A recent 30-day tour of the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island, Canada gave us three days in Seattle and time to revisit old favorites and find a few new destinations.
Visitors to Seattle would be remiss if they did not include the Seattle Center (site of the 1962 World’s Fair), containing the Space Needle, Key Arena, Seattle Children’s Museum, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), the Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pacific Science Center, the Boeing IMAX Theater and more. The Seattle Monorail is steps from Chihuly Garden and MoPOP; hop on the one-stop ride to downtown Seattle and its terminus, just three blocks from the ever-popular Pike Place Market.
One of the most wonderful places is the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit next to the Space Needle. Otherworldly installations include Sealife Tower, 15 feet tall exuding iridescent primary colors mimicking the seabed and Puget Sound. Another gallery showcases the Persian ceiling, with Persian glass artwork above that glows in kaleidoscopic red, orange, ruby, and yellow. Imagine a life-size glass forest with ghostly blue and pink light shining from the trunks. Enter the greenhouse and discover, floating 30 feet above, a 100-foot-long art installation of a colorful palette composed of yellow, orange, brown and amber glass – framing the Space Needle which soars 605 feet above the head.
Watch a glassblowing demonstration, then admire four major installations that tower over a landscape that contains daylilies, dogwoods, camellias, and a variety of trees to add to the crystal and ice towers and reed installation on logs. In the center, backing onto the Space Needle, is the giant Sun, bursting with oranges and yellows.
Then take a stroll through the Center Pop Culture Museum, just a block away. Tracing its roots to the birth of rock and roll, the museum with innovative galleries such as Sound Lab, Sky Church (a concert hall with a huge LED screen and high-tech lighting and sound) and a huge collection of more over 100,000 historical objects including approximately 75% of all music generated in the North West over the past 100 years. MoPop is housed in a flowing 140,000 square foot building designed by Frank O. Gehry – the building itself is memorable.
For great views and a free photo opportunity, head up nearby Queen Anne Hill in the late afternoon to Kerry Park for views of Puget Sound, Elliott Bay and the bustling waterfront, Space Needle and the downtown skyline and Mount Rainier in majestic splendor to the south, bathed in an alpine glow just before sunset.
Queen Anne Hill is home to a wealth of stately Victorian and Craftsman homes and the small shopping district offers a variety of interesting restaurants.
A visit to Seattle isn’t complete without a stop at Pike Place Public Market, located downtown overlooking Elliot Bay, with several blocks of unique indoor vendors, fish and meat markets, flower shops and fun restaurants.
Take a break at the Athens Market Restaurant, where Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner met for lunch in the movie ‘Sleepless in Seattle’. We sat in an upper level cabin, with a clear view of Alaska Way and Elliott Bay below, and watched the ferries come and go.
For other nearby Seattle highlights, head to the Seattle Ferris Wheel, a giant 175-foot-tall Ferris wheel located at the end of Pier 57 on Elliott Bay. It’s a big tourist attraction and offers great views of the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay from its spinning gondolas.
For more Seattle flavors, head to Pier 50 and take a Washington State ferry across the bay to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton; the round trip offers marvelous scenery and a great port visit as part of the ferry ride. Between Piers 50 and 57 are two excellent waterfront restaurants, Ivar’s Acre of Clams and Elliott’s Oyster House, both excellent fine seafood options.
My wife, Susan, was meeting a friend across Elliot Bay at Alki Point (also featured in “Sleepless in Seattle”), I took the time to explore this unique neighborhood, site of Seattle’s founding in November 1851 when the Denny party established a small settlement. I had delicious fish and chips at Sun Fish restaurant, while Susan and her friend enjoyed nearby Salty’s restaurant, each with stunning views of the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline on the other side of the bay.
Seattle is linked by waterways from Elliot Bay; plan a walking tour of the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard (and the adjacent Carl English Botanical Garden), the locks taking pleasure craft into Lake Union and Lake Washington. The charming Burke-Gillman Hiking and Biking Trail winds through these areas as well as the majestic University of Washington campus, helping to make Seattle great for biking and hiking.
How to get to Seattle: Fly to SeaTac Airport; or by car, from San Joaquin County, take I-5 North; it’s 810 miles and 13 hours.
For more information: Chihuly Garden and Glass, chihulygardenandglass.com, (206) 753-4940; Seattle Center, seattlecenter.com; Seattle, visitseattle.org; Washington State, experiencewa.com.
Contact Tim Viall at [email protected] Have a good trip out west.
Images to use:
The Alki Point area offers fun waterfront shopping and dining
The Seattle Ferris Wheel on Elliot Bay
Glass Forest, dating from the early 70s, showcasing the acclaimed talent of artist Dale Chihuly
The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) is just one block from Chihuly Garden and Glass
Persian ceiling; Artist Chihuly started his Persian series in 1986.
Space Needle, Seattle skyscraper from Kerry Park; better in the late afternoon!
The greens, reds, purples and fiery yellow garden art of Chihuly Garden and Glass