Sites of Seattle - Trip Report

We made away for a 4-day trip to Seattle and Vancouver during the Halloween weekend (2009). This impromptu trip was spurred by a Southwest sale with one-way tickets to Seattle from Oakland coming to $59.60 inclusive of all taxes and fees. On our travel days we took the first flight out and the last one in since Seattle is only a short hop away, to stretch our days. The weather pleasantly surprised us, and our umbrellas never saw light.

As time is always in short supply, we focused on these landmark attractions in downtown Seattle:
  1. Space Needle – Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the tower of the Space Needle is iconic of Seattle. Tickets were $16 for adults and $9 for youth (4-13) with a $2 discount for seniors over 65. Day and night tickets allowing one entry each in the morning and in the nighttime are available for about 25% more. The observation deck is open every day (Mon-Thu 10AM to 11PM, Fri-Sat 9:30AM to 11:30PM, Sun 9:30AM to 11PM). Shorter holiday hours apply on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Tickets include a ride up the elevator and access to the observation deck. Space Needle is definitely a good attraction for a visit once. Having visited quite a number of towers, on a comparative basis, it is our take that the Space Needle is below par for its price and value. There is a revolving restaurant at 500 feet with a $35 per-person-minimum – pricey for our frugal lifestyle.
  2. Monorail – Also built for the 1962 World’s fair to provide visitors easy access to downtown, it is now a privately operated enterprise that carries roughly 1.5 million passengers every year on the mile-long route. Runs from 9AM to 11PM all days - adults were $4, youth (5-12) $1.50 and seniors (65+) get a 50% discount. Trains run every 10 minutes and the trip is just two minutes.
  3. Pike Place Market – After the monorail from Seattle center, it is a short walk (about 8 blocks) to get to Pike Place Market. The place is brimming with shops and people, tourists form the majority and maybe the reason why the wares are overpriced, but by and large the place is worthy of a one time visit. A few things when taking kids to Pike Place Market:
  • It is not exactly a stroll in the park for there are some steep areas (practicing stranger-danger drills beforehand is good),
  • Throwing fish is not a continuous event and chances are high to miss it. Set expectations accordingly.

The second most visited attraction in the Seattle area after the Space Needle is the Future of Flight Aviation Center and the Boeing Tour in Mukilteo, about 30 miles North of Seattle. Our GPS could not get us to the correct location (8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA 98275) but the directions printed in their brochure is foolproof – from I-5 North, take Exit 189 to SR526 West, drive 4 miles past Boeing factory, and at the intersection of 84th Street turn Left into the Future of Flight parking lot. Hours are 8:30 to 5 PM all days except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission which includes access to the gallery, a short video presentation, and a 60-minute guided tour was $15 adults, $8 kids 5-15, and free for kids below 5. Seniors have a dollar discount. A caveat is that kids must be 4 feet or taller. Photography and videotaping are prohibited – lockers are available for $1 and definitely a better option for storing valuables than the car while on the tour. The tour itself is incredible and absolutely worth every cent. In essence, you get to experience for real how planes take shape. Our tour called for stops at both the Boeing 777 and the newest Boeing 787 assembly lines. The relative simplicity of the 787 assembly compared to the older 777 line lays bare 15 years of innovation which even a child can appreciate! Boeing factory has several numbers to boast about –
  • It is the largest building in the world by volume at 472 million cubic feet,
  • Around a million light bulbs glow which also is the primary heat source,
  • 2.33 miles of pedestrian tunnels run below the factory, and
  • 1300 bicycles for employees to get around the factory floor.
Our kids were jumping joys over this tour and expressed their delight on this truly terrific experience. The tour consists of a short movie/talk, bus-ride to/from the facility, guided tours of the 777 and 787 assembly lines (involves walking one-third mile through the tunnel underneath the factory floor, 21 steep stairs, and a 35-feet elevator ride), and access to the gallery (several displays including the engines, cockpit, and short movies).

Our evening flight back to Oakland enabled us to do a detour to Snoqualmie, a small city next to Snoqualmie Falls with serene landscape, about 45 minutes from Seattle downtown. The closest view of the falls is at Snoqualmie Park by Salish lodge on Hwy 202. The hiking trail from the upper falls at Salish lodge to the lower falls was closed for renovation. The alternative was to drive down on 202 and make a left on 372nd avenue to the Lower Park Boardwalk. A short hike down past the hydroelectric plant gets you to the lower park boardwalk lookout – the view of the falls and the setting is a sight certainly not to be missed!

We had to skip Mt Rainier due to time constraints but if memory serves as any guide, it is a visit that is truly gratifying to the soul.

Seattle-Tacoma airport has a beautiful display of classic airplanes including the Curtis Jenny.

Last Updated: 02/2011.

1 comment :

jdelder@msn.com said...

Very nice site.

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