My friend texted me recently asking for advice: “This is our last day in the Seattle area and we are heading to the gum wall. Is there anything else (free) right there in that area that you would recommend?”
Yes! My friend knew we had just been in the city. Here are my suggestions:
If you’re a tl;dr type of person:
- Stalls/shops in Pike’s Place – esp flying fish stall and Beecher’s Cheese
- Monorail to Seattle Center
- Walk around Space Needle/Chihuly/Museum of Pop Culture (super fun architecture!)
- Play at Artist’s at Play
- Maaaaybe stop at Pike’s Place Starbucks if that’s your thing
- Sunset at Waterfront Park
- Bonus: Ferry to Bainbridge Island for dinner at That’s A Some Pizza (Gorgonzola Veggie is YUM)
More deets for those who want to be in the know:
My friend knew that we had just been to the city and loved it. We stayed in a park on Bainbridge Island which is across the Puget Sound from the city, and the ferry to the city is free for walkers and <$10 per person for the return (current fares here and schedule here). Even if you don’t stay on Bainbridge, I highly recommend taking a ferry across to explore the cute town (and get up to Fay Bainbridge Park if you have time!).
Assuming you’re taking the ferry (skip this paragraph if not): Once you dock in Seattle, walk north down the piers on Alaskan Way. Stop at a candy store on the way to pick up a pack of gum if you don’t have one already. At the Seattle Aquarium, turn right and cross Alaskan Way. Follow the signs for the Pike Place steps and take them to the top! (Accessibility note: There are elevators available, but they are a bit of a pain to find.)
Once in Pike’s Place Market, check out the famous flying fish market, then head down to the Gum Wall in Post Alley. Try not to barf and add your own special piece from that pack you picked up on your way. Head back up to the main drag and check out the awesome stalls in the Market. You could spend a lot of time in Pike’s trying samples and talking to different vendors. Make sure to check out Beecher’s Cheeses and get an earful and eyeful on the cheesemaking process on Pike Place and Stewart.
From Pike’s, head east on Pine St. to the monorail station at Westlake Center at Pine and 5th. There’s two solid blocks of some great uphill action – your calves will be burning! Follow the signs up escalators and/or elevators for the monorail station (3rd floor, I believe). Take the monorail to the space needle. Price is $5 and under depending on age and status for a roundtrip ticket (current fares here). It’s a short ride (i.e. 2 minutes, literally), so you could walk the distance if you’d rather.
From the monorail station at Seattle Center, meander around the Space Needle and check out some of the Chihuly pieces outside the museum. Walk around the Museum of Pop Culture (architecture is bananas!) and then let your kids enjoy the FREE, amazing Artists at Play playground (seriously, just look at this image and read its origin story here!). If you take the monorail, you’ll get an arial view of this amazing artist-designed play space.
Head back to your ferry to Bainbridge and maybe stop for a quick Starbucks afternoon pick me up from the flagship store in Pike’s Place. I didn’t go in because I sort of figure that part of Starbucks’ gig is that their coffee is the same anywhere, eh? But, I just read the ceo’s book, Onward, so now I’m slightly curious about the original store that’s so close to the headquarters. Torn because he’s a self-proclaimed ceo and not a CEO, but he’s also a bagillionaire running one of the most successful brands and businesses in the world, so I guess he can abstain from silly grammer rules like capitalizing titles and other proper nouns and I should probably drink his coffee and enjoy the theater of its preparation whenever I can. I’m also morbidly curious to know if they lock their bathrooms like the Starbucks across the street from the National Zoo in Washington DC.
Take in the sunset from Waterfront Park or the ferry. If possible, make it to Bainbridge Island for dinner at That’s A Some Pizza. The Gorgonzola Vegetarian really was outstanding – that crust! You might consider calling ahead or ordering online before you get on the ferry – we ended up driving to their inland location on Coppertop Loop because their Winslow Way location was closed when we got back to Bainbridge and it was going to take an hour and a half for their delivery service to make it to us!
Now Take Off!