Third in a series highlighting cities to which you can fly nonstop from Boston.
From the moment you arrive here you can be on the move, whether you are exploring the city underground by foot, kayaking along freshwater lakes or sheltered Puget Sound, or being whisked up the Space Needle, over the area by seaplane, or along bike-friendly streets aboard the new Emerald City Trolley.
As the country’s fifth-largest port, and the home of Boeing aviation for more than 100 years, Seattle has established itself as an important transportation hub. Enter the city on a new light rail service that links Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to downtown, and then get out and explore this vibrant city of 4 million people and learn about the evolution of transportation here over the past century.
1. 8 a.m. Start your adventure at Pike Place Market (First Avenue and Pike Street, 206-682-7453, www.pikeplacemarket.org), where you can grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich from the original Starbucks (opened 42 years ago), and then poke around shops selling fresh flowers, flying fish, magic tricks, and more. Buy everything from elephant garlic and homemade pasta to Caribbean papaya from food stalls, and say hi to former Boston-area resident Howard Chapman, who uses real spices, seeds, grains, and flowers to make miniature Pike Place Market-themed crafts that fit inside an open walnut shell. The market, started with six farmers in 1907, now has more than 200 vendors and is open 20 hours a day, 362 days a year.
2. 10 a.m. The 75-minute Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour (608 First Ave., 206-682-4646, www.undergroundtour.com, $9-$17, free under age 7) in historic Pioneer Square will take you through three of the city’s 30 blocks of subterranean passageways. Wander through tunnels of basalt stone and boardwalk, and by debris from the area’s colorful past: dusty couches, weathered signs, bed frames from an old hotel, and remnants from a seedy saloon. Learn about the Great Seattle Fire, started in a nearby woodworking shop in 1889, and the failed attempts to extinguish it, the site of the original “skid row,” and the city’s slow attempt to elevate itself by moving street level one story up.
3. 1 p.m. Grab a sandwich ($6.95-$8.95) and bowl of Northwest clam chowder ($4.95-$7.95) from the Alaskan Sourdough Bakery (Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way, 206-838-5313, www.alaskansourdoughbakery.com) at Miners Landing. Then hop on an informative one-hour harbor tour with Argosy Cruises (Pier 55, 1101 Alaskan Way, 888-623-1445, www.argosycruises.com, $12-$23.50, under 4 free), during which you learn about Seattle icons, new and old, and see the city’s industrial heart from a unique angle. The 200-passenger boat takes you past several locally berthed Coast Guard icebreakers and alongside massive container ships, giving close-up views of these floating behemoths, many of which stretch more than 1,000 feet, making them longer than Seattle’s tallest building is high.
4. 4:30 p.m. Rise more than 175 feet above Elliott Bay on the Seattle Great Wheel (Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way, 206-623-8600, www.seattegreatwheel.com, $8.50-$13), the West Coast’s tallest observation wheel, which opened last June. The wheel spins year-round, and the 42 fully-enclosed gondolas stay dry even on rainy days. Choose the lone VIP gondola ($50) and enjoy cushy leather bucket seats, views through the glass floor, a T-shirt, and priority boarding.
5. 7 p.m. Elliott’s Oyster House (Pier 56, 1201 Alaskan Way, 206-623-4340, www.elliottsoysterhouse.com, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) next to the giant Ferris wheel serves some of the most mouthwatering locally sourced seafood in the city. More than 30 varieties of oysters arrive daily from local growers in Puget Sound north to British Columbia. Some would say the king crab rivals any East Coast lobster, but you decide. Other top picks include the wild salmon and Dungeness crab cakes.
6. 10 p.m. Top the night with a stop at Radiator Whiskey (94 Pike St., Suite 30, 206-467-4268, www.radiatorwhiskey.com), a hip new bar and restaurant that’s known for its barrel-aged whiskey, cocktails, and creative menu items, which include fried beef lips and barrel-aged Manhattan and pork cheek stew. Open Mon-Sat 4 p.m.-midnight.
7. 8 a.m. Cofounders and brothers Mark and Michael Klebeck came up with the name of their popular doughnut shop when the “s” fell off an old Top Spot sign they found while antiquing. In the past 13 years Top Pot Doughnuts (2124 5th Ave., 206-728-1966, www.toppotdoughnuts.com, $.99-$2.49) has grown so popular, it has appeared on the Food Network twice and even caught the eye — and tastebuds — of President Obama when he stopped to try the pumpkin doughnuts. The shop makes up to 42 kinds of “hand-forged” doughnuts and its own hand-roasted coffee. Try the salty caramel doughnut and chocolate eclair. This branch has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a great coffeehouse vibe.Continued...