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This downtown location is the hub for all of the Seattle Public Library branches, and it circulates more than a million books annually. It has a large computer area and a 200-seat auditorium where literary programs, workshops and events for kids are held (all free of charge). Other services include an area to assist deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing patrons, a genealogy desk for those researching family history, and a writer's room to encourage new writers.
Located on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the Sky View Observatory provides unobstructed views of Mount Rainier, the city, Elliot Bay, the Space Needle, Olympic Mountains, Bellevue and more. Popular among tourists and locals alike, this landmark is the tallest public observatory, reaching nearly 1,000 feet (304 meters), west of the Mississippi. Visitors pay a small fee to ride the elevator up and experience the breath-taking view. Come in the evenings to take advantage of the spectacular sunset, but be sure to visit before 7:45p when the last tickets are sold for the night.
Elegance is the word that comes to your mind as you come across this art deco heritage in downtown Seattle. This 27-story tall historic structure was built in the 1920s by the Northern Life Insurance Company, which also housed its offices on the top floors. Tallest in the city at that time, the building glittered with a fantastic display of aura created by the colorful flashlights. Although, today it lies in the shadows of taller and modern skyscrapers, the structure stands out as being one of the first of the art deco structures in Seattle.
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.
One of Seattle's most famous landmarks, Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously working public market in the United States and one of the world's top 50 most visited attractions. Pike Place opened in 1907 as the city's first public market, expanding to keep up with its growing popularity as a convenient option for both shoppers and merchants. The market remains a veritable cornucopia of culinary and artisanal options, its crowded aisles and bustling halls thronged with customers jostled between vendors of fresh produce and gourmet eats, alongside fishmongers and craftsmen. The street level is dominated by the food and produce stalls, while the lower levels house a fantastic variety of shops including antique dealers, head shops, florists, and local artisans. A whirlwind of sights, sounds and aromas, Pike Place Market is nothing short of paradise for foodies and connoisseurs of unique wares.
Want the best view of Seattle's colorful and glittering skyline? Then take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, which is situated on the pier off Alaskan Way. The 15-minute ride inside its climate-controlled gondolas will take you to a maximum height of 175 feet (53 meters), where you can capture splendid views of downtown and the picture perfect moments with your family on a camera. Each gondola has a maximum capacity for eight people, and the wheel is open for tourists 365 days of the year. Considered to be one of the tallest ferries wheels on the West Coast, the Seattle Great Wheel makes for a perfect family joy ride.
Nestled amidst numerous attractions and landmarks like Space Needle, Seattle Center, IMAX Theater and Chihuly Gardens, the International Fountain never fails to capture the attention of the visitors. Join in the fun with kids and beat the summer heat by playing in the water. Else, you can sit on the rim and watch as the spacecraft-like art installation at the center throws out water at jet speed. The fountain is bound to bring out the kid in you.
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, and was designed with cutting-edge know how by award-winning engineer John K. Minasian, known for his work at Cape Canaveral, home of the U.S. Space Program. From the top, the Space Needle provides 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the Cascade and Olympic mountains. Besides the Skydeck restaurant, the Space Needle also features a gift shop and observation deck.
The Olympic Sculpture Park began as a commitment between the Seattle Art Museum and the Trust for Public Land, and quickly grew into a green mecca of architectural art and beautifully crafted landscapes. The park contains mathematical sculptures, new-wave basket weaving and the artistic greenhouse designed by the likes of artists Tony Smith, Pedro Reyes and Mark Dion. The Olympic Sculpture Park is nestled besides the Puget Sound and is managed by the Seattle Art Museum. The views include both the Seattle port and the Olympic mountain range. Admission is free all year long.
Bill Gates, known for Microsoft as well as their many philanthropic endeavors, hails from the Emerald City and in fact, Microsoft Headquarters is located in nearby Redmond. Founded in 2000, Bill and Melinda's foundation strives to enhance education, healthcare and alleviate poverty, in the United States as well as abroad. The visitors center located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, aims to educate guests on the many programs, activities and initiatives the foundation takes part in. Learn about the Gates family, employees and the many people who benefit from the foundation. The center features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to think critically on world issues and try to come up with their own solutions. Admission is free and tours are available upon request.
The Seattle Center Monorail is the first full scale commercial monorail in the United States. Like the Space Needle, this train is a remnant of the 1962 World's Fair. Riding above ground, it takes passengers on a two-minute ride between two terminals: Westlake Center downtown and Seattle Center. Although short, the trip has nice views of Elliott Bay, downtown and the Capitol Hill area.
Built for the 1962 World's Fair, then turned into a privately owned city park, the Seattle Center is still Seattle's chief gathering place. Fountains, museums, theaters and amusement arcades punctuate sweeping lawns and tree-lined walkways. Three times a year, in May, July and September, people swarm the grounds for the Folklife, Bite of Seattle and Bumbershoot festivals. The grounds contain the Experience Music Project, the Space Needle, one end of the Monorail, the Seattle Children's Theater and the Pacific Science Center. All 87-acres of the Seattle Center is buzzing with activity and why not? More than 5,000 free performances are held in various cultural festivals to concerts all through the year especially summer. Every museum and theatre stage comes alive including the eight fountains. So be a part of the food, fun and partying!