Tag: Puget Sound

A Jewel Among Gemstones

A Jewel Among Gemstones

Welcome to the Emerald City!

Seattle – a.k.a. “The Emerald City” seen from Elliott Bay

Seattle is on my doorstep, and for those who have never visited, I invite you to come and see this jewel for yourself.  It is a beautiful city with much to offer, in a setting of even more jewels, as you will find Western Washington to be. If you have been here before, come back and see what you may have missed.

For outdoor enthusiasts and water babies of all ages, Seattle and its neighbors are a treasure trove of local water sport gems, and home base for nearby maritime and mountain activities.  Hot Air Balloon rides over the beautiful Snohomish Valley offer stunning views of Puget Sound, two mountain ranges, and many lakes and streams set in the emerald green landscape.

Seattle Waterfront – Elliott Bay

For the shopping crowd, Pike Place Market is a favorite, along with beautiful area Malls like Westlake Center and Bellevue Square; specialty shops catering to specific cultural cuisines, such as Uwajimaya, Chinatown and the International District; and of course Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54.  Nearby Snohomish is home to one of the finest Antique Store communities in Washington.

For the history buffs and those wanting a calmer respite from other activities, take time to enjoy our many Museums, which range in focus from local history, boat building, Native Americans, Flight, Cars, Railroads, Music, Art and Chihuly Glass.

Many Fairs and Festivals highlight the local people and cuisine. Seattleites really come out of the woodwork for festivities such as SeaFair, Bumbershoot and the Bite of Seattle to mention just a few.

Famous sights you won’t want to miss when visiting include the Space Needle, The Ballard Locks, the Seattle Waterfront with its Great Wheel, and of course Mount Rainier, plus many more.

Seattle Space Needle
Restaurant and Viewing Deck on the Seattle Space Needle

Water Activities

Puget Sound, on whose edge Seattle sits, is home to whale watching, seal spotting, bird watching, fishing, sailing, ferries to the Olympic Peninsula, and tours of the San Juan Islands by boat. Seattle area lakes (Green Lake, Lake Union, Lake Washington to name a few) and rivers (Skykomish, Snohomish, Nisqually and others) offer swimming, wind-surfing, water-skiing, canoeing and kayaking, scenic jogging and biking trails, picnicking, and a variety of fair-weather activities. Lake Washington offers Hydroplane races during our annual SeaFair Festival each August, and Elliott Bay is a common stopping place for Cruise ships traveling the Pacific Coastal waters. The best times to visit for outdoor water activities are from May through September when the weather is warmest and there is less chance of rain.

While the Pacific Northwest is well known for its rain, and we Seattleites are said to rust rather than tan, we DO actually have quite a bit of sunshine and lovely weather during the summer months, to highlight the exquisite scenery we are known for. And fall is truly lovely here, with our forests still deep green with touches of flaming color where the evergreens are interspersed with deciduous trees.  It is also rumored that we have webbed feet because of all the rain, but perhaps that is simply because after a winter and spring of being cooped up indoors watching the rain, we are sunshine-seeking, water-loving outdoor junkies. Come join us as we swarm outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Sunset over Port Gardiner Bay in Puget Sound

Mountains and Foothills

What is a picture of Seattle without Mount Rainier in the background? It is iconic to us. But did you know that there are more mountains nearby besides Mt. Rainier? In fact, Seattle and its neighbors sit between two breathtakingly beautiful mountain ranges with several peaks visible from many locations in Western Washington. Mount Rainier offers camping, hiking and rock climbing in summer; and skiing, snow-shoeing, and snow-mobiling in winter. The beautiful Lodge and Visitor Center, plus the wildflower meadows at Sunrise Point make it a favorite stopping point for many Park Visitors.  My personal favorite spot is the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, an easy hike through the gorgeous and peaceful old growth forest at Ohanepecosh.

Taken from the trail at Mount Rainier

The Olympic Peninsula is home to the Olympic Mountain Range, which in turn is home to the Hoh Rain Forest. These Olympic beauties dip their feet in the Pacific Ocean on the west side, and raise their heads to the clouds with snow-capped peaks, rising in majesty and grandeur above sleepy little towns and communities. If you have time to visit the Peninsula, do take the time to drive up to Hurricane Ridge, arguably the single most gorgeous vista in Washington State! In fact, if you haven’t carved out time for this, change your schedule!  Seriously, just go there!

Olympic Mountain Range, seen from the top of Hurricane Ridge

Western Washington is also home to famous Mount Saint Helens, which ties for southernmost peak with Mount Adams. Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, sending ash all the way around the world in the atmosphere, but burying many parts of Eastern Washington in several inches of ash. It makes a great day trip or overnight stay where you can get up close and personal with the effects of a volcanic eruption, and stop at the Visitor Center and learn about the swath of destruction that ensued after the deadly blast.

