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Seattle, Tacoma, & Washington's Island Cities
The Puget Sound offers evergreens, numerous crystal clear lakes, miles of beaches and mountain views, all in a sophisticated setting. Go by car or ferry and use any of the Puget Sound Best Western hotels in the area as your base to seek out adventure – everything listed here is within a day’s drive.
The Emerald City sits like a jewel with Puget Sound on one side and freshwater lakes on the other. With views of the Washington Cascades and Olympic Mountains, it’s a cosmopolitan city with fabulous shopping, delectable dining, and a vast array of sports, including golfing, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, cycling, white-water rafting, swimming, and snow skiing.
Special events abound throughout the year. The 23-day Seattle Seafair, held from mid-July to early August, features street parades and hydroplane races. Explore the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, ferry rides and the fabulous coffee – all in Seattle. Visitor’s Bureau: (206) 461-5800.
Seattle Center: The site of the 1962 World’s Fair now hosts such events as the Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day Weekend and the Bumbershoot arts festival on Labor Day.
The complex includes a Children’s Museum, amusement park, Pacific Science Center, an IMAX® theatre, and the famous Space Needle. Make your way up 520 feet to the observation deck for breathtaking views and dine at the rotating restaurant up top. Admission for everything within the center: (206) 684-7200.
EMP: Experience Music Project is a one-of-a-kind music museum with interactive exhibits to tell the story of the creative and rebellious expression that defines American popular music. For admission: (206) 770-2700.
Pike Place Market: The nation’s oldest continuously operating public market is open daily. Don’t miss the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this fun spot. Just up from the waterfront at Pike Street and 1st Avenue there’s everything from fresh floral bouquets to just-caught fish, beautiful produce, arts, crafts, restaurants, and street musicians. Information: (206) 682-7453.
Seattle Aquarium: Located at the Central Waterfront at Pier 59, see this 400,000-gallon Underwater Dome that surrounds you with hundreds of free-swimming fish and animals and IMAX Theater featuring Academy Award-nominated The Eruption of Mount St. Helens. Kids enjoy the coral reef, sea otters and seals. Admission: (206) 386-4300.
Woodland Park Zoo: Far from ordinary, this zoo is divided into natural habitats. Among the most popular are the African Savanna, Elephant Forest, and Bug World. Admission: (206) 548-2500.
Discovery Park: This diverse 534-acre park includes wooded ravines, forest, grassy meadows, and a beach where you can soak up the beauty of Puget Sound. The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center features Native American ar`twork both in the gallery and on the grounds. Free: (206) 386-4236.
Pioneer Square Historic District: This 30-block area of restored historic buildings was built after the Great Fire of 1889. Wear comfortable shoes and take the Seattle’s Underground Tour to experience the subterranean sidewalks and unique storefronts that were created when the streets were raised 35 feet after the fire.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park & Museum: This park commemorates the city’s role in the Klondike gold rush of 1897. The visitor center gives gold panning demonstrations and displays old photos and mining relics. Free: (206) 553-7220.
Seattle Art Museum: Relish the renowned collection of Northwest Coast Indian art, as well as ancient Mediterranean, Egyptian, European, and American art. Admission also valid at the Asian Art Museum: (206) 654-3210.
Seattle Asian Art Museum: One of the top seven collections of Asian art in this country. Chinese paintings, sculptures, jades, textiles, ceramics, and Japanese art. Works from Korea, India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia are also on display. Just south of downtown. Admission also valid at the Seattle Art Museum: (206) 654-3100.
Museum of Flight: Located just south of downtown at Boeing Field you’ll see full size aircraft suspended from the ceiling, including a replica of the Wright Brothers glider, the first US presidential jet and a Concord supersonic airliner. The best parts might just be the flight simulators, where you’re strapped in and at the controls. Admission: (206) 764-5720.
