Being tour guides in Seattle requires us to not only know a lot about the city but also keep up with all the changes that happen throughout the city from month to month. Amanda and I decided that we needed a day taking tours and seeing some of the recently added attractions in Seattle.
Our first stop was to take advantage of the 10-hour early bird parking special at the garage on Third and Stewart. This is only a few block from the Pike Place Market and as of this writing, it was $18.00 for up to ten hours if we arrived before 9:30.
Heading to the Pike Place Market, we knew that we had to head over to Biscuit Bitch for some breakfast. This place can be hectic, and on the weekends there are probably 40-50 out the door waiting to get served. Featured on the Travel Channel, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, you know this is a place not to be missed.
I ordered the Smokin’ Hot Bitch with Biscuits and Gravy, (both Gluten free), cheese, spicy hot sausage and had them hold the jalapenos. It was really too much food for me, but it was a great way to start the morning.
Next Amanda and I wanted to explore the Pike Place Market and see if much had changed and it really hadn’t.
We stopped by Beechers Cheese to watch them make the cheese in the window and of course took advantage of their free cheese samples.
A quick walk over to Starbucks to see how busy they were (not very) and then we walked through the main arcade of the market to see all the stalls and check out the new addition to the market that had just opened up.
One of the points of interest I wanted to point out to Amanda was the tiles throughout the market that had people’s names on them. We even found the one that her Mom and I had purchased way back in the 1980’s for a $30 donation. At that time the Pike Place Market was in disrepair and raising $1.3 million by selling the tiles, they were able to add some much-needed improvements to the market. But one tile that is hidden amongst the 45,000 tiles, is the one above. Heaven’s Gate was the group known for the 38 members who committed suicide in 1997, famously known for wearing tennis shoes.
Continuing our walk through the market, we took some photos of my favorite fruit and vegetable stand, Sosios and Pure Foods Fish where you can buy the absolute best alder smoked salmon anywhere. Don’t take our word for it though, their smoked salmon was written about in Sunset Magazine.
Next, we made our way to the Gum Wall. This is a wall of gum about 100 feet long. It all started back in the 1990’s but a couple years ago the wall was so thick with gum that it was time to clean it off. What you see today is less than two years of accumulation. Though it can seem disgusting to some people, others seem to really enjoy leaving their mark in the city. The only thing that irritated me was that people felt it was necessary to put their business cards and garbage on the wall. Seriously? It’s a gum wall, not a garbage wall.
It’s been awhile since Amanda and I had checked out the Seattle Art Museum, so off we went just a few blocks from the Pike Place Market. The last time I was there, they had a bunch of Ford Tauruses hanging from the ceiling, but this time they had a sculpture titled, Middle Fork, by John Grade which echoes the contours of a 140-year-old western hemlock tree located in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.
I had also forgotten how much Native American art is in the museum as well.
Our next stop was then off to the Smith Tower. The Smith Tower was built in 1914 and at the time was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. In fact, it was the tallest building in Seattle until the Space Needle was built for the World’s Fair in 1962.
The observation deck lobby had been completely redone and they now had some wonderful interactive displays to learn more about the history of the Smith Tower. There is a short little video you can watch about the history of the building, but then the fun begins.
They have added some fun interactive displays where you become a character and look for clues. I was Roy Olmstead, the Seattle Rumrunner who smuggled booze from Canada. One could listen to the switchboard or “Phone conversations” as you searched for clues and explored maps and desk drawers. Amanda and I were surprised at how much fun we had doing this and we would both agree the Smith Tower is not to be missed on your visit to Seattle.
We then went up the elevators that are still operated by hand by attendees in the building, to the observation deck.
There is also a nice little bar or “Speakeasy” as the call it, on the observation deck. I was happy to see they served local spirits since Washington State has more small batch distilleries than any other state in America.
After enjoying an adult beverage we then headed over to Pioneer Square to check out the Klondike Gold Rush Museum. This is run by the National Parks Department and is a great way to learn more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. They have a very informative movie that lasts about 20 minutes that you don’t want to miss.
Next, we were off to Glass House Studio to watch a bit of glass blowing and enjoy all the wonderful pieces of glass art for sale.
Our next stop was to take Seattle’s famous Underground Tour. It had been 20 years or so since I had taken the tour and this was a new adventure for Amanda. Being that we are both tour guides, there were some things we learned and enjoyed the tour.
As you can see by the photo above, there is some walking required, and during the summer months, the tours will have more people. The guide Eric was very efficient in keeping the group together and made our experience and enjoyable one.
There were more passageways and artifacts to see below the street than I remember and once really gets a good sense of what life might have been like during those early days of rebuilding after the Great Seattle Fire.
Next, it was time to get some food at our favorite fish and chips place in downtown Seattle. Ivar’s Fish Bar is the place you want to go to enjoy a cup of clam chowder or some fish and chips. Don’t forget to feed the seagulls who will wait patiently on the fence for you to toss them some french fries.
One cannot go to the waterfront without stopping at the Ye Old Curiosity Shop. With all kinds of things to see like real shrunken heads and a mummy named Sylvester, it’s not for the squeamish. They also have lots of unique souvenirs to purchase while visiting Seattle.
Our next attraction we were thrilled about seeing was the Wings Over Washington virtual ride. This is very similar to the one at Disneyland that takes you over California. We don’t want to give too much of it away, but the sights, smells, and realism made it a must see for us while you are in Seattle.
We then started our ascent back up to the Pike Place Market, but then we walked 11 blocks past the market to 1124 Pike Street to check out the Starbucks Reserve Store. Think of it as the Willy Wonka of coffee.
There is a roasting plant with clear tubes that you can watch the coffee beans being transported throughout the store.
This is the only Starbucks in the world like this at the time of this writing, so don’t miss this on your visit to Seattle.
Lastly, it was time to have some more food and head back to our favorite place in the Pike Place Market, Steelhead Diner. We couldn’t wait to enjoy a local brew and the Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Tator Tots.
Soon it was time to head out of the city. We started our adventure at the parking lot at 9:15 AM and were back there by 6 PM. We had lots of walking that day, so our route is not for those that are less mobile. I also decided to shoot with my iPhone and not hassle with a “real” camera, since 90% of our customers only have phones as well.
There are many things we left out this day as we may have already seen them recently and we also took a route that was easy to get around without a car.
Please share your thoughts with us and tell us what we missed so we can add it to our next day out in the city.