A visit to Seattle creates a mosaic of colorful impressions that shimmer in the imagination long after the visit ends. Seattle is the Emerald City. Its greenness stems from its abundant rainfall, which encourages the growth of lush vegetation, and also from its reflection in the clear blue/green waters of the Puget Sound.
Mt. Ranier looks down on Seattle from its majestic heights. Driving through Seattle on a clear day has been compared to floating on a cloud in an emerald sky. From the dining room atop the Space Needle, a meal can be enjoyed along with a panoramic view of the whole city.
Pike Street Market is a medley of fresh fish, fruit, vegetable and flower shops right on the water. Sitting at a sidewalk café, one can watch the men who work in the fish markets throwing the fish from back to front. As a customer asks to purchase a fresh fish of a certain size, one man selects a fish from the barrel of ice, throws it to the weigher who is positioned in front of him, who in turn calls out the weight and throws it expertly to the wrapper who packages it and hands it to the customer. It is not unusual to see huge tubs of Alaskan salmon, king crab legs, and Dungeness crab awaiting this process in the market.
The old fishing village of Ballard sits on the locks. Relax for a while and watch the ships go from Lake Union to the Puget Sound. A short drive north of Ballard leads to the Woodland Park zoo. It is a distinct pleasure to stroll through the acres of well-kept grounds and to watch the animals enjoying their spacious natural habitats.
When visiting a city, there is always the decision to be made as to whether to have a car available or to rely on public transportation. A car is not necessary in Seattle as there are several choices of bus, trolley and monorail routes. There are even convertible buses dually equipped with gasoline and electrical systems that go underground to double as subway cars! It is easy to drive in Seattle, however, and there is ample parking. An automobile is handy for exploring the sights beyond the city. Walking is another alternative. There are many interesting and beautiful walking tours. Remember, though, that Seattle, like Rome, was constructed on seven hills. Downtown is built on a slant, so a walk will provide a good workout and may be tiring to small children.
Family attractions are everywhere in the city and suburbs. Seattle Center has a children’s museum and interactive science center; Imax theater and several buildings with hands on exhibits. Around Green Lake in the center of Seattle children can roller blade, ride a bicycle or jog. Nearby at the University of Washington, which sits on tranquil Lake Washington, is a beautiful arboretum. There are parks everywhere.
Venture back in time to the days of the original settlers and take a ferry ride on Puget Sound to Blake Island. Arriving at the Island, visitors are greeted with the offering of steaming cups of clams and broth prepared and served by Native American merchants. A delicious fresh salmon feast is then brought to the table after being cooked authentically in the traditional style in a Longhouse on the island. During dinner, Native American dancers perform.
The Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest ballet are world class. Their performances are rated as “fabulous”.
Sports fans enjoy the Seattle Mariners, Sea Hawks, Thunderbirds and Supersonics (NBA Basketball). A new indoor stadium hosts baseball and football teams.
Each of Seattle’s hills has its own history and special character. Queen Anne Hill is a charming little village within the city with theater, restaurants and shopping. Capitol Hill is similar. First Hill is the site of hospitals professional and medical office buildings.
Beautiful magnolias grace the yards and gardens of the stately landmark homes on Puget Sound. The beauty of the lush green expanses in and around Seattle is assured because of the approximately 38 inches of rainfall per year. The best time of year to visit is July 15-October 1. That is when the area experiences mostly sunny days. The climate is temperate, however, with moderate temperatures throughout the year. During the winter, there is skiing in the nearby Cascade Mountains, but very seldom is there snow in Seattle.
Seattle hosts several festivals each year. Among the most popular with all members of the family are: Bumbershoot Arts Festival featuring artists and performers from around the world which is held toward the end of summer around the time of Labor Day; and the summer food festival called Bite of Seattle which offers samplings of the best of over 50 restaurants. Another favorite is the two-week long Maritime Sea Fair in mid-May, which opens with the arrival of pirate ships approaching on Puget Sound, and ends with a display of fast speed boats with many maritime competitions and concerts in between.
Seattle is a city of great beginnings. Nordstrom’s, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon.com and Eddie Bauer all started there. Seattle is the largest city in the Northwest with more than a half a million residents in the city itself and another two and a half million in the surrounding suburbs, yet it is very clean and beautiful. It is a memorable place to visit, and one to which the visitor will never tire of returning.