Seattle City Guide


Suggested Itineraries for Visiting Seattle
©2006 Jill Watson Be sure to check out the Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59.

Seattle is a perfect destination because there are so many things to do. Whether you want to hit the touristy spots of Seattle like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle or are looking for off-the-beaten-track places like the Seattle Museum of Glass or the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, you'll find helpful tips in the suggested itineraries that follow.

Special Events & Attractions in Seattle

Special Events & Attractions in Seattle

Seattle is full of cool events and attractions to entice visitors of all kinds. The suggested itineraries below will help ensure that you hit the must-see attractions in Seattle.

1 day: As soon as you awaken, head to the venerable Pike Place Market (85 Pike St), which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2007. Buy your espresso, fresh fruit, and pastries from the vendors there, and don't miss the show at the Pike Place Fish Market (86 Pike Place), whose fishmongers have learned to enjoy an otherwise rather smelly job by tossing 20-pound salmon back and forth to one another -- and sometimes to shocked tourists.

Saved from demolition by citizen action in the early 1970s, the nine-acre Pike Place Market Historic District embraces nearly 300 businesses, including 40 restaurants and hundreds of farmers' and craftspeople's stalls.

Head down the back stairs, through a maze of shops, and descend the 155-step Pike Hillclimb to reach the Seattle Waterfront -- a mishmash of fish bars and ferry docks, nautical shops and excursion boats, barnacle-encrusted piers and import stores.

At Pier 59, the Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way) offers an undersea viewing dome on Elliott Bay. The Bell Street Pier 66 has a maritime museum, restaurants, and small-craft marina, and from Pier 70, a trail climbs through the new $60 million Olympic Sculpture Park.

Stop for a quick seafood lunch at one of the ubiquitous short-order fish restaurants, such as the delicious chowder at Ivar's Acres of Clams (1001 Alaskan Way) or the seared fresh lingcod from Anthony's Bell Street Diner (2201 Alaskan Way).

Retrace your route aboard the Waterfront Streetcar to Pier 52, where you can board a Washington State Ferry for the 35-minute commuter run to Bainbridge Island. Boats depart every 45 to 60 minutes. On your return, you can still catch a first-come, first-served, late-afternoon Seattle Underground Tour in Pioneer Square (608 First Ave).

If it's a summer evening, chances are good the Seattle Mariners are in town. Catch a major-league baseball game and enjoy a hot-dog dinner at Safeco Field, just south of Pioneer Square.

2 days: Start your day at Westlake Center, downtown Seattle's shopping hub, and board the monorail for the one-mile trip to Seattle Center (between Broad and Mercer sts, First Ave N and Fifth Ave N). Ride the elevator to the observation deck of the Space Needle (400 Broad St); during the weekend, the restaurant here is a great place for a brunch.

Back on the ground, if you love popular culture, you'll want to spend several hours admiring the Pacific Northwest's music history at the Experience Music Project museum (325 Fifth Ave N). And check out the adjoining, newly opened Science Fiction Museum (325 Fifth Ave N) to pay tribute to this genre of literature and film.

The afternoon would be a good time to visit the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (3015 NW 54th St) and watch the boats passing between Puget Sound and Lake Union. Afterward, browse the shops of the nearby Ballard neighborhood (centered around NW Market St and 15th Ave NW).

Enjoy dinner in one of the fine restaurants of the Belltown District, such as Chef Kerry Sear's Northwest tasting menus at Mobil Travel Guide Three-Star Cascadia (2328 First Ave), then pop into a bar or nightclub for after-meal music. A favorite is Tula's (2214 Second Ave), the city's best place to hear homegrown jazz.

3 days: Get out of town. South is Tacoma, with its Washington State History Museum (1911 Pacific Ave) and Museum of Glass (1801 E Dock St), a showcase for the work of famed native son and glassmaker Dale Chihuly.

North is Everett, where Boeing still builds its 747 jetliners in the world's largest building. Tours begin at the Future of Flight Aviation Center (8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo).

Northeast is Redmond, where the fascinating Microsoft Visitor Center (4420 148th Ave NE, Building 127) recounts how college dropout Bill Gates and his friend, Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1975 envisioning "a personal computer on every desk and in every home."

If you're more inclined to sports and recreation, drive east into the Cascades to hike or (in winter) to ski. Snoqualmie Pass is barely an hour from Seattle via Interstate 90; Mount Rainier National Park is only slightly further to the southeast.

If water is more your medium, you can go sailing or paddling on any of the waters surrounding the metropolis. A good option is the Northwest Outdoor Center (2100 Westlake Ave N) on Lake Union, which has more than 100 kayaks available for rent. (They go quickly on good weather days.)

