Suzzallo Library is the University of Washington’s central library. // © 2015 Joshua Friedman
Feature image (above): Yoshino cherry trees make the university’s main quad a scenic spot for studying or catching up with classmates. // © 2015 Joshua Friedman
The University of Washington, or UDub as it’s known by students, is located in “not-as-rainy-as-you-might-think” Seattle. In fact, statistically speaking, with approximately 38 inches of rain per year, Seattle falls in fourth place for average annual rainfall — behind New York (44.1 inches), Houston (44.8 inches) and Miami (66.9 inches). So, let’s put our umbrellas away and learn about this fantastic college city.
The University of Washington (UW) moved to its current location from downtown Seattle in 1895 and has grown to a community of more than 40,000 in the last 119 years, with 29,000 of those being undergrad students. Located less than 5 miles from downtown, UW consistently ranks among the top colleges in the U.S. and receives more federal funding than any other U.S. public university. It is also the only U.S. university to receive the 2014 Sustainable Campus Excellence Award.
The Ave got its nickname in 1919 when locals adopted the abbreviation for the then named 14th Avenue NE, the main business street in the University District. Though it was later officially renamed University Way NE, the name stuck, and today, The Ave boasts many locally owned shops and restaurants frequented by UW students.
One popular spot is Shultzy’s Sausage, self-proclaimed as “Seattle’s Wurst Restaurant.” It features housemade brats, hot dogs and sausage burgers — all at student-friendly prices. Not located on The Ave, but only about 2 miles from UW, Chocolati Cafe in the Wallingford neighborhood is worth checking out. This funky chocolate/coffee cafe offers chocolate-infused espresso beverages, unique handmade truffles and other delicious chocolate creations. Try the peanut butter hot chocolate — you won’t be sorry.
The Liberal Arts Quadrangle, known as “The Quad,” features the campus’ famous Yoshino cherry trees, which bloom every year in late March. Gifted to the U.S. by Japan in 1912 as a goodwill gesture, the trees were distributed to different regions around the country including Washington, DC.
When the trees given to the Washington Park Arboretum were threatened by the construction of the 520 Floating Bridge in the 1960s, UW purchased 30 of them to plant on campus, where they have become one of the university’s most iconic sights, attracting thousands of visitors armed with cameras each spring. The trees even have their own Twitter feed (@uwcherryblossom), where parents and students can track the progress of the blooms.
The gothic architecture of this library has influenced many other buildings on campus. The second floor reading room, dubbed the “Harry Potter Room” by students, features a spectacular vaulted ceiling that could have easily been a set in one of wizardry-filled movies. Displayed in a glass case, just outside the reading room, is one of the largest books in the world, with 7-foot by 5-foot pages that are turned just once a month.
Next to Suzzallo Library is Rainier Vista, an unobstructed view of majestic Mount Rainier created to showcase the natural beauty of Seattle. On a clear day, the view of the mountain is unparalleled. To ensure that it will always remain that way, UW owns the airspace from campus to the mountain, so there can never be anything built to interfere with Rainier Vista.
Pike Place Market
One of the oldest continuously operating farmers’ markets in the country, Pike Place Market was founded so that consumers could connect directly with producers. Today, the market houses dozens of fruit and produce stands as well as gourmet and specialty foods, local products and the world-famous fish-throwing mongers at Pike Place Fish Market.
In addition, visitors to the market can find the “World’s Best” (and Oprah’s favorite) Mac & Cheese at Beecher’s Homemade Cheese and a variety of award-winning chowders at Pike Place Chowder. Coffee lovers should not miss a stop at the very first Starbucks, which is the only place where merchandise featuring the original logo can be found.
Pike Place Market can be overwhelming, so a food tour is a great way to see the market, and better yet, to skip the lines. Savor Seattle offers several daily tours of the market led by knowledgeable guides who not only know the market inside out but also share interesting tidbits about Seattle’s history and lore.
In addition, the guides help visitors make a personal connection with many of the iconic businesses that have contributed to the Pike Place legend.
“We are in the business of putting people in touch with people, and this human aspect is the core of Pike Place,” explained Nick Setten, field manager and tour guide for Savor Seattle.
This 74-acre urban park is where visitors will find Seattle’s best-known landmark, the Space Needle, but there’s much more to see after descending from the 520-foot journey to the Needle’s observation deck.
One unique stop in Seattle Center is the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Known by many for the blown-glass flowers adorning the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Washington artist Dale Chihuly’s work also includes colorful glass orbs, spires and intricate twisted glass tendrils. Here, the most comprehensive collection of his remarkable artwork is displayed in indoor galleries as well as in landscaped gardens, including a 4,500-square-foot floral installation suspended from the ceiling of a 40-foot glass house.
Also located within Seattle Center is the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum. Dedicated to American popular music and culture, the EMP is housed in a spectacular Frank O. Gehry-designed building that was inspired by electric guitars. The EMP’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame is a unique collection of memorabilia including works by H.G. Wells, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
Currently on display at the EMP through Oct. 4, 2015 is “Star Wars and the Power of Costume,” a special exhibit of nearly 60 costumes from the first six blockbuster films.
Sunday Ice Cream Cruise
There are many opportunities to see Seattle by water, including onboard Seattle Harbor cruises or the famous Washington State Ferries. There is, however, one lesser-known cruise that is particularly charming, Sunday Ice Cream Cruise on Lake Union. Visitors will enjoy this 45 to 50-minute entertaining and informative tour around the lake. They can see where Boeing built his first seaplane, get a glimpse inside Dale Chihuly’s studio, check out historic Gas Works Park and spot the houseboat from “Sleepless in Seattle.” In addition, passengers can indulge in chocolate root beer or Creamsicle floats as well as other ice cream treats.
Cruises depart on the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays year-round. Travel agents should advise clients that Sunday Ice Cream Cruise only accepts cash or checks.