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Must-see geek sites in or near Seattle

Next Saturday I leave for vacation to Washington state for two weeks. I was wondering if there were any must-see geek sites in or near the SeaTac area.  What do you guys recommend?

Somebody suggested trying to visit Microsoft's Redmond campus - that maybe that had public tours or something. Does anyone here know anything about that? It might even be cool so just drive around but I don't know what kind of restricted access they have to their campus. (GE's HQ is near me and you can't get in.)

Thanks in adv

Saturday, November 16, 2002

I've never heard anything about public tours at MS. There's the "Microsoft Museum" which is public and you can check out at I never went there though, so I can't say whether it's more than PR fluff. You can for sure drive around and gawk and nobody will stop you. You'll see lots of buildings and ball fields. You must know someone who knows someone who works there though -- get them to give you a quick lunch-hour walk-through. Then you can see MS geeks up close. And maybe you can con them into a trip to the company store to get you some cheap software.

For the true MS tourist experience you also must get someone to take your picture in front of the main MS sign at the intersection of 40th & 156th streets in Redmond. It's the sign in TV reports whenever there's some MS story on TV.

And there's always the boat tour that passes by Bill's house. At this time of year in Seattle, however, I'm not sure I'd want to be out on a boat.

If you're really into gawking at tech company hqs you can check out the hq building. Then when you're bored staring at that building you can wander just a little ways down to the market and have yummy seafood at Etta's Seafood while staring out into the drizzle.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

In 1994, I was in Seattle with a friend, who knew a developer at Microsoft.  I don't know what his exact position was, but his security card worked in most every building.  We took a tour and walked by Gates' office.  Glass doors and a foyer with a mean looking receptionist, but very modestly appointed.  I don't think The Bill was actually present at the time, but the door to his office was open a bit - not enough to see though.

Overall, much smaller and less pretenious surroundings than one would expect for the world's wealthiest person.

Bill Carlson
Saturday, November 16, 2002

The MS museum is not that exciting - it's got a nice wall display with early PCs and Apples, but that's about it. The MS company store is pretty neat, but you have to be accompanied by a MS employee to get in there.

The main MS campus is pretty dull. I wouldn't bother, unless you're really bored. (If you do go there, stop by the Nintendo and Digipen campus while you're in the area.)

I highly recommend the Boeing factory tour in Everett, Wa, about an hour north of Seattle. I think you can get busses from Seattle to there. The tour lasts about an hour. You get to walk around the final assembly area, and also see a film where they assemble a 747 in sped-up time lapse photography.

Some other nerd-friendly tourist attractions:

The Elliott Bay Book Company is an excellent independent bookstore, it's well worth the visit.

The original Starbucks is located in Pike Place Market. It hasn't been allowed to change its decorations, though, so it doesn't even look like a Starbucks.

The "Troll Bridge" in Fremont is a big hit with my friends.

The "Duck" tours of Seattle are also popular. Ducks are amphibious vehicles, so you get to see Seattle from both the land and the water.

The "Seattle Underground" tour is a pretty tame look at the now-buried portions of the Seattle down-town. The pre-tour lecture is the best part of the tour.

I've heard that the "Experience Music Project" museum is pretty cool. It was funded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of MS. It looks like an alien space ship.

John Palevich
Saturday, November 16, 2002

I thought the Boeing Museum of Flight was pretty awesome.  (It's located on Boeing Field, but despite the name is not owned by Boeing.)  Lots and lots of stuff, from the early biplanes to the first passenger plane (United- 12 passengers) to one of the Apollo capsules.  The mock control tower (with live radio coverage from Boeing Field) definitely appealed to my geek nature.


Will Glass-Husain
Saturday, November 16, 2002

Forget the geek attractions: boring.

Visit the Pike Place Market (1-2 hours)
Visit Mt. St. Helens
Visit Crescent Lake on the Peninsula
Visit Mt .Rainier, Paradise is closest ~approx 3 hours
Visit the San Juans & go sea kayaking
Visit Widby Island - very close, lots of state parks
Skiing may have started, you have your pick:
Crystal, Baker, Stevens, Snoqualmie

There is SO much to do here. Forget the geek sites.

Nat Ersoz
Saturday, November 16, 2002

I guess it depends upon your interests.

Unless you've got a Japanese-type fixation on visiting large mountains, Mt. Ranier is best appreciated at a distance. (Say, from Seattle.) Paradise is a complete bust of a tourist destination, if you ask me. You end up too close to the mountain -- there's no sense of grandure or perspective.

But it is a popular tourist place, so perhaps there's something to it that missed.

(P.S. Pike Place Market is quite nice. As is Granville Island market in Vancouver, a mere 3 hours drive north of Seattle.)

John Palevich
Saturday, November 16, 2002

Humbug!  I took my 18 year old cousin up the Paradise and he made a hobby out of busting every ligament in my knees on the lower trails.  The views from just a few hundred feet above Paradise are spectacular and there are miles and miles of trails to be walked.  We only scratched the surface.  That day we could clearly see both Mt Hood and Mt St Helens from many points along the trail.  Walked up the base of some of the glaciers as well. 

Nat Ersoz
Saturday, November 16, 2002

Thanks very much for your suggestions. I'll probably do some of the parks but I imagine it will be rather cold, no?

Sunday, November 17, 2002

I second that.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

may be a bit too far south for where you want to go, but I found the drive east to west along I-84 (roughly from Pasco along the Columbia River toward the coast) to be quite beautiful some years ago.

enjoy, travel safely.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

I'm actually staying in Olympia w/ friends so South is better than North. :) Seattle's something like 2hrs away but that's no biggie to me because I regularly visit NYC which is 2hrs from where I live. (Well, 83 minutes to GCT plus 30 getting anywhere from there. :)

Monday, November 18, 2002

EMP, "Experience Music Project", is great.  You can ride through the inner ear on the monorail.  The entire building models the human ear.

Mt Rainier, and St. Helens are must see.  Although I'm not sure about the weather up there now (I went in April and many of the roads were still unpassable)

Take the Victoria Clipper to Victoria B.C., a beautiful little town.

Climb around on the Freemont Troll.

There is so much to do in and around Seattle....

Monday, November 18, 2002

'I've heard that the "Experience Music Project" museum is pretty cool. It was funded by Paul Allen, one of the founders of MS. It looks like an alien space ship. '

As stupid as EMP looks, it's an excellent music museum.

Jason McCullough
Monday, November 18, 2002


Ballard - the Locks

Fremont - Lenin

Fremont - the Troll

Seattle - viewpoint parks

Univ of Washington - Computer Science and Engineering Dept is building the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, quite near Mary Gates Hall.

Doug Johnson
Tuesday, November 19, 2002

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