Underground tour and Theo factory tour, really?
February 4, 2011 12:31 AM   Subscribe

How do I entertain two Texan friends over a long weekend in cold, dreary Seattle (and vicinity)?

They'll be staying with me this Sat through Tue in South Lake Union, so we'll be within walking distance of wonderful restaurants and good nightlife (Shorty's is just a few blocks away), but where should I take them during the day?

I've had plenty of visitors during the summer months (fabulous times always), but never during the winter. We might consider driving out to Stevens Pass for snowsports (I already make the drive twice a week after leaving work around 2 pm), but while gear can be rented and, they won't have any waterproof pants, gloves, goggles and all that (we only have a couple of extra snowboard jackets to spare). Snow tubing? Sledding? Where?

We're in our early through late 20s, and I have a car.

They're big on cooking, so I think a trip to Pike Place Market and Uwajimaya and subsequent cooking at home might be fun. But that'd be pretty "everyday" for them, I think. The zoo, by the way, might not be the best idea since Houston has a quite decent zoo, with free admission, right across our alma matter.
posted by halogen to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Disclaimer: I've never been to Seattle.
Museums! Quirky, not-just-art museums are the best indoor activity. I hear good things about the Experience Music Project. Given the size of the University, I figured there'd be neat arts events going on this weekend. I would want to see suitcases from Willard Psychiatric Center. More events here. Various exhibitions at the Burke sound neat.
posted by knile at 12:59 AM on February 4, 2011

You know, I was pretty bored by the EMP, but really enjoyed the attached Science Fiction Museum, even though I'm neither a big science fiction fan nor a museum fan. The two combined could easily kill an afternoon.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:12 AM on February 4, 2011

Archie McPhee in Wallingford is good for an hour of fun. Lots of restaurants and cafes in a three-block radius. Agua Verde is good for food, and has a nice view of Lake Washington on a clear day. You could also play pool or go bowling at Garage.

You could do a day trip to Bellingham. Really good beer and food, there. Maybe even go to Vancouver BC, if you leave early in the morning.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:14 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ha, we just moved here (within an hour of Seattle) from Texas.

(Houston Zoo isn't free anymore, although it is free to current Rice students. Just FYI. And the new African Forest is pretty amazing [er, I stopped working there just before the African Forest opened but my reliable sources assure me it is amazing. So order your friends to visit immediately upon their return. Zoo admission is only like eleven bucks and totally worth it.] While I enthusiastically agree that the Houston Zoo is AWESOME, Woodland Park is pretty substantially different--excellent in different ways. IF they're into zoos they'd probably really enjoy Woodland Park; unlike Houston, I believe Woodland Park has gorillas, for example. And there's a lovely rose garden nearby.)

Seconding Archie McPhee.

Also, I know it's corny and touristy and overpriced but I don't care: the Space Needle is delightful and you can pretend it's the 1960s and you're enjoying the World's Fair. You'll get a terrific view of the fog!

My favorite thing to do in Seattle is just wander around and get lost. I think your Houstonians will have a very good time whatever you decide to do.
posted by Neofelis at 2:33 AM on February 4, 2011

The weather this weekend is supposed to be rainy and in the low 50s/high 40s, so going outside will be damp but doable. But a trip to the snow might be iffy, depending on the snow level.

But it's great weather for a ferry ride. And water and islands and ferries are one of the things that set Seattle off from other places. The most spectacular way to do it is to drive north to Anacortes (one hour) and take a ferry through the San Juans. If they're history buffs, get off for lunch on San Juan Island and visit the site of the Pig War, (http://www.nps.gov/sajh/planyourvisit/index.htm). Although there are no guided tours in the winter, American Camp is still there, and winter is prime time to see bald eagles, lots of bald eagles. Or if they of the artsy persuasion, get off on Orcas Island and visit some Artists (http://www.orcasisland.org/arts-and-galleries/). If the San Juans seem too difficult, there's plenty of other ferries (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/info_desk/route-maps/).

Archie McPhee -- definitely! Add a trip to the Ballard Locks, just down the street. And if you're looking for little, offbeat museums, the Nordic Heritage Museum, also in Ballard, and a meal (or at least a drink) at one of the waterfront restaurants near Golden Gardens Park.

Also voting for the Space Needle. And have lunch there. It seems pricey, but since you have to pay to go up if you're not eating, it turns out to be a bargain meal, and so much fun to go around (and try to find your table if you go to the restroom).

I'm thinking that most of the fabulous things you do with visitors in the summer would be just as much fun in the winter. Except the sunbathing, of course (snicker). Personal preferences: I find the EMP & SF Museum pretty lame and not worth the money. Bellingham is 1 hour, 20 minutes from South Lake Union and so worth the drive. Ok, I do live in Bellingham, but it really is a great destination. Take I-5 to Burlington and then head west and drive up Chuckanut Drive for a jaw-dropping time. (If you do want to come up, memail me and I'll make some more suggestions. The Radio & Electricity Museum is pretty cool -- working Tesla coils.)
posted by kestralwing at 5:02 AM on February 4, 2011

I loved taking a tour of the Theo Chocolate factory (but then I love anything having to do with chocolate)

Also the Elliot Bay Bookstore is great for browsing.

