Es­cape To

a vi­brant mu­sic scene, there’s plenty in the West coast city to keep busi­ness trav­el­ers en­ter­tained

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Cle­ment Huang

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

Space Nee­dle

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

GO grunge

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

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