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When people think about Seattle, a number of things come to mind like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, grunge, and coffee. But on top of those things, Seattle is renowned for its public art.

Did you know Seattle was one of the first cities in the country to adopt a percent-for-art ordinance? This ordinance declares that one percent of eligible city capital improvement project funds be put toward the commission, purchase and installation of artworks in different settings around the city. So far, the collection of public art in Seattle includes more than 400 permanently sited and integrated works, as well as nearly 3,000 portable pieces of art.

My favorite of Seattle’s public art pieces: murals. If you take a walk through the different neighborhoods, you’ll notice buildings, signal boxes and even homes adorned with beautiful, large-scale murals. They’re everywhere, and accessible for anyone to enjoy.

If you’re interested in seeing some of Seattle’s murals, but not sure where to begin, here’s a guide I’ve curated just for you. Be sure to check out the map at the bottom of the post for specific locations to make exploring these works easier than ever.

Greetings from Seattle 

A classic, the Greetings from Seattle mural in Belltown is a must-see. A beautiful depiction of the city’s iconic sites, this piece of art is proof you’ve made it to the Emerald City. Find it on the south side of Bedlam Coffee on Second Avenue near Bell Street. You can also find a similar mural in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood just south of downtown.

Greetings from Seattle mural in Belltown Photo: Alexandra Simon

Tetris

Love Tetris? This mural is for you. Head to Eighth Avenue and Pine Street for a depiction of this video game favorite created by artist Will Schlough via Urban ArtWorks, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for contemporary artists and local youth to work together to create public works of art.

Tetris mural by Will Schlough Photo: Erin Craft

SODO Track

As part of a collaboration produced by 4Culture, over 60 artists have transformed Seattle’s two-mile stretch of transit that is SODO Track into one magnificent piece of art. This compilation of murals spans 32 walls between Royal Brougham Way and Spokane Street, and took three summers to complete. Take Sound Transit‘s Link Light Rail between Sea-Tac Airport and downtown Seattle to admire these masterpieces for yourself.

Above the Clouds mural at SODO Track Photo: Erin Craft

A glimpse a few of the many murals at SODO Track Photo: Erin Craft

Richmark Label

It’s hard to miss this eye-catching mural when walking about Capitol Hill. Another Urban ArtWorks project, the Richmark Label murals are definitely picture worthy. They wrap around the entire 11th Avenue and East Pine Street corner near the southeast side of Cal Anderson Park.

A portion of the Richmark Label mural Photo: Erin Craft

More of the Richmark Label mural Photo: Erin Craft

West Seattle Signal Boxes

Artist Desmond Hansen has put his mark on West Seattle through portraits he created on five signal boxes around the neighborhood. His portraits pay tribute to famous Seattle icons, including Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Chris Cornell and Layne Staley.

Pay careful attention as you explore other parts of the city as well, as many of Seattle’s neighborhoods display their own personalities through the Traffic Signal Control Box Artwork Program, a partnership between SDOT and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Kurt Cobain mural on West Seattle signal box Photo: Erin Craft

Room for Change

Located at the Pike Street Hill Climb along Western Avenue, this mural was created by Carolina Silva in collaboration with Urban ArtWorks, Space.City and Seattle Design Festival. Rain or shine, this mural brightens up any walk to Seattle’s waterfront. On the way, be sure to venture around Pike Place Market’s new MarketFront expansion to see even more public art pieces, including sculptures, signage and more.

Room for Change Mural Photo: Erin Craft

Henry Mural

If you visit Seattle, the likelihood of you seeing a mural by artist Ryan Henry Ward is high. Henry has produced hundreds of large-scale murals around the city — 200 to be exact. Most of his murals can be found in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, but also elsewhere throughout the city. This particular Henry mural can be found at Sloop Tavern on Northwest Market Street.

Henry Mural on Sloop Tavern Photo: Bryan Ochalla

Cinerama

A historic movie theater in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, Cinerama boasts big red and blue murals all along its exterior walls. The murals pay homage to the theater’s rich history and the types of movies that have come through its doors.

Murals on the exterior walls of Cinerama in Belltown Photo: Rudy Willingham

Seattle Doesn’t Settle

Less a mural and more a proclamation, Hotel Max’s 6-foot-tall “Seattle doesn’t settle” wall art on the exterior of the building is an ode to the city’s innovative spirit. Walk by the alley on the west side of the building to catch a glance (and also a picture) of this statement piece.

