Seattle Waterfront
Image by Ddgonzal under Creative Commons License.

Washington, Seattle Guide (A): Seattle Waterfront

Welcome to Seattle Washington and one of the most awe-inspiring and eclectic harbors in the world. The carefully designed waterfront provides the opportunity to revel in Seattle’s man-made seaport charm and the natural beauty of Puget Sound’s waters. This guide will take you through several quintessential Seattle experiences. So strap on those walking shoes; there’s lots of things to do, sights to see, and food to be eaten.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Seattle Waterfront
Guide Location: USA » Seattle
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km
Author: Mindy Sitton-Halleck
Author Bio: Mindy Sitton-Halleck is a Seattle resident, world traveler, and published author who believes that the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to live. Published in numerous print and on-line travel publications, Mindy is dedicated to guiding fellow explorers on their journey. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in local and national publications, as well as featured on The Sheraton Maui and the Empress Victoria, BC. websites.
Author Website: http://mindyhalleck.blogspot.com
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Olympic Sculpture Park
  • Waterfront Promenade
  • Seattle Aquarium
  • Miners Landing
  • Pier 55 Argosy Cruise port
  • Pier 54
  • The Harbor Stairs
  • Pike Place Market
  • Original Starbuck's store
1
Olympic Sculpture Park

1) Olympic Sculpture Park

The 1.3 mile walk along Alaskan Way is punctuated by the Washington State Ferry Terminal at the south end (Pier 52) and Olympic Sculpture Park to the north end (Pier 70/Broad Street) along the waters of stunning Puget Sound. The round-trip walk from end to end takes about 60-90+ minutes, depending on whether you stop to eat, shop, play or enjoy a romantic sunset and the breathtaking view of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.

We’re beginning at the north end, pier 70, on the corner of Alaskan Way and Broad Street at the waterfront entrance to the park. The entrance is marked by the statue titled, Father and Son by the water fountain. We’re walking north along the waterway. The 9 acre park – open sunrise to sunset, was adorned by SAM (Seattle Art Museum) as an open space where people can experience art in an outdoor setting. Whether the park is sundrenched on a spring morning or covered in a blanket of winter white, it’s a stunning and invigorating walk enhanced by 20 world class art structures, beaches, gardens and pathways. You can easily spend an hour or an afternoon reprieve in this diverse green space, or quickly run around and pose for some excellent tourist photo opportunities.

At the foot of Olympic Sculpture Park, Myrtle Edwards Park begins and stretches along another 1.25 mile winding trail on Elliott Bay if you choose to continue on the trail.
2
Waterfront Promenade

2) Waterfront Promenade

After a walk in Olympic Sculpture Park we’re back on the waterfront along Alaskan Way and headed south on the promenade toward the many fun-filled attractions. Along the waterfront we pass Pier 69, where the Victoria Clipper docks. If your desire is to take a cruise on one of their high speed catamarans up to Victoria for afternoon tea at the jewel of British Columbia, the Fairmont Empress Hotel or spend a day in Vancouver, this is the place to book passage. You can go for a day or a weekend. Just stop at the information desk on the waterfront and inquire.

Beyond that we pass pier 67, the Edgewater Hotel, Seattle’s only luxury waterfront hotel and restaurant, with dramatic views of shimmering Elliott Bay. If you want to sit down to a lavish breakfast, lunch or dinner in an award winning restaurant, that’s the place. Here’s a secret; in the old days, before it became such a lavish hotel, people used to fish from their room windows as if they were sitting on the pier. In 1964 the Beatles stayed at the Edgewater Hotel. The Fab-4 famously fished from the window of room 272.

And then we pass pier 66, the Bell Street Cruise and Conference center where world class cruise ships port. The port supplies a select few ferry, bus, and port brochures, maps and schedules.
3
Seattle Aquarium

3) Seattle Aquarium

Along the way there are numerous restaurants and coffee shops. We’re headed another five minutes to pier 59, toward the Seattle Aquarium. Did you know that sea otters eat more than 25% of their body weight each day? - I didn’t. After checking out the mysterious octopus and watching two little sea otters float on their backs and hold fins I exited the Aquarium and continued my journey south on the waterfront. The Seattle Aquarium admission runs $17 for adults and $11 for children. Children under 3 are free. Plan at least one hour for this exhibit.

