Catching the train in Seattle

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Another place to visit in Seattle is the Smith Bldg. At one time the tallest building west of the Mississippi. it’s also close to the Ferry Bldg.
That was mentioned by someone earlier in the thread, appears to be a place to visit. How does it compare to City Hall in LA or isn't there a comparison?

Thanks
 

Jean

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If I may add a little to the excellent ideas already given, my suggestion for eating would be anywhere that specialises in seafood. I have spent much time in Seattle (my daughter used to live there) and the US generally and while I can’t say that I would visit the US to sample the food, I have always found that seafood in the Pacific North West to be wonderful. Chowder, halibut, salmon, crab, and more were always special. There used to be interesting seafood shops in the Pike Place market, with the “attention seeking” sellers throwing their produce to each other. Hope all that has survived Covid.
Not sure where you are going on the eastern seaboard, but chowder and lobster were great and inexpensive in Maine and eastern Canada too.
 

anumberone

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That was mentioned by someone earlier in the thread, appears to be a place to visit. How does it compare to City Hall in LA or isn't there a comparison?

Thanks
I don’t know how it compares, my last visit to the Smith Bldg. is really outdated. 1951 To be exact. I think it has turned a bit touristy. Another close by attraction that may be a bit cheesy, but interesting, is the Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Alaskan Way close to the Ferry Bldg. I think the area is now called Pier 54.
 
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flitcraft

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The Smith Tower is a stunning bit of architecture. I worked in an office there in 1980, when it was a bit down on its luck. The elevators were still operated by elevator operators, but that was largely because they would have otherwise been unsafe. Wiring hadn't been updated in decades then--I had a live wire in my office, complete with a sign from management saying, "Do not touch the wire!"

Since then, it's been renovated and I believe the penthouse has been renovated to provide a view of the city. Once it housed the Chinese Room--an extravagant bit of Chinoiserie that featured a bar and lounge. I keep meaning to go back and check it out--but work and now COVID have gotten in the way. But it is a dramatic building well worth checking out--once the tallest building west of the Mississippi.
 

Maglev

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I'm sitting now at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, watching the ferries and all the other sea traffic. It was this view 17 years ago that convinced us to move here from Maui. We felt that the pace of life with a ferry commute would be conducive to a harmonious city. Only on a ferry is there so much variety of accommodations (chairs, tables, or walking outside) and ample opportunity for socialization.
 

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I'm sitting now at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, watching the ferries and all the other sea traffic. It was this view 17 years ago that convinced us to move here from Maui. We felt that the pace of life with a ferry commute would be conducive to a harmonious city. Only on a ferry is there so much variety of accommodations (chairs, tables, or walking outside) and ample opportunity for socialization.
That's certainly a high recommendation for the Seattle area.
 

BCL

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I'm sitting now at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, watching the ferries and all the other sea traffic. It was this view 17 years ago that convinced us to move here from Maui. We felt that the pace of life with a ferry commute would be conducive to a harmonious city. Only on a ferry is there so much variety of accommodations (chairs, tables, or walking outside) and ample opportunity for socialization.
There are some people who would prefer to stay in their vehicles on a car ferry. I heard this was recommended for some time as a COVID-19 precaution, but when I've ridden ferries there were rules about leaving cars as soon as possible and waiting until a certain time before being allowed back in a personal vehicle.
 

zephyr17

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There are some people who would prefer to stay in their vehicles on a car ferry. I heard this was recommended for some time as a COVID-19 precaution, but when I've ridden ferries there were rules about leaving cars as soon as possible and waiting until a certain time before being allowed back in a personal vehicle.
Yeah, staying in your car was and is the recommendation during COVID.

Washington State Ferries have always allowed you to stay in your car if you wanted, though. It isn't something that changed due to the pandemic. They never made you leave the vehicle if you didn't want to
 

BCL

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Yeah, staying in your car was and is the recommendation during COVID.

Washington State Ferries have always allowed you to stay in your car if you wanted, though. It isn't something that changed due to the pandemic. They never made you leave the vehicle if you didn't want to
I didn't remember that much about the times I've taken Washington State Ferries. Once was pretty short and we wanted to get out on the deck anyways. We took the Sidney-Anacortes ferry once and we would have been bored in our car for the entire sailing. But BC Ferries was subject to Canada's regs on staying in a vehicle when below deck, which is most of the major ferries. When I was on one I saw the smaller inter-island ferries that didn't seem to have any below deck vehicle areas.
 

zephyr17

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I didn't remember that much about the times I've taken Washington State Ferries. Once was pretty short and we wanted to get out on the deck anyways. We took the Sidney-Anacortes ferry once and we would have been bored in our car for the entire sailing. But BC Ferries was subject to Canada's regs on staying in a vehicle when below deck, which is most of the major ferries. When I was on one I saw the smaller inter-island ferries that didn't seem to have any below deck vehicle areas.
I've lived in Western Washington for 31 years, and, while not a regular ferry commuter like a lot folks, I've taken them with some frequency over the years. WSF is an integral part of the transportation network in the Puget Sound region.

