Seattle

Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: April 2023

Seattle is known as the Emerald City for its abundance of lush greenery. It is also surrounded by water and mountains. It is the largest city in Washington as well as the Pacific Northwest region in the United States. As such, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the city life or explore nature, sometimes at the same time.

We flew into Seattle the night before to start our road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway through Washington, Oregon and northern California. But before heading to the coastline, we planned to spend our first day of holidays exploring the sights in Seattle. After picking up a few groceries in Tacoma, we headed into the city.

We started the day at the Space Needle, Seattle’s most iconic landmark. It’s an observation tower that stands nearly 185 meters (or 605 feet) tall. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair to fit the theme of “the Age of Space”. After purchasing our tickets, we entered the base of the tower and headed for the elevator. Along the way there were a series of information panels that provided more details about the history of the Space Needle, including when, how and why it was built.

The elevator ride took under a minute to whisk us to the upper level of the observation deck. The glass doors provided a sneak peak of the views. But once we got off the elevator, we could walk around the edge for a better look.

We headed indoors to check out the all-glass floor on the lower level of the observation deck. If the glass floor itself isn’t trippy enough, it also slowly rotates. There’s a small restaurant located here on part of the deck, but we had other plans for the morning. Once we did a couple of laps, we took the elevator back down.

From there we walked to the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. It features a large collection of glass pottery, chandeliers and sculptures created by Dale Chihuly, an American glass artist who was born in the area. Chihuly is widely recognized for his large-scale installations and his glass art appears in many museums all over the world. The museum includes eight galleries, a Glasshouse and a garden where glass has been integrated with nature.

We walked back to where we parked our car to eat some lunch before exploring more of the city. We walked through part of Olympic Structure Park, which features a collection of outdoor modern sculptures. The park is the largest green space downtown and is located along the waterfront. The park is free to enter and there’s a wide walking path that passes many of the sculptures.

We continued walking along the shoreline and headed south towards Pike Place Market, Seattle’s original farmers’ market. It opened its doors in 1907 and is considered one of the oldest and largest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. Today it contains over 500 shops, restaurants and other vendors, which sell a wide variety of goods, including fruit, vegetables, meat, pastries, specialty food, fresh flowers, crafts and other goodies.

The Pike Place Market also features a famous Gum Wall. It is located in some unmarked alleyway and contains a colourful display of chewing gum plastered all over the walls and everything attached to them. The Gum Wall started in the 1990s where patrons would stick their used chewing gum on while waiting in line for a nearby improv theatre. Over the years the amount of gum kept accumulating. Despite some efforts to clean up the gum, the city can’t keep up with the number of visitors who continue to add new chewing gum to the wall.

The market was insanely busy so we didn’t stay long. Instead we walked back towards our car and drove to Washington Park Arboretum, located on the shores of Lake Washington. It spans 230 acres and contains a network of trails and walking paths through an assortment of trees and plants. It is jointly managed by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the City of Seattle. And the best part is that it’s free to visit.

We parked at the Graham Visitors Center to use the restrooms and check out a map of the park and figure out our route. We then set off down Azalea Way. There were still some cherry blossoms in bloom, along with some magnolias and camellias.

We walked towards the opposite end of the park where the Seattle Japanese Garden is located. There’s a small entrance fee, which we paid to take a look around. The Seattle Japanese Garden is a Japanese-style stroll garden. After entering the main gate, there’s a short path that weaves through the carefully arranged gardens. It was very peaceful and quiet, which added to the whole ambiance.

Afterwards we headed back through Washington Park Arboretum, this time we opted to take a different path back to where we parked for a change of scenery. This included a visit to the Lookout Gazebo and a stroll through the Rhododendron Glen. We hopped back in the car and drove towards Olympic National Park. The drive was supposed to take three hours, but due to heavy traffic (which apparently is part of the true Seattle experience), it took closer to four hours to get to Port Angeles.

L

94 thoughts on “Seattle

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m glad we carved out a day to visit Seattle before heading to the Pacific coast. The Chihuly museum was such a highlight. I had no idea glass could be blown in such intricate shapes and patterns. It was very neat.

      • brandib1977 says:

        I have seen Chihuly pieces in a few places and it’s always a treat so I’m really happy you got to experience it. I love seeing his work mixed in with nature. Happy Sunday!!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why his work resonates with me is because of its connection with nature. Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. We had a wonderful time exploring some of the main attractions in Seattle. It was a great start to our trip. I could have easily stayed for longer, but we had other places to visit along our road trip.

