Seattle boasts beautiful natural scenery, numerous parks, many cultural attractions, a temperate climate, and a booming economy. The city is cradled by both the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and rests beside Puget Sound, and there is a reason it’s known as the Emerald City.
Here’s a few our favorites things to do in Seattle:
1. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers markets in the country that overlooks beautiful Elliott Bay along the waterfront in Seattle. Look for the big, iconic “Public Market Center” sign on Pike Street overlooking the waterfront, and you will have found the symbolic center of Seattle for both residents and visitors. Pike Place Market has been open since 1907 and currently has over 500 merchants in both indoor and outdoor markets. The upper street level contains the famous fishmongers (and fish throwers) and fresh flower and produce stands. Lower levels house antique dealers, comic book and collectible shops, and food stalls and restaurants.
The original Starbucks Coffee moved to 1912 Pike Place in 1975. Starbucks actually opened their first store in 1971 about a block north on Virginia Street and moved to the Pike Place location when the first building was demolished. Nevertheless, the Starbucks is still a popular stop for visitors who want to visit the “almost-original” Starbucks. Other notable attractions include Rachel the Pig and the Wall of Gum. Rachel the Pig can be found under the Public Market Center sign and has been a part of the market since 1986. The notorious Wall of Gum is an actual wall plastered with used chewing gum that can be found in Post Alley under the market – read more here (Photo by Elsie Lin)
2. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a one-artist museum dedicated to showcasing master glassworker Dale Chihuly’s artworks. Located in Seattle Center, it opened in 2012 and is the largest museum in the world dedicated to Chihuly’s art.
The facility includes 4 areas:
• the Exhibition Hall – has eight galleries and three Drawing Walls that offer a comprehensive showcase of Chihuly’s most significant works.
• the Glasshouse – this light-filled space houses a suspended 1,400-piece, 100-foot-long sculpture, which is one of Chihuly’s largest structures.
• the Garden – this area has outdoor large glass pieces set along paths and among plants and gardens.
• the Theater – shows videos that explain the process of making the pieces.
3. Space Needle
The Space Needle is an observation tower that rises 605 feet above Seattle and has become an iconic landmark for both the city and the Pacific Northwest. The tower was built for the 1962 World’s Fair that was held in Seattle, and, at the time, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. Almost 20,000 people a day rode the elevators to the top during the fair, and it is still a popular downtown attraction. The tower was built to withstand winds up to 200 mph and earthquakes up to 9.1 magnitude, and the structure contains 25 lightening rods. A spiral stairway leading to the top was a part of the original design, but that plan was nixed before construction began. The 848-step staircase was added as part of a remodel in 2000. In 1999, the Space Needle was designated a historic landmark.
A trip up the Space Needle is a bit hokey and outdated, but it’s all about the view. If the weather is nice, the views are awesome. The observation tower looms 520 feet above Seattle and offers unrivaled 360 degrees views of the city, Elliott Bay, and the various islands. On a good day, the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, including Mount Rainier, can be seen in the distance. The rotating SkyCity restaurant specializes in Pacific Northwest cuisine and resides just below the observation deck at 500 feet elevation. If you visit the restaurant, entrance to the observation deck is included for free – read more here (Photo by Tiffany Von Arnim)
4. Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum (also known as the SAM) houses a collection that includes approximately 25,000 works of mostly Modern and ethnic art, as well as more traditional European art and a notable collection of Northwest Coast Native American art. The museum was founded in 1933 with 1,926 pieces of art. Today, the SAM has expanded to include 3 separate facilities: the main building in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the outdoor Olympic Sculpture Park that opened in 2007 along the downtown waterfront. The main building is a beautiful, vertically-oriented, light-filled building that opened in 1992. It was designed by renowned architect Robert Venturi and later expanded by Brad Cloepfil and now takes up the first four floors of a 16-floor building.
