Trip Coach: July 1, 2008
Jeff Dickey, author of "The Rough Guide to Seattle," answered your questions about Seattle.
Jeff Dickey: Hello, I'm Jeff Dickey, author of The Rough Guide to Seattle, here to suggest ideas for things to do, see, and experience in the Emerald City, great for its natural beauty, seafood, coffee, architecture, outdoor activities and plenty more. Let's begin the chat.
Guelph, ON: I am taking a ferry from Victoria, BC to Seattle. What should one day in Seattle consist off? Regards, Natasha
Jeff Dickey: Lots of questions have come in about activities in Seattle if you only have a day or two to experience the city. Of course, much depends on your interests. The venerable Pike Place Market is the usual place to stop first for most out-of-towners, its multilevel produce and seafood vendors, restaurants, bars and clubs making it deservedly the city's most popular attraction. From there, down the market's "Hillclimb" stairway, is the Seattle waterfront, which offers a decent aquarium, seafood restaurants (including the old favorite Ivar's), ferry dock, and, further north, Olympic Sculpture Park.
Indeed, if art and architecture appeal, the park is a must for anyone with a yen for modern sculpture and environmentally sensitive design. Accordingly, you shouldn't miss a trip to the recently renovated and reimagined Seattle Art Museum, which has not only expanded its collections on view, but added a quirky "Art Ladder" for a new take on art. Also a necessity for aesthetes is Rem Koolhaas's breathtaking and somewhat bizarre Seattle Central Library, which resembles a giant modernist greenhouse for books and people.
Finally, don't forget good old Seattle Center north of downtown, to which the famed Monorail leads. Both are a product of the 1962 World's Fair and manage to retain significant tourist interest. The Center offers science and children's museums, carnival rides, the musical institution of the Experience Music Project (and attached sci-fi museum), and of course, the city symbol, the Space Needle.
There's much more to experience and enjoy in the city if you have more time here, so hold on for more suggestions.
Capistrano Beach, Calif.: Are there any reasonably priced places to stay across Elliot Bay at Alki Beach? I like the small "beach like" atmosphere.
Jeff Dickey: Alki Beach is one of Seattle's more enticing spots, off the beaten tourist trail to some degree (depending on the tourist), but fascinating for its sandy bayside shore, miniature Statue of Liberty, and various historical markers that recall Alki's place as Seattle's original townsite... until the early pioneers packed up and relocated to what's now Pioneer Square. Accommodation, beyond the usual chain motels here and there, is scarce, but there are a few distinctive places, though not directly on the shoreline itself. Closer to the center of the West Seattle peninsula, the Villa Heidelberg is a pleasant B&B with nice amenities, as is the Wildwood B&B, somewhat further south near the Fauntleroy ferry terminal.
Whaton, Ill.: Trip: 9/23-9/30, 2 adults (53,57) leaving from Chicago. Where is the best 1 day biking tour for moderately active adults around Seattle? In Seattle? The San Juan Islands (which one?), the coastal mountain area?
Jeff Dickey: The San Juan Islands are one of the country's most beloved natural jewels, but unfortunately don't factor into a one-day biking tour around Seattle. Rather, they require a separate, multi-day trip to get there by ferry (or seaplane, if you have the money). Likewise, the coastal mountains of Olympic National Park are beautiful, but not part of a Seattle day trip—too much effort required to get there and get oriented.
Instead, you have two great choices around the city: the first, the Burke-Gilman Trail, leads from the northern Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard and Fremont along the Lake Washington Ship Canal and eventually over to the suburbs of the eastside with the Sammamish River Trail, 27 miles altogether. A shorter route can be found along Lake Washington Boulevard, which takes you from the Washington Park Arboretum down through a series of well-heeled neighborhoods like Madison Park and Madrona before concluding in Seward Park. Even better, on select summer weekend days, the boulevard is closed to automotive traffic.
Harrisburg, Pa.: I will be attending a conference in Seattle the last week of October. Where can I find great bakery items in the downtown area? What two restaurants do you recommend?
Jeff Dickey: Both of my choices are a few blocks north of downtown in the Belltown neighborhood. Macrina has great breakfasts, pastries, cinnamon rolls, tarts, and various other tasty treats, while Dahlia Bakery, about seven blocks away, has all of the above, plus scrumptious sandwiches and the virtue of being near one of Seattle best restaurants, Dahlia Lounge.