Seattle Washington in a Glance If you've never experienced Seattle, Washington, now is as good a time as any to do so. Maybe now is the best time ever for a nice visit to Seattle. Whatever your interests, there is sure to be something here that you will find appealing. From the great cultural centers to the fabulous sporting events and the wonderfully mild climate, Seattle is a great place to visit. In addition to the wonderful climate, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities that should keep you, and anyone traveling with you busy for quite some time. The biggest problem I foresee is finding there is too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. Such is the bane of vacations. Seattle is a town that has natural beauty and is surrounded not only by water, but by beautiful countryside as well. The views all around are nothing short of spectacular and I'm sure that you will find plenty to do to keep everyone in your party entertained and happy. For those who love culture, there are many opportunities to soak up all the culture you can manage. From wine tours to museums and gourmet food, Seattle has plenty to offer the discerning tourists. Not to mention Benaroya Hall where the symphony performs and other cultural experiences such as the Seattle Opera or the Seattle Chamber Music Society. If this isn't enough for your sophisticated demands there is the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. For those of us with more sophomoric pursuits there is plenty around to keep our minds and hearts entertained. In addition to the activities mentioned above, there are plenty of sights to see in Seattle. There are walking tours around the city, driving tours to outlying areas and even duck tours, which are sure to delight the little ones among us. For those who have an interest in pop culture there is the Experience Music Project, which is truly unique and very much worth the hefty price tag that admission demands. If you are going to make one splurge during your trip to Seattle alone, this would be the one I recommend most strongly. If money is no object, then count yourself blessed and take a look at what this 'experience' has to offer. In addition to the Experience Music Project there is the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. As a science fiction enthusiast, this is a favorite of mine. If you like animals, there is plenty to offer in Seattle. There is Cougar Mountain Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Seattle Aquarium, Northwest Trek, Wolf Haven, and the Woodland Park Zoo in addition to the many whale-watching tours that are available. If you like studying about other cultures, perhaps you should visit the International District, take a tour to Tillicum Village, visit the Wing Lake Asian Museum, or Uwajimaya Village. Each of these places offers a glimpse into the lives of those from other cultures. In addition to all of these really fun things there are professional sports for almost every season in Seattle. For basketball there are the Seattle Sonics (NBA) and the Seattle Storm (WNBA). If your interest lean toward football, you will be happy to know that the Seahawks call Qwest Field home and baseball fans will be delighted that the Seattle Mariners are still playing at Safeco Field. For the hockey fans around, there are Seattle Thunderbirds, which are part of the Western Hockey League and call the Key Arena home. These are only a small sampling of the many great things to do and see while visiting Seattle Washington. Just remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and it is highly unlikely that even the fastest among us can enjoy all that this great city has to offer its visitors in a day either. Take your time and remember that it is very likely that if you didn't get to one of your destinations today, it will be there tomorrow. The Profound Effect of the Past on the Present Make Seattle Great One thing I have found amazing about visiting Seattle, Washington is the fact that almost everywhere you look in this city, there is something of historical significance very nearby. I find it amazing that a city that has become a beacon of promise for the future has such strong ties to its past. Of course, this is the way it should be, but seldom is. Seattle, Washington not only celebrates its past that is very rich indeed, it invites those who visit to share in that celebration as well. With many museums dedicated to lifting up the great people who helped build this city. A city that remembers its past is a city well worth getting to know better. In and around Seattle there are several museums that study the past of this part of the country and the profound effect that that past has on the present society in this area. The first one I will tell you about is not a museum but rather a national park. This would be the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. Some of the more interesting things to do and see here are the walking tours that are conducted each morning during summer months (these tours last about an hour and take you through the historic district while explaining the role the neighborhood played in the development of Seattle as we have come to know it and the Klondike Gold Rush). Another interesting thing to do is attend a gold panning demonstration or watch one of the many audiovisual programs that tells stories of this historic period. Next, there is the Log House Museum of Seattle. This museum is actually a renovated log home that has a rich history in and of itself. The museum was created as a base for sharing information about the history of the community both oral and written in addition to educating students, researchers, and educators about the history of this region. The museum provides special exhibits, events, and lectures that accomplish these goals. Admission is by donation and is recommended at $2 per adult and $1 per child. Next, for every little boy or every little boy that is all grown up, this next museum is near and dear to most of their hearts whether they are willing to admit it or not. This would be the Issaquah Depot Museum. Not only do you get to walk along the tracks of history, but also you get to take a look at a vintage caboose and other train cars that are on display here. There is a beautiful mural in the Depot Freight Room that depicts the history of Issaquah. It was painted by Bill Haddon at the request of the King County Arts Commission and vividly depicts the colorful history of this area. Admission to this museum is recommended at $2 per adult and $1 per child or you can purchase a family pass for this and the Gillman Town Hall Museum for a total of $10. The Gillman Town Hall Museum brings history to life by showing the minor details that are often overlooked and yet so vitally important reminders of that history. There is even an old two-cell jail behind the Town Hall Museum. The original steel bars are on the window and the total escape count from this jail was zero. Not only is this museum filled with artifacts, but it personalized with photographs of the people that played such a vital role in its past as well. This museum and the Depot museum are worth the drive from Seattle, especially at such low prices for both. If nothing else, you have to hand it to the people of this part of the country. They hold onto their pasts and learn from them rather than burying them and trying to pretend they didn't happen. I find it comforting to see that the past of this area has had such a profound effect on what it has become today and hope to see even better things in the future as a result. If nothing else, the stories are wonderful to hear and even better to experience. Tours Offer Unique Glimpses of Seattle As tourist, when we visit a city, it is always interesting to check out the various tours of that city that are offered. Many cities have tours that are similar to basically any other city. Seattle, Washington, however, is different from most other cities. Not only do they have tours that really can't be compared to anywhere else on earth, they have tours that are delightfully fun and entertaining in and of themselves. One of the more interesting and most popular tours of Seattle is called Ride the Ducks of Seattle. This tour takes you on amphibious World War Two vehicles throughout the city giving you a great tour of Seattle from land and water. The tour lasts about ninety minutes and will be unlike any other tour you're ever likely to take again. The second tour of interest is a toss up with another tour for my favorite land excursion. I'll tell you about both; hopefully, you will try both and decide which one you like best. This would be called Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. This tour is strange, hilarious, and fun all at the same time. It is also shocking and disturbing in ways too. The idea that a city was built basically on top of itself is a little strange, but to discover that the original city isn't ruins makes the tale even stranger to those who don't know the story. The story is great and the telling is even better. The only drawback to this tour is that young children might find it either disturbing or boring, or both. So be prepared to entertain. The terrain is also not suitable for strollers if you have very little ones. My next favorite tour is called Private Eye Tours. This tour takes you to scenes of crimes some solved, some unsolved throughout the city. There are three tours that you can currently take. Each one costs $25 per person and lasts about two and a half hours, except for the ghost tour, which lasts three hours. The different tours are: The Queen Anne Mystery and Murder Tour, The Capital Hill Mystery and Murder Tour, and Haunted Happenings, which is also known as the Seattle Ghost Tour. Each of these tours is great fun for those who are not squeamish and make a great gift for a true crime fan or someone who loves those old fashioned detective novels. If you are interested in whale watching there are several excursions you can take. First of all, during the height of the season (June and July) you have an excellent chance of seeing whales if you watch from the western side of San Juan Islands. This is probably the best way to see whales from land. Beyond that you can take several chartered whale watching excursions. Here are a few of the companies offering whale watching cruises: San Juan Safaris (you can also do a five hour Orca search by kayak with this company), Salish Sea Charters, Island Adventures (this tour offers a discount for early birds and they offer a whale spotting guarantee), and Maya's Whale Watching Charters, which for a slightly higher price gives you a much smaller boat and puts you much closer to the water for a better view of the whales. Tours are a great way to get the most of your vacation experience. I hope I have showcased some of the more unique and colorful tours that Seattle has to offer. There are the general tours of the city and walking tours as well, these are just the tours that stand out and leave an impression. Seattle