Seattle Doesn’t Settle mural at Hotel Max in downtown Photo: Erin Craft

For help hunting down these murals around the city, sneak a peek at the map below. And, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled en route! You never know what other public art pieces you’ll come across on your way there.

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Greetings from Seattle Mural
Tetris
SODO Track
Richmark Label
Kurt Cobain Signal Box
Room for Change
Henry Mural
Cinerama
Seattle Doesn't Settle
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The post Murals Aplenty appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Malt. Hops. Yeast. Water. Four simple ingredients put on this earth to serve a much larger purpose together than apart. A combination so powerful, men and women have been drawn in groups to lowly lit chambers to experience this magical infusion in person, often pairing these concoctions with a salty wafer or deeply fried vegetable.

In the Emerald City, our brew masters elevate the process with flavors so robust, rich and local – and with such a variety of choices, I thought I could drop some personal knowledge to help you Hop down the path to beer greatness. See what I did there? Beer Pun, for the win.

According to this recent report, Seattle has the most breweries (174) of any city in America, and 10th most breweries (4.6) per capita. So you’re probably thinking, how do I even dive in? Well, let me be your Wendy Peffercorn and save you from yourself.

Beer Treks:

If you would like to hop around Seattle and explore our beer culture utilizing your own senses and selections, may I humbly recommend the following treks:

  • Ballard Breweries – With 11 breweries within 5 miles, this neighborhood is the ultimate urban hike with the reward of incredible pints and tasters. A few to check-out include Stoup, Lucky Envelope, Bad Jimmy’s, Peddler Brewing, and Reuben’s.
  • Pike Place Market – Sure you want to throw a fish and snap a selfie at the original Starbucks store, but you can also nuzzle up to some solid pints courtesy of Old Stove Brewing. Their new location in the MarketFront has sweeping views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and downtown Seattle. Then swing by the legendary Pike Brewing for another pull of the Pils, or perhaps their Space Needle Golden IPA (when in Rome, right Mr. Burgundy?). Then finish off your trek with the mad scientists from Cloudburst Brewing. No frills in this joint. Straight flavor.
Tastings and Taprooms:

The Taproom at Pike Place along First Avenue is another great place to taste a variety of craft brews from Washington State – and beyond. Rob Leslie

Perhaps your idea of trekking is shifting from one bar seat to the other. No worries, I got you. Seattle has some phenomenal locations that allow you to minimize calf injuries by focusing efforts on 16oz curls. Here’s a few recommendations for your seated pleasure:

  • Beer Junction, West Seattle – Not only is West Seattle one of our city’s finest neighborhood gems, but Beer Junction simply brings it with an unbelievable collection of local and rare craft beers.
  • Chuck’s Hop Shop, Greenwood – As if the name didn’t say it all, but Chuck’s is the true epicenter for beer geeks. With over 50 tap handles and coolers on coolers on coolers of local and national craft beer, your time will not be wasted. Oh, and food trucks. They have rotating food trucks on the daily.
  • Latona Pub, Green Lake – This 30-year-old neighborhood landmark continues to pour some of the best local craft beer around and has an outstanding kitchen to match. Fair warning – kids are not allowed, and as a father of a 6-year-old, I curse them and thank them in the same breath.
  • Seattle Beer Co., Downtown – Back towards Pike Place Market we go for a very cool taproom that exclusively features Washington beers and ciders. Seattle Beer Co. is a great place to challenge your palate to a wide variety of seasonal and year-round selections. And if you still need more hop in your life, jump aboard a Road Dogs Brewery Tour that conveniently leaves daily from SBC.
  • The Pine Box, Capitol Hill – SBW Founder, Ian Roberts, is more than an esteemed beer aficionado. He converted a former mortuary that once held the funeral of Bruce Lee into one of the city’s best taprooms, with an unreal list of local and national selections. It’s two parts swanky, one part creepy, which is all the ingredients for an epic night.

Well friends, I’ve taken you as far as I can go. It’s now time for you to jump into the Seattle beer scene and experience the ride for yourself. Just remember, Seattleites are wonderfully passive aggressive… until it comes to our beer. In other words, Go Hop Yourself!

Courtesy Seattle Beer Co.

