Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vacationing in Seattle: Exploring Fremont, Ballard, Microsoft and Museum of Flight

Although well-known landmarks such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle are usually top-of-mind for visitors (which I mentioned in this and this post), there is a lot to explore outside of downtown Seattle.  We had the chance to visit a few other neighborhoods and attractions outside the downtown core while visiting Seattle for a few days.

One of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods is Fremont.  It has a funky, eclectic, hippie vibe.  Where else could you find all these sights within just a few blocks?

Seattle - Fremont troll
There really IS a troll under a bridge!  The Fremont troll looks menacing, especially since he's seen crushing a Volkswagen Beetle, but he's only made of concrete.

Seattle - Fremont rocket
Fremont Rocket

Seattle - Fremont directional marker
Directional Marker

Seattle - Lenin statue in Fremont
This 20-foot-tall Lenin statue was removed from a Czech square after the fall of communism, but a Seattle resident purchased and had it shipped to his hometown.  It now stands in Fremont as a work of art.

Seattle - Fremont 030
Unfortunately this shop was closed during our visit, but we did find a couple other vintage stores to peruse.

Fremont also houses the first and only organic and Fair Trade, “bean-to-bar” chocolate factory in the U.S., Theo Chocolate.  We had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes in the factory, and learned about the process of turning beans into delectable confections.  We sampled the gamut of chocolates, from nibs (tiny pieces of the cacao bean itself), which are 100% cocoa, to milk chocolates that are only 45% cocoa.  My favorite is their new Salted Almond Dark Chocolate.

Seattle - Theo Chocolate Factory Tour 012a 
 Seattle - Theo Chocolate Factory tour 002

Fremont is known for unique and quirky stores, such as this glass blowing shop, with jellyfish lamps that I am ga-ga over.
   Seattle - Fremont glass blowing shop    
After Fremont, we stopped by its neighbor, the town of Ballard.  We didn’t get a chance to explore like we did in Fremont, instead choosing to check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (locally known as the Ballard locks, which is a much simpler name).  The locks separate the fresh waters of Lakes Union and Washington, from the saltwater of the Puget Sound, while also helping boats get from one water level to the other.  If you’ve never seen locks in action, it’s an interesting process.

Seattle - Hiram M. Chittenden Locks 007
Note the water level when the boats were first held in the lock

Seattle - Hiram M. Chittenden Locks 012
Note the water level as the boats prepared to leave the lock, toward Puget Sound
My two guys had their fun at the Microsoft headquarters in the suburb of Redmond.  Its campus is so big there are shuttles to transport employees from one building to another.  The Microsoft Visitor Center was basically a big marketing opportunity for the company, but my techie guys enjoyed playing with all the gadgets and games.  There were large touchscreen monitors where you could explore Microsoft’s search engine, Bing.  I decided it would be more fun to pull up my blog and see it on the big screen.

Seattle - Microsoft 025
My blog on the big screen!
Seattle - Microsoft 046
My guys battling it out in a sand volleyball game on the Xbox Kinect

Our last stop was the Museum of Flight, near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, at the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co.  In their Airpark, we walked through a retired Air Force One jet that Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon used, as well as the last Concorde supersonic jetliner to fly.  Concorde fun fact:  Phil Collins performed at the 1985 Live Aid concert in London, hopped on the Concorde, and performed at the U.S. Live Aid show in Philadelphia just four hours later.  Wow!

Seattle - Museum of Flight 013a
Do I look like a First Lady?
Seattle - Museum of Flight 023
Posing in front of a Concorde jet

Museum of Flight - Big Stud
I like the name of thiis plane from the WWI & WWII exhibit.

There were certainly lots more things to see and do in Seattle, but I think we packed a lot into just three and a half days.  What are your favorite Seattle neighborhoods, attractions, or things-to-do that we missed?

1 comment:

  1. Next trip in, the antique mall and auction house in the SoDo district is a must see and a fabulous way to kill a couple hours and is right up your alley. We go once a month with a large coffee and squash bread from Macrina bakery down the street...for some good Seattle nourishment.


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