Downtown Seattle looks very similar to NY: crowded streets surrounded by tall buildings on all sides. The only difference is that in Seattle – you will see a Starbucks in every corner.
For the uninitiated, Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks. Hence, the first Starbucks store (below) close to Pike Place Fish Market is actually a very popular tourist attraction here. From the inside, it looks very different from the Starbucks store layouts we are used to; however we can vouch that the coffee inside still tastes the same 🙂 It is still however very difficult to justify the sheer number of Starbucks stores in Seattle – there is practically one every few meters. It seemed like Starbucks is almost a “religion” for people living in Seattle.
Pike Place Fish Market
The Pike Place Fish Market near the harbor is also a popular touristic attraction in its own right. The locals come here for fresh fish and flowers. This is the place you visit, when you get tired of the unending buildings and shopping malls.
For the tourists, it is is a scenic place close to the harbor with fantastic views, seafood, and of course Starbucks. Below is a night shot of the famous Seattle ferry wheel from the Fish market.
And, below is another shot of the harbor at night.
We also tried an Indian restaurant called Daawat Grill close to the Washington State Convention Center, which we can absolutely recommend. It had a great lunch buffet at very decent prices.
For people interested in photography, Kerry Park is an absolute must vist. The park by itself is nothing extraordinary, however its position and altitude provides the perfect location to click those classic shots of the Seattle skyline including the Space needle. Note that it can get a bit crowded at the park, so it is always better to go there a bit early to get a good spot. Don’t forget your tripod to take those perfect night shots.
It is possible to reach Kerry Park by public transport from Seattle downtown. Look for buses to the Stop “Queen Anne Ave N & Ward St”. From there, it is a 10-15 min (depending on how fit you are) uphill climb to Kerry Park. Incidentally, the same bus also stops at the ‘Space Needle’ in between, so it is a good option to cover both in a single evening.
Below is a sequence of clicks from Kerry Park – as it gets progressively darker.
Mount Rainier National Park
If you are a nature lover, and visiting Seattle, and have a free day in hand – a trip to the Mount Rainier National Park is an absolute must. There are many tour companies offering day trips from Seattle to Mount Rainier (and back). We booked the following tour: (link)
Talking to people on the tour, it almost seemed like people in Seattle were unhappy as all the “nature tourism” basically got diverted to nearby Alsaka. So, Seattle seemed almost like an afterthought for such tourists. We haven’t visited Alaska yet [to be updated when we have visited Alaska :)], but we absolutely loved the Mount Rainier landscape.
Up on entering the park, there is a very scenic drive to the parking at the top.
Below are a couple of pics of the tourist parking spot at the top. The parking is not huge, but it was not very crowded when we arrived – of course it might have been because it was almost towards the end of touristic season. Unfortunately, we learnt that there isn’t any public transportation available from the nearby cities or lodging options. So you either need a car, or consider one of the tours operating out of Seattle to visit the Mount Rainier reserve.
There is also a small restaurant at the top offering hot food, e.g. pizzas, soup and bread, etc. The menu is not extensive, and the prices are on the higher side; however it is still a welcome option at that altitude.
The parking at the top is also the starting point for many short and long hiking trails, which you can try if you have time. There are amazing views of fountains and mountain peaks whichever way you go.