24 Hours in Seattle

November 12, 2008

seattle_spikeI had a little more than 24 hours in Seattle last weekend, but I spent part of it visiting friends and making funny faces at their adorable baby, which probably won’t be on any of your itineraries. So, sticking to the sights that you might enjoy, here are some ideas of things to do in Seattle, rain or shine.

The Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
This is two museums in one crazy looking Frank Gehry-designed building. Admission is $15 and gets you into both parts. If you happen to know someone who works for Microsoft (and in Seattle, who doesn’t?) take them and their discount card with you for reduced admission.

The sci-fi part of the museum will entertain hard-core geeks as well as those who enjoy the occasional Battlestar Galactica episode. They have a robot exhibit that includes an R2D2, a wall of space weapons like Klingon bat’leths and guns from Starship Troopers, costumes from Star Trek, Red Dwarf, Planet of the Apes and Alien, and lots of other fun things you’ll recognize. Allow yourself at least an hour to see it all.

If you want to learn more about the roots of the Seattle music scene – and not just the grunge years – the music side of the museum will show you a good time. It can be done in 30 minutes if you just want to take a quick walk through the exhibits, or you can spend hours there, listening to the hundreds of interviews and recordings that are available at various listening stations. You can even record your own story for other visitors to enjoy. There are interactive areas where you can play instruments and (for a fee) you can make a video of you and your friends being rock stars.

Learn more or plan your visit: http://www.empsfm.org/

The Space Needle
I’ll be honest here and say that I did not actually go into the Space Needle. I did it on my first trip to Seattle, when I was 10, and don’t feel the need to go back. If you think I missed out, let me know. But I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and other scenic points, and I figured I could do without.

If you’re in Seattle on a clear day though, it does have a lovely view. Find out more here: http://www.spaceneedle.com/

seattle_undergroundSeattle Underground Tour
Like many cities built near water, Seattle used to be a lot lower. The sidewalks you see downtown were raised way above ground when flooding got out of control, but the underground streets remain. You can tour them, starting at Pioneer Square, and find out what a large part the toilet played in shaping American cities. If you don’t think that sounds like fun, you don’t know nearly enough about plumbing. The tour guides are funny and happy to answer questions, and the tour is just $12 with a valid student ID.

Head down under: http://www.undergroundtour.com/

Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
It’s chocolate! And you can tour the factory! Tours are $6 and you do get samples along the way. It’s really good stuff too. That means it runs a little more than the .85 you’re used to paying for a Hershey bar, but it’s completely worth it. Theo is located in the Fremont neighborhood, which is a trendy, artsy, fun area. There’s a huge statue of Lenin smack in the middle of it all (on sale for just $250,000), there’s other art scattered around the streets, and there are lots of tasty places to stop for a drink or a meal.

Plan your tour: http://www.theochocolate.com/

starbucks_originalThe Troll Under the Bridge (a.k.a. the Fremont Troll)
This is also in the Fremont area and it’s free to stop by, snap some photos, have a picnic, rub the troll’s nose, or whatever else you want to do. And yes, that’s a real VW Beetle in his left hand.

Pike Place Market
This is where the fish throwing takes place. It’s also where you can get coffee at the original Starbucks, buy all kinds of touristy souvenirs, get a really good gyros or scone, and do some serious people watching.

Talk to your friendly Travel CUTS agent to get a student fare to Seattle (or bus or train ticket) and pick up a hostel membership and ISIC. You can save money at lots of restaurants, museums and other attractions across the U.S., and around the world, if you have these discount cards.

Don’t forget to pack an umbrella!

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