The post Breaking Down Seattle’s Beer Scene appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Seattle is flourishing with public parks and picturesque viewpoints, from Kerry Park’s jaw-dropping view of the skyline against Mount Rainier to Gas Works Park’s abandoned gasification plant overlooking Lake Union. While those are some of the best views of the city, there are so many other destinations to take in the sights of Seattle and the surrounding environment. On your next visit, take the road less traveled and head to one of these seven locations with views that are just as captivating as well-known parks nearby.

Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook across from Mee-Kwa-Mooks Park Photo: Erin Craft

Mee-Kwa-Mooks

Located in West Seattle, Mee-Kwa-Mooks is a small park with mighty views. Bring your favorite soda, grab some food to-go and take a seat at one of the picnic tables among the grass. As you enjoy the company of good friends or family, admire the houses sitting against shimmering water, the passing boats and, on a clear day, the stunning silhouettes of the Olympic Mountains behind neighboring islands. And, if you want a closer look, cross the street to the Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook and walk alongside the water. There are even steps that lead directly into Puget Sound where locals often mount their paddleboards or kayaks. Dip your toes in if you’d like or simply watch as the tide rolls in.

Nearby: If you head just a few minutes northeast, you’ll find Alki Beach Park and Seacrest Park. Both being popular hangout spots, visitors and locals can walk along the beach, shop at small businesses, nom on delicious grub and bask in gorgeous views of the city skyline.  

Seahurst Park

If lush greenery is what you seek, head 20 minutes south of downtown to Burien, where you’ll find Seahurst Park. Tucked away from the bustle of the city, Seahurst boasts short trails with beautiful vegetation, as well as rocky beach views and barbecuing stations. Bring a large group and grill out along the water, or post up in a more private location and read a book among the driftwood. You may even catch a glimpse of local marine life like orcas and seals.

Mount Erie

If you’re planning a trip to Whidbey Island, I highly recommend driving through Fidalgo Island on your way there or back and spending time at Mount Erie. Accessible via car or foot, Mount Erie offers sights that are sure to leave you speechless. Whether you choose to hike the full five-mile trail or simply walk across the parking lot, you can catch panoramic views of Puget Sound and the nearby islands that will be hard to part with once found.

Nearby: If you’re driving through Whidbey Island, make a pit stop at Deception Pass State Park—Washington’s most-visited state park located just 15 minutes from Mount Erie. Revel in the sights of turquoise water, rugged cliffs and a 511-foot tall bridge built back in 1935.

Views from atop Mount Erie Photo: Erin Craft

Sunset Hill Park

If you want a glimpse of Seattle’s maritime roots, head to Sunset Hill Park. Admire the dozens of sailboats floating still among the marina as the Olympic Mountains line the horizon. And it isn’t called Sunset Hill Park without good reason. If you stop by this lookout as the sun slowly creeps away from the day, you’re sure to see a watercolor-painted sky. Bring your kids and a pair of binoculars, and then post up on the grass or at a picnic bench for a lovely evening with beautiful views.

Nearby: Although not a viewpoint, Golden Gardens Park is a great destination just a five-minute drive south, toward Ballard, from Sunset Hill Park. Home to two wetlands, a short trail and a sandy beach, this area is perfect for a fun day outdoors that the entire family will enjoy.   

Waterfall Garden Park Photo: Erin Craft

Waterfall Garden Park

Sitting on the corner of Second Avenue South and South Main Street, the Waterfall Garden Park is a quaint piece of nature in the middle of the city. Step inside the indoor park and take in the peaceful sounds of a 22-foot-tall waterfall. There are benches and a couple of tables that surround the waterfall, which provide a comfortable, quiet retreat for those looking to relax and sip a delicious cup of coffee from nearby cafes, like Zeitgeist or Elm Coffee Roasters.

Nearby: Jaunt just a few blocks over to Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park where you can play giant chess, challenge passersby in ping pong, or simply sit and eat a pastry from Grand Central Bakery as you relish Seattle’s gorgeous summer weather.

Walking among the driftwood at Lowman Beach Park Photo: Nathan Craft

Lowman Beach Park

Also in West Seattle, Lowman Beach Park is a pocket-sized, beachfront park with rocky shores and endless driftwood. Skip some rocks along the water, play a pick-up game of tennis, or enjoy a nice lunch in the grass. There are also a couple of swings to entertain the kids. Given its smaller size, Lowman Park boasts a very laid-back and private atmosphere—perfect for watching the waves crash without the company of crowds.