Or just take a stroll through Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr, north of E Madison S), a spectacular 230-acre reserve that is home to 10,000 trees, shrubs, and other plants.

Culture in Seattle

The number of cultural outlets -- especially art museums and galleries -- in Seattle is astounding. Use the following itineraries to help narrow your focus.

1 day: The Seattle Art Museum is the best place to start an art tour of Seattle. Then head to the galleries of Pioneer Square, the best are the Linda Hodges Gallery (316 First Ave S), the Greg Kucera Gallery (212 Third Ave E), and the Davidson Galleries (310 S Washington St and 313 Occidental Ave St).  

Then head east, on South Main Street, to the International District, Seattle's nearest approximation of a Chinatown. It's worth a visit not only to the Wing Luke Asian Museum (407 Seventh Ave S) to see history and art displays on ten separate Asian immigrant groups; you'll also want to spend a good hour browsing in Uwajimaya (600 Fifth Ave S), the largest Asian grocery and gift store in the Northwest.

After a sushi or dim sum lunch, head over to the Frye Art Museum (704 Terry Ave) to view 19th- and 20th-century German, French, and American paintings and sculptures for free. You can also stroll through the courtyard, which has a reflecting pool and waterfall.

©2006 Frye Art Museum The Frye Art Museum offers a variety of 19th- and 20th-century works of art.

In the evening, check out the cultural events at the Seattle Center, or traipse over to the delightful Teatro ZinZanni (2301 Sixth Ave) for Seattle's best dinner theater, billed as a place "where the Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil." Celebrated chef Tom Douglas changes the four-course menu nightly.

2 days: You'll want to start out at Capitol Hill's Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 E Prospect St), focusing especially on the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean collections.

Detour over to Howard House (604 Second Ave) to view contemporary paintings, sculptures, and other works from some of the best younger Seattle artists.

Then browse the unique counterculture shops along Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, grabbing a bite of lunch before heading north to the University of Washington for afternoon visits to the Henry Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St) and the Burke Museum (17th Ave NE and NE 45th St). Then indulge in a halibut-avocado taco -- and perhaps a brief kayak trip -- at the Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club (1303 NE Boat St) on Lake Union close by campus.

A good evening excursion, especially after enjoying the collections at the Burke, is the dinner cruise to Tillicum Village (2992 SW Avalon), a replica Native American village on tiny Blake Island. The $69 package includes a salmon dinner and traditional dancing. Contact Argosy Cruises on Pier 55.

3 days: Drive today to Tacoma, only a half-hour south if you avoid rush hour. The highlight is the Seattle Museum of Glass (1801 E Dock St), inspired by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly and dedicated to exhibiting glass and other contemporary art from around the world. Visitors also enjoy watching a resident team of glass blowers in the museum's Hot Shop.

Chihuly himself created the Bridge of Glass, a tunnel of light and color that connects the Museum of Glass across an eight-lane highway to the Washington State History Museum (1911 Pacific Ave).

There's more Chihuly art in the rotunda of the Beaux-Arts Union Station (1717 Pacific Ave), built in 1911 and now a federal courthouse, and in the Tacoma Art Museum (1701 Pacific Ave). All structures are within two blocks of one another.

While you're in Tacoma, don't miss a visit to the Pantages Theater (901 Broadway Plaza), a masterfully restored relic of the old vaudeville circuit built in 1918. W.C. Fields, Mae West, Will Rogers, and Harry Houdini all performed here. The Pantages is part of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts (901 Broadway), which also incorporates the 1918 Rialto Theater (905 Broadway) and the Theatre on the Square (901 Broadway).

Architecture & Landmarks in Seattle

Architecture & Landmarks in Seattle

From modern buildings to early 20th-century Victorian homes, the architecture in Seattle is varied. Follow these itineraries when exploring the city's many landmarks:

1 day: Start your walk at Pioneer Square (James St and Yesler Way). Stop by Smith Tower (506 2nd Ave), which debuted in 1914, contains 33 floors, and was the tallest building for 55 years until 1969. It also has a 10-foot diameter glass ball on top that flashes the hour and quarter-hour at night with red, white, and blue lights.

Proceed north up Second Avenue to the Seattle Art Museum (100 University St), a five-story postmodern structure that opened in 1991, designed by husband-and-wife architectural team Robert Venturi and Denise Scott. Portland architech Brad Cloepfil headed the design team of the new glass-and-stainless-steel structure, just north of the existing one.

