During Labor Day weekend we reserved two nights at the Seattle located right near the Convention Center and blocks from shopping, dining, and the Public Market. The Grand Hyatt is an ideal location for exploring Seattle. A few blocks away is the Seattle monorail taking visitors over to the Space Needle, EMP Museum, and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
There are 457 guest rooms with elegant entry foyers and views of the Seattle skyline. Families enjoy the two room suites with a deep Kohler soaking tub and June Jacobs luxury bath products.
The suite has a sitting area with a sofa bed, flat screen television and electronic blackout drapes. The king-sized Hyatt Grand Bed® has plush pillows, soft sheets, and a thick down blanket. Inside the hotel is a Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Blue C Sushi and Starbuck’s Coffee Cafe.
Before purchasing tickets to the various attractions around Seattle, save yourself a lot of money and buy Seattle City Passes. You will get to see Seattle’s top attractions for one price and save more than 50%, plus skip the long lines. For example – If you visit the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, take a Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, explore the EMP Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, you would pay $135.40 per adults and $89.20 for a child between the ages 4 to 12 years old. With the Seattle City Pass the price is $69 per adult and $49 per child. The pass is convenient, easy, and entices you to see all you can see while in the Emerald City. http://www.citypass.com
Guests visiting the Space Needle have the opportunity to ride up to the top of the observation deck twice in a 24 hour time period. Go early in the morning before the crowds line up and then go back again around sunset or in the evening. Elevators take guests 520 feet high to enjoy a 360 degree view of the city of Seattle and beyond. Visitors receive a complimentary photo included in the admission ticket. The elevator operators offer a brief informational talk until the doors open, and throughout the interior are maps and guides pointing out landmarks.
Just a few steps away is the Chihuly Glass and Gardens. Learn a little about the talented artist Dale Chihuly and his free blown, sculpture fine art glass. It’s a unique and avant-garde exhibit with various galleries, gardens and a spectacular glasshouse. Experience his colors, inventiveness and grand scale of glass art. Be sure to see the visually stunning Ikebana and Float Boats for their stunning in shapes and colors.
Visit his sea life room to witness the most beautiful underwater glass garden, Mille Fiori – which means “a thousand flowers.” inspired from the variety of flowers in his mother’s garden.
The room filled with sculpture chandeliers that leave you oohing and aching, as does the Macchia forest filled with breathtaking colors.
The Persian ceiling combining different shapes, colors and designs, as does Chihuly’s outdoor towering garden with glass “plants” of every shape and color. There is a cafe attached to the exhibit for a sit-down meal.
Seattle is known for some really cool brands – Nordstrom, Starbucks, Costco, Amazon, REI, Brooks Running shoes, Microsoft and Boeing. It also is known for its famous people – Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, the musical groups Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.
One of the coolest spots to visit is the EMP Museum. Designed by famous architect Frank Gehry, this family-fun interactive museum is founded and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Opened in 2000, the exhibits today include pop culture artifacts, a really fun Fantasy exhibit with dungeons, dragons and fantasy characters. Music wise – learn to play the guitar and drums before or after being inspired in the Nirvana or Jimi Hendrix rooms. The is a Horror movie exhibit that is fun to stroll through and learn more about Psycho, The Exorcist and other classic scary movies. The Chuck Jones exhibit is a cartoon wonderland. Throughout the museum is a live-size rock stage with floor to ceiling music videos displayed and Star Wars costumes to excite fans into the newer Star War exhibit. Enjoy a meal at POP Kitchen + Bar for healthy wraps, burgers, salads and handmade potato chips.
One of the cutest family outings is exploring Seattle’s Aquarium. Be sure to go outside and into the sea otter exhibit. These playful and adorable mammals are very entertaining as they dive for toys, float on their back and hold hands when they sleep. The aquarium offers a giant Pacific octopus that is beautiful. Stand under the jellyfish arch, and admire the underwater life in various regions around the area and world. Families enjoy the touch tanks to feel the sharp spines on the sea urchins and ridged backs of the sea stars. There is a good gift shop and upstairs cafe. It’s a half-day adventure next to the Pike waterfront.
