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Seattle has certain must-see activities for visitors. The Space Needle is at the obvious head of that list along with Pike Place Market, Chihuly Garden, and the Great Wheel. Once you’ve checked the big names off your list, you might be ready for some activities that are more off the beaten path. Not only are these trip destinations fun, they’ll also give you some unique stories to tell when you get back home.
1. Subterranean Seattle
When Seattle was rebuilt in the wake of the massive fire in 1889, city planners decided to elevate the existing streets a couple of stories since flooding had been such a consistent issue with the previous structures. This left the original ground level to be gradually abandoned and covered over as time passed.
Though the remaining tunnels largely run under private property, tour operators have struck deals with the property owners to take visitors into them to see one of the stranger sides of city history. Original shop basements and passages have been left intact and untouched for decades, and some areas of the underground were formerly home to illegal gambling joints and opium dens. The original and longest-running tour of the underground is hosted by Bill Speidel’s company, who have been offering these tours since 1965. Tours are available every day of the year except for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving, and families have the option of taking a version that excludes mention of the prostitution, opium and gambling venues.
2. Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park began life as pretty much the polar conceptual opposite of a park; it was the home of a major coal-to-gas plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. The city purchased the defunct plant in 1962 to convert it to a waterfront park. The unusual part is that much of the original plant was left intact and remains to this day.
Much of the original structure is fenced off for public safety, but the former pump house has been converted into a play barn with existing pipes and boilers converted into various structures for kids to climb through and play on. The park not only offers one of the most unique settings in the world but is also a very popular place for flying kites and offers an amazing view of the downtown Seattle skyline.
3. The Official Bad Art Museum of Art
The Official Bad Art Museum of Art (more commonly called OBAMA for short) is a part of Cafe Racer, a diner that serves classic American comfort food and deli sandwiches. While there’s nothing wrong with the food, the main attraction here is the collection of truly terrible paintings the cafe has amassed over the years. If you are an aficionado of creepy clown paintings, dead-eyed family portraits and completely tasteless depictions of Elvis you will be in heaven here. Cafe Racer makes the little museum available to the public from seven to two every day of the week. It’s free to enjoy and serves primarily as an attraction to check out some of the restaurant’s fare. which does happen to be enjoyable and reasonably priced.
4. Archie McPhee
Archie McPhee is a very unique novelty store that centers on a primary theme of gag gifts and old-school American kitsch of all types. The store has been a Seattle staple since 1983, providing the area with unique gift ideas such as foie gras flavored chewing gum, cat bonnets, breakfast-themed action figures and bacon candy canes. Party City has nothing on this place, especially if you’re looking for a truly unique Halloween costume.