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Pack your bags: Things to do in Seattle

Recently, I embarked on my first trip to the Northwest. My 8-year old son in-tow, we were lucky enough to have friends who lived there, and made the most of our 5 days in this wet climate. So whether you have kids or not, here are some fun things to do in Seattle: EMP Museum The website says "EMP is a leading-edge, non-profit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture." Translated that means it's an awesome museum all about music with a little pop culture thrown in. Upstairs is heaven for kids and adults alike as you get to jam on various instruments (drums, guitars, keyboards), mix your own music and even sing vocals. Downstairs we saw a LegoR exhibit with recreations of the tallest buildings in the world, a Jimi Hendrix tribute, samples of every guitar ever made and even an homage to Nirvana (this is Seattle after all). It also has a fantasy museum attachment which was showcasing Sci-Fi works from movies like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter and more. Needless to say, you can spend hours here, and you should.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Seattle-based glass blower, Dale Chihuly is world-renowned, and for good reason. His stunning creations boggle the mind and leave you feeling like your talent (whatever it may be) is not even on the same level. He's got works all over the world (The Bellagio in Las Vegas is one of the most famous) and a museum in Tacoma, WA but recently opened this smaller "Garden" near the Space Needle. The photos below don't do it justice but needless to say, this is a must-see.

SafeCo Field and CenturyLink Field: So maybe you've heard that Seattle won the Super Bowl this year. Luckily that didn't affect our ability to tour CenturyLink field, where they play (as do the Seattle Sounders the Major League Soccer Team). And though the Mariners are at Spring training, we also checked out SafeCo Field. Both are great tours that last about 90 minutes and give you the history of the teams, plus an inside look at locker rooms, press rooms, access to suites, the field and more. If you or your kids are sports fans, these tours are an easy winner, and all the better if you can attend a game as well. Sadly, neither team was playing when we were there or we would have done both.

Space Needle Obviously you can't skip this unless it's overcast every day you're in Seattle. We were fortunate to see the sun more than once and the views were worth the 45-second elevator ride to the top.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks We had one gorgeous day in Seattle and decided to walk around Ballard, a cute town which is known for a very cool engineering feat. Basically it "provides a link for boats between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which connects eastward to Lake Union and Lake Washington." As boats come in, the Locks are manually adjusted to make the level of water safe for passage. It's pretty cool to see, watch the process and is apparently the 'place to be' in the fall when the salmon swim upriver to spawn. They've created a fish ladder for those who want to come watch thousands of salmon pass between the fresh and salt water.

Mmm, chocolate Lest you think all we did was see the sights, we had to partake in some of Seattle's best known desserts as well. First was a tour of the Theo Chocolate Factory. What makes Theo great is they make all their chocolate right there in the factory, from scratch. And it's all organic and Fair Trade Certified. Even better, their minimum cocoa requirement for their bars is 45%. Sadly, we learned the FDA's minimum for anything to be called chocolate in the US is 10%. Yep, 10! During the tour you get to taste loads of chocolate (loads!) and even in the store afterward there are samples, so come hungry. Theo is sold in Whole Foods and some other national retailers so you can look for them in a store near you as well.

We also hit Hot Cakes, an amazing little space in Ballard known for its mini molten chocolate cakes. And yes, it's as decadent as it sounds. I had a peanut butter and chocolate one that I couldn't even finish. And if you know anything about me, you'd know this says something about how rich the cake was. Luckily Owen chose a simple vanilla bean shake which helped wash down the chocolate. :)

We also went to the Miro exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), which is a smaller museum and one that can be done in an hour if you want to say you've been there. Owen liked being able to create his own masterpieces on the huge digital screen afterwards. And of course we hit Pike Place Market (where they throw the fish) and saw the very first Starbucks.

And since there were no professional sports to attend in February, we decided on a minor league hockey game in Everett, which is about 2o minutes from where my friends live. The beauty of minor league hockey is A) inexpensive seats, B) you get super close to the action and C) they do tons of fun activities for the kids. We got to throw rubber pucks on the ice to try and win money (closest to center ice won) and they gave out cow bells, among other things. Now that's a way to enjoy pro sports!

It was a jam-packed 5 days, but we had a blast and I can't wait to go back. Plus, I got to workout while there (so no vacation weight gain) and as Owen can attest, this is the response when your 8-year old does CrossFit for the first time...

Did I really just do CrossFit?

Have you been to Seattle? I'd love to know some of your favorite spots.


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