Visit Fishermen's Terminal for a taste of the maritime life

For many of us, the salty excitement of visiting a workingdock vanished years ago. These days, watching behemoth containerships being unloaded by distant cranes is about as close as we getto the ebb and flow of life at sea.

Not so in Seattle. Northwest of downtown, Salmon Bay'sFishermen's Terminal is a vibrant community of commercial fishers,restaurant owners, and shopkeepers. Vessels from here ply thewaters of the north Pacific Ocean all the way to the Gulf of Alaskaand the Bering Sea. March is a good time to spend a day wanderingthe public docks, terminal, and marketplace.

Begin with a stroll along the seawall at the terminal's westend, where you'll find Dungeness crab and salmon for sale right offthe boats. Afterward, head inside to the Highliner Pub ($; 3909 18th Ave. W.; 206/283-2233) for a beer and a chanceto eavesdrop on all the seaworthy gossip. Nearby at tobacconistF.K. Kirsten (1900 W. Nickerson St., #112; 206/286-0851), fishermengather in their high rubber boots to shop for good cigars.

The Fishermen's Memorial, outdoors at the center of the plaza,is a worthy spot for a moment of reflection. Towering andbeautiful, the bronze pillar is topped with a statue of a fishermanand flanked by stone slabs bearing the names of locals lost atsea.

Back inside, have lunch or dinner at Chinook's at Salmon Bay ($$; no lunch Sun; 206/283-4665), or enjoy breakfast orlunch at Bay Café ($; 206/282-3435). Chinook's is famous for its wideselection of fresh fish, while at the Bay Café, you can ordera mighty, fit-for-a-fisherman breakfast.

Finally, take home a memento of your day by visiting AfishionadoGallery (206/283-5078), where you'll find art that celebrates lifeat sea. And if you haven't already had your fill of fish, try WildSalmon Seafood Market (206/283-3366). After all, there's no reason you can't bringthe finest catch of the day to your own table.

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