Things to do in Seattle when you're alive (and visiting)

Categories: pacific northwest   seattle   The Adventures   Tour   travel

You know when you’re talking to someone, and you find out where they lived, you inevitably ask them what to do there if you’re visiting.

Since I lived in Seattle from 1992 to 2006, I’ve had a number of people of people ask me what to do there when they got for a visit.  I decided to put some ideas up here, so I’d remember next time someone asks me, and to solicit ideas from anyone else who might have a good idea.

In no particular order, here are some Seattle and the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ideas:

  • Boeing Plant tour: Even if you're not a huge aviator fan, this is still cool.  Standing next to a wing of a 747 or some other plane is pretty amazing, and getting an idea of how they're made is going to really help you relax on your flight home. (2-3 hours)
  • Ferry to San Juan Islands: You're in Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan deFuca, so you gotta take a ferry ride!  You might as well make a day of it, and enjoy the hour+ ride up to the islands. It's a beautiful ride, flying by the hundreds of islands in the sound.  Maybe you'll see a pod of whales.  Once on the islands, lazy around and do the tours, or drive to the site of the Pig War. You can hop over an Island, and drive up Mount Constitution to enjoy the views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier.  Interestingly, the islands get very little rain comparing to the rest of the area, enjoy up to 300 sunny days a year. (1-2 days)
  • Ferry to Victoria (from Seattle): If you want to go all out, head up to Canada via Ferry. Stay a day to two and enjoy some tea.
  • Snoqualmie Falls: About a 45 minute drive from Seattle, you can see the might falls pouring down from a-high.  (Assuming it's been raining.)  From there, hike down a 1/2 mile to the base of the falls and bask in the mist or watch the people trying to kayak upstream. (Er, hiking trail closed until 2013, but since I don't know when you're reading this, just the schedule.)  (1 hour)
  • Hiking parts of the Pacific Crest Trail:  While I lived there, I always wanted to do a 2 day hike from I-90 up to Stevens Pass. Now I think it would be a cool ultra run, at around 30 miles or so of mountain. But you can easily day hike, or find a hundreds of other trails within an hour of Seattle if you want to get into the woods.
  • Mount Rainier:  Big mountain, lots of snow, woods, and deer frolicking in the meadows. Enough said. (1 day)
  • Mount St. Helen: Head south a couple hours to avoid the crowds at Mt. Rainier, and go see the new forest growing at St. Helens. You can also go spelunking in the Ape Caves. (Side note, it was my trip to the Ape Caves that originally got me writing about doing stuff.  I should dig out the pictures and re-post the adventure here one of these days.) (1 day)
  • Olympic Nation Forest and the Rain Forest:  Yes, there is a rain forest in Washington over on the Peninsula. (1 day)
  • Experience Music Project: If you're into music, this is a must-see. If you don't live and breath music, it's still cool, but you may not get all googly-eyed over the Jim Hendrix guitars and stuff. (1-4 hour)
  • Bruce Lee's grave: Okay, visiting a grave is kind of weird, but hey, here he is. and finding the grave can be an adventure in itself...I almost walked into someones funeral when I went. (15 minutes)
  • Capital Hill: This is the hip, trendy area of town.  Lots of things to see and do.  If you have your zoot suit packed, head over to the Century Ballroom for some good ol' fashion swing dancing. (They used to give a free lesson before they opened, to get you going.)
  • Original Starbucks: Okay, I really don't care about this, because as you'll see in Seattle, there are a million coffee shops. I find it funny to see two Starbucks in the same shopping center, plus a coffee trailer in the parking lot, but hey, gotta love the juice. (15 minutes)
  • Pike Place Market: Watch out for flying fish!
  • Seattle Aquarium and boardwalk: Sharks, Octopuses and fish.  If you're not up in Seattle diving (some of the best diving in the world!), this is the next best thing. (2-4 hours)
  • Museum of Flight: More planes, space ships and flying things.
  • Seattle Center: Go up in the Space Needle, for a good view of the area. Eat in the restaurant, and watch as the world turns around you.
  • Find the troll under the bridge.
  • Visit Fremont, the center of the universe.
  • The Ballard Locks: Watching boats sounds kinda boring, but it's actually pretty cool to see how you get from the sound into the lakes and back. And if the fish are running, you're in for a treat.
  • Astoria, Oregon: I really don't know what to do down here, but it's a cute town, and where they filmed The Goonies.
  • Tillamook Cheese Factory, Oregon: er, cheese and ice cream.
  • Portland, Oregon: While a city in its own right, and worthy of it's own visit, it's a fun day to shoot down there and check out the Columbia River.
  • The Oregon Coast: If you have time, take a day or two to drive down the coast.  You won't be disappointed. Stop by the Sea Lion Caves.
  • Walk from Lake Samamish to Lake Washington:  Okay, this isn't really that exciting, but having ran hundreds of miles along this path, I felt obliged to mention it.
  • Visit wineries and breweries:  You're in a Micro-brew heaven.  Be sure to check out some of the breweries. Hoist a pint of Mac and Jacks for me, and convince them to bring it out east.
  • The Tulip Festival, The Taste of Seattle, The Taste of [insert city]: Just about every weekend is going to have a festival of some sort, spring through fall.

Okay, I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff, so chime in and mention some of your favorite things. I’ll be updating this post as I think of more stuff, and dig out pictures to look at.

(And for those wondering, I’ve always loved the name of the movie “Things to do in Denver when you’re dead”, but I’ve never actually seen it.)

Written on September 24, 2012