Art is in the Eyes of the Beholder If art is of interest to you, there is plenty to keep you occupied during your visit to Seattle, Washington. From small galleries to big museums and places where you can create art of your very own, there is a little something that will appeal to almost any art lover. I could begin by telling you about the various art museums in the area, but I think that is how I will end. I would first like to tell you about some shops that offer unique experiences with art and the processes of creating art. The first of these called Art By Fire. This unique little shop not only displays the artwork of artists but also offers classes in Glass Blowing. The classes are probably not a good choice for those vacationing as they meet once a week for four weeks and each lesson is four hours long. But, regardless of whether you are planning an extended stay or just curious about the offerings, there is great glass artwork to be seen here and I hope you will take me up on my suggestion that you stop by. They also offer bead making classes that are far less intensive and only require two nights effort (usually consecutive nights) that may be of interest to you as well. The next shop I want to tell you about is called Glazed and Amazed. Slowly we are seeing more shops along these lines crop up across the country, but not everyone has discovered them and they are a great, fun way to bring out the inner artists in you and the rest of your family. You start by choosing a piece of ceramic to paint. You paint your masterpiece, then the kind folks at Glazed and Amazed fire it for you and you get to pick up your finished product in a couple of days. I recommend stopping by this shop early on in your trip as it does take a couple of days for the firing process. I believe you will have a lot of fun here and any children you have should really enjoy the experience as well. I know mine do. Just a short drive from Seattle, in Tacoma, Washington is the Museum of Glass. While this doesn't exactly sound like an art museum, it is just that. One of the neatest things about this particular museum is that you can actually watch glass being made in the Hot Shop Amphitheater. This is perhaps the greatest thing about the glass museum, because here, you can actually watch glass become art. This museum is different enough to make it well worth the drive from Seattle to Tacoma and I really hope you will consider the drive if you have a passion for art. I really believe that the experience is one of a kind. While you are in Tacoma, assuming of course that you visit the Glass Museum, it would probably be a good idea to head on over to the Tacoma Art Museum. You can see more beautiful works of art including more blown glass by Dale Chihuly who is truly is a master of the art. Whatever your personal interest in art, whether watching it, observing it, or creating it, there is plenty to feed that need in and around Seattle. I hope that you will find this great city to be as much of a home to your artist heart as it is to many other great artists. Rainy Day Back up Plans: Necessary for Seattle Travel Visiting Seattle Washington is like walking into a refreshing spring rain. Well, it is about half of the year at any rate. The climate here is great for being outdoors as long as you don't mind getting a little wet. My recommendation is not to even bother with an umbrella, wear comfortable waterproof shoes, and hide your hair beneath a funky hat of some sort that will handle getting a little wet. Whatever you do, don't let the rain spoil your good time. Rain is a fact of life in Seattle and most of the locals are quite accustomed to it. If it really does bother you, you may wish to plan an alternate indoor activity for every outdoor activity you are considering. The good news is that there are plenty of both to choose from so you really shouldn't ever run out of things to do while on vacation here. If all else fails, there is plenty of great shopping in and around Seattle that will get you off the streets and into the stores. While I love shopping, unless we are talking small local stores, I can do that for the most part at home. I love visiting the local shops and galleries and buying pieces of pottery or art by local artists, other than that, I have shopping malls and chain stores at home and have rarely found something new and rare at one of these stores that I couldn't have found at home or online. But some of us are addicted to shopping in any form and really; there is no shame in that. I have a serious weakness for shoes so I can completely relate on some level. Other than shopping the local shops and stores, there are a few other indoor activities I recommend checking out. First of all there is the Experience Music Project, The Seattle Children's Museum (surprisingly fun for all ages), the Pacific Science Center, the Spirit of Washington Dinner train, Redhook Brewery tours, SeaBear Smokehouse tours, and a ride up the Space Needle which is a must for any trip to Seattle (I suggest getting dinner elsewhere and simply taking the ride up if cost might be a factor). In addition to these you can take the Boeing tour and see how these huge planes are made or trek to the Museum of Flight, which consistently ranks among the top museums of this type in the country. You can take in a movie at the IMAX Theater or enjoy the Seattle Aquarium, which will allow you to take a different point of view on the things that live in Puget Sound. If food is something that interests you, there is plenty of great food to be had throughout the Seattle area, but nowhere offers the selection that can be found at Center House in Seattle Center. While you are there, be sure to check out the Northwest Craft Center Gallery for a nice selection of Native American and other artistry. Other great places for food and dining are the Pike Place Market where you can watch your meal prepared right before your very eyes. You can also elect to take a class or two in gourmet cooking through PCC Cooks if this is a skill you'd like to bring home with you. As I've said, there are plenty of things to do indoors in Seattle if you need alternatives to those rainy day blahs. Of course, you could always make the best of the situation and try singing in the rain during one of the many outdoor activities that abound in this truly unique American city. Only you can decide best how to handle your trip and the weather that may intrude. But a vacation is supposed to be fun so it is best to have a backup plan that you find agreeable rather than spending precious vacation moments grumbling about the weather. Area Museums Educate and Entertain If you love learning, and I hope you do, because once you stop learning, there really is no need to continue existing, then there will be plenty of museums in and around Seattle Washington that will feed the mind while entertaining you and your family. The vast number of museums in this area makes it a very interesting place to visit. There are museums here that cover everything from the Klondike Gold Rush to Log Houses and many, many things in between. In addition to the two museums mentioned above there are several interesting museums to visit while in Seattle. The first one is the Museum of Flight. This is probably one of the museums that Seattle is most proud of. It is consistently voted one of, if not the best of its kind in the country. Learn about the history of flight and even take a ride in a flight simulator or tour the original Air Force One. No matter how you feel about flying, I'm almost certain that someone in your group (especially if there are any boys) will find this museum to be of great interest. The Northwest Railway Museum is another museum that is not only educational but also fun for everyone in the family as well. Visit the Depot, which has been fully restored to its originally splendor or take a ride on one of the trains. Whatever you fancy, your little guy's (even your not so little guy's) eyes will light up at the idea of riding the rails. The mission of this museum is to educate the public on the vital role that railroads have played in the development of Washington State throughout history. I think they are achieving their goal quite nicely and am happy to be able to make more of the public aware of them and their mission. The next museum that is a little out of the ordinary and yet vastly interesting and educational is the Whale Museum. This is of particular interest if you intend to do any whale watching while you are visiting the great city of Seattle. Whale watching is always a great deal of fun and it is even more fun if you are armed with the knowledge that can be gleaned by spending a little time learning about whales at the Whale Museum before you go on your whale watching excursion. The Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center is another of the great museums that can be found in Seattle. This museum not only offers great resources and information about the maritime history that is so important to Seattle today but interactive displays that encourage children to learn and explore by doing. This is a great place to spend the day, but pay close attention to their hours for the day you are planning to attend as this center has shorter weekday hours than most museums. The Wing Luke Asian Museum is the only museum of its kind in the U.S. This museum is devoted to preserving and promoting Asian Pacific American culture, history, and art. This museum has a permanent exhibit that is set up to remind us of the internment camps that were used for Japanese Americans during the Second World War. I think that this, more than anything else is an important reminder and well worth the visit and there are many more exhibits that offer entertainment and education. I hope that you will visit one or more of these great museums. I think you will be surprised to find how educational and fun they really are for the entire family. Seattle Laughter is Good Medicine It is said that laughter really is the best medicine. If that is the case then Seattle should be a pretty healthy city. There is plenty of laughter to be had in this great city and even more to be shared with those who choose to visit. If you are planning a trip to Seattle Washington, be sure to check out the many comedy clubs that can be found throughout the city. There are at least three of these comedy clubs that stand out and make a lasting impression. The first one is Comedy Underground. With locations in both Seattle and Tacoma you can pretty much take your pick between whichever one has the comedian you are most interested in seeing perform. The clubs actually have a fairly impressive menu and you are allowed to eat during the show. Just make sure that your food doesn't smell too good or the comedian might heckle you. The really good news is that Comedy Underground is open 7 nights a week with several open mic nights when you can see local talent. Those are often the most interesting to watch. Tickets can be purchased for reasonable prices; especially during open mic