Nearby: Head south 0.8 miles and find yourself at Lincoln Park. A favorite destination for locals living in the area, Lincoln Park boasts everything from soccer and baseball fields to an outdoor swimming pool and walking paths near the water. You can even watch as the ferries take passengers from the Fauntleroy terminal to the Southworth and Vashon terminals.

Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Located in Beacon Hill, Dr. Jose Rizal Park is a popular viewpoint for photographers because it displays one of the most unique views of the city (definitely one for the ‘gram). From the right angle, you can capture Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, Elliott Bay and downtown—all in a single shot. The park also features public seating for picnicking, a covered pavilion, bike path and an off-leash dog area.

Scenic view of downtown, CenturyLink Field and Elliott Bay from Dr. Jose Rizal Park Photo: Erin Craft

The post Under-the-radar Parks and Viewpoints appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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The fresh smell of salt air, the warmth of sunshine we all crave in these early summer weeks, and an unreal panoramic view of the Seattle skyline – pretty great way to start off an adventurous Tillicum Excursion with Argosy Cruises, right?

Aboard Argosy Cruises, on our way to Blake Island. Brittany Carchano

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that just off the waterfront of downtown Seattle in Puget Sound, there are beautiful islands that sit only a short boat ride away. Nuzzled between Vashon and Bainbridge Island is Blake Island, which once served as an ancestral gathering place for the Suquamish tribe and is now a marine state park boasting 475 acres of lush forest and beach shoreline. Blake Island is also home to Tillicum Village which was created in 1961 before the World’s Fair in Seattle to serve as an attraction, providing tourists with a look into local Northwest Native food, culture, and art.

Fun fact: It is believed that Blake Island is the birthplace of Seattle’s namesake, Chief Seattle.

The shoreline on Blake Island – quintessential Northwest. Brittany Carchano

The 40-minute ride to Blake Island is scenic, to say the least. As you peel away from Pier 54 on an Argosy vessel, you are surrounded by the full Seattle skyline to the East, the Olympic Mountains to the West, and historic West Seattle to the South. As you take in the sights and fresh air, you’re given a brief overview of the local geography, animal life, and history of the land by one of the crew members. Did you know there are five species of salmon native to the Puget Sound

Fun fact: The Denny Party, the first European settlers in Seattle, initially landed in West Seattle on Alki Point. It wasn’t until after they survived their first winter in nearly unbearable weather conditions that they decided to move inland to what we now know as Pioneer Square, thanks to advice from the local Duwamish tribe.

Crushed clam shells make up the pathway toward the longhouse at Tillicum. Brittany Carchano

Oh, and be sure to bring your appetite! Once on shore, guests are greeted by a mug of warm steamed clams (don’t forget to follow tradition and crush the shells on the pathway!) and then seated for a Northwest inspired meal in the longhouse. As you enter, the smell of salmon cooking on cedar stakes around open alder wood fires instantly saturates your senses. And it’s no wonder, the fish is being cooked right in the front room before you enter the dining area! Once you fill your plate with delicious food from the buffet, including Northwest stew, wild grain harvest rice, field greens salad, and of course, salmon, make yourself comfortable for one of the highlights of the tour: storytelling performed by the Tillicum Village dancers.

Salmon prepared in the Coast Salish tradition – slow roasted on cedar stakes around open alder wood fires. Brittany Carchano

After the meal and performance have concluded, guests are given the remainder of the time to explore the island. Take in the views on the beach, go on a short hike and learn about different trees native to the Pacific Northwest, explore the traditional paintings and totems poles placed throughout the longhouse, and meet some of the dancers who have their customary carved masks on display.

The Tillicum longhouse and surrounding grounds are decorated with Coast Salish totems. Brittany Carchano

The boat ride back is just as gorgeous as the way there, and you’ll learn some more interesting facts about early Seattle as you pull back in to Pier 54. If you’re looking for more fun places to explore close by after disembarking, make sure to check out the historic Miners Landing and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, or take a short walk up to Pike Place Market!

Back in Seattle, Argosy Cruises docks at Pier 54. Brittany Carchano

The post Cultural Adventures on a Tillicum Excursion appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Visit Seattle Washington by Joan Magnano-damm - 2M ago

Now that it’s summertime and the weather is getting warmer, it’s time to take lunch outside, breathe fresh air, listen to flowing fountains, take a break beside a calm pool, smell the colorful landscaped flower arrangements, and bask by the decorative grasses and tall trees. Whether you came to Seattle on vacation or in town for a meeting, these green spaces are tucked into the urban landscape, providing a convenient lunchtime getaway so you can quickly get back to your afternoon agenda.

