Until this summer, I had only associated Seattle with coffee, Bill Gates, and the setting of one of my favorite sitcoms, “Frasier.” The little drawing of the skyline with the Space Needle prominently featured in the opening credits always intrigued me. Having already booked a summer Alaskan cruise (covered in my post “Inside Passage,”) I jumped at the chance to add on a visit to Seattle before meeting our ship, the Regent Seven Seas Navigator, in Anchorage. It’s a three-hour flight from Sea-Tac airport to Anchorage or a two-and-a half hour drive to the Canadian Border, which makes Seattle the perfect jumping off point if you are headed to points north. The visit also gave the four of us (my husband, our two sons and me) a chance to spend time with my cousin and her family who have recently made Seattle their home.
Emerald City is actually the official nickname for this seaport, surrounded by lush evergreen forests, which is unusual for a coastal destination. Our four days, although too brief, gave us a taste of all that this eclectic city has to offer. Yes, it has earned its reputation as rainy for most of the year, but a visit to Seattle in the summertime will surprise you with many warm, sunny days and daylight extending past 9pm. To make the best use of our time, we booked a hotel in the downtown area, the Four Seasons Seattle, which enabled us to walk, take public transportation, or taxis to any other part of the city. And, we also rented a car for road trips to the suburbs. Having a hotel with an outdoor pool also came in handy after long days of touring, and since the weather was so mild, we made good use of it. The hotel’s outdoor deck, overlooking Puget Sound, was the perfect spot to end the day.
If you only have a few days to spend in Seattle, here are my top picks of things to do. (Bolded items are hyperlinked to the related websites):
- A view from the top of the Space Needle
Things to do:
- Seattle Space Needle: Built for the ’62 World’s Fair, make this your first stop to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole city. Reserve in advance online.
- Monorail: After visiting the Space Needle, jump on the Monorail for the one-mile ride back to downtown.
- Pike Place Market: Seattle’s famous public market with lots of stalls selling fresh local produce, fish, crafts and baked goods like yummy bear claws.
- Seattle Aquarium: Perched on Pier 59 overhanging Puget Sound, it gives you a great view of Pacific Northwest creatures including adorable otters and seals.
- Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI): The name sounds dull but the museum is definitely not! It’s a great way to learn Northwestern history through hands-on exhibits and historic photos and memorabilia—like the set from Seattle-themed TV show “Frasier.”
- Boeing Factory Tour: This was a huge hit with my kids. Located in Everett, 25 miles from downtown, this tour takes you through Boeing’s commercial jet assembly plant, the world’s largest building by volume, where the 787 Dreamliner are assembled. Book online in advance. We drove in our car, but van tours are also available; contact your hotel concierge or front desk for information on tours and public transportation.
- Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder: A real engineering feet, this mini Panama Canal comprised of locks, or water elevators, enable vessels to pass between Puget Sound and Lakes Union and Washington. After watching the boats, walk to the far side of the bridge and check out the salmon that make their way to spawning grounds by using specially built ladders. This was of extreme interest to my kids who have recently become avid fishermen, and a real learning experience for anyone interested in the life-cycle of Seattle’s famous fish.
For more information, check out my recent article: Seattle: Top Spots to fill the Stomach & the Shopping Bag
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