Stunning nearby skyscrapers include the 76-floor Columbia Center (Fourth Ave and Columbia St), the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest; Rainier Square (Fourth Ave and University St); and the US Bank Centre (Sixth Ave and Union St). In their midst is Freeway Park (Sixth Ave and Seneca St), the first major American park to be built directly over an interstate highway. Its five acres boast lawns, gardens, waterfalls, and fountains.

©2006 Seattle Convention and Visitor's Bureau The Space Needle reaches 605 feet high, offering an excellent view of Seattle.

2 days: From Pike Place Market, descend to the waterfront and follow North Alaskan Way to Pier 70. It's a pleasant morning stroll through the brand-new, 8-1/2-acre Olympic Sculpture Park (Elliott and Western Ave), whose Z-shaped pedestrian trail climbs a hillside to the Belltown District. Works from the Seattle Art Museum's sculpture collection are carefully placed in a landscape of aquatic terraces, hardwood and evergreen trees, along with a special-events pavilion and an outdoor amphitheater.

Continue through the Belltown District to the Seattle Center. The 605-foot-tall Space Needle (400 Broad St) was a smash hit at the 1962 World's Fair. Built for just $4.5 million, the building underwent a $20 million revitalization in 2000 and easily withstood a 6.8 earthquake in 2001.

Today the Space Needle looks positively conservative next to the controversial Experience Music Project (325 Fifth Ave N), built by Frank Gehry in 2000. Gehry -- well known for such projects as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles -- didn't get a warm reception for this unique structure, with curvaceous lines and bizarre metallic colors that to some seem totally out of harmony with its environment. Nevertheless, it's one of Seattle's major architectural conversation pieces.

Grab a cab or a city bus to the top of Queen Anne Hill, a steep nearby rise with an absolutely stunning perspective on the Space Needle. There are many early 20th-century Victorian homes here, and a wander through the hilltop neighborhood makes for a pleasant afternoon and evening, if you stay to dine in any of several fine restaurants.

3 days: The exceptional architecture on the 693-acre University of Washington (between 15th Ave NE, NE 45th St and Montlake Blvd) campus makes this a terrific all-morning destination. At its present site overlooking Lake Washington since 1895, the campus owes much of its modern appearance to early 20th-century architect Carl Gould, who drew up a design plan in 1915.

Highlights include the first campus building, Denny Hall, built in French Renaissance style in 1895 with round turrets and candle-snuffer roofs; the 1895 Observatory, still open to the public for night viewing; the Architecture Hall, constructed for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909; Gould's oh-so-gothic Suzzallo Library (1926), with Thought, Inspiration, and Mastery looming above the west entrance; and Smith Hall (1940), where 28 grotesques stand as symbols of primitive need, wisdom, war, weather, and magic. A Medicinal Herb Garden, perhaps the largest of its type in the United States, was built in 1911 and features architectural details typical of medieval Italian gardens.

Look around the off-campus "U District," grab some lunch, then spend your afternoon exploring Seattle neighborhoods. There are some wonderful old homes located south of campus, across the ship canal in Montlake, Broadmoor, and Madison Park, and northeast of campus in Laurelhurst and Windermere.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Shopping in Seattle

From classics like Nordstrom to crafty finds in Pike Place Market, Seattle offers different types of shopping excursions to suit all travelers. Here are some suggested itineraries:

©2006 Tim Thompson Westlake Center is connected to Nordstrom.

1 day: Focus on the heart of downtown -- including, of course, Nordstrom (500 Pine St). The chic department store has been a service-oriented customer favorite almost since Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom founded it as a shoe store in 1901. Adjoining "Nordy's" is Westlake Center (Fourth Ave and Pine St), with numerous fine shops on its four floors, capped by a food court. Other high-end retail stores in the downtown area include Macy's (300 Pine St) and NikeTown (1500 Sixth Ave). Meanwhile, Pacific Place (600 Pine St) and Rainier Square (1333 Fifth Ave) both house numerous prestigious retail establishments.

This is your day, as well, to explore the Pike Place Market (85 Pike St). Start at "Rachel," the famous bronze pig, and spend a few minutes being entertained by the fishmongers of the Pike Place Fish Market (86 Pike Place) as they toss large salmon back and forth from one to another and, sometimes, to a shocked onlooker. Then visit the farmers market, the craftspeople, the importers, and much more.

2 days: Check out the art and antique galleries in the Pioneer Square area, including those specializing in Native American art. Grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich in the Grand Central Building (214 First Ave S), which houses 17 shops and connects to the Seattle Underground. Drop into Elliott Bay Book Company (101 S Main St) to find a book by a local author.

