If you’ve mentioned how excited you are to visit Seattle on your train vacation, you may have heard a few people pessimistically retort, “Doesn’t it rain there all the time?” Seattle often gets a bad rap for its gloomy, overcast and most notably rainy weather, but did you know that Seattle’s annual rainfall is actually less than New York City, Chicago and even Houston? Shocked? Most people are. Contrary to popular belief, Seattle folks buy more sunglasses per capita than any other U.S. city. If you were planning on bringing an umbrella and rain boots, you’ll want to throw in some sunscreen and a pair of shades too. Regardless of the weather or time of year you’re planning to visit, Seattle boasts a mix of fun, leisurely, and informative activities and attractions for people of all ages and interests. While the weather patterns in Seattle may be widely debated, below are five noteworthy places that travel experts agree are worth visiting while in the Emerald City.
1. The Space Needle- The futuristic, mushroom-shaped Space Needle became a staple of Seattle during the World’s Fair in 1962. At the time of its opening, The Space Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Its restaurant, SkyCity, was the second revolving restaurant in the world. If you’re lucky enough to dine there, the restaurant completes one full revolution every hour and features spectacular, panoramic views of downtown, the Puget Sound, Mount Rainer, and the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains. The observation deck offers views just as grand with telescopes, info on noteworthy visible sites, and a café for a quick bite. Be warned, during peak tourist times the wait can be an hour or longer to go up— but it’s worth it.
2. Pike Place Market- Opened in August of 1907, Pike Place Market remains one of the oldest continually operated public farmer’s markets in the U.S. The market features hundreds of unique vendors, stalls, cafes and eccentric businesses, with items ranging from delicious foods, produce and spices to antiques to comic books, collectables, and more. Stroll through the market to see fisherman toss salmon, wait in line for freshly made doughnuts, enjoy some delicious chocolate pasta, buy a bouquet of flowers for someone special, and pick up one-of-a-kind buys that are likely to become your favorite souvenirs. The lively atmosphere of the market is an experience in itself, with sights and sounds that will color your day and whisk you off your feet. Make sure to go hungry! This market is sure to satisfy.
3. Pioneer Square- Located south of modern-day downtown, Pioneer Square was once the heart of Seattle. Pioneer Square is now home to many art galleries and hidden treasures like Waterfall Park, where you can enjoy the serenity of a small, manmade waterfall. The 19th century cobblestone streets, ivy-covered brick buildings, and rich history make it an appealing place to wander during the day. From Pioneer Square, you can explore the buried past of old Seattle on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. On the tour visitors descend through what remains of narrow passageways, vintage storefronts and other forgotten city history. Warning: don’t go if you’re claustrophobic or wearing high heels!
4. Olympic Sculpture Park- Once a nine-acre industrial site, this beautiful waterfront park is perfectly situated along the northern edge of downtown Seattle. The park features massive sculptures and a variety of pieces from well and lesser-known artists in a picturesque outdoor setting. As you stroll through the park’s outdoor “exhibits,” you’ll also be in the perfect spot to marvel at the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. The park is a great place to spend some down time and take pictures with your loved ones. The best part? It’s free!
5. Museum of Flight- If you travel long-distance frequently, or even on occasion, you’ve probably flown on a Boeing airplane at least once or twice. Seattle’s impressive William Boeing began building airplanes in a local barn in 1917. The original red barn he started Boeing out of is now part of the fascinating Museum of Flight, along with the first basic glider designed by the Wright brothers, the world’s fastest jetliner, the Concorde, and a myriad of other flying machines.