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Getting Around Seattle
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Getting Around Seattle
  Seattle Travel Tip

Information courtesy of Seattle News Bureau

THE SEATTLE BUZZ: Sightseeing for the traveler in a hurry

seattle_skyline_needle_pr.jpg Seattleites work hard and play hard and the city is designed to accommodate both. Whether you've got a few days or just a few hours to kill, Seattle's compact downtown and handy transportation options make Seattle accessible to the traveler in a hurry.

For the business traveler, shopper or tourist on a quick trip or a layover between flights, in Seattle, there is time. So, grab a latte and prepare to buzz through some of the city's best sights and scenes

The Monorail One of the easiest short excursions is aboard the Monorail to the Seattle Center. Board the train downtown at Westlake Center at 5th and Pine. Trains run every 15 minutes and will whisk you to the Center in 90 seconds.

The Space Needle is the Center's most prominent landmark, built for the 1962 World's Fair. You can take an elevator for a breathtaking ride to the observation deck near the 600-foot level for sweeping 360-degree views of the city, Cascades and the Olympics.

While you're at the Seattle Center, you certainly can't miss Experience Music Project, the one-of-a-kind interactive music museum which celebrates creativity and innovation in rock n' roll and other forms of American music. View pages from Jim Hendrix' personal journal, learn to play the keyboards or sing your heart out in one of the sound stages.

At the Pacific Science Center watch an IMAX film at one of two IMAX theaters on-sight, try the hands-on science and mathematics displays, visit the tropical butterfly house and insect village or see a laser-light concert in the Laserium. For a true taste of history, visit the West Coast's debut of "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit" between March 3 and September 3, 2001. The exhibit poignantly showcases the world's largest collection of Titanic artifacts.

Downtown Seattle on Foot

Downtown Seattle is pedestrian-scale and most attractions are within a few blocks' walk of major hotels. You can visit the Pike Place Market, the waterfront or Pioneer Square in as little as 30 minutes. To complete a loop that includes all three, allow about three hours.

From your hotel, head west (toward the water) to Pike Place Market. The Market is a rarity in American cities, one of a handful of authentic farmers' markets where vendors hawk their fruits, vegetables, fish and meats from stalls. It's a cacophony of sound with vendors urging you to try their goods and calling to each other in several different languages. The aroma of roasting coffee, fresh fish, cheese, sausages, fresh-baked bread, spices and a dozen other foods waft through the market.

Stairs descend to the waterfront along Alaskan Way. Walk south and you'll pass marine equipment stores, import shops, old piers, restaurants, seafood bars and fine views of Elliott Bay. Or, you can ride the city's vintage Australian trolleys from one end of the waterfront to the other. Waterfront Park is a good place to watch harbor traffic. Next door, Seattle's Aquarium has some outstanding displays of marine life and an underwater viewing dome beneath the bay.

The city keeps its two fireboats, Alki and Chief Sealth, at Pier 53. If it's practice day, you may see them shooting tall streams of water out on Elliott Bay. Tour boats depart from Pier 56 for excursions of the harbor, the ship canal and Lake Union. The Washington State Ferries dock at Pier 52. There's an observation balcony for viewing. If you have time, you can go aboard as a pedestrian and make a round-trip cruise to Bainbridge Island (about one hour) or to Bremerton (about two hours).

Head away from the water to Pioneer Square, oldest part of the city, now restored. Pioneer Square itself, with its handsome old iron pergola at First Avenue and Yesler Way, is the heart of the area. To the south, several blocks of ornate buildings contain restaurants, bookstores, boutiques and art galleries. The Klondike Gold Rush National Park is located at 117 South Main. It features gold rush exhibits and vintage films of the era.

At Second and University you'll find the Robert Venturi-designed Seattle Art Museum featuring noteworthy exhibits of African and Native American art, Renaissance and Impressionist paintings, ancient Greek coins and pottery, and the works of Pacific Northwest regional painters and sculptors. For the return trip, simply board any Metro bus; they're all free in the downtown area. Buses running through the transit tunnel will carry you from the International District to Westlake Center in 10 minutes or less.

A half day or more:

With as little as a half-day to spend, you can visit any or all of the following: the ship canal locks and fish ladder, the zoo, the University of Washington, the Museum of History and Industry and the Arboretum. They're all located north from downtown and can be reached by car, taxi or city bus.

A constant parade of pleasure boats, tugs towing log rafts and work boats "lock through" the Hiram M. Chittenden locks from the fresh water of Salmon Bay to the salt water of Puget Sound, six to 26 feet below. On the south side of the locks, underwater viewing windows bring you nose-to- nose with migrating salmon and steelhead. From Fourth and Union, downtown, the #17 bus takes you to the locks.

The Woodland Park Zoo features the new open environment concept with animals in their natural setting and a minimum of fences and barriers. The zoo has at least 50 endangered species, a nocturnal house, an African savannah exhibit and the largest group of lion-tailed macaques in the world. The 4.6 acre Elephant Forest became the zoo's center of activity when a 235 pound female Asian elephant was born November 3, 2000, the first in Woodland Park Zoo's 100 year history. You can reach the zoo from Third and Pine, aboard the #5 bus.

The big University of Washington campus sprawls over the northeastern part of the city. With acres of gardens, fountains and views of Mt. Rainier, it features the Thomas Burke Memorial Museum with its outstanding Northwest Indian collections and the Henry Art Gallery. Just beyond the southeast corner of the University, you'll find the Museum of History and Industry. Displays include vintage aircraft, fire engines, a cable car, reconstructed historic rooms, natural history exhibits and a sizable marine collection. The city's first public gardens are located at the Arboretum, a short walk to the south. In the spring, rhododendrons, azaleas and flowering trees and shrubs brighten the landscapes. In the fall the Arboretum and its Japanese garden are ablaze with autumn colors.

To reach these of these attractions from downtown, take the # 43 bus from Third and Pike.

For the Shopper

Shoppers beware: Downtown Seattle shopping options are increasing faster than the balances on most credit cards. The Nordstrom flagship store and Pacific Place are making shopping history on Pine Street in the heart of the downtown-shopping district. Items from glass art and diamond rings to cosmetics and a good ol' pair of jeans are all easy to locate on Pine Street with these two buildings being connected via skybridge over Sixth Avenue. Also on Pine Street you'll find the Westlake Center and the Old Navy store. Not too far from there, shoppers delight in seeing their favorites like Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Patagonia, The North Face, The Gap and more.

Downtown Seattle, as well as the suburban areas of Tukwila, Northgate and Bellevue, has major shopping complexes concentrating a diverse variety of retail stores in one convenient location.

All of the downtown options are within easy walking distance of all major hotels. In addition, Seattle is noted for its specialty shops. Its proximity to the Orient makes an abundance of imported goods available and its orientation to outdoor recreation makes it the country's leading city for recreational equipment and clothing.

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