  1. kagould17 says:

    Seattle is such a beautiful city. Glad you managed a visit without the ever present rain. We never went up the tower, so glad to see the nice views there. We love Chihuly’s work and if we are ever back in Seattle will have to visit the museum. We saw his display in San Francisco in about 2008 or 9, I think. Pike’s Market is fun and the gum wall is still disgusting. Thanks for sharing your trip Linda. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We surprisingly had pretty decent weather during our trip to the west coast. Even though it was overcast and cloudy when we were in Seattle, I’m glad it didn’t rain. Otherwise I doubt we would have done as much walking around as we did. The Chihuly museum was a real highlight. The Pike Place Market was neat, but way too crowded for us to fully enjoy. And agreed, the gum wall is pretty nasty. We didn’t feel the need (or appeal) to contribute to it. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the May long weekend. Linda

  2. Ab says:

    That looks like a wonderful day spent in Seattle, Linda.

    I went there for two days in 2011 and I loved revisiting the Space Needle and the Pike Market with you. I loved seeing the original Starbucks store and having fried chicken gizzards for a snack!

    I didn’t get to check out the gardens so it was nice to see it through your eyes!

    Hope you’re both enjoying the long weekend!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It helped that it didn’t rain, otherwise I doubt we would have had as much interest in checking out the sights outdoors. We passed by the original Starbucks and the line snaked around the block. I enjoy getting a green tea matcha every once in a while to treat myself, but I was not willing to wait in line that long! Washington Park is very beautiful. I’m convinced that every city needs to have a large park.

      It feels so nice not to have to go to work today. We’ve mostly been busy in the backyard and hosting family. We didn’t end up going to Georgian Bay Islands as we were a bit worried about the mosquito situation. We’ll save it for later in the summer. Hope you’re enjoying the May long weekend as well, along with the nice weather.

      • Ab says:

        Haha I was the same as you. I just took a picture of the original Starbucks. Did not wait to get in.

        We did some gardening as well this weekend and hanging out with friends. So nice to have a short week although I have to work an event this Sunday so it’s not exactly a short one and makes next week feel long. 🙃

        Georgian Bay will still be there for you later this summer!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Glad to hear that you were able to spend some time outdoors and with friends this weekend. Sorry to hear that you attend a work event on Sunday though. What a bummer. But hey, at least there’s only four more days until the weekend. I’m taking Thursday and Friday off but am now questioning why I didn’t just take the full week off. And agreed about Georgian Bay Islands. Summer is just getting started!

      • Ab says:

        Enjoy your last day of work tomorrow! 😆 I hope this week wasn’t too strenuous for you. 🤣

  3. gsilvosa63 says:

    Seattle is one of my “next-to-do” bucket list. I have been to Northern California. We’re planning a road trip through Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Sounds fun!! We spent some time in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island last spring and fell in love with the coastal scenery. We decided to return this spring, but explore part of the west coast in the United States. Olympic National Park was one of my favourite spots on our trip. We went a bit too early in the season and some of the other national parks in Washington and Oregon (like Mount Rainier and Crater Lake) were still snow bound. But the plus side was that it wasn’t very busy when we were there. I guess this means we’ll just have to return someday. Happy trip planning. Linda

  4. wetanddustyroads says:

    Wow, that’s some view from the top of the Space Needle … I’m glad to read there is an elevator 😉. The Glass Museum with its bright colours is beautiful and so is the stroll through the gardens. But I’m not so sure about the Gum Wall … well, that’s something I haven’t heard of before!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      While the Space Needle is no longer the tallest building in Seattle, we figured it was worth the visit since it’s so iconic. The tickets were a bit steep, but the views did not disappoint. I’m glad there was an elevator too otherwise I doubt we’d have had enough energy to wander around Seattle afterwards. The Chihuly museum was pretty spectacular. I had no idea glass could be blown in such interesting patterns and shapes. It was all very colourful. The Gum Wall was pretty gross. Needless to say we didn’t feel the need to contribute to it.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. Even though it was a bit drab and dreary outside, I’m just glad that it didn’t rain! We had a wonderful time just strolling around and soaking in the sights and scenery.

  5. Darlene says:

    Seattle is a favourite city of mine. We spent a lot of time there when we lived in Vancouver. We loved the flying fish at Pike’s Place Market.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I can easily see why Seattle is one of your favourite cities. We were only there for a day so tried to hit up the main highlights. It would have been nice to stay for another day or two. I couldn’t get over just how huge the Pike Place Market is. It was insanely crowded though. I can only imagine what it’s like on the weekend, especially when the weather is nice.

