I traveled to Seattle last week with my sons; one was there to attend BrickCon, the other to teach ‘ukulele lessons. Me? I got to tag along and see sights like the famous gum wall and the myriad vendors at Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and the very first Starbucks location (complete with a long line that I didn’t wait in). I even got to meet our own GeekMom Kelly live and in person! There’s plenty to see in the Emerald City, and a fair number of them make the cut for those of us who consider ourselves geeks.
Heading to Seattle? Take note of these five stops!
We spent an inordinate amount of time in this store that is packed to the ceiling with geeky pleasures. With a large collection of comic books, scripts from iconic television shows and movies, autographs, star photos, and vintage collectibles, fans of cult classics will find plenty to ogle. Then there’s the collection of memorabilia and toys based on popular games like Portal and Minecraft, as well as fan faves from TV shows like Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, and The Big Bang Theory. My eldest came home with a Walter White figure for a friend who has a serious love of Breaking Bad.
We could have spent even more time in there, poking through the various button collections, stickers, and other totally random fun stuff, but we wanted to see what else Seattle had to offer.
In its own right, the Experience Music Project (EMP) is a music geek’s playground. Rockers can delve into the history of Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana, see a visual display of the history of the guitar, or watch the big screen showing all music, all the time. Bang the drum—quite literally—in soundproof booths that allow visitors to try out a variety of musical instruments like guitar, bass, and keyboard. My son the musician had a go at the full drum set, while I took an electronic drum kit for a (not very impressive) spin. While there is a hands-on aspect to the EMP, I suspect younger children will find it a bit tedious unless they have an intense love of music.
The Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit at the EMP cranks the geek volume up to eleven. Divided into three different themes—science fiction, fantasy, and horror—there’s a display for everyone. Tolkien fans will drool over the handwritten manuscript page and sketches from his earliest known version of The Hobbit. Trekkies can see where Captain Kirk sat at the controls along with one of those famous red suits, while fans of the Man of Steel can see the Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve. Darth Vader’s lightsaber and Yoda’s cane will be the highlight for Star Wars fans.
The crowning glory for me, though, was the costume and prop collection from The Princess Bride. Princess Buttercup’s pale blue gown, the costumes worn by Inigo Montoya and the Man in Black, and the six-fingered glove, along with the swords used in the famous “prepare to die” scene had us quoting the movie for the rest of the afternoon.
Boeing offers the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America at its facility just north of Seattle. It is amazing to step into a 93-acre building (yes, you read that right — it’s the largest building in the world by volume) and watch as jetliners are assembled, piece by piece. Airplane geeks will definitely get a thrill out of seeing the production line in action. Jets in various stages of completion—just the fuselage, the fuselage with wings, the fuselage with wings and cockpit—are visible in the bays below as they’re assembled by some of the 43,000 Boeing employees that work here. The Future of Flight gallery gives visitors the chance to see some parts of a jetliner, compare various plane materials, and sit in a mocked-up version of the new Dreamliner.
Despite the fact that the tour has appeared on a number of “top factory tours” lists, I have some reservations about it after taking the tour with several young adults. While the tour is touted as a 1.5 hour activity, we probably spent just half an hour in the factory itself. The sheer size of the facility meant a lot of time on buses and walking through underground tunnels to get to the interesting stuff, and the time we were inside the facility was rushed as one group after another was herded through. This is really a shame because there was so much to see! The Future of Flight gallery was given a solid “meh” by the five young adults who joined me on the tour. Caveat emptor and all that.
You won’t find any iconic characters at this venue, but if you’ve ever been amazed by the art of glass blowing, this place will blow your mind with the neon-bright displays created by Dale Chihuly and his team. A friend of mine suggested that we visit, promising “your eyes will be happy.” Right she was. The displays are pure eye candy, each one more impressive than the last. The 20′ high display of blue glass reminiscent of ocean waves; the indoor “garden” of glass; the ceiling of glass that had visitors (well, okay, me) sitting on the floor in an attempt to see it from a different angle? They were all just visually stunning. We really enjoyed the video vignettes shown at the end of the tour that offer a look at the art of glass blowing itself as well as the creation of many of Chihuly’s art installations.
You’ll only catch this event once a year—the first weekend in October—but if you can be in Seattle for it, it’s worth a few hours of your time to see some of the amazing Lego creations dreamed up by hobbyists. Check out my earlier post about the Lego Rivendell on display in 2013; that alone might entice you to plan for an early October visit to Seattle.
Entrance to Boeing and the EMP was provided to GeekMom for review purposes.