50 Things Seattle Gave the World


Looking back on 50 years of Seattle magazine (an evolution that started with Pacific Search, see "The 50-year Evolution of Seattle Magazine") can be humbling. Amazing inventions, people and ideas have come from the Emerald City. Sure, we have problems to solve. But with many of the best minds in the city charting our future path, there’s plenty of reason to believe in that old adage: The best is yet to come.

Ask people from other parts of the country to name things that come from Seattle and they may mention Starbucks, but more often than not, they come up empty. Last year, a GeekWire correspondent took a stroll through New York City’s Central Park, asking walkers where companies such as Amazon and Microsoft are based. The answers weren’t pretty. Is it our aversion to doing anything that looks like showing off? When statewide budget cuts came around in 2011, we became the first state in the country to nix our tourism bureau, the official bragging arm of the state. So, it’s time to gloat. For Seattle magazine’s 50th anniversary, we’re having a surge of civic pride—and claiming our bragging rights.

We take a lot of pride in our fabulous local food—handcrafted this and artisanal that—but Seattle is also responsible for some of the most iconic bits of modern, fast-food Americana.

Fresh Off the Shelf
Carnation evaporated milk
(1899): Elbridge Stuart developed shelf-stable evaporated milk as a sanitary alternative to fresh milk. He found success under the brand name Carnation (inspired by a display of cigars with that name in a Seattle shop window) and established Carnation, the company, in Kent, and Carnation Farm on the east side of Lake Washington. The company went on to make a variety of food products that became household staples, such as Carnation Instant Breakfast (now known as Breakfast Essentials). The town of Tolt was renamed Carnation, which is what locals know it as today. 

The Coffee Break
(1971): Exactly what influence Starbucks has had on the world depends on whom you talk to—it’s not always flattering. There’s no doubt, however, that it’s a worldwide coffee icon, which has introduced everything from the cult-inspiring pumpkin spice latte and Frappuccinos to perhaps infamously over-roasted beans. And it created that reliable “third place” gathering spot between home and work in the some of the most remote corners of the world.

Spoonfuls of Sugar
Cinnabon (1985): Like Starbucks, Cinnabon took a classic comfort food and brought it to the mass market, turning it into an icon recognized nationwide. The first wafts of cinnamon and yeast drifted from a Federal Way mall (then known as SeaTac Mall) and made its way, well—everywhere, thanks to Seattle-based restaurant chain Restaurants Unlimited owner Rich Komen and CEO Ray Lindstrom, who had set out to create the perfect cinnamon roll.

Image by: Almond Roca 
Packaging from the 1940s of Tacoma-based almond- and chocolate-covered toffee, Almond Roca

Almond Roca (1923): These addictive almond- and chocolate-covered toffees from Brown & Haley, along with their iconic pink tin cans, were born in Tacoma.

In the land of outdoor enthusiasts, pricey down and fleece are kingly indeed, but we don’t just wear the cozy stuff—we created much of it. The ensuing practical, all-weather-proof look has seeped well beyond Pacific Northwest borders and into cities across the U.S.

Image by: Eddie Bauer
The original puffy coat, Eddie Bauer’s down-filled jacket

Seattle-born Eddie Bauer came up with the down-filled jacket in 1936. Similarly, Filson created its wool Mackinaw Cruiser in 1914, and while the original rugged jacket is still as popular as ever, you’ll find plenty of knockoffs of this style in stores ranging from Nordstrom to the Gap. And any talk of Seattle fashion is incomplete without the quirky Utilikilt (2000)—a melding of a Scottish kilt, cargo pants and Carhartts that has engendered a following well beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Image by: John Vicory
Bremerton resident Lloyd F. Nelson’s “Trapper Nelson.” Nelson carried his daughter in the backpack on sales calls to demonstrate the strength of his wood frame bag

The backpack (1922): It is essential camping gear, so it’s only natural that the hardy hikers of the Pacific Northwest would come up with a new and improved version. Lloyd F. Nelson of Bremerton created a backpack with a wood frame and canvas sack, called the “Trapper Nelson,” which was the precursor to the backpacks we know and love today.