  6. Rose says:

    We didn’t have an opportunity to tour the Space Needle when we were there, but it looks like it’d be fun. I love when they add glass floors to tall buildings. We were near the market, but we didn’t view the gum wall (also eww 🤢).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Tickets for the Space Needle were a bit steep, but we figured it was a great way to see a different perspective of the city. The views did not disappoint. The glass floor was a nice touch and a good option if the weather isn’t ideal. The Gum Wall was pretty gross. We didn’t feel the need to add to it or stay long in case we accidentally bumped into the gum. There was also an insane amount of people there.

  7. Boots on the Trail says:

    We’ve spent a lot of time in Seattle over the years – always enjoyed our visits. Except, of course, for its famous traffic. You were lucky it only held you up for an hour! 😄

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had a wonderful time just wandering around Seattle and soaking in the sights. It’s pretty amazing that they have so many green spaces in and around the city. Leaving the city on a Friday afternoon was a bit painful with all the traffic though. But it was actually not bad compared to when we were in Portland later on our trip, which is telling you something.

  8. elvira797mx says:

    Wow! Amazing place and great photos! Looks it was an awesome expirience.
    Love the glass design, fruits seems delicious. And the oriental garden kind a relaxing time.
    Thank’s for share Linda.
    Happy weekend!
    Keep well.
    Elvira

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Spending the day in Seattle was a great start to our road trip. It was a nice mix between checking out some of the museums and strolling through a few green spaces. Hope you had a wonderful weekend. Linda

      • elvira797mx says:

        It’s a pleasure, thank’s Linda.
        Sounds an amazing place to visit or live. Love museums and green spaces. Yes, thank’s My weekend was great. Hope yours as well.
        Nice week!
        Elvira

      • elvira797mx says:

        Great! So happy for you, nice weather
        and gardering sounds a lovely combination. Enjoy the rest of your week as well.
        Thank’s.

  9. Bama says:

    I don’t remember why, but I’ve been curious about Seattle since I was a teenager. I do wonder if the Space Needle played a huge part at the beginning. I love the look of Olympic Structure Park and the Japanese Garden. But I think I’ll give the Gum Wall a wide berth.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I know what you mean. I’ve been curious to visit Seattle for awhile now as there’s been a lot of films and tv shows shot there. Besides the traffic and homelessness, it’s a really nice city. We had a wonderful time just wandering around. The Gum Wall was pretty nasty. It was surprisingly super busy, along with Pike Place Market, so we didn’t stay long. Instead we headed to Washington Park and the Seattle Japanese Garden, which is more up our alley in terms of things we enjoy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. There’s also a lot of green spaces in Seattle, which are great for wandering around. The Chihuly museum was such a highlight. It was neat to see how much nature influenced his glass work.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Seattle has a lot to offer and there’s a bit of something here for those that enjoy the outdoors, visiting museums, learning about history, or eating food. The Gum Wall was pretty nasty. I had no interest in adding to the collection. We came, we saw, we left. Good enough for us.

  10. Ken Dowell says:

    Spent a weekend in Seattle last summer when I was there for a wedding. Followed much the same itinerary and yes, Pike Place Market was too crowded for me too.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Going to a wedding is a great excuse to take a trip. It would have been nice if we had an extra day to spend in Seattle, but I’m glad the weather held up and we were able to make the most of our day. Pike Place Market was by far the busiest place we visited. We didn’t spend too much time there as the crowds were annoying and took away from the experience. I’m glad we decided to go to Washington Park and the Seattle Japanese Garden instead for some peace and quiet, and to enjoy nature.

  11. Thattamma C.G Menon says:

    So wonderful photography and the places full of beauty of nature 🌷🙏👍🌻 tallest buildings and the sea shore so marvelous , fruit market so clean and fresh fruits 👌😍 All mind blowing sceneries dear friend ❤️✍️ thank you for sharing and Best Wishes 👏

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. It’s great how there are so many green spaces in such a big city like Seattle. It was a nice balance between spending time in the city and and in nature.

  12. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Adored this post as we did a similar road trip to you but in reverse as we ended up in Seattle. This was ages ago though when our sons were very young but we loved it and I’d like to do it all over again. Older son was back in Seattle not so long ago attending a conference and he enthused about the city so I want to go back. We didn’t make it to the Chihuly Museum but it’s sounds fascinating but we did go up the Space Needle. Looking forward to the upcoming posts Linda.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment. How fun to do a similar road trip with your family. We initially wanted to start in Seattle and end in San Francisco (or vice versa), but the cost of the car rental would have been insanely expensive to drop it off in a different location to where we picked it up. You’ll have to add the Chihuly Museum to your itinerary if you ever return to Seattle. His glass art work is exceptional and it was the highlight of our day.