You already mentioned Pike Place Market - but don't forget World Spice Merchants, especially if they're big on cooking. I mention it because they're a little bit hidden from the "regular" market.
posted by alchemist at 5:42 AM on February 4, 2011

Bundle up and go on a ferry ride. The ferry system may be boring to a Seattlite but out-of-staters are often amazed at how the ferries are just another part of the state transportation system. Plus the views are pretty.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:01 AM on February 4, 2011

Oh, I forgot Fremont! The troll under the bridge, of course. And possibly the last remaining statue of Lenin in the world. And Waiting for the Interurban. And the Ship Canal. And cozy places to eat and drink.
posted by kestralwing at 6:10 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go for a drive. I'm a southerner with family in the Pacific NW and the scenery is just so different from what I am used to. The Chuckanut & Skagit Valley out in the suburbs/exurbs are a bit of a haul from downtown but wow, so pretty!
posted by pointystick at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2011

They're from Texas you say? Do they like spicy? Take 'em to Dixie's Barbeque over in Bellevue. Introduce them to "the man."
posted by three blind mice at 7:34 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Emerald City Comicon is this weekend, there is a guided food tour of the market, the Henry is presenting something called Vortexhibition Polyphonica, il Fornaio's having a Gnocchi class on Saturday, and my fave, a local production of Bugsy Malone.
posted by nomisxid at 7:48 AM on February 4, 2011

They're from Texas you say? Do they like spicy? Take 'em to Dixie's Barbeque over in Bellevue. Introduce them to "the man."

I'm from Texas. Do not do this.

I also have an out-of-town guest for the same time period, and in addition to the things mentioned some of the things we are considering are getting fancy coffee at Vivace, going to a show at the Crocodile, visiting the Burke Museum, having brunch at Portage Bay on a weekday (smaller lines!), visiting Paseo, which re-opens today, visiting Salumi, taking the West Seattle Water Taxi, wandering around Capitol Hill (Cake Spy!) and Ballard (Cupcake Royale!), visiting the flagship REI, eating a meal in the international district.

I'd also consider sushi if your friends like it.
posted by grouse at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

The glass museum in Tacoma is something that you don't see in many cities, as opposed to other types of museums, and worth checking out if it is something they are interested in.
posted by markblasco at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2011

Errrrrrrrrr.............Museum of Flight? Concorde, Air Force One.............kinda neat.
posted by Freedomboy at 8:49 AM on February 4, 2011

Instead of the Space Needle, you can go to the Smith Tower which has a great observation deck/view but only costs you $7.50 or so.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2011

They're from Texas you say? Do they like spicy? Take 'em to Dixie's Barbeque over in Bellevue. Introduce them to "the man."

I'm from Texas. Do not do this.

Repeated for emphasis.
posted by vincele at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2011

I'm from Texas and I think the things you think might be too "everyday" would actually be really cool, so don't hesitate to do that.

I definitely agree that taking them on a scenic drive if weather's too crappy for a hike would be great. Anytime I'm in a place with tall trees and, ya know, topography beyond hills, I'm totally enthralled.

If they're lifelong Texans unaccustomed to snow, it would be cool to take them to at least see/play in snow, even if y'all don't have the gear for actual snow sports. (Funny enough, many parts of Texas are covered in a thin blanket of snow melting as we speak, but, of course, this is a freak, every-few-years occurrence).

Agreed that taking the suggestion of taking them to BBQ would be not a great idea. Talk about "everyday."
posted by elpea at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2011

Here's some lists of stuff to do and stuff to eat in Seattle.
Unfortunately SAM, the Asian Art Museum, and Sculpture Park are closed for a couple of weeks for a furlough :(
posted by MsKim at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2011

Skip Dixie's. We have a great local cuisine here.

The main library is an interesting building to walk through.
posted by MisterMo at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2011

Sneak into Nintendo headquarters in Redmond.

And grab me a 3DS prototype while you're there.....
posted by tacodave at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2011

The Ming Wong show at the Frye Art Museum is pretty fantastic.

20/20 bikes at 20th and Union is having a cool show Saturday night.
And right around the corner is Gallery 1412 and Toy Boats are an amazing kids instrument band playing on the same night.

And hometown boy made internationally underground famous, Filastine, is playing with Bassnectar at the Paramount.

Fun weekend to be in town!
posted by artof.mulata at 6:17 PM on February 4, 2011

And if you wanna do sushi, I suggest Maneki in the ID.
It's the oldest restaurant in the city and serves amazing sushi.
They also offer some cocktails that you will normally only find in Japan.

And then there's the Underground Tour of original, miserable, depression-era Seattle.
It's pretty wild that there's the remnants of a city beneath the city in Pioneer Square.
posted by artof.mulata at 6:29 PM on February 4, 2011

It's after the visit now, but just want to point out that Archie McPhee has moved to Wallingford, and is no longer down the street from the Ballard Locks.
posted by Ellemeno at 12:03 AM on February 16, 2011

What did you end up doing?
posted by grouse at 7:29 AM on February 16, 2011

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