Seattle in Spring
Seattle may be wet in the spring, but it’s also beautiful. Shifting gray skies and an abundance of greenery and blooming flowers make it one of the most visually stunning places to spend spring in. When you’re visiting Seattle in the spring, there are a lot of indoor and outdoor activities that capture the mood of the season well, and aren’t too rough on the wallet.
In the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a great place to visit. There is a variety of things to do and see, and you will run out of time before you run out of options. When planning your trip, make sure and check out some of my favorite Seattle spots.
A visit to the city of Seattle is lovely in the springtime, if you’re prepared for the inevitable rain. This city is notorious for wet weather, but you really shouldn’t let that stop you from seeing all the wonderful things Seattle has to offer. It’s a unique, beautiful and very fun city, and all that rain makes the landscape greener than green, which only adds to its charm. Though locals usually don’t own umbrellas, you shouldn’t feel awkward bringing one and using it. It does rain, it is damp, but it’s also beautiful.
In other areas of the city, there’s Capitol Hill, which is a short trip down from the Space Needle and has a small strip called Broadway that’s always good for shopping, and for staring at the locals. Old Ballard is a bit further from the center of town, but has not only a skatepark but also many good restaurants and some live music venues, notably the Tractor. This neighborhood also captures some of the original essence of Seattle, such as Norwegian gift shops and restaurants as well as the “locks and docks”. You can visit the locks and see how ships get into and out of the city.
Georgetown is to the south of the city, and has a thriving art and nightlife scene. Nine Pound Hammer has a large selection of local brews and there are several art galleries and live music venues along the same street. The sound of a lonesome train nearby makes Georgetown a very hip place to visit.
If you’re in the mood for outdoor activities, the Woodland Park Zoo is relatively inexpensive, and has tons of freshly blooming flowers to wander around in. Get a map at the entrance and wander around in the lush bamboo forest, or step into the Amazon rain forest building or the nocturnal house if the drizzle soaks you through. Both of these buildings are warm and fascinating. Bring along eyeglass wipes if you wear glasses, though, because the Amazon building is steamy!
Along Phinney Ridge, above the zoo, is a strip of great little restaurants and shops. Walking along Phinney and seeing the local gardens while having lunch is always great in the springtime.
The Space Needle in Seattle Center
Much like the Empire State Building of New York, the Space Needle is a well-known symbol of Seattle. It takes 41 seconds to reach the top of the tower and the observation deck. From there, you get amazing views of Seattle as well as Mount Ranier, Mount Baker, and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. You will also find the SkyCity Restaurant, which offers delicious meals. Reservations are suggested since it is often quite crowded.
Many will recommend the Space Needle, for its view of a large section of the city and because it’s one of the most famous landmarks in town. What most tourists don’t know is that the Space Needle is located in a great little place called Seattle Center, which has a lot of options besides the (notoriously) bad food at the Space Needle. The Experience Music Project building is famous for its oddity, and was once satirized on the show “The Simpsons”. It is located atthe base of the Space Needle, and is a good tourist destination.
It would be unthinkable to visit Seattle and not see its most famous landmark, built in 1962 for the World Expo and towering 600-plus feet into the sky. You can enjoy a lunch, brunch or romantic dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top. Or, just ride the amazingly fast elevator up to the 360-degree observation deck where a panorama of snow-capped mountains and other majestic sights will take your breath away. On a clear day, you really can see “forever” from the top of the Needle! Of course, the complementary high-powered telescopes help a little.
In addition to the Space Needle, Seattle Center has many other things that are worth checking out. Theatre, ballet, opera, rock n’ roll history, science, movies, shopping and exploring are all found in Seattle Center. I’m a kid at heart, and my favorite is the Fun Forest Amusement Park. This “playground for all ages” has 19 rides and an assortment of games. You can get an adrenaline rush on the roller coaster, take a spin on the carousel, or try to win a prize on the midway. Fun Forest also features the Entertainment Pavilion, open daily year-round with laser tag, mini-golf, games and three rides.
The Seattle Waterfront on Alaskan Way
Spectacular scenery, tacky-but-fun tourist shops and the Alaskan Way Viaduct thundering overhead make this a memorable place to see. The old streetcar clangs along the length of the waterfront, and the Bainbridge Island ferry leaves from Colman Dock. Also worth a visit if you have the time are the Seattle Aquarium and the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center. Whatever you do, don’t pass up the incredibly tasty fish and fried clams from the street side fish-n-chips stand.
Pike Place Market is another of Seattle’s most famous landmarks. What originally began as an impromptu farmer’s market 100 years ago, has morphed into a venerable and impressive marketplace that encompasses 23 buildings and eight city blocks. Produce stands are still an important part of the market’s offerings.
