chicafeAs New York and most of the country suffers through a protracted heat wave, I keep thinking I should have appreciated the cool, gray days in Seattle in June.

Of course, I was dreaming of those crisp northwestern days in the 60s I’d been promised. And it does happen. But on my recent trip, it was so cold and dreary that I had to buy a sweater.

Luckily, I was staying in the heart of the city, at the boutique luxury Mayflower Park Hotel, across the street from Macy’s, a Gap, Nordstrom and numerous other stores.

The hotel is ideally situated for families with kids, because you can actually walk through the hotel right into a mall, and catch the monorail. This World’s Fair relic has only 2 stops: center city and Seattle Center, the huge complex of museums, theaters and attractions that are high on family vacationers’ lists.


chihulySpend time at Seattle Center

The highlight of Seattle Center is the new Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition, a spectacular indoor/outdoor museum with large scale colorful glass sculpture. There is also a museum devoted to Chihuly in St. Petersburg, Florida but the artists native state has produced a more comprehensive showcase.

You can spend days at the 74-acre Seattle Center, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair with special exhibits and vintage amusement park rides (through October 21, 2012).

The Pacific Science Center has the traveling exhibit, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs plus a host of interactive exhibits. Touch marine creatures in the saltwater tide pool or ride Calorie Bicycles to see how much energy you produce.

You can ride to the top of the iconic Space Needle and peek into the Chihuly garden. From the observation deck you might see Mt. Rainier on a clear day, the Seattle waterfront or Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners.

The Children’s Museum, Seattle and EMP Museum where you can perform or listen to music, are also part of the complex.

monorailGetting around Seattle

While the monorail is rather gimmicky, the Seattle public bus system takes you all over center city– for free. This perk ends in September, though. But the Seattle buses are also great for bike riders. If you rent bikes with your family, and the hills or the distance are too much, you can ride the bus – and pop your bike onto the front of the bus.

It’s these little tourist-friendly touches that make Seattle such a delight to visit.