Aloha astronauts! How are things in your corners of the galaxy?
Today I want to talk about my favorite (free) things to do in and around my happy little habitat: The Emerald City, Seattle.
I love playing tour-guide in seattle; Whether I am among friends, family, or prospective microbiology graduate students, I always find something new to love about my city every time I show somebody around. That being said, I definitely have a few standard Seattle sights that I include on almost every itinerary. This city has a LOT to offer: great food, access to the outdoors, music, art, architecture, swarms of upwardly-mobile junior amazon.com executives, and totally insane five-way intersections.
There’s no way I could possibly list all of my favorite Seattle sights in one post, so I’m not even going to try. Today I’m going to list some of the rocking Rain City Regions that you can roam to free of charge: call it Sam’s recession-buster-special Seattle Sightseeing guide. Click the links to get more information on any of these attractions.
I have to lead off with Seattle’s iconic excellent and eclectic emporium: the world-famous forum of fruits, vegetables, and flying fish.
Pike Place can be crowded, touristy, and expensive; however, no trip to Seattle is complete without a visit. The market is awesome. The venue is still a fully-functioning sanitary public farmers market: these local artisans earn their livelihood by selling their wares in the stalls.
You can certainly enjoy the market without spending a single cent. All of the vendors will push free samples like they are working for Pablo Escobar, if Pablo had expanded into the pepper jelly and produce trade.
I always have fun wandering around feasting my eyes on local art, while I feed my face a million chocolate covered cherries.
Seattle is on an isthmus between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. The Lake Washington ship canal allows boats to pass between the two bodies of water; however, Lake Washington’s elevation is 8 meters above Sea Level at low tide in the sound. The Hiram M. Chittenden locks maintain water levels, prevent excessive salt water intrusion into the lake, and move boats from one water level to the other. The locks were built by the Army Corp of engineers, and officially opened on July 4th 1917.
The locks are entirely powered by water pressure and gravity. I love visiting the locks to watch the boats pass through.
The locks are helpful for humans in boats trying to migrate upstream. Unfortunately they could stymie salmon trying to swim upstream to spawn. Luckily the facility includes a fish ladder to help our coho comrades find their way home. The fish ladder itself is a marvel of engineering, and in autumn you can watch salmon swimming through the weirs during the annual run.
One of my favorite features about Seattle is the abundance of green spaces available to offset the urban environment. The master plan for Seattle was designed by the Olmsted Brothers (the first generation descendants of Fredrick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park). The Olmsteds laid out the city so that no house is located more than a half mile from the nearest public park. Volunteer Park, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, is “the crown jewel” of all of our extensive esplanades.
Volunteer Park is home to a historic conservatory with bounteous bizarre and beautiful botanicals on display.
Greenlake is a freshwater lake in the north of Seattle. During the summer the beaches are open for boaters and swimmers to enjoy aquatic activities.
There is a mixed use path circumnavigating Greenlake that happens to be exactly 5 kilometers. I spend a LOT of time running around green lake. I prefer to run at vampire hours early in the morning when the path is almost abandoned.
However, walking around the lake on a weekend afternoon offers premium people watching opportunities: you can observe dog walkers, rollerbladers, power-yuppies power-walking while power-sipping Starbucks, and (if you’re lucky) the resident great blue heron!
The Fremont neighborhood of Seattle is a weird, wonderful, wacky place, that calls itself “the center of the universe.” The Fremont arts council celebrates all things quirky and maintains a plethora of public art installations around the area. The troll has made his home underneath the Aurora bridge since 1989, and though he looks big and scary, he is a friendly troll who loves having his picture taken.
After you visit the troll, be sure to stop by the Theo Chocolate Factory for some delectable delicacies.
Theo is a local Seattle company that crafts its confections from organic, fair-trade sourced beans. The factory offers free tours hourly, but if you’re not in the mood to wait around you can pop into their retail space and stuff your face with samples of all of their fantastic flavors. I love the 85% dark, the sea salt almond, and the fig and fennel bar most of all, but every flavor is delicious. Try the ghost-chili caramels, if you are feeling spicy!
I think that the activities I’ve listed could easily fill an entire day with free fun. I haven’t even mentioned the awesomeness that is The Olympic Sculpture Park, The Lake Washington Arboretum, or The Burke-Gilman Trail. There’s just not enough megabytes in the internet to list ALL of the activities available in the coffee-kingdom. I hope that my list could be helpful to anyone planning a visit to my fair city, or wanting to reminisce about past vacations.
Have you been to Seattle? What was your favorite thing to see? Want to come visit? You can stay on my couch and I’m an awesome cook.