Sightseeing ideas for (or how to get rid of) summer guests
What's the most-asked question we get from NWTraveler readers? Easy: "My relatives are coming to stay...
Seattle Times Travel staff
What's the most-asked question we get from NWTraveler readers?
"My relatives are coming to stay this summer. Where can I take them?"
In truth, many of those questions come with this little P.S.: "Um, where can I get rid of them so I can get some time to myself?"
Ever helpful, we offer these ways to keep your visitors busy sightseeing — and away from you. .
Here's where to send them, along with the estimated alone time you'll get:
FERRY RIDE TO BREMERTON
They get: The longest (and most scenic) ferry ride from downtown Seattle; 888-808-7977 or www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/.
You get: About 3 hours, including the ferry turnaround time. Good odds it'll take longer, since Washington ferries tend to break down — a lot — or ram the dock or run aground.
They get: An elevator ride up to the 520-foot observation deck of the Seattle icon for big views; 206-905-2100 or www.spaceneedle.com.
You get: At least 1 hour while they gawk and souvenir-shop. Lots more if you send them to the Space Needle on a sunny weekend, when there can be long, long waits for the very short (41 seconds) elevator ride to the observation deck.
They get: To ogle the mountain scenery in the national park; www.nps.gov/mora or 360-569-2211.
You get: At least 7 hours. More if you insist they simply must visit both Paradise and Sunrise on the same day — and take a hike among the wildflowers. Hint: Perhaps they'd like to spend the night at the park's historic Paradise Inn?
They get: A down-under walking tour of the 19th-century street level of buildings and shops that went subterranean when the city was regraded; 206-682-4646 or www.undergroundtour.com.
You get: 1 ½ hours. More if they get distracted by the Pioneer Square bars or T-shirt shops.
They get: A day trip to Victoria, the B.C. capital, on the passenger-only ferry from Seattle to Victoria; 800-888-2535 or www.clippervacations.com.
You get: All day! Even more if they miss their boat back or have the wrong ID and fall into the clutches of U.S. Customs.
RIDE THE DUCKS
They get: To take the open-air amphibious craft for a water and street tour, round-trip from Seattle Center via Lake Union; 800-817-1116 or www.ridetheducksofseattle.com.
You get: At least 1 ½ hours. More if there's lots of boat traffic. Or a windstorm.
They get: Free hourlong tours on weekends of the downtown Seattle Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park; 206-654-3100 or www.seattleartmuseum.org (click on calendar and search by day).
You get: 3 hours. An hour for each tour and an hour in between. More if they get lost in the recently expanded museum, or if the porcelain room really grabs them.
PORTLAND BY TRAIN
You get: At least 10 hours. Even more if they come back on the Coast Starlight train, which always seems to be late. Sometimes hours late. Sometimes days late if there's a mudslide or derailment — Amtrak specialties — on its way back to Seattle from Los Angeles via Portland.
They get: A mountain drive to the faux-Bavarian town, where they can sightsee and shop to the strains of accordion music; 509-548-5807 or www.leavenworth.org.You get: At least 6-7 hours. More if they're big shoppers. Extra hours if you have them come home on Sunday afternoon via the traffic-snarled Highway 2.
PIKE PLACE MARKET
They get: The city's No. 1 tourist attraction, which will keep them busy walking, shopping and eating for hours; 206-682-7453 or seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pikeplacemarket/.
You get: Minimum 2 hours — 3 hours if they get lost in the market down under; 4 hours if someone sticks a hand in a crab tank.
They get: A cruise on Puget Sound and a salmon feast at Blake Island, along with a Native American-themed dance/cultural show; 206-933-8600 or www.tillicumvillage.com.
You get: 4 hours. Bonus: Want a free evening? Suggest the afternoon/evening tour.
They get: To see the harbor, see the sky, see the wildlife swimming by — from Elliott Bay into Lake Union via the Ballard Locks on an Argosy cruise; 206-623-1445 or www.argosycruises.com/publiccruises/locks.cfm.You get: 2.5 hours, more if they're stopped by the feds for a random safety inspection.
They get: No chance of a rainout, thanks to the retractable roof; 206-346-4000 or see www.mariners.com.
You get: Roughly 3 hours. (Tell them to leave early and stay late to avoid traffic. Pray for extra innings.)
They get: A ride from downtown Seattle to West Seattle and back, through September; 206-205-3866 or transit.metrokc.gov,click on Elliott Bay Water Taxi.
You get: 30 minutes, but that's just the round-trip ride. Make sure they get off in West Seattle and take a walk or the free shuttle van to other points of interest.
TOURS OF SAFECO FIELD AND QWEST FIELD
They get: Tours are available for both facilities, and, if you time it right, you can send them to both on the same day. For Safeco, 206-622-HITS or www.ticketmaster.com.
For Qwest, 206-381-7582 or www.qwestfield.com/venue/publicTours.aspx.
You get: 2.5 hours total. (No tours during home games.)
They get: Walking tours of Wing Luke Asian Museum, markets and historical sites on informal guided tours; 206-623-5124 or www.seattlechinatowntour.com.
You get: 1.5 hours. If you can't think of a favorite restaurant in the International District to send them to after the tour (for an extra couple of hours), then you deserve to spend weeks with your in-laws.
WOODLAND PARK ZOO
They get: The African Savanna, African Village, Temperate Forest, Family Farm, Tropical Rain Forest, Tropical Asia Elephant Forest, Zoomazium indoor/outdoor play space for kids to keep them busy for hours; 206-684-4800 or www.zoo.org.
You get: Minimum 2 hours. Unless something escapes. Then you might not see them again.
SEATTLE ARCHITECTURAL FOUNDATION TOUR
They get: Guided walking tours of architecture and urban design, including contemporary skyscrapers, Art Deco, Seattle bungalows, you name it; 206-667-9184 or www.seattlearchitecture.org.You get: 3 hours. (That's the longest tour; there also are 2-hour ones.)
They get: Thoroughbred racing five days a week for most of the summer racing season — and simulcast racing from other tracks. It can be a daylong experience; 888-931-8400 or www.emeralddowns.com/.
You get: Roughly 5 hours for the complete Emerald Downs live-racing card. Much, much more if you encourage them to arrive early to bet on races from other tracks and take an Emerald Downs tour.
They get: A great weekend escape and international experience! The Midwest relatives will love this; 604-683-2000 or www.tourismvancouver.com/visitors/.
You get: An entire weekend, if you're clever enough to get them to buy into this. (Encourage them to drive up on a Friday afternoon and return Sunday afternoon. They'll love the border-crossing wait. And, if they forget their ID, they may become semi-permanent Canadian residents!)
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.