1) “Oh, my good friend so-and-so lives up there. Do you know him?” Seattle isn’t some town on the outskirts of Wyoming that only has a population of 400 people. Seattle is a sprawling metropolis that has a population of almost 600,000 people. So no, I don’t know the friend.
2) “It rains up there 365 days out of the year, right?” Although it seems dreary and gloomy for the majority of the fall and winter, there are flashes of brilliance in the spring and an effervescent glow to the city during summer. So no, it does not rain there every single day.
Don’t get me wrong. These Seattle landmarks are easily recognizable and offer some great sights and sounds for travelers – they are definitely must-see places. But there are other things in Seattle besides the Space Needle that are funky and help define the eccentricities and varied tastes of Seattleites.
The Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field: Seattle sports fans are like no other in the country. Alright, so I’m a little biased, but I think they’re pretty great. When you attend one of the Mariner games, you feel like you’re a part of something big and that you’re watching events unfold with close friends, even if you’ve never met before. When the weather is cooperative, the retractable roof is opened and the sun filters the field.
The field boasts a technology that makes it easier to keep your eyes on the game. When bases are loaded in the bottom of the 7th inning, you don’t need to get up when you have a hankering for a hot dog, simply take your BlackBerry or Nintendo DS Lite out and order your food and it will be delivered to you. No more crowds, no more lines. How’s that for service? For tickets, visit the Seattle Mariners website. Safeco Field, 1250 1st Avenue South, Seattle, #206.346.4001
Seattle Underground Tour: In the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square, below the busy streets, lies a world untouched by light – Seattle’s underground city. In 1889, a fire was started when a cabinetmaker ran into a glue pot and it fell. With the city’s buildings being made out of wood, the fire caught quickly and eventually burned 33 city blocks. The city decided to ban the use of wood for buildings and use brick or stone instead.
Also, to avoid frequent flooding on city streets, government officials decided to rebuild building and streets and raise the city floor by two stories. Bill Speidel’s underground tour will walk you through three blocks of old Seattle ruins. You’ll go down rickety wooden stairs, smell the must of one hundred years and venture into darkened alleys. This is no place for the timid or a wedge-heel espadrille. Wear your walking shoes and prepare to be dazzled. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, 608 First Avenue, Seattle, # 206.682.4646
Over the Rainbow Hot Air Ballooning: nestled just 20 miles outside of Seattle is the quiet city of Woodinville, home to more than a dozen wineries, the most famous and oldest being Chateau Ste. Michelle. One of the most beautiful ways to really see Seattle is by going on a hot air balloon ride. The experience is amazing, or so I hear. In all these years of passing hot air balloons on the way to my parents’ house, I have never scrounged up the courage to get into one of those things and actually lift off the ground and let the wind take me.
I’ve got a big yellow streak going down my back. If you’re an adventurist, however, this is definitely the way to go. Flights are usually scheduled early in the morning or just before sunset. I’ve heard from friends that the views are panoramic and spectacular. You can see the valley below of Woodinville and the various breweries and wineries. The scenic skyline of Seattle, Mount Rainer and the Puget Sound await you. Over the Rainbow Hot Air Balloons, #206.364.0995
Canoeing on Lake Washington: Seattleites love the water, even when it is a cool 60 degrees. There are a lot of boats, yachts, canoes, kayaks, water skis, wave runners and house boats along the Lake Washington and Eilliot Bay borders. Don’t miss the action – rent a canoe to take in the sights along the lake. Located just behind the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, the UW Waterfront Activities Center rents canoes and rowboats for $7.50 an hour – a bargain!
When your done canoeing, take a stroll through the university’s campus. Waterfront Activities Center, 3900 Montlake Blvd., Seattle, #206.543.9433Whether your take a bike ride around one of the city’s many parks or walk along the piers, you’ll find that being outdoors is the only way to experience Seattle.