Therm-a-Rest (1972): Gardening discomfort jogged this idea loose from Boeing engineer John Burroughs, who came up with an alternative to foam sleeping pads for campers that uses a combination of foam and air to both insulate and comfort folks sleeping on the ground.

REI (1938): Lloyd and Mary Anderson started Recreational Equipment Incorporated, a cooperative to help seriously outdoorsy types get good gear affordably; Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mount Everest, was the company’s first full-time employee and later the CEO. Today, REI is the largest consumer co-op in the country, with shops that are staffed with gear experts and stocked with items for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, who are encouraged to try before they buy.

Computer technology may be one of the few things we’re (somewhat) known for by outsiders, but local innovators have been known to tinker with practical—and sometimes very low-tech—solutions, solving such vexing problems as how to cut butter faster, get teeth cleaner and make more doughnuts.

Seattle engineer David Giuliani created the Sonicare toothbrush (1992) and the Clarisonic (2004), a device that cleanses facial skin the way the Sonicare cleans teeth, with a brush powered by sonic vibrations. The Sonicare continues to be recommended by dentists everywhere for keeping those pearly whites sparkling.

Doughnut maker (1923): Former marine engine builders Thomas and Walter Belshaw came up with the first manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle. Their company lives on today as Auburn-based Belshaw Adamatic, the world’s largest doughnut-making equipment maker and distributor.

Butter cutter (1920): It’s questionable whether folks commonly use this particular innovation, but it’s out there—and it came from Seattle’s William Ruttle, who patented a cast-aluminum tool that slices 1-pound butter blocks into uniform pats with just one squeeze. Today’s butter cutters are usually plastic, but still seemingly convenient; next time you go to a casual diner and get a little pat of butter served with your rolls, you’ll have a perfect conversation starter. 

Wireless phone (1962): Cutting the cord was on the minds of folks decades before it became a reality. Pacific Northwest Bell invented a form of wireless phone for the rotating restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, which debuted during the Seattle World’s Fair. Diners had a phone at their table that connected with a radio transmitter, which would patch them through to an operator.

Compact depth sounder (1953): Small enough to fit on all types of boats, this device was developed by Seattle-based Ross Laboratories, making sonar technology—necessary for depth measurement and navigation underwater—available and affordable on a smaller scale, such as for local fishers.

Kindle (2007): The first electronic reader, courtesy of our overlords at Amazon, is where Seattle’s love of books and tech met. The wildly popular device can store more than 1,000 books and download them in seconds (including from the library). It spawned imitators such as Barnes & Noble’s Nook.   

Sure, we play ball, but we also excel in other (mostly) outdoor sports.

Pickleball (1965): Invented on Bainbridge Island by dads Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, this combined game of tennis, badminton and pingpong has recently been billed as one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., because of its all-ages accessibility and indoor or outdoor court option.

Badminton shuttlecock (1934): Eddie Bauer strikes again! The man developed and patented the badminton shuttlecock design that became the standard for the game and remains so today. 

Fiberglass skis (1962): Bill Kirschner developed the first fiberglass snow ski, forever changing the way we slide down the mountains. He and his brother Don founded and ran K2 Corporation from Vashon Island, improving the ski design over the years, as well as producing other sports equipment.

Aluminum-frame bikes (1975): Gary Klein defied people’s expectations of what light-weight aluminum could do by building whole bikes out of the stuff. He crafted the frames using his own welding process, thicker tubes and other engineering innovations to make the lightest bikes of the time, still popular today. His company, Chehalis-based Klein Bikes, was eventually purchased by big-name bike business Trek.


Single-handle Moen water faucet (1947): When a young man named Al Moen scalded himself with water from an old-fashioned two-handle faucet, he thought he could come up with something better. He did, and the resulting single-handle faucet, first manufactured in 1947 at Ravenna Metal Products in Seattle, is as iconic as the brand name “Moen,” which is seen atop many a sink today.

Pellet stove (1980s): Boeing engineer and inventor Jerry Whitfield developed this efficient residential stove, which burns compressed wood or biomass pellets. A majority of pellet stoves on the market are still manufactured in Washington state. 

