And we also point people to the tiny pocket park on the shores of Lake Union where they’ll find a plaque marking the spot where the first Boeing plane took off.
The plaque reads “From this site, Boeing launched it first airplane, the B&W, in 1916.”
Of course, there are plenty of other non-aviation sites in the book, including the Giant Shoe Museum, the world’s greenest commercial building, a haunted staircase, the Rubber Chicken Museum, a shop where you can buy personalized magic wands, the place where you can rent a rowboat for free, and lots more.
This is an ever-so-slightly version of the Seattle guide for business travelers we put together for CNBC.
Starbucks, Amazon, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft and many other major companies call the greater Seattle-area home.
So it’s no surprise that Visit Seattle reports that at times 25% of the city’s more than 14,000 downtown hotel rooms are filled with business travelers in town to take meetings and make deals.
If you’re in the Emerald City with a few spare hours after a meeting, these tips and ideas might help you make the most of your time in a city well-known for its caffeine-fueled culture, its seafood and its green spaces.
Take a pre-meeting walk or run through the
Seattle Art Museum’s 9-acre waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park (Admission: free;
adjacent to Myrtle Edwards Park) and be rewarded with views of the Olympic
Mountains and Puget Sound while passing artwork by Richard Serra, Louise
Nevelson, Alexander Calder and many others.
Or show up early at the historic Pike
Place Market to stroll by fruit, vegetable, seafood and craft vendors
setting up before the crowds arrive; especially during cruise season, which
runs May through September. Guided tours and downloadable Market walking guides are available.
Starbucks’ first store opened in the
Market in 1971 and you can grab a coffee, get a souvenir, and take a selfie at the
1st & Pike store that recreates the ground(s)-breaking first branch.
Better yet, skip the Starbucks (you can drink
that at home) and pop into one of Seattle’s many independent coffee shops. Seattle Coffee Works (108 Pine
Street), Victrola (3rd and Pine) and Storyville Coffee (1st
& Pike; Top floor of the Corner Market bldg.) are all nearby.
For breakfast, grab a pastry at Le Panier, the Market’s
French bakery. Or order a Dungeness Crab Omelet or Hangtown Fry with oysters at
Lowell’s, a casual Market
mainstay ($$) with a waterfront view that’s been “Almost Classy since 1957.”
Tip: Don’t miss the MarketFront public plaza, overlooking
the newly revitalized downtown waterfront area. And be sure to bring along some
quarters to view the odd and outsize shoes displayed behind sideshow-style
curtains at the Giant Shoe Museum in the Market’s “down under” shopping area,
next to Old Seattle Paperworks.
From the Market, head downhill (use the Pike Street HillClimb or take the
elevators from the parking garage) to the Seattle waterfront, which is lined
with restaurants, shops and attractions that include the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Great Wheel and the flying
Over Washington. An underground tunnel recently replaced a noisy double-decker
freeway running along and above the waterfront and new park and public spaces
are being developed in what is already a much quieter and far more pleasant
part of the city to visit.
Tip: Tucked in among the waterfront shops selling
mugs, magnets and Sleepless in Seattle nightshirts (still!) is the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on Pier 54,
which dates back to1899. Part souvenir store/part cabinet of wonder, the shop’s
displays include natural history oddities and can’t-look-away objects that
include shrunken heads, mummies and a four-legged chicken.
Want to see more traditional art?
More than 200 works of public art dot
Seattle’s downtown neighborhoods. This guide will lead you to
them. The Seattle Public Library system’s 11-story glass and steel Central Library building
(between 4th and 5th Avenues and Madison & Spring
Streets) is a must-see stop for fans of architecture and, of course, books. Designed
by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and LMN Architects, the building has a multi-floor
“Book Spiral,” one all-red floor and great viewing spots from the 10th-floor
The Seattle Art Museum (Admission: $29.99, including all exhibits) has a permanent
collection of more than 25,000 works of art. SAM is free the first Thursday of
each month and many downtown hotels offer packages that include museum passes
for special exhibitions.
Tip: Save your SAM ticket. Should you have extra
time, your Seattle Art Museum ticket is good for entry (within a week) to the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer
Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The museum reopens February 8
after a $56 million renovation.
Fun at the former fairgrounds
The site of the 1962 World’s Fair is now a 74-acre urban park known as Seattle Center. You can walk there from the downtown core, but it’s faster and more fun to take the 2-minute ride on the Seattle Center Monorail, another souvenir of the fair. Board at Westlake Center Mall (5th Avenue and Pine St.)
