Twofer: Seattle Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass
By Jon Bailey - October 12, 2017
*This experience was hosted by our fine friends at the Seattle Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass, and we’re so pleased that we had this opportunity to visit.
When in Seattle, you sort of have to visit the Space Needle. It’s a ritual of the Northwest, calling all visitors to its lofty heights to look upon the beauty of the surrounding city. Really it is breathtaking and cannot be missed. Lucky for us, the Chihuly Garden & Glass is located right at the base of the Needle, so explorers like our family can enjoy at twofer: Seattle Space Needle AND Chihuly Garden & Glass in one visit!
So near the Fairmont Olympic Hotel where we stayed, the walk was an easy stroll through downtown from one end to the other.
Although this was not the first time we’ve visited the Seattle Space Needle, it was the first time with our kids so we took time to pay attention to the story behind its creation. And quite a story it is.
The Needle was built in just one year, from start to finish, because the city leaders wanted it to be complete for the World’s Fair which was held in Seattle in 1962. It is a feat of engineering and construction, the process of which is detailed as you spiral up inside the building towards the elevators.
And yes, it was intentionally designed to look like a flying saucer. This was designed by architects to honor the US manned space flights, and the intention to reach the moon. Very appropriate then, and the stuff of modern legends now. The exhibition on all this is very cool and interesting, with references to the music, movies and fashion of the 1960s in order to set the mood.
Once reaching the top by high-speed elevator through the center core of the Needle, the views are truly stunning. We could see Mt. Rainer, the bay/ocean and the San Juan Islands, and snowcapped Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges in the not-so-distant horizon. Below us, the city skyline and neighbors spread out around us like jewels. There are selfie stations for those instagrammers – more appropriately Snapchatters like our teens – and tons of great vistas to capture.
Helpful hint: Get there early and plan for lines. We picked up our tickets quickly, which had an entry time printed on them indicating when we should queue up to enter the building. It was hot that day in Seattle (not the norm!) and the line had us waiting in direct sun – not great for those of us who are follically- challenged, or others who might have perhaps not made the right wardrobe choice that morning and were dressed for winter. Plan on spending two hours here – the view from the top is just one of the cool things you will experience. Plus they have a great gift shop, and I am rarely a sucker for those.
Chihuly Garden & Glass
Dale Chihuly has some ties to San Diego, so his name and incredible glass art was not foreign to us. You may recognize his work from the ornate glass flowers that cover the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. However, we were unprepared for how amazed we would be at his gorgeous displays at Chihuly Garden & Glass. This is not your typical glassblower exhibit – his work reminded us of a Dr. Seuss world of fanciful creatures in every shape and color of the rainbow. You have to see it to really get it.
As soon as we entered the first room, all of our mouths dropped open at the incredible beauty of his creation. It appeared to us as an underwater scene of waves and the fronds of sea anemones, with starfish dotted about like natural Christmas tree ornaments. It went on from there, room by room, with each display more incredible than the last.
Outside in the garden, the scene continues in a more natural setting. Chihuly’s stunning and colorful glass is intermixed with beds of real flowers, plants and trees that both complement and stage the art. In some places, giant branches of orange speckled glass rise from beds of orange flowers. In another, glass figures are mixed in with fallen branches, succulents and ferns. Absolutely stunning.
Helpful Hint: Take your time to walk through the rooms and then outside in the garden. It’s not a huge museum, and well worth a thoughtful stroll rather than a beeline rush. Also for those with small children, there is a great attraction to touching some of these creations since they are so fun and other-worldly. Keep them close, or you know the old adage – You Break It, You Buy It. And we can only imagine the price of some of these pieces!