Seattle Sightseeing

Things to See and Do In Seattle

As a city with a thriving urban landscape surrounded by natural beauty and wonders, Seattle is home to many entertaining tourist attractions. The 2011 American Fisheries Society conference at the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) will provide ample opportunities for attendees and their guests to enjoy our Emerald City and The Evergreen State. Below we provide a brief overview and links to a few of the many things to see and do while visiting Seattle. Fun, interesting, and educational activities are within walking distance from the WSCC and others are a short bus or monorail ride away. For those interested in venturing farther out, or staying for a long-weekend before or after the conference, natural wonders await. Below, we highlight some of the attractions, but also encourage you to explore the possibilities on your own. The following websites are good portals into the local happenings and provide detailed information to help plan your activities.

Within Walking Distance from the Conference

The following activities are generally within walking distance of the convention center. However, one person’s enjoyable walk is another’s long slog, so we suggest that you do some research and plan accordingly. Also remember that within an area downtown, there is free bus service between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Ride Free Area (map) extends from the north at Battery St. to S. Jackson St. on the south, and east at 6th Avenue to the waterfront on the west.

Pike Place Market ( The world famous iconic market in Seattle is home to great food from around the world, fresh local produce, art vendors, a myriad selection of arts and crafts stores, and of course the famous fish tossing mongers.

Ride the Ducks ( A land and water tour of Seattle on a WWII era amphibious landing craft. On this 90 minute tour of downtown, you will ride past many of Seattle’s major attractions like the Space Needle, the waterfront, Pike Place Market, Safeco Field and then splash into Lake Union to see, from the water, Gasworks Park and the Seattle Skyline. Entertaining Captains share local history on this fun ride/voyage.

Seattle Art Museum ( A world class art museum in downtown Seattle, the SAM has a 25,000 piece collection with regular special events. You may also want to visit the Olympic Sculpture Park (free admission) on the central Seattle waterfront or the Seattle Asian Art Museum located in the Capital Hill neighborhood.

Seattle Art Walk ( Every first Thursday in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood art galleries open their doors to the public and introduce new artists and/or exhibitions. This oldest art walk in the U.S. (since 1981) takes place from noon to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. After nearly three decades First Thursday has become a fixture for art-loving Seattlites.

Seattle Underground Tour ( A leisurely, guided walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets in the historic Pioneer Square district. As you roam the subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, guides regale you with colorful stories of Seattle’s early history.

Klondike Gold Rush Historical Site ( Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park preserves the story of the 1897-98 stampede to the Yukon gold fields and Seattle’s role in this event. The park offers a glimpse at the stories of adventure and hardship of the gold rush.

The Space Needle( The 605 foot structure built for the 1962 World’s Fair provides the iconic symbol of Seattle’s skyline. Visit the observation deck on a clear day to see a 360 degree view of the area, including the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Range, Puget Sound, Lake Union, Lake Washington, and many other local features. The Sky City restaurant is perched atop the structure and is open for lunch and dinner.

The Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum ( A unique Frank Gehry designed building houses a history and exploration of popular music and science fiction. Seattle is a music town, home to favorite sons Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones and the birthplace of Grunge. EMP houses incredible artifacts, as well as hands on displays.

Argosy Cruises ( See the downtown Seattle skyline from the water. Argosy Cruises offer dining and sightseeing cruises of Elliot Bay.

Pacific Science Center ( A hands-on science museum with IMAX theater.

Within Bus or Taxi Distance from the Conference

There are a great number of things to do that may be a bit farther than walking distance allows. Luckily, for those without a vehicle, Seattle has a good public transportation system. Options include taking a metro bus ( which can take you throughout the region or the Seattle Monorail ( which travels downtown between the Seattle Center and Westlake Center. At the websites provided, you can get route maps or use website features to plan your bus trip.

Museum of Flight ( See a one-of-a-kind exhibition that celebrates a century of aviation and aerospace exploration. One of the foremost air and space museums in the world, educational and inspirational opportunities abound at the Museum of Flight.

Tillicum Village ( A four hour event that includes a narrated 45 minute sight-seeing cruise to Blake Island, an appetizer of steamed clams followed by a salmon buffet, a Native American-inspired dance show and time to explore Blake Island before a return cruise to Seattle.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture ( Located on the campus of the University of Washington, the Burke Museum holds large collections that reflect the cultural and natural wonders of Washington State, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Rim.

Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks ( The Ballard locks connect Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. This popular attraction is in a beautiful park setting, with the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden nearby. Also, a fish ladder with viewing gallery allows prime viewing of migrating adult and juvenile salmon. The odd-year pink salmon will be running at the time of the conference and Coho and Chinook should be running as well.

Seattle Mariners ( The Seattle Mariners will have home games during the conference. The Mariners play at Safeco Field, a retractable roof stadium that holds 47,116 fans. The Kansas City Royals are in town 9/8-9/11, providing an opportunity to see America’s past-time in one of the best ball parks in Major League Baseball.


Washington State is great place to vacation during late August and early September. An abundance of fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreational opportunities await AFS members. For those adventurous enough to arrive early or stay late, we encourage you to come and sample a piece of the Evergreen State.

