SEPTEMBER: Seattle, WA
5 Things Every Tourist Should Do In Seattle
Seattle is easily one of the best, and most difficult cities to describe. In one direction you see crisp views of mountains, evergreens, and water, but if you turn your head a little to the left there are signs of development and city piers with ferry and commercial boats bopping along in the water. Hiking is minutes away, parks are peppered throughout, and Pike Place Market sprawls along the downtown, its laid back attitude somehow infiltrates the animated atmosphere, spreading out like roots bringing life to the surrounding areas.
After spending a long weekend running around the city, my long-time friend Elise and I decided to embrace our inner tourists and see the sights. Aside from taking lots of selfies and walking around with an open map at all times, we recommend doing these five things in Seattle.
1. Get lost (literally) in Pike Place Market
While Pike Place Market is an obvious must you should definitely allot enough time to wander around the market aimlessly. Covering almost 9 acres it’s hard to see everything, and easy to get lost. Sure the first Starbucks sits in the market on Pike Place, but there are hundreds of craftsmen, farmers, and other vendors outside, and then, even more, stores go up and downstairs filling every nook and cranny of the place. Fishmongers are flinging fish, while some of the most beautiful, and surprisingly affordable, flower arrangements sit nearby, balancing out the smell and really giving your nose a ride. Hungry? Whatever you’re craving Pike Place has it in one form or another, restaurants are hidden throughout and also sit side-by-side in Post Alley.
One thing to keep in mind is that the market gets really crowded, especially on weekends when the cruise ships dock. But, don’t let this deter you. There’s a gum-covered wall (it’s tucked away next to the Market Theater), and some of the most talented street performers I’ve ever seen (they need an annual permit and can play for one hour in one of the 13 designated spots). So ditch the map and discover all the unknown surprises the market has to offer.
2. Take the Bill Speidel’s Underground Seattle Tour
Did you know after the Great Fire of 1889 much of downtown Seattle was raised and rebuilt over the old city? Did you also know you can take a tour and see the underground storefronts and sidewalk tunnels that were covered up? Yeah, I know, pretty awesome. Bill Speidel’s Underground Seattle Tour is unusual, informative, and full of funny historical stories about the city. There’s a family-friendly version of the tour that runs all day, which we took because we had no idea there was a more sultry night-time Underworld Tour for adults 21 and over. And, if you fancy yourself a ghost hunter you can check out the Underground Paranormal Experience.
It’s a good idea to buy your ticket online ahead of time. We bought ours the same day, but hours before, and when we arrived the tour was full and they were turning people away.
3. Rock (and nerd) out at the EMP museum
Are you a pop culture junky? Do you love music and anything sci-fi? Then the Experience Music Project (EMP) is the place for you. Originally known as the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (EMP|SFM), this odd metallic wave of a building designed by Frank Gehry opted for shortening its name. Currently, the EMP is displaying the history of Washington-local musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, an interactive indie-game gallery, and exhibits that sci-fi lovers have only dreamed about. We got to tinker on real instruments, ponder over wearable art (yes, it’s a thing), and scream in a horror movie scream booth.
4. Ride a ferry to Bainbridge Island
Just a 30-minute ferry ride away from downtown Seattle is the quaint and clean Bainbridge Island. A friend suggested we hop on the ferry and take in some amazing views of the city, but what she didn’t mention was how Bainbridge has several different wine tasting bars, along with a slew of restaurants and shops. Everything is within walking distance, and the ferries come fairly regularly, about every 40 minutes or so depending on the time of day.
5. Get out of the downtown area for an afternoon
In order to truly indulge the tourist persona, you, of course have to spend the majority of your time wandering around the downtown area. However, to get the “real feel” of Seattle you should also take some time to explore other neighborhoods. You don’t have to go very far, simply pop up to Queen Anne’s Kerry Park for fantastic views of the city, stop by Chocolopolis for some of the best and most beautiful hand-crafted chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Or head up to Capitol Hill and enjoy the eclectic stores, restaurants, and awesome nightlife.
There are a ton of things to see and do in Seattle. It’s a city that is fast-paced yet relaxed, full of skyscrapers yet within minutes of hiking, highly walkable yet spread out. It’s a city with something for everyone, so strap on your fanny pack, get out your camera and go see the sights. (Oh, and yeah, yeah go see the Space Needle it's pretty darn cool and touristy).