The courtyard waterfall at One and Two Union Square acts as a natural watering hole for locals and visitors alike.
Kristin Gillespie

One of my getaway locations is by a river rock waterfall found in the outdoor atrium of One Union Square, just one block from the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC). The flowing water masks the all too familiar big city noises. Choose your favorite rock, get splashed by the cool water, and pretend you’re on a hike in the mountains. The entire park-like setting is officially called the Arne Gillam Courtyard, honoring longtime leasing agent for One and Two Union Squares who died in 2010.

The Seattle George Monument by Buster Simpson found in Seattle’s Freeway Park simultaneously portrays the profiles of Chief Sealth (for whom the city was named) and George Washington.
Joan Magnano-Damm

Alternately, take a climb to Freeway Park and choose a favorite locale in the Central Plaza. It is excellent for sunning and a great people-watching promenade filled with worldwide convention attendees from the WSCC. Venture a little further, and there’s another plaza with bright red outdoor tables and chairs, where the Friends of the Seattle Public Library have book carts set-up with books to purchase. Freeway Park is always full of people from varied walks of life including people in their walkers from nearby retirement communities, people from the neighborhood walking their dogs, and doctors getting in their noontime exercise from nearby hospitals from First Hill (nicknamed “Pill Hill” for the abundance of hospitals and medical facilities in the neighborhood).

A third lunch munching getaway is on the massive concrete steps of the US Federal Courthouse, surrounding the building from every angle. In one corner of the square, there is a serene reflecting pool in memory of 9/11. The hustle and bustle of attorneys and their clients coming and going makes for a professional lunchtime setting.

The sun speckled steps of the US Federal Courthouse in Seattle make for a cool place to rest your feet in Seattle.
Kristin Gillespie

Whichever location you prefer, the lunch hour in Seattle provides a great opportunity to take advantage of the best weather in the country at this time of year. So pack up some picnic provisions or order your next meal to go and take your lunch outdoors.

The post Lunchtime Escapes appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Seattle is known for our luscious forests, majestic mountains and natural surroundings – as well as our innovative spirit. With these assets at our disposal, our community prides itself on protecting our green by going green. Whether you are an attendee at a huge convention or visiting at your leisure, you too can be part of this Emerald City tradition.  Read on to discover four hotels in downtown Seattle that have gone green, so you can rest green!

A green roof retains up to 75% of rainwater, reducing stormwater runoff. Courtesy Hyatt Olive 8

As the first LEED SILVER certificated hotel in Seattle, Hyatt at Olive 8 is a pioneer when it comes to green practices. Located in the bustle of the city, guests can escape to one of the largest living rooftops. Its 8,335 square feet of green attracts birds, bees, butterflies.

Hyatt at Olive 8 supports reuse and recycling practices through food composting, in-room recycling, and food bank donations. They are committed to green housekeeping and 100% toxin-free dry-cleaning services. Hyatt at Olive 8 has 346 luxurious rooms, green meeting capability, and a central location in the heart of downtown making it a wonderful place to hold meetings and enjoy the city.

Starwood and Marriott’s nationwide “green room” initiative started as a pilot program at The Sheraton Seattle Hotel Courtesy Sheraton Seattle Hotel

Many guests across the country are familiar with the “green room” initiative, but not as many know that it started as a pilot program at The Sheraton Seattle Hotel. This innovative program rewards guests for opting out of linen and towel replacement, rewarding guests with their choice of a $5 gift card for the hotel’s restaurants or loyalty points for choosing to reuse their linens. This started a revolution nationwide for all Starwood and Marriott properties and the program has been replicated nationwide. Located right across the street from the convention center, Sheraton Seattle is choice for anyone looking for convenient, earth-friendly accommodations in Seattle.

Motif Seattle participates in Destination Hotels’ Destination Earth program. Courtesy Motif Seattle

An independent boutique hotel, the Motif Seattle offers a funky modern décor and a Destination Earth program. Since 2008, Destination Hotels has worked on creating a green hotel environment. Working with Gaia consulting group, the hotel group has looked at how to retrofit existing properties with more energy efficient systems for lighting, water, heat, and cooling. Looking to hold a meeting at the Motif? They have a green meeting program to help increase environmental awareness in hotel guests.