Down at the waterfront take a one hour Harbor cruise along Seattle’s picturesque harbor to view the skyline, huge cruise ships docked at the cruise terminals, Public Market, and historic landmarks from another visual perspective. A harbor cruise staff member narrates the entire time with interesting and whimsical facts about the city and one of the world’s largest shipping ports. Sit inside or out on the open outdoor decks on the Spirit of Seattle™. There is a snack bar serving items to eat and drink.
Also nearby is The Public Market, a lively spot for locals and visitors to purchase fresh fish thrown across the market, freshly baked bread, a kaleidoscope of colorful produce, beautiful fresh flowers, scrumptious clam chowder and a vast selection of International cuisine.
Founded in 1907, one could spend hours visiting the various stalls. Be sure to visit the one-of-a-kind gum wall. Nearby is one of the best cheese shops in the world – Beechers. Stop in for a taste of cheese curds and sample one of their delicious crackers with cheese. Watch the cheese makers in action, even on a Sunday. You will notice a crowd at Pike’s Place Market in the main arcade area, as the workers entertain guests by throwing fish to one another to be wrapped and given to a local, or packaged and shipped to a tourist’s home address.
Seattle Souvenirs –
Glassybaby – Created by Lee Rhodes – one of a kindness beautiful glass votives
Fran’s Chocolate – Endorsed by President Obama – Home grown chocolatier. My favorite is gray salt caramel.
Beecher’s Cheese – Oprah Winfrey favorite for sandwiches and mac n’ cheese. Watch cheese being made and taste a few cheese curds.
Another Great View of Seattle is inside a gondola on the 175-foot tall Seattle Great Wheel. It was installed at Pier 57 three years ago, and touted the tallest fully enclosed ferris wheel along the West Coast. There are 42 gondolas that spin for optimal views of Elliott Bay, Seattle city, islands and mountains in the distance. The ride is about 15 minutes. Tickets cost $13 for Adults – 12 years and up. Youth tickets are $8.50 for children 4-11 years old. Under 3 years old are Free. Senior tickets cost $11.
Seattle offers a variety of excellent dining opportunities. One of Seattle’s beloved chef’s is Tom Douglas. He was awarded The Best Chef in the Northwest by the James Beard Foundation in 1994. Now, Douglas has almost 20 eateries in the city. We met friends one night at his elegant Dahlia Lounge for a delicious culinary adventure. It is the talented chef’s flagship restaurant. We enjoyed a Buffalo cauliflower dish that was a playful vegetarian twist on Buffalo wings and fresh wood grilled Keta salmon with Washington corn, chanterelle mushrooms and mountain huckleberries. Be sure to save room for the Triple coconut cream pie with white chocolate and toasted coconut.
Douglas also has the following restaurants in Seattle and nearby – Assembly Hall, Brave Horse Tavern, The Carlile Room, Cantina Lena (margaritas, smoked meats and house made tortillas), Cuoco (Northern Italian Cuisine), Dahlia Bakery, Etta’s (named after his daughter), Home Remedy, Lola (offering of Greek-inspired, Northwest cuisine), Palace Kitchen (rustic Northwest cuisine cooked on a wood-fired grill), Rub with Love Shack, Seatown, Serious Biscuit, Serious Pie (pizzeria), Tanaka San (Asian inspired) and Hot Stove Society.
For Brunch be sure to have a meal at Portage Bay, known for its local, organic, and sustainable cuisine located near the new Amazon campus. In the center of the restaurant is a breakfast bar (think salad bar) to top your brunch entree with seasonal Northwest berries, nuts, organic maple syrup from Stannard Farm and whipped cream. Known for its variety of delicious Benedicts that include thick Dungeness Crab Cake, smoked salmon, classic and wild mushroom. The menu offers three grains that include organic steel cut oats, 3 Bears porridge and organic granola. There are vegan banana pancakes, oatmeal cobbler French toast and a variety of egg dishes that features Huevos Rancheros, vegetable fritatta, three different scrambles and a Rancher’s breakfast.
To learn more about Seattle, go to www.visitseattle.org