Troll Under the Bridge: Under the Fremont Bridge, you’ll find one of the most iconic and forgotten sculptures in the Northwest. With landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike’s Place demanding the attention of the mainstream tourist, the Fremont Troll doesn’t get as much face time with out-of-towners. But, his curious demeanor and unique appearance demand more admiration than it often gets.
Seattle Library: Located at 1000 Fourth Ave this central “library for all” offers a new facility and technology. Tour information: (206) 733-9609.
Safeco Field: Seattle is a great town for professional sports. The Seattle Mariners grace the natural grass of the grandest baseball stadium, Safeco Field, with its vintage intimacy and retractable roof. Tickets: (206) 346-4000.
CenturyLink Field: This stadium is the home field for the Seahawks of the NFL and the Sounders of the MLS. CenturyLink Field set the record in 2013 for the loudest stadium in NFL history and is feared by visiting teams for it’s famously boisterous crowd. Tickets: 1-888-NFL-HAWK
Sea Kayaking in the Puget Sound: “My vacation was great, we went sea kayaking, no big deal…” It sounds impressive, but it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. And hundreds of islands and bays in the Puget Sound, there’s nowhere better to learn than in Seattle. Local guided tours will ensure that you and your party will stay together and afloat amid the gentle waves. The water gives you a unique view of the beautiful skyline and is a great way to enjoy one of the coveted sunny Seattle days.
Biking at Lake Union: Seattle is one of the nation’s most bike-friendly metropolitans in the country. The city has even made recent upgrades to make biking even more desirable and scenic. The south coast of Lake Union offers sweeping views of the lake and the city from the comfort of wide, smooth bike paths. The six-mile bike path is even offered as a tour by groups such as Seattle Cycling Tours.
Bainbridge is surrounded by densely forested hills and quiet harbors. Located 35 minutes by ferry from Seattle, Bainbridge Island is a vibrant, diverse community that is rich in history, culture and natural beauty. Chamber of Commerce: (206) 842-3700.
Bainbridge Gardens: Bainbridge Gardens is an historic nursery with unusual trees, theme gardens, and a nature trail. The café has wood- fired oven cuisine and espresso. Call for more information. 9415 Miller Rd., Bainbridge Island, WA. Information: (206) 842-5888. Bainbridge Island Historical Museum: The 1908 schoolhouse provides gallery space for our long-term exhibits. An adjoining annex building encompasses a research library, office space, and a new rotating exhibit gallery. Our growing collection of cultural and historical photographs and artifacts are maintained in a secure climate-controlled basement storage facility. 215 Ericksen Ave., Bainbridge Island, WA. Information: (206) 842-2773. Bainbridge Island Vineyards: Established in 1977, Bainbridge Island Vineyards craft Puget Sound locally grown wines. Our estate grown, European-style wines are sold at the winery by the Bentryn family, in local wine shops, and in selected restaurants. 8989 Day Road East, Bainbridge Island, WA. Information: (206) 842-9463.
Bainbridge Farmers’ Market: Bainbridge Island is an escape from the complexities and bustle of the city. The Bainbridge Farmers’ Market is the perfect place to take in the simple, old-fashioned feeling that the island has become known for. Open Spring, Summer and Fall. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Kitsap Tours Limited: This popular touring company showcases some of the Pacific Northwest’s greatest treasures. Even Seattle locals say that they learned a lot about the history and wonders in their own backyard. Take a scenic tour across the Puget Sound to the bays of Bainbridge and keep your eyes open for whales and other marine life.
This is a popular getaway for the Seattle city dweller. Just 15 miles north of downtown, it offers a beautiful waterfront with a friendly, small town feeling. With four breathtaking waterfront parks and one 27-acre underwater diving park, it would be easy to spend days or weeks exploring the laid back lifestyle of Edmonds.
