Thursday, November 15, 2012

I WAS RAISED IN THE S-E-A DOUBLE-T L-E: So I've been thinking of a trip to Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria/Whistler with the Earthling clan next summer. Curiously, despite being born in California and having lived there for all of about 5 years of my life, I've never been to Seattle (nor, for that matter, Canada).

The trip is, at least nominally, a baseball trip. So there will be a Seattle Mariners game and at least one minor league game. But other than that, I'd love to hear your big ideas for what to do in that slice of North America. Islands on which to stay, museums to visit, attractions to see. Outdoor/Indoor/Kid Friendly Kayak Operators/etc. Recall Little Earthling will be not quite 9, Wee Earthling 5.

Obviously, Isaac, I'll probably pin you and Mrs. Spaceman down as we get closer for more specifics, but feel free to pipe in.

I know very little about Seattle. But thanks to Sir Mix-a-Lot, I know Seattle ain't Bullshittin'


  1. bristlesage2:28 PM

    Grain of salt as I'm not from there, but when I visit, I always make time for a) sushi happy hour, somewhere or another, and b) Agua Verde Paddle Club. Good food, good view.

    It's possible my trips to Seattle, like my trips to most places, are just an excuse to eat in a different locale.

  2. isaac_spaceman2:28 PM

    Snoqualmie falls is pretty, reasonably convenient, and a great place to do both a kid-friendly hike and a pricey brunch. Canoeing on Lake Washington (don't know if they still do this, but you used to be able to rent canoes literally right below Husky Stadium) is fun -- you can cut a trail through little inlets that are almost completely choked with lily pads, race across the shipping channel before you get hit by a pleasure boater, and dart under freeways and bridges. One of my favorite things to do with my dad when I was a kid. I prefer the Asian Art Museum on Capitol Hill (with the Henry Moore sculpture that frames the Space Needle) to the boring Venturi-designed Seattle Art Museum downtown. The library downtown is itself a work of art.

    Seattle has great, fun public art. The most dramatic for kids is the troll under the Aurora bridge that is eating a Volkswagen. Drive by it and then spend an hour or two in Wallingford, which is a great little mini-hub for food, beer, and tschotchkes (what's the great sandwich restaurant there - Fisherman's Daughter?).

    The best public art in Seattle, though, is the house in Madrona (I think) where they buried some bronze statues in their driveway when they paved it, so there are a policeman and a child encased there, like Han Solo in Carbonite. It's great because it's almost a secret.

  3. sconstant2:55 PM

    Hiram M. Chitteden! Archie McPhee!

  4. Watts3:04 PM

    I was there a few years back for a conference and watching the fish swim the locks was fun for me and seemed to delight the younger set, too.

    I also really liked the Olympic Sculpture Park.

    I went to the EMP because I happened to be there on free admission day, but I can't see that it would be a whole lot of fun for kids, and it seemed expensive to me.

  5. bristlesage3:21 PM

    Oh, yeah, I love the locks.

  6. For a little bit of history and a solid pretext for a ferry ride I recommend going across to Bainbridge Island and making the short drive to Chief Seattle's (Sealth/Seathle/Seathl/See-ahth) grave. On the way there you can speak with the Little Earthlings about the history of white settlement, and then to lighten the mood you can enjoy the eclectic array of offerings left at the grave site. When we visited there was -- among various and sundry other standard, solemn, and whimsical tributes -- a Pocahontas Pez-dispenser lovingly nested in a looping pile of halloweeny purple faux-feather boa.

  7. Watts3:23 PM

    Oooh, I went to Bainbridge Island on a ferry, with my friend who lives in Seattle to a party. That ferry ride was beautiful.

  8. lauri3:25 PM's a start:

    Agua Verde Paddle (near UW) for renting kayaks and yummy casual lunch with a view. You can also still rent canoes/row boats right by UW stadium as well (as Isaac mentioned). Same fun lily pads/bridges/freeway/near collisions either way.

    If it's sunny, the Chittendem locks in Ballard are great for seeing the salmon fish ladder and admiring boats of all sizes. Also, good burgers and fish/chips at the new-ish Red Mill Burgers across the street.

    I also second the trip to Snoqualmie Falls for a quick hike/waterfall/meal. There are tons of hikes in the surrounding areas.

    Taking a ferry is a must with the kids and makes for a fun day trip.. You can take a quick ferry trip over to Bainbridge, play at the beach at the Fay Bainbridge State Park, and then eat amazing ice cream at Mora's in the little town near the ferry dock. You could also take a slightly longer ferry ride to Whidbey, cruise up the island during the day and then marvel at Deception Pass and play at the beach there before driving back to Seattle. San Juan Islands are awesome, but require more than a day.

