Growing up as 1990’s teenagers in Australia, Seattle was (and still is) a musical mecca for us. The home of many pivotal musicians, bands and the birthplace of grunge music, it’s art culture and technology has inspired us our entire lives. If you had told “teenage us” that one day Seattle would be a 2-3hr drive from home for the Vades, they would have told you, you were nuts. We were lucky to visit Seattle on many occasions over the last 10 years. It will always be one of our favourite cities. In almost every way, it aligns with our taste, style and of course musical flavour.
Situated in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America, Seattle hugs the shoreline of an inlet called Puget Sound. Only 190 km south of the Canadian border it the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region. With its origins as a logging town during the Gold Rush era, Seattle grew as a major shipping port after the two World Wars. Today, Seattle is most well known for aircraft manufacturing with Boeing aircraft produced there. In recent years it has become a tech hub thanks in a small part to the region being the birthplace of Bill Gates and Microsoft. Other tech companies follow with the likes of Expedia, Amazon and Getty Images all having major offices or their corporate headquarters in Seattle. It is also home and birthplace of the coffee giant Starbucks. So turn on your Windows PC, log into Expedia, book a Boeing flight and grab a coffee frappuccino on your way to the airport.
Music also plays a huge part in Seattle’s history. From the 40s and 50s, its jazz music scene laid the ground for musicians like Ray Charles and Quincy Jones. The 60s and 70s saw artists and bands like the Sonics and Jimi Hendrix. In the mid-1980’s through the 90s, the grunge rock era exploded onto the airways with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and Alice In Chains. These bands brought a raw and unapologetic sound that mirrored the tension between disenfranchised youth, traditional lumber and working-class culture and a new post-punk movement.
We have visited Seattle many times, so it is hard to provide a Diary entry. Instead, enjoy our list of favourite things to see and do in Seattle. We typically spent 2-3 days here at a time, but travelers could easily spend 7 days with so much to see and do.
Getting to Seattle
If you have access to a car, the drive from Vancouver to Seattle is approx. 2 1/2 hours. Remember that you do have to cross an international border and be processed by border security. Depending on what time of the day you are traveling, border wait times can be anywhere from 5 mins to an hour or even longer.
It’s pretty easy to get a bus from any destination. You will have multiple departure and arrival times throughout the day so you should be able to find a time that suits your needs. One thing to remember with buses is that your trip time will be significantly longer and it is possible that there are multiple stops along the way. We had one of our favorite traveling moments on the bus to Seattle. As we came to the end of the ride the bus approached the crest of a hill before descending towards the city. As the Space Needle came into view and the City spread out before us our MP3 player started playing an Alice in Chains song as if it knew the band was coming home.
Traveling by train from many USA Cities or Vancouver is a great way to get to Seattle. Not only is a train ride a super fun way to get around, you get to see coastlines and scenery that you wouldn’t normally see from a car or plane. Amtrack has several trains that stop in Seattle. You can start your journey in Vancouver, Los Angeles or Chicago and with tickets starting as low as $60 USD, this is a great alternative for travel. For more info and schedules and pricing visit www.amtrack.com/regions/northwest
We have taken the train to and from Vancouver on multiple occasions. The ride is only 4 1/2 hours so you won’t lose too much time out of your day. The King Street Station in Seattle is conveniently located in the downtown core. Once you arrive you can jump straight into sightseeing.
Sea-Tac Airport (Seattle-Tacoma Airport) is an International Airport located approx. 20km South of Seattle. Most domestic and some international flights use this airport so you may be able to fly straight into Seattle this way. From the airport, there are multiple ways to get to the Downtown core such as light rail, bus, rideshare, hotel shuttles and taxis.
A great way to see all the sites and save some money is to purchase a City Pass. Most major cities have CityPASS and it gives you a discounted entry into some of the top attractions. If you are planning to visit multiple landmarks and museums, this may be a great option for you.
It’s about as Seattle as it comes. It’s what you see in all Seattle city skyline promo shots and was made famous by the TV series Fraiser. As you would expect, it is the top attraction you must visit when you are in Seattle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the needle stands at 184m (605ft) and features an observation deck at 520ft and a restaurant at 500ft. It only takes 43 seconds to reach the top and where you will get views of the city, Elliott Bay, the Cascade Mountains and sometimes even Mount Rainier (if it’s not raining!) It is not the cheapest experience and if the weather is bad it can be a little underwhelming. But let’s face it, if you visit Seattle and you don’t do it, there might be something wrong with you.
