A Splendid Weekend in Seattle

IMG_7590Seattle is a city of many neighborhoods: Pioneer Square, International District, Urban Downtown, the picturesque waterfront, and Seattle Center. All are walkable or visitors can enjoy a ride on the Seattle Monorail.

Seattle is also known for some really great brands – Nordstrom, Starbucks, Costco, Amazon, REI, Brooks Running shoes, Microsoft and Boeing.

Last month we stayed two nights at the Seattle Grand Hyatt, located right near the Convention Center and blocks from shopping, dining, and the Public Market. The Grand Hyatt offers 457 guest rooms with elegant entry foyers and views of the Seattle skyline. Our spacious corner two-room suite had a sitting area with a sofa bed, flat screen television and electronic blackout drapes. The king-sized Hyatt Grand Bed® had plush pillows, soft sheets, and a cozy thick down blanket. There was also a deep Kohler soaking tub and June Jacobs luxury bath products to use after a day of sightseeing. Inside the hotel is a Ruth Chris Steakhouse, Blue C Sushi and Starbuck’s Coffee Cafe.

Before exploring many of Seattle’s neighborhood, purchase a Seattle City Pass. You will get to experience Seattle’s top IMG_7591attractions 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 with attraction tickets in a convenient booklet.

You can purchase a City Pass at the iconic Seattle Space Needle. Use the ticket in the booklet to take an elevator 520 feet high to enjoy spectacular views of Seattle and beyond. The elevator operators offer a brief informational talk until the doors open, and throughout the interior are maps and guides pointing out landmarks. Visitors receive a complimentary photo included in the admission ticket. Step outside and walk the full 360 degrees.

IMG_7545Just a few steps away is the one-of-a-kind Chihuly Glass and Gardens. Learn a little about the talented artist Dale Chihuly and his beautiful free blown, sculpture fine art glass. Tour 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 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.

One of the most educational venues 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 celebrate music and cultural innovations. Enjoy a meal in the museum at POP Kitchen + Bar for healthy wraps, burgers, salads and handmade potato chips.

Down by the waterfront, use your Seattle City Pass to explore the Seattle’s Aquarium. They have a wonderful sea otter exhibit where these playful mammals entertain visitors while diving for toys, floating on their back and holding hands while they sleep. The aquarium offers a giant Pacific and fascinating jellyfish arch.

Nearby is another City Pass ticket, 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 IMG_7670and drink.

Nearby is the Seattle Great Wheel offering beautiful views of the city inside a gondola on the 175-foot tall ferris 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.

Afterwards, stroll around the lively Pike Place Market founded in 1907 to see where locals and visitors watch fish mongers send whole fish flying at the seafood stalls. Nearby is Rachel the 550-pound bronze pig that is a piggy bank. Drop a few coins for the Pike Place Market Foundation, which provides assistance to low-income Seattle residents.

IMG_7634Be sure to visit the one-of-a-kind gum wall, where thousands of sticky marks decorate the brick wall in Post Alley. A couple blocks away 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.

Pike Place Market is also the location of the first Starbucks Coffee Cafe featuring its original siren logo, and the first location of the kitchenware store, Sur La Table on Pine Street.

While shopping for souvenirs, be sure to get a Glassybaby, created by Lee Rhodes for a beautiful glass votive. Fran’s Chocolate is Seattle’s home grown chocolatier and makes delicious gray salt caramels.

Seattle offers a variety of excellent dining opportunities. One of Seattle’s beloved chef’s is Tom Douglas, awarded The Best FullSizeRender-5Chef in the Northwest by the James Beard Foundation. Douglas has a variety of 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.

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.

To learn more about Seattle, go to http://www.visitseattle.org

This article was published in the October issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.

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