Strangely tucked away in in a corner of the country that can still claim itself as untamed territory, Seattle is one of those American cities that often gets overlooked. What makes the self-proclaimed Emerald City so special is the iconic hot-spots perfect for fulfilling your sight jollies, and the one of a kind access to beautiful outdoor recreations. Weather you’re a local or just visiting, there is ample opportunity for adventure.
Take the CityPASS for example. You’re probably aware that you can use this handy little passbook to see the sights and sounds of twelve different cities in the United States and Canada, Seattle being one of them. CityPASS gives travelers the option of seeing iconic attractions to their destination of choice, but at a fraction of the cost. For my little family, this dollar saving device makes the CityPASS a win-win adventure tool.
If you’re a fan of Sleepless in Seattle (seriously, you can’t escape it in this town), you’re in luck. The Space Needle is destination numero uno on the CityPASS. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Space Needle has been around the block. It stands 605 feet tall and 138 feet wide, with the ability to withstand winds up to 200 miles an hour. Besides its fantastically unique architecture, it also hosts a restaurant that moves slowly so you and sit and enjoy the view as well as your lunch, an exterior observation deck, an interactive wall of information and a 360 degree view of the city. Be sure to sample some of Seattle's Best while you're up there. We are a city known for our caffeine quality.
Next on the list is the Seattle Aquarium, an opportunity to get under the sea without getting your feet wet, all while learning about marine life that is indigenous to the region with six (yes six!) major exhibits: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Underwater Dome, Birds & Shores and Marine Mammals. It is the 9th largest aquarium in the United States and is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) so you can rest well knowing that conservation and education are part of their mission.
I would be remiss if I didn’t invite you to take a cruise with Argosy. Seattle is Port city, and there are few better ways to experience it than on the water. Argosy offers a variety of narrated expeditions, like their Harbor Cruise where you get to see the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and the skyline that would not be out of place in a Jetson’s cartoon. You can get up-close and personal with the harbor wildlife and see the container ships and ferries first hand. Did I mention is has a full service bar? Just save this one for sunset so you can truly capture the majesty of this beautiful city.
Now it’s time to make some tough choices. The CityPASS gives you the option of A or B. A being a tour of the Museum of Pop Culture, or it’s former title the Experience Music Project. Option B is a stroll through the Woodland Park Zoo. For myself, a music and animal lover, it’s hard to decide. Luckily I have a rambunctious three year old that needed to run off some steam so we hit up the zoo. She’s particularly fond of the Chilean Penguins that greet you at the west entrance. Mommy really enjoys the Trail of Vines where the Orangutans enjoy playing charades with guests.
Last, but certainly not least are Chihuly Garden’s and Glass OR Pacific Science Center. If you’re staying at any of the downtown hotels, chances are high that there will be some Chihuly glass chandeliers in the lobby, so I opt for the Pacific Science Center. It’s often hosting some geeky exhibit like Harry Potter or Star Wars, as well as hands on learning experiences that will surprise even the most sophisticated adults. The exhibits are constantly changing with everything from seasonal education programs, to special events designed to stimulate your curiosity. If I were you, I’d pair this with the Space Needle Tour as they are literally next door to one another. See the world, then explore it.
Once you’re done with your activities, plan on spending some time exploring the great out doors. A quick drive in just about any direction lands you in some of the most spectacular hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest, or you can rent a canoe and explore the sound your way. To the north is one of the worlds largest Tulip Festivals, and the west has some choice skiing. Whatever strikes your fancy, visit the Emerald City and report back. I’d love to know if you saw any trolls while you were at it.