If you’re worn out from walking, then at the Aquarium you can also buy a city pass which features admission to the Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Seattle Harbor Tour, Seattle Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo and the Museum of Flight OR Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. You can purchase your pass at the Aquarium ticket booth. Prices seem to vary, so ask. The passes are good for 9 days.
4
Miners Landing

4) Miners Landing

After the aquarium I was ready to ride the carousel at the Seattle arcade, pier 57 in the Miners Landing building. In addition to riding a classic carousel, another nice surprise in the Miners Building is the opportunity to watch a real boat builder at work at Mark’s Arks. It’s like watching a candy maker make candy; except with wood. Mark say’s visitors are welcome to watch through the glass window or even step inside and chat about his traditional ‘lapstrake’ construction style. Marks Arks The Boat Shop 1301 Alaskan Way Seattle WA 98101 USA Tues-Fri 10 AM until 4:00 pm.

If you’re searching for the perfect Seattle souvenir you’re in luck; inside the Miners building is the Pirates Plunder Souvenir shop. On the waterfront, also located in the Miners building is one of my favorite Seattle eateries; the Salmon Cooker. This sidewalk (or indoors) restaurant provides quintessential Seattle food and is great for fish and chips, fresh shucked oysters, fresh baked salmon and even burgers and ice cream. I like to walk up to the sidewalk counter and order fish and chips and then sit outside in their dock-side patio area, people watch, share my chips with the seagulls and listen to the sounds of the busy harbor. They’re very affordable and open daily from 11 AM to 9 or 10 PM.
5
Pier 55 Argosy Cruise port

5) Pier 55 Argosy Cruise port

There you can book a cruise into the harbor for a narrated 1-hour tour of Seattle’s energetic and historic harbor. With wide-open outdoor decks and never ending views, it’s a great way to see the colorful waterfront, spectacular city skyline, one of the world's biggest shipping terminals, and the magnificent Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. This tour mostly runs year round, and cost between $17 and $22 for adults, children under 12, under $10. Seniors from $15-$20.

Or you can book Argosy’s 4-hour journey to Tillicum Village for a traditional salmon bake and Tillicum Village Native Indian performance. This is a true northwest experience. This 45-minute narrated cruise from pier 55 to Blake Island State Park is a delight. Arriving at Tillicum Village, and then entering the longhouse, where you can watch as whole salmons are cooked in the traditional Northwest Coast Indian style, you feel you’ve entered another time. As you conclude your meal, the lights dim and you enjoy a mesmerizing performance of Dance on the Wind, featuring dances in the spirit of coastal tribes. After lunch or dinner you can stroll along the pristine beaches and forested trails. These cruises run March through October and generally twice daily. Prices range; Adults (ages 13 - 64) $79.95 - Seniors (age 65+) $72.95 - Children (ages 5-12) $30.00
6
Pier 54

6) Pier 54

About a three minute walk from pier 55 is pier 54 where you can find Ivar’s legendary clam chowder, and long considered one of Seattle’s 7-wonders, Ye Old Curiosity Shop. Since 1899, Ye Old Curiosity Shop has been home to the bizarre, freaky, fascinating and curious; the shop is a licensed museum and gift store. It’s free to walk around and ogle things you won’t see anywhere else; two headed lambs, shrunken heads, and Sylvester, the world famous mummy can be found on display amongst other eclectic museum oddities. Open 7-days a week 9 to 9.

