Story and photo by Deston Nokes on January 18, 2014
One of the Emerald City’s best features is that there are thrills to had no matter what the season, the weather or age. From boats to baseball, and from towers to malls and museums, few cities have such an accessible and electric collection of fun.
Naturally, the first step in exploring the best of Seattle is to get your CityPASS Seattle tickets, as they dramatically trim both the cost and waiting times to enjoy Seattle’s best attractions. Next, I offer the following suggestions for a memorable weekend.
Ride up the Space Needle — Why start with the Space Needle? Imagine returning home and sheepishly admitting you didn’t ride to the top of this iconic landmark. It’s like going to Paris and bypassing the Eiffel Tower, snubbing the arch in St. Louis or thumbing your nose at the Statue of Liberty. With an observation deck at 520 feet elevation, there’s nothing to block your 360-degree view — except perhaps for some—ahem—occasional rainclouds. On a clear day will get a gorgeous glimpse of tree-covered hills, Mt. Rainier, Elliott Bay’s waterfront, and the ferry boats bringing commuters to and fro. However, with a CityPASS ticket, you get two rides to the top if both are taken within 24 hours, which allows you a nighttime ride up to relish the spectacular lights of downtown Seattle. You know you’re going to be hungry later, so show your CityPASS booklet at the Needlicious Fudge Center and get 1/2 pound of fudge free when you buy one pound.
Chihuly Garden and Glass — Located at the base of the Space Needle, and less than a year old, this striking museum of glass and light already has established itself as one of the city’s top attractions. The collection showcases artist Dale Chihuly’s masterworks — from his giant, bursting “Seattle Sun” outside, to an dazzling rainbow of glowing glass creations inside. Two favorites were the Mille Fiori, with great washes of floral shapes and tendrils illuminated in a dark room; and the Persian Ceiling, a kaleidoscopic sky of colorful glass bowls. The onsite cafeteria (with a vast collection of accordions hanging from the ceiling) isn’t too shabby either. It offers fresh Northwest fare, including razor clams and pepper-crusted ahi tuna sliders—as well as burgers, pork chops, and sundried tomato and goat cheese ravioli. Tickets can be purchased in advance here.
Take a Harbor Tour — Argosy Cruise’s one-hour trip around Elliot Bay is a fun way to get out onto the water without devoting the whole day. Plus, the ride is discounted with a CityPASS ticket. Guests get a narrated tour of Seattle’s waterfront, enjoy spectacular views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, and learn about the shipping terminals and other sites. Argosy also offers longer cruises including a trip through the locks to Lake Union, or the South Lake Union/Lake Washington tour. For something truly special, consider a four-hour round-trip cruise to Tillicum Village (starting March 1), where you can experience Pacific Northwest tribal culture, including a Native American Salmon Bake and Performance.
Plug in at EMP — Whether your musical tastes are founded on Hendrix or Nirvana (Nevermind was more than 20 years ago, folks), this pantheon of music, science fiction and pop culture is another Seattle must. Founded in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and designed by architect Frank O. Gehry, EMP is an expansive tribute to everything that’s made life more interesting for many of us. In addition to EMP’s stunning tributes to iconic rock artists, the interactive museum offers top-notch exhibits of fantasy, horror cinema, video games, science fiction literature and other pop culture touchstones. Current exhibits include photographer Martin Schoeller’s stunning, large-scale headshots of celebrities, leaders and everyday people; and Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, which features the costumes and sets from The Wizard of Oz, Xena: Warrior Princess, Labyrinth, and The Princess Bride. Plus, it’s included with your CityPASS.
Watch out for flying fish — Pike Place Market is a delightful place to take in the crowds, colors and, yes, even the smells an incredible assortment of food merchants, florists, craft artisans, wine purveyors and produce sellers. More than 100 years old and spread over 3.5 acres, the market is a magnet for locals and tourists who want to buy from folks who know where their food is caught, raised, milked or picked. The fishmongers even sell sashimi-grade yellow fin tuna steaks (ahi) and will even toss a fish to the delight of tourists. It’s easy to get happily lost wandering the maze of specialty food and craft shops, restaurants and coffee nooks.
Go for a sail or a row — If you’re more hands-on about your adventures, or aspire to be, check out theCenter for Wooden Boats. Free to the public, this surprising stop not only offers sail and rowboat rentals, it has a museum, classes and workshops, field trips and lectures on how to build a vessel.
Wander Discovery Park — Seattle’s largest city park offers a wonderful cross section of the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty. Its 534 acres overlooks Puget Sound with views of the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. There are two miles of protected tidal beaches, sea cliffs, meadows, forests, steams and even sand dunes. There’s even a historic lighthouse built in 1881. It wouldn’t be Seattle unless cyclists were plentiful, and riders are allowed on the paved paths. Other activities include birdwatching, hiking, tennis, picnicking and a children’s playground.
Cheer on the home team — Opened in 1999, Safeco Field is renowned as one of the top baseball stadiums in the country. The Seattle Mariners are ready to embark on their goal of winning a World Series, and their home opener is slated for April 8.
There are no tickets left for the NFC championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers this coming Sunday. However, as a former season ticket holder, I can attest to the fact that CenturyLink Field is a modern, stellar venue for watching professional football. If you’re lucky, you can try and get a ticket to a game next year. Go SEAHAWKS!