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Seattle’s Must See Sites and Attractions

Experience Music Project, Restaurants in Seattle, Seattle Center

I recently, and reluctantly, relocated from Seattle, WA to Durham, NC, and with this move, state number six has been added to my residential resume. I have lived in Seattle, WA, Durham, NC, West Palm Beach, FL, Lansing, MI, Fort Lee, NJ, and Pittsburgh, PA. I have lived in each city, which the exception of Pittsburgh, for at least five years, so I count myself as somewhat of an expert on what it’s like to live in almost every geographic region of the U.S. And, as much charm as each city and state has that I’ve resided, none of them compare to the experience of living in the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically Seattle.

Seattle is a city that can literally please everyone, whether you’re a nature buff, sports fanatic, theater aficionado, Shopaholic, beach bum, or musical prodigy, this city has everything anyone could want in a vacation spot or a place to call home.

Some of the “must see” sites if you are visiting this fabulous city are:

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market, located in the heart of downtown, is a vast indoor and outdoor farmers market that sells the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen for as little as $5 a bunch. I am a sucker for big yellow sunflowers, and there is no place better to find them than the market. When you walk through the inner part of the market, there are rows, and rows of booths with people selling flowers of all types, as well as a multitude of other fun things such as jewelry, clothing, art work, books, gourmet foods, and of course, flying fish. And, this is just upstairs and inside.

In addition to everything that can be found on the second level, once you head downstairs, there is another section with indoor shops and restaurants with excellent food, especially seafood, and a great view of the water. Outside the market there are even more shops and restaurants, as well as the very first Starbucks. The inside of the store is rather unremarkable, except for a plaque in the front of the store. But, if you’re interested in a piece of Seattle history, it’s a fun place to stop and visit.

Anyone who has been to a farmers market may think “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, but I am here to say not true! Pike Market is a delightful experience and not to be missed when visiting the city. As a matter of fact, if you do nothing else on your trip, see the market!

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is the oldest neighborhood in Seattle and considered its main historic district. It is the home of both the Seahawks and the Mariners, as well as some of the oldest buildings in the city. The architecture of the buildings is intricate and detailed. There are old bookstores and antique shops, some of the best hots spots in the city, such as The Fenix Underground and The Last Supper Club, and the Underground tour, which takes you through Pioneer Square under its streets, while giving a detailed history of the city. As a history nut, Pioneer Square is one of my favorite places to go, but tourists can be put off by it, because it is the resting ground for the homeless population.

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The Space Needle

When people think of Seattle, the first thing that usually pops to mind is The Space Needle. Well, okay, the first thing that usually comes to mind is, “My God, it rains way too much there”, but….after that, then people think of the Space Needle! The needle, built for the 1966 World’s Fair, is one of the most unique and popular attractions in the city. You can take the elevator up to the top to the observation deck and get a fabulous view of all of Seattle. The top of the needle rotates, and there are blurbs and historical photos of the city to see in addition to the view of the real deal. There is a concession stand as well, and you can stay inside or go out on to the metal deck. Fair warning…it does get quite cold and windy up at the top, and if you’re afraid of heights, stay inside.

There is a restaurant at the top of the needle, but I personally think the food is overpriced and not that good. My suggestion, pay the $10 to go up to the top and skip the restaurant. Go eat at Salty’s on Alki or Cutters by the Bay. Much better food for the price.

The Seattle Center

A short distance away from the Space Needle is The Seattle Center. This is the home to many of Seattle’s most popular museums, such as The Seattle Children’s Museum, The Pacific Science Center, and EMP (Experience Music Project). The Seattle Center truly has something for everyone in the family to enjoy, and you can easily spend an entire day exploring. And, in addition to the many fun attractions at the Seattle Center, there are also many festivals through out the year that will appeal to everyone. There is the Folk Life Festival, which is a festival of all kinds of different artsy, ethnic, and folk art attractions, music, and food to enjoy. The Bite of Seattle is a showcase of all the different fabulous food the city has to offer, and believe me, there is more than you can possibly imagine!

One of the biggest and most popular festivals is Bumbershoot, which is a collection of all different types of music. Many famous bands and musicians come to play at Bumbershoot, which normally comes at the end of the summer.

