27 May Splendid Seattle Sights and Sips
After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.
She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.
Splendid Seattle Sights and Sips
BY JILL WEINLEIN
Summer is the best seasons to visit Seattle, Washington. On a clear and sunny day, it’s easy to walk through the Emerald City to appreciate the outdoor venues, sidewalk cafes and enrichment activities. The annual precipitation averages 39.25 inches a year. November is the wettest month, and July is the driest with less than one inch. The best months to visit are April through August.
While staying two nights at the Embassy Suites Seattle in the Pioneer Square district, the area is a vibrant historic neighborhood next to Lumen Stadium, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders. It’s also near the Union Station for easy access around the city.
The hotel offers a complimentary hot and cold breakfast in the morning and a cocktail hour with wine, beer and well drinks with snacks in the evening. There is an indoor pool and fitness center, plus 13 Coins Restaurant on the lobby level. With high back booths and captain chairs at the exhibition kitchen counter, the name “13 Coins” is of Peruvian origin. The story is that a poor young man loved and wished to marry a wealthy girl. Her father asked what he had to offer for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The young man reached into his pocket and discovered only 13 coins, but assured the father he could pledge undying love, care and concern. The father was so touched, he gave his daughter’s hand to the young man.
Open in 1967, “13 Coins” symbolizes unyielding love, care and concern. It’s where a lot of first dates, proposals, family get togethers and celebrations take place. The menu offers an array specialty low proof cocktails under the Sessional Sippers. Specialty cocktails have names that include “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “House Above the Clouds.”. Since the early 1960s, Pioneer Square has been the center of Seattle’s art scene. The one square mile provides a haven for Seattle’s artist community, housing esteemed galleries, innovative exhibition spaces, and working artist studios. Outdoor art is everywhere you look. Be sure to visit the elaborate Iron Pergola that was erected in 1909, as a covered waiting stop for the Yesler and James Street Cable Car Company. This elaborate Victorian-style pergola with ornamental iron columns was designed by Seattle architect Julian Everett. Nearby the towering Tlingit Indian Totem Pole was made in Alaska, and stands as symbol of the complicated relationship between American Indians and European Americans.
One of the best ways to see many of Seattle’s popular attractions is by purchasing a Seattle CityPASS. It gives you access to five tourist venues in the city for a discounted price. Once you obtain your CityPASS, head over to Seattle Center to explore the iconic Space Needle. Guests ride an elevator up to the top of the tower’s futuristic flying saucer design. Walk outside to take in the full 360-degrees views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier in the distance, Puget Sound, and snow capped Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands at 605’ tall and is one of the most photographed structures in the world.
Also at Seattle Center, use your Seattle CityPASS at the nearby Chihuly Glass and Gardens to learn about artist Dale Chihuly and his beautiful free blown, fine art glass sculptures. Visitors can take a self-guided tour through various galleries, and step outside to enjoy the natural and glass gardens. A small theatre inside shows various films about Chihuly’s use of colors and inventiveness of grand scale pieces of glass art displayed in iconic cities around the world. Be sure to see the visually stunning Float Boats for its unique shapes and colors, and the sea life room to admire the most beautiful underwater glass garden. His striking Mille Fiori “thousand flowers” glass piece was inspired from the variety of flowers in his mother’s garden.
Another engaging spot is the Frank Gehry design MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) and opened in 2000, thanks to founder and funder Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. It originally opened as EMP Museum featuring exhibits that celebrated music and cultural innovations. Now it’s dedicated to the ideas and risk-taker that fuel contemporary popular culture. With its roots in rock ‘n roll, MoPOP appeals to multigenerational audiences through its engaging collections, interactive exhibitions, and educational programs. Inside the museum at Culture Kitchen visitors can chose from a variety of seasonal salads, grain bowls, hand tossed pizzas and grilled items.
Down by the waterfront, use your Seattle City Pass to explore the Seattle Aquarium and take an Argosy Cruises Harbor tour. The entertaining one hour narrated tour offers a different perspective of Seattle’s waterfront, skyline, and historic landmarks than from walking along the streets.
Nearby is the Seattle Great Wheel featuring 42 gondolas on the 175-foot tall ferris wheel. When it was installed at Pier 57, it was touted the tallest fully enclosed ferris wheel along the West Coast. Each gondola spins for optimal views of Elliott Bay, Seattle city, islands and mountains in the distance. This ride is about 15 minutes and is not part of CityPASS.
The lively Pike Place Market is where you can watch fish mongers send fresh fish soaring in the air before it’s wrapped and handed to a local shopper. Founded in 1907, locals and visitors shop for vibrant colored produce, crafts and specialty foods. Nearby is an alley with thousands of sticky chewing gum marks decorating the brick walls in Post Alley.
Seattle offers a variety of excellent dining opportunities. One of Seattle’s beloved chef’s Kaleena Bliss recently won Food Network’s Chopped: Casino Royale. Visit her kitchen inside Conversation Kitchen & Bar at the Thompson Hotel for a spectacular dinner focused on fresh local produce, farm-raised proteins, and the best ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.
One of the best Asian restaurants in the city is Wild Ginger above Pike Place. Inside the lively and spacious two-story restaurant diners order from a Pacific Rim menu filled with Chinese and Southeast Asian fare.
Cat lovers will want to make a reservation at NEKO Cat Cafe to pet and play with adorable and adoptable cats and kittens. The cafe offers tea, wine or sake to sip and some baked goods to enjoy. There are two locations in Seattle. One is in the Capitol Hill area and the other in Bellingham.
Coffee cafes are on almost every block thanks to Starbucks opening their first coffee cafe in Pike Place in 1971. Other coffee cafes worthy to visit include Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square. It’s an airy cafe with an industrial-feel offering coffee and pastries, plus a nice display of local art on the walls. Another cafe to visit is Caffe Umbria for it’s European-style ambiance and cup of espresso or coffee to enjoy with pastries and paninis. Those seeking tea will want to visit Rabbit Rabbit Tea for a choice of nine different teas from around the world. They make 50 different flavors of drinks including Boba tea, Thai milk tea, Japanese buckwheat tea and tiramisu milk tea. Rabbit Rabbit Tea has more than 23 stores in Taiwan and the cafe in Seattle is their first in the U.S.
Last, walk onto the University of Washington, Seattle campus, to see some of the most magnificent gothic architecture in the world. One of the most photogenic spots on campus is The Quad, especially during springtime when the 30 Yoshino cherry trees are blooming in a variety of stunning pink colors, and petals float down like snowflakes. Visit the striking Denny Hall, built in 1895, to admire the oldest building at the university, and then on to the Harry Potter-style Suzzallo library with its 65-foot high vaulted ceiling, carved oak bookcases, exquisite stain glass windows and metal hanging light fixtures.
To learn more about Seattle, go to www.visitseattle.org.