We're taking in the sites here in Seattle -- and there's lots going on.
The new Shuttle Trainer exhibit at the Museum of Flight is set to open its doors on Nov. 10 -- and we got a sneak preview of this awesome set-up. This is the actual training replica that all NASA shuttle crews used prior to space launch; you can actually see some of the wear-and-tear. But for aviation geeks (that's me), this is a great up-close view at an important part of the U.S. space program.
- Beginning April 4, 2013, Alaska will fly twice each day from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Salt Lake City International Airport.
- Introductory fares are decent: Fly roundtrip from Anchorage to Salt Lake (ANC-SLC) from $517 roundtrip. But the roll-out fare from Fairbanks, roundtrip $558, is a great deal!
Aviation integral to Seattle's culture, economy
Of course, aviation is just one of the touch-stones for visitors to Seattle -- but it's a big one. In addition to the Museum of Flight (located at Boeing Field just south of downtown), the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Factory Tour are must-see attractions as well. It's located north of downtown at Everett's Paine Field. You'll get an up-close look at the factory where Boeing builds the 777s and the 787 Dreamliners, never mind seeing all the cool aircraft parked on the tarmac!!
After you've done the tour, head over to the south end of Paine Field and visit the Flying Heritage Collection of Warbirds. This collection offers a different focus, specifically on the "warbirds" from 1935-1945. Most of the aircraft on display are airworthy. And from time to time they roll them out for a flight!
Want your own flight around Seattle? Stop by the Kenmore Air Terminal at South Lake Union. Kenmore Air flies its own "heritage collection" of Beavers and Otters. The South Lake Union terminal offers convenient downtown access to destinations throughout the San Juan Islands and Victoria, B.C. But they also offer a selection of flightseeing tours so you can look down on the skyline, the Space Needle and the waterfront. It's a fun excursion for the photo-snapping sightseer.
Another great way to get some photos of the waterfront and the skyline is to take an Argosy Tours harbor cruise. You'll get an up-close look at the busy port just south of downtown and sail past scenic West Seattle. Another great option is a "Locks Cruise," which sails from the waterfront through the historic Hiram Chittenden Locks into Lake Union. Fascinating!
Everyone needs a place to stay in Seattle -- and it's the low season right now. The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau offers a host of off-season deals, called the "Seattle SuperSaver." This week, I'm staying downtown at the Hotel 5. The off-season rate is about $112 per night, not bad for a downtown hotel. It's especially nice since it's next to Top Pot Doughnuts, my office-away-from-home. Sure, the espresso is great and the Apple Fritters ... well, I have dreams about them. But what's truly epic about this place is the fast wireless, with speeds up to 60mbps down/30mbps up. Wow!
Hotel 5 is just a few steps from several great restaurants operated by Seattle local legend Tom Douglas. On arrival, I stopped into "Serious Pie" for a fennel sausage pizza and kale salad. Great stuff. For breakfast, visit "Lola", in the lobby of the Hotel Andra. My suggestion? The Mediterranean Octopus dish. I am not kidding, folks. This is a great breakfast dish. Try it!
On tap for today? I'm looking to get up in the new Ferris Wheel on the waterfront, the "Seattle Great Wheel," Afterwards, it's a trip to Teatro Zinzanni . They say it's "Part Circus, part Dinner Theater" and always entertaining.
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Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. Visit his websites at www.alaskatravelgram.com or www.seattletravelgram.com. Follow him on Twitter for breaking travel news.