Seattle – home of the Space Needle – has been at the center of some of the most exciting and astounding changes in the world of today. Billing itself as metronatural, Seattle invites visitors to come enjoy the diversity, smell the coffee and discover what makes it the Pacific Northwest’s metropolitan center.
Seattle, located between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, has been dubbed the Rainy City and the Emerald City by its residents. It is widely regarded as the birthplace of grunge music and the cradle of the national obsession with specialty coffees, having birthed both Starbuck’s and Seattle’s Best coffee brands. The easy accessibility of water and mountains make Seattle an ideal destination for those who love the great outdoors, but there’s far more to a Seattle visit than just hiking, biking and boating.
Sightseeing in Seattle
The most well-known landmark in Seattle is undoubtedly the Space Needle, built for the 1962 Twentieth Century Exposition. The Space Needle stands 605 feet high, though the observation deck is at a relatively low 520 feet. The revolving SkyCity Space Needle restaurant is at 500 feet. It’s been voted ‘The Best Place to Get Engaged’, ‘Best Place to Have a Party’ and ‘Best View of the City’.
The Seattle Monorail is another historic landmark, running from Seattle Center to Westlake Center, about a mile away. It too was built for the Twentieth Century Exposition, and was granted historic landmark status in 2003.
While you’re in downtown, visit Pike Place Market, the second-oldest continually operating farmer’s market in the country, and home of the original Starbuck’s Coffee shop. You can visit it today, just one block south of its original location.
Seattle is home to the hundred year old Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Youth Symphony, one of the most renowned youth symphonies in the world. The city boasts over 20 live theater venues, including the 5th Avenue Theatre which opened in 1926 and has staged Broadway quality shows throughout its long life.
Seattle is the acknowledged birthplace of grunge music, but the city’s popular music roots go much deeper and include such notables as Jimi Hendrix, Kenny G, Ray Charles, Sir Mix-a-lot and Bill Frisell. Seattle has embraced spoken word and performance poetry, and the longest running weekly show in the city is the Seattle Poetry Slam held at the Tost.
A bridge between the performing arts and museums, no visitor to Seattle should miss the Experience Music Project located at the base of the Space Needle. Conceived by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the museum is more experience than exhibit, and houses such unique items as Jimi Hendrix’ Stratocaster, an interactive Sound Lab and an amusement park.
Museums and Zoos
The Seattle Art Museum, open since 1933, hosts one of the most innovative collections of sculpture in the world, opened in 2007. Olympic Sculpture Park is a nine acre outdoor sculpture museum and beach, featuring sculptures by such world-renowned sculptors as Alexander Calder and Claes Oldenburg.
For the more naturally inclined – and it’s difficult not to be amid the beauty of Seattle – the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture features over 5 million specimens of natural and cultural history, including artifacts, totem poles, fossils and more. The Burke Museum is the only major natural history museum in the Pacific Northwest.
The Woodland Park Zoo opened in 1899, and covers 92 acres of Woodland Park. It has won more Best National Exhibit awards than any other zoo in the world other than the Bronx Zoo in New York. Highlights of the zoo include the Tropical Rain Forest exhibit and the African Savanna exhibit, as well as the Raptor exhibit.
Shopping and More
Downtown Seattle is a mecca for shoppers, featuring the boutiques and shops of some of the world’s hottest designers. Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other upscale retailers dot the streets and attract both the fashion-minded and bargain shoppers.
While you’re in Seattle, make a point of sampling the fruits of the Washington vineyards. The Puget Sound may have only a handful of wineries, but the lush climate and warm weather has spawned some stellar vineyards. Take a tour of the vineyards and wine tasting rooms for an afternoon of pure epicurean delight.
Bringing the kids along? Plan to visit the Seattle Aquarium and enjoy an afternoon watching the river otters play, and stroll through the underwater viewing dome for a fish-eye view of the world. After that, drop by the Pacific Science Center to play VR soccer or challenge a robot to a game of tic tac toe. The Science Center is aimed at the younger set, but there’s something for everyone under its roof.