Seattle Scenes

Seattle Skyline at Night

There are as many ways to explore a city as there are visitors to it. Every time we roll into a new town, we’re confronted with a blank slate of sightseeing possibilities. Art museums are always high on the list, while natural history museums almost never are. Walking tours sometimes make the cut, while state capitols always do. Famous landmarks are contenders and so is the offbeat. 

Factors other than personal preference come into play, too, like time, mood, and money. Full-time travel means we have to keep a closer eye on our wallet than we used to do on week-long trips, which can quickly whittle down a list of options (sorry, Space Needle).

Each itinerary is a unique blueprint of how we spent our time in a particular place. Here is some of what we saw in Seattle, a city that charmed us with its blend of sophistication and quirkiness.

To Market, to Market

Pikes Place Market

The atmosphere at one of Seattle’s most famous locales, Pike Place Market, was as vibrant and colorful as we expected it to be, from sweeter-than-candy oranges piled high to the slinging of wares at the famed Fish Market.

He Doesn’t Bite

Seattle Fremont Troll

If the number of times we were asked, “Did you see the troll?” is any indication, Seattleites are proud of an undeniably unique resident: the Fremont Troll. After taking a few incorrect turns and peering beneath the wrong bridge, the homely, oversized creature we sought loomed in front of us. Cast in stone, the massive monster wears a fearsome expression and clutches a Volkswagen Beetle in its clawed hand. The sculpture was created in 1990, after the public voted its design the winning entry in a competition sponsored by the Fremont Arts Council. Aside from its scary appearance, visitors don’t need to be afraid to touch this piece of art. Interacting with the Fremont Troll is encouraged.

Subterranean Stroll

Seattle Underground Tour

After snooping under bridges we headed below ground, roaming subterranean passageways beneath Pioneer Square on the entertaining Underground Tour. These dark, creepy, cobweb-laden corridors were thoroughfares and first-floor storefronts in the nineteenth century, until flooding led to the streets being elevated. Eerie vestiges like a velvet sofa abandoned in an alcove remain from the hotels and other establishments that once flourished in these spaces. Most intriguing was having a different perspective on the squares of tinted glass embedded in the present-day sidewalks. From below, you can see they’re actually part of a skylight.

Art of Recycling

Gas Works Park, Seattle

Rather than remove the remnants of a coal gasification plant on a stretch of land bordering Lake Union, the industrial structures were incorporated into the design of Gas Works Park. Some stand as ruins, while others have been transformed into a picnic shelter and a children’s play area. It might be “easily the strangest park in Seattle, and may rank among the strangest in the world,” as a local newspaper declared, but it’s certainly intriguing.

Quick-Change Art(ist)

Buster Simpson at the Frey Museum

A sizable hole in the wall was a good indication that the Frye Art Museum had been revamped since our last visit. Our first time there we were introduced to the portrait paintings of Nicolai Fechin, a Russian artist who became a sensation after immigrating to New York in 1923.

On the return trip, we found an almost entirely different museum, the space tailored to optimally display pieces by Buster Simpson, a local artist and environmental activist. “Buster Simpson//Surveyor” is on view through October 13. Oh, and did we mention the Frye is free?

“Cathedral of Books”

Suzzallo Library University of Washington

If not for the rows of study tables instead of pews, the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library reading room might be mistaken for a Gothic-style European church. Beneath the 65-foot gilded ceilings, hanging at opposite ends of the cavernous room, are hand-painted globes bearing the names of Marco Polo, de Balboa, and other explorers whose thirst for knowledge and adventure took them to the seas and beyond.

A Hill with a View

Seattle Skyline from Kerry Park

A small slice of urban greenery, Kerry Park is popular for its hilltop location and panoramic view of the Seattle skyline. While we didn’t get to the top of the city’s celebrated Space Needle, we had no shortage of sightings of the icon, constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair and once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

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21 Comments on “Seattle Scenes”

  1. walktx August 12, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful city. I may have to add it to my bucket list!


    • Shannon August 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

      It’s definitely worth a visit!


  2. Animalcouriers August 12, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    That library is something else!


    • Shannon August 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      If not for some acquaintances who were showing us around their neighborhood, we might not have stopped by and that would have been a shame. A library constructed in Gothic style is like my architectural fantasy come to life!


  3. digger666 August 12, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Reblogged this on digger666.


  4. janeanddavid August 12, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    We hope to visit Northwest America someday soon. Thanks for the great tour guide to Seattle!


    • Shannon August 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      I had never visited the Pacific Northwest prior to setting out on this RV trip three years ago. In many ways we saved the best for last. It’s gorgeous and diverse, from the Oregon coast to Washington State’s Cascade Mountains to great cities like Portland and Seattle.


  5. mytimetotravel August 12, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    If you’re going to Seattle I recommend tours with the Architecture Foundation:


  6. John August 12, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    ooooh underground tour!


    • lidipiri August 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      I did that tour and it was pretty interesting except that the tour guide was so focused on being a stand up comedian that it became a bit annoying. 🙂


  7. motorcyclecommuter August 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Awesome City! I lived there for 20 years… I miss it like an old friend 🙂


  8. lidipiri August 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Seattle. Spent last New Year time there. Found it hard to really enjoy the city due to the coooold weather. Regardless I did like it a whole lot. Thanks for bringing it back to me.


  9. Rajiv August 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    This is interesting indeed


  10. popsiculture11 August 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I love Seattle! I visited for the first time 3 years ago and it’s easily one of my favorite cities! Great post!


  11. Terri at Time To Be Inspired August 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    I love Seattle! Next time I’ll have to visit the troll and that magnificent library!


  12. writecrites August 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    I’ve been to Seattle to visit relatives but had no idea all these marvelous places were there. The Gas Works park especially interested me b/c last summer, in Stavanger, Norway, I found that the Petroleum Museum had created an intriguing children’s park from old oil drilling equipment. They had painted everything in bright colors, and it was well used from what I could see. Lots of children and their parents enjoying the day. I’ll have to do a post on it one of these days.


  13. redjim99 August 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    Was the library recently in a film? Looks amazing.



  14. hermitsdoor August 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I lived in Seattle some decades ago. Queens Anne Hill for a year. I was at Kerry Park when I heard Mt. St. Helen blow off it’s top. Then a couple of years on Capitol Hill. Oh, that was a long time ago.


  15. Janice Sullivan August 16, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    My cousin live in Seattle and I still haven’t visited this amazing city 😦 Thanks for the inspiration…love your photo story 🙂


  16. alexandrajcornwell August 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Only spent one night in Seattle 3 years ago at the end of a week-long Intrepid/Suntrek self-catering camping trip that started (for our leg) in San Fransisco with a mini van half-filled with other Aussies (from Perth & Melbourne), a couple of Swiss, Germans, a Belgian and a Russian. My son and I did the Space Needle twice – once in the afternoon and again by night after we had wandered down to the Pike Street Markets (sadly after most of the action for the day had finished), checked out the very first Starbucks, and had a nice dinner in an asian restaurant opposite the Hard Rock Cafe. I would happily go back for more!


  17. Deano August 27, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    No matter how far or wide I travel in the USA. Seattle is still my favourite city 🙂


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