Then wander a few blocks into the International District (4th Ave and Yesler Way), which is home to one of the largest and most vibrant Asian communities in the United States. Uwajimaya (600 Fifth Ave S) is a huge store and cooking school -- part Pan-Asian grocery, part gift-and-housewares shop -- that attracts anyone seeking a strong dose of Asian culture. Nearby, the KOBO Gallery (604 S Jackson St) presents an eclectic collection of Japanese crafts and Northwest arts.

Later, venture toward Lake Union to find the flagship store of REI (222 Yale Ave N), an outdoor-recreation and equipment specialist and the country's largest consumer cooperative.

3 days: Drive across Lake Washington to Lincoln Square (700 Bellevue Way NE), a twin-tower, 42-story, mixed-use complex that opened only in late 2005. Its retail space almost dwarfs the older Bellevue Square, which has 200 shops of its own connected to Lincoln Square by a sky bridge. Bellevue Square is also home to the Bellevue Arts Museum (510 Bellevue Way NE), whose exhibits focus specifically on leading Northwest artisans.

Among other suburban shopping centers, Northgate Mall (401 NE Northgate Way), designed by Space Needle architect John Graham, was considered the nation's first regional shopping mall when it opened in 1950. It features anchor stores, like Macy's and Gottschalks, and more than 120 specialty shops.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Seattle

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Seattle

You won't be at a loss for nightlife and entertainment options in Seattle, especially if it's live music you seek. See the suggested itineraries below for guidance.

1 day: Get in the mood to rock down with an afternoon visit to the Experience Music Project and its Sky Church Performance Hall (325 Fifth Ave). Then return downtown to see who's playing at the Triple Door (216 Union St) or the Showbox (1426 First Ave), a nightclub within easy shouting distance of the Pike Place Market.

Afterward, stroll back down First Avenue into Belltown, checking out the action at spots like the Crocodile Cafe (2200 Second Ave), Club Medusa (2218 Western Ave), Bada Lounge (2230 First Ave), or The Pampas Room at the Mobil Travel Guide Three-Star El Gaucho Steakhouse (2505 First Ave). A great spot for a late-night bite, French-style -- say a charcuterie plate of cheeses and pates -- is Le Pichet (1933 1st Ave).

2 days: Jazz it up. The dinner show at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley (2033 Sixth Ave) guarantees a good show with top-flight entertainment; in late summer 2006 alone, the lineup included Marian McPartland, Kenny Rankin, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Oscar Peterson, Karrin Allyson, and Manhattan Transfer. Should you come for dinner, you can't go wrong ordering the maple-glazed pork chop with savory bread pudding. To see outstanding regional jazz talent, it's only six blocks to Tula's (2214 Second Ave), where you can also enjoy a late-night snack.

3 days: Catch a performance of the Seattle Symphony at beautiful Benaroya Hall (200 University St). The symphony is well-known for its interpretations of classical American composers. Next door is one of Seattle's favorite restaurants, Mobil Travel Guide Three-Star Wild Ginger (1401 Third Ave), where the young mountain lamb satay, marinated in garlic and served with a peanut sauce, never goes out of style.

If there's nothing on the calendar here, consider a dinner cruise to Tillicum Village (2992 SW Avalon), a replica Salish village on tiny Blake Island, to enjoy a grilled salmon buffet and Native American dancing. You can catch a nightly boat departure from Pier 55.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Seattle

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Seattle

From beautiful gardens to topnotch wineries, there are dozens of ways to de-stress in Seattle. Here are three days worth of ideas:

1 day: Rain or shine, enjoy a walk along the shore of Puget Sound or Lake Washington. A good choice is the Magnolia neighborhood's Discovery Park (3801 W Government Way), a 534-acre urban forest reserve with two miles of beach trail, an 1881 lighthouse, a historic Army fort, and the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.

Alternatives include West Seattle's Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW), a heavily wooded park whose rocky beaches are strewn with tidepools, and Seward Park (Lake Washington Blvd S and S Orcas St), a 300-acre peninsula that juts into Lake Washington and holds urban Seattle's largest virgin forest.

Later on, here's a tranquil alternative to the ferry: a 2-1/2-hour sunset sail aboard a 70-foot yacht from Pier 54. Emerald City Charters offer nightly departures from May to mid-October. Afterward, drop into Elliott's Oyster House (1201 Alaskan Way) on Pier 56 for a fresh swordfish steak.

2 days: If you're into flowers and gardens, you won't want to miss a pair of horticultural highlights at the corporate headquarters of the forest-products giant Weyerhaeuser Company (Weyerhaeuser Way S, Federal Way). The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 500 species and hybrids on 22 acres. (Spring is the best time to visit, but some plants bloom year-round.) Nearby, the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection is a place to learn techniques for pruning and propagating a miniature garden, such as a 1,000-year-old dwarf Sierra juniper on display.

