Tom Archer's Blog

Windows and Web developer with Social Media tendencies

20 Great Places to Visit and Enjoy While in Seattle – Part 4 of 5 (Tours)

Part 3 (Museums) Part 5 (Shopping)

Last time, I talked about some of the unique museums to visit while in the Seattle/Bellevue area. Today, I’ll cover a few of the shouldn’t-miss tours that will make your visit to the Emerald city a memorable and educational one.

Tours

 

Argosy Cruise (http://www.argosycruises.com/publiccruises/) – Don’t be put off by the term “cruise” as the Argosy Cruise takes only about 2 hours. However, during that time, you’ll see the city of Seattle from arguably the most natural and beautiful vantage point: the water. There are four daily tours that run year-round from the Seattle, Lake Union and Kirkland City Docks. All have live narration, wonderful views and feature some of Seattle’s most famous places. When my kids came to visit last summer, we purchased the City Pass, which includes the Argosy Cruise. The City Pass is a discounted package that allows you to see 5 of Seattle’s most famous attractions – all of which I’ve described a bit in this series. After seeing all 5 sites, the kids were adamant that the Argosy Cruise was by far their most favorite. Not only does the cruise include tons of great education regarding the area, its history and dissertations on topics such as how the cargo ships function, but there’s also great stories such as why a certain hotel that extended over the water had to be temporarily shut down. I won’t ruin that story for you, but will highly recommend taking a couple of hours to enjoy this relaxing cruise.

 

Boeing Tour (http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices/aboutus/tours/) –Like many, Michael Crichton’s novel Airframe piqued in me a much greater interest regarding the world of aircraft mechanics than I would have ever thought possible. As a result, my first journey upon landing in Seattle almost three years ago was to visit the world-famous Boeing Tour – located in Everett (about 25 miles north of Seattle).

 

The tour begins with a couple of short films. The first is a moving picture collection of aircraft built by Boeing. The second film is an accelerated-photographic sequence showing the construction of a Boeing 747 from beginning to end. After the films, your group is led to the factory entrance, where you will walk to the observation level above the factory floor. An interesting factoid is that this edifice is the largest building in the world by volume (472,000,000 cubic feet). Once inside the factory, you’ll see the airframes in various stages of manufacture as they are custom-built for airlines around the world.

 

Special Notes: This is a popular destination for many so I would suggest making reservations at least 24 hours in advance. While you can sometimes purchase walk-up tickets – especially before summer – I would suggest calling their ticket office (425-342-8500) to see if they have walk-up tickets available.

 

Another word of caution is that the Boeing Tour Center does not accept credit cards. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that you take enough cash on hand to pay for the tickets as well as any memorabilia you wish to purchase from the gift shop.

 

Pioneer Square Audio Tour (http://www.goseattlecard.com/attractions/Pioneer-Square-Audio-Tour.html) The Pioneer Square Audio Tour is a rather unique journey through Pioneer Square where you simply pay a small fee and in return they lend you an IPod Shuffle (you’ll need to give them your identification as collateral) that is used to self-guide you through the area! The voices on the Shuffle are from tour guides who will enthrall you with fascinating stories about Seattle’s wild-west history as you walk through a rich tapestry of diverse locally owned, mom-and-pop stores, antique malls, art galleries and more.

 

Whether or not you rent the audio, I would suggest visiting Pioneer Square as the area comes alive at night with dancing, live music, and great food. In fact, there are so many bars in this area that locals refer to it as the “bar district”. There’s definitely much fun to be had here! During the day, the area’s shopping offers opportunities to purchase items such as difficult-to-locate classic books and antiques.  Finally, you will want to check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park – a museum that tells the story of the gold rush days of the Yukon miners. 

 

Special Notes: This tour is available in both English and Japanese!

 

Qwest Tour (http://www.qwestfield.com/venue/publicTours.aspx) – The Qwest Field tour is a definite must-see for the football or soccer fan. The tour – lasting a little over an hour – enables you to see Qwest Field (the home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, and men’s and women’s Seattle Sounders soccer teams) in ways that most of us would never otherwise be able to enjoy. This includes visiting the press box, lounging in a luxury suite, journeying downstairs into the visitor’s locker room and walking onto Qwest Field. Note that still photography is allowed.

 

Safeco Field Tour (http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com/sea/ballpark/safeco_field_tours.jsp) – For the baseball fans visiting Seattle, the Safeco Field Tour enables you to visit the home of the Seattle Mariners – Safeco Field. As with the Qwest Field Tour, you will be able to visit the press box, luxury suites, and visitor’s clubhouse. In addition, you can sit in the actual team dugout to get the view of the field normally only afforded major league baseball players.

 

Seattle Underground Tour (http://www.undergroundtour.com/) – One of the most educational tours regarding Seattle’s storied history is the Underground Tour. The Underground is actually a network of subterranean passageways and basements in downtown Seattle that was originally ground level in the mid-1800s. However, after a devastating fire – known as the Great Seattle Fire – destroyed 33 city blocks, the city made two critical decisions that came to define the area. First, they mandated that all new buildings use stone or brick in order to help ensure against similar disasters in the future. Second, they decided to re-grade the streets one-to-two stories higher than the original street grade. This meant that part of the city was literally underground and only accessible by using strategically placed ladders! For many reasons that are explained on the tour, the underground spaces eventually fell into disuse and became dilapidated. In 1965, the first Seattle Underground Tour was started. Actually, it was then called “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour” after the man who came up with the idea of profiting from this unused, long-ago abandoned space. I won’t tell you any more than that as the tour guide has lots of great and very humorous stories regarding the area, people, and decisions of the time!

What’s Next?

In this post, I’ve detailed 5 great tours to enjoy while in Seattle that will educate you on the Emerald City’s history, one of its most famous neighborhoods, and two of the newest and most high-tech ballparks in the country. We’re now only a couple of days from Summit so the next – and last installment – to this series will cover some great places to shop while in Seattle!

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April 15, 2008 - Posted by | Microsoft MVP Program

3 Comments »

  1. Very nice suggestions.

    Comment by Seattle, WA | February 10, 2009 | Reply


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