part of the Seattle Project.
A large park / civic center / open space area located on the very southern edge of the Queen Anne neighborhood. Since Seattle Center such a touristy place, I'm writing this as a short tour.
First off, head towards the International Fountain. Just head towards the music if you can hear it. It's a large concrete bowl with red granite highlights; in the center is a polished metal dome with water jets which fire with the music. At night, there's lights on it -- quite pretty. In the summer there tends to be a few dozen kids trying to play in the fountain without gettinq their clothes too wet. Unfortunately, with the energy crisis and drought we're having this year, the fountain is off. Hopefully it'll be going when you visit.
We'll start the tour here. Now, while you enjoy the somewhat cheesy music, get oriented: towards the south, you'll see the flag pavillion; in the north, on top of Queen Anne hill, there are three microwave towers.
Go around the bowl to the southwest. Check out the whales. These are two big bronze humpback's backs rising up out of the concrete, with a nice little quote from Chief Seattle. During Bumbershoot, this is a favorite meeting place, easy to find and well known; as such, it's a terrible place to meet people but a great place to people watch.
Look to the southeast. Unless it's really foggy, you ought to see the Space Needle. Head towards it, going by the flag pavillion on your right. One of those civic projects that probably made sense to someone, the flag pavillion is just a bunch of flagpoles with all the state flags of the United States. Pretty weird.
Ignore the sign which tells you to go right at the intersection -- just keep heading straight, with the stadium on your left. That ugly building you'll pass on your right is the Center House, where you can find a food court, and the occasional performance for kids. Skip it unless you're starving, or you really like lame 60's 3d wall art. Just check out the stalinist eagles on the entrace and move along.
When you see all the carnival rides, turn right. You'll pass through Fun Forest. Go ahead and fill the clown's mouth with water and ride the jet-spin, if that's your bag. Once you're done, keep going towards the needle.
Now comes a decision. Do you take the $11 ride to the top? I'd say go ahead if it's a clear day; there's a lovely view from the top. If it's raining or you don't want to spend the cash, just look up and go, "ooh, kitschy." With that done, head towards the EMP. It's the group of giant metallic ameobas trying to eat the monorail tracks. If you aren't going in (it is pretty expensive), at least walk around it and check out the architecture. Love it or hate it, at least it elicits a response.
Now, you've got two options. You can backtrack west a little, and ride the monorail, the 90 second ride to Westlake Center (once you ride, you'll understand how absurd this thing is). It's $2 for a round trip, and well worth it if you don't want to take the 15 minute walk to downtown. Alternately, you can head southwest (don't cross any streets, just go in that general direction), past the needle, and go see the Pacific Science Center. If you've got a little geek with you (or still nurture your inner geek child), it's a blast. You can also take in an IMAX movie there or a laser show if it's friday or saturday night.
highlights / stuff you didn't see on the tour:
Space Needle ♦
Seattle Monorail ♦
Intiman Theater ♦
Bagley Wright Theater ♦
Opera House ♦
Seattle Repertory Theater ♦
Key Arena ♦
Pacific Science Center ♦
Experience Music Project