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When it was built in 1914, this 42-story downtown tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. In 1962, the 605-foot Space Needle outreached it, and for many years afterwards, the Seattle skyline was bracketed by these two spires. Today Smith Tower, with its many windows and ornate pyramid top, is still a beloved Seattle edifice. Anybody can waltz in to take an old-fashioned ride in one of the eight brass-caged, manually operated elevators. The 35th floor observation deck has lovely views.
The Seattle Art Museum is internationally recognized for its excellent collection of Asian, African and Native American art and for its fine collection of modern art produced by Pacific Northwest artists. The permanent collection includes 21,000 pieces and while it doesn't have huge collections of European art, it does have plentiful local art and wonderful visiting exhibits. The museum is centrally located downtown near the waterfront and Pike Place Market.
One of Seattle's most famous landmarks, Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously working public market in the country. Pike Place opened in 1907 as the city's first public market, and quickly expanded due to its popularity and convenience for both shoppers and merchants. Today people can still shop for fresh vegetables and fruits here, or stop by Pike Place Fish to see the famous fish throwing show. The market has numerous shops from a health food and herb store to craft stores, flower stands and artisanal food stands.
Seattle's most famous landmark, the Space Needle's futuristic design rises over 600 feet (182.88 meters) tall. The tower was originally built for the 1962 World Expo in Seattle, when the chairman of the fair decided to construct a tower with a revolving restaurant for the event, which still exists today. From the top, the Space Needle provides 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the Cascade and Olympia mountains. Besides the restaurant, the Space Needle also features a gift shop and observation deck.
The Museum of Pop Culture is one of the most interesting stops in Seattle. Located at the Seattle Center, this museum takes you through music history by immersing you in nearly 80,000 artifacts including photos, sound archives, costumes and musical instruments from notable artists. Most exhibits are interactive, allowing visitors to literally play with them. Also here is the Science Fiction Museum & Hall, which honors the greatest minds in the genre.
Visitors to Seattle are usually stunned by the abundance of water surrounding the city. Just north of downtown lies Lake Union. Surrounded by houseboat communities, marinas, shipbuilders and glitzy restaurants, the lake is a hub of activity. Seaplanes take off and land, sharing the 600-acre lake with kayaks, canoes, powerboats, sailboats and tugboats. While the lake can be explored any time of year, Fireworks Over Lake Union are an annual highlight, bringing thousands of people to the lake's shores. For a day out with children or friends, Lake Union never disappoints.
Sitting on Capitol Hill with Volunteer Park's large grassy knoll at its entrance and a neighborhood known for its unique culture surrounding it, the Asian Art Museum is not to be missed. Have lunch in the park overlooking downtown Seattle, and then wander into the museum to be immediately engulfed in some of the world's most precious Asian art. Browse through over 23,000 objects that include African, Asian, European, Oceanic, Aboriginal, among other international art. From one of the top five US Japanese & Korean Art collections to ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, visitors are able to absorb prominent multi-cultural art. Call ahead for visiting hours.
Fremont, which up until 1891 used to be a city in itself, is now a neighborhood of Seattle bordered by others like Queen Anne and Ballard. The statue of Lenin and the Fremont Troll are two of the main attractions of this area, and there is lots more to see and do as well. If you're in the mood to shop, you would definitely like to check out the many, varied stores in the area. The Sunday street market is another highlight of the area.
Located right on the University of Washington campus, Burke Museum is a natural history museum. Exhibits are separated into three main divisions of anthropology, geology and zoology, and focus on the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest. View totem poles, fossils, including the Northwest's only dinosaur skeleton, and many wonders of taxidermy. View displays of Native American art, gems and minerals native to the area.
Woodland Park Zoo is an award-winning zoo and a must to visit. Only minutes from busy downtown, the zoo let's you step into an African savannah, an Asian elephant habitat and a tropical rain forest. The zoo also brings special exhibits, which have included monitor dragons, butterflies and other bugs and beasts. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the green lawns of Woodland Park, which surrounds the zoo. You also won't want to miss the nearby Rose Garden.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, locally known as the Ballard Locks, is a unique and historic location in Seattle. Completed in 1917, this landmark connects the waters of Lake Washington, Lake Union and the Puget Sound. Watching the boats navigate the locks is interesting enough, but the location also hosts an unusual fish ladder that connects salt and fresh water for the local migrating Pacific Salmon. The grounds feature a visitors center as well as the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens.
Explore the history of flight from the Wright Brothers to space travel. Collections at Museum of Flight include commercial, military and civilian crafts. See a 1929 Boeing 80A-1, the sole survivor of its type. The 1926 Swallow was used as the nation's first contracted airmail service starting in April 1926. For those interested in more modern aircraft, there are the dynamic M-21 Blackbird, the fastest and highest-flying aircraft ever built, and the VC-137B Air Force One, which flew President Dwight D. Eisenhower on a historic visit to meet with Germany's Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1959. Take a walk through the “Red Barn,” a museum in its own right, where the Boeing Company manufactured its first aircraft. There is also a library with an extensive selection of aviation information, as well as a museum store and a cafe on the premises.