It is possible to spend a night and day in Seattle without a car. You won't even need the services of a cab or bus, though taking the monorail will expand your sightseeing horizons and give you the opportunity to ride the ducks.
Begin by checking in to the well-located Inn at the Market. It is just across the street from Pike Place Market, where big fish are flipped with great fanfare back and forth between the mongers at Pike Place Fish. And it is only a few steps away from the original Starbucks, where there is no seating but Bob Dylan sometimes sings atmospherically in the background. Many rooms have a view overlooking the market and beyond to the blue waters of Elliott Bay, and all guests have access to a roof-top sundeck with that same spectacular view.
Though the hotel is not brand new, it does have a spanking new idea. When I stayed here recently, my room was equipped with a NASA-approved Swedish Tempur-Pedic mattress. Made of a material that the company claims conforms to each sleeper's body shape, it provides comfortable support. Spending the night here lets you try before you buy. I slept soundly and was impressed to discover that the mattress also doesn't make any movement when a sleeping partner flips over in the manner of those fish across the street.
Home to more than the flying fish mentioned above, Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously-operated farmers market in the country. It has been here since 1907 and takes up 7 blocks. You'll find picture-perfect locally grown fruits and vegetables, gorgeous flowers, and even stalls purveying handcrafted souvenirs. Restaurants dot the premises, providing everything from inexpensive Chinese food with a view at Pike Place Chinese Cuisine to well-priced French fare with a view at Maximilien's. Shops are varied and, in this city so famous for its coffee, you can pick up some fabulous tea at MarketSpice. Do take advantage of visiting the market early in the morning, before it gets crowded, and spend some time just wandering.
Located right on the water and just down the hill from the market, the small Seattle Aquarium has both indoor and outdoor venues. Its collection emphasizes the underwater life of the Pacific Northwest-you'll see sea otters and octopuses-but it also displays exotic sea dragons and you can touch live sea stars and urchins. An IMAX Dome theater is adjacent.
Just down the pike Anthony's Pier 66 soars above the water, offering almost every diner a good water view. But that is only half of why people are willing to wait in line for a meal here. The other half is a menu highlighting the freshest seafood prepared simply. Diners literally roar their approval.
Ride the Ducks
Walk a few blocks inland, through prime shopping, to board one of the monorails that leave every 10 minutes for Seattle Center. The center is home to the Pacific Science Center, The Children's Museum, the colorful Experience Music Project, the Fun Forest Amusement Park, and the landmark Space Needle with its revolving restaurant.
Whatever you do, don't miss taking a Ride the Ducks of Seattle tour for an entertaining introduction to the lay of the land. It begins conveniently across the street from the Experience Music Project. On my tour, after everyone boarded a converted World War II amphibious landing craft, the beaming, edgy-voiced tour driver hollered out from under his cowboy hat, "Let's go ride these ducks." And the vintage 60s music and yee-hahs began. If you're smart you'll have purchased one of the hang-around-your-neck duck-bill quackers in the office for $2, as the look on pedestrian's faces when confronted by one is worth far, far more. When it's time to turn the land craft into a boat, the driver just steers it down a ramp and right into the water. Ours proclaimed, "We're the fastest boat on land and the fastest truck in the water." Yee hah!