Our flight from Tucson touched down right around noon on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon in Seattle. As we stepped off the plane, each of us took a deep breath of the fresh Pacific Northwest air. Comparing it to the dusty desert we’re used to, Torri quite accurately pointed out that it smelled like live things. Truly, it did. There were hints of pine and ocean and earth in that air. It was lovely.
The car service delivered us promptly to our hotel, The Marqueen, located in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. We chose that hotel for its spacious accommodations–room enough for all six of us. In addition to the two queen-size beds, there was a little nook with a twin-size sleeper chair as well as a small table and additional seating. Our room also featured a small kitchen with a full refrigerator, sink, and table. Another perk was that The Marqueen is located within very convenient walking distance of the Seattle center, a sprawling area that includes the Pacific Science Center, Space needle, a monorail station, and the EMP museum, among other attractions and venues.
One of the Marqueen’s selling points is that it is an old building that exudes charm and character. And while that is certainly the case, I probably wouldn’t opt to stay there again. While the lobby was charming (in a Hollywood Tower of Terror kind of way), the rooms lacked the creature comforts I look for in a hotel. The shower barely trickled water, the thermostat was fickle and there were definitely some serious mildew issues on the windows in the room. Those things, combined with the creaky wooden floors, equated to a less than desirable stay.
Pacific Science Center
The Pacific Science Center houses hundreds of permanent exhibits in three buildings, plus a courtyard area that features water-based sculptures and attractions. In researching prior to our visit, I suspected Jayce’s favorite exhibit might be the dinosaurs, but I was wrong. He definitely favored the tropical butterfly house, a walk-through area where guests can get up close and personal with hundreds of exotic butterflies.
Cassidy was enamored with the animal exhibits. She was curious about the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (though not curious enough to hold it), and amused by watching the colony of East-African naked mole rats trying to find their way through hamster-like tunnels. Mostly, though, she was captivated by the giant snakes. I guess it’s the desert in her.
Even our teenagers found plenty to do at the Pacific Science Center. Torri spent a lot of time at the Puget Sound Model and Saltwater Tide Pool while Kennedy preferred the interactive exhibits in the Body Works area. She and Torri compared their respective results from the reaction times test and calorie bicycles. I would report back with the winner, but I find it advisable to stay out of sibling rivalry ;)
Toward the end of our day at the Pacific Science Center, Kennedy and I visited the King Tut exhibition (open now through January 6th, 2013). Featuring more than 100 objects from King Tut’s tomb, the exhibition allows guests the opportunity to step into ancient Egyptian history and view jewelry, furniture and artifacts dating back thousands of years. Perhaps most impressive to me was the 10-foot statue of the pharaoh; it was impossible not to marvel at it’s opulence.
In all, our day spent at the Pacific Science Center was fun and informative; I would definitely recommend it as a worthy attraction for families to visit while in Seattle.
For our foodie family, dining is always a big part of our vacations. As you might imagine then, we looked forward to eating our way around the city of Seattle. Our first meal there was dinner at a local favorite, the 5 Spot. Located atop a very steep hill (which we regrettably walked) in the Queen Anne neighborhood, the 5 Spot offers a menu chock-full of comfort food favorites from across the country. They also feature a rotating menu that highlights regional cuisine. During our visit, Key West was featured. Menu specials included shrimp fitters, jerk chicken and key lime pie. While most of the food was good, I definitely think it was overpriced. I’m glad we visited this local hot spot once, but I would not return simply because I don’t think the experience measured up to the hefty menu prices.
On our first full morning in Seattle, we trekked over to Tom Douglas’ legendary Lola–famous for the house-made donuts that were featured as one Giada’s favorites on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate show. Unfortunately, we failed to make reservations and were quite rudely informed that it would be an hour before our party of six could be seated and that we’d fare better across the street at the Dahlia Lounge (also a Tom Douglas restaurant). Despite my rebellious streak, I responded politely to the rude hostess and we eventually did visit the Dahlia Lounge instead. Luckily, they, too, feature the house-made donuts and a very impressive offering of tasty brunch items. Two orders of the donuts were promptly devoured by the six of us. My mouth waters just thinking about the creamy whipped Mascarpone and rhubarb jam they were served with. I ordered a dish called “Scramble” which was a combination of eggs and fresh dill, asparagus and goat cheese. Served with Parmesan potatoes and a soft buttermilk biscuit, it was heavenly. And that’s not the mimosa talking. The total (including tip) for six of us was steep at $123, but unlike our meal at the 5 Spot, this brunch was worth the price tag.
Our last dining experience in Seattle was dinner at Duke’s Chowder House in Lake Union. The cozy little restaurant was situated on a beautiful bay; the patio would be a perfect place to enjoy drinks and appetizers on a nice day. Both Jeff and I opted for halibut and chips ($19) and neither of us were sorry for having done so. The fish was perfectly fried, flaky and flavorful. The potatoes were soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and seasoned just right. Oh, and the Asian coleslaw it was served with? So good! The food was delicious, as was my orange mojito. The total for six of us was definitely more than what we’re used to paying when we dine out in Tucson, but again, we didn’t regret having spent so much on a fabulous meal and experience at Duke’s.
Pike Place Market – We wandered the market for about an hour, stopping along the way to admire handmade wares and sample artisan foods. The fishmongers were entertaining, if maybe a little too pushy when it came to tipping. The aisles of the market were more crowded than I would have liked, preventing us from really lingering long. All that said, if you go to Seattle, you absolutely must stop in at the market and take in the sights, scents, and tastes.
The 1st Starbucks – Located just across the street from the market, the original Starbucks store is also a must do for fans of the chain. It’s a tiny place; we were told the line always winds out the door and down the way. The baristas, though, are among the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. There is an entire wall of souvenir items exclusive to the original store (your mug is in the mail, Mom). During our visit, there was also great live music just outside the entrance. The musicians turned over from one to another shift during our extensive wait in line. I suspect they are a consistent presence outside of the store.
Klondike Gold Rush Museum – Getting over to Pioneer Square to visit this museum was easy peasy. Seattle’s public transportation system operates a ride-free zone, where visitors can hop on and off the bus (within certain parameters) for free. I’m so glad we took the time to visit the gold rush museum. It is very well done. The exhibits were cleverly designed so as to offer visual appeal while still offering interesting tidbits about the gold rush, and Seattle’s role in it. There was also a film that Jeff and I found to be very informative, though the kids fell asleep. If you go, be sure to fully complete the junior ranger booklet as you make your way through the museum; it adds to the experience for the kiddos. (Admission is free as is the junior ranger program).
As you can see, Seattle offered our family fun-filled days, tasty dishes and opportunities for hands-on learning. In my book, Seattle is a fabulous choice for traveling families looking to add some urban flair to their vacations while still preserving a small town feel.
**Special thanks to the Pacific Science Center for granting our family complimentary admission for review purposes.**