We decided this year to celebrate Canada Day by visiting our neighbours down south 😊 We thought we would avoid a long line up by getting to the border at 8 a.m. but I guess everyone was thinking the same thing! It took us an hour to get through the border which was absolutely no fun, especially when you need to use the washroom!
I have been to Washington many times so it becomes more and more of a challenge to find places or activities that I have not done before. This time, we have decided to go visit the corporate headquarters of Starbucks and Boeing!
Our first stop of the day was at the Restoration Center & Reserve Collection. Admission is $5 and can only be purchased at the door. The center holds the aircrafts and automobiles that needs to be repaired before being sent back to the Museum of Flight.
Repair can take between five to ten years because the repairs are all done by volunteers! Volunteers are usually retired Boeing mechanics who come to repair aircrafts as a hobby. Unfortunately, there were no volunteers doing repairs the day we visited so there was not much to see.
We stayed about 45 minutes before heading to our next attraction. It is a hit and miss with this attraction as you cannot find out beforehand if there will be volunteers coming in that day. I think you won’t miss out too much if you decide to skip this though.
We decided to grab lunch before we visit the Future of Flight. With the help of Yelp, we found a Greek restaurant called Kostas close by. Despite the fact that it was lunch time on a weekend, the restaurant was almost empty. We were a little worried about the quality, but we decided to try it anyways.
We ordered veggie wrap with soup and chicken delight from their lunch specials menu. To our surprise, the food was actually very delicious!
My rice pilaf was cooked in broth which made it more flavourful and the chicken was marinated with a lemon spice rub. The chicken was also very juicy. They also provide complimentary bread with garlic butter spread. The food here tasted better than any of the Greek restaurants I have tried in Vancouver!
After getting gas, we headed to the Future of Flight Aviation Center. It was quite busy here so we had to park a little bit further away in their free parkade.
We made reservation for the 2 pm Boeing tour so we explored the Aviation Center Gallery first. Be sure to allocate at least 45 minutes here as there are actually quite a lot to see in this gallery.
There are many interactive exhibits and displays where you can learn more about the different types of planes, the future of jet fuel and the parts of a plane. They also provide a complimentary photo that you can e-mail to yourself or print from the store with various backgrounds to choose from.
The highlight of this aviation center is definitely the 90-minute Boeing tour. Make sure you reserve a spot a few days before because they sell out very quickly! You are not allowed to bring anything with you on the tour so you must store your personal belongings in the free lockers provided. Washroom breaks are highly discouraged, and photos are prohibited. Moderate pace walking is required so make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
After a quick orientation, you hop on a tour bus that takes you over to the Boeing factory. The Boeing factory is the largest building in the world and they also hold the Guinness record for the largest painting in the world (painting of a plane on their sliding doors). They employ over 30,000 people and has their own fire department and six cafes.
Our tour guide took us around various viewing areas of the Boeing factory from the second floor as she explains about the different types of planes they assemble and the assembly process. We also learned which countries all the different parts of the plane are sourced from. It is definitely an information overload but it was very fascinating. The facility is top notch and well equipped with the manpower and technology to assemble these large aircrafts in a short period of time. It was interesting to see the 747, 767, 777 and 787 planes in various stages of assembly!
After our tour ended, we browsed around their souvenir shop. There are lots to see there and the souvenirs are reasonably priced. We also took the stairs to the top floor which is an observation deck to get a better look at planes landing or taking off. In total, we spent about 4 hours at the Future of Flight Aviation Center and we had a great time.
From the Aviation Center, we drove about 35 minutes to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room on Pike Street. Parking in the area is very limited so be expected to park on the streets a few blocks away. Boy, was it busy in there! Each area was flooded with people and there were no empty tables so we grabbed a drink and walked around.
Towards the back of the café, there is a cold brew bar and the Princi bakery (Starbucks has a partnership with them). In the middle, they have the coffee bean station where you can see them roasting the beans and also kiosks to purchase Starbucks merchandise.
On the other side of the café, there is another bar and a quiet reading area. This tasting room is the fanciest café I have ever been to; it looks like a collaboration between a high-end bar and a coffee shop.
I don’t drink coffee but I loved the vibe here! I bought a coffee mug and some coffee beans as souvenirs. The coffee beans are sold in the Roastery only for a limited period of time before they are launched in the regular Starbucks.
Our next stop was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. We purchased the Museum of Flight 3 Pack which includes the admission for the Museum of Flight, the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle which is cheaper than purchasing them separately.
You can purchase the tickets a week in advance of your visit on the Space Needle website.
Remember that you must visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle on the same day!
I am not a huge art fan but I enjoyed my time at this gallery. The blowglass artwork is beautiful and colourful. I am amazed at how malleable glass can be and how it can be molded into so many different shapes and sizes! Don’t forget to check out the garden as well!
Like the Future of Flight, they provide a complimentary photo which you can e-mail to yourself. The gift shop is a little pricy but I think it is still worth taking a look.
We asked he cashier at the gift shop to recommend us a good place to grab dinner nearby and she suggested the Seattle Center Armory. This is a performing center for shows or events held in the city with many eateries to choose from.
My friend decided to try Mod Pizza which was highly recommended by the cashier and I decided to try this place called Skillet Counter.
My friend waited almost an hour in line but he said it was well worth it. He said it was one of the best pizzas he’s had as the price was good and they were generous with the toppings.
I ordered the salmon burger with tomato bisque. My food was freshly cooked and tasted delicious. The salmon patty was juicy and the rest of the ingredients were very fresh. It was a little pricy for a food court but it was worth every penny.
There was also a stall selling kettle popcorn outside and we grabbed a mixed bag (salty and caramel). It was pricy for $7 but I was craving it since last summer so I bought it anyways!
After dinner, we headed up to the Space Needle to see the night view of Seattle from up top. It was cloudy that day so the view was not the best. However, it was still pretty busy as everyone was trying to catch a selfie of themselves near the glass windows.
The restaurant was still under renovation so everyone was hanging out in the open area. You can also get a complimentary photo here and you can e-mail it to yourself using the kiosks in the gift shop. Although the view wasn’t the greatest, I had a good time chatting with the staff working there.
They were very helpful in answering the questions we had regarding the various landmarks of the city. It is always nice to learn something from the locals! We headed back down and walked around the souvenir shop.
The souvenir shop is actually quite big so we spent almost 30 minutes here looking at the merchandise. By the time we finished, it was already dark outside so I was also able to snap a night view of the Space Needle. The Space Needle looks great both at day and at night!
My friend did not want head home yet so we decided to make one more stop at the Pike Place Market.
It was my first time visiting the Market at night which was much quieter than the day. We went to check out the famous Gum Wall which I find personally a little disgusting… The Gum Wall has grown quite a bit since my last visit many years ago!
We then drove down to the pier to get a picture of the Seattle Great Wheel at night. It’s too bad that it doesn’t change colours! It was 11 p.m. and we finally headed to our AirBnB. It has been a long day so it was time for shower and a good night’s rest!