Fancy a visit to The City of Flowers? Seattle Washington is the place.
Seattle is the capital city of Washington State, about 160km south of the Canada border. Seattle is an urban city surrounded by the natural beauty of National and State Parks. We visited the city of Seattle in September 2018 and loved the feel and adventure the city had to offer.
Downtown Seattle is home to many icons like the Public Market, the Space Needle and Safeco Field.
A short walk into downtown, you will find the Public Market on Pike Street. The Public Market is a Farmers Market open 363 days a year, closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can easily walk or roll down Pike Street to explore the market. Please note those in larger powerchairs may have a more difficult time navigating inside the buildings in the market as the market is a bustling place and there are people everywhere. Here you can purchase foods, trinkets and Seattle trinkets. The highlight of the Public Market is the fish throwing. The Pike Place Fish Market is famous for this and people come from across the country to see them throw their fish back and forth across the counter. For Starbucks lovers, the Public Market is the home of the first Starbucks.
The Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair is located downtown. The Space Needle is an icon for the city of Seattle. Standing at 520 feet, the Space Needle has just completed construction to include an open-air observation deck and the world’s first rotating glass floor. Tickets are available online and are purchased for a specific time and date. Please make sure to arrive on time for your trip up the Needle. You must pass through airport-like security before going up the Space Needle so be prepared for x-ray scans and to have your bags inspected. The Space Needle is wheelchair accessible. If you are traveling with a wheelchair, please see an attraction attendant, and they will take you to the observation deck in the appropriate elevator. When you get to the top, ramps are available from the observation deck out onto the open-air observation deck.
Any sports fans visiting make sure to stop by Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field. Seattle is home of both baseball and football. Games are very popular in the city. Parking is available at both venues or you can walk or roll to both fields. Only a 20-minute walk from downtown, getting to either park is easy.
Pier 57 is home of several tourist activities in downtown Seattle. Miners Landing hosts the Seattle Great Wheel, The Carousel, Wings Over Washington and several restaurants. Pier 57 is wheelchair accessible though the attractions require you to transfer. Next to Pier 57 you can also catch a ferry across Elliot Bay. Elliot Bay provides a waterway to the Pacific Ocean and is the key point in the Seattle shipping port. Most of these ferries are wheelchair accessible but the washrooms are not fully accessible due to limited space.
Occidental Avenue is a pedestrian-only street downtown, just north of Safeco Field. While we were visiting Seattle, Occidental Avenue was hosting the Seattle Design Festival. We got to see several groups setting up unique design pieces and sculptures throughout Occidental Avenue. Unfortunately, rain in the evening prevented the design festival from exhibiting.
The Washington State Fair happens each September for approximately 4 weeks. There are rides, horse shows, animals, mutton busting (sheep riding) and tons of shopping and food at the fair. Rides are done on a ticket system and can be purchased at the fair. A package on the State Fair website was offering admission and three ride tickets which we bought prior to arrival. The majority of the fair is outside, so dress for the weather. The fair is accessible in terms of it is all one level and the buildings have accessible entrances, however, most of the ground is dirt and would be difficult to maneuver with a manual wheelchair. A larger electric powerchair can handle most of the terrain.
Island Adventures is the whale watching excursion we chose while in Seattle. The boat departed from Anacortes and traveled down river in search of Orca Whales. Several operators have boats in different harbours, all with regular excursions in search of whales and other wildlife. Unfortunately, our particular operator did not have a wheelchair accessible boat, it required three steps to get up onto the boat, however, there were handlebars and plenty of space in the washrooms. There are other operators near Seattle who do have accessible boats. Our guides were marine biologists and scientists who were able to provide insight into the whale’s behaviors. There was a photographer onboard that took amazing pictures which we could purchase on a drive at the end of the trip.
About 30 minutes outside Seattle is Mount Rainier National Park. This is the highest mountain in Washington State and hosts some amazing glaziers. We drove up to Sunrise Visitor Center, the highest point at Mount Rainier accessible by vehicles. In order to reach this centre you must pay the $30 USD fee for a regular vehicle, please see park website for additional fees. Sunrise Visitor Centre offers great views of Mt. Rainier as well as hiking trails, lodging and food. The visitor centre allows visitors to learn about Mt. Rainier and the surrounding areas. The Visitor Centre is wheelchair accessible and has accessible washroom facilities. The hiking trails are too steep and narrow for wheelchairs, but some fantastic viewing is available from the parking lot and visitor centre for Mount Rainier.
Our last stop in Seattle is the Boeing Factory. Located about 30 minutes north of Seattle is the Boeing Factory where they make the iconic 747 airplane as well several other airplane models. This tour must be pre-booked online as it does sell out in advance. The tour is entirely wheelchair accessible. The tour last approximately one hour and takes you out to the factory where they make Boeing 747 and 787 Aircraft. There is a strict no phones, cameras or bags policy. The only thing you can take on this tour is yourselves. You must be 48” or taller to participate in the tour for safety reasons. If you have time before your tour, spend some time exploring the Future of Flight Aviation Centre, if you do not have time before then consider spending time after. This centre provides details, pictures and items from past and future flight programs as well as space programs. Tickets are $25 USD and include the Future of Flight Aviation Centre and the museum. Tours operate from 9am-3pm daily. During our visit, we were lucky enough to see a Dreamlifter plane. There are only four of these planes in the entire world. They were built by Boeing to bring pieces of Boeing planes to the factory in Washington for assembly.
Seattle is a great city to visit for tourists who want to feel like locals. There are many great activities in Seattle. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to experience everything and so we look forward to going again in the future.