Seattle Area Secrets

Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite things to see and do in the Seattle area. I guess they aren't really secrets anymore, since I published them for the world to see.

Ivar's Salmon House

I truly love the Salmon House. I take all my out-of-town guests there, and so far they have all been really happy about going there. (But if you are a vegetarian, you should probably skip this one.)

The restaurant is built in the shape of a Pacific Northwest Indian "longhouse". The interior is decorated with Indian art, photos of Indians, and authentic antique Indian canoes of various sorts hanging from the rafters. The seats close to the windows have an excellent view of Lake Union.

The salmon and other seafood is cooked over wood from the Alder tree. Alderwood smoke gives the fish a delicious flavor. I never liked salmon until I tried it at the Salmon House. The white clam chowder is the best I've ever had; don't miss it.

If you go, be sure to walk over to the glass window that lets you watch the chefs cooking in the kitchen.

On Sundays they have a totally excellent Sunday Brunch. For about $20 per person, it is all you can eat, and there is a lot to eat. A vast selection of this and that, kept warm on steam tables; assorted fruits, crackers and cheese, and other munchables; omelettes made to your order; crepes made to your order; and about a dozen different delicious desserts. Mmmmmmm.

Snoqualmie Falls

Beautiful waterfall. If you have ever watched an episode of Twin Peaks, you have seen this waterfall in the opening credits (and the hotel, the Salish Lodge, as well).

There is also a short hike you can do, about two miles, down to the edge of the river. Be warned: if you do the hike, you have to do it a second time, uphill, when you want to leave!

Kerry Park: the Seattle lookout point

If you watch a TV news show in Seattle, you will inevitably see stock footage videotaped from Kerry Park. Or perhaps live footage! Several of the times I have gone here, there has been a TV news truck set up with a camera pointed out over the city.

From here, you can look out over the heart of Seattle. The Key Arena, where the Seattle Supersonics play basketball, is clearly visible. You can watch ferries come and go, loaded with cars. It is equally fun day or night, but it can be a bit chilly at night.

Sleeping Lady Resort

When you need a place to stay while visiting Leavenworth, stay here! The surroundings are beautiful. The rooms are furnished in an environmentally-harmonious way: unbleached cotton sheets and towels, reclaimed wood furniture, smooth wood floor. The bathrooms all have towel warmers; very nice! You can volunteer to not have your sheets and towels changed every single day. (Makes sense to me -- I don't change my sheets and towels every day at home.) All of the above will not only make you feel environmentally correct, but also are good if you have allergies.

Some of the rooms have "loft" areas, where you climb a ladder to get into the loft, and there is a double bed there. This appeals to the eight-year-old child inside me.

Meals are delicious and mostly good for you. Some of the food is grown right there in an organic garden. The desserts were delicious (and not all that good for you!). There is a hot soak pool, a swimming pool, and a sauna; massage is available if you make an appointment.

Now for the bad news -- Sleeping Lady is mostly set up for conferences, retreats, and the like. They do rent single rooms, but most of the time they will only allow a reservation 30 days in advance, or less. If you think you might want to stay at Sleeping Lady, be sure to call their reservations line and find out whether you can make a reservation when you want!

We discovered Sleeping Lady when we went to the Sleeping Lady Tandem Rally . It's a lot of fun. If you have a tandem bike, or even a single bike, maybe we will see you there!

Wolf Haven

If you think wolves are intriguing creatures, don't miss this. Especially fun are the "howl-ins" on summer evenings.

Cougar Mountain Zoo

This zoo is a rather small one, but it is interesting because it concentrates on endangered animals. In particular, it has a special area for cougars. It turns out that if a cougar loses its natural fear of humans, that cougar must either be killed or put in a zoo. The special cougar area was specifically intended to provide space for cougars so they would not have to be killed.

FarFar's Danish Ice Cream

Alas, FarFar's is gone. If it ever somehow comes back, I'll put it back here again. They used to sell really delicious ice cream. Oh, well.