Major artists represented at the SAM include Jackson Pollack, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, Robert Rauschenburg, and Roy Litchenstein. Lesser known modern and ethnic artists in the SAM collection include Cai Guo-Qiang, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Mark Tobey, Do-Ho Suh, and Jacob Lawrence. More classic European artists represented include Dalmasio Scannabecchi, Puccio di Simone, Giovanni di Paolo, Luca Di Tomme, Bartolomeo Vivarini, and Paolo Uccello. The admission price is a suggested amount, and there are free days on the first Thursday of each month – check their web site for details – read more here (Photo by Al Pavangkanan)
5. Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is an extension of the Seattle Art Museum that resides outdoors along Seattle’s waterfront. The free public park features both permanent and visiting installations. The sculpture park is part of the Seattle Art Museum, as is the Asian Art Museum. The 9 acre park opened in 2007 on a former industrial site that was occupied by the Unocal oil and gas corporation until the 1970’s. With funding was provided by $30 million gift from Mary and Jon Shirley (former COO of Microsoft and Chairman of the Seattle Art Museum Board of Directors), the formerly contaminated brownfield has been transformed into a welcome downtown’s green-spaces and one of Seattle’s most popular attractions. There are not many parks with art installation similar to Olympic Sculpture Park in America, and the park appeals to both lovers of Modern Art and people out for a stroll along the waterfront.
Prominent pieces in the collection include Typewriter Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Wake by Richard Serra, and Eagle by Alexander Calder. The park is located on the southern end of Myrtle Edwards Park and connects to Centennial Park, which altogether makes for a long strand of waterfront green-space that perfect for walking, biking, jogging, or sitting on a bench and watching the sunset – read more here (Photo by Doug Kerr)
6. Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight in Seattle is the largest private air and space museum in the world. It’s 12-acre facility is located on the southern end of King County International Airport south of downtown and holds more than 150 aircraft, including more than 85 historic air and spacecraft. In addition to the aircraft, the museum also boasts many interactive exhibits, flight simulators, and educational activities.
The museum is well-designed and informative for all ages. Aircraft exhibited include everything from 18 World War One aircraft to many Boeing airplanes to a Lockheed drone. Kids will love the Tower at Boeing Field, which lets visitors watch aircraft take off and land while listening to live conversations between pilots and air traffic controllers.
Notable aircraft on display at the museum include:
• The first flight-worthy Boeing 747.
• The first Air Force One Presidential Jet.
• A British Airways Concorde.
• The Gossamer Albatross II human-powered aircraft.
• One of only five Aerocars in existence, which was an automobile with detachable wings and propeller.
There are a couple of extra tours available at the museum. The Boeing Field Runway Tour that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes at King County International Airport, and the Shuttle Trainer Crew Compartment Tour gives visitors a chance to explore the Space Shuttle Trainer where Astronauts train for Space Shuttle missions – read more here (Photo by Pascal Walschots)
7. Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park makes for a great day or overnight trip from Seattle. The park opened way back in 1899, making it the fifth oldest National Park in the country.
Mount Rainier is 14,410 feet tall, which makes it the tallest point in the Cascade Range. It is actually a volcano that last erupted approximately 150 years ago, and its spectacular cone is a beautiful site when not covered by clouds. The slopes of the mountain contain over 25 glaciers, plus streams, old growth forests, and subalpine meadows full of wildflowers. Animals that can be observed at Mount Rainier include elk, Columbian black-tailed deer, black bear, marmots, and mountain goats at higher altitudes.
Things to see at Mount Rainier:
• Paradise (south side) -this is the park’s most popular destination because it offers stunning views and beautiful wildflower meadows. It is a good place for dayhikers to find a short hike.
• Sunrise/White River (east side) – this is the highest park elevation accessible by car at 6400 feet, and it offers good hiking and beautiful mountain views.
• Carbon River/Mowich Lake (northwest corner) – this area is more remote and is reached via dirt roads that may require high-clearance. The Carbon River area has a 3.6 mile hike to Carbon Glacier, and Mowich Lake is the largest and deepest lake in the park.
• Longmire (southwest corner) – site of a visitors center, Mount Rainier’s National Park Inn, and the Longmire Museum.
