Seattle-Tacoma International Airport isn’t just an airport; it’s your first introduction to Washington State. Every year, over 45.7 million passengers begin and end their travels at this 80 gate airport. With 28 airlines serving 77 non-stop domestic destinations and 22 international airports, it’s easy to travel to and from Washington. And, it also means you might hear a variety of international accents.
As you meander through the terminal, you’ll most assuredly hear music from more than 240 Northwest artists, including Pacific Northwest legends like Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, and Quincy Jones. And, if you listen closely Macklemore might even recite the latest airport announcement. To give visitors more of a taste of the Seattle music scene, there are live performances every day of the week throughout the terminal. And, if you want to dig deeper into the airport’s art scene download the STQRY app and discover the stories behind the music-themed exhibitions, murals, and sculptures.
A short drive into the city, delve into the city’s cultural vibe, by visiting the iconic Seattle Center, which houses the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and concert venues like KeyArena, the Seattle Opera and Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. To visit other iconic sites like the famous Pike’s Place Market, hop aboard the monorail which jets visitors to Westlake Center and is within walking distance of other must-see attractions like the Seattle Aquarium, Waterfront Park and the Great Seattle Wheel.
If you’re visiting for a summer vacation, be sure to stroll along the waterfront to Bell Harbor Marina and snap a cityscape photo from the docks, or take a self-guided walking tour of the Port of Seattle, the 6th largest port in the U.S., and visit another architectural wonder ‒ Smith Tower ‒ the city’s first skyscraper. In the winter, admire all things sweet by visiting the annual gingerbread village at the Sheraton Hotel, get a feel for the maritime lifestyle at the Seattle Boat Show or go down into the hidden depths of the city on the Seattle Underground Tour. With the arrival of spring comes whale watching season, and is also a great time to enjoy a leisurely boat ride through Elliot Bay. To celebrate summer’s end the Emerald City way, join the festivities at the Seattle Center for Bumbershoot, a 3-day music festival.
Day Trips from Seattle
When it is time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, drive north to the Skagit Valley and Anacortes. Both are less than a 1.5-hour drive away and offer unique experiences that include small town charms, local cuisine, and plenty of outdoor adventures.
The Skagit Valley stretches from the edge of Fidalgo Island to the Cascade Mountains and throughout the year there are plenty of opportunities to explore. In the winter, take a boat tour down the Skagit River to see the hundreds of Bald Eagles that migrate every year to feed on salmon, or drive along the backroads to count snow geese. In spring, the popular Skagit Valley Tulip Festival brightens up the fields and in summer, there are plenty of ways to explore the outdoors from hiking, biking, and rock climbing.
Two bridges along Hwy 20 connect the valley with Fidalgo Island, which is where you’ll find the seaside town of Anacortes. This small town is known for its historic waterfront, 50 miles of hiking trails, and mix of annual festivals. Its year-round music scene is lively and visitors can soak up a range of tunes from rock to bluegrass to jazz at outside venues during the summer and restaurants and bars throughout the year. The culinary scene is ever-growing and you’ll find a variety of restaurants with farm-to-table menus, scratch and house made ingredients, and their own specialties like BBQ, fusion, and rustic scratch.
No matter what time of year, there is plenty to do. Spring ushers in whale watching season as well as kayak, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), and boat tours under Deception Pass Bridge. The annual tulip festival coincides with the Anacortes Spring Wine Festival, where attendees get to sample wines from 30 Washington wineries. In summer, the Saturday Anacortes Farmers Market is the place to be for everything local like farm fresh cheeses, handmade bread, gourmet nuts, jewelry, and more. Afterward, hike one of the many trails and feast on a picnic lunch with a view of the islands. Winters are mild and perfect for hiking or exploring the town’s history on a self-guided walking tour. Or, for an experience that keeps on giving, set out on a fishing charter to stock your freezer with fresh-caught fish from the Salish Sea. A favorite year-round activity is to explore downtown’s boutique and antique shops, enjoy a drink and savory bite, and then drive up to Cap Sante to watch the sunset over historic downtown and the San Juan Islands.
Washington by Cruise Ship
To experience more of the Pacific Northwest, set sail on a cruise ship. The Port of Seattle is the hub for eleven cruise ships, seven of which, call Pier 66 and Pier 91, their home terminals, such as Holland America, Princess Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line. This year, the city will host over one million passengers who come to experience the vibrant city of Seattle and the see the unbound beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
No matter how you choose to adventure, from city life, to day trips or cruising, the moment you land at the airport, Seattle, the Skagit Valley, and Anacortes are perfect destinations to make a memorable Washington adventure.