If you plan to take a trip to the “Emerald City” soon, you might be interested to know that Seattle - the birthplace of Starbucks and grunge rock music - is the fastest growing major city in the U.S. and has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. From strolling through one of America’s most famous outdoor markets to enjoying a meal 500 feet above the city, here are a few fun things to see and do during your next stay in the seaport city:
1. Play-time in Gas Works Park
This old industrial site is one of Seattle’s most quirky and fun attractions. In 1906, twenty acres of land on the north shore of Lake Union was cleared to make way for a refinery that would convert coal to gas—and eventually to crude oil. But after the import of natural gas made the plant obsolete in the 1950s, the city of Seattle acquired the site for a public park.
Today, Gas Works Park is a popular spot for kite-flyers and host to several outdoor events. Kids can venture through the maze of brightly colored machinery in the children’s play barn (the old exhauster-compressor building), then gather for a picnic on the hill and watch the sailboats glide in the harbor. But don’t forget to bring a kite.
2. Stroll through Pike’s Place Market
Pike’s Place Market could be considered the cultural center of Seattle. The market first opened in 1907 when City Councilman Thomas Revelle proposed the city create a place where farmers and shoppers could meet directly to sell and buy goods. Today, visitors can enjoy several bakeries, cafes and restaurants, and stop by the fish and farmer’s markets for fresh ingredients and produce. The market also has several hand-made collectible shops, street performers and even its very own fundraiser, Rachel the Piggy Bank.
3. Visit the EMP Museum
For aspiring rock stars and fans of sci-fi, this non-profit museum dedicated to contemporary pop culture is well worth a visit. Colorful, rolling sheet metal and shimmering purple glass make this building a real sight to behold. From a helicopter view, the EMP Museum might look like a big smashed electric guitar. This is fitting for the 140,000-square-foot home to the largest collection of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix memorabilia to-date. But the EMP also houses several galleries, a variety of interactive activities, rotating exhibitions and a concert venue.
Kids can enjoy the “Sound Lab” – a hands-on experience with the tools and instruments behind rock 'n' roll – then go “On Stage” where they can perform classic songs with real instruments in front of a virtual audience.
4. All the Way Up Space Needle
Like many great ideas, the idea for Seattle’s Space Needle started off as a sketch on a napkin in a coffee shop. Edward E. Carlson, then president of Western International Hotels, penciled the futuristic structure with the intention of creating a dominant central landmark for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Ever since its construction, Space Needle has served as the unofficial symbol of Seattle.
Make your way up to the observation deck of Space Needle to enjoy a fantastic view of the city. And if you’re hungry, make a reservation at SkyCity Restaurant, located just below the observation deck. The restaurant serves brunch, lunch and dinner daily, and boasts a smorgasbord of Pacific North West cuisine.
5. All Aboard The Museum of Flight
Built in 1983, The Museum of Flight holds more than 150 historic air and spacecraft related artifacts. From World War I fighter planes to Apollo 17 Mission Models, the museum offers dozens of permanent exhibitions and the chance to see break-through technology and innovation up-close.
Take a peek inside the first presidential jet plane Air Force One and see where presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon all spent their time en route to meet with world leaders.
6. Stand at the Edge of Snoqualmie Falls
You don’t have to travel too far from Seattle to get an easy waterfall view. Located just 29 miles outside the city is one of Washington State’s most popular scenic attractions, Snoqualmie Falls. More than 1.5 million visitors travel to hear the roar of this 270-foot-tall waterfall each year. The viewing platform is only 200 feet from the free parking lot, which means no hiking or money required. Of course, there are beautiful trails and pathways down to the river if you’re the explorer type.
Snoqualmie Falls is also known for its oatmeal, waffle and pancake mix, and the Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory and Cafe. After a visit to the waterfall, stop by the factory and café to enjoy an old-fashioned burger, milk shake, fresh taffy and brittles.
7. Woodland Park Zoo
Lions, tigers, bears— you name it—Woodland Park Zoo has them all. The zoo exhibits nearly 1,100 animals representing almost 300 different animal species—from tiny insects to the largest land mammal on the planet, the elephant. Did you know there is such a thing as the tree kangaroo? This Papa New Guinea native can leap 60 feet to the ground from trees without getting hurt.
For some one-on-one time with the giraffes, venture over to the African Savana area, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to feed them. This depends on the weather and giraffes’ appetite, of course!