All Kimpton hotels are certified by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program. Courtesy Alexis Hotel

Kimpton strives to be a leader in eco-tourism by being the first hotel brand to have their entire portfolio become 100 percent certified by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program and a part of the TripAdvisor Green Leaders Program. All Kimpton properties use non-toxic cleaning supplies and have cut out single-use hygiene products. Since 2009, these hotels have partnered with Clean the World, an organization that distributes recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families in countries suffering with high death rates of pneumonia and cholera.

Seattle Kimpton hotels promote “Choose to Conserve”, a program in which guests who choose not to have daily housekeeping will earn $10 a day to put towards their room rate, mini bar purchase, or restaurant purchase. In Seattle, guests have four choices; Hotel Monaco, Alexis Hotel, Palladian Hotel, and Hotel Vintage, all with their unique personalities and locations around downtown.

Presidential Suite at Palladian Seattle Courtesy Palladian Seattle

These are only four of the hotels in Seattle that support green practices but there are so many more in the city and surrounding areas. I’d love to hear about your experiences of going green in Seattle. Feel free to give a shout out to our local hotels for their sustainable practices in the comments below.

The post Sleep Well in Seattle with Green Hotel Options appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Whales have always been fascinating creatures to me. And I think what makes them so fascinating is not just that they’re some of the largest mammals living on our earth, but that they aren’t seen often, let alone up close.

Boats docked in Edmonds Marina Photo: Erin Craft

That said, when I was asked to participate in a whale watching tour with Puget Sound Express, I couldn’t refuse. So I, along with a few other Visit Seattle staff members, made my way about 20 minutes north to the Port of Edmonds for a morning excursion. Upon arrival, met up with Pete, Sherri, Sarah, and Christopher Hanke—the family that owns and operates all Puget Sound Express tours.

Fun fact: The Hanke family has been operating whale watching tours with Puget Sound Express for 30 years. And they don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

The new M.V. Saratoga docked in the marina Photo: Erin Craft

Gorgeous mountain views from the outdoor seating area Photo: Erin Craft

From there, the family led us to their newest whale-watching vessel, the MV Saratoga. Boy, was she beautiful—and big! Fixed with 149 seats, this catamaran was designed specifically with guests, whales and the environment in mind. You can sit inside on comfortable cushioned seats while sipping on coffee and savoring a slice of Sherri’s world-famous blueberry buckle (I swear it’s magic in your mouth), or you can enjoy the wind in your face from the outdoor seating on the deck.

Fun fact: Sherri now includes the recipe to her blueberry buckle in the Puget Sound Express tour program—a tasty souvenir you’ll treasure for years!

As you leave the port, prep yourself for an impressive sight, especially on a clear, sunny day. Gaze upon a panoramic view of Puget Sound with snow-capped mountains in the background as you cruise toward the San Juan Islands at roughly 40 knots (nearly 50 mph). If you’re lucky, you may even catch a ferry on the move for a quintessential Pacific Northwest photo (new phone background: check!).

Ferry passing the Edmonds marina with a beautiful, mountainous backdrop. Photo: Erin Craft

What I love most about this tour is that the Hanke family knows these whales like the back of their hands and treats them with respect–they never get too close unless the whales choose to approach the boat. The family can spot whales from afar and when one comes into sight, you’ll quickly hear a voice over the intercom. As you watch these magnificent creatures, you’re taught about the nature of the animals and how they differ from others of their kind. A good portion of the whales Puget Sound Express sees returns year after year, so many have individual names and a unique history in the area. They’re often distinguished by the different markings on their flukes (aka their tails), as no two are the same!

If you didn’t know, there are a number of whale species that can be found in the Pacific Northwest, including the transient orca, humpback whale, gray whale, and minke whale. While on our tour, we came across two gray whales—Shackleton and Earhart. These two whales are some of the only in the area that are continuously seen together. We admired the pair as they cleared their blowholes about 3-4 times before diving down to the bottom of the ocean, showing off their flukes in the process. While on the ocean floor, gray whales fish for delicious krill.

Earhart’s fluke in the air, preparing to dive down to the ocean floor. Photo: Erin Craft

One of the whales clearing its blowhole. Photo: Erin Craft

Fun fact: Did you know that whale blowholes are very similar to human nostrils? When they come to the surface, whales will exchange nearly 90 percent of their lung capacity—and with great force! Air can leave the blowhole at nearly 200 mph, whereas air leaving a human’s nose during a sneeze travels at roughly 100 mph. 