A few minutes’ walk south of Ye Old Curiosity Shop is pier 52 where the Washington State Ferries dock. Depending on where you may want to travel, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Anacortes, Vashon Island, the San Juan Islands, and more, the fares differ greatly. Schedule / Fare Information 206-464-6400 (in Seattle or from out-of-state) 888-808-7977 (WA & BC only) 511 (WA) 801 Alaskan Way, Seattle WA 98104 USA
7
The Harbor Stairs

7) The Harbor Stairs

And if you’re feet aren’t throbbing too badly, then no Seattle waterfront adventure would be complete without experiencing the famous Pike Place Hillclimb or Harbor Stairs that connect the waterfront to Seattle’s city core and the iconic Pike Place Market. Both sets of stairs are a landscaped cascade of steps that deliver you from Western Avenue, often breathless, to the market, or a block away where the Harbor Steps sweep up to just below the Seattle Art Museum. The stairs connect the waterfront at Union Street and then again at University Street which is where we’re going up. Nowadays, the waterfront is also easy to reach from the Market, with a new elevator and stairs at Lenora Street. The Harbor stairs number between 150 and 170 steps, depending on how you climb, count, and where you stop. With my short legs it was 170 steps. I stopped in the middle at the Tully’s coffee shop, got a hot tea and sat outside looking down the stairs at the bustling waterfront, then along the famous, Post Ally to my right and left, and up the stairs beyond the waterfall to the Hammering Man sculpture that stands guard in front of the Seattle Art Museum. What a view!
8
Pike Place Market

8) Pike Place Market

Our next sight is Pike Place Market; the entrance is at First and Pike Street. Hours; M-Sat 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm

After exploring the waterfront you can hike the stairs to the unique world of Pike Place Market where getting slapped in the face with a flying fish at the world famous Pike Place Fish Market, is an iconic Seattle experience.

The Market is the oldest continually operating farmers' market in the United States, founded in 1907.

So grab a coffee, watch the antics of the witty fishmongers, the talented street performers, and soak in the unique ambiance of Seattle's most popular attraction. This nine-acre neighborhood hosts 10-million visitors each year. You can walk through the market in 30 minutes or spend a full day shopping and discovering.

Don’t overlook the enticing hot donuts at the Doughnut Company to the left of the entrance where the unofficial mascot, Rachel, a 550 pound bronze cast piggy bank stands. Legend holds that if you rub Rachel’s snout it will bring you good luck. Each year the money Rachel collects helps support the over 100 year old Pike Place Market. That’s one generous pig!

At Pike Place Market you can stroll, shop and nosh on everything from fruit to pot stickers, spice teas, donuts, or a classic French meal at my favorite rustic Parisian café, Café Campagne across from the market at Post Alley and Pine. Campagne’s ambiance always makes me feel I’m back in Paris enjoying the sultry music and sun-drenched cuisine of Southern France.

Additionally, some of Seattle's favorite tattered watering holes are hidden in unlikely corners of the market’s historic buildings.
9
Original Starbuck's store

9) Original Starbuck's store

Speaking of coffee, the first Starbucks opened in Pike Place in 1971 and still operates daily from 6:30 am-7:30 pm at 1912 Pike Place Seattle WA.

Did you know the name of a mining camp on Mt. Rainier, Camp Starbo, inspired the name that ultimately evolved into iconic ‘Starbucks’? Due to the Market’s status as an historic district with strict guidelines, the first-ever Starbuck’s retains its original look.

This Starbucks is a very compact location with lots of visitors, but nowhere to sit. So take your photos, but if a great cup of coffee and place to rest your worn out feet sounds good, then head around the corner to the Starbucks on 1st and Pike. The new Starbucks serves as a comfy back up store with lots of cozy leather chairs, hard floors and a wall tapestry made of repurposed burlap coffee bags from their roasting plant. 102 Pike St., Seattle, Washington 98101.

To get back to the waterfront you can take the Hillclimb stairs behind Rachel and the Pike Place Fish Market, or take the Pike Place elevator at Lenora Street back down to the waterfront leaving you across from the Edgewater Hotel.

So, bon appetite! Happy sightseeing! Seattle’s Waterfront, eateries, public areas and unique market places truly have something for everyone.
Image by Postdlf under Creative Commons License.

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