A scenic bayside city, Everett offers lots of water fun. Hop a cruise to the nearby San Juan Islands and try to spot a whale, or visit Jetty Island by ferry and enjoy the only warm water beach in the entire Puget Sound area. Look for sea lions in the fall and spring. Then dine in an award-winning restaurant in the 1890s-style Marina Village on the waterfront. Enjoy live theatre, art galleries, and the world famous Boeing Tour Center. Catch a concert or sporting event in the new Everett Events Center. Snohomish County Tourism Bureau: (425) 348-5802.
Everett Performing Arts Center: Everett’s premier performing arts venue is home to two resident theater companies. Information: (425) 257-8600. Everett Events Center: The Seattle area’s newest multipurpose complex. This 10,000-seat venue hosts a myriad of events including concerts, rodeos, circuses, ice skating and family shows such as Disney on Ice, Harlem Globetrotters, Sesame Street Live, and many others. The Everett Events Center is also home to a new Western Hockey League franchise, the Everett Silvertips. In addition to hockey, the venue accommodates other sporting events such as basketball, volleyball, wrestling, and gymnastics. 200 Hewitt Avenue. Information: (425) 322-2600.
Tulalip Casino: Discover the area’s premier gaming destination. Located just north of Everett on I-5, the new Tulalip Casino offers 2,000 slot machines, 49 tables, four restaurants, and live entertainment. 10200 Quilceda Blvd. Tulalip, WA (888) 272-1111. Boeing Tour Center: The world’s largest airplane! The world’s largest building! The tour includes a video about Boeing, an exhibit detailing Boeing history, a visit inside the factory to watch airplane assembly and a drive along the flight line where 747, 767 and 777’s are tested. Information: (800) 464-1476.
Whale watching: Fully narrated tours by on-board naturalists as you see orca whales, seals, sea lions, eagles and more. Mosquito Fleet: (800) 325-ORCA.
With the most public waterfront in the state, this growing town has become a major boating center. Enjoy sailing, windsurfing, swimming and boutique shopping. Chamber of Commerce: (425) 822-7066.
Evergreen Point Floating Bridge: The longest floating bridge in the world. It’s 7,578 feet long and crosses Lake Washington south of town. Chateau Ste. Michelle: A grand French country winery nestled in 87 wooded acres. The landscaping was done by the creators of New York’s Central Park. Enjoy cellar tours and complimentary wine-tasting. Information: (425) 488-1133.
Marymoor Park: In a time that was given to indulgence, this estate was built as a family residence on the shores of Lake Sammamish.
Bird Watching: Perhaps, not the most heart-racing adventure, but Kirkland is a natural menagerie for a great variety of birds, including the America Coot, Great Blue, and the Belted Kingfisher. Birders of all levels of experience can even enjoy interpretive tours hosted the first Sunday and third Tuesday of every month.
Stretching along the shore of Lake Washington to Lake Sammamish, Bellevue is the fifth largest city in the state. Blueberries are the local treat – come in the summer when they are in full flourish. Visitor’s Bureau: (425) 450-3777.
Bellevue Art Museum. Discover an impressive display of local, regional and national artwork and crafts. Admission: (425) 519-0770.
Bellevue Square: With over 200 shops and boutiques, Bellevue is a shopper’s wonderland. Bellevue Chamber of Commerce: (425) 454-8096. Microsoft: It’s not exactly a secret that Microsoft operates out of Bellevue, Washington. But, most visitors take the view in from the highway and don’t allow themselves the opportunity to walk amongst the massive buildings that fill the business park. Schedule a tour or just stop by the Microsoft Visitor’s Center to learn more about one of the world’s most influential and innovative companies.
Coal Creek Trails: Looking for a quick hike through Seattle’s famous greenery? Jump up to Newcastle and hop on the Coal Creek Trails systems. Each hike is no more than a few short hours and will dazzle you with the beautiful foliage and history. The trail follows old mining trails and will give you a few fun historical facts along the way.
It’s always a sunny day in Kent. Murals brighten the downtown, along with market festivals and a Balloon Classic. Chamber of Commerce: (253) 854-1770.
