a vibrant music scene, there’s plenty in the West coast city to keep business travelers entertained
A Seattle Symphony – From flying fish to a vibrant music scene, the West Coast city has plenty to entertain business travelers
The seaport city of Seattle needs little introduction. Perhaps most famous for coffee, grunge music and rain, it has also appeared on the big screen, winning the hearts of millions in 1993 flick Sleepless in Seattle, and more recently as the setting for hit ABC medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy.
Home to a population of more than 600,000, Washington state’s largest city is one of the fastest-growing major urban areas in the US. It welcomes a constant stream of business and leisure travelers thanks to its position on the West Coast (it’s less than two hours from San Francisco, and under an hour from Vancouver), as well as its role as a trading and industrial hub.
Much of this success comes from its connection to the growth of Boeing after World War II, which has established Seattle as an aircraft-manufacturing hub. Since then, Seattle has gone on to attract prominent tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Today, Seattle readily embraces a wide range of cultures and it’s this multiculturalism that helps to make the city such a compelling destination.
Pike Place Market
A short stroll along the Elliott Bay waterfront will take you to the famous Pike Place Market, one of the oldest of its kind in the US and among Seattle’s most popular tourist stops. A must-see is Pike Place Fish Market – an open-air market that’s home to countless seafood stalls. Be on the lookout for the highly entertaining“flying fish”shenanigans where fishmongers hurl produce to each other over the heads of shoppers.
The theatrics were first introduced in the mid ’80s, when the then relatively unknown market was struggling to attract customers. The amusing antics not only saved the market, but have made it a world-famous attraction. Just be sure to mind your head, especially in areas with signs reading,“Caution: Low-flying Fish.” pikeplacefish.com
Pike Place Market features other fresh produce shops, selling everything from fruit to ostrich eggs. The famous Beecher’s Handmade Cheese factory includes a retail shop and café that creates cheesebased meals. The signature macaroni and cheese based on the recipe of founder Kurt Beecher Dammeier has been extensively reviewed and raved about by the likes of The New York Times and The Washington Post. beechershandmadecheese.com
Another noteworthy stop, particularly for caffeine addicts, is the original Starbucks Coffee store. After a brief spell at Western Avenue in 1971, the small independent coffee house moved to Pike Place in 1977. The original store has been well preserved and remains largely unchanged. A particularly noticeable feature is the brand’s signage at the entrance, which still depicts the company’s original logo – a barebreasted siren in all her glory. Starbucks is named after a minor character in Moby Dick. The original logo was therefore designed to evoke the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders. starbucks.com
Seattle’s most iconic sight, the Space Needle is perfect for escaping the bustle of the waterfront area, and affords breathtaking panoramic views of the skyline from the Observation Deck. Highpowered elevators take you up to the top of the 600-foot-high tower in 40 seconds, through what locals call“typical Seattle weather”– rain and mist – which might at times obscure the views. Observation Deck tickets $21; Open 10:00 AM - 9:30 PM Mon-Thurs, 9:30 AM - 10:30 PM Fri-Sat, 9:30 AM - 9:30 PM Sun;spaceneedle.com).
The Space Needle’s revolving SkyCity Restaurant, situated 500 feet above the ground, is well worth a visit. The menu by executive chef Jeff Maxfield includes a wide range of seafood and Seattle favorites such as Dungeness crab cakes ($18) and wild king salmon ($49). Starbucks coffee is, of course, also served and each visit to the restaurant comes with a free trip to the Space Needle’s Observation Deck.
Benaroya Hall and the Seattle Symphony
Seattle is renowned for its entertainment scene. Affectionately recognized as a regional center for the performing arts, the city boasts some of the most prestigious
establishments, most notably the Seattle Symphony – one of the world’s mostrecorded orchestras, now celebrating its 112th consecutive season.
Currently under the leadership of music director Ludovic Morlot, the orchestra performs at one of the finest concert halls in the world – Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle – to an audience of more than 300,000 people annually. With such a pedigree, it’s therefore no wonder the Seattle Symphony has accumulated some 18 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. benaroyahall.org
On the flip side, being the hometown of huge ’90s artists such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, Seattle is also considered to be the home of grunge, a subgenre of alternative rock. Grunge’s signature sound of heavily distorted electric guitar and angst-filled lyrics is the perfect embodiment of ’90s Seattle: a secondary city with a thriving music scene that was so often overshadowed by Los Angeles and NewYork City.
Today, this legacy continues with record label Sub Pop, credited with first popularizing this niche music genre. The Showbox at The Market, just across the street from Pike Place, has hosted everyone from Pearl Jam to Muddy Waters, and is one of the top venues to catch alternative acts.showboxpresents.com
Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
Until 2001, Seattle was the headquarters of aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing. While the company has since moved its corporate offices to Chicago, it still operates individual airplane production facilities in Renton (narrow-body) and Everett (wide-body), both of which are within an hour’s drive from the downtown Seattle area. While many facilities are off-limits to visitors, Boeing does operate a tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center – an aviation museum that features an exciting array of products from the famous manufacturer.
Guests can look in on a 727 cockpit, a full-sized Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine and several informative digital and video presentations. However, the star attraction has to be the Boeing Tour itself, during which guests are brought into the assembly plant to witness airplanes at different stages of construction and testing.
Each individual Boeing wide-body aircraft model has its own designated section in the main assembly facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for being the largest building in the world by volume. Visitors can also witness the construction of multiple 787s, all at different stages. For those with an interest in aviation, being able to get up close and personal with halfbuilt aircraft is an unforgettable experience.
The tour ends at the Boeing Store, which sells a wide range of memorabilia, from clothing and aircraft models to collectibles. (Admission $20; futureofflight.org) BT
From top: Benaroya Hall, Boeing factory, Space Needle