Road Trip: See Seattle in 12 Hours
If you’ve been following my posts this summer, you know that my husband and I decided to go to Montana, but we started out in Seattle, sorta. We flew into Seattle and ended our trip with a (very) short visit to the city. We arrived by car late in the day and we flew out early the next morning, so our time was limited to about 12 hours. After a long drive in the car, we just wanted to be outside. It was a beautiful day in Seattle (more about that later) so we decided to go for a stroll. Here’s what we did and other things we would have like to have done!
But first, a few Seattle tidbits...
While we may all know Seattle as the birthplace of grunge music or Jimi Hendrix, here are some things about Seattle you might not know.
Where is it?
Seattle lies between Puget Sound (PWEWH-jit) /ˈpjuːdʒɪt/ and Lake Washington. To the west is the Olympic Mountain range and to the east are the Cascade Mountains. It covers about 142.5 square miles (wow!) and as of 2016, Seattle’s population was 704,352.
Founded in 1851, it wasn’t always named Seattle. Here’s the story. When the Denny Party first settled the area, they named their settlement ‘Duwamps’. There was another settlement across Elliott Bay (part of Puget Sound) named ‘New York Alki’. ‘New York Alki’ was actually first called New York, then added the Chinook word ‘Alki’, meaning "by-and-by." Anyway, ‘New York Alki’ was eventually absorbed into ‘Duwamps’.
Around that same period, Si’ahl, the chief of the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, lived in the same area. Si’ahl’s tribes were battling with the rival Snohomish tribe. At some point, Si’ahl met Duwamps resident “Doc” Maynard (key in the area’s development), and they became friends. Maynard managed to broker a truce between the tribes and in the process he also renamed Duwamps after Si’ahl, anglicized into Seattle.
Sia’hl was a pretty smart businessman. In exchange for letting the village use his name, Si’ahl was paid a monthly fee. The friendship paid off for Maynard, too. Si’ahl helped keep tribes from joining the American Indian attack on Seattle.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
Many of us think of Seattle as rainy, but from my research, it doesn’t look like Seattle even comes close in terms of having the most precipitation. The city receives an average of only 37 or 38 inches annually. According to Live Science,the honor of the wettest city in the U.S. goes to Mobile, Alabama, with an average rainfall of 67 inches. Other sources say that Hilo, Hawaii has 124 inches a year. And, still other sources say the rain capital of the U.S. appears to be Ketchikan, Alaska, with an average annual rainfall of 152 inches and an annual average snowfall of 37 inches. No matter which source you believe, Seattle isn’t showing up on the top of any rainfall list!
Note: Even the capital city of Trenton, in my home state of New Jersey, gets more rain (46.4 inches) than Seattle's 37 inches annually. Who knew?
Stuff to Do
Did you know Seattle has an underground tour? A colleague of mine had recently been in Seattle and suggested it. The tour is an hour and 15 minutes and takes you on a tour of the buried city. According to its website, the tour is “a humorous stroll through intriguing subterranean storefronts and sidewalks entombed when the city rebuilt on top of itself after the Great Fire of 1889.”
It sounded super fun, but there was a music festival going on at the tour meeting place which meant there would be tons of people. Since we were exhausted and didn’t feel like fighting the possible crowds - and we were in desperate need of some fresh air and exercise, we decided to pass on the tour, walk around and grab a bite at the Belltown Pub instead. How did we find the Belltown Pub? It was an awesome recommendation from our hotel’s reception desk.
The day was spectacular (who says it rains all the time in Seattle?) so, after our meal, we strolled past Pike Place Market (obligatory) and through Olympic Sculpture Park, then around the Space Needle (we skipped a ride up the Space Needle since we’d done it on a prior visit to Seattle).
Did you know: The 605 foot Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and it’s the fourth tallest observation tower in the U.S.!
Close to the Space Needle are the Pacific Science Center and Chihuly Garden and Glass. And, just outside the Pacific Science Center we passed Dan Corson’s sculptures, the Sonic Bloom. According to his website, the flowers were part of a dynamic and educational focal piece that would extend the Science Center beyond the buildings. The five flowers are each 20 feet in diameter and up to 40 feet tall and built from steel, fiberglass, custom photo voltaic cells, LEDs, sensors, interactive sound system and energy data monitoring. Every flower has its own distinctive series of notes that are meant to simulate a singing chorus.
And, while we wanted to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the line was long so we opted out. Still, it looked super cool. Opened in 2012, it’s right next to the Space Needle. Home to works by famed Washington glass artist, Dale Chihuly, it's not just an art exhibit, it also hosts events. You can even take a yoga class there called, “Yoga Under Glass”!
If you’re still looking for fun things to do, why not take a trip over to Bainbridge Island! A few years back when we visited Seattle, we took the 35 minute ferry ride from the waterfront in Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Although it’s an island of about 28 square miles, it’s got 23,000 residents. What’s there to do? Shopping is just a five minute walk from the island's ferry terminal. Rent bicycles and ride around. Hike on one of the trails. Go for a paddle in a kayak. And, of course, don’t forget to grab a bite to eat. You can check out the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce website for info and itineraries!
Well, we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted to or could have, but we did what we could in 12 hours and still had a fantastic time in Seattle! Hope to get more in the next time!