• Ohanapecosh (southeast corner) – set in an old growth forest and has a visitors center, campground, Ohanapecosh Hot Springs, Grove of the Patriarchs, and Silver Falls.
The National Park is about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. Plan on making a day of it, and hope for clear weather. Drive to Paradise for stunning views and wildflower meadows. Also, drive to Sunrise, which, at 6,400 feet, is the highest point in the park reachable by vehicle. Plenty of hikes begin at both locations – read more here (Photo by Jeff)
8. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located in the Pioneer Square National Historic District in downtown Seattle and commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s, when people set out from Seattle to seek their fortune in the Yukon Territory. The park is located in the 1889 Cadillac Hotel building in the in the Pioneer Square National Historic District, which is where many gold prospectors stayed and bought their supplies before heading out. The facility is really more of a visitors center and museum than a park, with a film and many interactive displays explaining the story of people setting out to find their fortune in the gold rush stampede. It’s good for kids, and it’s free. During the summer there are special programs for visitors.
People in Seattle first got word of the discovery of gold in the Yukon, and, from in the next two years, tens of thousands of people either left Seattle or made their way through Seattle on their way north to try their hand at gold prospecting. With Seattle being their last stopping point, the hopeful miners spent their savings on months worth of food, clothing, equipment, pack animals, and steamship tickets. Seattle’s economy boomed and the population exploded, earning the city the nickname of the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.
There are actually other branches of the Klondike park in Alaska, and, in 1998, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park joined with Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site, and other Canadian parks sites to form the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park – read more here (Photo by Bart E)
9. Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island is a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle and makes for a perfect day-trip. The hilly island offers visitors who make the trek across Elliott Bay a scenic and quiet refuge of rocky shorelines, beaches, quaint houses, a winery, art galleries, restaurants, a farmers market, and the beautiful Bloedel Reserve. Bainbridge is 5 miles wide and 10 miles long. Many residents commute to Seattle for work, while others are retired and make a living on the island. There is access to the island from the Agate Pass Bridge, but it is much faster and more convenient to travel by ferry. The views of the Seattle skyline from the ferry are stunning, and sometimes, whales can be spotted along the way. Check the ferry schedule here.
Things to do and see on Bainbridge Island:
• Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery.
• Bloedel Reserve.
• Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
• Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.
• Bainbrdge Island Vineyards Winery.
The village of Winslow is just a short walk from the ferry and features a number of restaurants, unique shops, and a waterfront park. Outside of downtown, Bainbridge Island retains an agricultural feel. Bike and kayak rentals are availble for exploring the island. Also, Bainbridge has a bus system that goes by many of the major attractions, so a car is not necessary – read more here (Photo by Richard Ha)
10. Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also known as the Ballard Locks, is an excellent place to watch the salmon migrating up the fish ladders, which happens from June to September. The locks sit at the west end of Salmon Bay north of downtown Seattle between the neighborhoods of Magnolia and Ballard. They are a part of Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal, and among other things, the locks help prevent the mixing of sea water from Puget Sound with the fresh water of the lakes upstream. Besides watching the salmon, there are also harbor seals, bald eagles, blue herons, and belted kingfishers to see. If the salmon are not running, the location is still great for watching the boats being raised or lowered to different water levels as they go through the locks.
Visiting the locks is free. Inside, there is a visitors center with a short movie presentation, exhibits, and gift shop, plus windows that let visitors have an underwater view of the salmon. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable.
The Carl S. English, Jr., Botanical Garden is located on the Ballard side of the locks, which makes for a beautiful setting of water, boats, abundant plants, trees, and lush grass. The place is great for having a picnic, and in the summer there are free concerts by local musicians on the grounds – read more here (Photo by Alan Sandercock)
11. Savor Seattle Food Tours
Savor Seattle Food Tours gives visitors an easy and fun way to hit Seattle’s top food spots and culinary institutions and get a general feel for the city. The guides are informed and friendly, and the tours are a great way to explore Seattle food and drink culture and history while meeting new people. Each guest uses an ear piece to hear the tour guide, which makes it easier to listen without having to crowd around in a small circle. At the different spots, guests get to mingle and engage in lively conversation.