©2006 Rob and Sunshine Spend a relaxing day strolling through the Kubota Gardens.

For more of that Japanese flavor, detour to Kubota Gardens (9817 55th Ave S) on your return to downtown Seattle. This exotic oasis in the rarely visited Rainier Beach neighborhood has paths that wind through carefully tended pines, lawns, ponds, and waterfalls.

In the evening, enjoy a quiet dinner at a restaurant like Mobil Three-Star Ray's Boathouse (6049 Seaview Ave NW), where you can dine on Chatham Strait sablefish with sake kasu while enjoying sunset over the Shilshole Bay marina.

3 days: Who doesn't love a zoo? You can easily spend a morning at the Woodland Park Zoo (Fremont Ave N and N 50th St), nationally praised for its natural-environment exhibits. The African Savannah, Tropical Rain Forest, and Elephant Forest are of special note.

Then head across Lake City Way to suburban Woodinville, 20 miles northeast of Seattle. Woodinville has ironically become a major wine destination despite the fact that you won't find any real vineyards here. Chateau Ste. Michelle (14111 NE 145th St), Washington's largest winery, set the tone by producing wines from grapes grown in the drier eastern part of the state, primarily the Yakima Valley.

The Redhook Brewery (14300 NE 145th St) and Columbia Winery (14030 NE 145th St) are nearby; in fact, 28 wineries now call Woodinville home. Scheduled for completion in 2007 is the 18-acre Woodinville Village, which will incorporate some of these wineries into a Tuscan-style community around a central piazza.

Cap your day with dinner (at the Mobil Three-Star Barking Frog or the renowned Mobil Four-Star Herbfarm) and a Japanese-style spa treatment at the luxe Mobil Three-Star Willows Lodge (14580 NE 145th St).

Whatever it is you desire -- whether it's great food, outdoor splendor, fine art, or cutting-edge music -- you'll find it in Seattle. No wonder this city has become such a hot tourist destination.

©Publications International, Ltd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Gottberg is the author of Hidden Seattle, published by Ulysses Press, and is the author or co-author of 20 other travel guides for such publishers as Frommer's and Lonely Planet. He is a former editor for the Insight Guides, the Michelin guides, and The Los Angeles Times travel section. His travel articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Islands. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, John graduated from the University of Washington and has worked as a reporter and an editor at both major Seattle newspapers, The Times and Post-Intelligencer.

Then head east, on South Main Street, to the International District, Seattle's nearest approximation of a Chinatown. It's worth a visit not only to the Wing Luke Asian Museum (407 Seventh Ave S) to see history and art displays on ten separate Asian immigrant groups; you'll also want to spend a good hour browsing in Uwajimaya (600 Fifth Ave S), the largest Asian grocery and gift store in the Northwest.

After a sushi or dim sum lunch, head over to the Frye Art Museum (704 Terry Ave) to view 19th- and 20th-century German, French, and American paintings and sculptures for free. You can also stroll through the courtyard, which has a reflecting pool and waterfall.

©2006 Frye Art Museum The Frye Art Museum offers a variety of 19th- and 20th-century works of art.

In the evening, check out the cultural events at the Seattle Center, or traipse over to the delightful Teatro ZinZanni (2301 Sixth Ave) for Seattle's best dinner theater, billed as a place "where the Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil." Celebrated chef Tom Douglas changes the four-course menu nightly.

2 days: You'll want to start out at Capitol Hill's Seattle Asian Art Museum (1400 E Prospect St), focusing especially on the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean collections.

Detour over to Howard House (604 Second Ave) to view contemporary paintings, sculptures, and other works from some of the best younger Seattle artists.

Then browse the unique counterculture shops along Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, grabbing a bite of lunch before heading north to the University of Washington for afternoon visits to the Henry Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St) and the Burke Museum (17th Ave NE and NE 45th St). Then indulge in a halibut-avocado taco -- and perhaps a brief kayak trip -- at the Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club (1303 NE Boat St) on Lake Union close by campus.

A good evening excursion, especially after enjoying the collections at the Burke, is the dinner cruise to Tillicum Village (2992 SW Avalon), a replica Native American village on tiny Blake Island. The $69 package includes a salmon dinner and traditional dancing. Contact Argosy Cruises on Pier 55.