It’s a unique opportunity to see whales in their natural habitat. You get a glimpse into just how impressive in size they truly are, while simultaneously learning about the species. We watched and followed the two gray whales for about an hour before heading back to the port, but I felt as though I could stay out there for hours.

Gray whale resting at the water’s surface Photo: Erin Craft

Although whales are the main focus of most Puget Sound Express tours, the Pacific Northwest is teeming with aquatic life. So, even if you don’t have the opportunity to see whales—but it’s very likely you will—you’re sure to see other marine life, including seals, puffins, eagles, and more! Bird watching tours and multi-day tours are also available in addition to the popular whale watching tours.

All in all, if you’re trying to decide whether or not to book a whale watching tour with Puget Sound Express, ask yourself three things:

  1. Do you want to see whales up close and in their natural habitat?
  2. Do you want brag-worthy photos and lasting memories?
  3. Do you want to eat insanely delicious cake?

If you answered “yes” to all three of those questions, then don’t wait any longer! Plan your tour with Puget Sound Express and have an experience you won’t soon forget.

The post Whale Watching with Puget Sound Express appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Visit Seattle Washington by Stevi Boskovich - 5M ago

Blue Angels fly overhead Photo: Dale Cunning

Nothing is more synonymous with summer than Seafair. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are spending summer nights with my mom, dad and sister watching the Torchlight Parade downtown Seattle and summer days watching the Blue Angels fly overhead. As I’ve grown up, those memories have stuck with me as I made new ones with friends and now my own little family. And, little did I know I’d end up having a career in communications and marketing at Seafair.

Something I love about being a parent in the summer is all the fun activities with my kids. We go to the beach and play at spray parks, but I struggled with continuing their learning during summer break from school. Having the opportunity to teach my children about science and math during summer through a fun activity like building a boat for the Milk Carton Derby has become an annual project in our household. We have even gotten my kids grandparents involved in the building!

Torchlight Parade in full swing Courtesy: Seafair

Another highlight of my summer is the Alaska Airlines Torchlight Parade and Torchlight Run. My friends and family arrive early to get good seats for the best view. First, we wave and cheer for “Dad” as he runs down the parade route in the Torchlight Run 5K, then later we watch all our parade favorites. From the dancing horses to the marching bands and military troops, there is something for everyone in our family to enjoy and create new memories to last a lifetime.

Wakeboarder practicing between heats Photo: Gary Breedlove

Seafair isn’t just for families, it’s for friends too. Whenever our out-of-town friends ask when they should visit, we always tell them Seafair Weekend. Everyone has such a cold, rainy vision of Seattle, so I love being able to show them around town during our city’s most iconic weekend. We wander Genesee Park, watching wakeboarders between heats of the hydroplane races zooming along the shores of Lake Washington then laying back on the grass as we watch the Blue Angels fly overhead. It’s weekends like this that make everyone realize why we love Seattle so much.

Hydroplanes racing side by side at Seafair’s Weekend Festival Photo: Rod Mar

They say April showers bring May flowers, but I’m ready for that Seafair fun in the sun. For us, Seafair defines summer.

For more information and event details, visit seafair.com.

The post Seafair is Summer appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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Not even a year old, PacWesty is already taking the Pacific Northwest by storm. Headquartered a 35-minute ferry ride west of Seattle, this Bainbridge Island company specializes in getting visitors (and locals!) out to the Olympic Peninsula—more specifically, getting travelers out in fully equipped VW camper vans. Even more exciting, the company is working on converting one of their vans to be electric. As an Ecotourism major I’m sure you can only imagine how delighted I was to find out about that!

No matter what your style of travel, PacWesty makes adventure travel seamless. For those a bit more experienced and open to a loose set of guidelines to navigate around the peninsula, the staff at PacWesty is happy to help craft your getaway. If you are less experienced or prefer to have a concrete itinerary, Rainshadow Escapes has partnered with the company to create a perfect play-by-play for each day. Every trip is customized according to travel style, personal preference, and time frame. The company provides a trove of recommendations and resources in the itinerary which they get back to each traveler within a 72 hour time slot. Regardless of which route you decide to go, you won’t want to miss out on spending a bit of time at Cape Flattery, Ruby Beach, and the Hoh Rainforest.

Prior to pick-up or drop off, each van is carefully packed with camping essentials. Yep, that’s right; PacWesty will come to you if you can’t get to them. For an additional fee the company offers van drop-off in the downtown Seattle area as well as at Sea-Tac Airport. The vans are chock full of gear ranging from reusable mugs, to sleeping bags, to cleaning supplies, and everything in between. With more room in your bag you really have no excuse to not stock-up on plenty of Seattle goodies before heading out of the city.