The question at issue is specific to ferries out of Seattle operated by Washington State Ferries. It wasn't a general question about ferry practices in other places, even in nearby BC. WSF allows and has always allowed you to stay in your vehicle on the car deck.
 

Big Green Chauvanist

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Again another very useful and wide ranging set of ideas for visiting Seattle, thank you very much.

It all comes across as though the best parts of Seattle are hidden away, and it has certainly make us think we have to return again after this visit. Do you have a campground near the city with good public transport access to the city center?

We just enjoy the water and after riding 2 ferries one in Switzerland and one Austria last month it has reaffirmed that. We want to see Seattle and it's backdrop from the water, I understand that there is also a slim chance of seeing whales too, that's a big deal for Rosie. That there is as an interesting museum in Bremerton is a bonus, but not the reason for taking the ferry. We used to live on the water and miss that sometimes, so a number of reasons for making sure we take the ferry.

May I ask how long does an Orca card last?

Thanks again
Others may know better about the ORCA card as I have been using the senior version for ten years now and haven't been following updates. That said, I have kept funds in my original, regular ORCA for use by visitors and it still shows an active status and with funds still available in the "e-purse". As to camping by transit, here is one by boat within sight of Seattle. This island state park also has an interesting Native American presentation and lunch.


If you look up info on the Internet, there are a few others which can be accessed via transit from Seattle, usually a two-seat ride.
 

PNW Pax

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Again another very useful and wide ranging set of ideas for visiting Seattle, thank you very much.

It all comes across as though the best parts of Seattle are hidden away, and it has certainly make us think we have to return again after this visit. Do you have a campground near the city with good public transport access to the city center?

We just enjoy the water and after riding 2 ferries one in Switzerland and one Austria last month it has reaffirmed that. We want to see Seattle and it's backdrop from the water, I understand that there is also a slim chance of seeing whales too, that's a big deal for Rosie. That there is as an interesting museum in Bremerton is a bonus, but not the reason for taking the ferry. We used to live on the water and miss that sometimes, so a number of reasons for making sure we take the ferry.

May I ask how long does an Orca card last?

Thanks again
I am not aware of any campgrounds near Seattle that have access to public transit that will take you to the city center. The closest I could find is Fay Bainbridge Park campground on Bainbridge Island (Fay Bainbridge Park Campground - Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District) and the nearest bus stop is almost a mile away and you would then have to transfer from the bus to the Bainbridge Island ferry to Seattle.

The ORCA card lasts as long as you keep a cash balance on it. Here's a link to their website - https://www.orcacard.com/ERG-Seattle/p1_001.do. The main advantage of the ORCA card aside from its convenience is that it can be used on nearly all public transit systems in the Puget Sound region including Washington State Ferries.
 

John Bredin

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Secondly, downtown Seattle north of Union Street is generally safe during the day with the exception of Third Avenue between Pike and Pine streets. I also wouldn’t be concerned about my safety walking around the South Lake Union neighborhood at night. That being said, Seattle is like any other large American city and it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings when out and about.
I'm curious about this advice. Looking at a map of Seattle, a fair chunk of downtown is south of Union Street, including the art museum, concert hall (a place people may well be leaving at night), and some rather upscale hotels and restaurants. Also, while I'll admit Google Street View doesn't always give a complete picture, 3rd Ave. between Pike and Pine doesn't look so different than the blocks north and south of that.

I'm not doubting you, but this advice fairly begs for clarification, especially since King St. Station is well south of Union Street.
 

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PNW Pax

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I'm curious about this advice. Looking at a map of Seattle, a fair chunk of downtown is south of Union Street, including the art museum, concert hall (a place people may well be leaving at night), and some rather upscale hotels and restaurants. Also, while I'll admit Google Street View doesn't always give a complete picture, 3rd Ave. between Pike and Pine doesn't look so different than the blocks north and south of that.

I'm not doubting you, but this advice fairly begs for clarification, especially since King St. Station is well south of Union Street.
I probably should have been more precise about my safety advice. Since my original sightseeing suggestions were focused on the area between the Pike Place Market and Seattle Center, I didn't think to spend much time discussing the rest of downtown. It's complicated. Third Avenue between Pine Street and University Street is a high crime area with a significant homeless population and loiterers of dubious reputation. It is also a principal transit corridor so it is generally safe during daylight hours. Most of the area between University Street and Cherry Street is the financial district and has little of interest to most tourists. Generally speaking, you can enjoy the downtown area safely as long as you avoid the Third Avenue corridor.