3 days: Drive today to Tacoma, only a half-hour south if you avoid rush hour. The highlight is the Seattle Museum of Glass (1801 E Dock St), inspired by Tacoma native Dale Chihuly and dedicated to exhibiting glass and other contemporary art from around the world. Visitors also enjoy watching a resident team of glass blowers in the museum's Hot Shop.

Chihuly himself created the Bridge of Glass, a tunnel of light and color that connects the Museum of Glass across an eight-lane highway to the Washington State History Museum (1911 Pacific Ave).

There's more Chihuly art in the rotunda of the Beaux-Arts Union Station (1717 Pacific Ave), built in 1911 and now a federal courthouse, and in the Tacoma Art Museum (1701 Pacific Ave). All structures are within two blocks of one another.

While you're in Tacoma, don't miss a visit to the Pantages Theater (901 Broadway Plaza), a masterfully restored relic of the old vaudeville circuit built in 1918. W.C. Fields, Mae West, Will Rogers, and Harry Houdini all performed here. The Pantages is part of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts (901 Broadway), which also incorporates the 1918 Rialto Theater (905 Broadway) and the Theatre on the Square (901 Broadway).

Architecture & Landmarks in Seattle

Architecture & Landmarks in Seattle

From modern buildings to early 20th-century Victorian homes, the architecture in Seattle is varied. Follow these itineraries when exploring the city's many landmarks:

1 day: Start your walk at Pioneer Square (James St and Yesler Way). Stop by Smith Tower (506 2nd Ave), which debuted in 1914, contains 33 floors, and was the tallest building for 55 years until 1969. It also has a 10-foot diameter glass ball on top that flashes the hour and quarter-hour at night with red, white, and blue lights.

Proceed north up Second Avenue to the Seattle Art Museum (100 University St), a five-story postmodern structure that opened in 1991, designed by husband-and-wife architectural team Robert Venturi and Denise Scott. Portland architech Brad Cloepfil headed the design team of the new glass-and-stainless-steel structure, just north of the existing one.

Stunning nearby skyscrapers include the 76-floor Columbia Center (Fourth Ave and Columbia St), the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest; Rainier Square (Fourth Ave and University St); and the US Bank Centre (Sixth Ave and Union St). In their midst is Freeway Park (Sixth Ave and Seneca St), the first major American park to be built directly over an interstate highway. Its five acres boast lawns, gardens, waterfalls, and fountains.

©2006 Seattle Convention and Visitor's Bureau The Space Needle reaches 605 feet high, offering an excellent view of Seattle.

2 days: From Pike Place Market, descend to the waterfront and follow North Alaskan Way to Pier 70. It's a pleasant morning stroll through the brand-new, 8-1/2-acre Olympic Sculpture Park (Elliott and Western Ave), whose Z-shaped pedestrian trail climbs a hillside to the Belltown District. Works from the Seattle Art Museum's sculpture collection are carefully placed in a landscape of aquatic terraces, hardwood and evergreen trees, along with a special-events pavilion and an outdoor amphitheater.

Continue through the Belltown District to the Seattle Center. The 605-foot-tall Space Needle (400 Broad St) was a smash hit at the 1962 World's Fair. Built for just $4.5 million, the building underwent a $20 million revitalization in 2000 and easily withstood a 6.8 earthquake in 2001.

Today the Space Needle looks positively conservative next to the controversial Experience Music Project (325 Fifth Ave N), built by Frank Gehry in 2000. Gehry -- well known for such projects as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles -- didn't get a warm reception for this unique structure, with curvaceous lines and bizarre metallic colors that to some seem totally out of harmony with its environment. Nevertheless, it's one of Seattle's major architectural conversation pieces.

Grab a cab or a city bus to the top of Queen Anne Hill, a steep nearby rise with an absolutely stunning perspective on the Space Needle. There are many early 20th-century Victorian homes here, and a wander through the hilltop neighborhood makes for a pleasant afternoon and evening, if you stay to dine in any of several fine restaurants.

3 days: The exceptional architecture on the 693-acre University of Washington (between 15th Ave NE, NE 45th St and Montlake Blvd) campus makes this a terrific all-morning destination. At its present site overlooking Lake Washington since 1895, the campus owes much of its modern appearance to early 20th-century architect Carl Gould, who drew up a design plan in 1915.

Highlights include the first campus building, Denny Hall, built in French Renaissance style in 1895 with round turrets and candle-snuffer roofs; the 1895 Observatory, still open to the public for night viewing; the Architecture Hall, constructed for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909; Gould's oh-so-gothic Suzzallo Library (1926), with Thought, Inspiration, and Mastery looming above the west entrance; and Smith Hall (1940), where 28 grotesques stand as symbols of primitive need, wisdom, war, weather, and magic. A Medicinal Herb Garden, perhaps the largest of its type in the United States, was built in 1911 and features architectural details typical of medieval Italian gardens.

