We finally made it “back” to Seattle again! The last time we were in Seattle, we disembarked from the plane at SEA-TAC airport, found out that we missed our connecting flight to Spokane, then had no choice but to rent a car and drive the 4.5 hours over the cascades to make it to my daughter’s volleyball tournament on time. The airport was fine and all, but it was the gorgeous drive through the cascades on I-90 that had me wanting to come back and explore more of Washington.
We had four free days for travel during my daughter’s spring break and a soon-to-expire airline voucher from Alaska airlines to cover the cost of tickets (from our previously missed flight and rental car), so we finally decided on visiting Seattle, Washington. It was only a two-hour flight from San Francisco, and from what I read, it seemed like it would be easy to get around the city with so many options for public transportation. We could really make the most of the four days. Washington has three national parks within driving distance from Seattle as well, Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades, so a day or overnight trip was definitely feasible. This was a rare, non volleyball tournament trip and we were ecstatic that the three of us could explore together!
We booked a room at the Hampton Inn and Suites near the Seattle Center in the Queen Anne area just a couple of blocks up from the Seattle Center where the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden and Glass were located. Although I really enjoyed our stay (they upgraded us to a huge 2 bedroom suite with a kitchen) and loved the proximity to the Seattle Center, I’m not sure I could recommend this hotel at this time because of all the construction that was going on. I think once the construction is done though, it will be fabulous! Great location, nice breakfast spread and wonderful welcoming staff.
A weather check the week before predicted rain the entire duration of the trip. We decided to stay in Seattle the entire time and not venture off in a rental car. There was plenty to do in the city and we started by visiting the places offered in the Seattle City Pass ($89/ person). This was such a great deal and so easy to use. We purchased the tickets on-line at home and brought the print out of the receipt to the first place we visited, which was the Museum of Pop Culture. They exchanged the print out for our booklets with the actual passes in them. It was simply a matter of presenting them at the featured places and sometimes they even had a special (shorter) line for those with City Passes. If I added up the admission prices of the places we went to, it would have been around $140, so it’s definitely worth getting if you plan on doing these attractions. Also, you have a choice to visit the Woodland Park Zoo instead of the Museum of Pop Culture or the Pacific Science Center instead of Chihuly Garden and Glass. Good to have options!
I listed the attractions in the order of our favorites, but we enjoyed them all.
Chihuly Garden and Glass (located at the Seattle Center)
This was hands down my favorite place in Seattle. I could have stayed there all day and marveled at the beautiful glass art. There is so much detail and “movement” of the glass that you pick up on when you slow down and really observe. When we went on a rainy week day, the place was not very crowded and this added to the serene experience of walking through the exhibits at a leisurely pace. We happened to visit on a day when all of the exhibits were open, but be aware there are days when the museum closes the Glasshouse for special events.
The gardens had some truly unique and lively pieces that I wished I could add to my own garden.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) (located at the Seattle Center)
The building itself was a work of art and had my curiosity piqued as I entered through the doors. At the time we went in April, the Star Trek exhibition was going on and a new exhibit, Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes was being advertised to open April 21.
Can you name the Star Trek captains?
Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour (located at Pier 55 on the waterfront)
This was a great way to see Seattle, and to be honest we probably wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t part of the Seattle City Pass. However, even with the rainy weather, it was so worth seeing the sights from the boat and learning all about Seattle.
Seattle Aquarium (located on Pier 59 on the waterfront)
This was a small, but well stocked and maintained aquarium with interesting exhibits that highlighted marine animals and plants of the Northwest. I always love looking at wildlife, and the animals at the aquarium looked happy and well cared for – just going about their business. We went on a Friday and there were so many school kids on field trips enjoying the aquarium. We happened to be there right before noon and the kids were all sitting down eating their lunch. It seemed like a good time to be there because about an hour later when we were leaving, there were many freshly energized and excited kids roaming about the aquarium. Much respect and appreciation to teachers, I don’t know how you do it – you guys rock!
Although the views from the top of the Space Needle were expansive, the construction did take away from the overall experience. Once the construction is done with new floor to ceiling glass panels, it will be very impressive. On a positive note, there was no waiting in line, like no-one-else-at-all, in line. Easy up, easy down. This is such a noticeable structure, I felt like such the tourist pointing excitedly at the Space Needle every time I saw it from all the different areas of Seattle.
The Seattle Center covers a large area, 74-acres, and was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair. I’ve mentioned that Chihuly Garden and Glass, Museum of Pop Culture and the Space Needle can be found here, but the Armory, the monorail, the International Fountain, the Mural Ampitheater, the Pacific Science Center as well as large venues like Fisher Pavilion, Mercer Arena and the Seattle Center Pavilion can all be found in the Seattle Center.
The Armory houses a number of food stalls, and was a perfect place to stop and have some coffee and a small snack between museum visits. There is plenty of seating, a restroom in the back and it is also right next to the monorail station.
The Seattle Center Monorail was a fun and easy way to get to the Westlake Station near the Pike’s Market area about a mile away. It costs $2.50 per person one way. Since there were three of us though, it ended up costing more to use the monorail than to use Lyft (or better yet free if you walk). But it was convenient and something else to experience.
Even though it rained on and off the entire time, I really didn’t mind it. We dressed in layers and kept warm and dry mostly by just wearing a raincoat over a fleece jacket. I suspect the rain also kept the crowds away, so whatever weather greets you in Seattle, embrace it, it will be just fine 🙂
I’m going to write about the rest of our Seattle trip (Pike’s market, boating on Lake Union, visiting the REI flagship store, Olympic Sculpture Garden, The Edgewater Hotel, etc…) in another post, thanks for reading this far!