There are two things that you need to know about Seattle. The first is that the light rail has heated seats. That tells you:
1. It’s cold;
2. People are courteous enough to think about the temperature of your butt and how it could be made more comfortable with the addition of some sort of heating device applied directly to it;
3. It’s amazing.
The other is that visiting Seattle is like stepping into a genuine theme park dedicated to the 1990s – my favourite decade by far. Well the early part was anyway.
Basically I’m saying that I’m brave. It was cold and I didn’t cower in my hostel bunk bed under all the clothes I packed for four days. So here’s my list of things to eat and do in a wintery Seattle.
Run the Seattle Marathon
It makes so much sense. Why be one of those spectators freezing on the sidelines, decked out in coats, sweaters and mittens when you could be creating your own heat by running the Seattle Marathon? I started off as a walker because of my injury but the atmosphere was just stellar, for the most part because of the awesome volunteers, that I ended up running a fair chunk of the half marathon. And I was warm. So very warm.
Space Needle on Thanksgiving Day
Everyone else is eating turkey or grappling with being nice to Uncle Albert, so the Space Needle is practically empty. There are no lines for tickets and you don’t have to awkwardly stand on your tiptoes at the top to see over Gulliver’s scarily large frame. And if you happen to be lucky enough to pick a time when the sun’s out – like I did – you’re laughing.
Don’t be deterred by the line that snakes out of the tiny shop and onto the street across from Pike Place Market. The line moves deceptively quickly and before you know it you’ll be eating a toasty warm sweet or savoury pastry, sort of like a pasty and kind of similar to a Danish. One hundred per cent delicious, guaranteed.
Macy’s Holiday Parade
For some reason I thought this was called the Thanksgiving Day parade so I was confused as to why it was happening the day after Thanksgiving. Body-heat shared is body-heat earned. Not in that way. You freaks. If you have to stand that close to many people you don’t know in order to catch a glimpse of a giant cat float, then the warmth of the crowd should be an added bonus, not an optional extra.
I’ve never seen so many malls in one concentrated area. They’re everywhere! So you get the bonus of Black Friday deals like I did, (or post-Christmas sales), the joy of not being outside where it’s probably raining by now, and warm food.
I ended up in Kerry Park, which was a good two mile walk from where I was staying. At least half of it was uphill. I don’t care what the weather is like, I challenge anyone to keep a jumper on as you go up that incline crafted by the devil. Diabolical. But you are rewarded with an unimpeded skyline view.
Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project)
Where music lives. If Seattle is the home of grunge then the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is the place it’s documented in detail. I loved it. There was an entire exhibition dedicated to Jimi Hendrix and another to Nirvana, a giant screening of a Hendrix gig and so many sound-proof booths for you to record your own drumming, vocals, guitar, keys and bass. I was in heaven. Sure I can’t actually play any of those things, but I had so much fun making noise like a toddler on his parents’ pots and pans.
Strictly speaking, this one is outside of Seattle but you can hire a car or take a tour bus on a day trip and I rate it as a must-see. Mount Rainier is Washington’s highest mountain and stands at 4.392km above sea level. It is also the highest peak in the Cascade Range, a strip of volcanic mountains stretching from Washington down throw Oregon to northern California. The active volcano last erupted in 1894 and is made up of many glaciers. During winter the National Park is blanketed in snow and the lodge museum is a great place to soak up some heat after snow shoeing or snowboarding down the slopes.
This one takes a lot of awe and mixes it with a dollop of goodwill to produce a holiday display that will get you into the spirit. For the past 22 years the Sheraton Seattle’s kitchen staff get together with architecture firms to dream up and create a Gingerbread Village. With all that sugar involved, of course all viewing donations go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Being the year of Star Wars, the displays this year focused on pivotal scenes across the Star Wars saga. You know it’s good because I haven’t even really seen the Star Wars films and it was still worth waiting an hour for.
Seattle has one of the highest Vietnamese populations in the US so it stands to reason that the Vietnamese food is fantastic. It’s impossible to walk very far without coming across a Vietnamese restaurant.