasts, salads, fruit, a chocolate fountain and several dessert choices!
Seattle has so many activities to choose from, some depend on when you visit. There’s major league baseball, football, cultural venues for concerts, theatre and dance, plus distinctive shopping and outdoor pursuits. If you like tourist attractions plenty exist — like ‘the Ducks’ ride, Experience Music, the Glass Museum and more.
Queen City Grill and El Gaucho steakhouse are two uniquely Seattle choices for dining downtown. Not too far from downtown are Ballard and Bellevue, both have good restaurants, microbrews and shops to browse. For Washington wines, you only have to go a little farther to Woodinville. Several tasting rooms are in the area, Columbia Winery and Chateau Ste. Michelle are the biggest. Also there is Red Hook Brewery. It has a restaurant, as well as their microbrews.
If nature and art are more interesting to you, there are some great parks in the city; my favorites are Myrtle Edwards and the Olympic Sculpture Park. The OSP has large-scale sculptures installed along with the landscaping.
Flora and Fauna
The Olympic Sculpture Park is part of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). It’s an amazing park with great views of the Olympic Mountains and works of art. It’s developed on a property that at the time was the last piece of waterfront available. The history of the park includes the cleanup done here by the original owners, UNOCAL and the purchase by SAM and the Trust for Public Land for the purpose of creating the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Getting out of the city and into the beauty of Mt. Rainer is a farther trip; so some planning should be involved for visiting here. Summer is the easiest time of year to visit because of heavy snowfall, unless you plan to ski! Hiking trails at Mt. Rainier National Park range from easy to mountain climbing. (You should know which is more your speed.) It is well worth a visit if you have time. A great hike for nature lovers you won’t forget.
Unique qualities of Seattleites include being outspoken on everything; they’re liberal and innovative thinkers who’ve created some of today’s well-known companies. Most employers there offer progressive work-life policies for their employees. The rainy weather does coincide with short days and long nights; not an appealing time to be here. But the summer to fall moderate temperatures and long days make for an ideal time to visit. They do have a sense of humor about all the rain though, every year they celebrate with the Bumbershoot Festival. (Bumbershoot is a humorous synonym for umbrella.) The festival is includes indoor music concerts, outside there are vendors’ booths with clothing, jewelry, decorative items, food and drinks.
One more thing you can do, take a cruise to Alaska that starts in Seattle! Bon voyage…don’t forget your bumbershoot.