Savor Seattle Food Tours has a few tours available:
• Pike Place Market – this popular two hour walking and eating tour offers visitors a behind-the-scenes tour of Seattle’s iconic 100 year old public market full of stories and insider access. Guests will also receive a discount card that offers discounts at over 40 Seattle restaurants. An early access VIP Tour of Pike Place Market offers more intimate access to the market before the crowds arrive.
• Gourmet Seattle – this three hour walking tour takes visitors on a progressive dinner through some of Seattle’s most best restaurants in downtown and Belltown.
• Chocolate Indulgence – Seattle’s chocolate subculture is the focus of this two hour walking dessert tour, and guests will participate in 16 chocolate tastings.
• Hip on the Hill – guests will eat and drink their way through happening Capitol Hill on this 2 hour walking tour.
• Booze-and-Bites – this 2 hour walking tour offers tastings and cocktails from some of Seattle’s hippest and hottest restaurants while telling the story of Seattle’s cocktail history.
12. Discovery Park
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park at 534 acres and offers amazing views of Puget Sound and abundant wildlife in an area not too far from downtown. The two miles of protected tidal beaches and bluffs are great for exploring and offer panoramic views across Puget Sound. Both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges can be seen in the distance. The diverse terrain includes dramatic sea cliffs, coniferous forest with towering trees, meandering streams, shrub habitat, grassy meadows, sand dunes, and tidal beaches. Wildlife that can be found in the park includes over 250 species of birds, plus sea lions and harbour seals.
Attractions at Discovery Park:
• Trails – for hikers, there are nearly twelve miles of walking trails in the park. The Discovery Park Loop Trail begins at the visitors center and runs for 2.8 miles. It is the access point for many of the other trails.
• West Point Lighthouse – the historic lighthouse anchors the westernmost point of the park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
• Beach – getting to the beach requires a hike down a steep trail, but those who make the trip are rewarded with great views, especially at sunset.
• Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center – offers insight into the indigenous peoples of the Puget Sound regions.
• Environmental Learning Center – offers in-depth looks at nature.
The park sits prominently on the historic grounds of Fort Lawton on Magnolia Bluff north of downtown. In fact, the park was created in the early 1970’s from Fort Lawton’s excess land, and there’s lots of former military property in and around the park. Discovery Park also has play areas for kids, picnic areas, and tennis courts – read more here (Photo by ewoerlen)
13. Pioneer Square Park
Pioneer Square Park is located in downtown Seattle and is a historic district that was one of the first settlements in the Northwest. The original wooden buildings burned down in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but the many of the brick and stone building that replaced the original building still remain. After years of neglect, Pioneer Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. Today, Pioneer Square Park is a central hub for Seattle, and the surrounding area is home to much of Seattle’s nightlife, art galleries, shops, and bookstores. Restaurants can be found at every turn. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour offers tours through Seattle’s old passageways under downtown buildings.
Notable features of the Park include:
• Tlingit Totem Pole – this is a replacement totem pole built by the Tlingit tribe. The original was stolen from the tribe and then burned by an arsonist.
• Wrought-iron Victorian pergola – was originally was built in the early 1900’s as a shelter for those waiting for a cable car and as an entryway to an underground bathroom. It burned down in 2001 and was rebuilt.
• Waterfall Garden – this 22-foot artificial waterfall was built as a monument to U.S. Postal Service workers.
• Bust of Chief Seattle – this bronze bust of the leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes was created in 1909 by artist James Wehn.
• Smith Tower Observation Deck – this 38 story skyscraper was completed in 1914. The 35th floor is home to the Observation Deck and Chinese Room.
• Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park – this museum commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s, when people set out from Seattle to seek their fortune in the Yukon Territory.
14. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream claims to bring joy to Seattle one scoop at a time, and there’s probably no denying that they make Seattle a happier place. Molly Moon Neitzel opened her first boutique ice cream shops in Wallingford in the spring of 2008. She had previously worked at an ice cream shop in Missoula, MT, while attending college, and she enjoyed the sense of community that an ice cream shop fostered. She was ready for a career change, so she found local sources for milk, flavors, and toppings and started scooping. The excellent flavor combinations, such as the Balsamic Strawberry and the Thai Iced Tea, were an instant hit with the locals. Fast forward a few years, and now Molly’s has expanded to 6 locations. Molly still takes pride in how she treats her employees, farmers, and community.
Along with the exotic flavors, there’s also classic favorites such as Vanilla Bean and Melted Chocolate. The flavors rotate with the seasons, but some are always available. Organic and local ingredients are used in most of their ice creams, and everything sold is compostable – Molly’s does not even have a trash can.
• Balsamic Strawberry – Strawberry Ice Cream with Chunks of Real Strawberries and a Ribbon of Thick Honey Balsamic Reduction from Washington.
• Salted Caramel.
• Stumptown Coffee – a Sweet Cappuccino taste made with Locally-roasted Beans Cold-infused into Dairy overnight.
• Maple Walnut – Organic Maple Extract with Organic, California–grown Walnuts.
• “Scout” Mint – real Girl Scout Thin Mints in Mint Ice Cream made with Organic Peppermint Extract from Washington-grown Peppermint.
15. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is an artisan cheese shop and cafe located in Pike Place Market, and they actually make cheese in a glass-walled kitchen on-site.
Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s dream became reality in 2002 when he rented out a storefront in Pike Place market and began buying cheese-making equipment in order to pursue his dream of making cheese. He partnered with a knowledgeable cheesemaker and found a good, local source of non-rBST milk on a dairy farm in Duvall, Washington. Soon after that, he was in business. Today, Beecher’s sources their milk from a few local sources, and they make many different kinds of cheese on-site.
Depending upon the day, the cheesemakers may be making Beecher’s signature 15-month aged Flagship, their Flagsheep, their Marco Polo, or any of their other cheeses. They also sell cheeses from other local Pacific Northwest cheesemakers.
16. Safeco Field
Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball and has a retractable roof, which is a very good idea in Seattle. Safeco hosted its first game on July 15, 1999 – the stadium replaced the old Kingdome, which was demolished in 2000. Safeco features a ‘retro-modern’ design and has a is spacious feel. The seating capacity is 47,860. One of the best things about going to a Mariners game is the food options. The awesome food choices include sushi, burritos, teriyaki, stir-fries, pad thai, garlic fries, crepes, health food, seafood, and barbecue. More than 50 different beers are served in the stadium.
Safeco is located in the SoDo neighborhood. SoDo was originally named for being located “South of the (King)dome,” but it now means “South of Downtown.” In addition to Safeco, the neighborhood is also home to CenturyLink Field, which was build on the old site of the Kingdome and is home to the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the MLS’s Seattle Sounders soccer team. SoDo is a former industrial and warehouse area that is slowly transforming into a neighborhood of lofts, artist spaces, and small businesses. Parking is expensive near the stadium – consider walking from downtown or taking the light rail – read more here (Photo by Chase N.)
17. Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards
Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards gives visitors to Seattle a great chance to visit a top-notch winery in a beautiful location just 15 miles northeast of downtown. The winery was founded in 1934, making it Washington State’s oldest. Located in the Columbia Valley, Chateau Ste. Michelle features beautiful craftsman-style architecture on an expansive, wooded estate. The winery hosts more than 250,000 visitors annually for tours, tastings, dinners, and outdoor summer concerts.
Interestingly, they have one winery devoted to their white wines and another dedicated to red wines. Their white wines are produced at the Woodinville location. All of their vineyards are planted on the dry and sunny east side of the Cascade Mountains.
Four tours are available:
• Tour & Tasting – this complimentary tour lasts about 35 minutes and gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the wine-making process, plus a wine tasting.
• Theme Tasting – for a small fee, visitors get to samples four wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle.
• Library Pairings Tasting – visitors are guided through a small-bite sampling of foods paired with appropriate wines.