Grunge music (1990s) may be the top thing, in addition to Starbucks, that non-Seattleites might credit our fair city with—thanks to Sub Pop Records and Nirvana—but there are a few other music notes from Seattle as well.  

Seattle musician Paul Tutmarc created the electric bass guitar in the 1930s, which he sold through his instrument company, Audiovox. The Tutmarc family never saw the instrument achieve mass market success, however—that happened when Leo Fender came onto the scene, in the 1950s.

Bremerton-born James Russell gets the credit for inventing compact discs (CDs) in 1965, envisioning and developing an alternative to vinyl records that would record and replay sounds with no touching parts (unlike a phonographic needle on a record). He was granted a patent, but Philips and Sony licensed it soon thereafter and developed, refined and brought CDs to market in the 1980s.

Image by: Boeing Images
Boeing brought us the first American jet passenger airliner (707) and jumbo jet (the 747) but few know they also introduced the idea of stewardesses, pictured here in a 377 Stratocruiser luxury lounge, circa 1940s


Founded in 1916, Boeing’s impact on the world has come in a few different forms. It developed the first American jet passenger airliner, the 707 (1954), which led to the iconic first jumbo jet, the 747 (1970). Boeing also brought us the idea of stewardesses (now known as flight attendants, thank you very much), who first flew on a Boeing Air Transport 80A in 1930. And because size matters in this business, Boeing’s Everett plant also currently holds the record as the largest building in the world by volume at 472,370,319 cubic feet.


Tree farms (1941): Weyerhaeuser pioneered the concept of farming trees like any other crop, setting aside 200,000 acres of land in Washington in order to produce lumber for building and paper, and (in theory) to preserve more forestland.


Microsoft (1975): From Windows to Microsoft Office to Xbox, the company is ubiquitous in homes and offices around the world. For Seattle, the company represents the first big tech boom for the area, famously creating at least 10,000 millionaires in the state by the year 2000 and, some say, the beginning of the tech era of 18-hour workdays. Alumni of the company have ventured into new influential arenas, including philanthropy and politics.

RealPlayer (1995): One of the first pieces of software to stream media over the Internet was developed in a Pioneer Square office by RealNetworks, one of Seattle’s best-known tech companies of the late-’90s/early-’00s dot-com boom era. RealPlayer quickly became a part of most computer setups, particularly as it was bundled with Microsoft’s Windows.

T9, aka predictive text (late 1990s): Those of us old enough to remember life before smartphones also remember the learning curve that came with texting. Martin King (along with Cliff Kushler, who went on to develop another texting technology, Swype) developed the foundation for texting as we know it today, with T9 (“text on nine keys”) predictive text, and the company that produced it, Tegic Communications. The technology was an extension of King’s primary interest, developing communication tools for people with disabilities.

Maybe it’s our geographic isolation, in the northwest corner of the U.S., or maybe we just don’t like walking in the rain, but Seattle has been a hub of delivery service innovations—which perhaps has contributed to a consumer trait we seem to have brought to the world: universal impatience with anything taking more than 24 hours to arrive.

UPS (1907): Founded by two Seattle teenagers as the American Messenger Company, the service took off quickly, merged and moved as it became United Parcel Service.

Amazon (1994): The biggest online retailer in the world, it revolutionized the shopping-from-home industry, starting with the selling of books and continuing to innovate by offering ever-faster delivery options, including same-day.

Homegrocer.com (1997): The first Internet-based grocery delivery service, it boomed in several cities before succumbing to the dot-com bust of the early 2000s. Amazon Fresh and others now deliver in its footsteps.

Signature Moves
We might not have invented them, but we sure are famous for…

Nordstrom customer service (1901): There are books devoted to it and tales (which have perhaps become a little tall) reporting extraordinary acts of it. Nordstrom’s customer service has been so famously good since its foundation as a shoe shop back in the day that the company had to tighten its return policy in recent years, as customers were taking advantage of it by returning items that weren’t even sold there.

Teriyaki: NYC bagels, Chicago deep-dish pizza, Kansas City barbecue, Seattle…teriyaki? Indeed, this town has such a fondness for the Japanese-derived dish that it drew the attention of The New York Times a few years ago. Seattle’s versions of teriyaki are definitely not traditional—you’ll find everything from a Somali take to Thai and Vietnamese variations—but they’re ours. Sadly, however, this cheap and comforting food may be slowly fading from our food scene—along with affordable rent for small businesses.

