Your cruise is booked. Everything is packed. And, your cruise ship sets sail from the Port of Seattle – a city filled with interesting destinations. Arrive a couple of days early or stay a couple of days at the end to explore and enjoy these five fun things.
In keeping with the seafaring theme of a cruise vacation, visit the ninth largest aquarium in the country. It’s conveniently located on the revitalized waterfront. With a mission to inspire conservation of marine environments, they offer six major exhibits celebrating “our world’s one big ocean.”
Visitors feel like they’re stepping into an underwater ecosystem teaming with life when they enter. You can touch creatures who live in the tide pools and witness one of the most complex communities on Earth – a coral reef. See “the rough and rocky shorelines of Puget Sound” in the open-air section. And, walk under the water in the undersea dome.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Take a leisurely stroll through Seattle’s largest green space park. Located at the waterfront, these nine acres have a zig-zagging pathway dotted with award-winning sculptures along the way. At the top of the gently sloping landscape is the Paccar Pavilion where you’ll see the first installment.
For details about the artists and their work (20 sculptures) displayed on the path, look at the map & guide provided (online) by the Seattle Art Museum.
Along the way, you’ll pass through meadows of native grasses and wildflowers and a grove of native aspen trees. At the shore, take a moment to watch the “developing tidal garden” of the Puget’s ecosystem.
The Seattle Great Wheel
Add an adventure in the air to your land and sea vacation at the west coast’s largest observation (Ferris) wheel. At 196 feet tall, the wheel also extends 40 feet out over Elliott Bay. During the day you have 360° unparalleled city and shoreline views. And, at night the lights sparkle for miles. During special occasions and holidays, the wheel has its own LED light show.
Visitors ride in enclosed gondolas, making this an all-weather, year-round fun destination. The ride lasts between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the season. But regardless of the length of time, you’ll have three full revolutions on the wheel. Eight people can ride in a cabin, and they are wheelchair accessible.
Pike Place Market
A visit to this port city would be incomplete without a stroll through “the soul of Seattle.” Located in the center of historic downtown, this public market is one of the oldest and largest in the country. For 115 years this has been the destination for locals and visitors alike.
Browse small business retail shops and craft markets; dine at restaurants and specialty eateries; purchase locally grown produce at the farmer’s market; and watch the famous fishmongers tossing the daily catch brought in from the sea. Make a donation to help others enjoy fresh foods and check the calendar for special events at this nine-acre market.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks)
Entertain your inner science and history nerd with a visit to this unusual location. Opened in 1917, the ship canal and locks are still in use today – making this a popular and unique experience. Start at the visitor center to see exhibits and a short video about this feat of engineering. Then, walk along the walls (and even across the gates when closed) for an up-close view of the maritime vessels passing by.
While there, enjoy the grounds of the botanical garden; view the locks from the grassy slopes; and, bring a picnic and a camera. All areas have free admission and the surrounding neighborhood is filled with shops and restaurants.
Angela is a professional freelance travel writer and published indie author – AngelaMinor.com