Mount Baker presides over the northernmost part of Western Washington and is another favorite spot for camping, hiking and beautiful day drives with picnics. Many points in the Snohomish Valley have picturesque views of Rainier to the south and Baker to the north simultaneously, and if you turn west, you can see the Olympic Mountain range as well. If you climb Mount Pilchuck, which is a smaller peak east of Everett, with a lookout at the top of the trail where hikers can actually spend the night, the views are amazing, with Seattle and Puget Sound in the distance, as well as the taller mountain peaks north, south and west of there.

At the top of Mt. Pilchuck, east of Everett

Shopping

Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle sits on the cliff above the Seattle Waterfront, and is accessible from both the top and the bottom. It is also very iconic to Seattle. The upper level is an outdoor farmer’s market alive with people of all walks of life, and sights and sounds galore.  Here you will see fish-sellers tossing their seafood to each other with shouts and smiles; buskers singing, fiddling, or performing other entertainment; fresh flower vendors with huge bushels of blooms of every color in the rainbow; tables laden with produce fresh from the farms; artists with their wares; and just about everything else you can think of that would fit in a small vendor’s area. It’s a bustling community and an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Westlake Center in Seattle, and Bellevue Square in Bellevue are two of our classiest Malls. Each has multiple floors, sporting shops and dining catering to folks from all walks of life.  My favorite is Oil & Vinegar in Bellevue Square, where you can choose from dozens of delicious oils and vinegars for dipping and salads. Further north, in Snohomish County, the Seattle Premium Outlet Mall features shops and dining sure to attract the younger crowd, with many Brand Name shops, like Abercrombie and Fitch, Armani, Calvin Klein, Disney, Nautica, and much, much more. These are just a small taste of the shopping experiences to be had in this corner of the world.

Museums

If you are a Museum lover, come to the Pacific Northwest.  Some favorites here include MOHAI – the Museum of History and Industry- located on the Lake Union waterfront right next to the Wooden Boat Center, both of which are must-sees; The Museum of Flight in south Seattle; and the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma located directly across from the Chihuly Glass Museum which is accessed through a glass-ceilinged covered bridge whose roof houses gorgeous examples of Chihuly blown glass. Don’t forget to look up as you go through! Be sure to take time to watch the glass-blowers at work when demonstrations are open.

Chihuly Glass from the Tacoma Glass Museum
Museum of Flight – Seattle

We also have many museums which feature Native American history and artifacts. As you can probably tell from names of local rivers and cities, there is a very strong Native American heritage in the Pacific Northwest, and the area is home to several tribes of Indians.  SAM – the Seattle Art Museum, and BAM – the Bellevue Art Museum feature some of our best art displays in the state. And if you are into Music, I suggest the Experience Music Project a.k.a MoPOP – the Museum of Pop Culture, located next to the Seattle Center. You can’t miss it if you drive through the area! There are so many more, including early history of the area, railroad museums, and another Flight Museum in Everett. Enough to keep you busy for many a rainy day if you come during the rainy season.

 

MOHAI – Museum of History and Industry – Seattle

Space Needle and Seattle Center

The Seattle Center is home to the famous Space Needle.  No visit to our area is complete without a visit here.  Take the elevator up for a 360 degree of the city, and experience fine dining while up there.  Be sure to make reservations if you plan to stay for a meal, and plan accordingly.  While dining, you will experience views of the entire circuit, because the restaurant slowly revolves. It’s a lovely experience.

Base of the Space Needle at night.

The Seattle Children’s Museum and the Pacific Science Center are also located at the Seattle Center.

The Pacific Science Center – Seattle

Both are awesome experiences for kids. Next door to the Science Center is the Seattle Children’s Theatre which produces some of the finest performances I have seen. Be sure to also check out Key Arena, and see if any sports, music or other entertainment will be playing there while you are in town. The Fountain at the Seattle Center is a great place to hang out on warm days.

What it looks like when the water is only at a trickle. Picture this bowl filled with people playing in the spray when it on full blast
Seattle Center Fountain in full spray

There are often buskers performing, music playing from the fountain, and folks just hanging out.  During hot days you may want to get in on the fun of playing in the fountain spray. At night, the fountain is often lit up with colored lights that pulse and change to music. On the north side of the Center Square you will find the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and McCaw Hall where many ballets and operas are performed. Try to plan one of these events for your evening in Seattle. Performances are superb.

No matter what you plan, there will always be more to do than you have time for. Come for a visit, then come again. And again . . .  I hope you enjoy the Emerald City, a jewel among gems, and the beautiful landscapes surrounding it. Subscribe to my blog and learn about more places to see and things to do in the Pacific Northwest. Comment and tell me what you would like to learn more about, or what your favorite places to visit in our area have been.

Hurricane Ridge – on the Olympic Peninsula

 

The Washington State Seal displayed in the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma

 

Seattle Skyscape in silhouette

Blessings,

JorgieKae