When the UFO-shaped Space Needle was first built above Seattle in the early 1960s, the designers pointed toward the future. Little did they know that the city would take the cue in a big way, becoming a major player in the tech industry half a century later. But no matter how much steel, glass and concrete loom over the town, nature is never far away. Known as the Emerald City for its lush landscapes, Seattle is surrounded by the beauty of forests, waterways and mountains. The behemoth snowcapped peak of Mount Rainier in the distance to the south towers over it all.
Needle in the Sky
Perhaps Seattle’s most iconic sight is the Space Needle artfully gracing the skies above the city. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle offers panoramic views of the Seattle skyline and the Cascade and Olympic mountain. In 2017, the attraction was renovated to include a glass floor that looks down 500 feet to the streets below. To learn more about local waterways, visit the Seattle Aquarium, located on the Elliott Bay waterfront. Other can’t-miss locations include the Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Waterways and Water Sports
Anglers won’t want to miss the opportunity to fish the Puget Sound. The waters abound with salmon, halibut, steelhead and more. With dozens of fish species and superb views of Mount Rainier, Lake Washington is a scenic, bountiful fishing locale. Plus, as the state’s second-largest natural lake, there’s ample space for all kinds of water recreation. For a unique canoe or kayak trip, head to the Lake Washington Ship Canal, where you can go through the Ballard Locks, which separate the saltwater of the Puget Sound from the freshwater of Lake Union. Once you enter Lake Union, you’ll get great views of Seattle’s skyscrapers and Space Needle towering above.
Cruise Into the Cascades
For some of the best views in the state, take Interstate 90 out of the city and into the Cascade Range. Along the route, you’ll find the natural landscape preserved as part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, a 1.5 million-acre landscape. Stop to visit Snoqualmie Falls, where a short trail offers up views of the 270-foot waterfall. A more rugged hike can be found at Rattlesnake Mountain, with views of the surrounding peaks. Continue to Snoqualmie Pass, with an elevation of over 3,000 feet. Biking and hiking opportunities abound in nearby Iron Horse State Park, with more than 100 miles of trail along a converted railroad route.
Emerald City Eating and Drinking
Of course the birthplace of the Starbucks Coffee Company is a great place to get a cup of joe, but the problem comes with choosing just where to go—Seattle has over 800 coffee shops. Visit the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market, or better yet, drink like a local and stop by one of the cozy independent shops. Seattle is also a foodie paradise, bursting with local restaurants that serve up bold flavors. Significantly, The Pacific Northwest also is known for its brewpub culture. Stop in a local brewery for tall glasses of some of the region’s best beers.
Near the heart of downtown, Pioneer Square preserves buildings constructed in the late 1890s following the devastating 1889 Seattle Fire. From pioneer square, intrepid travelers can take an underground tour of streets that were paved over when the city rebuilt itself following the blaze.
Celebrating the Sea
You know a region’s waterways and maritime traditions are essential when the community devotes 10 weeks to celebrating them. That’s just what happens during the Seafair Festival, which includes over 75 events spread out over the greater Seattle region. Enjoy everything from small-town car shows and block parties to adrenaline-fueled flyovers from the Blue Angels and the Seafair Cup hydroplane races.
A Pleasing Public Market
The Pike Place Public Market Historic District hearkens back to Seattle’s freewheeling past and has managed to look forward as the city has grown and changed. First opened in 1907, the market has been a center for produce and seafood for over a century. Where farmers once parked their wagons to sell their wares, today you will find a 9-acre extravaganza. Of course, you can still buy locally grown produce and freshly caught seafood, but you’ll find much more than that. Watch for the sight of fish whizzing through the air at the Pike Place Fish Market. This crowd-pleaser started decades ago as a way to move fish from the display case to the scales more efficiently.
For More Information
Washington Tourism Alliance