A review of (some of) Seattle’s and Portland’s main attractions

These 2 US-cities in the Pacific Northwest region and less than 3 hours from each other by car are well worth a few days’ visit. Like any big city in the world, Seattle and Portland offer many sights to the traveller… Here is a short list of the main things to do if you have only a day or two for each city.

Streets of Seattle
Streets of Seattle

Streets of Portland
Streets of Portland

 

Seattle

Pike Place Market

In the very center of Seattle and facing the ocean, this vibrant and colourful public market surely is a must-see. Being open (and crowded) throughout the day makes it easy to visit. Here you can also have a cup of coffee in the world’s first and oldest Starbucks! If you visit in summertime, try also the delicious local Rainier cherries.

Seafood at Pike Place Market Seattle
Seafood at Pike Place Market

 

Rainier cherries at Pike Place Market Seattle
Rainier cherries at Pike Place Market

The chewing gum wall

Next to the market, in a small alley, stands the very one-of-a-kind chewing gum wall. Artistic or disgusting, that’s up to you. Anyway, you have to see it.

Chewing gum wall Seattle
Chewing gum wall close-up

The Olympic Sculpture Park

Not far from the market, have a stroll in the Olympic Park to see its big modern sculptures (and the Space Needle).

Space Needle from the Olympic Sculpture Park Seattle
Space Needle seen from the Olympic Sculpture Park

Dinner at the Space Needle

A vast majority of Seattle’s visitors are planning to go up the Space Needle. Besides the observation deck, there is also a rotating restaurant at the top named SkyCity. The ticket to the observation deck is pricey, so it may be wise to book a table at the restaurant to skip the long lines and enjoy the views seated with a meal (no entrance fee if you are dining at the restaurant). Not cheap, but the food is actually pretty decent though the place itself is quite worn out and fails in being the fine dining venue it aims to be.

The view from Space Needle's restaurant Seattle
City center view from Space Needle’s rotating restaurant SkyCity

Chihuly’s Glass and Garden

You will find a lot of different things to do and see around the famous Space Needle, including the fascinating exhibition of Chihuly’s glass works (both indoor and outdoor). Expensive entrance but totally worth the price. You can even bring home a (small) piece of Chihuly’s art if you have a few thousands bucks to get rid of.

Chihuly's glass artwork Seattle
Chihuly’s glass artwork

Kerry Park

To get that picture-perfect view of Seattle you must head to Kerry Park (at a reasonable walking distance from the city center to the north). Beautiful. Especially during sunset.

Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park
Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park

Fremont

Further away north you can visit the hipster neighbourhood of Fremont. Nice cafés and a lot of street art. Worth the bus-ride from the center.

Statue of Lenin in Fremont Seattle
Statue of Lenin in Fremont

The Museum of Flight and Future of Flight Aviation Center

South from the city and rather close to SeaTac international airport lies maybe the world’s richest aviation museum! You will see retired aircrafts of all types and ages, inside and out. The collection is impressive and you can spend a long time here if you happen to be an airplane lover. The highlights include the Concorde, the B787 Dreamliner, the iconic B747 double-decker and an old Air Force One plane. To fulfill your passion for aviation, book a Boeing tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center (the only downside being its quite remote location 25 miles north of the city…). There you will be guided through the Boeing factory and witness actual Boeing airplanes being manufactured inside the world’s biggest construction in terms of volume! No photos allowed, so just enjoy every minute of this very special moment. The Aviation Center itself holds a small exhibition, but the really interesting thing to do here is the guided tour. Book your tickets online and well in advance, as tours for the same or even next day may be sold-out at time of visit.

Concorde's cockpit Seattle
Concorde’s cockpit

 

Old Air Force One plane at the Museum of Flight Seattle
Old Air Force One plane at the Museum of Flight

Food tip in Seattle: try the crab pasta at BOKA restaurant on 1st Avenue.

 

Portland

The Japanese Garden and Rose Garden

Probably one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens outside of Asia, this is not to be missed. On the other side of the road, visit also the Rose Garden and its vast collection of rose species in different shades and colours.

Portland's Japanese Garden
Portland’s Japanese Garden

 

Portland's Rose Garden
Portland’s Rose Garden

Powell’s Books

Impressive and mythic bookstore. Period.

Powell's Books in Portland
Powell’s Books in Portland

City view from the Hawthorne Bridge

Have a walk on this special truss bridge crossing the Willamette River to get beautiful views of the city center on both sides.

4th of July celebrations in Portland, from the Hawthorne Bridge
4th of July celebrations in Portland, from the Hawthorne Bridge

Accommodation and food tip in Portland: consider staying at the centrally located and beautifully furnished Sentinel Hotel. Right next to it, between Alder and Washington streets, you will find a multitude of food trucks offering street food from all over the world.

Sentinel Hotel's lobby Portland
Sentinel Hotel’s lobby

 

City Terrace Studio at Sentinel Hotel Portland
City Terrace Studio at Sentinel Hotel

 

Sunrise over Portland from your private terrace at Sentinel Hotel.JPG
Sunrise over Portland from your private terrace at Sentinel Hotel

 

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