• Ultimate Tour & Tasting – an in-depth look at wine-making and what makes the Washington state region so good for growing grapes, plus a pairing of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s premier wines are with artisan cheeses, specialty meats, fresh fruits, and an array of sweets.
18. The Triple Door
The Triple Door is a swank Seattle music and dinner venue in the historic Embassy Theatre with a dinner club vibe and food provided by Wild Ginger next door. The building was built in 1925 and had been shuttered for more than 15 years when Rick and Ann Yoder bought it in 1999. After renovations, they opened in 2003 with a goal of hosting live acts in a classy environment with great drinks and food. The theater is divided into two venues designed for hosting different kinds of acts – guests can either watch a show on the main stage of the theater, or they can enter the Musicquarium Lounge and enjoy a cocktail while watching a smaller scale live act.
The main stage features a top-notch sound system and tables are half-moon shaped so that everyone has an uninhibited view of the entertainment. The entertainment comes from both local and national touring indie, folk, and world music acts. The Musicquarium Lounge has no cover charge, an excellent happy hour with a creative list of cocktails and an incredibly huge selection of wines – read more here (Photo by John Broberg)
19. Elliott Bay Book Company
The Elliott Bay Book Company is a legendary independent bookstore in Seattle known for its huge inventory, a knowledgeable staff with personal service, and frequent author readings and events. The store is Seattle’s hold-over from a time when independent bookstores actually existed. Thanks to its huge inventory and comfortable vibe, Elliott Bay has survived and even thrived – along with Portland’s Powell Books, it’s one of the best-known independent book stores in the country. With over 150,000 titles displayed on cedar shelves, and the comfortable multi-level setting, don’t be surprised to look up and find that you’ve spent a hour perusing books. Elliott Bay Book Company also has a cafe for getting a sandwich or a cup of coffee.
Elliott Bay was founded in 1973 by Walter Carr in a small space in Pioneer Square. The business did well, and the book store gradually grew from two rooms to five large rooms in the corner space of the building. In 1979, Elliott Bay Café, Seattle’s original bookstore cafe opened up downstairs. Then, in 2010 the book store moved from Pioneer Square to its current home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Despite being the home of Amazon, Seattle is known as one of the most successful independent bookstore cities in the country, and many of the store are located in Capitol Hill, along with a good number of coffee shops – read more here (Photo by Nichola)
20. Kerry Park
Kerry Park is a tiny (1.26 acre) park on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle that offers visitors breathtaking views of Seattle. Kerry is a great little park, but the reason to go there is for the view – the high elevation affords excellent views of downtown and Space Needle, Elliott Bay, the West Seattle peninsula, Bainbridge Island, and Mount Rainier in the distance. In fact, most photos of Seattle that show the Space Needle in the foreground were likely taken from the spot. The location is perfect for watching the sunset, and at once at night the stars and lights reflected across the water are magical and romantic.
There’s a play area for kids, a few park benches, and a couple of grassy areas that would make a good place for a picnic. There is free street parking, but it is a bit limited. The land for the park was donated to the city by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sperry Kerry, Sr., in 1927 so that others could enjoy the view of Seattle. In 1971, Changing Form, a 15 foot high steel sculpture by artist Doris Totten Chase, was installed in the park. The sculpture can be used as a frame for photographers taking a picture of the Seattle skyline or Mount Rainier, and children enjoy crawling around its smooth, black curves. There is a Molly Moon’s Ice Cream store located nearby – read more here (Photo by Tiffany Von Arnim)
21. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour offers visitors a tour of the Seattle Underground, a unique network of basements and passageways that resulted from the city raising its street levels in the mid-19th century. In 1889, the Great Seattle Fire destroyed 31 blocks of mostly wooden building in downtown. When the city was rebuilt, town leaders decided to raise the street levels by one to two stories and to only construct new buildings using stone and brick. The reconstruction at a higher elevation would keep flood-prone Pioneer Square drier and also ensure that flush toilets didn’t back up during high tide, but it also left sidewalks and many businesses underground. Eventually, businesses moved one level up and the former ground floors were abandoned.