We all know that no camping experience is complete without s’mores. Before jumping into your Westfalia van, be sure to make a pit stop at the Theo Chocolate Factory to load up on an assortment of local chocolate bars. While you’re at it head over to Indi Chocolates in the Pike Place Market to snag some handmade marshmallows. Bring your taste buds along on your adventure and try pairing chai marshmallows with a ginger dark chocolate bar!

While the adrenaline of exploring the peninsula will have you on the rise bright and early, chances are you will still need that occasional pick-me- up; or, if you’re anything like me, just one more reason to try some locally roasted coffee. Both Islandcraft Coffee and Storyville Coffee have their roastery located on Bainbridge Island. PacWesty will provide you with a French press, but you’re on your own for a coffee grinder. Luckily, both shops offer to grind your beans complimentary with your coffee purchase.

After a long day of driving and exploring, take the opportunity to kick back around the campfire with a glass of vino or a microbrew. Offering wines from the Puget Sound region, Bainbridge Vineyards is certified organic and produces varietals including Siegerrebe, Müller–Thurgau, Madeleine Angevine, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. If your drink of choice is hops based rather than grape based swing by Bainbridge Brewing to pick-up a few craft ales. The brewery offers year round, seasonal, barrel aged, and sour beers on tap.

When it comes to traveling with PacWesty, no detail has fallen by the wayside. Indulge your senses in all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer on an adventure you’ll never forget.

The post A New Adventure on the Rise appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is all the rage in April, but March is all about the daffodils.

Yellow. Rows upon rows of golden blooms. A carpet of sunshine. As far as the eye can see. That’s what you’ll find at the La Conner Daffodil Festival in Skagit Valley though the month of March.

Daffodil fields in Skagit Valley Andrea Mabanta

Our goal for the day was simple: find an activity that allowed us to enjoy each other’s company while entertaining a toddler and an infant for a good chunk of the day. Neither of us had been to the Daffodil Festival before and we figured that at least the 90-minute car ride there and back would give us a chance to catch up while our kids logged a decent nap.

In planning our trip, we found most of our resources via lovelaconner.com, which gave us the low down on the festival. Did you know that more tulip, iris, and daffodil bulbs are produced in Skagit Valley than in any other county in the United States? See? You’ve learned something already. The site also provided this handy Bloom Map, showing which fields are blooming on any given day. We decided to head directly to RoozenGaarde to see what we could find.

And we found what we were looking for! Rows upon rows of sunny, golden blooms, swaying in the wind. We did what any self-respecting parents would do – we busted out the cameras for selfies and cute kid photos. Of course, the toddler was really more impressed with the texture of the mud than the flowers themselves. Fortunately, all the mud was dry the day we were there so we didn’t have to worry about ruined clothes.

Fascinated by the mud in the daffodil fields at Roosengaard Kristin Gillespie

From RoozenGaarde, we loaded the kids back in the car and wove our way around the valley to view the other daffodil fields that were indicated on our bloom map. Our wanderings (and our stomachs!) led us into the quaint waterside town of La Conner in search of something tasty. The hostess at Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar seated us and our little humans without batting an eye, even going so far as to offer crayons and a coloring menu to the toddler. We settled in next to a sunlit window with a waterfront view and ordered sweet, crisp Hama Hama oysters and bubbles from Washington’s own Treveri Cellars. Kids were happy, moms were happy – honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Perfection on a plate – and in our glasses! Kristin Gillespie

The daffodils are currently in full bloom, so make plans now if you are eager to see these fields of yellow. But don’t despair if you can’t make it in March – the tulips are up next and on track to bloom for the acclaimed Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April.

Preparing the tulips at Roosengaard. The tulips are generally in full bloom and celebrated with their own festival throughout April. Kristin Gillespie

Daffodils at Roosengaard Kristin Gillespie

Of course, you don’t have to travel up north to enjoy the fresh flowers of the Pacific Northwest. Browsing the fresh flower stalls at Pike Place Market is an experience in itself. But if you can, standing witness to the acres upon acres of bright blooms under a blue sky makes for a spectacular day trip from Seattle.

Among the daffodils at Roosengaard Andrea Mabanta

The post A Day with the Daffodils appeared first on Visit Seattle.

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