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Enjoy the scenic Seattle waterfront

Views for miles and fun attractions

Divers at the Seattle Aquarium put on a morning show that includes some fancy dance moves under the water. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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There is so much to see and do in Seattle it is hard to know where to start. I like to visit with a set area in mind and focus on that. One such area is Seattle's vibrant and historic waterfront which makes a great day trip from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). On an early Saturday morning you can get to downtown Seattle in about an hour. Insider Tips: Visit for the location of discounted downtown parking. There is also a free downtown shuttle with 15 stops, which is a good option if you have trouble finding parking near the waterfront.

Plan to arrive about 15 minutes before the Seattle Aquarium opens at 9:30 a.m. This is a popular waterfront attraction that can get very crowded later in the day. The first Diver show takes place at 10 a.m. in the Window on Washington Waters tank. Divers wear specialized masks, which allow them to answer questions from the audience. This is a small aquarium but it does have all the bells and whistles. There are a variety of fun activities for children, and my favorites are the Harbor Seals and Sea Otters.

Next, head over to Pier 57 and Miner's Landing, just a short walk from the aquarium. There are two must-see attractions: The Seattle Great Wheel and Wings over Washington. Let the weather be your guide as to which to visit first. If it is clear, head to the Seattle Great Wheel, you won't need to go to London to ride a world-class Ferris wheel. The Great Wheel provides outstanding views of Seattle, Elliott Bay and the surrounding Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges. If you have a special occasion, you can upgrade to the VIP experience which whisks you to the front of the line to a private gondola with leather seats, photos, T-shirts and a cocktail or beverage to enjoy on your trip.

Wings Over Washington is such a fun experience. After going through a goofy orientation complete with special effects, you enter the state-of-the-art "flying theater" to strap into your seat. Next thing you know, your row is lifted up and your feet dangle as the floor drops out from under you. It really does feel as if you are flying with special effects like the scent of the rain forest wafting towards you, or mist from the Puget Sound. See iconic sights such as Mount Rainier, the San Juan Islands and the orca whales, Snoqualmie Falls and much more. It is truly magical and well worth the price.

Argosy Cruises departs from Pier 55, which is next to Miner's Landing. Their one-hour narrated cruises give you the opportunity to view the city's scenic waterfront from Elliott Bay. Learn about the history of the area and view the container ships in the port up close. Cruises depart throughout the day with more cruise times offered on the weekend.

After all the sightseeing, time for some shopping and a meal. Miner's Landing has two seafood restaurants and shops with fun Seattle souvenirs. There is also an interesting antique store across the street. If you don't mind a hill climb, you are almost directly below Pikes Place Market. Usually I find it uncomfortably crowded, but in the off-season, it is easy to get around and we find a place to sit and eat.

For more information, visit: Also stop into ITR at JBLM to purchase Seattle City Passes. They already save you plenty on Seattle attractions and then you receive a military discount as well. Passes are good for nine days so you can enjoy the waterfront one weekend and come back the following weekend to enjoy the other Seattle attractions. 

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