A few months ago, I went on a Seattle Underground Tour. I was told by many it would be fun and hilarious, and by many others it would be dumb and tourist-y. It was, in fact, somewhere in the middle. I can’t really make a firm recommendation either way, unfortunately, because like many things, it depends on the people you’re with – particularly the tour guide. The tour explains much about Seattle history, which is very interesting, and involves a lot of Western ruggedness, pioneer spirit, tidal and forest knowledge, sewage, fires, prostitution, money, hauntings, logging, death, narrow escapes and miracles, and the guides seem to know this inside and out. The trouble is that there are also a lot of jokes – some are baked into the monolog, others added by the guide. The jokes win or lose based on the comedic strength of the guide. Our guide was decent with the jokes (quantity and quality) so our tour was fun, but if I were to advise going on the excursion it would be for the history.
Seattle was built too low, burned to the ground in an accident, then intentionally rebuilt over the previous city – this time above tide-level. For a while the lower city persisted with walkways above, then buildings were built above and the city eventually encouraged businesses to just move to the surface city, leaving a den of iniquities below the surface in the once-streets-now-tunnels. They cleaned those up and now there is just a series of empty tunnels (and a few remaining lower-level shops and restaurants) that are filled with nostalgia and a few cool remains (signs, storefronts, a bathtub, etc.). I expected the underground to be slightly more interesting architecturally and in terms of creep-factor than it is (if you’ve been in an basement, the underground will probably not be that exciting) – so again, go most for the history lesson and let the ambiance be a bonus. Also, maybe don’t go when it’s super cold or wet out, if those things bother you, because you’re basically outside almost the whole time. It is cheesy and tourist-y at the beginning (when you are forced to wait in an extremely overpriced coffee shop) and at the end (where you exit through the gift shop). Again, just stroll on by and you’ll be fine. And tip the tour guide. Funny or not, they’re doing an excellent job and are most definitely educated enough in the region and tales to answer nearly any questions you might ask.
And since it seems to find its way into most of my posts – I don’t really think this tour is dog-friendly. J