“This post is my entry into the TBEX Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by Choice Hotels International Services Corp via Cambria Suites.”
Your average itinerary for a first visit to Seattle, WA will usually consist of a stop at, at least one, if not all of these Top 5 tourist sights:
1. Space Needle
2. Pike’s Place Market
3. Seattle Underground
4. Experience Music Project
5. Seattle Aquarium
While these are all worth a look upon first visit to the city, for those living locally, these top 5 have simply become part of the everyday norm. Now when friends and family are planning a visit I like to take them to some of the more unseen and oft overlooked portions of Seattle’s expansive backyard.
One of the best places to spend a leisurely Friday afternoon is on the waterfront in Kirkland; Whether you’re a couple looking to have a quiet stroll, or a family looking to unwind from a day of traveling. The Kirkland waterfront has over 3 easy to walk miles with 8 beachfront parks dotted along it.
If walking isn’t your speed, from the Kirkland City Dock you can check in with Argosy Cruises. They will take you on an hour and a half cruise around Lake Washington. While on board you will be able to spot some of the more prominent Seattle landmarks, as well as lakefront homes of the local rich and famous, all while relaxing on deck.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite stop in at BeachHouse Bar & Grill. They offer a casual, family friendly atmosphere and little something for everyone, right on the waterfront, a five minute easy walk from the hustle and bustle of the downtown center.
Today is an early day but will be well worth a few missed z’s. You’ll set off for Mukilteo to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island. This can be done either with your personal vehicle or by public transport. Once on Whidbey the public transport shuttle is free and will drop you nearly anywhere you wish to go.
For this tour we will head north to the Bayview Farmer’s Market. This market runs from May to October and is open every Saturday from 10am to 2pm. The market is brimming with local produce, food and artisans. It is a wonderful way to get to see all of what Whidbey has to offer it’s visitors. I would highly suggest filling your belly with all of the tasty bites you will find here.
From the farmer’s market you’ll head to Langley an historic little town by the sea. Langley has so much to offer the visitor it’s often difficult to say where to start. You’ll have the option to explore the local boutique shops, watch glassblowing at the local studios (some of which will teach and assist you in making your own creations to take home), rent a kayak or take a kayaking tour, stop into some of the local tasting rooms for a flight of wine, or simply sit and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Cascade Mountains from the shore.
When you’ve wrapped up your choice of afternoon activities and find you’re ready for dinner, head over to the French inspired Prima Bistro. Here again you will find something for everyone with a menu that changes with the seasons to accommodate the local produce grown on the island.
Sunday’s are the ideal day to be in downtown Seattle. Head down to South Lake Union Park around 9am and you will find that parking is FREE on Sundays. Once you’ve parked it’s just a short walk to the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) where you can sign up to take an afternoon ride on one of the boats for FREE. The CWB also offers the ability to rent a variety of boats that (depending on your skills) you can take out on the lake. If you’re a family with small children they also rent wooden toy boats that can be sailed across the fountain in the middle of the park.
The park also offers a small beach for launching a paddle board, inflatable rafts or simply splashing around. There are plenty of restaurants nearby to choose from or you can pack a picnic with the farmer’s market goodies you may have acquired yesterday. If you’re feeling as if you haven’t had enough of Lake Union there are two other tours to help you out. The first is on the Queen of Seattle, a steam powered paddle wheel, the crew of which reenacts the days of the 1870′s Gold Rush. The second is an Ice Cream Cruise, offered by the Seattle Ferry Service, which will take you by Gas Works Park, the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat, and other notable sights while you much on some delicious ice cream.
Seattle is a wonderful city of natural extremes, and in it’s backyard you will find some of the best gems nature has to offer. Whether it is the bounty that nature yields to it’s farmers or the landscapes that rise and fall from snow capped mountain ranges to rolling lakes and oceans. These are just a few the gems I found while living here and I encourage you to travel locally and find yours.