Saltwater State Park: Drive along the shore of Puget Sound above East Passage for a spectacular blend of mountains and water. Take along a picnic lunch.
Dash Point: Drive farther south for a grand view of the sound.
Kent Valley Ice Center: The Kent Valley Ice Centre is the largest family ice facility in the Pacific Northwest. Aside from the numerous ice arenas, it boasts a one-of-a-kind miniature golf course.
Located on the Puget Sound between Seattle and Tacoma, Federal Way offers activities for anyone. There are many water activities along the sound including; kayaking, fishing, sailing and more. For those who desire a little more excitement, visit Washington’s only major theme park, Wild Waves. Federal Way also offers a park within the city, the West Hylebos Wetlands, which offer a boardwalk through four different wetlands.
Dash Point State Park: A 398-acre camping park with 3,301 feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound. The beach provides unobstructed views of the Sound and excellent opportunities for sea-life study.
Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden & Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection: Though separated by thousands of miles of ocean, the Pacific Northwest shares some similar foliage with their Asian neighbors. Stop and smell the flowers at these unique locations.
Wild Waves Theme Park: Wild Waves features a wave pool, an activity pool, and a slew of water slides, including speed slides, body slides, and tube slides. Some other features include; the Konga River lazy river, and Hook’s Lagoon, an interactive tree house with loads of water gizmos, slides geared to younger kids, and a tipping bucket. For the more relaxing crowd there are even some hot tubs.
Drive west on Highway 410 into this colorful town. Come visit in early April and join in the Daffodil Festival. You’ll see tulips, hyacinths, irises, and more at the Van Lierop Bulb Farms where springtime gardens bloom. Chamber of Commerce: (253) 845-6755.
Farmers Market: Beginning in May and ending in October, this market is located in Pioneer Park in the heart of downtown Puyallup. Explore charming booths selling local, home-crafted items, plus plenty of garden plants and tantalizing food. Information: (253) 840-2631.
Western Washington Fair Association: Year-round events: Puyallup Spring Fair in April, The Puyallup Fair in September.
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park: A wildlife park that has animals native to North America living in their natural habitat (such as the red fox, grey wolf, cougar, bobcats, bears and mountain goats). Experience the guided tram tour. Springtime offers the opportunity to see baby animals throughout. Reservations requested. Park packages available at Best Western Park Plaza. Information: (253) 847-1901. Chamber of Commerce: (509) 865-3262.
Welcome to Tacoma. Sometime soon you’re going to end up here. You will close your eyes, take a deep breath, and finally understand why your friends kept telling you to come. The incredible natural beauty, the exciting cultural arts hub in Tacoma, the coolest events, the greatest places to stay, dine and shop will pull that feeling of relaxed contentment out of you. Discover the Art of Northwest Living. Visitor & Convention Bureau: (800) 272-2662.
Museum Row: From the Museum of Glass on the waterfront and the Washington History Museum next to historic Union Station to the Tacoma Art Museum on Pacific Avenue, Tacoma offers some of the finest museum experiences in the nation. Walk across the Bridge of Glass and you will experience beautiful Chihuly glass along with spectacular views of Tacoma’s unique architecture. The downtown area is also home to the Working Waterfront Museum, and will be the future location of both the LeMay Automobile Museum, and the Pioneer Motorcycle Museum. Information: (253) 627-1216. Glass Art: Walk the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot outdoor glass art display, on your way to the Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum. Tacoma is world-renowned for its glass art and they will even help hone your craft at the Tacoma Glassblowing studios, where you can take a shot at blowing glass yourself.
The Theater District: Long known for its contribution to the performing arts, this district spans Broadway, from 9th to 11th, and South 9th, from Market to Commerce. With theaters like the Pantages, Tacoma Actors Guild and the Rialto, there is always a show to see. The neighborhood also boasts fine dining, fine jewelry and fine art, and is the seat of Downtown’s Christmas Tree and New Year’s Eve Celebration, First Night. Information: (253) 627-1216.