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.