The wit, wisdom, zen, and philosophy of Paul Diamond Blow.

Top Ten Things to in Seattle, Washington
(according to Paul Diamond Blow, local legend)

An Insider's Guide to Seattle Tourism

by Paul Diamond Blow

View of the Seattle waterfront from a Washington State ferry

I have lived most of my adult life in Seattle, Washington, and I know all the ins and outs. I know what's up, I know what's cool. Seattle is by far one of the most beautiful cities in the country: We have the Puget Sound, we have many lakes, we have views of two mountain ranges. We even have Bill Gates! If you are planning a visit to Seattle and want to see the sights, smell the smells, and really experience what Seattle has to offer, here are the top ten things to do in Seattle. And yes, it does rain quite a bit in the Winter season so be prepared for that. The best time to visit Seattle is in the Summer (warm and dry) or the Fall (cool and crisp). So here we go. Let me be your guide. Take my hand... walk with me, talk with me...

1) Visit the Seattle waterfront
The Seattle waterfront is the coolest thing about the city and the main attraction. Located right on Puget Sound, the Seattle waterfront offers fresh sea air, scores of interesting shops, restaurants, and an awesome view of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. My favorite shop on the waterfront is Ye Old Curiosity Shoppe which is a combination of a museum, freak show, and souvenir shop. Definitely a must see! My favorite waterfront restaurant is Ivars, which offers delicious seafood. Just recently a very cool ferris wheel ("the Big Wheel") has been added to the waterfront adding a bit more to the carnival atmosphere. Just a few blocks east of the waterfront is the world famous Pike Place Market, which is also a very popular tourist destination. Yes, they really DO throw fish around at the Market! You can forget about the rest of downtown Seattle, it pretty much sucks... everything cool is located right here by the water.

2) Take a ferry ride, cruise the Sound
While you are at the Seattle waterfront you owe it to yourself (or your tourist friends) to hop aboard a Washington State ferry and take a cruise on the Puget Sound. There is a private tourist cruise boat that also operates on the Seattle waterfront, but the Washington State ferry is a real bargain at only $7.20 for a walk aboard round trip. Round trip to where? Your choice of Bremerton (55 minute cruise each way) or Bainbridge Island (30 minute cruise each way). I personally like to take the Bainbridge Island ferry once in a while as there is an Indian casino on the other side. Either way, the views of downtown Seattle from the ferry are spectacular, and you will love the scent of fresh sea air in your nostrils. (Tip: buy some popcorn aboard the ferry and throw it to the seagulls... very entertaining!)

3) Visit the Seattle Center
The Seattle Center is located a few miles north of downtown Seattle and was originally created for the 1962 Worlds Fair. The highlight of the Center is the legendary Space Needle, which towers 600 feet in the air and offers a rotating view of the city and beyond. Seriously, if you visit the Seattle Center you MUST go up to the top of the Needle. Sadly, all the amusement park rides have been removed from the Seattle Center, but the Center still offers both indoor and outdoor concerts and other activities (including the Bumbershoot festival), mostly in the Summer months. The Seattle Center water fountain is also very cool and a sight to be seen. The Pacific Science Center is also located in the Center and is a very interesting museum dedicated to science and other weird stuff, and the robotic dinosaur exhibit is my personal favorite. There is no admission fee for the Seattle Center itself, but the Space Needle and Pacific Science Center do charge admission.

4) Visit the EMP
While you are at the Seattle Center, why not visit the EMP (Experience Music Project) which is located on the east side of the Center? The EMP is one of the most unusual looking buildings known to man (some say it's ugly, I say it's super cool), and is a museum dedicated to rock'n'roll music with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest rock bands. Yes, Jimmie Hendrix has his own exhibit here and there is a "jam" room where you can jam on drums and other instruments, if you so desire. A recent addition to the EMP is the science fiction museum which hosts some very cool artifacts and props from such movies and television shows as Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica, and Planet of the Apes, among many others. Very cool! The EMP is owned by billionaire Paul Allen, by the way. The price of admission to the EMP is $15, but it's worth it.

