A visit to Seattle, a city famous for coffee, the grunge music scene and rain would not be complete without a thorough exploration of the waterfront. This coastal city and major seaport, sits on an isthmus between Puget Sound-an arm of the Pacific Ocean-and Lake Washington on Elliott Bay. With a myriad of piers, markets, aquariums, vendors and live music this is certainly a fun way to navigate a day especially if you have kids in tow.

Your picture perfect day begins in a luxury room at the boutique Hotel Monaco. This pet friendly property is a part of the Kimpton family and offers bright, cheery spacious rooms. If you weren’t able to bring Fido, don’t worry Hotel Monaco has you covered-each room has a goldfish pet. Located in downtown Seattle and just five blocks down Seneca to the bay and only seven blocks to famous Pike Place Market the location can’t be beat.

Begin your waterfront adventure with good walking shoes and head left down 4th Street as you exit the hotel. Make a left on Pike Street and you will find yourself at the public market overlooking Elliott Bay. Le Panier is a must stop for a very French bakery breakfast.

Created by a Frenchman living in the Seattle who missed his daily baguette and croissant brought in French bakers and began creating delicious breads and pastries. Choose from the delicious éclairs, traditional hand formed butter croissants; plain or filled with imported French chocolate, almond cream, or country ham and cheese. They will definitely satisfy. Even though we arrived in the middle of the morning rush, I went straight for the baguette sandwich with brie. Delicious.

Wander around the oldest farmers market in America and enjoy the myriad of fresh flower stands, crafters tables and numerous food, produce and fish stalls. Don’t miss the array of stores located within the building. You’ll find everything from a magic shop, a children’s book store and jewelers to hippie clothiers and more.

After you have explored the market place, make your way toward Rachel, the market’s bronze piggybank sitting right in front of the famous flying fish at Pike Place Fish Market. Rub her snout for good luck and drop in some loose change for the Market Foundation.

Head down the stairs to Post Alley where you’ll find some interesting gum art. Sounds odd, okay it is odd, but somehow also really fascinating. Look for the sign that says “Welcomes Down Under” and head down the main set of stairs that lead to the Pike Street Hill Climb (essentially a lot of steep stairs) and to the waterfront. As you reach the bottom of the Market stairs, continue across Western Ave to the 3rd level of the Pike Street Hill Climb.

You have reached your next destination: the Seattle Bug Safari. A fascinating look at more than forty different species of insects, spiders, scorpions, millipedes, and centipedes. The space is small and upon first glance you may think you will be in and out in ten minutes. But once you begin viewing the cages and reading the information about each species you may be surprised how much time you need to see all that is available. Even if bugs give you the creeps, it is a really fascinating exhibit especially if you have a guide sharing some of the interesting facts and information.

As you depart, and begin to make your way down the remainder of the stairs notice El Puerco Lloron–you’ll be returning here for dinner. At the bottom of the staircase and just across the street on Alaskan Way you will find the Seattle Aquarium.

Just inside the lobby is the Window on Washington Waters gigantic aquarium tank. Several times a day a diver joins the tank to feed the fish and answer questions from curious kids.

Make your way into the first exhibit room, filled with touch pool tidepools filled with life from the nearby pacific coast and Seattle’s inland sea like anemones and sunflower sea stars. Naturalists are nearby to help share information about the sea creatures and show how to touch them correctly.

Also in this room is an exhibit with Puget Sound’s famous Giant Pacific Octopus and a 12-foot high clear arch filled with floating jellyfish. As you make your way through the aquarium, you will also encounter a beautiful Coral Reef exhibit, local shorebirds, a working salmon ladder, otters and seals.

For lunch head to pier 57 (also known as Bay Pavilion). I know it’s probably considered a touristy type place, but I thoroughly enjoy The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar. From the nautical, over decorated theme to the beautiful views of Elliott Bay and good food this is a great spot for lunch.

If it’s warm choose a table on the outdoor deck and if not ask for a window table upstairs. Order a glass of pinot grigio and start with a crab cakes appetizer. If you are with someone who enjoys sharing order a large Cesear salad to split and a cup of clam chowder. The kids menu offers the usual tried and true fried items, but also offered is a healthy grilled salmon and rice option.

Next door to Fisherman’s is the Pier 57 Carousel and Arcade. This old-fashioned indoor arcade offers air hockey, pinball, and a beautiful, full-size vintage 30 horse carousel. For $1.50 you can hop on the carousel for a two-and-a-half- minute whirl.

Afterward, head to Pier 55 for an afternoon harbor cruise with Argosy on the bay. The narrated 1-hour tour takes you through Seattle’s historic harbor. Spectacular views of Mt. Ranier and the Olympic Mountain Range as well as a dramatic panoramic of the city including the Space Needle, Olympic Park and the downtown skyline are all highlights.

For dinner, head up the stairclimb to El Puerco Lloron for some great authentic Mexican food. Order some carne asada tacos with a side-order of a dozen fresh, handmade steaming, tortillas. The kids might enjoy taquitos–3 handmade corn tortillas filled with your choice of: carnitas, pollo, carne asada or machaca served with rice and beans.

After a delicioso dinner head down Western and up Spring to 4th. You will have come full circle and arrived back at the Hotel Monaco. Slip into a fluffy robe-they even have kid-size animal print robes-relax and reminisce about the diversity and beauty explored in this perfect Seattle day.

What & Where:
Le Panier- Very French Bakery
(1902 Pike Pl; 206-441-3669)
Pike Place Public Market (between the waterfront and First Ave at Pike St)
Seattle Bug Safari (1501 Western Ave, Suite 304; 206-285-2847; www.seattlebugsafari.com)
Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way at Pier 59; 206-386-430; www.seattleaquarium.org)
Argosy Cruise (1101 Alaskan Way , Pier 55 Suite 201; 206-622-8687)
The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar (1301 Alaskan Way; 206-623-3500)
Pier 57 Carousel and Game Arcade (back of Pier 57 (also known as the Bay Pavilion, 623-8600)
El Puerco Lloron (1501 Western Ave; 206-624-0541)
Hotel Monaco (1101 Fourth Ave; 206-621-1770 or for reservations 800-715-6513; www.monaco-seattle.com)

Argosy Cruise Schedule

*1-Hour Harbor Cruise Times
June 6 – September 7, 2009 (Peak)
Daily: 11:00am, 12:15pm, 1:30pm, 2:45pm, 4:00pm and 5:15pm
September 8 – October 18, 2009 (Value)
Daily: 12:15pm, 1:30pm, 2:45pm, 4:00pm
October 19 – December 31, 2009 (Value)
Monday – Friday: 1:30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1:30pm, 2:45pm