SEATTLE – It doesn’t always rain in Seattle, despite its reputation, so pack sunglasses for your next visit, and be sure to catch new attractions like the Great Wheel along with classics like the chewing-gum wall.
Seattle’s newest attraction is the Great Wheel on the waterfront, near the Pike Place Market, with 42 enclosed gondolas that turn on a giant wheel. It’s pricey for a 15-to-20-minute experience at $13 for adults and $8.50 for children ages 4 to 11. But you do get a nice view of the Puget Sound and the city, and it’s a good spot for vacation selfies.
One of the city’s other relatively new attractions is the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at Seattle Center, showcasing the work of Dale Chihuly, a native of the state of Washington known for his colorful, other-worldly glass creations.
The museum is right next door to the Space Needle, Seattle’s famous observation tower, so most tourists will come to the neighborhood anyway. And the attached Collections Cafe is fun, offering a look at the artist’s personal collections of everything from ceramic dogs to bottle openers.
Some adult visitors will enjoy a stop at one of Seattle’s new recreational marijuana shops, but be warned that public smoking is outlawed. Seattle police would love to give you a special souvenir of your visit if you light up in a city park.
Few people visit Seattle without stopping by the Pike Place Market, a mish-mosh of flower sellers, craft tables, restaurants, fish shops and lots and lots of people.
If you have kids, don’t miss Rachel the pig, near the corner where fishmongers play catch with salmon, and around the corner from the must-see gum wall, covered with wads of chewed gum. Ick factor aside, elsewhere there are some beautiful places in the market to relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the view, including The Pink Door and Cafe Campagne.
The Space Needle is always a good bet. The Seattle Center attraction built for the 1962 World’s Fair offers a 360-degree view of Seattle. New high-tech offerings make it possible to experience the view even when the sky is gray or take a quick virtual trip to some other Seattle attractions, like the market or the soccer field.
Seattle Center is also home to the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum, filled with music history, instruments you can actually play and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s awesome science fiction collection. Through Oct. 4, the museum is exhibiting costumes from both Star Wars trilogies.
A few steps away is the International Fountain, a must stop for kids on a warm day. The Pacific Science Center and the Seattle Children’s Museum are also on the Seattle Center campus and worth visiting.
For families that want to see it all, including the zoo and the aquarium, a City Pass offers discounted admission prices to the top tourist stops.
Another fun stop for families and history enthusiasts is Seattle’s Underground Tour below the Pioneer Square neighborhood. Learn true and nearly true facts about Seattle history, and you might even see a ghost.
For a free view and some exercise, walk up Queen Anne hill just north of downtown and visit Kerry Park. A series of hidden stairways will take you most of the way up.
Other gorgeous views can be had by walking on a ferry from the Seattle waterfront or taking a stroll in the Seattle Art Museum’s sculpture garden on Elliott Bay.
If you have a car, drive an hour out of town to go hiking in the Cascade Range or drive a shorter distance to take an in-city hike at Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood or Golden Gardens in Ballard.
Seattle is full of weird and wonderful museums that don’t make most tourist lists: from the Living Computer Museum to the Seattle Pinball Museum, The Museum of History and Industry and the Dialysis Museum at the Northwest Kidney Center.
The neighborhood of Ballard, which used to be its own city, is filled with some of Seattle’s newest breweries, hip restaurants, little shops and rock music venues. Ballard has a nice Sunday market, but outdoor markets can be found all over town on the weekends.
You can rent a canoe or kayak at the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center and paddle around Lake Washington and near the Washington Park Arboretum.
Depending on the season, sports fans should be able to grab tickets to see the Mariners, the Sounders or the Storm, but don’t expect to see the Seahawks, unless you have a friend with season tickets or a bunch of cash.