Seattle is a city that’s loaded with culture. From highbrow cultural institutions to offbeat gems (it’s home to the Museum of Bad Art, after all) it has something for everyone to experience. And because the city has inspired artists of all sorts—from famed glassblowing wizard Dale Chihuly, to renowned chef Mario Batali, to, of course, rocker Kurt Cobain—you know that a trip here will get you motivated to do some creating of your own!
First up: The Fremont Troll! He's been a Seattle staple since his creation in 1990, and to this day loads of people have come to revere the big guy under the bridge. The massive statue is a mixed-media work located at North 36th street, under the north side of the George Washington Bridge. The troll is holding onto a VW Beetle, which he presumable took from the bridge. Visitors are encouraged to climb around the statue. The artist won a competition by the Fremont Arts Council to design something that would rehab the area under the bridge, which had been used by drug dealers for years. The troll idea comes from the Scandinavian fairytale "Three Billy Goats Gruff." The artist got inspiration for the troll from a series of "troll sightings" that locals have reported in the area since as far back as 1932. The sculpture is now a hotspot during the summer solstice and Halloween. TIP: Parking can be hard to find, but it's a great free photo op.
Glassblower Dale Chihuly is from the Seattle area, and he’s most well-known for his massive and elaborate sculptures of colorful glass. Chihuly Garden and Glass is an incredible gallery of some of his works, and it’s a good place to see some pieces that are heavily influenced by his Pacific Northwest upbringing. Marvel at the giant, fragile masterpieces as you wander the exhibition halls and garden.
Things get a little funkier at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The Seattle Art Museum turned a nine-acre industrial space into a public park loaded with interesting landscaping and, of course, sculptures, which are tucked away throughout. It’s a surprisingly peaceful spot in an urban space. Bonus: The views of the water are unbeatable.
Stay right in the heart of it all at the Holiday Inn in Downtown Seattle. You can walk to the Seattle Art Museum, the Space Needle, and Pike Place Market from here. More neighborhoods that are worth exploring, such as Capitol Hill, Fremont (home of the Fremont Troll), and Queen Anne are a quick drive, cab ride, or meandering walk away. The rooms are cozy, the views are stunning, and the onsite bar and restaurant are perfect for a nightcap!
No trip to Seattle is complete without checking out the city’s legendary live music scene. The Crocodile is one of the best venues in the city. Tons of famous bands got their start playing shows here, so if you catch a concert, you’ll probably be seeing the next big thing. You also can get in on the action yourself with karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays. Oh, and the back bar serves wood-fired pizzas!
Vinyl makes a great Seattle souvenir. The selection at Holy Cow Records is massive and incredibly varied, so there should be something for every taste here. Plus, Holy Cow is located in Pike Place Market, which is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Seattle. Grab a cup of coffee or a bowl of chowder, and get ready for some serious people-watching.
For a total change of pace, make your way to the Frye Art Museum. It has a small but elegant collection of American and German paintings, plus a gallery with eclectic rotating exhibits. It’s a quiet little place, and because it’s free and has free parking, there’s no reason not to spend an hour or two here.
Seattle's personality is so distinctive that even though you can get to know the city in a brief day or two, you'll be so intrigued that you might not want to leave!
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