This portion of our adventure is all about exploring Seattle! We have really enjoyed the Pacific Northwest region so far with its cool weather, lush forested mountains and friendly folk. The quirky, unique city of Seattle is no exception.
We are currently shoe-horned into an urban RV park (more like, parking lot) that is ideally positioned for Seattle exploration. A transit park and ride station is only a mile away, where an inexpensive express bus can be caught to whisk us directly to the center of Seattle. At $2.75 per ride, the bus is considerably cheaper than downtown parking garages and is nearly as convenient. The city center is relatively compact, with many of the tourist attractions within walking distance, if you don’t mind schlepping a mile or two uphill or down.
While on the subject of mass transit, I have to give kudos to Seattle for its transportation options. An extremely bike-friendly city, there are bicycle rental companies (Lime Bike is one) that allow you to rent a bike for as little as $1 an hour to get from one place to another. You download their app, use GPS to find the nearest bike, scan the tag to start your rental, ride to wherever, lock the bike to stop your rental time and just walk away. It will sit there until another rider needs it. We saw these bikes literally everywhere, and plenty of people using them too. Riders have access to dedicated bike lanes in many of the city streets. Just fantastic! (Why can’t other cities figure out how to do this??) You also have the option of numerous city buses, an underground line, and two trolley lines, depending on where you’re going. As a result, the downtown traffic was actually not all that bad. It works!
Our first stop was the Pikes Place Market. Originally a farmer market (est. 1907), it has expanded into a multi-block, multi-level shopping district for just about everything you can imagine. It’s great fun to explore with savory odors wafting from restaurants, buskers adding lively music, and colorful goods all around. It even boasts the original Starbucks coffee shop location, which had a line out the door and around the block during our visit! In one alley, the brick walls have been wallpapered with gum. Literally every surface is dripping with masticated gum. Why? I have no idea. All I can say is …. ewwwwww.
We elected to purchase the Seattle City Pass, which packages 5 attractions at a discounted price. We headed to the Seattle Aquarium, a medium-size aquarium with lots of hands-on activities for the littles. There were also large exhibits with harbor seals, and sea otters. Otters are my favorite. They are just like ocean kitty-cats, with whiskered faces, playful demeanor and grooming habits. I could watch them all day.
But no, it was time to catch our boat! We upgraded our City Pass harbor cruise to the Locks Cruise. At the appointed time, we boarded a bus which took us to our boat dock on the other side of the city. This cruise took us from fresh-water Lake Union, through the lock system, into salt-water Elliot Bay. That was my first ever cruise through a lock, and it was fascinating to see just how fast water was pumped out to lower us the 15 feet necessary to match sea level. At that location, due to tidal variation, the lowering distance needed ranges from 8 feet to 30 feet. We also got great views of the Seattle skyline, and even saw the houseboat featured in the film “Sleepless in Seattle”. Fun!
But wait, there’s more Seattle fun to come!