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Exploring Seattle’s iconic attraction

Spending the day at the Seattle Center -- Site of the 1962 World’s Fair

View of the Space Needle from the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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A fun day trip in Seattle includes exploring the site of the 1962 World's Fair. The Seattle Center has such an interesting history, with many of the buildings and attractions part of the fair. With the space race heating up, science became the theme, and many of the attractions were designed with the future in mind. The fairgrounds were actually located a little over a mile outside the city, and to help meet the transportation needs, a monorail was installed which you can still ride today. The iconic Space Needle was designed to resemble a flying saucer.

It is about a one-hour drive from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the Seattle Center. There is plenty of parking available. There is even valet parking at the base of the Space Needle. Plan to purchase a City Pass, which includes admission to the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center or the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and the Museum of Pop Culture.

If you haven't visited the newly remodeled Space Needle, you need to make a visit. There are now two floors to explore. The upper floor has floor-to-ceiling windows offering incredible views of Seattle and the surrounding area. The lower level has a rotating glass floor allowing a gradual 360-degree view. The City Pass gives you both a day and night visit to the Space Needle. Insider Tip: Take the time as you head to the elevator, which brings you to the top, to read all the history of the fair and the Space Needle located on the wall. It is fascinating to read about the inspiration for the tower and what went into its construction.

It's pretty hard to impress teenagers but I actually got a "Wow, this is really cool!" from my two as they stepped into the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The glass is dramatic with bright colors and many of the works are surprisingly large -- truly breathtaking. The Pacific Science Center and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) are both popular with children. MoPOP really appeals to the teens, on our recent visit there was a Marvel exhibit, one on the band Pearl Jam, a Horror Movie exhibit and one on Fantasies such as Lord of the Rings. Exhibits rotate, so if you haven't been in for a while, there will be new things to see.

Before you visit, take the time to peruse the Seattle Center website, The grounds are quite extensive with nine gardens and six fountains. There are a variety of art installations in the buildings and on the grounds, which are worth checking out. There is also shopping on the grounds and at the museum gift shops, which have many unique items you won't find anywhere else. The gift shop at the Space Needle has a huge inventory of Space Needle-themed objects. The Seattle Center Armory has a large food court, and many of the museums have cafés. There are also food vendors on the grounds as well.

The best way to tour Seattle is one day trip at a time. Focus on an area and give yourself time to take it all in. Don't try to do too much in one day. For more information on things to do in Seattle, visit:

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