At 520 feet tall, the Space Needle was once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. Here, though, the spectacular, panoramic view make the east’s mighty river look like a rambling brook. To the west, the waters of Puget Sound and Elliott Bay glimmer in the sunlight. To the south, Mount Rainier peeks over the skyscrapers and neighborhoods of downtown Seattle, sprawled all the way to Lake Union and the distant ridges of the Cascade Mountain Range.
Just 20 feet below the observation deck, diners at SkyCity Restaurant let the 360-degree panorama revolve around them. Powered by a single 1.5-horsepower motor, SkyCity was only the second revolving restaurant in the world when it was built. Today, there are dozens of such restaurants worldwide, but SkyCity continues to distinguish itself with a carefully curated menu by Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield. Specializing in Pacific Northwest cuisine, Chef Maxfield was invited to cook a six-course meal at the James Beard House in October 2013—a testament to his work at SkyCity, whose menu includes everything from jumbo sea scallops to pear-and-brie agnolotti. For dessert, diners are invited to soak up the sweet views from the observation deck free of charge.
Since its construction in 1962, the Space Needle has become one of America’s most iconic architectural achievements. To prepare for the 1962 World’s Fair, crews constructed the Space Needle in a mere 400 days, earning the structure the unofficial title of “400 Day Wonder.” More than a million visitors visit the Needle every year, whether to eat at SkyCity, survey the Emerald City, or simply stand within the Earth’s last line of defense should a giant balloon ever descend on the Northwest.
Sprawling across 100 acres in the verdant, picturesque Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park beckons with awe-inspiring visual and auditory wonders. The newly constructed SkyRide invites visitors to survey the land from above, swooping across the Spokane River and past city hall, where they can wave to their favorite comptroller. Back on the ground, the historic Looff Carousel, built in 1909, whirls riders around on 54 horses, two Chinese-dragon chairs, one giraffe, and one tiger, and a tour train chugs through the park on a 30-minute narrated jaunt. Among other attractions, such as the Sculpture Walk and pony rides, Riverfront Park houses an enormous IMAX theater with one of the largest indoor screens in the Pacific Northwest. Standing 53 feet high and stretching 69 feet wide, the screen is slightly taller than the average human and displays crystal-clear two-dimensional images, which are complemented by the sounds of a booming, wraparound surround-sound system.
The woods are full of hazards, from prickly bushes to wild animals. But all’s safe in the Woods at the Children's Museum of Tacoma, where a log pile leads to a play area where kids can build forts and send supplies to and fro with pulleys. The Woods is one of the museum’s five playscapes, which encourage children and their adult guardians to learn through self-directed play.
Youngsters can unleash their inner architects with blocks and tubes at the Invention station, and paint, clay, and other artistic tools at Becka’s Studio allow kids to tap into their creative sides. Aboard the Voyager, children can pretend to fly to the moon or parallel-park between two asteroids. Back on earth, the interactive Water playspace presents a world of tranquil waterfalls and streams.
Afterward, there’s more to explore through the museum’s programs. They range from summer camps to Play to Learn, where kids 6 and younger take part in group activities, sing-alongs, and group circle time.
When pharmacist Gary Goug?r first started making wine, he was an amateur who was simply translating his love of vino into a pleasurable hobby. Soon, his passion took over, and he began racking up numerous International Gold awards for his red blends. His science background, coupled with training at one of the world?s finest winemaking schools in Australia, helped Goug?r take his wines to the next level. Goug?r now oversees his own winery, built in 2013 inside a renovated firehouse, where his bottles take center stage at tasting-room events ranging from holiday events to varietal samplers.
There's a revolution happening in Woodinville, Washington. There's no violence though, unless you count the stomping of grapes. Home to hundreds of boutique wineries, the region is beginning to rival Napa Valley as the United States' biggest wine producer. Woodinville sits at the same longitude as France's wine country, allowing for optimal adult-grape-juice production and the ability to wear a beret with dignity. Barrel Wine Tours, a co-op of Woodinville winemakers, takes guests throughout the community on tours of the distilleries and wineries of these passionate part-time vintners. On a luxury coach, participants ride to four distilleries or wineries, and three-course lunches and wine pairings occur during each tour.
On a childhood fishing trip with his dad in the San Juan Islands, Shane Aggergaard noticed a group of orcas swimming toward his boat. Rather than steering clear of human contact, they swam directly under the boat—one even looked Shane right in the eye. It was a moment of whale-human connection he never forgot, and nowadays tries to approximate through Island Adventures. The whale-watching tour company, which Shane founded with his wife, Jennifer, brings passengers into close contact with the aquatic mammals of the Pacific Northwest.
Depending on the season, wilderness-savvy guides—who’ve led more than 6,000 collective wildlife tours during their careers—can introduce passengers to minke whales and the San Juan’s three resident orca pods, migrating gray whales, or humpbacks. Their 101-foot vessel, The Island Explorer 3, boasts a large bow pulpit and a viewing deck with more than 400 feet of railing, ideal for seeing whales in their entirety, from their tails to their trusty sets of water wings. The team backs each tour with a whale-sighting guarantee and strives to ensure future sightings by making sustainable choices, from its ecofriendly cleaning products to the boat's cabin floor made from recycled tires.