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Day Tour in Seattle

I visit Seattle 2-3 times a year to visit family, eat, and take a break in familiar surroundings. I did my undergraduate BA degree at the University of Washington – before they bricked over the grassy area near the library to create “Red Square” above the Central Garage. If you know when that happened, you can figure out when I must have been there. Incidentally, tuition was $115 per quarter when I started, so you know it was a loooong time ago.

Back to visiting Seattle.

Seattle is known for being a rainy, damp, and gloomy place – which it is for much of the year. But when the sun shines, the city glistens and beckons everyone outside. We had a family reunion this year, and on July 23 we decided to “play tourist.” The weather was perfect; the company was delightful, and the day was totally fun. You may want to do some or all of these activities on your own visit to the “Emerald City.”


The large rooftop inflatable duck, not to mention the “ducks in a row,” makes it difficult to miss the Duck location near Seattle Center.  

Vinnie the Duck
Surveys his Fleet

Our particular vehicle was built in 1946 – I’m surprised they can get parts any more.

Front View of
1946 Amphibious Duck

Because we would be spending half the tour in Lake Union, Capt. “Chip A-Hoy” began  with a safety briefing.  Chip was a jolly soul leading his guests in silly songs while he pointed out the sights.

Our Boat Captain
“Chip A-Hoy”

We cruised the shoreline, drove through Pioneer Square, and then approached the boat slip into Lake Union, a fresh water lake within the Seattle city limits – perhaps best known as the site of Tom Hank’s houseboat in Sleepless in Seattle.

Canadian Geese

Canadian geese were on hand to supervise our entry – the feathered chap in front providing visual instruction.  So, in we went.

Duck heads into
the water.

Informational Factoid – the wheels keep spinning underwater. Presumably, this is what propels the vessel.   It was a perfect day to be on the water.

View of
Lake Union Shoreline

And then it was back to Seattle Center and the iconic Space Needle.


Seattle Space Needle

Seattlites built the Space Needle in 1962 as part of the World’s Fair.  It is 605 feet tall and weighs 9,550 tons.  The elevators take 41 seconds to reach the top, and you can stay on the Observation Deck as long as you like. The rotating SkyCity Restaurant has clean windows and decent food.  The complete rotation takes 47 minutes, and the view was amazing.

View of Seattle from
our table at SkyCity Restaurant


Another popular attraction built for the 1962 World’s Fair is the Monorail. By now you may have figured out the fair’s theme was futuristic – with a strong dose of The Jetsons.  The monorail runs between Seattle Center and Westlake in downtown Seattle, and it’s been running continuously since the fair closed.  For years, it wasn’t take seriously, but now cities all over the world are turning to elevated fixed rail systems as a way to provide public transportation.

Entry to
Monorail Station
Monorail at the Platform


When we got to Westlake we walked down to yet another Seattle icon.  Pike Place Market.

One of the entrances to
Pike Place Market

This is a truly fascinating place.  Pike Place Market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously operating markets in the U.S.  But the years were not entirely kind – the neighborhood changed. People’s shopping habits changed, and by the 1960’s the market had become a bit of an eyesore, slated for urban renewal demolition until citizens realized how much history would be lost if the market disappeared.  In 1971 voters approved a 17-acre historic district.

The market features crafts, flowers, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and just about anything else you might want. All vendors are local. The original Starbucks Coffee Shop is inside.

Fresh Flowers
Fresh Fruit
I love raspberries

But perhaps the most famous shop in the market is the Pike Place Fish Co.

Pike Place Fish Co.

Famous because this is the place where the vendors toss fish, crab, and squid from iced display cabinets to the guys in the back who prepare the fish to go home today – fresh or frozen. And no fishy smell.

Fresh King Salmon

Pike Place Market was the last stop on our Tourist Day.  We split up – some for shopping, some for relaxing at the hotel.  It was a great day, and we’re already thinking about other things to do on our next Seattle reunion.

Photos by Author.  All Rights Reserved

Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.


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