Seattle’s most recognizable landmark, the Space Needle, is just one of many sights to visit at Seattle Center. This 28-acre site was the location of the 1962 Seattle’s World’s Fair and is still in use today as a cultural and tourist center for Seattle.
Locals and visitors come to Seattle Center to attend concerts and plays as well as professional basketball at Key Arena. Seattle Center is home of the INTIMAN Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera and several concert halls. It is also the site for a number of festivals including the annual Bumbershoot, a three day rock concert, and Northwest Folk Life, which features music and booths from around the world.
But any day is a good day to visit Seattle Center. Begin your tour of with a ride up the Space Needle. 605 feet high, the Space Needle offers a 360 degree view of Seattle, Elliot Bay, and the Cascade Mountains. Signs and pictures inside the Space Needle tell the history of the Seattle World’s Fair as well as the construction of the needle. Bring your camera because there is nowhere else to see Seattle like this and don’t forget to stop into the gift shop at the bottom for great Seattle souvenirs.
Next, head to the nearby Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Both museums were built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen as a place to house his private collections that continually to grow and include interactive exhibits and historical artifacts from science fiction and rock music. Tickets for the museums can be purchased separately or as a package depending on your interest.
For lunch, make your way to Center House; a food court with everything from fish and chips to burgers. There is also a full service restaurant, Michelangelo’s, that has Italian favorites as well as sandwiches, salads and a full bar.
After lunch, head to the Fun Forest Amusement Park where there are 19 rides including a terrific carousel and calliope. Adjacent is the Entertainment Pavilion where you can compete against your friends playing video games and laser tag.
When you run out of quarters it’s time to wander the grounds of Seattle Center and enjoy the beautiful landscaping and fountains. In the middle of the Center is a huge concrete bowl containing a fountain that spouts jets of water to musical accompaniment. Take a seat on the edge and enjoy the show as children run around the fountain trying to avoid or get wet, depending on the outside temperature.
Next, check out the Northwest Craft Center that has been operating continually since 1963. Inside you will find beautiful glass, pottery, sculpture, jewelry and more all made by local northwest artists.
Follow the signs to the Pacific Science Center which features five buildings of interactive science exhibits. Also at the science center you will find a Butterfly House, two IMAX movie theaters, and a planetarium with a laser light show.
No trip to Seattle Center would be complete without a ride on the monorail. Built for the World’s Fair as a look at transportation of the future, the monorail continues to run its 1.3 mile course to downtown carrying 2.5 million riders every year. You will arrive on the 3rd floor of Westlake Center, a mall featuring a little bit of everything, so look around a bit before heading to the street and dinner.
Take 5th Avenue one block north east to the Westin Hotel for dinner at the Coldwater Bar and Grill. This quiet northwest inspired restaurant features fresh seafood including salmon, Dungeness crab, and clams. Enjoy a drink, relax and reminisce about another great day spent in Seattle. There’s always more to see and do, so plan on coming back another day and enjoying a play or concert. There’s always something going on at Seattle Center.
How to Get There: Take I-5 to the Mercer Street exit (167) or Hwy 99 via Broad Street and follow the signs to this Capital Hill landmark. Parking is available on the street or numerous garages and parking lots nearby. Fifteen different city bus routes also serve the area and are the way to go for large events when parking can get tight.
What and Where:
Seattle Center (305 Harrison St)
Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (325 5th Ave; 877-367-7361)
Pacific Science Center (200 2nd Ave; 206-443-2001)
Coldwater Bar and Grill (1900 5th Ave; 206-256-7697)
Marion L. Head is an educator and freelance writer who lives in Seattle, WA. Marion has published fiction in various anthologies and nonfiction on various websites. Marion is author of South Dakota: An Explorer’s Guide for Countryman Press.