But we think we invented…

12th Man: Seattle has celebrated “the 12th Man,” aka Seattle Seahawks fans, since as far back as 1984, when the Seahawks retired the number 12 jersey. It wasn’t until the team became Super Bowl contenders that our 12s saw the light, however. While we are among the loudest 12s, we’re not the only—or the first—12s, as institutions such as Texas A&M University have been quick to remind us.


Blame I Can Has Cheezburger? for the LOL cat obsession

I Can Has Cheezburger? (2007): Thank and blame Seattle—and Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami—for taking cute animal pics to the next level, pairing them with funny captions, particularly LOLspeak (e.g., “I can has cheezburger?”). What started as a website became a monetized company, Cheezburger, which now has multiple, similarly addictive websites.

When delivery isn’t an option, efficiency is still the name of the game, and making machines work for us has certainly been the M.O. for at least a couple of these household-name innovations. 

Coinstar (1991): This Bellevue-founded and -based company (now known as Outerwall) made it possible to turn change into cash at your nearest grocery store, no banks or rolling of coins necessary.

Automatic car washes (1951): Even locals may not know that Elephant Car Wash’s iconic pink elephant represents the first automatic car wash in the U.S. The business was the brainchild of the Anderson family, which figured out how to make its Seattle semiautomatic car wash business a fully automatized experience. Other car washes soon followed suit.

Gaming is big here—really big. Nintendo of America is based on the Eastside, as is, of course, Microsoft, which developed the Xbox (2001). So many games have been developed here, particularly for computers, that we present just a sampling of some of the most influential.

Pictionary (1985): Robert Angel conceived of the drawing game in Spokane and brought it to market with two other business partners in Seattle.

Wizards of the Coast (1990): The Renton-based gaming company found success with wildly popular fantasy and anime trading-card-based games, including Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon. 

Valve (1996): This Bellevue-based video-gaming corporation is the creator of popular online gaming platform Steam and various video games, such as the Half-Life series. 

Cranium (1998): This game, which has players use both their creativity and knowledge, was created by former Microsofties Richard Tait and Whit Alexander.

PopCap Games (2000): You know the company for games such as Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies.

Big Fish (2002): The Seattle-based computer and mobile device game creator puts out a mind-numbing number of casual games, from Gummy Drop! to Mahjong to Casino, to soothe your procrastinating soul.

Halo (2001): No game list is complete without a shout-out to this extremely successful first-person shooter game, created by Microsoft acquisition (at the time) Bungie Software.

On the low-tech side of things, the wildly sought-after toys Slinky Dog and Fisher-Price Snap-Lock beads (early 1950s) were the creation of Helen Malsed, a creative homemaker who enjoyed trying out a variety of toy creations on her son in their Magnolia home.

Image by: Petmate
The Seattle-based Chuckit! lets you toss a ball with your dog, slobber-free

Chuckit (1998): Dog owners everywhere have Seattleites Mark Oblack and Mariel Head to thank for saving our ball-throwing arms with this flexible piece of plastic that grabs those slobbered-on balls and flings them far, far away.


Defibrillators (1962): Portable defibrillators enable first responders to work on a stopped heart before a patient arrives at the hospital. Karl William Edmark, M.D., created the device, using direct current, which made it safer and more effective than ever before.

Scribner shunt (1960): Belding Scribner, at the University of Washington, eased the stress and damage on the veins of kidney patients by inventing a device that enabled patients to connect to a kidney dialysis machine without requiring new incisions into their veins each time. Shortly after, Scribner and his team asked colleague Dr. Albert Babb to design a portable kidney dialysis machine (1964); he did, and the machine allowed patients to receive dialysis treatment at home, rather than at hospitals only. Scribner also helped form Northwest Kidney Center, the world’s first outpatient dialysis treatment center.

Doppler ultrasound (1967): The technology, developed by Donald Baker at the University of Washington, changed ultrasound imaging forever, creating clearer images when used with ultrasound devices. 