Experience Music Project

EMP is a large, multi colored building housed right in front of the Seattle Center in the heart of the city. It’s so large an oddly shaped that it can be seen from many different areas of town, much to the dismay of many city dwellers. The building was built by Paul Allen and has been the target of controversy since its inception. Many believe the building is ugly and were very unhappy when it was built. I think it’s a neat looking building, but the museum itself is a bit overrated.

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EMP is Seattle’s museum of the history of music. As most people know, Seattle is the home of the grunge music movement. Bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, 311, and Live all came out of Seattle (as a matter of fact, you can find Jimmi Hendrix’s grave and Curt Cobain’s house on the outskirts of the city) as well as many other famous musicians. The museum takes you on a tour through the history of music and has a concert area that showcases local talent. There is also a large music store where you can preview all different genres of music.

I have only been to the museum once, and although there were areas that were fun to see, and some of the history is quite interesting, I was disappointed. I didn’t learn a whole lot more than I already knew, and the displays were not as impressive as I’d hoped they would be. But, I still recommend going for the experience if you’re at all interested in music. The cost is only $20, and you can buy a city pass that includes reduced cost tickets. It’s an attraction worth visiting if only for its unique design.

The Boeing plant tour and the museum of flight

Seattle is most well known for three different industries; coffee, technology, and airplanes. Boeing used to call Seattle home, and still has many training facilities and employs thousands of its workers. The main plant is located in Everett, a city about 20 miles north of Seattle. The plant is the largest by area in the world and is where many of the planes are made. You can either participate in a tour of the plant, or just go in to the museum of the future and see the latest technology both current and anticipated, in the world of flight.

If you prefer historical information, the museum of flight, located in Tukwila, WA, which is 20 miles south of Seattle, showcases the history of flight, starting with the first airplanes and other early flyers. There is a replica of Air force One as well as a tour of the recently retired Concorde. Exhibits change, so check out www.museumofflight.org to see what will be showcased when you visit.


Seattle is home to two of the most impressive sports arenas in the country; Safeco Field, home to the Mariners baseball franchise, and Qwest Field, where the Seahawks have been playing since the destruction of the King Dome in 1999. Safeco field, with its retractable roof, has the distinction of being one of the most expensive arenas to build in the country. The inside of the field is impressive and an experience in itself to see. Even for someone like me, who does not like baseball, Safeco is a fun place to visit. I have only been to Qwest field once, but I remember it as being equally impressive.

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The Seattle Sonics play at Key Arena, which is the oldest of the professional sports arenas. It’s still a decent place to watch a sporting event, but it really is put to shame by the other two facilities. It is rumored that the Sonics were none to happy to be the only team not to get a new playing field.


It would take days to mention all that fantastic restaurants located in Seattle. The city is home to some of the best food on the west coast, and you can find something to your liking on every corner. In the interest of time, I will mention two of my favorites, but by all means, explore. You only have yourself to blame if you have a bad meal while visiting Seattle.

Salty’s on Alki

Salty’s is a wonderful restaurant with the most amazing view of the city. It is located in West Seattle, so instead of being right in the city, you are across the water, looking right at the skyline. Although the food is wonderful, it’s the view and the ambiance that makes this such a priceless experience. Cost is just that, priceless. You will spend about $100 for two people pretty easily, although there are a few chicken and pasta dishes that are moderately priced, depending on when you go during the season. If you’re not worried too much about cost, I recommend the NY Strip steak, crab cakes, and the White Chocolate Mousse cake. And, if at all possible, sit by the window. It’s almost a waste to go to Salty’s and not be able to see the view.

Cutters by the Bay

Cutters is just a block away from Pike Market and has the best crab cakes I have ever tasted! They are rich, fluffy, and practically melt in your mouth. The crab cakes alone would be enough to keep me going back, but the fact that the rest of the food is excellent, the prices are reasonable, and the view of the water is stunning, makes Cutters a must go to restaurant whenever I am back in town.

There are many other sites, attractions, and restaurants in Seattle to rave about, but In the interest of keeping this review from spiraling out of control, I will wrap it up by listing some informational websites that will help in your trip planning. Enjoy your visit to my favorite city!