Look around the off-campus "U District," grab some lunch, then spend your afternoon exploring Seattle neighborhoods. There are some wonderful old homes located south of campus, across the ship canal in Montlake, Broadmoor, and Madison Park, and northeast of campus in Laurelhurst and Windermere.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Shopping in Seattle

From classics like Nordstrom to crafty finds in Pike Place Market, Seattle offers different types of shopping excursions to suit all travelers. Here are some suggested itineraries:

©2006 Tim Thompson Westlake Center is connected to Nordstrom.

1 day: Focus on the heart of downtown -- including, of course, Nordstrom (500 Pine St). The chic department store has been a service-oriented customer favorite almost since Swedish immigrant John Nordstrom founded it as a shoe store in 1901. Adjoining "Nordy's" is Westlake Center (Fourth Ave and Pine St), with numerous fine shops on its four floors, capped by a food court. Other high-end retail stores in the downtown area include Macy's (300 Pine St) and NikeTown (1500 Sixth Ave). Meanwhile, Pacific Place (600 Pine St) and Rainier Square (1333 Fifth Ave) both house numerous prestigious retail establishments.

This is your day, as well, to explore the Pike Place Market (85 Pike St). Start at "Rachel," the famous bronze pig, and spend a few minutes being entertained by the fishmongers of the Pike Place Fish Market (86 Pike Place) as they toss large salmon back and forth from one to another and, sometimes, to a shocked onlooker. Then visit the farmers market, the craftspeople, the importers, and much more.

2 days: Check out the art and antique galleries in the Pioneer Square area, including those specializing in Native American art. Grab a cup of coffee and a sandwich in the Grand Central Building (214 First Ave S), which houses 17 shops and connects to the Seattle Underground. Drop into Elliott Bay Book Company (101 S Main St) to find a book by a local author.

Then wander a few blocks into the International District (4th Ave and Yesler Way), which is home to one of the largest and most vibrant Asian communities in the United States. Uwajimaya (600 Fifth Ave S) is a huge store and cooking school -- part Pan-Asian grocery, part gift-and-housewares shop -- that attracts anyone seeking a strong dose of Asian culture. Nearby, the KOBO Gallery (604 S Jackson St) presents an eclectic collection of Japanese crafts and Northwest arts.

Later, venture toward Lake Union to find the flagship store of REI (222 Yale Ave N), an outdoor-recreation and equipment specialist and the country's largest consumer cooperative.

3 days: Drive across Lake Washington to Lincoln Square (700 Bellevue Way NE), a twin-tower, 42-story, mixed-use complex that opened only in late 2005. Its retail space almost dwarfs the older Bellevue Square, which has 200 shops of its own connected to Lincoln Square by a sky bridge. Bellevue Square is also home to the Bellevue Arts Museum (510 Bellevue Way NE), whose exhibits focus specifically on leading Northwest artisans.

Among other suburban shopping centers, Northgate Mall (401 NE Northgate Way), designed by Space Needle architect John Graham, was considered the nation's first regional shopping mall when it opened in 1950. It features anchor stores, like Macy's and Gottschalks, and more than 120 specialty shops.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Seattle

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Seattle

You won't be at a loss for nightlife and entertainment options in Seattle, especially if it's live music you seek. See the suggested itineraries below for guidance.

1 day: Get in the mood to rock down with an afternoon visit to the Experience Music Project and its Sky Church Performance Hall (325 Fifth Ave). Then return downtown to see who's playing at the Triple Door (216 Union St) or the Showbox (1426 First Ave), a nightclub within easy shouting distance of the Pike Place Market.

Afterward, stroll back down First Avenue into Belltown, checking out the action at spots like the Crocodile Cafe (2200 Second Ave), Club Medusa (2218 Western Ave), Bada Lounge (2230 First Ave), or The Pampas Room at the Mobil Travel Guide Three-Star El Gaucho Steakhouse (2505 First Ave). A great spot for a late-night bite, French-style -- say a charcuterie plate of cheeses and pates -- is Le Pichet (1933 1st Ave).

2 days: Jazz it up. The dinner show at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley (2033 Sixth Ave) guarantees a good show with top-flight entertainment; in late summer 2006 alone, the lineup included Marian McPartland, Kenny Rankin, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Oscar Peterson, Karrin Allyson, and Manhattan Transfer. Should you come for dinner, you can't go wrong ordering the maple-glazed pork chop with savory bread pudding. To see outstanding regional jazz talent, it's only six blocks to Tula's (2214 Second Ave), where you can also enjoy a late-night snack.

