One of my favorite places to visit and just relax is Seattle. I have had the opportunity to visit nine times since I started visiting in the fall of 2010. I have read the guide books, I have talked to the locals and I have experienced most of the “touristy” things to do. So here is my simplified version of my top 10 things to visit along with some tips about grouping things together as well as the timing of things. You do have the ability to purchase a City Pass that will allow you to visit many of the touristy areas at a savings. Check and see if you are going to do all of the activities before purchasing. Also if you are a Microsoft employee and have a Prime membership, you will also save some cash using your membership card.
1. Kerry Viewpoint on Queen Anne Hill: On a clear day head to this park as you get views of Mt. Rainier and The Space Needle. Only go on a clear day and go the first chance you get as the views are breathtaking.
Where you will find it:It can be hard to find as there really isn’t an address to put in your GPS. Simply head on Queen Anne Ave. North and turn left on West Highland Drive. You will know when to pull over. This is a residential neighborhood so parking can be tricky. It is also a hidden gem and most people don’t know about it so you won’t be fighting crowds.
2. The Underground Tour: This is a tour that I have now done twice, one with my kids and one with adults. There is a bar to have an adult beverage or two while you wait for your tour which can add to the fun. I have boys so they loved the humor and crude jokes. You tour a lower level of Seattle before the current city was built on top of it. Full of history and fun for the whole family. There is also an over 21 tour that my husband and I have gone on, it was ok but not as funny as the original tour.
Where you will find it: Pioneer Square
Cost: Under $20 per person, less for kids
3. Snoqualmie Falls: This is a quick side trip to take you a bit into the mountains and see a beautiful waterfall that is owned by Puget Power. There is a lovely resort called the Salish Lodge that overlooks the falls. I have yet to stay there, but for now I have had lunch there. I have probably made a stop to the Falls every time I visit Seattle as I just love the view and the sound of the water.
Where to find it: I-90 out of Seattle get off at exit 27
4. Mt. Rainier: On a clear day you can see the mountain and you think it is just a short drive when in reality it is 90 miles out of town and can take you about 2 hours. I have visited once and it was a cloudy rainy day when we left Seattle. There are some beautiful spots to stop and visit along the way so give yourself some time.It was like magic as we approached the entrance, aptly named Paradise as the clouds parted and we got a beautiful blue sky view of the mountain. We stayed for about an hour and as we left the clouds covered the mountain back up. Pretty magical if you ask me!
Cost: $15 per vehicle
5. The Duck Tour: We had never done a Duck tour before. A Duck is an amphibious vehicle that can go on land and water. The tours are usually full of fun facts and give you a great background of the area. Our kids loved it and I would have loved it as an adult going on it even without kids. If you have a short stay in the city, this is a great way to see the sights while someone else does the driving! My tip is don’t buy the duck whistle as you will lose your mind with your kids blowing it. Buy your tickets online in order to make sure you get the time you want.
Where you will find it: On the grounds of the Experience Music Project and Space Needle, called Seattle Center
Cost: $28 for adults $17 for kids
6. Experience Music Project (EMP): Before or after your Duck tour take a visit to the brain child of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by Frank Gehry. It is beautiful to look at and it is fun for the kids to explore. Learn about local Seattle musical artists and have fun as this is not your typical museum experience.
Where you will find it: Seattle Center
Cost: $22 to $16
7. The Space Needle: Visit during the day on a sunny day or at night on a cloudy evening. Both views are your best bets. I personally like the views at night. I have also been up at sunset on a sunny day and that was equally as beautiful. It would be great to time this on the day of your Duck tour, Pacific Science Center and EMP visit as these attractions are all in the same place.
Where to find it: Seattle Center
Cost: Starting at $22
8. Seattle Science Center: This Center is not just for kids, but your kids will for sure love it. Lots of hands on exhibits as well as room with butterflies, my personal favorite. My older two boys went to a Seahawks football game while my youngest son and I went to the Science Center and they met us there after the game. They both said they would have skipped the game and just went to the museum.
Where to find it: Seattle Center
Cost: Starting at $22 for admission and IMAX show
9. Pikes Place Market: My only tip is to go 30 minutes before the market opens. Go to the first Starbucks located across from the market and buy yourself some coffee if there is no line. If there is a line, simply listen to the musicians as there are always some talented groups playing outside. You will see the homeless population at a grassy area overlooking the water which ironically happens to be a great place for a photo. I have seen things that I would rather not see in this park and it seems to be getting more and more gritty as the years go by. I try to arrive at about 9:30 to avoid the Seattle morning traffic and to find a great parking spot. I walk to the gum wall if I want to gross someone out. You will find it in an alley just past the market. I also like to take pictures of the beautiful bouquets of flowers that are being sold. You will not find better prices for flowers! And don’t forget to give Rachel the pig a visit as you will find her right in front of the flying fish. I like to look at the goods that the local artists are selling. I have had good luck purchasing gifts that have a local flair. Avoid the market on weekends or during peak times. If you have a stroller, good luck!
Where to find it: Between Pike and Pine Sts. at First Ave.
10. Go on a Ferry Ride: There are so many to choose from. Just find one and go away for the day and explore. My favorite is Bainbridge Island as I feel that I am so far away from the Seattle traffic and is often a much needed break. As you ride you see breathtaking views of the mountains and the cityscape. For most ferries, you can drive your car on or you can walk on and walk around the island. I have also gone north to go whale watching on a ferry. You will need to do your research as to where and when to go as the options are varied.
Believe it or not there are still so many areas that I want to visit, such as the Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. I have gone with girlfriends, family and my husband. All different combinations of people and we have always had a lovely time.
To Joyful, Organized Living,