    You need to get a reservation in advance, but Maneki in the Int'l District (which is a short walk from the stadiums) is a family-friendly hole-in-the wall that's been around for over a hundred years. Good, reasonably priced sushi, tempura and other japanese standards. If your party is larger, you can reserve a tatami room which always goes over big with my kids. If your kids prefer vietnamese food, Green Leaf is a great option in the ID. Shanghai Garden for family-friendly Chinese.

    If you like a view, there's always the space needle (which you can see by going for breakfast at the revolving restaurant at the top). Also, there's a new Ferris Wheel not too far from PIke's Place Market.

    The Pacific Science Center has some fun exhibits for the kids and IMAX films. There's also the Chihuly glass exhibit at Seattle Center. The Seattle Center food court got a big upgrade this year, so there are much better options than in the past. The Children's Museum skews too young for your kids, IMO. EMP skews too old.

  9. Watts3:34 PM

    OH OH OH. How could I, of all people, forget THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY? It's a cool building on the outside and a cool building on the inside, and I bet if you timed it right, there'd be something for the kids, because it IS a library after all.

  10. isaac_spaceman4:12 PM

    You have to time the fish ladder at the Locks right -- it's best when the salmon are actually swimming upstream. Can't remember when that is. Though it can be fun to stand at the railing at the locks and have a conversation with people on the yachts stuck waiting for the water to rise/fall.

  11. isaac_spaceman4:18 PM

    This is going to be too vague to be helpful, but at the decommissioned fort that is either Fort Ward or Battle Point on Bainbridge, there used to be a concrete bunker-like structure that sat in the middle of a larger concrete bunker-like structure. You could walk the perimeter between the two, though it was only about two feet wide. All told, it was a square circuit maybe 20 feet long on either side, but when you had to feel your way all the way around in the pitch blackness -- real pitch blackness, not the kind your eyes can adjust to -- it was terrifying. I did this once, when I was maybe nine years old, and I can still remember how scary it was. Probably wouldn't let my kids do it now, on account of not knowing what's on the ground or lurking at the back.

  12. isaac_spaceman4:20 PM

    This reminds me: Magnuson park (northeast Seattle, in the Sand Point neighborhood) has the Sound Garden (yes, that's where they got the name). It's a series of sculptures that make spooky noises in the wind. On the path to get there from the parking lot, there is a sculpture installation consisting of repurposed airplane tail fins. Like I said, Seattle has great public art.

  13. Watts4:39 PM

    The fish were great fun, but the geeky daughter-of-an-engineer part of me was fascinated by the water level thing.

  14. On second thought you may want to wait until their irony centers are a little bit more developed. Maybe. I don't know. There are other fun things to do out that way, so maybe you can bundle it.

  15. Chrissy4:14 AM

    A friend of mine is the current mommy-blogger for a Seattle-based credit union:

    She and her little family are very much the out-and-about type and they dine out a lot so you'll find reviews of child-friendly (but local, non-chain) restaurants, parks, things to do, etc.

    By next summer, you might be able to get a reeeeeeally great deal on an Entertainment book, full of two-fers to all the museums and sights of Seattle as well as its theaters and many restaurants. Seems like Entertainment usually marks the books way down (like, $10 or less, delivered) by June/July.

    Seattle has a great many Farmers/Artists markets that pop up a day a week in summertime. I recommend Ballard's, every Sunday. My friend Curtis Steiner owns a beautiful shop (named after himself; he's earned it) of art/handmade cards, etc, right at the north end of this market (and he was instrumental in getting the market set up in Ballard, ten years ago.)

  16. jeanwat9:30 PM

    Well, as a Vancouver Islander, I will say our island is very nice! Worth the visit! There are a couple of ferries. There's one that goes from downtown Seattle to Victoria, and is passenger only. If you will have a car, the Anacortes Ferry that goes through the San Juans on the way to Canada is really gorgeous in summer. If you are feeling wealthy, there is float plane service from Seattle to Victoria via Kenmore air, and you fly in DeHavilland Beavers, which if you are plane buffs is awesome.

    Once in Victoria, things to do that don't need a car: The Royal BC Museum is actually really good. We have nice parks. I don't recommend High Tea at the Empress any more, because it's kinda expensive, but seeing the hotel itself is worth it.

    If you will be renting a car, in Washington I would heartily recommend driving up to see Mt. St. Helens. It's really interesting, and there's lots of scenery on the way.

    In Seattle itself I really, really enjoyed the Underground Tour. I think it would be excellent for the ages of your kids. I think it goes from Pioneer Square, and only takes a couple of hours. I love Pike Place market, as others have said. (You will think about it when you flush a toilet in Seattle after that!)

    If you get into the San Juans or Victoria, a whale watching tour is a must. The orcas are amazing to see, and are just everywhere. It's very cool.