Location: 400 Broad St
Seattle Centre Monorail
Also built for the World’s Fair, the monorail links Westlake Centre to the Space Needle and surrounding attractions. While the ride is short, it is a cool step back in time as the trains haven’t changed much since the 60’s.
Seattle Centre location: adjacent to the Space Needle
Westlake Center Mall location: Fifth Ave and Pine Street
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
We love this place! Founded in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, MoPOP is a non-profit museum that is dedicated to contemporary pop culture. The museum features many different exhibits ranging from movies and science fiction to music that has shaped the Pacific Northwest. The outside of the building is worth a visit to see. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, it almost resembles a smashed electric guitar with many different colors of sheet metal covering the building’s exterior. A visit to MoPOP will take most of your day. Each time we have visited, we have managed to visit MoPOP, the Space Needle, and the Chihuly Garden in 1 day. There is so much to see and do at MoPOP so make sure you give yourself enough time.
325 5th Ave N
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Located in the same plaza as MoPOP and the Space Needle, this museum is dedicated to local glassblower Dale Chihuly. With eight different galleries including an outdoor garden full of glass sculptures, the most amazing piece to see is the 100 ft sculpture that fills a glasshouse. The photos of this exhibit don’t do it justice. Seeing these glass pieces close up is amazing.
305 Harrison St
Pike Place Market
Established in 1907, Pike Place is still an active Farmers Market with Fish Markets, Craft Markets, and Restaurants. Beneath the main arcade, you will also find quirky bookshops, jewelry shop and art shops. Famous attractions at the market are the flying fish, Rachel the PiggyBank and the original Starbucks location. This is a spot that we always visit in Seattle. We recommend The Crumpet Shop for a quick and delicious bite to eat.
Tucked underneath the markets is a small alley completely covered in chewing gum. Read into it as you will; is it guerrilla public art, an irresponsible idea that got out of hand or a statement on human tendencies to follow a community effort no matter how strange. It sounds truly disgusting and honestly, it is a little. However, is definitely worth checking out. If you feel the urge, you can leave your own sticky mark.
Pier 57 | Seattle Great Wheel | Wings Over Washington
A relatively new attraction to the Seattle skyline, the Seattle Great Wheel is located on Pier 57 near the Seattle Aquarium and the Crab Pot. Each ride lasts between 10-15 mins and you get spectacular views of the city skyline and Elliott Bay.
Wings Over Washington is a flying theatre ride that tours audiences across the state of Washington. Strap into the seat as in room rises and bounces within an immersive 5K drone capture video experience.
Once you have finished your rides be sure to check out the surrounding Piers and then stop by the Crab Pot for an amazing Seafood feast (the long wait times are definitely worth it). they are famous for the Sea and Alaskan Feasts. Which includes more crab and shellfish than any heart could desire.
Pier 57 – Miners Landing
Just out of the downtown region it is a great spot for views of the Seattle skyline. You will need a car to get here but once you get here, the city views are spectacular. Keep in mind this is a residential area so be mindful to the locals.
250 W Highland Dr, Queen Ann Hill
Pioneer Square (Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour)
The original downtown Seattle, this area is full of beautiful old buildings. We took the Underground Tour and learned all about the history of Seattle and the Great Fire of 1889 that almost destroyed the entire city. The tour itself is roughly 90 mins and it takes you through a series of interconnecting tunnels under the bustling streets of the city.
614 1st Ave, Seattle
A giant troll located under a bridge in Fremont. Sculpted in 1990 by Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead. The mixed media public artwork was commissioned with a partial goal of rehabilitating the area under the bridge, which was becoming a dumping ground and haven for drug dealers. Derived from Scandinavian folklore the troll holds a Volkswagon looking for more cars to pull into its lair. Check it out, it’s a great photo op. The Fremont area has many other great public art installations and there is a map you can pick up to visit them all.
Troll Ave N, Seattle
Snoqualmie Falls (and Twin Peaks locations)
A 35 min drive East of Seattle is one of Washington states most popular scenic attractions. The 270-foot waterfall is a stunning sight and the area provides hiking, lodging, and picnic options.
We were visiting the area to see the locations where the 1990s TV series Twin Peaks was filmed. We are huge fans of the show and David Lynch, the shows creator. The falls are actually featured in the shows opening credits and the hotel located next to the Falls is one of the shows most recognizable locations. If you head South from the Falls to North Bend, you can visit Twedes Cafe which was the original location for the Double R Diner in the show. This cafe is full of Twin Peaks memorabilia and you can even grab a slice of Twin Peaks Cherry Pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.
Have you visited Seattle? What are your favourite spots, comment below
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