Are you visiting Seattle? Here are some of the city’s top attractions.
Pike Place Market
This historic, beloved downtown public market has been in business since 1907. It’s a year-round farmers market and a visual riot of vegetable, seafood, cheese and flower stalls along with handicrafts and tourist-friendly knickknacks. And, of course, the flying fish.
Info: The main entrance to Pike Place Market is at First Avenue and Pike Street. The market is open daily. pikeplacemarket.org
This vertical icon of the city gives a great view of the city from the top. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s 605 feet tall and looks like a spaceship on stilts, towering over Seattle Center.
Info: The Space Needle is open daily, including evenings. Admission starts at $19 (adult) for the elevator ride to the observation deck, 520 feet up. Or get a meal with a view at Skycity Restaurant. spaceneedle.com or 206-905-2200.
Seattle Center is a cultural complex where you could easily spend hours at the Pacific Science Center, Chihuly glass display, food court, theatres or simply watching kids frolic in a giant outdoor fountain.
Seattle Center Monorail is a World’s Fair legacy, from Westlake Center in the heart of downtown; it takes just a few minutes.
Olympic Sculpture Park
World-class sculpture. A walk with wonderful views of the city, harbor and mountains. And it’s free. The outdoor sculpture garden spreads over 9 acres of a seaside bluff north of downtown, transformed from an industrial backwater into the home of artwork such as Alexander Calder’s “Eagle,” six tons of red-painted steel that looks like an abstract soaring bird. Paths wander amid sculpture; for a longer, lovely walk, stroll along the 1.2-mile waterfront path in adjoining Myrtle Edwards Park.
Info: The sculpture garden is open year-round from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. Free. www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/olympic-sculpture-park or 206-654-3100.
Washington State Ferries
Ferries shuttle all around Puget Sound and they’re a key, and the prettiest, part of Washington’s transportation system. You can have a fun, quick and cheap sightseeing boat ride as a walk-on passenger (adult fare is $7.70 round trip) on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry. Board the ferry at Pier 52 on the downtown Seattle waterfront, get off at Bainbridge and walk into the friendly little town of Winslow — its restaurants, cafes and shops are a 10-minute walk from the ferry landing.
Info: wsdot.wa.gov/ferries or 888-808-7977. For Winslow shops, restaurants and more, see bainbridgedowntown.org.
Museum of History & Industry
Don’t miss it. MOHAI reopened in late 2012, with new galleries and multimedia displays, in a new location in Lake Union Park at the north edge of downtown. Its exhibits on life in Seattle and Puget Sound cover everything from the maritime past to cutting-edge culture. (Adult admission is $14.)
Outside in the waterfront park, at the south end of Lake Union, watch boats scud across the lake (or across the park’s model-boat pond) and float planes take off.
Info: mohai.org or 206-324-1126
Center for Wooden Boats, with displays, more than 100 historic boats, a wharf, rental boats and free vintage-boat rides on Sundays (first-come, first served). No admission charge.
Info: cwb.org or 206-382-2628
Soon the traffic-roaring Alaskan Way Viaduct, which cuts off downtown Seattle from its waterfront, will come tumbling down and be replaced by a tunnel. For now, there’s a broad sidewalk along the harborfront with shops, eateries (fish and chips is always a favorite) and wooden piers jutting out into the bay.
Seattle Aquarium to see what lives in (and beyond) the local waters (adult admission, $19.95).
Seattle Great Wheel, a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel with enclosed gondola-type cabins, for a view from on high of the city, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains to the west (adult ticket $13).
Seattle Art Museum
If you’d like to see everything from European masters’ paintings and ancient Asian artwork to Native American carvings and contemporary sculpture. The museum is in the heart of downtown; its gift store and restaurant offer unusual souvenirs and good food. Museum admission is $17 (adult), with free admission on the first Thursday of each month. (Tie it in with the free First Thursday Art Walk each month of art galleries in the nearby historic Pioneer Square district.)
Info: seattleartmuseum.org/ or 206-654-3100. firstthursdayseattle.com
Chinatown International District
Seattle’s Chinatown is almost as old as the city, emerging in the 1880s. Now also called the International District, it’s been a cultural hub for Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and other immigrants. It’s packed with Asian restaurants and shops, and home to the Wing Luke Museum that chronicles the life and times of Pacific and Asian Americans in the area ($12.95 adult admission). Join the locals at bubble-tea shops or for dim sum. Get a big taste of local cultures at Uwajimaya, a bustling supermarket of Asian foods and gifts.
Info: cidbia.org, wingluke.org, uwajimaya.com
See the essence of the Pacific Northwest at the Ballard Locks, where you can watch salmon and boats — from fishing boats and tugs to kayaks and yachts. The locks carry boats up and down, letting them travel between Puget Sound and Seattle’s freshwater waterways (about 20 feet above sea level). A fish ladder lets salmon swim up past the locks to their freshwater spawning grounds; glass viewing windows let people watch them. No admission; concerts also free.
Info: nws.usace.army.mil (click on “Chittenden Locks”)
See Boeing‘s “Future of Flight” exhibits (and design your own jet digitally) and see jets being made inside the Boeing factory, about 25 miles north of Seattle in Everett. The Boeing plant is the biggest building by volume in the world — 472,000,000 cubic feet — and holds the production lines for various Boeing jets, including the 787 Dreamliner. Adult admission for the exhibits and 90-minute guided tour is $18. (Children must be at least four feet tall to join the tour.)