by Patty Drake
Did you know that the beautiful emerald city “Seattle” is just a quick flight away from our Reno area? The region is full of wonderful dinning, exceptional sightseeing and world renown museums. Ok, let’s just throw in great shopping while we’re at it.
When I asked our travel group where they would like to go, they said the Northwest and Seattle, and off we went! We decided on two nights and three days that included top of the line sightseeing because there is so much to see! We arrived at the SeaTac airport in the morning and were met by a step-on-guide who would be with us throughout the day to give the history and favorite hotspots. As we walked out to our bus, it was beginning to rain. “Welcome to Seattle.” Later we found out that it had rained over three times the normal amount, but weather never stopped us before, so off we went.
Our first stop was at Alki Point, known for its wonderful beaches, fun shops and great restaurants, but since it was raining quite a bit, we skipped the shopping and went straight to lunch at Dukes Chowder House, overlooking Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle.
Lunch was superb with fresh seafood, fresh and warm sourdough french bread and of course clam chowder. After lunch, we continued on with our City Tour, working our way back towards downtown Seattle with a stop at Snoqualmie Falls, about 30 minutes east of Seattle. Built by glaciers thousands of years ago, just under 500 feet high with the power of over 600 feet of water per second falling over the top, it was a beautiful site to see from the easy walk to the viewing area. We made a stop at the visitors center full of items about the falls. Next stop, our hotel for the next two nights.
My family lives close to Seattle so I referred to them when looking for the best hotel in the area. We chose the Sheraton Seattle, just six blocks away from Pikes Market, in the middle of all the best restaurants and shopping districts. We checked in and had time to rest and freshen up. Our dinner was enjoyed in a private dining area where we toasted the adventures to come, and called it a night.
The following morning, we had a lovely buffet breakfast and met our guide and driver for another exciting day of sightseeing. Traveling north towards the town of Everett with a stop at the Ballard Locks, we found ourselves surrounded by a beautiful park and great walking area where we watched large ships sail from Salmon Bay out to the Pacific Ocean. Our ultimate destination was the Boeing Flight and Space Center, a must see while in the Northwest. Due to the size of our group we had a private guide who took us on a short bus ride over to the plant, where we viewed 747, 777 and the new 787 Dreamliner. Our knowledgeable guide explained how the assembly worked, the testing that is done and some insider secretes that just can’t be shared. One of my favorite parts was the Boeing Centennial Exhibit that was on display at the Aerospace Galley, showcasing the full range of Boeing’s innovations in commercial aviation, defense and space over the decades.
Next, we were off to lunch just a short drive away at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Pacific. Once again we had delicious seafood, warm french bread and incredible seafood chowder. In the afternoon, we continued back towards Seattle for our “Underground Seattle Tour”.
Located in the heart of the downtown area at the historic Pioneer Square, we met our guide who gave us a great lecture on the rough and tumble history of Seattle, which began with the strike of gold in the Klondike where thousands of people were drawn to this once quiet seaside community. In 1889, there was a large fire that flatten the city, and the city fathers decided that they would build on top of the old existing city that had experienced daily flooding by the oceans tides. Built on top they did, leaving the original part of the city underground. It was fascinating to see over 33 buildings still standing to this day along with the wonderful stories told by our guide; it was one of the highlights of the tour. We returned to the hotel with the evening on our own to explore. Most of us went down to Pikes Market to experience the flying fish market, the very first Starbucks store, and the beautiful art pieces put out by the local artists.
The following morning after our buffet breakfast we checked out of the hotel and along with our great driver took a short ride to the Seattle Space Needle. Built in 1962 for the Seattle World Fair, at just over 600 feet high, the Space Needle offers views all the way to the Cascade Range, Mt Rainier, Mt Baker, Elliott Bay and much more. We went to the top to the observation tower which is full of interactive exhibits and of course those incredible views. Our next stop, located right next door to the Space Needle was the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit. Now you don’t have to be a museum buff to appreciate Chihuly’s work, it is the most fascinating, intercut glass you will ever see. Opened in 2012, the museum includes three primary areas: the Garden, the Glasshouse, and Interior Exhibits. The largest glass sculpture is 100-foot long and is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. The gardens are beautifully displayed with bright and local plants intertwined with glass sculptures from Chihuly. Of course, we spent time in the lovely gift shop before ending our guided tour, a perfect way to end our visit to Seattle. We took a short flight home with dreams of visiting this amazing city in the future.