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Seattle - Washington

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Page 2: Day Trips | Hotels

Seattle Scenes & Day Trips

Seattle is a truly civilized city, in a region with incomparable beauty and a climate, while wet at times, only adds to the charm. From almost anywhere in Seattle, you can see the hills that rise above the city in the West Seattle area. Queen Anne Hill and Capitol Hill are the most notable; each with its own network of parks and scenic viewpoints. Magnolia Boulevard, on Queen Anne Hill leads to Discovery Park, the city's largest and most varied piece of parkland. A former army base, this park features groves of trees, dunes, picnic areas, a museum, and a Native cultural center. Queen Anne Hill has the Seattle Center at its base.

Capitol Hill is mainly residential, with Broadway as its main street. Here, you'll find cafes and bars, the Cornish College of the Arts, and St. Mark's Cathedral, on 10th Avenue East. Volunteer Park is a 450-acre green space on the northern heights. It has a circle drive and the Seattle Art Museum, with its large Asian art collection is here. Some of Seattle's oldest residences -- renovated and preserved -- are in the area.

To the north of Downtown Seattle and the hills is the Duwamish Waterway, which connects Lake Washington to little Union Lake; and beside the community of Ballard through the Hiram Chittenden Locks (popularly called the Ballard Locks) to Elliot Bay and Puget Sound.

The University of Washington campus anchors Seattle's northern neighborhoods, and Lake Washington provides a beautiful setting for several residential communities. Woodland Park Zoo is at the north end of Fremont Ave. Originally a private estate, the zoo features plenty of room for animals to roam, and an outstanding rain forest setting for the resident gorillas. You'll also find the African Savanna section, with lions, elephants, hippos, zebras, and giraffes.

Woodland Park also includes a children's theater, and an arboretum; the east side of the park contains tennis courts, pitch and putt golf, and a walking trail to Greenlake. The university was founded in 1861, and is blessed with fine gardens, an arboretum and several museums. The Thomas Burke Memorial Museum, at the north entrance to the campus, has a fine collection of native Indian art and artifacts. The Henry Art Gallery has an extensive collection of 18th and 19th-century art, and also features traveling exhibitions.

To the east of Lake Washington is the city of Bellevue, part of a major (and still growing) suburban area. The "Eastside" also includes the town of Kirkland, Issaquah, and -- to the north -- Lynwood and Woodinville (home of St. Michelle Winery, Washington's largest winemaker, on a lovely country estate).

Day Trips from Seattle

Seattle is in the midst of marvelous landscape, with sea and mountains providing spectacular vistas. Here are a few of many side-trips to enjoy, while based in the Seattle area.

Mt. Rainier National Park

To the east of Seattle lie the Cascade Mountains, dominated by Mt. Rainier, southeast of the city. With a day's return drive, you can experience the majesty of Rainier and the national park that bears its name. To get there, take I-5 south, past Tacoma, and exit to Highway 512, which runs east to the junction with 161. Turn south on Highway 161 and drive through Eatonville (26 miles), and turn left onto Highway 7. After 10 miles (at Elbe) take Hwy. 706 to Ashford, and follow the winding mountain road to the National Park Visitor Center and Paradise Lodge.

This summer-only road continues along the mountain base to join Hwy. 123, which leads north to the Sunrise sideroad, and panoramic views from a visitor center and viewpoint at the top of the road. This is the highest spot on Rainier accessible by car. You can return to Seattle by continuing north on Hwy. 123, and then Highway 410, which leads to the Valley Freeway (to Kent, south of Seattle), and also to I-5 just north of Tacoma.

You may, of course, choose to do the trip via the reverse route -- to arrive at Sunrise just before sunrise. It's an unforgettable view.

The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad takes a 40-mile excursion from the village of Elbe, and on weekend evenings, it becomes a dinner train. For information and reservations, call (206) 569-2588.

Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie is the small mountain town where the cult TV series and film "Twin Peaks" were filmed. With its dramatic waterfall, the town has long been a tourist attraction. 25 miles due east of Seattle, via Interstate 90, the Snoqualmie River cascades 268 feet through the familiar gorge. Salish Lodge overlooks the falls. This is one of the premier resort hotels in the region, operated by the same company that owns and operates the famed Salishan Lodge at Oregon's Gleneden Beach. For information on Salish lodge, call (206) 888-2556 or 800-826-6124. Interstate 90 leads farther east to winter ski slopes and recreation areas in the Snoqualmie National Forest.

Mount St. Helens

The trip to Mt. Rainier, as well as this drive to Mt. St. Helens, makes for an exciting weekend, or a week's vacation. Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is 90 minutes' drive south of Seattle, and a shorter distance from Tacoma and Olympic. To begin, drive south on Interstate 5, and turn east onto State Route 504, which provides access to the Spirit Lake Visitor Center. From here you can peer at the blasted mountain top through telescopes, and see exhibits of the great eruption of May 18, 1980. The museum includes a walk-in volcano. Along Route 504, you can see the Toutle River and the flood damage it suffered following the explosion. The highway leads through the middle of the Volcanic Monument.

Continue up the mountain to the new visitor center at Spirit Lake, to see the devastation from a higher vantage point. This is the highest point accessible by car, and the visitor center has displays on the damage caused by the eruption. On the other hand, you can see the devastation yourself. You can also witness the restorative properties of nature, as the mountainside recovers from the blast.

The best views of the volcano and the aftermath of the eruption can be seen by taking Forest Road 25, driving south of the town of Randle. The loop trip around the mountain takes you to Ape Cave, a two-mile lava tube, and a hike on the Trail of Two Forests. This is an interpretive trail that provides information on the ecology of the mountain. The roads which form the loop drive around Mt. St. Helens are closed from November to Memorial Day.

Snohomish to Wenatchee

The drive over Stevens Pass (4,061 feet) provides a fascinating look at the north Cascades, and the chance to visit several charming towns. To begin, drive north from, Seattle on Interstate 5, and turn east onto Highway 97. On the way to the pass, you'll drive through Snohomish, Monroe, Gold Bay, and Skyhomish.

Over the pass, Leavenworth seems like a Bavarian transplant or clone. This theme town has German and Austrian cafes, and available recreation includes river rafting. The road continues to Wenatchee, the apple capital of the state, and farther north to Lake Chelan -- another resort area in the forested mountains.

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