Hidden attractions make Emerald City specialA trip to Seattle is a rewarding experience no matter the time of year -- and it may be surprising just how many great attractions in Seattle you may not have even heard about.
Everyone knows about the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and numerous other attractions. But there are some other unique activities and attractions that are well worth considering on your next visit to the Big City. These attractions are all part of Unique Seattle.
Bainbridge IslandNext time you are in Seattle, consider catching one of the Washington State Ferries for the 35-minute ride to Bainbridge Island, where you get just about as far from the Big City atmosphere as you can get.
Like the Staten Island Ferry is for New York City, this is a great way to get a gorgeous view of the Seattle skyline. You board the ferry down at Pier 52 in Elliott Bay. You can take your car, which will allow you to visit many interesting locations on the island, or you can simply walk on.
Bainbridge offers that secluded island atmosphere, with great parks such as Fay Bainbridge Park that allow you to feast on the views of Puget Sound and Seattle's skyscrapers.
If you do take your car, be sure and include The Bloedel Reserve in your schedule. There are more than 150 acres of gardens, ponds and meadows to explore, with many locations offering amazing Puget Sound views. For more information on the Washington State Ferries, please phone 888-808-7977.
Hiram M. Chittenden LocksThese also are known as the Ballard Locks, and they are waterways that link Puget Sound with Lake Washington. Opened in 1917, they are one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Seattle, particularly on sunny days when people flock to the water.
Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden is nearby the Ballard Locks, so people find this a fun place to stroll, whether it's on the docks as you watch the ships come and go, or in the gardens. It really doesn't matter the time of year.
There are lots of fun restaurants nearby, so a lot of Seattle visitors will plan a brunch and then follow it up with an invigorating stroll.
For more information, please phone 206-783-7059.
Museum of History and IndustryThe Museum of History and Industry is an amazing place you may not have heard about, and it's well worth stopping by on your next visit to the Emerald City.
In 2012, the museum relocated to a new home in the city's Naval Reserve Armory, which is right over Lake Union Park. This location is a larger facility, which means the museum has more room to display some of the 4 million Northwest artifacts the museum has collected.
You won't see ALL those artifacts, but there are several outstanding pieces on display. For example there is an 1856 American flag sewn by women during the Battle of Seattle. You'll also see the first commercial airplane built by Boeing -- the 1919 Boeing B-1.
The museum staff members say the Museum of History and Industry is the epicenter of growth in Seattle -- a look at where the city has been and where the city will be going in the future.
For more information, please visit www.mohai.org or phone 206-324-1126.
Pioneer SquarePioneer Square is THE place to go if you really want to get a feel for Seattle history. It's Seattle's oldest neighborhood and where the first settlers built their homes.
Today there is a lot of historic architecture along with art galleries, bookstores, cafes and nightspots. And some of the more trendy businesses have their offices in these vintage buildings.
You'll want to check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, a museum detailing Seattle's involvement in the 1890s mass migration to the Canadian Yukon region. Another important historical location is the Smith Tower which was built in 1914 and for many years was the tallest building on the west coast. Take the elevator up to the 35th floor to get some great views from the Observation Deck.
And don't forget to stop by the Bill Speidel's Underground Tour, where you can see some of the city's original buildings which are actually underneath the structures there today.
For more information on the Underground Tour, please visit www.undergroundtour.com or phone 206-682-4646.
Seward ParkOn your next visit to Seattle, be sure and make some time for a stroll through Seward Park. It has 300 acres of beautiful forest land and really is a great place to get back to Nature.
About 120 of the 300 acres are old growth forest dating back 200 to 250 years. This provides a glimpse of what the Lake Washington shoreline looked like before the city of Seattle was even settled.
Seward Park is home to eagles' nests, old growth forest and an amphitheater.There also are miles of hiking trails and plenty of shoreline and beaches along Lake Washington. The most popular trail is the Shore Loop Road, which is a flat, vehicle-free perimeter route that goes about 2.5 miles.
Seward Park is just a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle and sits on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Washington.
For more information, please call 206-684-4075.
PHOTOS: Beach on Bainbridge Island; Underground Tour in Pioneer Square
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Seattle lodging
Click here for more great Northwest travel ideas!
Click here for great deals on California travel