Attractions: Favorite Seattle finds

There's more to Seattle than the Space Needle and Pike's Place Market. Here are some of our favorite places to go and things to do — from music venues and cinemas, to parks, theaters, farmer's markets, and more.

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BAINBRIDGE ISLAND

Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory

  • Bainbridge Island is home to a planetarium and, at 27½ inches in diameter, the largest publicly accessible telescope in the Northwest. The Battle Point Astronomical Association holds monthly star parties, which include planetarium shows and telescope viewings that are open to the public.
  • Free
  • Located in Battle Point Park alongside Battle Point Dr., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Bainbridge Island
  • bpastro.org
  • 206/842-9152
  • Visit their website for scheduled events


BALLARD

Tractor (music venues)

  • Acts that can easily fill larger venues opt instead for extended-night runs at the casual, intimate Tractor. Country singer Shelby Lynne popped by to perform recently. Other acts feature rockabilly, jazz, ska, blues, and pop.
  • $5-$25 for most shows
  • 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Ballard
  • tractortavern.com
  • 206/789-3599
  • Open daily


CAPITOL HILL

Central Cinema

  • Hold the Raisinets–opt for something along the lines of a glass of French red and a stone oven-crisped pizza topped with spicy Italian sausage and organic mustard greens. The Central screens indie flicks, old favorites, and events like the popular Arab-Iranian Film Fest in March. Read more
  • $6
  • 1411 21st Ave., Seattle, WA
  • central-cinema.com
  • 206/686-6684
  • Open daily

Cheap Wine and Poetry (performing arts)

  • With free admission and $1 glasses of wine, this has to be the city’s best bargain night out. Local writers read essays, short stories, comedy, memoirs, and, yes, poetry while the audience packs the small cafe and snacks on cheese and crackers or hummus and veggies.
  • $
  • Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Capitol Hill
  • cheapwineandpoetry.com
  • 206/322-7030
  • Performances happen every other month; visit website for calendar of events

Arthur Lee Jacobson Plant Tour

  • When it comes to trees in Seattle, Jacobson wrote the books. Having canvassed streets, parks, ravines, cliffs, and beaches to record the over 1,000 trees located in the city, Jacobson is well prepared to lead his seasonal walking tours.
  • Tours $10 for 2 hours
  • 2215 E. Howe St., Seattle, WA
  • arthurleej.com
  • 206/328-8733
  • Walking tours March-October; destinations change with the seasons


COLUMBIA CITY

Seward Park Environmental & Audubon Center (parks)

  • With 277 glorious, woodsy acres jutting into Lake Washington, bike paths, and sandy beaches, Seward Park has always had a lot going for it. The center is within a historic landmark, a refurbished 1927 Tudor, where there’s a library, a lab, and two classrooms where kids can test their science savvy.
  • Free entrance
  • 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Seward Park
  • sewardpark.audubon.org
  • 206/652-2444
  • Open Tuesday-Saturday in summer; Wednesday-Saturday in winter


DOWNTOWN

The Triple Door (music)

  • You might her Robert Cray while munching on salt-and-pepper squid one night and then discover a folk singer-songwriter the next. This 1926 theater was saved from boarded-up neglect and turned into an intimate place to hear musicians who are not just run-of-the-mill mainstream.
  • $$$
  • 216 Union St,. Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • thetripledoor.net
  • 206/838-4333
  • Open daily

Tour de Chocolat (tours)

  • For some schooling in the Northwest’s other brown bean, hop onto the Tour de Chocolat van, run by the Chocolate Box shop, for a three-hour edible intro to the city’s hottest sweet spots: Theo Chocolate, Oh! Chocolate, and Fran’s Chocolates.
  • $55
  • 108 Pine St., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • sschocolatebox.com
  • 206/443-3900
  • Tours Friday-Sunday; reservations required

Freeway Park

  • The 5¼-acre park that forms a lid over part of Interstate 5 is known for its horticultural integrity as much as it’s engineering marvels. There are more than 350 trees, plus a slew of bulbs and perennials, that provide a constantly evolving tapestry of colors.
  • Free
  • 700 Seneca St., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • cityofseattle.gov/parks
  • 206/684-4075
  • Open daily

Seattle Art Museum

  • Go for their facility which can accommodate fine art from around the world and multiple special exhibits, like the Andy Warhol Media Works exhibit. Things loosen up a little after-hours at the Seattle Art Museum. The first Thursday of every month is always free and you get cocktails and live music.
  • Recommended donation $15
  • 1300 1st Ave., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Downtown
  • seattleartmuseum.org
  • 206/654-3100
  • Open Wednesday-Sunday