nights and the performances are a lot of fun to watch. This is a great way to spend an evening and bring a date. Giggles Comedy Night Club is the next one on my list. This club is only open Thursday through Sunday nights and has a one-drink minimum when there is a headliner and a two-drink minimum on open mic nights. Giggles features acts that you may have seen around a bit rather than only offering local talent. The comedy is good and the drinks are better. This is a great place to go and bring a group of friends along. The more the merrier when it comes to comedy, laughter, and liquor. Just remember to appoint a designated driver or have other plans for your ride home. Now we get to the Jet City Improv. The Jet City Improv has grown and expanded over time and is now one of the most popular theatre experiences in the Seattle area. One of the great things about these shows is that they are suitable for all ages. So this is a more family friendly environment than most other comedy clubs in the area. The entire show is improvised nightly based on audience participation and suggestions. This is one of the most hilarious theatre experiences you can possibly imagine. And the more you can imagine the funnier it will get. I seriously recommend that you bring some Advil or some other sort of pain medicine along with you, as your sides will hurt before the night is over. Whether you are a serious fan of comedy or someone who is only interested because it is a liver performance, I think you will be surprised by how much fun you have at any one of these three locations. My personal favorite is the improv but this is solely based on the audience participation factor and the fact that you pretty much know what to expect when going in. You never know what you are going to get when you hit an open mic night at some comedy clubs-sometimes the show is wonderful and sometimes the show is not so wonderful. The important thing is that you laugh often and you laugh well. Seattle Vineyards are making a Name for Themselves Visiting Seattle Washington is a great way to get in touch with your inner explorer. Not only can you get out and explore mountains, prairies, streams, rivers, and oceans, but you can also explore the city streets that make this city what it has become. With so many things to do and places to go it seems impossible really to entertain the idea of sleep. Who has time for mundane activities such as that when there is a world of knowledge and beauty to explore right outside your hotel doors? For those among us who have a difficult time unwinding after a day spent shopping, hiking, biking, boating, whale watching, and sight seeing, perhaps you should consider a wine tasting before bed. This is a great way to relax and unwind. You may even find a new favorite among the wines that you are being exposed to. While many people think of California as wine country, Washington State has shown itself to be an impressive home for wine making as well. Of course you aren't looking to get tipsy, just relaxed enough that sleep can find you after a very exciting day. Even if you elect to attend a wine tasting earlier in the day, perhaps you could pick up a bottle or two to bring back to your room with you. This will allow you to wine on hand at the end of a long day without the need to drive afterwards. Nor would you be required to get out of a cab, call a cab, or anything other than putting on your pajamas and heading off to bed. In fact, there is no rule that states you can't drink wine while wearing your pajamas either. I really can think of few better ways to relax after a long day of anything than to grab a good book and a glass of wine. Well maybe a massage, but now who's dreaming? Unless of course your hotel offers this service and you are willing to pay the price. For a good nights sleep, however, I think a glass of wine is a much better price to pay. If that doesn't help, then grab a really boring book to read. The important thing about getting a good night's sleep is that it prepares you for the events of the next day. This is especially important if you have children. It is very doubtful that they are going to handle being cooped up in a hotel room while there are adventures to be had on the other side of the door. If you need more than one glass, go for it, you can always visit another winery tomorrow and buy another bottle. Rest is important although you do not want to drink enough that you wake up sick the next morning. That is definitely not the way to properly enjoy your vacation. Just so you know there are several great wineries in the region and it would actually be quite an adventure to visit as many of them as possible. Some of the more prominent wineries in and around Seattle are: Lopez Island Vineyards, Whidbey Island Vineyards and Winery, Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery, and Hoodsport Winery and Tasting Room. Some wineries and vineyards are only open to the public by reservation or during certain hours so be sure that you are aware and have planned accordingly before visiting. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are many more wineries in the Seattle area, these are only a small sampling of the vineyards that abound in these parts so don't limit yourself if these don't seem appealing to you. Sweet dreams are often born of good wine; I hope that you will find not only an excellent flavor to help you sleep but some great selections to bring home with you as well. And wine makes an excellent souvenir for loved ones who weren't able to travel with you or even gifts for friends who are getting married, buying homes, having babies, having birthdays, well being your friends. Wine is a great gift all around; even if it's a gift you give yourself. Seattle's Rich Train History Brings out the Inner Child in us All Boys and girls of all ages love trains and trains have played a vital role in the history of this country and Seattle Washington and the Northwest in particular. In fact, the roles of trains on this part of the country have in the past been so vital that there are a few museums dedicated to that very important mode of transportation. Trains were essentially lifelines for the populations here for many years. While their importance seems to be diminishing in today's society, their importance throughout the history of our country remains. If you truly are a train lover, then it shouldn't be difficult to talk you into stopping by Seattle's Train Center before and after touring the museums dedicated to trains and their importance in history. The Train Center offers a wide selection of model train parts and pieces that would make excellent additions to your collection or a great beginning to a collection for you or your little one. After you've whetted your appetite for trains and gotten your little one all excited about them, it is time to talk a walk back in time to the Northwest Railway Museum. Here you can learn about railway history or even choose to take a ride on one of the trains that departs for several excursions throughout the day. Most of the trips are 65-75 minutes long and a great treat for young and old alike. Perhaps the greatest thing about this museum is that their main objective is to educate the public about the important role that railroads had in the development of this part of the country. If you're really interested in sharing your love of trains with the ones you love, you may consider taking a turn on the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. This is a great way to not only get the experience of riding the rails but to take in some of the beautiful Washington scenery and have a gourmet meal in the process. During the months of November through April up to two children ride free with a paying adult. There are certain restrictions as to the type of seating, but it is a great time to enjoy the experience at a greatly reduced price. There are also special events such as Murder Mystery Trains and Magic and Illusion shows in addition to certain holiday events as well. Be sure to check out what's going on while you're visiting Seattle and see if this is something that might interest you and your family. If you are up for a not so short drive to Pasco (about three and a half hours from Seattle), you might find the Washington State Railroads Historical Society Museum well worth the trip. Be sure to remember that the museum is only opened on Saturday and that the hours are limited so this is a trip you need to plan in advance to take. The greatest thing about this museum to me is the fact that there are neat little stories, like the blackboard that recorded the first snowfall at the depot each year and others such as this. It's the little stories that don't necessarily make history that do make lasting impressions and I'm glad to see this particular story is being shared. Just remember, when visiting any of these depots, museums, and train tours that you absolutely must bring your inner child with you in order to properly enjoy them. Seattle has Strong Theatrical Bonds If you love the theatre, and by love I mean a deep and abiding love for old and new alike, film and stage, then visiting Seattle might be a great idea for you and your vacation needs. Seattle has so much to offer the theatre buff that it is really frightening that one little town (well not so little really) that far west of New York could support the theatrical community that this city has. Below I will provide a small sampling of the many theatres that abound in this great city. First of all there's the 5th Avenue Theatre. With a tradition of vaudeville and silent films this theatre with an interior inspired by Beijing's Forbidden City, the 5th Avenue Theatre is Seattle's Premier Showplace. One of the great things about this theatre is that throughout the year they hold behind the scenes spotlight nights where they tell a little bit about the magic of theatre or the story behind the stories they are performing. These spotlight nights are free of charge and very well received. I highly recommend attending one of these if you have the opportunity. If you want dinner theatre with a little bit of everything in between, then maybe you should check out Teatre Zin Zanni. This is a three-hour event that is served with a five-course meal. This show seriously has a little bit of everything. From singers and dancers, to acrobats and comedians, this show is sure to dazzle the entire audience. While the show is top notch, the food cannot be described as anything other than gourmet. With a meal like this and great entertainment too, who could really ask for more from a night on the town. And you get all of this in one great place. This is an evening that will definitely be remembered long after your trip has ended. The Iniman Theatre goes for a more intimate approach when dealing with the audience. By having smaller performance space with close seating, every member of the audience is allowed a much more up close and personal view of the stage and the drama being performed. Special opportunities are created to