Bone marrow transplant (1963): E. Donnall Thomas, M.D., developed this transplantation process, which is primarily used to treat diseases such as lymphoma, multiple myeloma and acute myelogenous leukemia, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which became the world’s first bone marrow transplant facility. He won the Nobel Prize in 1990 for his work. His wife, Dottie, was credited as “the mother of bone marrow transplantation” because of her hands-on help with lab work, drawing blood and editing her husband’s scientific papers. 

Firsts: We're No. 1

First female mayor of a big U.S. City (1926)
Bertha Knight Landes remains the only female mayor of Seattle (and the namesake of our city’s—and the world’s—largest tunnel boring machine).

First $15 minimum wage (2014)
Seattle was the first big city in the United States to pass a $15 minimum wage into law; other cities and states followed suit soon after.

First Outdoor Shopping Mall (1950)
It almost seems quaint these days, but Northgate Mall was the first suburban shopping mall in the U.S. Designed by Seattle architect John Graham Jr., it was also the first mall to have public restrooms.

First Flying saucer sightings (1947)
Private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported the world’s first post-WWII flying saucer encounter while flying by Mount Rainier on the way to Yakima from Chehalis. He received nationwide news attention for his sighting.

Original naming rights (1853)
We’re the only city ever named for a then-living native person, Chief Seattle.  

First Stanley Cup victory (1917)
The Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the cup, shortly after the championships moved from being exclusively Canadian to including the U.S. 

First Living Building (2015)
The Central District’s Bullitt Center is the first office building in the world to earn the Living Building certification, a benchmark of sustainability. Among the ways it earned the accolade: It produces 60 percent more energy than it uses, via solar panels. 

First U.S. Organic Chocolate (2006)
Fremont chocolatier Theo Chocolate made and sold the first organic chocolate in the U.S.

15 Ways to Survive Seattle's Winter

15 Ways to Survive Seattle's Winter

Curling up with a good book in front of a fire isn’t the only way to get through Seattle’s long, dark winter. That works too, but we’ve found plenty of other ways to brighten your days
It may be dark outside, but the Fairmont Olympic pool downtown offers a warm space to welcome the day

Image by Lara Swimmer

Let There Be Light
How to illuminate your winter day
The James Turrell Skyspace, called “Light Reign,” landed at the Henry Art Gallery ($6–$10) on the University of Washington campus in 2003 and has been a part of the museum’s experience ever since. A cylindrical room of vertical glass panels embedded with computer-controlled LED lights, the installation is a vivid, glowing spectacle from the outside after dark; inside, you’ll get a new perspective when you look up—the oval opening at the top frames the changeable Seattle sky and plays with the light inside. Chihuly Garden and Glass ($14–$22), at Seattle Center, is a similarly stunning spectacle, both indoors and out, of the glass artist’s organic pieces, which both blend into and stand out from their surroundings. When the sun goes down and lights come up, the pieces positively glow against the night sky. NIKI STOJNIC

Henry Art Gallery, University District, 15th Avenue NE and NE 41st Street; 206.543.2280; henryart.org
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.; 206.753.4940; chihulygardenandglass.com

Image by John Keatley
Wear bright colors and a butterfly might alight on you at the Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House

Image by A. Meade (conservatory)
Exotic plants at the Volunteer Park Conservatory 

Visit the Tropics
Jungle-like places in the city
Enter a world of color at Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House ($11.75–$19.75), a 4,000-square-foot habitat for imported and locally raised butterflies, where it’s always warm and humid. Don’t be surprised, as you walk among them, if a few butterflies touch down on your arm or shoulder. Then watch as butterflies emerge from their chrysalises behind a window; new butterflies are released into the house daily. At the Volunteer Park Conservatory ($2–$4), stroll through a literal glass house, where artfully arranged exotic plants, tropical and otherwise, dwell in the polar opposite of winter’s damp chill. Rooms are set up according to plant types: bromeliads, palms, cacti and seasonal plants. On the last Saturday of every month, kids ages 4–7 can settle in and listen to volunteers read during a story time. NS

Pacific Science Center, Seattle Center, 200 Second Ave. N; 206.443.2001; pacificsciencecenter.org
Volunteer Park Conservatory, Capitol Hill, 1400 E Galer St.; 206.684.4743; volunteerparkconservatory.org