5) Experience local music
Speaking of rock'n'roll music, if you are a fan of rock'n'roll and enjoy watching local bands, Seattle has many live music clubs and dive bars which offer live bands seven nights a week. Sadly, the live music scene here has suffered much since the 1990s grunge scene, and scores of live rock clubs have closed their doors and been replaced by deejay dance clubs (yuk!), but as of this writing some cool live music clubs which still exist include the 2-bit Saloon, the El Corazon, the Sunset Tavern, and the Comet Tavern. My favorite Seattle rock club -- the Funhouse -- closed it's doors in 2012 but hopefully will return. Go ahead and catch a live rock show at a Seattle bar and you may very well run into some of your favorite '90s grunge legends. You may even run into me! (Tip: make sure and catch a Paul Diamond Blow show. It is highly entertaining.)

6) Visit a local park
If you want to get away from the "big city" life and discover some nature, Seattle has many large, beautiful parks. My personal favorite park is Magnusen Park, located right on Lake Washington. If you visit in the Summer and want to take a dip in a lake, Magnusen is the place to go. Discovery Park is also a very nice and large city park which is great for nature hikes, and if you walk far enough you will make your way to the sandy beach on the Puget Sound shore. Other notable city parks include Carkeek Park (also on the Puget Sound), Green Lake (great for walking, jogging, or picnics) and Volunteer Park (which features an art museum and a water tower you can climb up). Most of these parks offer beaches, nice views, lots of woods and nature, picnic areas, playgrounds for kids, hiking trails, and squirrels.

7) Visit Bruce Lee's grave
If you are a fan of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and want to pay your respects while visiting Seattle, you may do so at Lake View Cemetery which is located in the Capital Hill neighborhood right next to Volunteer Park. This is a very large and old cemetery which features some amazing tombs and gravestones from the 1800s. Many Seattle patriarchs (who now have streets named after them) are buried here. Bruce Lee's grave is very small and modest by comparison to many of the others, but his grave is a popular destination in Seattle and people like to leave pennies, poetry, and flowers on his grave. Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee, is buried next to his side. I cannot tell you the exact location of the grave site (you will have to find your own way and earn the right!) but the Lees' grave site is a very tranquil spot for meditation and reflection.

8) Restaurants and coffee houses
You're going to have to eat, of course, and Seattle has everything you could ever want to eat with hundreds of restaurants. My personal favorite restaurant is the Chinese Super Buffet located by the Northgate Mall in north Seattle. The Super Buffet offers all kinds of sea food, Chinese fare, sushi, fresh crab legs, as well as oddities such as fried squid, frog legs, and some other weird things that I haven't dared to try yet. Beth's Cafe (located on Aurora Avenue near Green Lake) is a good place to go for late night grub and greasy hash browns. As far as coffee goes, yes, Seattle is KING of coffee and the home of Starbucks, but you can drink your java juice or latte in scores of local coffee houses which seem to operate on every single city block. Get your coffee drink on!

9) Casino / gambling
If gambling is your thing and you want some action, there are many Indian-run casinos located near Seattle on Indian reservations. These casinos include the Tulalip (30 miles north of Seattle), the Muckleshoot (30 miles south of Seattle), the Snoqualmie (30 miles east of Seattle), the Emerald Queen (located 45 miles south in Tacoma), or the Clearwater (on Bainbridge Island). The Clearwater is the casino I mentioned earlier, and if you take a ferry ride from the Seattle waterfront to Bainbridge Island you can catch a free shuttle that will take you to and from the Clearwater casino, and they will even reimburse your ferry fare if you get a rewards club card and gamble for three hours.

10) Seattle Mariners games
As far as sports go, your best bet for a FUN Seattle sporting experience is to go to a Seattle Mariners game. Sure, we also have football and soccer (yawn) but baseball takes place in the warmer, drier Spring and Summer months and the Mariners play in beautiful Safeco Field. Safeco Field is an open air facility with a retractable roof which closes in case of rain. Your best bet is to go to a weekday game when attendance is low so you can move freely around the stadium seats as you wish. What I like to do at a Mariners game is climb to the very top of the bleachers (which are usually empty) and check out the gorgeous views of -- you guessed it -- the Seattle waterfront!

There you have it -- the top ten things to do in Seattle! Check it out, hit the beaches, hit the rock clubs, and tell 'em Paul Diamond Blow sent you!

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