Pike Place Market is well-known in travel guides, but its neighborhood also has a lot more to offer. Take a taxi or bus instead of driving in this area, since parking is both rare and expensive. After lunch at the market, you can take a short trip to the Seattle Aquarium, and fondle some sea urchins in their petting zoo.
The Underground Tour of Historic Pioneer Square
Tromping through the subterranean passages of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood while an offbeat tour guide entertains you with humorous stories of Seattle’s colorful history, is truly an unforgettable adventure. This leisurely walking tour starts inside Doc Maynard’s, a restored 1890s saloon, and traverses about three blocks. It’s all underground of course, so save this one for a rainy day!
Seattle is a great vacation destination despite the rain. Who knows, you might even get lucky and experience a dry spell during your trip. Pack your raincoat, umbrella and galoshes “just in case,” and get ready to have a wonderful time in the lovely city of Seattle.
No description can do this justice. It is a must for anyone in the area. Opened in 2012, this magnificent museum showcases the brilliant work of Dale Chihuly. Get ready to see glass as you have never seen it before. Divided into three areas, each part is more stunning than the last. The Exhibition Hall is home to eight different galleries and three drawing walls.
The Sealife Room was one of my favorites in this area. Various sea animals are sculpted out of colorful glass. The blues were the most vibrant color I have ever seen. The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of the museum. With more than 4,500 square feet, the highlight of this area is the 100-foot sculpture in reds, yellows, oranges, and ambers. As the sunlight travels during the day, the colors take on different hues.
The Garden is an area lines with lush trees and flowers. The glass sculptures are woven throughout. At the center of the exhibition is the Sun, which is a breathtaking piece of yellows and oranges. Make sure you allow plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the Chihuly Garden. There is nothing else quite like it.
Museum of Flight
For aviation lovers, this is the place for you. Located at Boeing Field, this museum houses more than 150 air and spacecraft. It is known as the largest private air and space museum in the world and attracts visitors from all over.
You can walk through the first Air Force One jet, sit on a British Airways Concord, and view the very first flight worthy Boeing 747. Take a look at the Wright Brothers’ glider and admire the stealthy Blackbird military aircraft.
The Personal Courage Wing of the museum is home to more than 25 World War I and II aircraft. The “Red Barn” can also be found here. It was the original manufacturing plant for Boeing back in 1909. You could easily spend an entire day here!
Touted as the ninth largest aquarium in the United States, the aquarium houses six major exhibits.
- Window on Washington Waters- Filled with more than 800 local fish, this120,000 gallon exhibit is one of the first you will see upon entering the aquarium. The huge viewing window makes you feel like you are underwater in Puget Sound swimming with salmon, rockfish, coral, and more.
- Life on the Edge- Feel the spine of a sea urchin, pet a sea cucumber, and count the arms of a sea star in this exhibit. This is definitely the hands-on part of the aquarium.
- Pacific Coral Reef- Learn about the reef fish community in this 25,000 gallon exhibit. See the beautiful colors of puffers, tangs and triggerfish, and view the various habitats that exist at different depths.
- Birds & Shores- This open-air exhibit displays birds that live along the shore of Puget Sound. Watch them fly around in their natural habitat.
- Underwater Dome- One of the largest exhibits at the aquarium, here you will be surrounded by sea life. Get a 360 view of life underwater. There are sharks, lingcod, and more. You can even watch the 1:30 feedings.
- Marine Mammals- This is my favorite part. Check out this area to meet adorable seals and otters. Watch as they waddle and swim around.
Free Things to Do in Seattle
We all know there are plenty of attractions that would bring you to Seattle. Some enjoy the attractions on the Seattle Center, with the EMP and Space Needle being the main attractions. Others like to visit the clubs and venues downtown for a good night out. All these things do end up taking a toll on your wallet though, and it is understandable that you might be looking for something else to do that is inexpensive. Free is even better!
Located in Ballard, Golden Gardens is a park with 1.5 miles of beautiful beach access. There is a playground for the kids, and several covered BBQ area’s so that you can enjoy a full day of fun at Golden Gardens. During the summer, the parks department also has summer concerts called Rock the Gardens, which are free concerts featuring local Youth Bands.
If you haven’t heard of Greenlake yet, you need to get down there and see what its all about! They have a huge several mile walk way around the lake, and if you walk it you can take in all the sites and sounds of seattle. With many of the best cafe’s and eateries being located near Greenlake, you won’t be short on lunch ideas! They also have an awesome swimming area with a diving board and life guards, which will keep you cool in that hot summer weather. Then you can take the kids over to the huge play ground, to have some fun with dozens of other kids.
