Seattle is a thriving, cosmopolitan city surrounded by majestic mountains, sparkling blue waters, scenic beauty and a wide array of outdoor recreation. Within the city’s compact, bustling downtown district, a wealth of sightseeing tours, museums, performance venues, shopping and award-winning restaurants await group tour operators.
History is All Around
Pioneer Square, Seattle’s historic district, offers more than 20 square blocks of Victorian Romanesque architecture, the city’s highest concentration of art galleries, lively restaurants and plenty of Seattle history. Seattle began here as a bustling lumber town in the 1800s and soon became a primary staging area for the Klondike Gold Rush. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park interprets Seattle’s critical role in the gold rush. Visit www.pioneersquare.org for more background. In 1889, a great fire destroyed much of the original wooden city, but Seattle was rebuilt with brick and mortar atop the ruins and today, visitors can tour the remnants below the streets via the guided 90-minute Underground Tour. The tour explores subterranean passages that once served as the main roadways and first floor storefronts of old Seattle, offering history and occasional tongue-in-cheek anecdotes. Tour participants should be aware that six flights of stairs are encountered during the tour. Daily tours are offered; times change seasonally. The tour begins at Doc Maynard’s restaurant at 608 First Avenue; private tours can be booked in advance by phoning (206) 682-4646, Ext. 202. For more information visit www.undergroundtour.com. There is parking for charter buses in Pioneer Square on Main Street between First and Second Avenues next to Occidental Park. Six blocks north in the heart of downtown Seattle is Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated farmer’s markets in the U.S., presiding over a nine-acre historic district with fresh fish and produce stands, arts and crafts, ethnic groceries and gift stores, collectibles, international restaurants, cafes and food bars. Do not miss the original Starbucks store in the heart of the market. A visitor information booth at 1st and Pike Street offers free market maps. Private market heritage tours for groups of 10 or more may be arranged in advance through the Pike Place Market Heritage Foundation at (206) 682- 7453. Visit their Web site at www.pikeplacemarket.org Additional tours can be arranged with local chefs or walking tour guides. The market has bus drop-off points located just behind and west of the Market in the 1600 block of Western Avenue. Bus parking is available on nearby city streets on a firstcome, first-served basis or on the Seattle waterfront on Alaskan Way at piers 62/63.
Getting Out on the Water
The Seattle waterfront offers water sightseeing tours, dining cruises and trips to Tillicum Village. Departing from Pier 55 and 56, Argosy Cruises is Seattle’s largest water sightseeing tour operator, offering narrated excursions of Seattle’s harbor, Lakes Union and Washington, the Hiram Chittenden Locks and Puget Sound. The one-hour Harbor Cruise highlights Seattle’s colorful harbor. Argosy also offers a cruise through the Hiram Chittenden Locks, a Seattle and a Kirkland Lakes Cruise as well as themed dining cruises year-round aboard the Royal Argosy, a 180-foot classically designed cruise ship. Argosy also offers a four-hour excursion to islandbased Tillicum Village, the quintessential Northwest experience including a narrated cruise to its Blake Island State Park location, a Northwest Native American dance performance and a delicious authentic salmon bake all in a traditional, cedar-plank longhouse. Group rates are available on all products; full payment is due 30 days in advance. One comp per motorcoach is offered. The area for motorcoach loading and unloading is at the pier; the AGC parking is done at Lake Union or the Kirkland City Dock. The group sales department can be reached at (206) 676-3158 or visit www.argosycruises.com for more information.
Attractions are a Participation
Sport in Seattle
The 605-foot Space Needle is the ever futuristic icon of Seattle and a legacy of the 1962 World’s Fair. The group ticket rate is $17 for adults. The tower features an observation deck at its 520-foot level and the SkyCity restaurant, just below, rotates on the hour and is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The 100-foot SkyLine Level, available for group functions (meal packages available), features 360-degree views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound and the Cascade and Olympic mountains and includes a group observation deck visit. Group observation deck visits must be reserved and final payment is due at the time of visit. For groups on the SkyLine level, a deposit is due at signing of group contracts, 30 days prior to the event. A motorcoach drop-off zone is located at Broad Street. Long-term parking suggestions can be made by contracting the groups/catering office at (206) 905-2180 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.spaceneedle.com. Tour groups become musical recording groups at the Experience Music Project (EMP), which invites museum guests to perform their own tunes on stage, learn to play the electric guitar or master percussion. The Frank Gehrydesigned interactive music museum, the brainchild of Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen, is dedicated to exploring creativity and innovation in American popular music, from rock and roll to jazz, soul gospel, country, blues and other genres. The museum also features the world’s largest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia. Group tours include a self-guided tour, group entry and a discounted group rate. Passengers are dropped off at the group entrance at the Harrison Street turnaround located on Fifth Avenue and Harrison Street and parking is done at Seattle Center’s 5th and Harrison Street parking facility for a fee. On-site is the Double Take Café, which is a sit-down bistro featuring sandwiches, salads, desserts and beverages. For group sales, phone (206) 770-2776 or visit www.emplive.com.
Seattle Southside offers an affordable and convenient home base for groups traveling to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. Centrally located between Seattle and Tacoma and a short drive from Mount Rainier, all of the sights and sounds can be easily visited. Seattle has a well-documented history in aviation in the air and on the water. Built around the Boeing family’s Red Barn at the south end of Boeing Field, the Museum of Flight celebrates more than 100 years of flight, offering galleries and activities for aviation enthusiasts. The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum is the nation’s only public museum dedicated to powerboat racing. Visitors can view a rare collection of vintage hydroplanes spanning seven decades, including boats that won 17 Gold Cups. Every summer, visitors can see live hydroplane racing at Seattle’s citywide Seafair event. For more unique experiences in Seattle Southside groups can try these activities: soar on a column of air at iFLY Indoor Skydiving, learn to cook a Northwest specialty dish, race around the track in a Lotus racecar, touch sea life in a hands-on wave pool, set sail on a chartered sailboat or meet a professional soccer star. Southside Seattle is a great home base option for groups on a budget. Most Southside hotels provide free parking and complimentary breakfast and offer less expensive rates they you will find in the larger cities. Many visitors to western Washington are surprised by the abundance of activities and landscapes so easily accessible in the region. Due to Seattle Southside’s central location, travelers can head in any direction to experience the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest. From the Pacific Ocean beaches to snowcapped mountain peaks, vibrant city activities to quiet island adventures, rainforest hikes to winery tours, there is no shortage of options for adventure. Contact Meilee Anderson for planning assistance to Seattle Southside at Meilee@seattlesouthside.com or phone (206) 575-2489. To learn more visit www.seattlesouthside.com