Behind the scenes: Take a tour of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest

We recently explored Seattle, the Olympic National Park and its surrounds for our “59 seconds in…” series. Here, we’ve picked our highlights to help you plan the perfect trip to the Emerald City.

 

Pop into Pike Place Market

Pike Place, Seattle’s original farmers market, first open its doors more than a century ago. Overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront, the market is a magnet for fresh produce, speciality foods and independent businesses.

Sprawling over nine acres, Pike Place is houses more than 80 restaurants – so make sure to bring your appetite! Don’t miss the local fishmongers’ flamboyant displays of ‘flying fish’ as they throw purchases to colleagues to be wrapped.

Pike Place is also home to the world’s first Starbucks, which opened in 1971. Make sure to stop by for a coffee – and look out for the original sign on the storefront.

pink sunset over seattles pike place public market on the downtown waterfront

Take a trip on the Monorail

Seattle’s Monorail was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. It departs every ten minutes and it’s the quickest way to travel between downtown and the city centre.

My advice? Try and nab the front seat next to the Monorail driver. You’ll be treated to incredible views as you ride it downtown to the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden of Glass and the Museum of Popular Culture.

iconic seattle space needle

A spin up the Space Needle

Possibly the city’s most iconic landmark, and also built for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle reaches 605 feet into the air. At the top, you’ll have 360-degree indoor and outdoor views of downtown, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.

The Space Needle has recently undergone a renovation, increasing the unparalleled panoramas of the city by replacing walls with reinforced glass.

Head up to The Loupe, the world’s first (and only) rotating glass floor for a downward view of the Space Needle and the city – not for the faint-hearted!

Make a stop at the Museum of Popular Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is the perfect mix of super-modern architecture and legendary rock-and-roll history.

MoPOP is housed in a building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and showcases science fiction exhibitions, interactive pop stations, sound sculptures and much more.

The exterior is made up of 3,000 panels, with 21,000 individually cut and shaped stainless steel and painted aluminium shingles, so it’s just as impressive on the outside as it is inside.

people in a glass garden exhibit

Don’t miss Chihuly Garden of Glass

Right beside the Space Needle is the incredibly colourful Chihuly Gardens and Glass – a 45,000 square foot gallery showcasing the studio of Dale Chihuly.

Open since 2012, the collection has eight galleries and a garden that acts as a backdrop for sculptures made of amazing shapes and brilliant colours.

great wheel seattle

Stop by the Seattle Great Wheel

After your visit to the market, take a walk to the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. This was once the tallest Ferris wheel on the west coast.

As you make your way around, you’ll be treated to a fantastic view of the city and the mountains while you listen to a history of the waterfront.

The wheel is the only one of its kind to be built over water. If you’re feeling brave, you can book into a pod with a glass floor for the ultimate viewing experience.

The Starbucks Roastery is a must-visit for coffee lovers

Nicknamed the ‘Willy Wonka factory of coffee’, all of Starbucks’ rare, small-lot coffees are roasted and packaged here. You can watch your beans go through every stage – from being roasted to being poured into your cup.

Seattle skyline

Grab your camera and head to Kerry Park

Most of the shots you see of the Seattle skyline will have been taken from this tiny park in the Queen Anne neighbourhood. It makes it a perfect place for photography fans.

You’ll get the best views of the Space Needle, much of downtown, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. The most popular spot is in the north of the park, there are a few seats and a little bit of grass which makes it the perfect spot for a picnic.

Aviation fans will love the Museum of Flight

Home to more than 175 aircraft and spacecraft, thousands of artefacts and millions of photographs, the Museum of Flight brings the rich history of flight to life. The extensive exhibits include V2 rockets, Apollo lunar modules and aerodynamic gliders.

Eagle-eyed visitors will spot a vintage Aer Lingus logo on the first-ever Boeing 747. This was my favourite museum, but then again, my impartiality can be called into question!

