Things to Do in Washington - page 2
One of the longest lava tubes in North America, the Ape Cave Lava Tube, is in southwest Washington near Mount St. Helens.
Ape Cave is in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest south of Mount St. Helens, the Washington volcano that erupted in memorable fashion in May 1980. The lava tube wasn't created by the 1980 blast, however; a logger discovered it in the early 1950s, and local Boy Scouts known as the Apes did the first extensive surveys of the tube before providing the cave its name. It's believed the tubes were formed about 2,000 years ago, but these lava formations are unusual for this part of the world – most volcanoes in the area don't produce the kind of fast-flowing lava that formed the Ape Cave tubes. There are two lava tubes at Ape Cave. The upper tube is larger, although the lower tube is easier to explore. Ape Cave is the longest continuous lava tube in the country at about 2.5 miles in total, and one of the longest on the continent.
Seattle is surrounded by plenty of incredible nature vistas and beautiful sceneries, but visitors don’t necessarily need to go much further than Pioneer Square to find a bit of nature in a peaceful garden setting. The Waterfall Garden Park was planned by the Japanese designer Masao Kinoshita to commemorate the birthplace of the United States Parcel Service (the UPS) and is one of Seattle’s best hidden secrets. Tucked away between Main Street and Second Avenue, the small oasis is a modern interpretation of a Japanese garden with lots of granite, brick, steel and potted plants surrounding the 22-foot-high, man-made waterfall splashing over huge rocks.
The roar of the waterfall and the softer tinkle of the surrounding stream drown out all the noise of Seattle’s concrete jungle and form a very compact, albeit effective urban oasis.
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest public park and although the green space offers over 11 miles of trails, the shorter Loop Trail is perfect for those wanting a quick taste of the scenery. Connecting to the other trails designed for further exploration, it follows the perimeter of the park, taking hikers through second-growth forests consisting of maple, alder, cherry, fir and cedar trees, open meadows and along sandy beaches littered with gnarly driftwood. The park is also a great place to get a view of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, as well as to catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife. Seals, sea lions, chipmunks and over 270 species of birds have made their home in and around the 534 acres of the park and just like the visitors coming here for a quick respite, have found somewhat of a sanctuary from the active city.
In July 1897, a year after local miners literally stuck gold in the Klondike Region of northwestern Canada, a local Seattle newspaper got wind of the news and published a headline stating simply “Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!” It triggered an exodus of hopeful prospectors that is today known as the Klondike Gold Rush. The hopes of riches beyond imagination jump started wild dreams in over 100,000 people, who all sold their farms, homes and businesses in the midst of an economic depression to head north to the Yukon gold fields. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in downtown Seattle commemorates and preserves the stories of those brave people taking part in the “Last Great Adventure”, many of whom underwent the long voyage in vain, and explores the city’s crucial role in the events. The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush Park is part of an international cooperation between the United States and Canada, with other sites being located in historically important locations.
Seattle, topographically, has many ups and downs, but one of the steepest hills in the city is Queen Anne Hill. Accordingly, the neighborhood took a while to be completely developed because understandably, in the early days of the city, nobody felt like making the long trek up the hill just to build a home. Developers eventually offered a two-for-one deal – buy two plots of land for the price of one – to kick start population of the hill. Due to the many Queen Anne style homes built shortly afterwards by a number of the city’s elite who came here to construct their big mansions, the entire hill was named after the beautiful architectural style.
West and East Queen Anne Hill are more quiet residential areas compared to the adjoining Lower Queen Anne and the busy downtown, but there are still plenty of unique locations to be discovered.
One of the many expanses of open greenery in Seattle, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a wide swath of open space aimed at providing the people of Seattle an easily-accessible park in which to view some of the greatest modern sculptures of our time. Arguably much more of a park than a museum, Olympic Sculpture Park plays host to numerous social activities, dances, and public performances throughout the year. People come here to walk or jog the hiking path, view the waterfront, have a picnic on a nice sunny day, or just wander around and explore the modern art.
Situated on the Seattle waterfront, the Olympic Sculpture Park is one of Seattle’s most picturesque and widely beloved parks.
