© 2012; 1995 Diane Redfern & Connecting: solo travel network
Note: This article is reproduced here for inspirational value alone and will not normally be updated.
Therefore, all facts, figures, and author's opinions are subject to change as time goes on.

Three Days in Seattle – A Solo Travel Report

By Diane Redfern

A Ferry Fine Day

When you've had your fill of city clatter, Washington State Ferries (and several private operators) offer half a dozen different routes to whisk you away on a nautical sightseeing tour of numerous water bound Puget Sound communities. After a good dose of tranquillity you can be back in Seattle in time for a night on the town if the ferry hopping hasn't tired you out.

Because you can spend an entire day moseying along sampling a variety of sightseeing options without needing a car, try a do-it-yourself tour of the Kitsap Peninsula.

Start the day at Pike Place Market, the focal point of Seattle lifestyle for locals and visitors alike. Here you can pick up fabulous fresh munchies for the day and breakfast on coffee and a roll, or do the whole ham and egg thing. With seating overlooking the busy harbour, Lowells or the Athenian are two unpretentious market restaurants that sling great coffee and hearty food.

From Pike Place Market it's a 20-minute stroll along the waterfront to Pier 50/52 and the Washington State Ferries passenger ticket office. The departure lounge is just south of the auto entrance to the Seattle Ferry Terminal.

The day I went, fine weather, calm mirror-like waters and Seattle's receding skyline made a photo perfect setting, but I like people in my pictures. So, being alone, I had to ask a stranger to pose for me. That's how I got talking to Michael, a young Seattle businessman, and we were still chatting away about the Internet, World Wide Web and heaven knows what as we disembarked in Bremerton, a town noted for naval facilities. Michael was off to meet friends, and I had choices to make. Either: 1) visit the famous USS Missouri, the ship that hosted the signing of the World War II peace treaty, 2) study the history of the US Navy at the Bremerton Naval Museum, 3) tour the USS Turner Joy, a Sherman-class destroyer open for self-guided tours. Or, 4) join a 45-minute narrated Kitsap Harbour tour.

Bypassing those options, I elected for another ferry ride on up the Peninsula, which allowed just enough time to browse along the boardwalk lapping up sunshine and snapping a few pictures before boarding the Fast Ferry to Poulsbo. This leisurely launch trip on the M/V Admiral Pete retraces the historic Mosquito Fleet inside passage route via Keyport where you can disembark, time permitting, to visit the Naval Undersea Museum, which contains the largest collection of naval undersea technology exhibits, past and present, in the United States.

Poulsbo (pronounced Pauls-bo) is a prettified representation of its Scandinavian ancestry with colourfully gabled gift and tea shops lining Front Street. Souvenir shopping, a bite to eat and a short visit to the Poulsbo Marine Science Center rounded out my day, and I backtracked to Seattle via Bremerton. Alternatively, you might want to catch a Kitsap Transit bus #42, which connects to a #90 for a scenic half-hour cross-country ride over to the ferry terminal on Bainbridge Island. One last 35-minute ferry trip, Bainbridge to Seattle, and you, like I, will have had a ferry full and satisfying day on your own.

Snoqualmie

Famous as the setting for the hit, but now defunct, TV show Twin Peaks, Snoqualmie is situated in a fertile alpine valley with forested mountains rising all around.

It is about 48 km east of Seattle, and you can do the two-hour trip by city bus #211. Do, however, call for schedules as buses run only about every two hours.

Begin this day with a view of the Hammering Man, the huge, unmistakable piece of art outside the Seattle Art Museum (University, between 1st & 2nd ). Explore the museum if you have time, otherwise proceed to the bus stop, halfway between University and Union, in front of a Seattle's Best Coffee shop, and have a coffee or light breakfast while you wait.

The bus route climbs up towards Lake Washington and offers mountain and city vistas on either side. You go on and off the freeway, up and down winding country roads, through the outlying towns of Bellevue, Renton, Issaquah, Preston, Fall City – and you may get off anywhere along the line if you like.

In particular, Issaquah, a pretty little place nestled against the Cascade hills, has some worthwhile attractions you can tour (do check times, which are irregular), including Boehm's Chocolates, and the Issaquah State Salmon Hatchery. Shoppers will like Gilman Village, a collection of historic buildings gathered, restored then reassembled here to house toney boutiques and restaurants.

If you do stop along the way, however, you might not have time to include spectacular Snoqualmie Falls, down the road a piece. You can view the falls either from the top viewpoint, or from the bottom after a 90 metre (268 ft), hike down to the river bed on a groomed, but fairly steep trail.

You may also picnic on the grounds, have a simple lunch at the Salish Express Cafe or a posh luncheon and a view of the falls at the Salish Lodge. But do keep an eye on the bus schedules so as to: 1) return to Seattle, or 2) carry on either to Snoqualmie or onwards to North Bend.

Alternatively, it's a pleasant 20-minute country walk on the pedestrian/cycle path to Snoqualmie Valley Rail Station. First. however, you must side-step trucks on the highway for a short distance (cross a bridge, then look down to the right to see the path begin).

On summer weekends you can take the 11-km ride aboard a vintage steam train of the Puget Sound Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. It departs from the picturesque 1890s depot in Snoqualmie. Or, you can also catch the train in North Bend, last stop on the bus line. Here super shoppers will be interested to know there is a very good factory outlet mall. But watch for that last bus to Seattle. It may depart as early as 8:45 pm.

The Ale Trail

Within the Seattle area there are several breweries and wineries you may tour. To visit all of them needs a car or bicycle, but The Redhook Ale Brewery at the Fremont location is right in the city. And it's a neat place to spend an hour when you're in the mood for dilly-dallying and poking about.

After lingering over breakfast reading a newspaper or whatever, begin the day's events by first organizing your evening entertainment at the Half Price Ticket Booth. Shortly after noon (daily, except Monday) the day's selection becomes available. The ticket booth is in a small angular kiosk, Pike Place at 1st. You might have to check around carefully to find it as it is often hidden by produce trucks unloading at the market.

Whenever you're ready, walk to 4th and Stewart and catch a #26 or 28 bus to Fremont and 34th. Stroll along 34th, parallel to Lake Washington Ship Canal for about 4 blocks to locate The Redhook Ale Brewery housed in a former trolley barn at the corner of Phinney and 34th.

The interesting brewery tour includes a lot of sipping and not much walking. Afterwards you might stay and knock back a few in the brewery's Trolleyman Pub, or you could take in other Fremont curiosities. For example, you'll find a most impressive statue of Lenin (and its story) lodged in a vacant lot. Other quirky sights include the Ginseng Farm and Herb Bar, the Centre of the Universe "Story of the Rocket" along with assorted junk shops and artist's nooks. There's a Sunday Farmer's market, and in summer, you might catch a screening at the Fremont Almost Free Outdoor Cinema.

From Fremont, it's a 20-minute bus ride back to city centre with ample time for dinner before attending the play, concert or cabaret performance you chose earlier in the day at the Half Price Ticket kiosk.

If You Go to Seattle

>> DR

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