  13. Laura says:

    Now that I live so close to Seattle- it is high on my list of places to visit! I think I would pass on the gum wall haha, but would love to visit the Space Needle, Glass Museum (which I’ve never heard of!), Pike Place Market and the Japanese Garden, which looks lovely. I’m so excited to read more about this PNW road trip! 😊🛣️

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’d highly recommend a visit to Seattle, especially since it’s so close to where you live. There’s a nice balance between city stuff, like museums and restaurants, as well as nature. The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum was a real highlight. Pike Place Market was interesting, but it was way too busy for our liking. The Seattle Japanese Garden was more up our alley in terms of it being peaceful and quiet.

  14. grandmisadventures says:

    I’ve never been to Seattle, but I’ve wanted to go. Great pictures! The gum wall seems to be a thing in a bunch of places. When I was in California by Santa Barbara they had a gum alley and it was so popular of a tourist spot that they have their own sign and GPS will take you right to it. So disgusting, and yet so weirdly interesting that it is such a thing. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We fell in love with the west coast when we visited Vancouver Island last spring and we’ve been plotting our return ever since. This time we figured we’d explore south of the border, starting in Seattle. It was a wonderful start to our road trip. That’s too funny how there are other Gum Walls and that they are so popular. I couldn’t believe how busy it was. It was gross, yet pretty in a weird way at the same time. We didn’t feel the need to contribute to it though.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. I’m a huge fan of these large parks and think every city should have at least one of them. They have become super popular in the past few years which is a good sign that we need more green spaces.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. Despite the gloomy weather, we had a wonderful time wandering around Seattle. It was a great start to our road trip along part of the Pacific coast.

  15. Mike and Kellye Hefner says:

    What a fun time you must have had in Seattle. We haven’t been there in years and would love to go back to see more of the city. I can’t wait to follow you on your PCH travels – especially the national parks!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Spending the day in Seattle certainly was a great start to our road trip. I was surprised at how many parks there are in and around the city. Even though it was overcast and gloomy outside, I’m glad it didn’t rain so we were able to explore some of these green spaces.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You are too kind. The traffic in Seattle can be horrendous, but it’s a great city for wandering around. I also like how there are a lot of parks and green spaces, which were especially scenic in the spring when everything was just starting to blossom and bloom.

  16. BrittnyLee says:

    Wow!!!! Port Angeles!!!! I’ve heard of that. T these museums are awesome. Glass can be so pretty when turned to art. I went to a place in Philly like that. It was so neat! Great photos 😁 .The Glass crystals are my favorite 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! The glass museum was my favourite. It was neat to hear how the artist drew a lot of his inspiration from nature. Good to know there’s something similar in Philadelphia. We’ve been meaning to return one of these days since it’s not too far from where we live.

  17. rkrontheroad says:

    There was a Chihuly exhibit all around Denver Botanic Gardens some years ago. So whimsical and colorful! I didn’t know there was a Japanese garden in Seattle. It looks so authentic.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Chihuly’s glass work is pretty incredible and I couldn’t help but appreciate its connection with nature. It’s neat that he’s had exhibits all over the world and has made his work more accessible. The Seattle Japanese Garden is quite small, but it was nicely designed. It was the perfect spot to unwind and relax before battling traffic for the next several hours to get to Olympic National Park.

  18. alisendopf says:

    I see you’ve found some serene locations in Seattle, away from the hustle of Pike Market. Seattle has so much to offer. Glad you could enjoy it.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I couldn’t get over just how busy Pike Place Market was. I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if we visited over the weekend. Thankfully we were able to escape from the crowds and spend time in some of the parks around the city.

  19. Bernie says:

    I remember how busy
    Pike Market was in the early 80’s when we lived in Vancouver. Can’t imagine it now. I think the gardens were a much better idea. Lovely colours and the peace, well you needed it so you could stay zen for the next 4 hours! Yikes.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny how the Pike Place Market is still so popular. It was insanely crowded when we visited and that was on a weekday. I can only imagine what the place is like on the weekends, especially when the weather is nice. Even though it was drab and dreary outside, I’m glad it didn’t rain otherwise we probably wouldn’t have explored many of the gardens and other green spaces. And yes, it was just the relaxing experience we needed before we had to battle Seattle traffic to get to Olympic. But to be honest, Toronto traffic isn’t much better.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        That’s one of the main reasons we decided to move away from Toronto a couple of years ago. We were always stuck in traffic no matter where we needed to go. I thought I would miss certain aspects of city life, but I really don’t.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You weren’t missing much! The Gum Wall is colourful, but also pretty gross. We didn’t linger long as we were worried about accidentally bumping into it as it was quite busy.

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