Safeco Field is the home of the Mariners baseball team, and the stadium is located just south of the city center in Seattle. The Seattle Mariners’ original home, the Kingdome, was replaced in the 1990s by Safeco Field, which hosted its first Major League Baseball game in 1999. The stadium holds more than 47,000 spectators for baseball games, and features a retractable roof.
Among the attractions at Safeco Field - besides the baseball games themselves - are the Mariners Hall of Fame, the Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest, and the many baseball-related pieces of artwork on display throughout the stadium.
On the morning of May 18th, 1980, the largest terrestrial landslide in recorded history punched a 1300 foot hole in the side of Mount St. Helens and rained fire and ash at a speed of 300 mph down the mountainside. 30 years later, this amazing display of Mother Earth’s power is still visible at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument where numerous trails extend throughout the park and give visitors an up-close and personal view of lava plains, the damage from the blast, and the ensuing life birthed from this massive volcanic eruption. From the breathtaking approach drive to the informational visitor centers, your first experiences with this majestic park are likely to be memorable ones.
Many of us regularly sip wine at home with a good meal, but for those wanting to know the history behind the rich liquid inside the glass, the Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards opens its gates to visitors. The French style winery dispels the myth that good wine can only be produced in warm climates and proves that great wines can most definitely come from Washington state. It is located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains in the Columbia Valley, where warmer temperatures and less wet weather allow the vines to flourish. With over 100 years of tradition to look back on, Chateau Ste. Michelle prides itself on combining old world winemaking with modern innovations and thus operates two modern wineries for both red and white wine.
There are regular guided tours and tastings held, which give insight into the bottling and fermentation process and refine the palette as well as show how to properly smell, swirl and taste wine.
More Things to Do in Washington
This picturesque beach on the shore of Elliott Bay runs a narrow 2.5-mile strip between Alki Point and Duwamish Head. Known as the site of the first white settlers in Seattle, its sandy shores attract as many cyclists, joggers and bladers as beachcombers and sun worshipers and storm chasers. Public restrooms, picnic areas, an art studio and bathhouses make it the perfect destination for a day of outdoor fun with family and friends. And impressive views of the Puget Sound and Seattle skyline make it one of the most scenic strips of sand in Washington.
Back when Capitol Hill was named, its creators anticipated the neighborhood to become the capitol of Washington State and stately mansions and elaborate Victorian style residences still attest to that early vision. History took a different route though and the demographics changed profoundly soon after World War II. Capitol Hill turned from a ritzy area into the funky, hip neighborhood of today and is now home to a diverse mix of cultures and countercultures. Young professionals mingle with the thriving LGTBQ community, artists and foodies frequent establishments were Kurt Cobain once played and there is a huge variety of niche theaters, music venues, quirky coffee shops, bookstores and boutiques lining the streets.
One of the highlights is the weekly Broadway Farmers Market, which provides the population of Capitol Hill with fresh and seasonal artisanal foods, flowers and good music each Sunday.
Puget Sound is a complex waterway of inlets, bays, and harbors that includes not only Seattle, but also the cities of Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia, and a plethora of charming little towns and islands with a culture all their own. It is a region of sparkling blue waters, green forests, sandy beaches, and a relaxed pace of life. It’s a place where many Seattleites escape the bustling city life, get out on the water, and absorb the views of the Olympic Mountains.
Washington Ferries handle most of the traffic in Puget Sound, and you can get out on the water from Seattle Waterfront. Take a boat to Tillicum Village on Blake Island for a traditional Native Pacific Northwest dance performance, or sail to Brainbridge Island for an afternoon picnic. As you explore the Sound, you’ll come across old fishing villages turned yacht havens, and idyllic rural settings.
Many know Seattle to be located upon the Puget Sound, but the specific body of water upon which Seattle sits is none other than the great Elliot Bay. And because Elliot Bay is the most prevalent source of water when visiting Seattle, it is part-and-parcel to the inner fabric of the “city by the sound.” From the original Duwamish peoples that lived here, to the locals that come enjoy the Elliot Bay Park along the waterfront, Elliot Bay is part of the culture, and it’s here that many visitors come to explore Seattle.