allow audience members and patrons to have a more personal behind the scenes look at the production, even allowing some to sit in on technical rehearsals or post-play discussions. This is a great way to build a bond between the actors and the audience, particularly if the audience is made up largely of patrons or members who come to the theatre on a regular basis. The Paramount is a different and unique theater. One of the special things about this particular theater is the phenomenal architecture. This theater has a fully automated adjustable floor that allows easy conversion from theater auditorium seating to ballroom seating. This means that those planning events here have more options available for seating guests. On the first Saturday of every month the Seattle Theatre Group gives public tours of the theatre, which allows the public to get a behind the scenes look at how this great theatre operates these tours are free. Another really cool thing about this particular theatre is Silent Movie Mondays. On Monday nights you can see different silent movies playing throughout the year. Theatre has played an important role in the lives of many and if you are one who really has a passion for good theatre, then Seattle really is your city. You won't have the prices to deal with that you would have in certain other cities, but you will still be able to appreciate the best that local talent has to offer and more as some of these theatres have traveling shows that have played on or slightly off Broadway that will travel the country in order to increase interest in their shows in New York. Regardless of whether you are getting local talent or the big guns, you are most likely in for quite a night of fun. The Grown Up Side of Seattle Seattle Washington is a city that has much to offer young and old alike as a vacation destination. The truly amazing thing about a city like Seattle is that many of the attractions that might appeal to young children, might also appeal to those of an older generation for much the same and very different reasons. One of the many attractions that older visitors are sure to enjoy, well, if flowers are there thing, is the Woodland Park Rose Garden. These gardens are free to attend and offer some spectacular blooms if you visit between the months of May and August. The Seattle Aquarium is another point of interest for young and old alike. Whether you are in your first childhood or your fifth there really is nothing more exciting than watching glorious sea creatures swim above your head. When I was a child, which was something that happened in science fiction, not in real life. Which brings me to my next timeless attraction: The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. This museum explores the history of science fiction and the impact it has had on the world we see today. I love the way imaginations from times long past have sparked some of the inventions of today. As a serious science fiction lover and fanatic, I completely enjoy this museum and could spend days here. But I also have to admit that there are things I see here that belong to my father, and some things that belong to my children. This is why the Science Fiction Museum made my list. The Underground Tours are another thing that someone who is more mature might find very interesting. I know that I was completely enthralled not only in the story, but also in the hearing of the story. This was one tour that was well worth the price I paid for it. I would pay the price again if for nothing more than to take another stroll around the museum that requires a tour ticket to gain entrance. Of course, the only exit from this tour is through the gift shop, which really poses no problem. I have will power, really! The Whale Museum and any of the whale watching tours are another draw worth mentioning. If you have never seen one of these magnificent creatures up close it is an awe-inspiring event and one well worth repeating if you have. Young and old alike, no matter how big you are, it's amazing how small you can feel next to these great animals. And of course there is always the Private Eye on Seattle Tour. This tour is not for the faint of heart and yet if you are a fan of old private eye novels or 'true crime' then you should find this particular tour to be a great amount of fun. There are three tours available: The Queen Anne Mystery and Murder Tour, the Capital Hill Mystery and Murder Tour, and Haunted Happening-also called the Seattle Ghost Tour. Each of these tours costs $25 per person and lasts between two and a half and three hours. It doesn't really matter if you are young or simply young at heart, Seattle has something to wonderful to offer all who visit here. From the gorgeous scenery that only nature could provide to the cultural center that this great city has become, I hope you can find plenty to keep you occupied during your stay. National Parks Offer Great Appeal for Nature Lovers When visiting Seattle Washington, it is probably quite impossible not to notice the beautiful scenery that surrounds this great town. I can think of few cities in America that are so strategically located to take advantage of the best of nature. Not only are the surroundings lovely, but the climate is also very mild for most of the year. The drawback for some is the rain as it rains about 50 percent of the time in this city. I suppose that I could sacrifice humidity and stifling high temperatures in exchange for a few rain showers, but that's just me. It would seem that I am not the only one that has noticed the beauty that seems to surround the Seattle area as there are several national parks in these areas that are a sure sign someone else has noticed. In fact, that is what I'll be discussing. The national parks that are within easy driving distance of Seattle Washington. If you love nature, any of these parks has a great deal to offer and if you are really adventurous, you can try visiting them all (though I really feel you would be hard pressed to get the most out of your experience in a national park after just one day). The first national park on my list is the one that comes first to my mind when I think of Seattle even though it is a monument rather than a park. It is called the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and was created for the purposes of research, education, and recreation. Within the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument the environment is left to its own devices in recovering from the disaster. The last time Mt. St. Helens erupted was in 1980. The next national park on my list is indeed a national park it is called Mt. Rainier National Park and is only a short drive from Seattle. Mt. Rainier is an inactive volcano and the park was founded in 1899. This park receives visits from nearly two million people each year. There are many activities that can be enjoyed here from camping, hiking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and fishing to taking simple nature walks in order to enjoy the beautiful scenery. This is one park that I really don't recommend trying to conquer in a day, there is simply too much ground to cover and you might miss something really cool if you rush through. I understand that time is limited and you may not have the time to properly explore all the park has to offer on one vacation. If that is the case, I seriously recommend finding one or two things to do and see while there and concentrating all of your efforts on those things. Located about two hours outside of Seattle, Washington is the North Cascades National Park. Often referred to as the North American Alps, this mountain range is spectacularly beautiful. There are many activities available within the park such as camping, hiking, mountain climbing, fishing, and float trips along the Skagit and Stehekin rivers. For me, simply enjoying the stunning views of this national park would be enough without the benefit of the other activities that are available. This is a great way to spend a day, two days, or even an entire vacation. I especially recommend river floating if you have children. It is a great way to enjoy your time together and fairly enjoyable for everyone. You may even be able to get them to take the headphones off for a little while. Everyone has certain things that appeal to him or her most about a prospective vacation location. For me, a great amount of appeal comes in the things I can see, touch, smell, and experience. Nature is one of the things that we can't always experience at home or if we can, we simply take it for granted. While on vacation, the ability to experience the best that nature has to offer is a wonderful thing. I hope you will visit at least one of these parks during your visit to Seattle. Seattle Center is an Event unto Itself Seattle Center is the heartbeat of modern day Seattle and a must see for anyone visiting the Seattle Washington area. It is perhaps one of the most famous places in Seattle if for nothing else, for the Space Needle that is housed here. The Space Needle is one of if not the most easily recognized landmarks in the U.S. Northwest. The Seattle Center has evolved over time and now hosts many cultural aspects of Seattle City life. Among these cultural centers is McCaw Hall, which is the home of the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. In addition to these establishments, Seattle Circle is also home to several theatres. Among them are: the Bagley-Wright Theatre, Leo Kreielsheimer Theatre, Poncho Theatre, and the Intiman Playhouse. If theatre, opera, and ballet is a little too 'high brow' for you, then you will also be interested in knowing that Seattle Circle is home to Key Arena where the Seattle Sonics play as well as the Thunderbirds (Seattle's Western Hockey League team). If you enjoy music, you should be sure to check out the Experience Music Project while you are here. This is essentially a museum of rock memorabilia and multimedia displays. Seeing the building itself is almost worth the hefty admission price, but the actual exhibits makes it a good bargain. You can make your dollar go even further by purchasing combo tickets for the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Both of these are located within Seattle Circle and they each offer a unique look at the cultures of today and the past. The Science Fiction Museum is one of my favorite places in Seattle to visit and I think even the stodgiest and most humorless among you would be hard pressed not to find something of interest in either of these museums. For the younger members of your vacationing group, Seattle Center offers a great deal to do. First of all it is home to the Children's Museum. This is an incredibly fun, interactive, hands on learning experience for big and little kids alike. You could easily spend an entire day at the Children's museum without seeing the same thing twice. Even better is the knowledge that your kids will learn a lot and you can disguise their learning as fun. They will never know what is really happening. Another point of interest for small children is Pacific Science Center, which is home to the Boeing IMAX Theater. The museum consists of eight buildings and houses not one, but two IMAX theaters, a tropical butterfly house, a planetarium, and several hands-on exhibits that are constantly changing and traveling around the country and to other museums. In addition to all of these wonderful places, there are several fountains and gardens throughout the circle in addition to many restaurants that will appeal to all kinds of tastes and desires. But perhaps the most interesting feature of Seattle Center to the teen crowd is the skate park. As I've said, you could very easily spend a day or even a week in the Seattle Center area and never run out of fun things to do. If you are planning a visit to Seattle Washington any time in the near future you will want to be sure that a stroll through Seattle Center is pretty high on your itinerary.
