Seattle is one of those surprising places.
An American city that, however, in many of its aspects, smells of Europe, coffee, books and old stories, rain, street art, music (almost always alternative) – the Grunge was born here in the 1980s not by chance – and TV series.
Land of tribes and old Indian Native legends, and surprising views among ocean, forests and mountains.
A city which deserves at least two full days of tour – find here the best solutions for your stay/stay overnight – and at least other 3/4 days (if you have time, of course) to dedicate to its very rich neighborhoods.
It’s difficult to gather everything in only one trip, so to optimize times, I decided to create a detailed guidebook about the best 10 things to do in Seattle and in the neighborhoods, those ones which cannot be missed, of course. But also the most original and unusual ones in order to make your experience in the Northern Pacific even more complete, intense and charming.
Seattle visiting card: the Pike Place Market.
An ancient food market working since 1907 – according to someone it is the most ancient one still working in the United States.
Here you’ll be able to taste the cheerful and open-minded atmosphere of the city, walking among flowers and sweet things, fish, fruit and all sorts of food stalls, finding yourselves together with street artists listening to music and taking part into involving improvised shows.
From the Pike Place Market give yourselves a relaxing walk of few minutes as far as the Waterfront Park and the Seattle Great Wheel, the Giant Ferris Wheel overlooking directly the Puget Sound – that complex of natural inlets through which the Pacific Ocean enter literally the mainland.
Right in front of the secondary entrance of the Pike Place Market, got past the Pine Street crossroads at 1912, Pike Place, you’ll find one among the most famous places of the city: the first Starbucks of the famous American cafeterias chain.
It’s the first store, that one opened in 1971 by its founder Howard Schultz, today become a sort of museum where to buy vintage gadgets tied to the brand and where to drink an Espresso Macchiato Solo – (endless) lines permitting.
Immediately to the south of downtown it’s possible to have a nice leap back in time into the Seattle of 1800 among the old redbrick and stone buildings around Pioneer Square and an incredible underground path, the Seattle Underground Tour.
Visit the Smith Tower, an elegant skyscraper dating back to 1914: with its 42 floors it was the highest building of the American west coast until the 1930s. And discover the old Cadillac Hotel where inside there’s an interesting museum – free – telling the fascinating story of the Klondike Gold Run.
Little far there’s the Columbia Center that stands out all over Seattle – 284meters high – offering from its Sky View Observatory a breathtaking view of the city, from the Puget Sound as far as Lake Washington.
An experience to do – definitely – at least to reach (and go up to) one of the city’s icons, suspended literally among the downtown skyscrapers: the Space Needle.
It’s the Monorail, a sort of shuttle leaving every 20 minutes from the Waterlake Center: it reaches in about 5 minutes the Seattle Center ($5 back and forth), also passing through the Experience Music Project, an ultramodern building entirely dedicated to the music world and to the relics related to the most famous bands.
If you want to enjoy the view of Seattle and all its more iconic attractions, Space Needle, Scale, Columbia Center and Mount Rainier in the background, you’ll have to reach the Kerry Park Viewpoint, in the park with the same name located on the Quinn Anne Hill, to the north of downtown.
The access to the park – it is advisable to reach the viewpoint half an hour before the sunset – is located at the corner between Second Avenue West and West Highland Drive.
To the north of downtown, got past the Aurora Bridge, you’ll run into one of the most original and alternative districts in Seattle – Fremont – known to the locals as Artist’s Republic of Fremont.
An area famous for the street art and for the several oddness, odd sculptures along (and under) the streets, parades, markets and stores definitely particular included.
And even the colorful and lively vintage Fremont Sunday Market, the Fremont Troll – at the crossroads between the N 36th and Troll Dtreet, a giant troll under an over bridge – and the Fremont Rocket between Evanston Ave and N 35th Street, a rocket recovered in the 1990s and successively put in a building in Fremont. They cannot be missed.
Find here the complete list and the map of all the works in the district.
One of the best ways to admire the skyline of Seattle in its whole extension – Mount Rainer included in the clearest days – is to go up to the Bainbridge Ferry linking at regular intervals (every hour about) Seattle to the near Bainbridge Island.
It’s a journey of half an hour about allowing to realize the extension of the Puget Sound and the position of Seattle inside it.
Ballard is an ancient fishermen village, founded by Scandinavian immigrants at the end of 1800, extending to the north of Seattle, in the area of the dams where Lake Washington and Lake Union Park waters enter the Puget Sound and where in June it’s possible to watch the so-called “salmons run”.
You can stop and visit the Hiram M Chittenden Locks Museum, the artificial canal built in 1911, stop to eat very fresh fish in the venues at the harbor or visit the colorful small town, rich in vintage stores and street art.
From Seattle you can choose to reach by car the near Olympic Peninsula through some of the natural inlets of the Puget Sound and dedicate to it some days of exploration for at least two reasons.
The tour of the Olympic National Park, one of the biggest and uncontaminated natural reservation in the United States of America including a boundless rain forest perfectly preserved. And an unusual and fascinating tour discovering the most ancient tribes (seven) of the Native Americans of the Northern Pacific. Find here the complete itinerary.
One among the biggest and cheapest Outlet Mall of the Northern Pacific: if you love shopping reckon to spend here at least a half day.
The Seattle Premium Outlet is located at 10600, Quel Ceda Blvd in Tulalip, in the land of Tulalip Tribe, about 40 minutes far from Seattle.
For further cues, ideas and updates about all the activities and events scheduled in (and out of) the city during the time of your visit, please, look up the very useful Visit Seattle and Visit the USA official websites, in the section dedicated to Washington State.
Recommended paper guidebooks: Pocket Seattle and the Washington State, Oregon and Northern Pacific one (English version), both by Lonely Planet.