With two marinas, numerous piers (including Pier 57 and Pier 59, both popular attractions), the Seattle Great Wheel, and the Seattle Aquarium, Elliot Bay provides many things to many people. Not the least of which is the great port of Seattle – one of America’s biggest and most important ports. Ferries also take commuters and tourists across the Bay to Bainbridge or Vashon Island.
Not far from the bustle of Seattle’s Space Needle, there is a public park on the bay where the focus is on wildlife and nature. The 4.8-acre Myrtle Edwards Park stretches along Elliott Bay and is known for its 1.25-mile paved walking and cycling path, and for the many opportunities to see eagles, herons and other wildlife.
The park was originally called Elliott Bay Park, but was renamed in 1976 for Myrtle Edwards. Edwards had been a prominent member of Seattle’s city council, where she fought for the preservation of the city’s natural spaces. Located between the park and the Space Needle is the Olympic Sculpture Park, a nine-acre park of outdoor art installations that opened in 2007.
Head to “Snoose Junction” (a.k.a. the Ballard District) to experience a thriving and hip waterfront neighborhood that houses some of Seattle’s best restaurants, pubs, shops, spas and parks. Since 1853, this historic Scandinavian neighborhood has been cultivating its fashionable image, and now you can walk the busy tree-lined streets and see how all the hard work has paid off. Watch the Ballard locks open and allow ships through, see the Nordic Heritage Museum, shop the ever-popular Market Street, or enjoy the eclectic restaurants and pubs on Ballard Ave. Look out for unique curio shops and if you can, catch the Ballard Farmer’s Market - Sundays on Ballard Ave. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. It’s a Seattle staple.
Also known as The Cascades, the Cascade Range runs for over 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) from British Columbia in Canada through Washington and Oregon to California. It’s part of the Pacific mountain system of western North America as well as the Ring of Fire, which is a ring of volcanoes and mountains around the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, all the recorded volcanic eruptions in the United States’ history have come from volcanoes in the Cascades.
A number of the Cascade Range peaks exceed 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) -- for example, Washington’s highest mountain Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet (4,392 meters) -- making it a top attraction for adventure travelers who want to do some hiking, backpacking or climbing. Another option for exploring the Cascade Range is the Cascade Loop, a road trip that starts 28 miles (45 kilometers) north of Seattle and takes you on a scenic drive through the Cascade Mountains.
The most famous coffeehouse in the world, Starbucks got its start in downtown Seattle, and now the city is practically synonymous with java and good cups of joe. While Starbucks locations everywhere serve the signature blends that have made the company world-famous, there are some unique attractions that make this particular Starbucks special – the same elements that harken back to the early days of Pike Place Market.
Take, for instance, the leather on the outer covering of the bar – it was sourced from scrap at nearby shoe and automobile manufacturers - or the walnut used on the tables, doors, and bar top, which was all sourced from a nearby farm. The signage on the bar is recycled slate from a nearby high school.
What you’ll find upon a visit to 1st and Pike is not just the humble beginnings of a now commercial powerhouse, but the same quaint but cunning elements that made it a success 30-some odd years ago, when Starbucks was anything but a household name.
A city with many identities – from coffee to technology to nature to seafood – Seattle is a great place to start or end a cruise. Shore excursions that go outside the city can fill all kinds of desires; take a wine-tasting tour, explore Bainbridge Island or visit Olympic National Park.
If you’re in a more urban mood, get to know the city itself at top attractions like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, as well as one of its many walkable neighborhoods like Lower Queen Anne.
Seattle has a long history with aviation and it was here that the first ever Boeing aircraft was assembled and where the company used to have its headquarters for decades. It makes sense that the city also hosts one of the most interesting aviation museums in North America. The Museum of Flight shows the history of flight starting with the experiments of the Wright Brothers and progresses through the years with over 150 planes, helicopters and even some satellites, rockets, space station parts and lunar module mockups.
Located at the Museum of Flight are also some more well-known aircrafts that are worthy of a special mention. The first presidential jet ever, now better known under its call sign Air Force One, has transported presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and can be visited at the Airpark.
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