November 21, 2003 -- Flexing its muscles for the first time, the newly born Seattle Southside tourism office aims to become the premier center for travelers to the Pacific Northwest. In a very short period, it's managed to attract tourists' attention to one of the nation's best air and space museums, a huge shopping mall, the largest indoor market in Washington State, and one of the wildest Six Flags parks.
Located just 15 minutes south of downtown Seattle and 18 minutes north of Tacoma's city center, Seattle Southside boasts the Museum of Flight, which on November 6, 2003 received a gift from British Airways -- of one of the few Concordes ever built. This addition will expand an already impressive Museum's collection consisting of early mail planes, the Lockheed M/D21 Blackbird spy plane and the original Air Force One. The Museum is the largest air and space museum on the West Coast, and has a NASA space flight simulator, which you are welcome to experience. Its new Concorde is the only one on the West Coast, too. For more information call 206/764-5720 or visit their website at www.museumofflight.org.
Starting November 7 this year, a free Southside Express shuttle began taking the shoppers from SeaTac and Tukwila hotels to the famous SouthCenter Mall. The extended service from the Mall to Downtown Seattle costs only $7 ($12 roundtrip). The bus will operate daily except for the period from November 24, 2003 through February 28, 2004, when it will operate only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. If you're at a loss what to choose from Seattle's many attractions, we suggest Pike Place Market, home of the flying fish (206/682-7453; www.pikeplacemarket.org). In Tacoma, the newest highlight is the Museum of Glass with its Chihuly Bridge of Glass (866/468-7386; www.museumofglass.com).
Having done your warm-up while shopping, you can go inexcusably wild at Six Flags Wild Waves & Enchanted Village going down water slides, braving wave pools or screaming your heart out on roller coasters. The place is open in the summer only and you can get more information by calling 253/661-8000 or logging on to www.sixflags.com/parks/enchantedvillage. In the evening, you can get back to civilized world and enjoy a meal aboard the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train (800/876-7245; www.spiritofwashingtondinnertrain.com).
As a base from which to explore Seattle and Tacoma, Southside has at its disposal about 50 places to stay, typically costing 20% to 30% less than comparable rooms downtown. Several hostelries, like Airport Plaza, are priced around $45 per room, while many hover around the $49 -- Mini-Rate Inn -- and others, like Homestead Village or Sutton Suites go for $59. All this while downtown Seattle's "Super Saver Program," offers only three hotels in the $50s range, the majority of the hotels are over $100 per night, and five participants price their cheapest rates at over $150.
Seattle South is a good starting-off point for outdoor activities, especially hiking. Ten miles long Interurban Trail and the Duwamish Green River Trail, lure with beautiful views, picnic areas, benches, bridges over the river, and fitness equipment. To find out more details call 206/767-2342 or log on to www.metrokc.gov/parks/trails/trails/intergr.htm.
For more information, contact Seattle Southside Visitors Information at 877/885-9452 or www.seattlesouthside.com.