Everything about Seattle is tall— from the 607-foot Space Needle and snow-capped 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier that fills the skyline, to the freighters in Elliott Bay. If you’re looking for a little bit of big city flavor, Washington’s Emerald City is just the place. Being the corporate home of Starbucks, there’s no shortage of great coffee either.
Historic Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, is a good place to begin your visit with a trek beneath the city sidewalks. The guided Underground Tour leads through subterranean passages that were once the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle. In the Great Fire of 1889, everything burnt to the ground and a new city was built over the old, leaving remnants of the original buildings underground. Once back up on street level, wander around Pioneer Square and admire the turn-of-the-century street lamps, Tlingit totem poles, and restored iron Pergola that’s nearly 100 years old. Need a coffee break? Grab a cuppa joe, find a seat, and people-watch.
After energizing with caffeine, head for the waterfront where an eclectic assortment of activities await: ferries to nearby residential islands, huge cruise ships embarking for Alaska and Canada, the Seattle Aquarium, and sight-seeing boat tours of the harbor. If you like fish-n-chips, “Keep Clam” at Ivar’s and feed the screaming gulls while enjoying your meal outdoors. Shopping is also plentiful. Don’t miss Sylvester the mummy, a two-headed calf, shrunken heads (all real!), and many other oddities and souvenirs at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54.
No visit to Seattle is complete without a stop at Pike Place Market at the corner of First and Pike Streets. Seattle’s artists and craftsmen sell their unique wares here and everything else imaginable is also offered and very fresh— flowers, vegetables, fruit, donuts, fish, and much more. In fact, the fish is so fresh that it flies! At the Pike Place Fish Company, your purchase is taken directly off the ice out front and sailed through the air to the packer in the back. Packaged Sea Bear wild salmon makes a yummy souvenir you can take home, but for a drinkable souvenir while you shop, visit Starbucks flagship store.
Seattle boasts many more highlights, so you might want to plan to stay awhile. And since there is no shortage of interesting things to see and do, no doubt you’ll enjoy the Emerald City a latté!
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com