Being a native of the Seattle area, I haven’t done many guided tours. When I heard more about the Hop On-Hop Off Emerald City Trolley though, I decided to call a friend and experience this excursion!
While many tours are a great way to see our beautiful city, the Emerald City Trolley has the luxury of stopping at a number of the main attractions around town where you can “Hop off” and spend some time seeing the sights of your choosing. This narrated tour not only gives interesting tidbits of history and fun facts along the way, but also great suggestions of places to go that aren’t in your everyday guide book.
There are two routes, the Downtown Seattle Tour and the Overlook and Locks Tour. Both cover a large portion of Seattle’s highlights and we were surprised but excited to learn our one-day pass covered both. We chose to drive and park near the EMP at Seattle Center which was nice since both trolley routes meet and start here. However, if you choose to take the convenient and affordable Link Light Rail, the Pioneer Square stop is just a couple short blocks away where the downtown trolley meets at 1st & Cherry.
Right away our tour guide began describing of all the attractions to see at each stop as well as historical and pop culture points of interest. I have many new fascinating pieces of knowledge. One I found entertaining was that the Edgewater Inn on the waterfront, known to have once had the Beatles stay, was in danger of going bankrupt when it did not open in time for the World’s Fair in 1962. The answer? Let patrons fish off the balconies, then send their catch down to the chef to fry up for for a fresh seafood dinner! This was a great idea until certain guests left unwanted fish behind only to be found by maid service or even worse, the next occupants.
Passing by the Seattle Aquarium, and Ye Ole Curiosity Shoppe as well as plenty of great places to eat, we decided to hop off at Pioneer Square since neither of us had explored the area for quite a while. Here you can take time to visit Seattle’s Underground Tour or the Klondike Gold Rush Museum and Historical Park.
We wandered around and were once again reminded of the beauty of the architecture, streets and trees overhead, and the eclectic mixture of shops and people. We found a mini farmers’ market, a life size chess game, ivy covered buildings and music in our surroundings and then, in the middle of everywhere, an enclosed waterfall garden. Neither of us had noticed it before and it was a sweet little place to have a snack, catch our breath and enjoy the mist and fresh air.
We hopped back on the trolley to continue our journey. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to hit the Overlook and Locks tour so we rode on through Pike Place Market and the downtown Westlake shopping center learning more fun facts. I know next time to make time for lunch in front of Nike Town where Maximus Minimus the mobile pig, serves up some of the most aromatic BBQ pork sandwiches my nose has ever been teased by.
Reaching the EMP once again, we switched trolleys to head on the 2nd part of our expedition. I haven’t been to Hiram M. Chittenden Locks for many years and was excited to spend some time there again.
On the way we passed South lake Union, MOHAI, and learned a great deal about the industrial side of Seattle, the houseboat community, Paul Allen’s works, and how encompassing Amazon really is.
Going through the quirky, yet quaint Fremont I was wishing we had more time in the day to wander but we did learn amusing stories behind their unique sculptures and how the community celebrates them.
Up to the Woodland Park Zoo, then the Locks where my friend and I hopped off to enjoy watching the boats pass through and the salmon run as if we were kids again. The visitor center, the park paths and rose garden made a nice walk whenthe afternoon turned a bit muggy.
With time to spare before the last trolley of the day, we crossed the street to Red Mill Totem House where they have been noted to have some of the best onion rings nationally by Oprah and GQ magazine. Love me some good onion rings!
When the trolley picked us up we rode through Queen Anne where I learned Seattle’s Downtown is the most terra-formed city in the world to level out streets for easier traveling. Queen Anne Hill being un-treated in this fashion shows how our city is naturally formed. I would not want to live there on an icy day! However, at the top, the stop at Kerry Park was an amazing view where some of the best known pictures of Seattle are taken. Our driver pulled over and offered to take our pictures if we wanted a pose at this famous spot.
Down the hill we headed back to EMP for what ended up being a very full day! I came away knowing much more of our great city and love sharing the fun facts with other visitors now! I also tell people getting a 2–day pass for just $7 more is WELL worth it so you have more time to hop off and explore all these great spots!
Ticket cost: $28 Adults, Youth $15. Family Packages and 2-day passes available. Or try the Argosy Cruise/Trolley combo package! $49 Adult, Youth $25. Kids under 3 are free.
Hours vary depending on the season.