With tongue in cheek, Washingtonians will tell you that summer in Seattle begins on July 5 and lasts three days. We arrived on July 5 to glorious sunshine and highs in the 80s and departed on July 9, leaving on another 16-hour, blue sky, sunshiny day. But I have to tell you: Nobody — and I mean nobody except your clueless travel writer — wears white jeans during this “three-day summer.”
The Inn at the Market, an oasis tucked away like a speak-easy mere steps away from Pike Place Market (the “soul of Seattle”), afforded us great views, friendly service and tranquility when we needed respite from the unbelievable array of fresh produce, dazzling flowers, handmade chocolates, fishmongers throwing fish, glass blowers and fortune tellers — to name just a few of the lurking wonders. On and on the cacophonous sounds and sights go. Do not miss them.
Our first day began with a 40-minute drive north to Everett to the awesome Boeing plant, where workers assemble 747s, 767s, 777s and the new 787 Dreamliner. By volume the largest building in the world, it is so vast that when it first opened, clouds formed on the ceiling, creating rain. Overhead fans now control this, so weather forecasts are no longer necessary inside the building. The 30,000 people working in three shifts around the clock were a sight to see.
The iconic Space Needle was celebrating its 50th birthday, so we stopped by to say happy birthday. With good intentions to go to the top of the 605-foot tower, we discovered a 1½-hour wait and, much to the relief of my acrophobia, skipped the ride. Next door was the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition, perhaps his finest to date, with riotous, other worldly colors and shapes.
No one will ever go hungry in Seattle. The Market alone offers every kind of delicacy imaginable. A few favorites are Place Pigalle for a lovely dinner with a view, Matt’s, Café Campagne, Chez Shea, Etta’s, and Steelhead Diner for super casual.
Outside the Market area is El Gaucho for steak, the Wild Ginger for pan Asian, Monsoon for Vietnamese, Shuckers in the Fairmont for marvelous seafood, and our very favorite, Cascina Spinasse, for incredible Italian. Reservations here a must.
As vibrant as Seattle days are, after-dark activities are equally as spirited, with untold clubs and bars ranging from the old world elegance of Oliver’s Lounge to great jazz at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley and all sorts of dives in between. Undo all the nighttime damage with a morning visit to the original Starbucks at 1912 Pike St., Seattle’s main claim to fame.
Surrounded by water and mountains, there’s plenty to challenge the most energetic: hiking to the surging 268-foot waterfall at Snoqualmie Falls, climbing along the glacier routes of Mount Rainier, kayaking or sailing on Puget Sound, or riding a zipline through emerald green forests. If you need gear for these outings, stop by REI — not your average shopping mall REI. This one, right smack in the heart of the city, will greet you with a miniature Northwest trail complete with pine trees, ferns and a waterfall.
Also worth seeing: Fishermen’s Terminal, the 1914 Smith Tower, an Underground Tour promising “dirt, corruption, sewers and scandal,” the Chittenden Locks and, for the lighthearted, the Pinball Museum. For more serious museum-goers, there’s the Henry Art Gallery, one of the Northwest’s leading museums of modern and contemporary art, the Museum of Glass and EMP Museum, where American popular music is showcased at the Experience Music Project.
With all the marvelous things to do in Seattle, there’s no way one can jam it all into the city’s “three-day summer.” I’d love to return any time of the year, stroll into the Bella Umbrella store (one of the only stores in the world selling absolutely nothing but umbrellas), select one of the brightest, most ostentatious umbrellas I can find and walk out into a legendary Seattle rain.
Rain — the reason for all that’s lush, green, wet and gorgeous in Seattle.
— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are her own.