Seattle Things to Do Tips by Phalaenopsis03
Seattle Things to Do: 926 reviews and 1,637 photos
Terry Lynn in front of Retaining Wall
For a truly fun, entertaining, and unique experience, you must go on Bill Speidel's Underground Tour! I don't exactly recall who this Bill Speidel person is/was, but the 90 minute tour in his name is really awesome, especially if you get Terry Lynn (sp?) as your tour guide. She not only knew her facts, but was a total riot too, perhaps the next Ellen DeGeneres.
As its name implies, you'll be touring Seattle's underground, once a bustling commercial area with main streets and businesses. As Terry explained it, the original downtown was actually built one story below what we see as Pioneer Square today. Apparently, Seattle's engineering forefathers failed to take into consideration high tide and so the sewage system among other things became a big problem. And then came this big fire that destroyed practically everything. With the opportunity to start anew, it was decided that the second generation of Seattle would be built one story above ground. Thus, retaining walls were erected to "hold up" the city. Some really interesting stuff! I don't often pay attention when it comes to tours and tour guides, but this one definitely piqued my interest.
After the tour, be sure to keep your ticket stub for use at Doc's (Doc Maynard's) Lounge for $2.00 beers. However, what I did with my stub was walk over a coupla blocks to the Smith Tower for more panoramic views of the city (if you've already done the Space Needle). You get a $1.00 off admission at the Smith Tower observaton deck if you show your stub.
Ticket prices are $11.00 for adults, $9.00 for seniors, students with ID's, and hostel members, and $5.00 for kids (7-12).
Note: For more pix from the Underground Tour, please refer to my Travelogues below.
Address: 608 First Ave., Seattle, WA
Directions: In Pioneer Square between Cherry Street and Yesler Way. Take the James Street exit from Interstate 5.
Phone: (206) 682-4646
The Smith Tower
A less expensive alternative to the Seattle Space Needle, but still affording similarly fantastic panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas is the Smith Tower Observation Deck. Located in the heart of Pioneer Square just minutes away from downtown, the Smith Tower opened in 1914 as Seattle's first skyscraper, and for 50 years, was also considered the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
Ascend the tower by a manually operated Otis elevator to reach the 35th floor observation deck, otherwise known as the Chinese Room. Though pretty sparse in my opinion, the room features a beautifully hand-carved teakwood ceiling, oriental art from the 17th century, and a 300 year-old wishing chair that predicts marriage within one year to any single woman who sits in it. Unbeknownst to me of its "magical powers," I happily posed in it for a picture. Unfortunately however, the photo didn't come out so good. Hm, hope that wasn't a sign of something else.
Anyway, walk outside the Chinese Room for views of Mount Rainier and the different mountain ranges, Safeco and Qwest Fields, the waterfront, Pioneer Square, and even the Space Needle (just zoom in though).
The standard entrance fee for the observation deck is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors over 60 or students with ID's, $4.00 for kids 6-12, and nothing (free) for kids under five. If you happen to take Bill Speidel's Underground Tour that same day, just show the Smith Tower cashier your ticket stub from the tour to receive a $1.00 off admission, so in total, that's $5.00, just about 1/3 the cost of going up the Space Needle. Cool deal.
Note: For more pix from the Smith Observation Deck, please refer to my Travelogues below.
Address: 506 Second Ave., Seattle, WA
Directions: On the corner of Yesler and 2nd Ave., just several blocks south of the Pike Place Market. You can easily walk there from downtown or take public transit within the "Ride Free" zone.
Phone: (206) 622-4004
I'm all about public art and so when I read about the Fremont Troll, I had to go check it out for myself. Designed by local Seattleites for the Fremont Arts Council, this creepy 18 foot sculpture can be found hidden beneath the Aurora Bridge in the funky neighborhood of Fremont. With one shiny eye glaring at you and its left hand holding an actual VW bug, the Fremont Troll is really a cool piece of art. Great for photos!
If taking public transportation, which I did, take the #26 bus from 3rd and Pine in downtown. Get off on the first stop after the bridge (it was a numbered street, 39th or something). This is where it gets tricky, so when you get off, you may want to ask around. Anyway, I crossed the street, walked under a bridge, and made my way to 36th St. where I made a left and walked up the hill. At the top of the hill is the Aurora Bridge and underneath it to your left is the troll.
Give yourself some time in Fremont for exploration because just a few blocks away from the troll is the largest statue of Lenin in the U.S. and other pieces of public art. Funny thing, but on leaving Fremont, I bumped into a couple from my hostel who basically had the same Fremont itinerary as me, i.e., troll, Lenin, Blue C Sushi. What a kawinky dink! Together, we ended up taking a different bus back to our hostel in downtown. It was a fun day all around.
Address: N. 36th St., Seattle, WA 98103
Directions: Under the Aurora Bridge on 36th St. Also, don't be afraid to ask around. Fremonters are very nice and friendly.
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