Image by Ashley Bragg
A cup of cocoa from Chocolati and a few chocolates can make all seem right in the world

Drink It In
Desert for breakfast at Chocolati
On the darkest of mornings, few things have the power to lure you out of bed, but the promise of dessert for breakfast is surely one of them. Technically, Chocolati’s signature hot chocolates may not be dessert (no spoon required!), but the decadent drinks are certainly more than you’ll find at your neighborhood coffee shop. Sure, you can order a basic, whipped-cream-topped hot chocolate, made here with melted chocolate rather than powdered cocoa, but the half dozen or so chocolate drinks with exotic ingredients ($3.30–$4.45) are the real treats. Cayenne, for example, has a wicked after-burn that hits the back of your throat and makes for an addictive, if slightly masochistic, experience. Sweet plus heat equals a surefire cure for the winter-morning blues. CHELSEA LIN

Multiple locations; chocolati.com

Image by Trophy Cupcakes
Macarons are the perfect accompianment to afternoon champage at Cafe Trophy

Afternoon Delight
Stop and indulge at Cafe Trophy
“But first, champagne!” reads a sign on Cafe Trophy’s wall—a motto to live by if ever there was one. In fact, this glittery dessert den on The Bravern’s ground floor is the perfect stop after a leisurely window-shopping excursion through Bellevue’s ultraluxe shopping center. There are savory foods, too—a first for the Trophy Cupcakes empire—but the sweets are where it’s at. Choose a glass of bubbly from the half dozen options and settle in with a colorful pastry (or three). Although the cupcakes are a safe bet, we’re particularly fond of the jewel-like macarons—such as the sprinkle-adorned PB&J flavor—and stunning square tarts. For a moment, you can almost forget the rain outside. CL

Bellevue, 700 110th Ave. NE; 206.632.7020; trophycupcakes.com

Dream On
A good night's sleep can be written in the stars
Winter’s long nights can make us want to hibernate, and that’s not a bad thing, says Capitol Hill–based astrologer and wellness consultant Stephanie Gailing (stephaniegailing.com), who suggests that maximizing your indoor R&R might be the best New Year’s resolution you can make. Gailing, who has degrees from Cornell and Bastyr universities and studied archetypal dreamwork with Laurence Hillman, notes that throughout history, civilizations have used sleep and dreams as a method for healing. “In ancient Greece, people would visit healing temples to engage in all of these rituals around sleep,” Gailing says. “Once awake, the priest/physician would analyze their dreams. There are testaments of people going in infirmed and walking out healed. These temples…they’re like our modern-day medi spas.”

Stephanie Gailing

Gailing’s personalized sessions combine astrological insights—she says the January 12 full moon is prime time to turn our attention to finding new ways to balance our work and home lives—and self-care strategies, such as relaxation practices, dietary guidance and other holistic approaches, to maximize well-being. Her tips for improved sleep? Get into a routine. “Sleep should be something that we have this orientation and reference for, in the same way we anticipate the daytime,” she says. “A couple of hours before bed, have a cup of chamomile or lavender tea. Unplug from your iPhone. Really make a point of slowing down and preparing for sleep.” A benefit of quality sleep is access to the valuable subconscious insights of our dreams, she says. “It’s that inner listening we can’t indulge during the day. I’ve had clients who have seen in their dreams a course of action in resolving both physical and emotional challenges. Answers to questions like ‘What do I want the year to yield?’ The dream can bring those to voice.” Definitely something worth shedding light on. JENNIFER MCCULLUM 

The Quest for Quiet
Peace and wellness awaits in a pool of water
Float tanks (or sensory deprivation tanks) have been around for decades, promoted for various New Age–y reasons. Current proponents suggest that the experience, which involves lying (preferably in the nude) in a shallow pool of body-temperature water that’s saturated with magnesium-rich Epsom salt (which allows you to effortlessly float) is a wellness tool. 