Fishing ( This year is a pink salmon year and the Puget Sound and local rivers will be teaming with pinks at the time of the meeting. During this same time, Western Washington rivers also host summer run steelhead and sea run cutthroat trout, which can be caught with a variety of techniques. On the Washington coast, charter boats are available for those interested in Chinook and coho salmon and bottom fish. East of the Cascade Mountains lies the Yakima River (a blue ribbon rainbow trout fishery) and numerous other rivers and lakes waiting for an eager angler. For those interested in a Washington angling experience, a few minutes of research can provide a lifetime of memories.

Hiking ( From the coast to the mountains to the arid interior, the trail system in Washington State allows diverse ecosystems to be enjoyed and discovered through day hikes or serious backpacking adventures. The trail system traverses through wilderness areas, national parks, and national forests.

Mt. Rainier National Park ( At 14,410 feet, Mt. Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascades Mountain Range and an active volcano. Located about 1.5 hours from Seattle, Mt. Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres. Mt. Rainier contains more glaciers than any other peak in the contiguous United States and each year thousands of people successfully climb the mountain.

North Cascades National Park ( North Cascades National Park contains over 300 glaciers. The west side of the park is one of the snowiest places on the planet, while on the east side of the park conditions are drier. The park is located about 2 hours from Seattle.

Olympic National Park ( Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula approximately 2 hours via ferry from Seattle. The park encompasses over 922,000 acres and features glacier-capped peaks, rain forest valleys, salmon bearing rivers, and Pacific Ocean beaches. In September 2011, the Nation’s largest dam removal project will begin on the Elwha River, restoring more than 70 miles of river and tributaries for all 5 species of Pacific Salmon and other anadromous species.

Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument ( On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted for nine hours, laying waste and destruction over a massive expanse. Since then, the mountain has been reborn and new ecosystems are emerging. Mt. St. Helens is located about 3.5 hours from Seattle.

Seattle Music Scene

Bumbershoot ( Bumbershoot is one of the largest music festivals in North America and features top-name musicians from around the world. Bumbershoot takes place over Labor Day Weekend in Seattle at Seattle Center ( If your interest is music, you may want to come early and enjoy the scene.

Local Music ( Seattle is also internationally known for its music scene. A variety of live music is can be heard any night in Seattle.

Scientific Field Trips

Several outstanding field trips have been organized for 2011 AFS meeting attendees and their guests. These low cost/high value tours will be led by knowledgeable biologists and managers who are directly involved in the featured fisheries and conservation projects. You’ll also experience the beautiful Mountains-to-Sound scenery for which Washington is justifiably famous.

Each field trip lasts 3 to 11 hours. Costs cover bus transportation and, for the longer tours, a box lunch. The number of seats available for each tour is limited, so don’t delay in making your reservation.

Travel Times (from

(Estimated times are based on non-peak drive times)
Peak travel times are Monday through Friday 7-8:30 am and 4:30-6:30 pm, although accidents can cause delays.

  • Seattle to SeaTac Airport – 20 minutes
  • Seattle to Tukwila – 20 minutes
  • Seattle to Bellevue – 20 minutes
  • Seattle to Tacoma – 30 minutes
  • Seattle to Puyallup – 25 minutes
  • Seattle to Eatonville (NW Trek) – 45 minutes
  • Seattle to Olympia – 1.5 hrs
  • Seattle to Victoria
    • Water Options – 2 hrs
    • Air Options – 45 minutes
  • Seattle to Vancouver
    • Ground Options – 2 hrs
    • Air Options – 45 minutes
  • Seattle to San Juan Islands
    • Water Options – 1.5 hrs
    • Air Options – 45 minutes
  • Seattle to Mount Rainier – 2 hrs
  • Seattle to Mount St. Helen’s – 3.5 hrs
  • Seattleto Olympic Peninsula – Olympic National Park is 2.5 hrs via ferry from Seattle


Travel to the 141st Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society in downtown Seattle, Washington,
September 4-8, 2011 has been made very easy with the availability of the new Link Light rail service from Sea-Tac Airport to downtown Seattle. Cars simply will not be needed for attendees!

Sea-Tac Airport is an international airport located 37 minutes south of downtown by Link Light rail Link Light Rail. The Westlake Station at the end of the line in downtown Seattle is just a few short blocks from the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC)
and the downtown hotels.

Additional options for the traveler include bus service King County Metro, shuttle services Shuttle Express, Super Shuttle the monorail from Seattle Center Seattle Monorail, biking Seattle Bicycle Rentals and parking lots Downtown parking lots or street parking City of Seattle Street parking.

The downtown hotels have covered valet and self-service parking available. The WSCC also has covered parking facilities available WSCC parking.

Once in Seattle many good public transportation options are available in the downtown area. The bus service is superb with a no-fare ride zone Free Ride Zone in the downtown core area during the day. In addition, streetcar rail service is available from downtown Seattle Street Car and many bike lanes exist to serve the bicycling public Seattle bike maps.

Traffic updates are always available from the City of Seattle Seattle traffic cameras, or from the Washington State Department of Transportation Seattle freeway conditions.

For the more adventurous traveler Kenmore Air Kenmore Air provides float plane service into Lake Union just north of downtown Seattle, and the Washington State ferry system Washington State ferries can deliver cars or passengers directly to the waterfront in downtown Seattle.

As you can see there are many ways to travel to and within Seattle for the 2011 AFS Annual Meeting!

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