All Natural Freebies abound in Seattle If you're an outdoors kind of person and really enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, or simply enjoy not being trapped inside a building all day, then Seattle Washington has plenty to offer you should you decide to visit. When planning your visit to Seattle, you will probably find that there are many things that appeal to you and it is quite difficult to narrow them down by interest alone. This is the point when I divide activities into categories such as: things I really want to do, things that seem interesting, and things that will really just pass the time. Then, I take those things and do a reality (which translates to price) check. I try to justify the expenses of the things I really want to do that are more than I'd like to pay by sneaking in things I'd like to do equally as much for free. It's a great concept and works really well when giving children a choice of activities. Let them choose between two free activities. They still get a voice and feel as though they are an important part of the decision making process and you aren't spending $50 an hour for them to jump on a fancy trampoline. Here are some of the excellent free activities that can be enjoyed in the great outdoors of Seattle Washington. The really great news is that many of these are actually both entertaining and educational. This is good for you and the kids who will leave Seattle with some degree of knowledge about something other than the ice cream flavors that are offered there. The first freebie that I recommend is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. This is of special interest to those who love flowers. The conservatory is divided into five houses which each provides a suitable habitat for growing very specific plants. The five houses are: Bromeliad House, which is members of the pineapple family; Palm House, which consists of about 1200 species; Fern House, which features an assortment of tropical ferns and other exotic plants; Seasonal Display House, which changes with the season and consists of many common and recognizable house plants; and Cactus House, which is rather self explanatory. The conservatory is free to the public and a great way to pass time for any flower lover in your group. Next there is the Washington Arboretum Park. This park is actually a 200-acre arboretum that was designed by the same firm responsible for the design of Central Park in New York. The park hosts 40,000 trees, shrubs, and vines. You can pay for a tour or simply wander around and enjoy the landscape. The purpose of this park is to preserve certain species of plants while offering education to the public and anyone who wishes to learn and benefit from the knowledge that can be gained there. Next there is the Woodland Park Rose Garden. This garden is located next to the zoo but is open to the public free of charge. There is a $4 parking fee during zoo hours, but parking is free after hours. The climate of Seattle is mild enough that roses seem to flourish and grow beautifully here. The rose gardens receive over 200,000 visitors each year and are a great sight to see while you are visiting Seattle. Finally, there is Discovery Park. This park offers stunning views and a place to contemplate the beauty of nature and the surroundings of Seattle. The park itself is 534-acres making it the largest city park in Seattle. The purpose of this park was to provide sanctuary for wildlife and a place to learn about nature for those who were interested. The park has a play area for children, picnic equipment, and trails and paths for exploration. Nature is a wonderful thing to behold and Seattle is blessed with some of the most beautiful natural surroundings on earth. It only makes sense that while on vacation you should be able to enjoy the beautiful plants, animals, and scenery that abound in the area. I sincerely hope you take the opportunity to enjoy some of these great places. Seattle's Maritime History Plays Important Role in its Current Culture Seattle Washington is nearly surrounded by water. It is no wonder that water has played a vital role in the history of this great city. Water has also been a serious draws for those choosing to visit Seattle Washington as well. Not only is water of historical significance to this city, it is a cultural phenomenon as well. The maritime traditions of this great city are an important part of its current greatness. If you are planning a visit to Seattle, one of the very first things you should do is head on over to the Pioneer Square Historic District and take the Underground Tour. This tour will explain to you a significant point in history about the relationship of this city and water. Take a tour of an entire section of the city that was literally buried in order to avoid plumbing problems. Find out where the term Skid Road originated and laugh along as you hear great stories about the colorful history of this part of town. Many Islands and Island communities abound on the outskirts of Seattle. The Ferries here are integral to the daily lives of commuters and tourists alike. Access to many tourist attractions is easily accessible by Ferry when driving would be impossible. There are often summer concerts at the Ferry Terminal on Pier 52. The last Friday of every month from June through August, they celebrate Picnic at the Pier with live music on the upper level of the Terminal from 3:00 until 6:30 p.m. There are 10 ferry accessible communities in the Puget Sound; each of these communities has a unique flavor that is really interesting to experience. If you can't visit them all, read about them and visit the ones that interest you most. It is a great day trip and you never know what creatures you will see along the way. If you love the water, and by this I mean you are like me and feel that a piece of your soul was meant to be at sea, then you simply can't pass up the opportunity to visit the Center for Wooden Boats. The visit is free and you get to actually see how these beautiful boats are crafted. There is nothing like literally riding the wind in a wooden sailboat and you can do just that on Sunday afternoons for free or you can charter one of their many boats during the right weather conditions. Remember these boats are works of art and should be handled with extreme care. If you're going to be in town a while you can even take one of their sailing lessons. They offer group lessons (which are excellent for beginners) and one on one training (better for this with basic knowledge of sailing). Whether you were born with webbed feet or just enjoy the idea of being on water, there is plenty to be seen and done from the water in and around Seattle. From whale watching and sailing, to kayaking, water skiing, and any number of other water activities there is a place to partake in them all in this great area. Not all areas are suitable for all activities so be aware of the water you are near and find out what is and isn't safe to do in that area. There are some areas where the water simply isn't safe to be in for health reasons and others where the currents are dangerous and swift. Most importantly have fun exploring the great salt and fresh water in this area and learning their role in the history here. Seattle's Intriguing History Leaves Lasting Impression on Visitors Seattle, Washington has a great deal to offer its discerning visitors. From the ordinary and mundane to the out and out macabre, you will see it all while visiting Seattle, Washington, if, that is, you know where to look for them. Seattle has a rich history and it seems an even richer future. Nestled among some of the most beautiful countryside North America has to offer, this great city has the best of most worlds-a very mild climate, access to water, land, mountains, fields, and streams. Seattle is like every patriotic song you can imagine and in the middle of it all Seattle is a bustling metropolis. If you are planning to visit Seattle, I have one word of warning for you. You will probably want to stay. That is of course, if you aren't too worried by rain. The only real drawback I can see for living in Seattle is that your skin will have a difficult time getting that sun kissed glow that summer brings almost everywhere else in America. But I think I could sacrifice sweltering heat and sticky humidity in exchange for a little rain. In fact, I would welcome a little rain right now; it might actually cool things off. For those who have tastes that run a little bit off center of ordinary, Seattle has a great bit of entertainment to offer you as well. The first bit is a freebie and not of interest to some (yet it still seems a vastly popular stop for tourists). That place is the Lakeview Cemetery. This is where the bodies of many of Seattle's founding fathers and most prominent citizens have been laid to rest. Perhaps most startling is the fact that Bruce and Brandon Lee receive more visitors than anyone else in the cemetery. While some may find this fact mildly disturbing, I guess when you think of all the visitors Graceland receives every year it really isn't all that obscene. The next stop on the off center tourist traps would be Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. This tour takes you to the streets of old downtown Seattle. The only thing is these streets are beneath the streets of New Seattle. This is perhaps one of the most interesting tours you will find in the city-other than maybe the Private Eye tours but that's another story-because it literally takes you into history. At the end of this tour you can get access to Rogue's Gallery Museum where you will see exhibits relating to Seattle's Victorian era and other historical points of interest. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and costs $11 for adults. If you have the time, this is one tour that if nothing else, will leave a lasting impression. If you are in the Pike Place Market area, you really should check out the Market Ghost Tours. These are one hour walking tours of the market where those who work in the building share stories of strange occurrences. You will also get to hear some of Seattle's interesting history mixed in with the ghost tales. This is a walking tour and might be a little frightening and/or boring for smaller children. But, if you are looking for something different to do, this tour should be right up your alley. