As of 2011, you have two options for trolley or bus tours in Seattle: the historic Trackless Trolley tour, run on selected days of the year, or the Gray Line double-decker bus tour, in service during the tourist season. Both tours give insight into the city, with the Trackless tours more focused on the history of the city and getting into Seattle’s neighborhoods. The Gray Line tour accommodates those who want to see the main tourist sights.
See the sights of Seattle on a trolley or bus tour.
Trackless Trolley Tours
If seeing the city in vintage style is your preference, plan your visit to Seattle during one of the times the Metro Employee Historic Vehicle Association offers its Trackless Trolley Tours. A volunteer group of current and former Metro Transit employees pulls historic trolleys out of storage and takes passengers on around the city. The four-hour daytime tour winds through downtown and into several neighborhoods, stopping regularly for photo opportunities and for lunch. The three-hour evening tour passes through some of the best neighborhood for nightlife: Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, Lower Queen Anne and the University District. This tour stops for picture-taking and coffee.
Gray Line of Seattle runs a double-decker bus tour that gives you hop-on and hop-off privileges for two consecutive days. Board at one of the seven stops and ride the bus, closed on the lower level and open on the second level for Seattle’s sunny summer days, for the full one-hour narrated tour or choose to get on and off at the sights that most interest you. The tour is available daily from May 1st to September 30th. A ticket to the viewing platform at the Space Needle is included in the price.
Gray Line Stops: Seattle Center
Use your included Space Needle ticket at the Seattle Center stop on the Hop-on/Hop-Off tour. After riding the elevator to the top of the Needle and taking in the city vista, you can visit Experience Music Project, just across from the Needle. Inside the music museum, learn about Seattle’s and the nation’s music scenes, see musician artifacts and become a musician with hands-on activities. The Center House, just west of EMP, offers an international food court and the Seattle Children’s Museum downstairs.
Gray Line Stops: Pioneer Square
The oldest neighborhood in Seattle, Pioneer Square is home to historical sites, hidden urban parks and a number of restaurants and shops. Stroll along First and Second Avenues to shop or pick out a spot for lunch; everything from Pub food to upscale Northwest dining to Indian to sandwich shops are located in Pioneer Square. Learn about Seattle’s bawdy history at the Underground Tour or bring a picnic and relax at Waterfall Garden on Second and Main.
Gray Line Stops: Downtown
The tour makes several stops in the downtown/waterfront area. Seattle’s retail core is near the Sheraton Hotel stop; you can find national retailers as well as local specialty shops in the area. A few blocks east, the Pike Place stop drops you off at Seattle’s famous market, where you can watch for flying fish, browse booths of flowers and crafts, and pick up some local produce. The two stops along the waterfront, Bell Street Pier and Argosy Cruises, put you in the right place to explore Puget Sound either on a private cruise or ferryboat or at the Seattle Aquarium.
Gray Line Stops: Belltown
Belltown is Seattle’s most urban residential neighborhood, located on the north end of the downtown area. The district is known for its active nightlife scene and proliferation of restaurants and music venues. The Croc (formerly the Crocodile Cafe) hosts a wide range of indie and up-and-coming acts, while See Sound Lounge hosts cutting edge DJs. The neighborhood tends to be quiet during the day, though it’s a destination neighborhood for some of Seattle’s best happy hours. At night, the area comes alive with shows and dancing.
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