In addition to free attractions, such as the International Fountain, Seattle Center offers time-pressed visitors a cluster of worthy activities to choose from, including the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), which will appeal to fans of music and science fiction, and the Pacific Science Center, which is ideal if your family is in tow. Artist Dale Chihuly’s creations and collections fill eight color-filled galleries at Chihuly Garden and Glass and spill into the adjacent Collections Café, which has Dungeness crab cakes and other Northwest fare on the menu and is a charming and convenient place to stop for lunch ($$).
Seattle’s 605-foot-tall Space Needle, another, now iconic space-age souvenir of the 1962 World’s Fair, is at Seattle Center too. The Space Needle has two recently renovated observation decks, including one with the world’s only revolving glass floor.
Tips:Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle are often crowded, but both offer discounts for visits during less crowded off-hours. The 902-foot-tall downtown Sky View Observatory is a less expensive, less crowded alternative to the Space Needle.
Where to Stay:
Many business travelers land at Seattle’s large convention-friendly properties such as the Hyatt Regency (1260 guestrooms) and the Sheraton Grand Seattle (1236 guestrooms). Seattle also has a growing list of hip, boutique properties such as the 90-room State Hotel, with a rooftop terrace, wall of doorknobs and colorful multi-story mural and the Hotel Theodore where rooms and hallways are decorated with artifacts and images curated by Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.
Where to eat
Seattle has an exciting and evolving
dining and drinking scene, with many nationally known venues and chefs. Here
are just a few to check out.
Start – or end – the evening with a
cocktail at restaurateur Renee Erickson’s below-ground, curio-filled Deep Dive in the Amazon Spheres. The menu at this
speakeasy-style bar includes upscale classic cocktails, rare spirits and
creative concoctions with names such as Mixtape, Hans Solo, Curiosity Killed
and Love through Space and Time.
Move on to a downtown dinner at Loulay Kitchen & Bar in the Sheraton
Grand Seattle (6th and Pike). The creation of Thierry
Rautureau, “The Chef in The Hat,” Loulay’s menu favorites include French
cuisine classics, crab fritters, seafood stew, sturgeon and cheeseburgers
topped with duck egg or foie gras. ($$$).
Tip: If you haven’t quite mastered the art of dining out alone, make
a reservation for Loulay’s balcony level table for one, which overlooks the busy
restaurant and the kitchen.
To impress visitors, Brian McGowan, CEO of
Greater Seattle Partners books dinner at “the legendary Canlis, whose view,
cuisine and service are equally amazing.” The iconic fine-dining destination
has views of Seattle, Lake Union and the Cascade mountain range and four course
dinners for $135/person.
And what about the rain?
Yes, Seattle has a well-deserved reputation for being gray
and drizzly. But the city’s annual average precipitation of 38.17” is less than
Boston (43.13”), Houston (51.12”), Miami (59.61”) and New York (45.73”). More
drizzles than downpours just give Seattle more days of moist and cloudy
Tip: You won’t see many locals carrying umbrellas. To blend in, pack a rain jacket, a cap and wear water-resistant shoes.
Liberoachi plays on forever at the Cockroach Hall of Fame
Here are few more unusual museums from the story:
If this museum could talk, it would slur its words.
In Bardstown, Ky., the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History traces American whiskey history back to the 1700s with displays of liquor memorabilia ranging from moonshine stills and antique bottles to Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license and the hatchet used by temperance crusader Carrie Nation.
Vacuum or Lamp? Both!
They suck — and that’s why several dozen antique, vintage and just plain wacky suction-producing cleaning devices are displayed at the Vacuum Museum inside Stark’s Vacuums in Portland, Ore. Some of the most unusual models offered time-saving conveniences. Our favorites: vacuum cleaners that double as hair dryers, neck vibrators, lamps or footstools, for those quick clean-ups in the den.
Giant shoes: not just for clowns
Compact and coin-operated, the Giant Shoe Museum displays about 20 giant shoes dating from the 1890s to the 1950s. A feature of Old Seattle Paperworks in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, the oversized footwear includes The Colossus, a 5-foot-long black leather wingtip from the 1920s, and a shoe worn by Robert Wadlow, once the world’s tallest man.
Want to see more unusual museums? See the Museum Monday post here on StuckatTheAirport.com and check out the full story with 14 Bizarre Museums – on Bing Travel.