Bill Speidel was a columnist for The Seattle Times and a Seattle historian who helped preserve and protect Pioneer Square when it was in danger of being demolished in the 1960’s. He did his initial research on the Seattle Underground after a reader wrote in asking about it, and he led his first tour in 1964. Bill died in 1988, but the Underground Tours live on, and they’re a fun and informative account of the early history of Seattle. The tours start inside of Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890’s saloon, and wander through about 3 blocks of Pioneer Square before finishing up at the underground gift shop. The tours last about 75 minutes. Guests will learn about the general history of Seattle and hear stories about many of its earliest inhabitants. Younger children may get bored on a tour after the initial feeling of being underground passes – read more here (Photo by Pat David)
22. Seattle Public Library
The Seattle Public Library‘s downtown branch is a Postmodern architectural gem designed by famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. It’s definitely worth visiting when visiting the downtown area. The 11-story glass, concrete, and steel building opened in 2004 to much fanfare, and it has since been voted one of America’s 150 favorite structures by the American Institute of Architects. The bold structure features multiple, angled, outside surfaces of glass and steel that seem to not respect normal boundaries and limits. Inside, an open design with bright red hallways, glowing green escalators, and “floating platforms” that seem to be wrapped in a large steel net around a glass skin. The diamond-shaped glass windows cast grid shadow patterns of natural light across the airy interior.
One notable feature of the Seattle Public Library is the “Books Spiral,” which allows the nonfiction books to be displayed according to the Dewey Decimal System in a continuous manner, without interruption, across a ramp that spans four stories. In total, the library has over 10 floors, with the top floor having a reading room and small observation deck. There are reading spaces and computer station on most of the floors, and the fifth floor houses the Mixing Chamber, which is then general help area and houses 140 computers. Kids will enjoy the 15,000-square-foot children’s area. There is a small cafe on the ground floor – read more here (Photo by Johanna)
23. Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park is a popular 250-acre park that surrounds a beautiful glacial lake in the Green Lake neighborhood north of Seattle. The park is surrounded by the Green Lake neighborhood to the north and east, the Wallingford neighborhood to the south, the Phinney Ridge neighborhood to the west, and Woodland Park to the southwest.
Green Lake is Seattle’s most-used park, mainly because of the 2.8 mile path that meanders around the lake and is frequented by walkers, joggers, and bikers. There is also a 3.2 miles non-paved path that runs along the edge of the park. The park is a popular spot for soccer, baseball, golf, roller hockey, and qigong classes. The Derek Baker Memorial Boccie Ball Club makes its home at the park, and there is also a monthly midnight bicycle race. There are also paddleboats available for rent, plus there’s swimming, fishing, picnicking, or relaxing on the beach. For kids, there’s a wade pool and a playground. A historic bathhouse built in 1927 is now the home of the Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse – read more here (Photo by Hammerin Man)
24. Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tours
Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tours takes visitors on a fun and entertaining – and safe – tour a few of Seattle’s many excellent microbreweries. Many people think of coffee when they think of Seattle, but the city is just about as famous for it’s beer. They may not have the big-name national brands that Milwaukee has, but there’s a whole world of hoppy IPA’s, porters, and golden lagers waiting to be discovered. Dustin Boast – the Road Dog himself – makes the process fun and easy. Either he, or one of the other beer aficionado Road Dog guides, will transport guests to three local microbreweries where they can sample, discover, and compare microbrews. Along the way, guest can learn about the history of beer in the Seattle area and get an overview of the beer-making process. It’s all about fun, beer, and a little bit of learning.
Here’s what guests can expect on a tour:
• Tours take about 3 hours and visit 3 breweries.
• Guests are picked up and ride in Road Dog Passenger Vans to and from each brewery.
• A good variety of craft beer samples at each brewery are included as part of the tour.
• Guests receive a Road Dog t-shirt and souvenir pint glass.
• Tours are offered morning, afternoon, or evening.