So, if it is your intention to explore south of Union, here are some suggestions:
  • The Seattle Art Museum whose main entrance is at First Avenue and Union Street,
  • The shops and restaurants in and around the Harbor Steps also at First Avenue and University Street.
  • I didn't mention Benaroya Hall because it doesn't offer tours. However, I am sure your hotel concierge can arrange tickets and transportation if you want to attend a concert there.
  • The main Seattle Library is an architectural gem at Fourth Avenue and Madison Street
  • The Chinatown-International District begins at Fifth Avenue and King Street at the ornate Chinese gate. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Museum at 8th Avenue and King Street is worth a visit (full disclosure - I was formerly a museum trustee).
  • The Smith Tower which has been suggested by others is at the northeast boundary of Pioneer Square. It has reopened for tours (Smith Tower - Seattle's First Skyscraper). Pioneer Square itself was just beginning to recover from the first stage of the redevelopment of the waterfront when the pandemic closures struck so some of the retail businesses may not have survived. Many of the social services agencies that serve the homeless are located there. The homeless encampments seem to have been cleared from the area in the last couple of months. If you go there, stay on First Avenue and the area around Occidental Square. that's where most of the shops, art galleries and restaurants are located. For giggles, I recommend taking the underground tour (UNDERGROUND TOUR - A Tour of Seattle's Under Ground). The guides' grip on Seattle history is a little loose but they're entertaining. Our two major sports stadiums abut Pioneer Square, so on game days, the area can be quite festive. However, it is wise to be aware of your surroundings while you are there.
Regarding King Street Station which is at the southeast edge of Pioneer Square and directly west of the Chinatown International District, it is also safe, especially since you are arriving and departing during the day. The station was completely renovated a few years ago and most of its architectural feature were restored. However, there is no food service in the building, so I recommend patronizing Zeitgeist Coffee at 2nd Avenue and Jackson Street, about a block away from the station, if you want a snack.

I'm happy to provide additional clarification. I'm sorry about the confusion. I didn't mean to be dismissive of half of downtown. ;-)
 

Triley

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I'm sitting now at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, watching the ferries and all the other sea traffic. It was this view 17 years ago that convinced us to move here from Maui. We felt that the pace of life with a ferry commute would be conducive to a harmonious city. Only on a ferry is there so much variety of accommodations (chairs, tables, or walking outside) and ample opportunity for socialization.
Similar story for what convinced my husband and I to move to Vancouver, from eastern Canada/New England.
 

Alice

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I haven't checked out any of these campgrounds. Curbed is generally a reliable source. Washington Trails is not focused on camping but I've used their trail info from other states and found it to be accurate.

11 transit-accessible camping trips near Seattle
14 gorgeous waterfront campgrounds near Seattle
Camp Long

I don't like KOA campgrounds, too developed for my taste, but they are often located near cities and have nearby bus stops or even shuttles. There are a bunch around the Seattle metro area and one might suit your needs but would require some research.

If you are thinking of campsites for your later trip when you bring over your camper, put the Olympic Peninsula on your list.
 

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I haven't checked out any of these campgrounds. Curbed is generally a reliable source. Washington Trails is not focused on camping but I've used their trail info from other states and found it to be accurate.

11 transit-accessible camping trips near Seattle
14 gorgeous waterfront campgrounds near Seattle
Camp Long

I don't like KOA campgrounds, too developed for my taste, but they are often located near cities and have nearby bus stops or even shuttles. There are a bunch around the Seattle metro area and one might suit your needs but would require some research.

If you are thinking of campsites for your later trip when you bring over your camper, put the Olympic Peninsula on your list.
Thanks Alice, didn't expect to get this post.

We do like a 'fix' of big cities, so having the most convenient camping would matter to visit them. We've heard of the Olympic Peninsula, you obviously rate it highly.

Our only restriction is where we are at which time of year. There are some places that would be fabulous in winter, SoCal, Florida or maybe the Rockies (we'd both like to take a dog sled trip). But as we'll have at most 7-8 months in the US before we and the camper have to leave we can't be at all the right places at the right time, so compromises will have to be made.
Is it best we talk about this when we get to meet up, what do you think?

I do enjoy researching travel but this forum has taught me this. There is a lot of local knowledge that will never be known unless you know or know of a local person, often these experiences can be the best of all.
I was hoping someone local to Seattle had used or knew someone who had used local campgrounds which gave access to the city, but not on this forum.
You appear to have already done a lot of the research for us, very kind of you.

The camper is currently in storage in Colchester, the oldest city in England. We'll collect that in about 10 days time after leaving Ireland, we'll take it back to France for a little more prep for next summer.

Thanks again
 

BCL

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I was hoping someone local to Seattle had used or knew someone who had used local campgrounds which gave access to the city, but not on this forum.
Campgrounds are hard to find near major cities in the United States. The ones that are may be more of the recreational vehicle (trailers, camper vans, motorhome) type, although I've heard of some that have small patches of grass or dirt that may be suitable for tents. However, I would worry bout someone accidentally backing into a tent. These places may be located at the fringes.

The majority of camping opportunities are in remote locations and usually where a personal vehicle is the usual mode of transport. Especially national/state/local parks and more rural areas near such places. I've heard of some in large cities. The National Park Service has a few in San Francisco (Golden Gate National Recreation Area), but reservations are difficult to get. The other will be more developed in the style of Kampgrounds of America (KOA). Every location is different, but their setup is typically a central building with amenities, showers, etc. The one I visited last included go karts and cabins. This is the closest one to Seattle to give you and idea. The front page has video that looks like it was shot with a drone.


So what are you expecting? Is it festival style camping, like Glastonbury, Coachella, or Burning Man? Most campgrounds have reserved sites that are generally well spaced and have a parking spot or two. Backpacking style where the sites are more or less shared?
 
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