Olympic Sculpture Park
We found ourselves with some extra time one morning and decided to meander around the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor sculpture park on the edge of the water downtown. I may have been on a bit of high after stopping at Top Pot Doughnuts before walking through the park (more on this later), but I was absolutely enamored with each and every sculpture in the park. It's a tough call, but it could be my favorite sight of all (close being going to the top of the Space Needle). You won't see Olympic Sculpture Park on the short list of top Seattle destinations, but it's certainly at the top of mine. If you're looking to get some exercise, there were tons of runners out so it's a great spot to not only get a good workout but get a great view too.
Seattle Great Wheel
Last summer we rode the London Eye so when I learned that there was a ferris wheel in Seattle, I was intrigued. When I learned the Seattle Great Wheel was only a fraction of the size (obviously) and made several rotations around, I was not as interested as it seemed like more of a carnival-like attraction. As we walked around the pier on the evening we arrived, it happened to be the summer solstice, and something quite stunning was going on in the sky. I wanted to get as close as possible to the spectacular pastel painted sky and a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel was the best way to get me there. We sat with some locals who kept raving about how they hadn't seen a night this perfect in Seattle in a very long time. It made me feel pretty good about our decision, but if you're making a trip to the top of the Space Needle, or it's a gloomy and rainy day, it's not a must. If the sky looks like it did for us, how could you possibly say no?
I once played the Baby Billy Goat in a first grade production of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. The kid who played the troll improvised on the day we were putting on the play for our parents and ended up picking his nose (maybe eating it?) in the middle of the five minute skit. The Fremont Troll in Seattle lives under a bridge (just like the troll in the goat story) and since I remember the folktale very well, I was kind of excited to see this troll who lives under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont. There was a field trip going on so there were tons of kids climbing all over that dusty old troll ("kids trolling the troll" as my husband put it). If we hadn't been at nearby Theo Chocolate, seeing the troll may have been a pass, but it was kind of cool to see. After visiting the troll, I learned that the VW Bug he's gripping is actually a real car! I didn't spend much time in the Fremont area but I know that there's some unique shopping and lots of good restaurants in the area if you have the time.
Despite walking way too far to get here and being super hungry by the time we arrived, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks ("Ballard Locks") were still a cool site to see and have an interesting purpose. They maintain water level, prevent fresh and salt water from merging, and allow boats to move between Puget Sound and the lakes. There is also a fish ladder where you can watch salmon migrate. It's a popular place for photographers (lots of weddings are shot here) but we didn't have the time or energy to explore and take more pictures in the Botanical Gardens. There's always a next time, right?