Monday, July 30, 2012

Seattle - More Than A Cruise Port

For a long time I've had Seattle, Washington pinned as a place I've been to because I was there for about an hour - long enough to disembark from a cruise ship and get to the airport.

Having recently had the pleasure of spending several days there at a travel conference, I discovered that this wonderful city is much more than a cruise port. This trip, I didn't have enough time to visit and do everything I discovered there is to do.

The downtown area is simple to get around. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza at 6th and Seneca and were able to walk to almost anywhere we wanted.  To get to the Seattle Conference Center - walk through the park across the street.

For the Pike Place Market, walk down 6th to Pike and walk to the water. To get to the Space Needle,  walk down 5th Avenue  to the Westlake Center and take the monorail to the Needle.

Like shopping? Everything from Gucci, Nordstrom and Brooks Brothers to handcrafted cheese, soaps and fish throwing at the Pike Place Market can be discovered. There is also no lack of coffee shops here, the home of the first Starbucks (still located at the Pike Place Market). Starbucks abound, along with Seattle's Best and Tully's.

Here is a list of some not to be missed things to do in Seattle.

1. Built for the 1962 World's Fair and celebrating it's 50th birthday in 2012, the Space Needle is one of the top attractions in Seattle.  From a platform 520 feet high, on a clear day you can see the entire city of Seattle and the outskirts, including the Cascade Mountain, Mt. Rainer. There is also a revolving restaurant on top (make reservations for dinner). Get here on the monorail from the Westlake Center, also built for the Seattle World's Fair.

2. Next door to the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass. This museum opened in 2012 and houses the most extensive collection of glass works from artist Dale Chihuly.  Buy a combo ticket for both.  The glass pieces are unbelievable, you will find yourself saying "how did he do that?". Look carefully at the round spheres in the outdoor garden - you will see how clever Chihuly was to place them so almost all show a reflection of the Space Needle on them.

3. During the day, take a walk to the Pike Place Market, a wonderful collection of funky stores, resturants and fishmongers. There are over 250 shops,100 farmers, 100 street performers and 200 craftsmen do business in this market.  Beware - it closes at 6 PM, so you must get there during the day to see anything. One of our biggest disappointments, because we had meetings being held until after 6 and we were unable to see the stores in action. You can get a guided tour here as well.

4. Go on a wonderful dinner cruise on Puget Sound.

5. See the King Tut exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.

6. The the eclectic Underground Tour and see what Seattle looked like before the great fire of 1869.

7. Visit the Northwest Rail Museum and ride an antique train at a restored Victorian Train Depot.

8. See the sights on land and sea with a Seattle Duck Tour. Or see the sights of downtown Seattle on a double decker Grayline Bus Tour.

9. See the Seattle Mariners play baseball at Safeco Park.

10. Do whale watching at nearby San Juan island.

11. Visit the Seattle Aquarium.

13. Get pampered at a spa, including the Ummelina International Day Spa.

14. Trek among the glacier routes on Mt. Rainier.

15. Do a canopy tour with Canopy Tours Northwest.

16. Visit Mt. St. Helen's, still an active volcano center.

17. Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and follow the footsteps of past gold miners.

18. See a show or the symphony. Seattle has its share of theaters and music venues where you can see top notch shows.

19. If you have a car, bring your passport and visit Butchart Gardens in nearby Victoria, British Columbia.
 This is one of the most spectacular gardens you will ever see.  Stay until dark and then view the lovely city of Victoria lit up on your way back.

20. Visit the EMP Museum, a music, film, pop cultures and sci-fi museum loaded with hands on experiences and iconic artifacts. Next door, visit the Pacific Science Center with more than 300 more exhibits, an IMAX theater and plenty of hands on fun.

21.Do a walking Seattle Food Tour.

22. Visit Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, on the waterfront. Over 1001 curios, oddities, art. gifts and souvenirs.
23. Do a scenic seaplane flight.

24. Visit Miners Landing at Pier 57, a historic pier where a new ride, Great Wheel, will be opening end of June.

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