8 Reasons You Should Buy a House in Seattle

In the last post we talked about 12 Must-See Seattle Sites. Today we’re learning about 8 more. It’s been hard to choose just 20. Vashon and Bainbridge Islands (yes, that was fudging a little but they’re so close, and beautiful), Alki Beach, the Space Needle, and Magnuson Park were a few places we mentioned. But Seattle has plenty more, so let’s look. A lot of these are parks. With all we hear about Seattle’s rain, it will surprise you how much Seattlites love their outdoor activities.

Ballard Locks — In addition to marinas, Ballard has the 1917 Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Water levels in the Locks are adjusted to accommodate various ships passing between saltwater Puget Sound and freshwater Lake Union (and Lake Washington beyond). Those ships include barges, pleasure boats, and tugboats. I’ve even seen people kayaking through the Locks. Kayaking Seattle’s waterways is a popular activity. The Locks also host concerts by local musicians.

Visitors also enjoy watching salmon swim the ladder, which can be seen through underwater viewing windows.

Ravenna Canyon — Between University District and the Ravenna neighborhood to the north are Cowen and Ravenna Parks (they’re connected) and their 4.5 miles of trails. The trails range from flat and wide to steep and narrow. On the Ravenna side (eastern-most), you’ll find the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center, tennis courts, and ball fields.

Magnuson Park — East of Ravenna, on Lake Washington’s shores and neighboring a NOAA facility, is Warren G. Magnuson Park on the San Point peninsula. This is one of Seattle’s biggest urban parks. On a clear day, this is one of Seattle’s best kite-flying spots (tied with Gasworks Park). What’s at Magnuson? Baseball and softball diamonds, soccer fields, tennis courts, miles of trails, a community center, a musical theatre venue, picnic shelters, an off-leash area, boat launches, the Lake Shore Promenade (paved walking path), and acres of green open spaces. Be sure to explore the Sound Garden too!

The University of Washington (UW), with nearly 50,000 students, is a short drive east of Fremont, across Interstate 5, in University District (or maybe the neighborhood is on campus…). Many campus facilities are open to the public and well worth seeing. For example, the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries reading room. It looks like a cathedral, with vaulted ceilings, stained glass, and chandeliers. It’s magnificent and not well known to tourists.

Exit through the front of the Library, turn right, and you’ll discover a cherry blossom-lined quad. Turn left instead and you’ll find a fountain with Mount Rainier as the backdrop. Keep walking and you’ll run into UW’s Waterfront Activities Center and outdoor rock climbing wall (and the stadium for you Huskies fans). If you go to the climbing wall, bring a towel in case it rains; there are under-hanging faces you can still use but you’ll want to keep your shoes dry. If you’re moving to Seattle, plan on carrying some kind of rain gear most days despite the relatively moderate rainfall. The frequency of rainy days is high even if the quantity is low.

Volunteer Park — In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, just east of downtown, is Volunteer Park. The biggest draws to this 4-square-block park for tourists are the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) and the Conservatory. (For locals, the biggest draws are also all the open space and the tennis courts.) At SAAM, first Thursdays are free, and they have a “pay what you can” policy every day. The view of the city from in front of SAAM is incredible at dusk. About 150 yards north is the Conservatory (a Victorian-style greenhouse completed in 1912) designed by the Olmsted brothers. Inside, you’ll see five “houses”: cacti and succulents, palms, ferns, bromeliads, and seasonal.

Lake View Cemetery — So what’s a cemetery doing on a list of must-see Seattle sites? Here are two reasons: Father and son martial artists and actors Bruce and Brandon Lee are interred at Lake View. This big cemetery on rolling land shares a fence with the north side of Volunteer Park (it’s behind the Conservatory). There are benches at the Lee site where you can sit. Other notable people interred at Lake View are Walter Beals (Presiding Judge at the Nuremberg Trials), John W. Nordstrom (founder of retail chain Nordstrom), poet Denise Levertov, and Princess Angeline (daughter of Chief Seattle).

Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) — The famous outdoor gear company’s headquarters are in Kent, Washington, but its flagship store’s in downtown Seattle. From Interstate 5 drivers can glimpse the glass-enclosed Pinnacle Climbing Wall. Staff will provide training on the Pinnacle. There are the equipment departments you would expect but also bike, ski and snowboard repair shops; equipment rental (like snowboards); classes and events; and a gallery of photographs by staff and board members. The shoe department is well-trained in fitting for various needs, from running to mountaineering. It’s a giant of a store and a lot of fun to explore.

Seattle Center — In the previous article we mentioned the Space Needle. But that’s only one attraction at Seattle Center. There are many more. The Experience Music Project (name inspired by Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix) is an interactive museum that focuses primarily on rock ‘n’ roll. It’s housed in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry, who’s also famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. What else is at Seattle Center? Multipurpose KeyArena hosts the WNBA Seattle Storm, the Rat City Rollergirls, the Seattle University Redhawks, and concerts. You’ll also find the Seattle Opera House and Pacific Northwest Ballet on the Center’s grounds. And an IMAX theater, the Pacific Science Center, and more concert venues. You might plan your visit around Labor Day weekend to attend Bumbershoot, with crafts and food vendors, and a world-class lineup of musical guests. It’s worth the effort of a busy holiday travel.

Now you have 20 great reasons to book your tickets to the Northwest or clear your weekend plans for the next month and grab a few friends. And no worries if you get through these; there are many more sites to see. And if you’re moving to Seattle, rest assured you’ll be part of an outdoor-loving community.

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