3 days: Catch a performance of the Seattle Symphony at beautiful Benaroya Hall (200 University St). The symphony is well-known for its interpretations of classical American composers. Next door is one of Seattle's favorite restaurants, Mobil Travel Guide Three-Star Wild Ginger (1401 Third Ave), where the young mountain lamb satay, marinated in garlic and served with a peanut sauce, never goes out of style.

If there's nothing on the calendar here, consider a dinner cruise to Tillicum Village (2992 SW Avalon), a replica Salish village on tiny Blake Island, to enjoy a grilled salmon buffet and Native American dancing. You can catch a nightly boat departure from Pier 55.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Seattle

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Seattle

From beautiful gardens to topnotch wineries, there are dozens of ways to de-stress in Seattle. Here are three days worth of ideas:

1 day: Rain or shine, enjoy a walk along the shore of Puget Sound or Lake Washington. A good choice is the Magnolia neighborhood's Discovery Park (3801 W Government Way), a 534-acre urban forest reserve with two miles of beach trail, an 1881 lighthouse, a historic Army fort, and the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.

Alternatives include West Seattle's Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW), a heavily wooded park whose rocky beaches are strewn with tidepools, and Seward Park (Lake Washington Blvd S and S Orcas St), a 300-acre peninsula that juts into Lake Washington and holds urban Seattle's largest virgin forest.

Later on, here's a tranquil alternative to the ferry: a 2-1/2-hour sunset sail aboard a 70-foot yacht from Pier 54. Emerald City Charters offer nightly departures from May to mid-October. Afterward, drop into Elliott's Oyster House (1201 Alaskan Way) on Pier 56 for a fresh swordfish steak.

2 days: If you're into flowers and gardens, you won't want to miss a pair of horticultural highlights at the corporate headquarters of the forest-products giant Weyerhaeuser Company (Weyerhaeuser Way S, Federal Way). The Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 500 species and hybrids on 22 acres. (Spring is the best time to visit, but some plants bloom year-round.) Nearby, the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection is a place to learn techniques for pruning and propagating a miniature garden, such as a 1,000-year-old dwarf Sierra juniper on display.

©2006 Rob and Sunshine Spend a relaxing day strolling through the Kubota Gardens.

For more of that Japanese flavor, detour to Kubota Gardens (9817 55th Ave S) on your return to downtown Seattle. This exotic oasis in the rarely visited Rainier Beach neighborhood has paths that wind through carefully tended pines, lawns, ponds, and waterfalls.

In the evening, enjoy a quiet dinner at a restaurant like Mobil Three-Star Ray's Boathouse (6049 Seaview Ave NW), where you can dine on Chatham Strait sablefish with sake kasu while enjoying sunset over the Shilshole Bay marina.

3 days: Who doesn't love a zoo? You can easily spend a morning at the Woodland Park Zoo (Fremont Ave N and N 50th St), nationally praised for its natural-environment exhibits. The African Savannah, Tropical Rain Forest, and Elephant Forest are of special note.

Then head across Lake City Way to suburban Woodinville, 20 miles northeast of Seattle. Woodinville has ironically become a major wine destination despite the fact that you won't find any real vineyards here. Chateau Ste. Michelle (14111 NE 145th St), Washington's largest winery, set the tone by producing wines from grapes grown in the drier eastern part of the state, primarily the Yakima Valley.

The Redhook Brewery (14300 NE 145th St) and Columbia Winery (14030 NE 145th St) are nearby; in fact, 28 wineries now call Woodinville home. Scheduled for completion in 2007 is the 18-acre Woodinville Village, which will incorporate some of these wineries into a Tuscan-style community around a central piazza.

Cap your day with dinner (at the Mobil Three-Star Barking Frog or the renowned Mobil Four-Star Herbfarm) and a Japanese-style spa treatment at the luxe Mobil Three-Star Willows Lodge (14580 NE 145th St).

Whatever it is you desire -- whether it's great food, outdoor splendor, fine art, or cutting-edge music -- you'll find it in Seattle. No wonder this city has become such a hot tourist destination.

©Publications International, Ltd.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Gottberg is the author of Hidden Seattle, published by Ulysses Press, and is the author or co-author of 20 other travel guides for such publishers as Frommer's and Lonely Planet. He is a former editor for the Insight Guides, the Michelin guides, and The Los Angeles Times travel section. His travel articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and Islands. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, John graduated from the University of Washington and has worked as a reporter and an editor at both major Seattle newspapers, The Times and Post-Intelligencer.

More to Explore