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, I would hope that you can at the very least find tours such as this entertaining. The city of Seattle has a great deal to offer those who are adventurous enough to seek the knowledge, fun, and entertainment that abounds. Some of the tours and exhibits need to be taken with a grain of salt and a sense of humor. All others should at the very least provide some degree of information, education, and fun to those who visit. I hope more than anything that your trip to Seattle takes you off the beaten path at least once. What on earth would you tell the people back home if you didn't at least have one extraordinary adventure? Enjoying the Great Outdoors without Breaking the Bank Visiting Seattle Washington can be an infinitely fun experience. This experience can be magnified greatly if you find entertainment that is inexpensive of free. The good news is that this type of entertainment can be easily found in and around the Seattle area. The even better news is that I'm going to share some of the many great things you can do for free while visiting Seattle. Some people tend to scoff at the ideas of freebies, and that is all well and good. Those people are perfectly willing to pay over inflated prices for their entertainment while I hope you will be wise enough to choose entertainment that doesn't come with quite as much sting. Believe me when I say, you do not always get what you pay for and the cliches are correct. You will probably find that many of the best things you find in Seattle are absolutely free. The first great place I'm going to tell you about is one of those absolutely free places to visit. Not only is it great fun but it is educational as well. I sincerely hope that you will not let the price tag prevent you from the knowledge and good old-fashioned fun you can have at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. There is much to do during your trip to the locks. A few great suggestions would be to walk in the gardens, watch the boats, visit the fish ladder (little ones will find this completely fascinating), and exploring the many exhibits in the area. You can even go on a free guided tour between the months of March and November. Next, there is The Center for Wooden Boats. What boy doesn't like toys? Or girl for that matter, I know I'm game when it comes to boats, particularly wooden boats. Not only can you go and explore the boats for free, on Sundays at 2:00 (weather permitting) you can go sailing on one of these magnificent watercrafts for absolutely no charge. You can call ahead of time at (206) 382-2628 in order to check water conditions. Because of the popularity of this program it is wise to arrive at least one hour ahead of time in order to participate in the 2:00 sail. There are some Sundays when other events conflict with the Sunday sail so call to be sure that the sail will be offered. Of course, even without the Sunday sail the Center for Wooden Boats is still an excellent way to spend an afternoon dreaming about these fantastic toys. Finally, I want to mention Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve. This reserve was created in order to preserve the natural history of the land. Coupeville is a 19th Century town that has been preserved in an attempt to portray an accurate picture of what life here was like. There is a museum, gift shop, several eateries, and an antique shop that line the once vibrant seaside town. Then visit the Admiralty Head Lighthouse and many of the other attractions that abound. You can take your car and drive the length of the reserve. The drive is approximately 43 miles long and your driving time will depend greatly on the amount of time you spend exploring along the way. If you want to make a day trip of it, you may want to pack a picnic lunch and plan your day accordingly. Other activities that you may enjoy while visiting Ebey's Landing include: biking, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, nature walks, scuba diving, wildlife viewing, and bird watching. Visiting this reserve is literally taking a step back in time. I hope you enjoy this place as much as I do. With so many great things to do for free, who would ever want to leave Seattle Washington? The best news is that this is only a small glimpse of the great ways to have fun while visiting this unique and wonderful city. State Parks offer Intriguing Options for Travelers There are many things to do while visiting Seattle Washington that are either free or inexpensive. Many of the free things to do in and around Seattle are outdoor activities. Because of the incredible views and magnificent scenery in and around the area it makes perfect sense that several of these would be visiting the many state parks in the area. Keep in mind that not all state parks are free to visit but below you will find information on some that are. If you are a lover of nature and the outdoors then this should really get your blood pumping. Remember to bring along all the fun equipment that makes the outdoors fun. First of all there is Deception Pass State Park. This park has salt water, fresh water, camping, hiking, boating, spectacular views, and a few areas with playground equipment for the little ones. There are many activities available and appropriate for the island: hiking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, white water kayaking, diving, clamming, crabbing, bird watching, mountain biking, and simply viewing the wonderful scenery that nature provided. Next, there is Fort Worden State Park. Fort Worden was originally used to guard the entry into Puget Sound. Fort Warden became a state park in 1955 and remains a popular park and convention center. Convention and camping facilities are opened on the park year round and there is plenty to do to keep guests busy, happy, and entertained. In addition to the traditional hiking, biking, diving, water skiing, swimming, boating, and animal watching, Fort Worden offers baseball, basketball, softball, and volleyball facilities. If that isn't enough there is also a museum and incredible views that simply invite the photographer within to come out and play. Fort Flagler State Park Fort Flagler, like Fort Worden originally guarded the entryway into the Puget Sound. Also like Fort Worden, Fort Flagler became a state park in 1955. Fort Flagler still has some of the original military structures that tell the proud history of this island. It is also surrounded on three sides by salt water. While there are many similarities between Fort Worden and Fort Flagler, the latter is only open for campers for part of the year. Day visitors are allowed year round, however. It is the stunning view of the Sound and the surrounding mountains, however that makes this park so spectacular. I hope you have the chance to visit. Finally, there is Lime Kiln Point State Park. This park is a 36-acre park that is only for day use. The park is located on the western side of San Juan Island and is an excellent location from which to watch Orca whales from land. In addition to whale watching you can go hiking, tour the lighthouse, and enjoy viewing various other wildlife here as well. Diving is possible here but very dangerous as the currents are quite strong. The lighthouse here still serves as a navigational aid for ships in the Haro Strait. While this particular park offers less in way of amenities it remains my favorite simply because of the lighthouse and the possibility of seeing whales while visiting. The months of June and July are the best for whale watching but any time during the months of May throughout September, whale spotting remains a possibility. While not everyone is interested in nature or experiencing the great outdoors, state parks such as these mentioned above make it much more enjoyable-especially when you consider the fact that there is no admission fees for visiting these parks. If you love the outdoors and nature as much as I do then you would probably have been more than willing to pay for the privilege of visiting any one if not each and every one of these parks. It is my sincerest hope that you will find something that is fun, frivolous, and most importantly free to do while you are on vacation. You know how the saying goes, "the best things in life are free". Seattle Freebies offer Cultural Significance Seattle Washington is a great place to visit for many reasons. Whether you are a nature lover or more into the things that define a civilization such as shopping malls, museums, and one Starbucks, Seattle has a little bit of everything to offer its visitors. In fact, visitors could quite easily find that they have done and spent all that they should have rather early in their travel time if they aren't careful. Below you will find a few great things to do on your trip that won't require robbing the children's college fund in order to pay for. I'm all for paying good money for good fun, but if I can find good fun for free, that means there's more money left for things that would have otherwise been off limits because of prohibitive costs. So go ahead and plan the dinner train, you can make up the cost by eating breakfast from a box two mornings in a row or spending an afternoon in one of Seattle's many great parks. If you'd rather find indoor activities that are free, here are a few suggestions: 1) Frye Art Museum. Not only is the art top of the line, but the architecture is glorious as well. Through January of 2007, the Frye Art Museum is host to a very unique sound sculpture called Trimpin: Klompen this exhibit is comprised of 120 wooden Dutch shoes that literally dance before your very eyes. This exhibit is only one of many great exhibits that are sure to delight everyone in your group. This museum focuses on contemporary art from the 19th century to the present. 2) Museum and Arts Center. This particular museum is located about 50 miles outside of Seattle but might be worth the drive, especially if you enjoy taking in the scenery of the area. The fact that the museum is free is sometimes enough to make it worth the drive. Among the many exhibits that you or your children may find interesting is an exhibit of mammoth and mastodon in addition to a video on the mastodon excavation. In addition to this exhibit there are other exhibits that feature local artists and pioneer and historical displays. 3) Bellevue Arts Museum. This museum is only free on the first Friday ight of every month. In addition to free admission and great art, there are live music and lectures from 5:30-9:00 pm. I feel this bears mentioning here because there are times to visit when this is free and I feel that this is a culturally significant activity that the entire family can enjoy. 