They also have some activities which although they are not free, they are worth it and much fun. Try out some of the paddle boats, with room for 2 to 6 people. Or come down when the community center is holding their Skating Night for only $3.
Gas Works Park
This a very historical park, with many areas to see and read about Seattle’s old history. They also have one of the city’s biggest sun dials, located on the top of the large hill in Gas Works. There are many people in the park every year and it is a favorite spot of photographers and those who want a beautiful picture of lake Union.
Held in the midst of our hot August summers, Hempfest is one of the city’s biggest festivals, and one you don’t want to miss! It was created in the light of education about the many uses of hemp and the fight towards pro-legislation for marijuana. The entrance to the event is free, although they very much appreciate any donation you can make, as it helps to keep the festival running every year.
It is held at Myrtle Edwards park on the Seattle waterfront, and even just going on your way to the festival is quite an adventure. With vendors coming from all over, protestors, and marijuana politicians, you won’t be short of entertainment. Once inside the park there are several stages with different forms of entertainment. There are some of the city’s best speakers, local bands, and even an area for those with Rave at heart.
This park is a great one to go to, especially if you have kids and dogs with you on your vacation. With a huge 2 mile dog park, and a big play ground for the kids, there is all day fun to be had at Magnuson park. It is located just east of Lake City and easy to find with Google maps. There dog park features several fun area’s for the pooches. With a huge woodchip area, bark covered digging areas, and a beach access for the pups to cool down with. They also have several area’s to stop and take a rest, with watering holes for the dogs to get a drink.
The play are for the kids is located just outside of the doggy park, and has two very large sets of play equipment, plus sandboxes and other fun equipment. Make sure to stop by Magnuson park when your next in Seattle.
Seattle did not become known for its music because of the $25 dollar huge concerts in the Showbox or Paramount, it is also well known for lots of free music shows. Its as easy as a search online, and you can find many of the city’s great local talents preforming in venues with free cover. You never know who you might see, and its worth it to check them out.
Day Trips From Seattle
When you think of Seattle, you may picture the Space Needle and coffee houses. But if you wander off the beaten path, you will find there is more to see than just the Emerald City. Seattle’s location provides easy access to a host of beautiful sights and natural wonders.
You can check out these five amazing destinations outside city limits in a single day:
Victoria, British Columbia
Just a three hour ferry ride away, the Garden City features a wealth of historical structures – with the highlight being the parliament building. This architectural gem is most breathtaking at night as more than 3,000 exterior lights illuminate the Victoria skyline. The lush 55-acre Butchart Gardens also offer a gorgeous sight.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Located in Tacoma, this kid-friendly attraction is a mere hop, skip and jump away. This 106 year-old zoo includes a kid’s zone which features animals from around the world including tigers, polar bears and sea otters. Attractions are not just limited land mammals. With two aquariums, kids will get to see a variety of sea life ranging from sharks to coral reefs.
San Juan Islands
This island chain is a welcome retreat for nature lovers. It offers a quick and relaxing escape that is a mere hour long ferry ride from Seattle. Visitors to Orcas Island -one of the three major islands – will enjoy taking a dip in the Doe Bay Hot Springs, which attract tourists and Pacific Northwest residents alike. The ideal time to visit any of the San Juan Islands is April through October when the warm waters glisten in the sun. Trails perfect for hiking or biking adorn these islands. A round trip ferry ticket only costs $13 and offers entry into this slice of paradise.
Famous as the setting for the “Twilight” series of books and movies, there is much more to be seen here than vampires. Rainforests, mountains and lakes pepper the landscape. One can also breathe in the crisp aroma of lavender farms – a familiar sight on the peninsula. A highlight amid this rich landscape is the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is home to more than 250 species of birds, 41 species of mammals and eight species of marine wildlife.
Nothing can beat the view of these falls that measure 270 feet from top to bottom. This spectacular natural wonder is only a 45 minute drive from Seattle. Bring a camera with you because postcard worthy photo opportunities lurk around every corner and behind every tree. More than 1.5 million visitors per year frequent this spectacular vista. Visitors can enjoy the park for free from dawn until dusk with the added perk of free parking.
Regardless of which day trip you choose, taking a detour from Seattle city life opens the door to unseen grandeur and beauty that typifies this region. Saying goodbye to these places may be the hardest part.
Whether you visit Seattle in the Spring or at a different time of year, you’ll definitely be able to find things to do that will keep everyone happy and entertained!