Travel Tales

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Seattle Skyline from Bainbridge Island

Travel Tales: Seattle

May 27, 2008
by Jen O'Neill
Seattle, Washington, is a fortress, protected by the serrated Olympic Mountains, the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range and snowcapped Mount Rainier. Some refer to it as the Emerald City; I refer to it as “a diamond in the rough.” I’ve been visiting Seattle since I was an infant, and at 9 years old, while running around in Union Square warding off pigeons and making my way through the crowds, it hit me—I was in love with a city.

The roads going to Seattle

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A history lesson

My dad is a self-proclaimed historian, and to this day he provides the same history seminar to his passengers on the drive to Seattle. The lesson always starts in the year 1792, with British captain George Vancouver, who was “the first explorer the Seattle region.”

He continues with a short account of the area’s first permanent settlers, who came from Illinois and who named the city to honor the leader of region’s Suquamish Indians, Chief Sealth. He goes on to describe the infamous fire that destroyed the whole downtown, twenty years after it was incorporated in 1889, and the Klondike Gold Rush that brought the city’s first economic boom. Seattle’s a relatively new city, and because of this, Seattleites appreciate the historical events that shaped their culture.

‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

Things to do, places to go

With so many options, it’s hard to decide what to do when in Seattle. And once you decide, there’s a great chance the weather will put a damper on your plans. The dark, low clouds are dramatic, and create an ever-present drizzle. I used to let the rain stop me from doing most outdoor activities, but a few years ago I discovered that some outdoor activities are best done in the rain.


Fans entering the airy and relaxed atmosphere of Safeco Field.

For instance, you can go out on a fishing boat. You don’t actually have to fish, but you get to wear the fishing armor while getting up-close and personal with the murky waters. A visit to Safeco Field is a way to stay dry, while lamenting the rain with thousands of others. Most recently, I’ve taken the easy way out by getting lost in Capitol Hill’s eclectic museums and coffee houses, or by taking the underground tour of the city.

Whatever floats your boat

“Off the beaten path” has only one meaning to me in the context of Seattle: taking advantage of its 190 miles of waterfront. Alki Point is on Seattle’s west side and affords sweeping views of the city’s skyline across Elliot Bay. Runners, swimmers, sunbathers, fishermen and those seeking solitude can be found here, rain or shine. On Westlake you can rent a kayak and float through the Washington Park Arboretum.

My sister and I would throw our two-person boat into the waters and contend with the big ships passing 80 yards away from us. Before heading out we were always provided with life jackets and a quick geometry lesson, with an emphasis on remaining perpendicular to the tide. After eating delicious clam chowder at the world famous Ivar’s Restaurant, we would drive onto a ferry and enjoy stunning 360-degree views for thirty minutes to and from Bainbridge Island.


Aggressive seagulls wait for their hourly French Fry Feeding on the Ivar's
Restaurant Deck.

A little bit fishy

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