The Georgetown Trailer Park Mall Seattle

Shopping at the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall

The Georgetown Trailer Park Mall is a quirky home to designers, artists, and collectors who run their own shops out of vintage trailers. Locally-made jewellery, vintage clothing, artwork and vinyl records are just some of the many treasures you can pick up here.

When you’re finished browsing the trailers, there are a few local breweries and a retro games arcade within walking distance so take some time to enjoy the area.

Explore Discovery Park

Discovery Park is a 534-acre natural park – the largest city park in Seattle. It’s on Magnolia Bluff which overlooks Puget Sound.

The park offers amazing views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. The park also offers two miles of protected beaches, as well as open meadows, dramatic sea cliffs and streams.

Now you’ve had a taste for park life, it’s time to start exploring the great outdoors of Washington State.

Seattle is a gateway to some of the most exciting and beautiful national parks, small towns and beaches in all of North America.

Snoqualmie Falls seattle

Experience the stunning Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington state’s most popular attractions. The 270-foot waterfall is surrounded by a two-acre park. There are several good views all along the gorge rim, and there’s a steep half-mile trail to the base of the falls. If you’re visiting during high water, you’ll see the falls take on a curtain form.

a walk amongst the 800 year old douglas fir and sitka spruce of olympic national park

Spend time exploring Olympic National Park

There are so many things to see and do in Olympic National Park that you could easily spend a whole week here. These are the highlights from our trip.

1. Hiking in Hoh Rain Forest

Travel to the city of Forks (made famous as the setting of the Twilight series) and head to Hoh Rainforest. Walk the Hall of Mosses trail, an eight-mile loop that will take you through the heart of the forest. If you’re looking for a bigger hike, try the Hoh River Trail, a 17-mile journey to Glacier Meadows.

lake quinault seattle

2. Enjoy a dip in Lake Quinault

Sitting pretty in a glacial-carved valley, Lake Quinault is well worth a visit. Surrounded by beautiful rainforest, there are many miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as a 30-mile scenic driving loop that takes you along the lake and surrounding waterfalls. The scenery is sure to take your breath away.

hurricane ridge seattle

3. Deer spotting at Hurricane Ridge

The hiking routes at Hurricane Ridge offer out-of-this-world views of the snow-covered Olympic Mountains, including Mount Olympus off in the distance.

If you’re feeling adventurous, the short but steep High Ridge Trail takes you along a mountain ridge to a gorgeous viewpoint called Sunrise Point. On a clear day you can see across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada.

Hurricane Ridge is a fantastic place to get up close and personal with some incredible wildlife. On our drive up the mountain we passed plenty of black-tailed deer, Olympic marmots, and even a black bear. We were lucky – black bears are rarely spotted on roads or visitor centres.

4. Brilliantly blue water at Lake Crescent 

From Hurricane Ridge, head to Lake Crescent. You’ll drive along a glacial lake until you reach the lake. From here, you can walk through the woods and along the shore of the lake and admire itsebeautiful blue water. Feeling peckish? Call into the cosy Lake Crescent Lodge for some food.

ruby beach seattle

5. Take a stroll along Ruby Beach

Just south of where the Hoh River meets the ocean lies Ruby Beach. It gets its name from the reddish grains that gather on the shore. Home to unique rock formation and sun-bleached driftwood, there’s so much so explore along Ruby Beach.

You can choose your own path from the beach – the north will take you past the sea stacks and cliff faces until you meet the river mouth.

sunset view of Mount Baker and Mount Rainier Seattle

6. Treat yourself to sky high views 

Want to make your trip really special? Take to the skies to get a bird’s eye view of the Washington’s majestic landscape.

We took our tour with Kenmore Air. They offer a great choice of tours but our flight took us around Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. We got up close with Mount Rainier’s 25 glaciers and Mount St. Helens two-mile-wide crater. This was a great way to see a vast amount of Northern Washington state in a short period of time.

Choose from daily summer flights to Seattle during summer or up to five flights a week during winter. Visit www.aerlingus.com to book your Seattle adventure today.

Read next: The 7 most Instagrammable spots in Seattle.