Visiting Seattle Washington (Part 3)
This is the final installment of a 3 series blog that discusses 18 fun things we found to do in Seattle Washington. If you missed the prior blogs, you can access them below:
2 Weeks Ago:
|Argosy Locks Cruise, Duck Tour, Snoqualmie Casino Ziggy Marley Concert, Around Seattle, Chateau St. Michelle
|Ballard Locks,Space Needle, Experience Music Museum, Gas Works Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Starbucks
|Seattle Art Museum, Theo Chocolate Factory, Seattle Aquarium, Mt. Rainier Railway, Underground Tour.|
If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this visit, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seattle.asp
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) showcases modern art, sculpture, Greek and tribal artifacts, and topical themes (it was Japanese Fashion the week we were there). I am no art aficionado, but the modern art was akin to pieces our kids made in grade school. It seems if you slap watercolor on notebook paper, they will call it art and frame it nicely for the SAM. When you walk into the SAM, you will see about 4 or 5 Ford Tauruses hanging above. Art? Not sure I buy that.
The Greek artifacts were very interesting, many of the carvings and sculpture date back to B.C. I also enjoyed the vertigo art. The SAM is a good place to visit on a rainy day but if it is sunny out, I would much rather be taking in a hike.
Theo Chocolate Factory
The Theo Chocolate Factory was a fun tour, especially if you have a penchant for cocoa. They have been around since 2005 was the first to lay rights to being a fully organic and fair trade shop. Being fair trade compliant, independent companies ensure that their cocoa suppliers in Ecuador, Peru and the Congo pay their employees well and are not using under aged labor. You will pay a little more because their costs of doing business is higher, but many people will agree it is worth the extra cost.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. She explained how the beans are shipped to this factory and roasted. Once roasted, the shell is taken off, ground, mixed with sugar and liquified into chocolate. You get to sample a lot of chocolate, so come hungry!
The Seattle Aquarium is a good way to spend a few hours. It is wise to purchase the City Pass because it gives you a pretty good deal (43% savings) on the Aquarium, Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight, and Experience Music Museum. After visiting other larger aquariums (Chicago and Baltimore), this one was not as impressive, but I love sea life so it was still fun.
Mt. Rainier Railway
If you’ve never been on an old train or if you have kids, this is the ride for you. Lynn and I have been on countless trains with our kids, so it was a bit boring for us. The train ride starts at the base of Mount Rainier, so the drive to the station offered up some great views of Mount Rainier. The train ride is about 30 minutes up to a Train Museum and 30 minutes back. The scenery along the ride was a little disappointing. I was hoping to see great views of Mount Rainier, you only get about a 5 second view. Other than that, you are looking at unimpressive trees and small streams. The museum is also mundane, not a ton to see here.
If you are really into trains, I could see it being really interesting for you. Lynn and I took a train to Machu Picchu last year, so this paled in comparison to that. If we had it to do again, we would have just purchased a day tour of Mount Rainier.
The Underground Tour is very popular, you need to get there about 2 hours ahead of time to purchase a ticket. A new tour starts every hour and it is crowded. I had high expectations for this tour but left a bit disappointed. In the late 1800’s Seattle burned to the ground by an accidental fire. Since all buildings were made of wood, there was no hope of saving any buildings.
Once they decided to rebuild Seattle, they concluded that all buildings had to be brick (smart move) to prevent it from happening again in the future. To rebuild, they wanted to take their time to properly zone all the areas of the city and to ensure that they had a great drainage and sewage system.
To do it properly, they decided to build huge retaining walls that spanned from 10 to 35 feet high. Businesses did not want to wait 7 years for the retaining walls to be built, so they got approval to begin building immediately. But they had to agree to build all their buildings at least 3 stories, understanding that once the retaining walls were in place, the first (and maybe second) floors would be underground. They agreed and construction began.
Once the retaining walls were finished, the city was essentially built on top of the first story of the new businesses. This created an interesting underground section of the city that can still be seen today. There really is nothing that compelling about how it looks today, it looks like a bunch of dingy basements.
I hope you enjoyed learning about places we visited in Seattle and hope you get a chance to visit it in person some day.