My first piece of advice for anyone visiting Seattle is that a weekend is not long enough! I recently visited for two nights and this wonderful city left me longing to go back.
Although Seattle sits beautifully positioned on the Puget Sound, the moody weather there means indoor activities are well catered to and that the city’s museums, galleries and other tourist attractions really are outstanding.
One of the main reasons for me to go (which is incredibly geeky) was to visit the Boeing factory. I’m fascinated by airplanes and no matter how frequently I travel, I’m always in awe of the technology that allows a metal tube to glide effortlessly across oceans.
The Boeing Factory (not to be confused with the History of Flight museum) covers 98 acres, making it the world’s largest building. I’ve never been anywhere even remotely like it. The tour involved three separate bus rides, a walk down a tunnel 1/3 of a mile long, several lifts, flights of stairs and viewing platforms. In 90 minutes, we covered only a tiny fraction of the factory.
No camera phones were allowed, so apologies for the badly superimposed photo!
Following our visit to the Boeing factory on Saturday morning, we had only a day and a half to experience the city. Having already booked an Underground Seattle walking tour, we decided that the CityPASS was worth investing in, I’ve detailed below what that included.
I rated the Underground Seattle tour quite highly, it manages to blend history, architecture and a walking tour with comedy and entertainment without it feeling forced.
The tour itself is relatively short but takes you to the ‘Underground’ streets of Seattle which came about after the city needed to be restructured to accommodate modern plumbing. I told you it was an achievement to make this all sound entertaining!
The afternoon tour was fun, however, I think the night time tours (which take either a red-light or spooky theme) would have been even more enjoyable.
I couldn’t visit Seattle without taking a boat ride on the Puget Sound. As this was included in the Seattle CityPASS it made sense for us to buy that so we had passes to four other attractions for the Sunday.
The Seattle CityPASS included:
- Space Needle
- Seattle Aquarium
- Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) OR Woodland Park Zoo
- Chihuly Garden and Glass OR Pacific Science Center
Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
After 13 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, prior to this trip I unfortunately associated Seattle Harbor with a fictional ferry disaster. I’m pleased to say that association has now been overridden by a lovely, smooth and relaxing couple of hours spent out on the water. I shouldn’t think this is a great rainy day activity, but on a beautiful day, you can’t beat a good boat trip in my opinion.
The area around the Space Needle is full of museums, art & culture and great food. We didn’t realize that with our CityPASS ticket, we could go up once in the day and once in the evening, so we just went up in the day.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Designed by Frank O. Gehry, the museum building itself is a sight to see. Inside there is something for everyone, from music to an independent games exhibition.
My highlights were the Fantasy Storytelling section, the Horror Movie section and a temporary exhibition about Jim Henson’s work (of Muppets and Labyrinth fame), which is on until the end of the year (2017).
Chihuly Gardens & Glass
Visiting Chihuly Gardens and Glass was simply beautiful. One of my favorite installations at the V&A in London is the entrance light. As soon as I arrived at Chihuly Gardens & Glass, I knew this was the same artist. His work is iconic and instantly recognizable. On the gorgeous sunny day we visited, the conservatory and gardens really were in their element. The contrast between the dark interior housing the indoor exhibits and the bright garden showing the outdoor pieces was really clever. The spaces showed his remarkable work in (literally) different lights, which I loved.
The last ticket in our CityPASS gave us entry to the Seattle Aquarium. I’m not a huge fan of seeing wildlife inside tanks and enclosures (although I understand the value of the conservation work Zoos and Aquariums do) and we were running out of time so this was a lightning-quick visit. Seattle Aquarium is situated on the waterfront, which on a sunny day is a very nice setting and there are lots of interactive elements for kids to get stuck into. In comparison to the two other Aquariums I’ve visited in the US (Monterey and Chicago), it’s quite small and less impressive, unfortunately.
After a whirlwind two days, we left to return home to San Francisco. I’m sure we will be back to Seattle at some point, hopefully in the not too distant future. There is something about the city that makes it a great place to be, outside of the all the tourist attractions I’ve written about. The city just has an interesting vibe about it, which I can’t quite put my finger on.