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle

When I first moved to the Seattle area, I didn't like this zoo very much. It was an old zoo, built as a sort of a prison for animals. However, it has been renovated, and the animals now live in much better surroundings than they used to.

My favorite part of this zoo is the Raptor center. (That's birds of prey, not vicious dinosaurs.)

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

An all-around excellent zoo and aquarium. My favorite parts are the polar bears, the beluga whales, and the puffins.

NorthWest Trek

It is a long, long drive from my house to NorthWest Trek. But nonetheless, I keep going there. It's just too darn cool to miss! There is a large, open area full of animals native to the NorthWest; you ride in a tour bus to see them. On a really blazingly hot day, the animals might all be asleep; an overcast day, even a day with light sprinkles of rain, is the perfect sort of day to see the animals.

In addition to the open area, there are zoo enclosures with animals in them. You can see many animals that you don't often find in zoos, such as wolves, fishers, martens, a wolverine, and beavers.

REI Main Store

The REI store in Seattle is amazing. It's a store where you can try things out. There is a small pool where you can try out various water filters. There is a (very short) hiking trail where you can try out hiking boots. There is a ventilated range hood, under which you can try out camp cooking stoves. There is even a mountain bike trail wrapped around the store. The most famous, however, is the room for trying out rain gear -- a store employee can turn on water sprinklers to make it "rain" on you! (That one seems to be out of order most of the time, however.)

If all this were not enough, the store has excellent ambiance. The outside has a waterfall and various plants growing as if wild. Stairs and such are made from recycled logs and other reclaimed wood. And there is an extremely tall indoors climbing rock; I don't know if it is still the world's tallest indoor free-standing climbing rock, but it was when the store first opened. The store is also famous for its architecture.

Even if you have no immediate plans to buy any outdoors gear, it's fun to play tourist inside this place. There is plenty of free parking in an underground garage under the store, and you can eat a healthy lunch in the World Wrapps lunch counter inside the store. Many evenings there are free lectures in the big meeting room on the second floor; call the store or check the REI web page (click on "Store Clinics/Events") to find out what might be up when you are in town.

Pacific Science Center

I really love this place. They have a new, really large and amazing IMAX theater. They have various science-related exhibits. They are conveniently located in the Seattle Center; if you don't find the food you want at the Fountains Cafe within the Science Center, just walk over to the Center House a short distance away.

Fremont Troll

Fremont is the bohemian neighborhood in Seattle. It reminds me of Santa Cruz, where I went to college. One of the best features in Fremont is the Troll under the bridge. Just go there, and bring your camera. (By the way, the Troll is very close to Ivar's Salmon House and Archie McPhee.)

Archie McPhee

If you want to buy boxing nun puppets, windup walking Godzilla toys, lava lamps, and similar necessities, Archie McPhee is the place. Look for the giant lizard head bursting from the side of the building!

Tillicum Village

A boat takes you to Blake Island. There, you see an Indian dance, and eat a lunch of alder-smoked salmon. The first time I went to Tillicum Village, I totally enjoyed everything and I thought the Indian dance was excellent. The second time, I was underwhelmed by the Indian dance; I suspect it might be hard to keep top dancing talent 100% of the time on a small island. So, I make no promises about the quality of the dancing. If you want to try this, I suggest you go during the peak tourist season; perhaps the best dancers are working then.

If you just want the salmon lunch, go to Ivar's Salmon House!

Seattle Underground Tour

Okay, it's sort of a tourist-trap, but I still enjoy it. This tour starts out with a lecture on the history of Seattle, where your guide explains why the Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle has an abandoned underground level. (This historical lecture has a surprising amount of material about politics, corruption, and toilet history, and it's all relevant!) Once the lecture is done, the guide will lead you through a tour of the underground level. I think you will find it worth your time.

Museum of Flight

If you are even a little bit interested in airplanes or space exploration, you will spend hours enjoying this museum. All sorts of airplanes are on display, including a Blackbird, the fastest plane in the world. The original Air Force One is on display, and you can actually walk through it! (You aren't allowed to sit in the President's chair, alas.)

Are you curious about something I didn't mention? You might try looking here.

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