Seattle has a thriving alternative Bicycle scene, which includes several regularly scheduled rides:
Every Thursday (rain or shine) a group departs from Westlake Square downtown at 7:00PM. This ride attracts anywhere from 5 to 50 people. The itinerary often includes local Bars, and may continue long in to the night.
The last friday of Every month, Critical mass Departs Westlake square at 5:30PM. This is a much larger, louder ride, that tends to take over entire streets. In the summer, hundreds of people attend.
If you didn't bring your bike, post a request to one of the local online forums; Often you can borrow a bike for free!
Seattle has the best urban core on the Pacific Coast. San Diego's is small potatoes. LA's is dangerous and dirty. San Francisco's is overwhelming and spread out, Portland's is too small. Of course, I'm prejudice in favor of my adopted home town.
I am an urban boy - I love cities. I grew up in the 'burbs and I've spent much of my time commuting. Even now, I live in a quiet neighborhood northwest of Downtown. But I don't like being more the 10 minutes away from the heart of the city.
The cultural soul of downtown Seattle is The Pike Place Public Market. DON"T MISS IT. Stand among the fish mongers and vegetable sellers and you are seeing the heart of Seattle life, culture, and values. It's ethnically diverse, economically integrated, historically significant, and architecturally interesting. This is the one place you MUST see in Seattle. It is the oldest and largest continually operating farmer's market in the U.S.
I also enjoy concerts at Benaroya Hall, shopping at the Nordstrom flagship store (I'm a regular here - with my personal shopper), Pacific Place, 5th Avenue stores, Westlake Center, Macy's, (the former Bon Marche) and our most recent addition: the specatular new Central Library. If you love books and architecture - don't pass it by.
The 73rd observation floor of the Bank of America building is the best value for getting the best view of downtown Seattle. At $5 or $6 per adult it's a bargain compared to the Space Needle; student and senior discounts apply.
The best view of the Seattle skyline is from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. You can see the Space Needle contrasting with the city buildings and if you're lucky a clear view of Mt Rainier in the backgroud.
Sunsets are supposedly spectacular as the city buildings basks in the reddish/orange afterglow.
Note: Kerry Park is on Highland Drive between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. If you're walking up Queen Anne Ave to get to Highland Drive, the last 4 blocks is a pretty steep hill so take your time walking.
I think Seattle has one of the better night city skylines around.
You can look north towards the needle, or south towards a night city vista.
Both are very fine.... this view is from Westin south tower facing south into the city
The Harbor Steps are located across from the Seattle Art Museum. This is a lovely area with steps, cascading fountains, Japanese maple and flowering cherry trees, and sculpture. Many locals come to this area in the summer for packed lunches or just to read and unwind.
There is also a Harbor Steps Conference Center at this location. Contact details are as follows:
1301 First Avenue, Level A,
Seattle, WA 98101
Harbor Steps Conference Center
Downtown Seattle is filled with funky shops, great restaurants, a nice aquarium and a great view out to Puget Sound. There are some steep hills, so be in good shape for the climbs!
This is the view of Seattle looking south from the Space Needle. The skyline obviously has one of those "New Urban Center" looks where nothing looks older than yesterday...not too many art deco spires here. The look seemed interestingly enhanced by the the steam rising from the buildings. You see, we visited during one of the coldest Januarys on record (lucky us...we're from Buffalo!) and so the combination of early morning light and cold atmosphere set off downtown with a cool bluish sophistication.
I could walk around Pikes Market all day. The fish market is what is most known about pikes market. That is something you must see for yourself. I also enjoyed the multitude of 'artist' that downtown - predominantly speaking of the musicians.
Seattle has her little golden nuggets if you take the time to wander around the city, by its efficient buses, monorail or just by foot. There are scultured art forms at some street corners or open spaces.
Things to do here:
- Day trip to Mt. Rainier if you have a car
- See a Mariners baseball game
- Take the Underground Tour
- Go to the Hiram Chittendam 'Ballard' Locks and watch the salmon migrating upstream through a window in the water, stay for the gardens as well
- Visit Alki and/or Golden Gardens Beaches
- Space Needle and the Seattle Center fountain
- Take a ferry to anywhere (San Juan Islands, if you have more than a weekend)
- Pike Place Market for the freshest fish, flowers, vegetables, and crafts
- The original Starbucks store, opened in 1971 across from Pike Place Market
- Visit the neighborhoods of Fremont, Capitol Hill, and Queen Anne. Fremont is young, vibrant, and full of colorful hippies. Capitol HIll is also you and vibrant, with an eclectic group of people ranging from goths, young professionals, gays, punks, artists, etc. Lower and Upper Queen Anne are a bit more 'grown-up' and have great bars and eateries.
You can catch the inner harbour ferry to one of the small island just off Seattle about an hours ride. Apparently its best when you go just before dusk so you can see the sun setting over the Olympic Mountains and then hang out on one of the islands for a quick bite to eat before heading back to Seattle where you can see the whole city lit up at night. Supposed to be real nice. Fairly cheap as well as I think its about $10 US round trip for foot passengers.