During a recent trip to Seattle to visit my family, I decided to take my camera downtown and capture photos of some of the city's best sites.  Unfortunately, the day I went wasn't one of the rare beautiful crystal clear blue skies but rather a typical Seattle gloom, but the photos still worked.

First stop was Seattle Center, home of the most famous Seattle landmark, the Space Needle.  Built for the 1962 World Fair, the Space Needle is 605 feet high and has both an observation deck and a rotating restaurant at the top. 

Also in the Seattle Center park area is the Experience Music Project, or EMP, a Frank Gehry monstrosity originally designed to house Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's interactive music museum concept.  Later, due to poor ticket sales, the building was expanded to also include a Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.  So this is the place to go if you want to see Jimmy Hendrix and Star Trek memorabilia in one spot.  I still have yet to go inside, in fact I protest anything designed by Gehry regardless of the building's use, but I also really don't have an interest after being disappointed by my visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.

The great thing about Seattle Center is that it is connected to the center of the Seattle shopping and eating area by monorail, just like in Disneyland! This makes it easy to get to the next stop on the tour: Pike Place Market.

Located at the end of Pike Street, after 1st Avenue, Pike Place market was built in 1907 and remains one of the oldest continually running farmer's markets in the U.S.  Here you can buy fresh seafood, flowers, and other food goods.  But the main attraction is the fishermen at the Pike Place Fish Market because of their popular fish throwing activities.  They used to have a sign that said "Caution: Low Flying Fish," but I think it has since been removed.  The star of the Pike Place Fish Market stand used to be a "talking" monkfish on a stick, nestled in the ice next to the fresh fish for sale, that was used as a puppet to scare patrons.  Unfortunately, the monkfish has temporarily disappeared due to the decision to only carry sustainable seafood at the stand.  Funds are currently being raised to have a fake monkfish produced to carry on the tradition.

Another star attraction of the area is the original Starbucks.  Starbucks opened its first store in 1971 at Pike Place Market.  Because the Market is a historic district with design guidelines, the store retains its original look on the outside.

For admirers of extreme architecture, you may enjoy visiting the unusually shaped Seattle Central Public Library, designed by Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus with an IKEA like interior design.

Finally, our photographic tour took us north to take advantage of the Kerry Park viewpoint over the city,  a route that allowed us to also view some beautiful Queen Anne homes.

Our final stop was to visit the giant Fremont Troll, lurking under the Aurora bridge in the Fremont district. 

Other areas I meant to visit, but ran out of time, were the historic Pioneer Square district and the famous Seattle Underground Tour that takes you below today's streets to view the buried storefronts of yesteryear.

Just outside of Seattle, on the east side of the lake, there are several interesting things to see:

1. Snoqualmie Falls: A 268 foot waterfall next to the historic Salish Lodge that was used in the opening credits of the 1990s hit TV series, Twin Peaks.  The Salish Lodge exterior was used for the Great Northern Hotel in the show.

2. Washington Wineries: Chateau St. Michelle Winery and Columbia Winery in Woodinville

3. Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour

Suggestions for alternative adventures outside of Seattle include:
- Mount Rainer
- Puget Sound Cruise
- Bainbridge Island
- Ferry to Victoria B.C.
- Mount St. Helens and the Ape Caves - long point-to-pont lava tubes you can explore.  Bring a flashlight or rent a lantern, and be prepared to do some quasi-spelunking!  Also wear a sweatshirt because it can get cold in the caves, regardless of the outside temperature

Whatever you do, wherever you go just remember to bring your rain jacket and umbrella!!