Seattle Washington – It’s Only Rock n Roll in the Rain

Genie Davis October 5, 2010 No Comments


Our kids came to Seattle for the rock and roll museum – or as it’s otherwise known, the Experience Music Project – and stayed for the rain. That’s right, they liked the rain. They liked huddling under a shared umbrella picked up cheap at Pike Place Market and splashing in puddles in new rubber boots picked up almost inexpensively at a Payless Shoe Store. And they liked posing by the slippery iconic brass pig in front of Pike Place Market. 

Seattle Science Fiction Museum

Seattle Science Fiction Museum

The Experience Music project shares a conjoined building with the Seattle Science Fiction Museum. The building is shaped like a rain warped electric guitar, and that colorful exterior just starts the fun. Inside the museum is great for kids of all ages to explore, and parents will enjoy it too. For kids old enough to experience the interactive exhibits, such as the Sound Lab where you can mix a record, record yourself singing or playing an instrument – instruments available for use on site – or simply learn how to play a chord or two. The On Stage exhibit is even better – even toddlers can pretend to be rock stars, no instrument playing required. And yes, you can take home recordings of either musical experience. 

Our kids also really enjoyed the Roots and Branches exhibit, also interactive. It leads participants into the history and changes of pop and rock music over the years. A similar exhibit is Guitar Gallery, focusing on the development of guitars – larger sizing, going electric and more – it’s all very visual, very musical, and very much fun. Over in the Sci Fi part of the building, there’s everything from home world, which examines the culture and actual science behind sci fi, to an exhibit called Brave New Worlds which shows us the different ways we live, could live, and the consequences of the way we chose to live. Younger children may not appreciate the Sci Fi exhibits as much as the rock ‘n’ roll which truly does appear – on empirical, in person evidence – to appeal to the stroller crowd straight up to teens and adults. 

The younger kids will appreciate the nearby Seattle Children’s Museum. The exhibits here include Imagination Studio, a kid-centric and kid-sized art studio that employs materials such as clay, paint, and recycled stuff like cans and pencil shavings for art projects. Our kids enjoyed Cog City which is a maze of levers, pipes, balls and swings. A global village allows kids to experience different cultures; they have a nice range of atypical sites including Ghana, the Philippines, and Japan. Closer to home, the museum offers exploration of Washington State forest land with rocks, a cave, and even a lava bed. And to relax, there’s a story telling circle with books and a tree house in which to read them. 

After the Children’s museum, pick up that umbrella again and splash over from the museum to the Space Needle nearby. No visit to Seattle is satisfying without riding the elevator to the top, an exciting experience in and of itself for the kids. In spite of the rain, we had a great view from the observation deck which rises an impressive five hundred and twenty feet from the ground. We could see buildings, mountains, ocean, and the moving and shifting rain clouds. Some parts of the city were wet, some were bathed in grayish sunlight. 

Space Needle Seattle Washington

When the rain stopped, the sky was bright blue at the Space Needle.

We bought some fun souvenirs in the Jetson-esque gift stores back on the ground again before taking off for the waterfront during a break in the deluging. We waded through puddles that only seemed to offset the interesting sculptures at Olympic Sculpture Park. The kids appreciated the reflected images of large pieces by Calder and Oldenburg as well as views of the sea. The park has several levels and the hands down favorite was the small man-made beach at the waters edge. 

It was raining again so I confess we didn’t take the famous hill walk or the slippery steps one climbs while taking it between the water front and Pike Place Market; we took a short cab ride. All the same, we enjoyed the market tremendously, snacking on clam chowder; french fries, and fresh fruit. 

We even purchased a giant sunflower which managed to survive for days wrapped up in wet paper towels and tin foil on our dash board -  Seattle was only a weekend place marker in a longer road trip. 

Pike Place Market is enormous with in door sprawl and stalls and buildings adjoining the main, multi-leveled market place. It’s not just produce and pastries; the kids spent over an hour at a unique music shop that featured unusual small instruments from belles to kazoos to drums to specialized guitar picks. We waited in line to get Starbucks hot chocolate at the very first store, located outside the main market. We wandered among stalls purveying arts and crafts, local salmon, crab, and shrimp, unusual spices, flowers, vegetables, home made soups, and far too tasty home made fudge. 

Historic Building Pioneer Square Seattle

Pioneer Square in Seattle is filled with historic buildings

Because it was still raining – and because this is a great way to see Seattle, our next stop was underground. We took the well known and highly praised Seattle Underground Tour. It’s a slow paced, enjoyable guided walking tour that moves beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. Our kids loved the underground passage ways that once upon a time were the main roads and street level shop fronts of old Seattle. Some of the stories the guide relates are quirky and sometimes mildly raunchy, but older kids won’t mind and younger children will not notice. Stretching three blocks, the tour starts inside an 1890′s era saloon and ends in a gift shop. The tour covers most of historic Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Afterward, we strolled Pioneer Square above ground, on our own. The brick streets and tree lined plaza are a pleasant place to get some fresh air when the clouds part. And there’s great puddle jumping in the plaza. 

We ended our day nearby at the University of Washington, as we’d headquartered in a hotel in this neighborhood. I’ll share some hotel and dining options as well as some of the pleasures to be found just outside of downtown Seattle in my next blog. Keep your umbrellas ready!

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling.

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