4) Seattle Asian Art Museum. This museum is free on the first Thursday and the first Saturday of each month. Currently there is an exhibit of exquisite Buddhist art that represent the influences of Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, Korean, and Japanese artistic interpretations. 5) Wing Luke Asian Museum. This museum also offers free admission on the first Thursday of every month. Here you will find art and exhibits that are devoted to the Asian Pacific American culture. There is also a multimedia station that allows visitors to hear interviews with Japanese American citizens who were forced into internment camps during WWII. I think this is a museum that should be on everyone's to do list whether you can make it on one of the free days or not. There is a lot to be learned here and I hope that you will be up for the lessons. While these museums are for the most part smaller museums, they still represent a significant contribution not only of art, but history to the world of art and artists. Even if the cultural offerings of the many museums aren't that appealing to you on a personal level, the benefits to your children might be surprising-especially when you consider the fact that you didn't have to pay a dime for admission. Seattle, Washington Wildlife If you truly love the outdoors and all things that belong to nature then Seattle Washington is really a great place for you to visit. With the climate, the terrain, and the beautiful surroundings, this city truly has the best of most worlds. Mountains, volcanoes, trees, sand, and sea can all be found in and around this truly unique city. In addition to the great scenery that abounds, there are many places you can go to get a better view of the local wildlife. This is, after all, an integral part of nature and the little ones that you've brought along (if you've brought little ones along) will thoroughly enjoy seeing all of the animals. Seattle has the distinct benefit of having and/or being within easy driving distance of several zoos and aquariums as well as other unique opportunities to see wildlife in more natural habitats and surroundings. Below I will give a brief overview of some of them that will hopefully whet your appetite and encourage you to at the very least give these outings serious consideration. The first wildlife exhibit I would like to point out is a bit of a drive from Seattle but well worth every mile. Northwest Trek is a 715-acre park, which offers a tram tour through 435 acres of land where animals are free roaming in their natural habitats. There are 30 species represented along the trek and more than 200 animals within those species. This is a great way to see American animals without cages and bars surrounding them. The next one I'd like to mention is Wolf Haven International. This organization provides rescue and sanctuary for captive born wolves. Wolf Haven also offers education to the public at large about these great animals. 45 minute to one hour walking tours are offered daily and walking tours are the only way you can actually see the wolves. If you have even the most remote interest in these beautiful creatures, I highly recommend a visit to Wolf Haven as a potential highlight of your trip to Seattle. Next on my list of unique opportunities to view wildlife is the Cougar Mountain Zoo. This zoo is unique because of its focus on endangered species. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about this particular zoo is its focus on educating visitors about the animals it hold. The zoo hosts several lectures throughout the day on the various animals it holds. Not only is there the magic of rare and beautiful creatures but a profound lesson that can be learned about conservationism and the importance of each and every creature in the circle of life. I think this is truly a unique opportunity that would be a shame to miss. One of the activities people think of most when visiting Seattle is of course, whale watching. I would certainly be remiss if I didn't include information about that here as well. There are several charter companies that offer whale-watching excursions leaving daily from Seattle. The most popular time of year to do so is from April through September and the San Juan Islands are a great general area in which to see these magnificent creatures. My recommendation is to make reservations early, especially during the peak whale-watching season. Not only do you get to see the great whales, but you also get to take a boat ride in the process. For me, being on the water is just as wonderful an experience was watching the whales. These are some of the more uncommon and unique places to view animals in and around Seattle, Washington. If you are planning a visit to this area and you love animals, nature, and wildlife, each of these places has something special and extraordinary to offer its guests. Not only are these places to view wonderful and magnificent creatures but also receive an education about them as well. My fondest hope is that you will visit each of these places and find the experience as incredible as I do. Seattle for Romance If you are looking for a romantic getaway, look no further than Seattle Washington for your next vacation. There are so many wonderfully romantic things to do in this wonderful city and it rains literally half the time, which provides an excellent excuse for cuddling beneath an umbrella. Even those who are romantically challenged would be hard pressed not to find something romantic to do in this great city. If you are at a complete loss as to where you should start, start by holding hands. Then you can hold hands all the way through the Woodland Park Rose Garden. Admission to the garden is free and scents and scenery are quite romantic, especially if your date is a flower lover. If he or she is not, then there are many other options so don't despair. Among those other options would be a wine tasting. If your date enjoys a nice glass of wine, there are several vineyards in and around Seattle that offer daily wine tours which end in a wine tasting. Even if this would be your first time drinking wine as a couple it could be a great deal of fun and you could have fun learning about each others likes and dislikes when it comes to wine. On the flip side there are also several breweries in the area where you and your date could sample beers and microbrews as well. Either way, trying new things together is a great way to strengthen your relationship, even early on. If you really want to impress your date, book a hot air balloon ride. A ride like this, especially at the right time of day can not only be a lot of fun, it can also be extremely romantic. There is someone else to do the driving and the two of you are left to talk and enjoy the magnificent scenery that surrounds the great city of Seattle. In addition to each and every one of these ideas there are several other things you can do to bring out your inner romantic fool. Try walking in the rain without an umbrella. You are in Seattle after all; there should be rain at some point during your travels. Try a night at the theatre or ballet. Guys you cannot imagine how effective this is in proving your love to your lady. There are several theatres within the city to choose from. If you like old silent movies and will be in town on Monday night, you can catch Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount. You can ride the Space Needle to the Observation Deck and look out at the city lights or you could take a romantic sunset cruise on one of the many charter boats in and around the city. The Wooden Boat Museum is a great place to find a nice romantic boat to charter, or if you would rather go during the day in hopes of sighting some whales, there are several larger excursions that you could charter as well. The bottom line, is that anything you do together that you both agree on and look forward to can be a romantic outing. The purpose of your trip is to build your relationship and have fun together. So go out, have fun, and remember why you love each other in the first place. Seeing Seattle through the Eyes of a Child If you are planning to visit Seattle Washington any time in the near future I hope you are either bringing along your children, or the child in you at the very least. Why you ask? Well, the answer to that is simple, because there are so many fun things for children to do in Seattle. In addition to the many parks spread throughout the city, and by that, I mean that Seattle has several extraordinary parks. Among those great parks are: Alki Playfield, Cal Anderson Park (which boasts a wading pool and a gigantic chess set), Cascade Playground (which features free music Fridays from noon until 2:00), Discovery Park, and Woodland Park. But parks and playgrounds are just a start. Seattle really has so much more to offer than just this. There is the Children's Repertory Theatre, which offers plays and musicals that are sure to delight children of all ages. In addition to the theatre, Seattle has an excellent Children's Museum. For hands on learning, there is the Pacific Science Center and to aid in a healthy respect and appreciation of musical arts, there is the Experience Music Project. If you have a child or are a child that wants to grow up and touch the stars, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame might be in order. And there's always Gameworks' for the child in all of us that has never outgrown playing video games. For little boys that may never grow up there is the Northwest Railway Museum and the Boeing Tour that shows how these huge planes is made. There is also the Museum of Flight, which consistently ranks as one of the top museums in this category worldwide. If your child is a lover of animals, there is so much to do and see in and around Seattle that it is difficult to know where to begin. I'll start with Wolf Haven, which offers daily tours that last about an hour and provide visitors an opportunity to observe these magnificent animals in a natural surrounding. Next, there is Northwest Trek, which allows guests to take a tram ride through their park for the purpose of observing several animals in a natural environment. One of my favorites is Cougar Mountain Park, which is really a one of a kind experience for any animal lover. This park takes animals that are endangered and shelters them while providing education and enlightenment about the plight of these animals and the effect they have on the ecosystem. In addition to these animal havens, there is Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Seattle Aquarium, and Woodland Park Zoo. Each of these is more common as far as zoos and/or aquariums go but offer the opportunity to view animals just the same. Also, there is my personal favorite Seattle activity, whale watching. You can either charter a boat or take your child out to Lime Kiln Point State Park to look for these magnificent creatures. Either way, this activity will probably be the highlight of your trip for your child, especially if you happen to see one of these beauties. If that isn't enough, Seattle is the host city for several professional sports teams. If you or your inner child loves sports, then