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Essential Experiences on the Puget Sound

All photos courtesy Seattle CVB

Weaving its way inland from the straits of the Pacific, the Puget Sound is the lifeblood of coastal Washington. Some of the biggest cities of the Pacific Northwest sit alongside the waters of the sound, along with a number of charming towns that make great stops for groups traveling through the region.

Destinations large and small throughout the area offer a variety of activities for visitors. From the bustling Seattle markets to Gig Harbor’s maritime charm, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the Puget Sound. For your group’s next trip to the region, be sure to include these four classic experiences.

Peruse Pike Place Market
Locals call Pike Place Market the “soul of Seattle,” and for good reason: Whether you’re looking for delicious gourmet food, iconic coffee drinks or handmade Washington jewelry, Pike Place is a one-stop shop for the best of all that Seattle has to offer.

The market got its start in 1907 when a group of eight farmers set up a downtown station to sell their products. More than 10,000 shoppers appeared on that first day; now, more than 10 million people visit Pike Place Market each year. The modern market features some 200 businesses, 190 crafts vendors and 100 farmers, all spread out across nine acres.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a trip to the market. Many visitors stop for a cup of coffee at the world’s first Starbucks, situated right on the cobblestone. Pike Place Fish is a famous stop as well; there, to the delight of visitors, fishmongers make sport of tossing massive fish back and forth to each other.

Perhaps the best way for groups to get to know the market is on a tour. Market Heritage Tours blends history and shopping tips with anecdotes from the area’s past. For an insider’s look at Seattle’s culinary scene, Savor Seattle and Seattle Food tours offer epicurean tours of Pike Place Market.

Get educated in Tacoma’s Museum District
Sitting near the south end of the Puget Sound, Tacoma boasts a downtown with six major museums.

The flagship Tacoma Art Museum preserves and presents the region’s rich artistic tradition. The museum’s collections include thousands of works by artists of the Pacific Northwest, including a permanent display of glass art by world-renowned Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma native.

Glass art comes alive at the nearby Museum of Glass, which is housed in a 90-foot-tall silver cone. The museum has a working hot-shop amphitheater where visitors can watch artisans create artwork from molten glass that ends up for sale in the gift shop.

The Washington State History Museum tells the stories of the people and industries, from early Native American inhabitants to modern technology, that made Washington what it is today. Foss Waterway Seaport is a century-old restored shipping warehouse that now serves as a maritime heritage educational center. The Children’s Museum of Tacoma has hands-on exhibits and an art studio for children, with more to come in an expansion set to open in January.

In June, Tacoma’s museum district will welcome its newest addition. LeMay: America’s Car Museum will feature 500 cars, trucks and motorcycles that document America’s love affair with the automobile.