Shortly before leaving on a trip to Seattle last month to see friends and family, my wife and I suddenly learned that plans to meet up with my wife’s cousin and her daughter had gone by the boards, leaving us with an unexpected free day to be tourists in my old hometown.
But how should we spend that single day?
Visiting spots we’d seen on past trips together over the last forty years?
Finding out if my old haunts, high school, and parent’s home had been bulldozed, and skyscrapers or huge residential or commercial developments built in their stead?
Before leaving the San Francisco Bay Area, where I’ve now lived more than twice as long as the first twenty-one years of my life spent in Seattle, I came up with a laundry list of ideas of things to see and do, especially those close to our hotel near the Seattle Center, home to the city’s skyline icon, the Space Needle.
And now I’m sharing it with you, regardless of whether you live in Seattle, or are in two for one or several days.
Seattle Center and Lake Union Area
Chihuly Garden and Glass (has a cafe) – http://chihulygardenandglass.com/visit/plan-your-visit
Space Needle (combo ticket with Chihuly available) – http://www.spaceneedle.com/hours-directions
Experience Music Project (has a restaurant) – http://www.empmuseum.org/
Pacific Science Center (exhibits, theaters including IMAX, cafe) – https://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/)
Seattle Duck Tours - http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com/tours/land-water-tours/tour-route
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (tour, galleries) – http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Visitor-Center/Our-Galleries)
Lake Union Park (0pen space along the lake) – http://www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?id=344
Museum of History and Industry (in Lake Union Park) - http://www.mohai.org/
Northwest Seaport (historic vessels, in Lake Union Park) – http://nwseaport.org/
Center for Wooden Boats (in Lake Union Park) – http://cwb.org/
Kenmore Air – (20 minute scenic floatplane trip over Seattle; two-hour up and back from Seattle to San Juan Islands) – http://www.kenmoreair.com/flights/scenic-flight-tours/
Seattle Seaplanes – (20 minute scenic flight over Seattle area) – http://www.seattleseaplanes.com/
Elsewhere in Town
Woodland Park Zoo & Rose Garden – http://www.zoo.org/
Volunteer Park Conservancy – http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/VolunteerPark/conservatory.htm
Asian Art Museum (in Volunteer Park) or Seattle Art Museum (downtown) – http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit
Museum of Flight (well south of downtown) – http://www.museumofflight.org/
See Seattle Walking Tours (downtown, 10 am – 3 pm, reservation required) – http://www.see-seattle.com/seeseattle.htm
Chinatown Discovery Tour (includes lunch) – http://www.wingluke.org/tours
Savor Seattle Food Tours (Pike Place Market and other locations) – http://www.savorseattletours.com/
Seattle Food Tours (also offers a Pike Place Market tour) – http://seattlefoodtours.com/tours/walking-food-tour-of-pike-place-market-7
Seattle Harbor Tours – http://www.argosycruises.com/sightseeing-cruises/seattle-waterfront-harbor-tours-cruise/
Possible Money Saver
CityPass covers Space Needle, Chihuly or Pacific Science Center, and EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo, and one-hour harbor tour) and may save you money depending on how many of the covered attractions and tours you would opt for. – http://www.citypass.com/seattle
Lose The Car
Despite its somewhat hilly landscape, downtown Seattle is a great place for tourists who want to walk to tourists attractions and dining.
Public transportation within the city is very good, and there are taxis and ride sharing services, too.
Light rail service now connects downtown and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Unless you are going to roam outside of the city, forget about renting a car. Traffic getting into, out of, and around downtown Seattle can be especially bad during commute hours.
For more information on getting around during your stay, go to the Visit Seattle Website, which has a wealth of information for tourists.
(Tales Told From The Road publisher, Dick Jordan, grew up in Seattle. The Ballard district was populated by a large Scandinavian population when he lived there in the 1950′s and 1960′s. Today with upscale shops and restaurants, and condo developments, it could be mistaken for Sausalito, California, about twenty minute’s drive from his current home in the San Francisco Bay Area.)