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.
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.
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.
Located in Downtown Seattle, Benaroya Hall is a large 189,750 square foot (17,628 square meters) performing arts complex that takes up an entire city block. Located inside are the two performance halls, the Taper Auditorium and the Nordstrom Recital Hall, which each feature state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology. This giant complex provides ample public space and entertainment throughout the year through its various events such as lectures, musicals, festivals and more. A true highlight is the concerts put on by the Seattle Symphony, which call Benaroya Hall, home. For more information regarding venue rentals or upcoming events, visit the website.
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.
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.
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.
Set inside the Seattle Public Library, Microsoft Auditorium is the main space within the book repository for a wide variety if events. Besides meetings, it is also used for plays, recitals and concerts regularly. It is also the largest venue within the library to host any event.
One of the most elite private clubs in the city, The Rainier Club is also one of the oldest. Named for Peter Rainier, a British admiral, the club faced a number of relocations before settling down at its present location, a Jacobean-style building completed in 1904. Today, the club includes a restaurant, event spaces, guest suites, health club and more.
Surrounded by the likes of the 76-story Columbia Tower, the classical dome of this church can seem lost in the cityscape. But the church remains a lovely, calm setting for concerts and literary events throughout the week. Take note of the beautiful stained glass windows that adorn the walls here.
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 west of the Mississippi, reaching nearly 1,000 feet (304 meters) . Visitors pay a small fee to ride the elevator up and experience the breath-taking view. Visit in the evenings to take advantage of the spectacular sunset, but be sure to get there an hour before closing when the last tickets are sold for the night.