this is the city to visit. Almost every major sport is represented. There are the Sonics, the Storm, The Mariners, The Seahawks, and the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds are a Western Hockey League team but a professional team just the same and you really don't want to get me started on the NHL for now, that would take days of writing. At any rate, it would be really wonderful to me, if I could see Seattle just once through the eyes of a child. The closest thing I can hope for is to see it through the eyes of my children and hope that they develop the same respect and appreciation for this great city that I have. Small Shops and Centers make great Stops along the Way Now we've come to my favorite pastime: shopping. I really couldn't resist the opportunity to talk about the awesome stores, malls, and shopping centers that abound in Seattle Washington. The shopping alone is enough to garner a visit in my opinion, even without the many other wonderful things that this city has to offer. Whether your shopping interests lie in art, clothing, shoes, chocolates, or wines there is plenty here to keep you busy for quite some time. Just keep in mind that you will either need room in your luggage or to ship your new purchases home. There are also weight restrictions for luggage if you are flying so you want to be careful about how much you plan to bring with you. A good thing to find before your shopping trip would be a UPS Store or a Mailboxes Etc from which you can ship your purchases home. The first great shopping place in Seattle is Pike Place Market. This market has a history as rich as the city itself. It has seen immigration, internment, and many other processes over the course of the last century. Be sure to find out more of its history while you are there. I like Pike Place because you can get fresh foods here that we often do without while on vacation. This isn't a place to shop for souvenirs so much as it is a place to shop for your next meal. If you are shopping for artworks or antiques, then Pioneer Square is definitely the place to be. On the first Thursday of each month, Pioneer Square sponsors a gallery walk that begins at 6:00 pm. Shops, galleries, and restaurants stay open later and hold an art walk. This is truly a great place to shop for gifts, goodies, and ideas. I hope you have a great deal of fun in the process. I have been a lover of books since I was a very young child. I can think of few things I would rather by for my children or myself than a good book or two. In fact, I generally have a rather difficult time limiting my purchases to one or two. With all the amazing bookstores around the country, I have found the Elliot Bay Book Company to be one of the most enjoyable. If you get the chance, I highly encourage you to check this store out. I believe you will very much enjoy what you see here. Seattle also has plenty of malls that offer the typical mall anchor stores and even several specialty and high-end stores. I tend to shy away from those in search of stores and shops that are much more intimate and cozy. I know that not everyone feels the same and these giant mega malls are a great deal of fun for many who travel. I just can't bring myself to work up much excitement while on vacation for something I can do at home. Perhaps I'm strange. My hope is that I have given you a couple of ideas for shopping that you might not have otherwise noticed among the many options for your spending dollars while in Seattle. Take the time to look around at the small storefronts rather than the big flashy signs that are often so eye-catching. The smaller stores will offer something much more than the bigger chains ever will, personal service. It is becoming a lost art in today's society but I'm hoping that by frequenting businesses such as this we can see a comeback. City Pass Offers Great Price for Popular Attractions If you're planning a visit to Seattle Washington and will be spending a few days in town, you might seriously consider purchasing a city pass. This pass will allow you to experience several of the more popular attractions this great city has to offer at a fraction of their regular prices. It will also allow you daytime (6 am through 7 pm daily) transportation through the cities Metro system. This pass is good for nine days from its first use and provides you with several options for activities during your stay. The first activity offered by these passes is a visit to the Museum of Flight. Watch in amazement as the history of flight comes to life right before your very eyes. From a tour of the original Air Force one to flight simulators of modern day jet flights this museum has a little bit to offer every kid, big and small, in your group. Enjoy the many exhibits and family activities that are available here and have fun exploring the history of flight both personal and military in out country. This is something I would recommend even if it weren't part of the pass and is well worth a visit. The Seattle Harbor tour is the next event on this list. This tour is offered by Argosy Cruises and will probably be a highlight of your time in Seattle. If not a highlight, then perhaps the boost you needed to try some of the more elaborate tours that Argosy has to offer. This tour lasts about an hour long and provides a tour of the bay while pointing out some of the stunning scenery that surrounds Seattle. You do have the option of upgrading your cruise to one of the others offered by Argosy for an additional fee. If you've never been in open water before, I recommend starting with a smaller cruise and seeing how your sea legs (and stomach) measure up before embarking on a longer or dinner cruise. Next is a favorite for children of all ages-yes, moms and dads count. This is a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo. This zoo has won awards for its natural looking exhibits and delights guests with them as well. This zoo is much more than lions, tigers, and bears. This zoo has great deal to offer any family who would make a day of it, and I seriously recommend that that is precisely what you do. While you're there, you might want to step over to the rose garden next door (the rose garden is free of charge but quite beautiful) and enjoy the beauty and aroma the roses present. Next is the Pacific Science Center. From video games and laser shows to fascinating science exhibits the Pacific Science Center really is a fun place to visit. While you're there you might want to check out the IMAX theatre and see what is playing. Among the permanent exhibits is a Dinosaur exhibit from the Mesozoic Era, a tropical butterfly house, an Insect Village, and a saltwater Tide Pool where little ones can see and touch many of the creatures that can be found in the Puget Sound. And finally, the Seattle Aquarium, which really needs no explanation. Explore life under the sea and the many salt water and fresh water creatures that can be found in and around the Puget Sound. This will be a highlight for everyone in your group I can almost guarantee. If any of these or most of these is appealing to you and/or those you are traveling with, then purchasing a city pass is probably a wise investment. Even if you don't visit all of the attractions, you can save money by visiting a few. The Roads Less Traveled in Seattle If you are in the process of making plans to visit Seattle Washington, I'm sure you've checked out all kinds of information about what there is to do and see in the area. There are many things that make all of the must do lists because they offer appeal to the greater population rather than things that would appeal to specific segments of population. I consider myself young, hip, and fun loving. While there are many things on the mass lists that I find appealing, I really like going off the beaten path just a little bit and finding things to do and places to see that aren't going to be overcrowded, overpopulated, and simply overdone. I like to find something that not every other tourist in the city is going to be standing in line in front of me to do. Here are a few of the nifty tours and other things I have found to do in Seattle. The first one on my list is the Private Eye on Seattle Murder and Mystery Tour. There are three tours offered, the Queen Anne Murder and Mystery Tour, the Capital Hill Tour (which each cost $25 per person and lasts about two and a half hours), and Haunted Happenings, which is also known as the Seattle Ghost Tour (this tour lasts about 3 hours and is also $25 per person). These are great for any fan of true crime or simply dusty old detective novels. They are not however, tours I would recommend for the squeamish or faint of heart. I recommend any one of these tours or all of them if possible. They are a great way to spend your time while in Seattle. After a trip with Private Eye on Seattle, you simply must check out the Seattle Museum of the Mysteries, which is a museum dedicated to the study of paranormal sciences. This is the only museum of its kind in Washington State. If you have any interest in Big Foot, UFOs, crop circles, ghosts, or just enjoy legends, lore, and tall tales, then this museum should be right up your alley. Even if these things aren't vitally important in your day-to-day existence, it is still really interesting to see the artifacts that have been collected and to hear the stories that are being told. Coming back to the world of the living, one of my favorite places in Seattle is a little bit crowded with tourists; however, it is well worth dealing with a few more people if you ask me. That place would be Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. I'm not sure if my fascination with this place stems from my love of science fiction movies and literature or simply from the contribution that science fiction has made on society in the last few decades. Perhaps it is a slight combination of the two. Or maybe it is just the coolness factor alone. For whatever reason, this museum is a favorite of mine and I hope that you will feel the same way about it after you visit. If you are visiting the Science Fiction Museum, you might seriously consider purchasing a combination ticket for the Experience Music Project. Separately the project is a tad expensive but when you purchase a combo ticket for both you save enough money to take the sting out of the visit. If you are a music lover, particularly rock and roll, then this experience is one well worth having. The price is somewhat prohibitive if you are visiting on a budget but if you plan carefully you can manage savings in other areas that will make up for the cost. There are so many fascinating things to do, see, and experience in Seattle and the surrounding areas. I hope that I have introduced you to a few things that are a little off the beaten path and yet offer something of interest to you at the same time. The most important thing to remember when visiting Seattle, Washington is that vacations are fun and that is what you should have-lots of fun.
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