Going to Seattle during the holidays is a blast. Aside from visiting with friends and exploring, there are a bunch of fun things that come to the top of the list. That includes the “Christmas Ship” with Argosy Cruises, a trip up the Space Needle … maybe even a Seahawks game.
Still, my heart skipped a beat when reading about a shopping package at the Westin Hotel downtown. The Westin is located on Fifth Avenue, just a block or two from the downtown shopping district. The “Nordstrom Shopping Package” starts at $199 per night and includes a $100 Nordstrom gift card each day. I guess it’s a sentimental play for Anchorage shoppers after “our” Nordy’s shut down. Don’t be disappointed when you show your Alaska license — they no longer waive the sales tax.
The Monorail runs right past the Westin, by the way. Walk one block over to the Westlake Center and ride it to Seattle Center to see the Space Needle and Dale Chihuly’s “Garden and Glass” exhibit. Both are must-see attractions.
Another fun holiday activity is to sail on the Argosy Christmas Ship. It’s not just one ship — there are sailings from Nov. 29 through Dec. 23. Sometimes, the main ship sails from the Seattle Waterfront or from Kirkland and sometimes from Tacoma. What makes the sailings really fun are the choral groups on board the ship. When I sailed with Argosy a couple of years ago, we sailed all around Lake Washington, stopping in front of parks along the way. The loudspeakers on the boat would project the music and the folks on shore would sing along. There were plenty of fires on shore to keep everyone warm and of course plenty to eat and drink on board.
Many downtown hotels have special holiday packages, including the Mayflower Hotel, at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Olive Way. The rates for the “Holiday Traditions” start at $149 per night and include valet parking and “a special gift.”
The Mayflower also offers a “Flesh and Blood” package in conjunction with the Seattle Art Museum. The package, which starts at $179 per night, includes two Seattle Art Museum passes to “Flesh and Blood: Italian Masterpieces from the Capodimonte Museum.” The exhibit features works from the 16th and 17th century. Renaissance masters such as Raphael and Titian are featured in this exhibit. Also included: valet parking and a couple of “Flesh and Blood” craft cocktails.
Starting Nov. 4, Visit Seattle will have a website dedicated to holiday packages: visitseattle.org/holidays. Several hotels, including the Hyatt Regency, are offering packages which include tickets to “Enchant Christmas” at the T-Mobile baseball field. During the holidays, the ballpark is transformed into a holiday-themed park. There’s an ice skating trail, a “light maze,” a Christmas market with more than 70 local artisan vendors and plenty of places to eat and drink. There’s also “Santa’s Landing,” where St. Nick will be available for a variety of photos. Enchant Christmas runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 29.
The Hyatt Regency package includes an upgraded view guest room, complimentary valet parking, access to the hotel’s Enchant Christmas light display (it’s the headquarters hotel) and other celebrations throughout the hotel. Use offer code ENCHNT at the time you make your booking. I found rooms available from $127 per night.
If you’re just coming for the shopping, consider packages at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which includes a $50 American Express gift card, or the “Bah! Humbug!” package at the Warwick Hotel. That includes a 10% discount at Macy’s, 20% off “Enchanted Christmas” tickets, free parking and 30% off of dinner at Margaux.
If you want to see some bright lights during your visit, show up at Westlake Park on Nov. 29. This is adjacent to Westlake Center and it’s where they will light up the giant Christmas tree. There’s a carousel, some fireworks and some fake snow in case the real stuff isn’t around.
At Pike Place Market, the “Magic at the Market” celebration starts on Nov. 30. They will light up their own tree, complete with their own Santa Claus, cookie decorating and live entertainment.
Take the kids to the Woodland Park Zoo for “WildLights,” which kicks off on Nov. 29. More than 700,000 lights are spread around the campus. There are live reindeer, holiday treats and other goodies.
At the foot of the Space Needle in Seattle Center there’s a New Year’s Eve “Winterfest” at the Fountain of Light Dance Party. This is a free event where they project a light show on to the fountain. It’s followed by a big fireworks display from the Space Needle.
Plan your trip right and you can get a round-trip ticket from Anchorage to Seattle on Alaska Air or Delta for $258-$265 between now and Dec. 18. If you want to go later than that, you’re going to have to pay more, since you’re competing with all of the school kids, their families and the teachers.