Seattle, WABy STEVE FRENZL
I know-I know. That title has been played here a million times and a million different ways by now. But just bear with me one more time, because once again "sleepless" helps make my point about the cornucopia of recreational and entertainment choices Seattle has to offer for residents and visitors alike. Here's why.
YES. Because if you were to assemble all of the hundreds of exciting activities and attractions available in this magical megalopolis, line them up in alpha-order, start with A and work to Z, then experience each to its fullest measure, you could possibly go sleepless in Seattle for years! In fact, in the 2006/2007 Seattle CVB's Visitor's Guide (pick them up at the airport, hotel concierge desks and visitor centers) it takes nearly 100 pages just to list the places to go and things to see and do.
NO. And that's because there are so many classic, quaint, cozy, cute, charming, funky, esoteric, preppy, hip, and otherwise very cool hotels, resorts and B&Bs located here. And they offer creature comforts and restful respites galore. There are so many, in fact, that if you were to snuggle into a different room every night for the next 100 years, you still wouldn't snooze in them all.
The point is, this story could expand to an encyclopedia if we were to give due credit to every good offering that's available to you in Seattle today. So for now (and this is the allure of getaway travel) let's imagine you're going to spend two or three wild and wonderful days exploring the city and environs, and take in just those attractions touted as the gotta-sees in Seattle. These would appear on most people's lists.
The Space Needle
Seattle's iconic emblem-built for the 1962 World's Fair-and best way to blast-off a great northwest getaway. Step aboard the elevator, launch into the stratosphere (at least it feels like it) and 41 seconds and 520 feet later arrive at the observation deck, where spectacular vistas of one of America's most beautiful cities await you. Such space travel has a way of making one ravenous, so satiate your appetite at SkyCity and enjoy a 360-degree revolving tour of town while you dine. 206-905.2100. www.spaceneedle.com.
While you're at the Space Needle, don't miss Seattle Center. It's nearly 90 acres of festivals (check your events calendars regularly), performing arts, pro sports, concerts, museums, an amusement park and much much more. 206-684-7200. www.seattlecenter.com.
Located on the waterfront at Pier 59. My favorite is the Pacific octopus-especially when he gets excited about visiting the lady octopus next door. Then there are all the Elliott Bay creatures (you have no idea how many strange and exotic life forms live so close to us here), salmon ladders, sea otters, seahorses, and so much more. Also pet a sea anemone and a seastar (really). Great place to bring the kids. 206-386-4300. www.seattleaquarium.org.
Pike Place Market
No place like it in the world. And we should know-because this place, the granddaddy of farmer's markets, is world-famous. Not exactly sure why it's called a farmer's market, since you may have to duck to avoid large flying fish. Truthfully, it's overflowing with fresh produce and flowers at great prices, plus arrays of shops and craftspeople, musicians, street performers, and more. Careful though-ou can get lost between floors because the layout is a labyrinth of walkways and staircases . Plan to spend the day; you still won't see it all. www.pikeplacemarket.org.
First, the Washington State Ferries. No visit to Puget Sound is complete without a ride on one. Some are nearly 600 feet long and despite their size and pudgy appearance, they are surprisingly fast, making the crossing from Pier 52 on the Seattle waterfront to Bainbridge Island in 30 minutes. Of course, you can catch ferries at terminals all up and down the sound, and they all provide a marvelous nostalgic experience as if you had boarded a floating time machine and were reliving days of decades past. Magnificent views, entertaining people-watching and plenty of frrrrrrrrresh air come with the package. www.Wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.
Then there's the Victoria Clipper at Pier 69. These frisky boats offer a variety of experiences, from direct service to Victoria, BC to "wildlife" cruises in the San Juans to see orcas and eagles, and lots more, including overnights. Check out their many packages at www.victoriaclipper.com or call 206-448-5000.
Another good choice is Argosy Cruises. They seem to go everywhere: Lake Union, Lake Washington, Elliott Bay, all around the sound. Special cruises for Father's Day, Christmas and many more. Great dining, too. See everything they offer at www.argosycruises.com or call 206-623-1445.
The Seattle Waterfront
Before or after your cruise, be sure to walk the waterfront along Alaska Avenue and check out the rows of souvenir shops and seafood eateries. Part of the pleasure of a getaway is the memory of all the sites and experiences you enjoyed. And no place offers a better collection of Seattle memory joggers than the wacky and wonderful stores in store for you.
A narrated cruise aboard an Argosy boat that docks at Blake Island is just the beginning of a must-do historical experience that will take you back hundreds of years to witness the culture of the first people to inhabit this region. Enjoy an authentic Native American salmon dinner and an entertaining stage show featuring traditional dances and stories. 206-933-8600. www.tillicumvillage.com.
Spirit of Washington Dinner Train
If you like the clickity-clack of vintage rail cars and a meal experience that ranks among Seattle's most stylish, you'll love this scenic passenger train ride from Renton to Woodenville along the shores of Lake Washington. Includes time to tour some of Washington's most famous wineries. See more info on their web site at www.spiritofwashingtondinnertrain.com or call 425-227-7245.
The Woodland Park Zoo
One of the finest zoos in America. A veritable alphabet soup of animals-over 1000 residents representing 300 species. It's famous for its packiderm family, not to mention a plethora of penguins, gobs of gorillas-you get the idea. A wonderful place for kids of every age. 206-684-4800.
We could go on for pages and barely scratch the surface of the options available to you. Here are just a few more: the Museum of Flight, the breathtaking architecture of the Seattle Library, the International District (aka Chinatown), the Underground Tour at Pioneer Square, The Boeing Tour, Ride the Ducks tour, tours of Safeco and Qwest Fields. One final note: during the summer season visit sandy Alki Beach in West Seattle. Recently a mermaid was spotted there, proving that you just never know what you'll see at Seattle's Riviera.
Seattle getaways come in a veritable variations. Whichever kind you choose, we guarantee you will fill a short trip with tall memories, and return to experience the jewels of the Emerald City again and again. Happy times!