North by Northwest. Seattle for Late Summer and Fall Getaways

This bi-monthly travel tips column is brought to you by TownePlace Suites, an all suites hotel with full kitchens. Check back twice a month for more special columns like this one.


Visit Seattle_Tim Thompson photographer

Credit: Visit Seattle. Tim Thompson photographer

By Ruta Fox

What makes Seattle so appealing? Foodies love it, culture vultures find amazing things to do, and fresh air fiends love the water and the clean, fresh air. Pick from music, theater, dance, or festivals — all surrounded by stunning natural beauty of the Puget Sound, which makes Seattle a favorite travel hot spot. Pack an umbrella, because yes, Seattle is all about the drops, but it doesn’t seem to damper the spirits of this vibrant and exciting town one bit.

For a great start to your trip, try the cruise aboard the ship Argosy called A Taste of Seattle History. This 2-hour lunch cruise adventure serves up a buffet with tasty dishes like a Hangtown Fry and Yukon River Smoked Salmon. A narrated historic, interactive tour will ply you with beverages as you chug around scenic Elliott Bay. Learn about the importance of the Gold Rush, what is was like to make your own butter a century ago, and all about the town of Seattle named after Sealth, a Duwamish Indian leader who befriended the first settlers.

An attraction with a different view — high in the sky, is the Great Wheel which has only been open for a year. The 42 fully-enclosed gondolas offer spectacular views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains and the entire Seattle city skyline.   Another option is the Emerald City Trolley — a great way to pack a lot of sites in, in a short time. The hop on, hop off method which lets you explore a bevy of Seattle’s highlighted attractions around downtown include stops at the Museum of Flight, waterfront, Space Needle, Pike Place, the Seattle Aquarium, the Chihuly Art Museum, and the Great Wheel just to name a few.

You know about coffee and Seattle, (home of the Starbucks phenomenon) but did you know about donuts? Set aside some calories for Top Pot Donuts, the cult brand bakery voted one of America’s best. Hand-forged confections such as the “feather boa” which is sprinkled with coconut will delight, or choose from cake, filled, or old-fashioned types because there’s over 40 to choose from. Several locations around Seattle.

Art fans should check out the beautifully unusual Chihuly Garden and Glass which exhibits glass, sculpture and media inside and outside in a lush garden. Dale Chihuly is a world renowned genius shaping glass in bright, vibrant colors. The 40 foot Glasshouse has an installation flowing from the ceiling covering 4,500 square feet and there are glass-blowing demonstrations. You can take the Monorail from downtown Seattle.

It’s a foodie frenzy…the nine acres of high quality food, crafts and specialty shops at Pike Place Market which has been around since 1907 and is a must-see Seattle classic landmark. It features over 200 owner-operated bakeries, markets, butcher shops, produce stands and specialty food stores with a dizzying array of gourmet goodies.  Shops include antiques and collectibles, kitchen items, books, jewelry and accessories, toys, etc.

Start the day there with a buttery almond croissant, walk around to spike your appetite and then sample Turkish, Italian, Greek, French, Thai, Japanese, Persian, deli or Irish Pub cuisine. Many restaurants are helmed by multi-generational families who are behind the counter or still in the kitchen.  Plus, the Pike is chockfull of services any tourist could need like a dentist, acupuncturist, tattoo parlor, and hair salon. Tours are available as well. Sip a latte at the original Starbucks, this is where it all started!

Seattle has no shortage of amazing gourmet places to dine, but for an offbeat way to spend an evening, try the largest murder mystery dinner show in the country, The Dinner Dectective is where you’ll enjoy four courses and solve a mystery to boot.

Legendary architect Frank Gehry designed the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project) structure to evoke the Rock ‘n’ Roll experience, utilizing 3,000 panels of stainless steel which encase the outside of the building to create a “visual symphony” when viewed from different viewpoints in different light conditions. Inside 80,000 mementos are on exhibit, plus exhibits such as Hear My Train A Comin: Hendrix Hits London, and Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, two of the offerings.

For something totally unique, try your hand at indoor skydiving. Maybe skip lunch until afterwards and get ready to float in a vertical wind tunnel at Seattle IFly World, that simulates the real thing without having to jump out of a real airplane, or risk a parachute malfunction! From 3 to 103, all ages are welcome to this exhilarating experience.

It doesn’t get much sweeter than chocolate. Take the Tour de Chocolate, offered on Saturdays and Sundays at sweet shop Chocolate Box. Partake of the “other bean” and sample your way through Seattle’s most famous chocolatiers, included is a scenic ride to a chocolate factory, lessons on how to temper chocolate, how to taste it and how to make your own with add-ins galore.

Board this amphibious bus/truck/boat called Ride The Ducks for some fun. Tour the city with a guide who’ll fill you in on all the historical folklore, along with a comedy routine and music. Great view of the Seattle skyline and a splash into Lake Union provided.

A fabulous meal is to be had at sizzling hot spot Palace Kitchen, where menu items include grilled local sardines, grilled pacific squid salad with saffron aioli, or shellfish manila clams roasted in the fire. For dessert sample the Washington apricot brown betty.

For a photo opportunity visit the Troll under the Aurora Bridge. Jump on top of this gigantic sculpture of an ugly troll in the Fremont section of Seattle. Trolls are a legendary part of Scandinavian folklore, and with two tons of concrete it’s a chance for a few giggles to end your Seattle trip.

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Check out these TownePlace Suites ( hotels when you visit Seattle, WA:  TownePlace Suites Seattle Everett/Mukilteo, TownePlace Suites Seattle South/Renton, TownePlace Suites Seattle Southcenter


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