 

LAKE UNION

Banya 5 (day spas)

  • Patrons visit this banya (Russian for “bath”) for it’s moist sauna, Turkish-style steam room, cold plunge, and tepid saltwater pool. Men, women, and families all enjoy the 20-ton 220° perilka oven, inside a bathhouse that is therapeutic without being froufrou.
  • $35 entry; treatments from $45
  • 217 Ninth Ave. N., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: South Lake Union
  • banya5.com
  • 206/262-1234
  • Open Tuesday-Sunday; visit their website for details about the Early Bird Special

Northwest Outdoor Center (outdoor sporting)

  • The most astonishing thing about kayaking in Seattle is the variety of experiences in an urban backyard, especially in the industrial waterways where you can actually see more wildlife. The Puget Sound region has a wealth of instructors and kayak shops, including the NWOC.
  • Kayak rental $13 for 1 hour
  • 2100 Westlake Ave. N., Ste. 1, Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Lake Union
  • nwoc.com
  • 206/281-9694
  • Open daily


MAGNOLIA

Puget Sound Bird Watching

  • In autumn, flame-colored maples light up the forest edges, chum salmon hit the creeks, and waterbirds like buffleheads and harlequin ducks come home for the winter. Add in year-round residents like rhinoceros auklets (yes, they have horns on their bills) and the place starts looking like a zoo. Observe from Discovery Park, where the wild beaches have tidepools, bluffs, and restored wetlands.
  • Free
  • 3801 W. Government Way, Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Magnolia
  • seattle.gov/parks
  • 206/386-4236
  • Call the visitor’s center (Closed Mondays) for directions to park


PIONEER SQUARE

  • Smith Tower (landmarks)
  • Seattle’s first skyscraper is located in the city’s original downtown Pioneer Square–a symphony of red brick, limestone arches, and cobbled streets. Ride up the hand-driven elevator to the observation deck for views that rival the Space Needle’s.
  • $7.50
  • 506 Second Ave., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
  • smithtower.com
  • 206/622-4004
  • Visit website for seasonal hours


QUEEN ANNE

Pacific Northwest Ballet

  • You can watch professionally trained bodies bending, leaping, and twirling every which way at the venerable Pacific Northwest Ballet. Tickets normally run $25 to $150, but if you time it right you can score tickets at the little-known $10 preview days.
  • Tickets from $10
  • McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Queen Anne
  • pnb.org
  • 206/441-2424
  • Call for a schedule; preview days are usually the Friday before a show but tickets sell out quickly

Book-It Repertory Theatre

  • These are not just plays based on books but theater entirely from books. Practically every word is spoken, every scene, every situation comes straight from the text. From Don Quixote to John Irving’s The Cider House Rules, go for performances absolutely cut down to their essence.
  • Tickets $20-$40
  • Center House Theatre, 305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Lower Queen Anne
  • book-it.org
  • 206/216-0833
  • Visit website for calendar of events

Teatro ZinZanni (performing arts)

  • Enjoy this saucy mix of burlesque, comedy, and dinner circus. The ever-evolving production that combines improv, dance, and sensuality is served up with a five-course gourmet dinner under a giant Belgian mirrored tent.
  • Tickets from $105
  • 222 Mercer St., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: Lower Queen Anne
  • zinzanni.org
  • 206/802-0015
  • Open Thursday-Sunday; visit their website for special events


WEST SEATTLE

Weather Watch Park

  • Make like a meteorologist or a little kid and look up. From towering cumulous castles to saucerlike lenticulars, Northwest clouds are viewed easily form the park’s wide-open western vantage point. Pull up a driftwood log on the pebble beach just below the park, tilt your head back–and gaze.
  • Free
  • 4035 Beach Dr. S.W., Seattle, WA
  • Neighborhood: West Seattle
  • seattle.gov/parks
  • 206/684-4075
  • Open daily


ALL OVER

Seattle Farmers’ Markets

  • Contribute to the local economy while stocking up on fresh produce, cheeses, and baked goods at one of these seven bustling Seattle farmers’ markets: Broadway, Columbia City, Lake City, Magnolia, Phinney, University District, and West Seattle. Each has a unique vibe–from urban farmers’ mixer to neighborhood beehive¬¬.
  • seattlefarmersmarkets.org
  • 206/547-2278
  • Visit their website for exact locations and hour

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