Devotees report a variety of health benefits. “Everyone can find respite in floating, whether it’s relief from arthritis and lower back pain to less anxiety and improved sleep,” says Jonathan S. Murray, founder/owner of Uncharted Waters Float Center in Tacoma. “People come out of the tank and say that they haven’t felt that level of calm and relaxation since they were children,” says Brandon DeCuir of LifeFloat in SLU. NS

Float Seattle/Bellevue: $39 first time, $79 subsequent sessions. Green Lake, 408 NE 70th St.; Bellevue, 11101 NE 12th St.; 206.673.5132; floatseattle.com
Cocoon Float Pods: $89. Bellevue, 12400 SE 38th St., Suite 201; 425.747.4421; cocoonfloatpods.com
Life Float: $50 first time, $90 subsequent sessions. South Lake Union, 213 Yale Ave.; 206.624.1264; lifefloat.com
Rubicon Float Studio (opening late January): $125/2 free sessions for first-timers. Kirkland, 9715 NE 119th Way; 866.356.2888; floatrubicon.com
Urban Float: $45/$89. Fremont, 3420 Fremont Ave. N; 260.257.4333; urbanfloat.com 
Uncharted Waters: $70.Tacoma, 3837 S 12th St.; 253.330.8815; unchartedfloat.com

Image by Wings Over Washington
Go to thrilling new heights on the new ride at Pier 57 

There’s nothing that sucks you out of a rut more—during winter or otherwise—than a good jolt to the system. That’s exactly what the latest ride on Seattle’s waterfront delivers. Wings Over Washington ($13–$17) from the folks who brought us the Seattle Great Wheel, is akin to the Soarin’ Around the World ride in Disney’s California Adventure Park. And, it may be the closest you’ll ever get to flying. 

The adventure begins with a campy but entertaining safety video (hold on to your flip-flops!) in a room designed to look like a high-tech Pacific Northwest park ranger station, then moves into the 33-seat theater. There, you’ll strap yourself into ski-lift-like benches that “fly” over the state’s landmarks (seaside cliffs of Olympic National Forest, Snoqualmie Falls, mountain bikers tearing up a trail) via a multisensory movie. Scenes were captured with 5K resolution cameras by drone and helicopter—and despite some orcas breaching on cue and a few other cheesy CGI elements, it’s an exhilarating ride that’s over all too soon (18–20 minutes, including safety video). But big bonus points for the well-timed 4-D special effects: spritzes of water and pine fragrance. The other winter bonus: lines are short this time of year. RACHEL HART

Get your thrills late into the dark hours of winter: open until 10 p.m. or midnight on most nights. Must be at least 40 inches to ride. Waterfront, Pier 57, Miner’s Landing, 1301 Alaskan Way; wingsoverwa.com

Game Night
Pull up a chair for some old-fashioned fun
Playing a board game with friends is the social equivalent of reading in front of the fire: It’s a cozy way to while away a winter day or evening. When you take a seat at the table at one of these spots, you’ll find a warm ambiance and a killer game selection for a night out that feels like a night in. 

For both committed and casual gamers of all ages, sibling stores Mox Boarding House and Card Kingdom include restaurants where you can play everything from Magic: The Gathering (a trading-card game) to Yahtzee while noshing on all-American small bites and entrées, or come for one of the many gaming events. Bonus: If you play a game you can’t live without, you can buy it and take it home. 

Image by Capitol Cider
Gather with friends on a cold night for drinks and games at Capitol Cider, or below, pick up a putter for mini golf at Flatstick Pub

Test your board game strategy at one of the regular events hosted by Blue Highway Games. Choose from hundreds of amusements during Saturday Board Game Night, when staff members are on hand to teach you the rules. If you win the monthly Board Game Challenge tournament, featuring a different game each month, your name will be added to the trophy wall. Beer and Board Games Night features a different local brewery each month ($5). Beer and hard cider are available during all store hours for players 21 and older.

Filled with homey mismatched furniture, Beveridge Place Pub is a comfortable spot for a night of playing Parcheesi, Stratego or chess while enjoying beer, wine, cider or mead. Bring food from home or enjoy bar snacks that include popcorn, pretzels and nuts. Bonus: Pool, shuffleboard and foosball tables are also available. 

Uptown Espresso and Gameporium is exactly what it sounds like: a coffee shop and a game store in one. Here you can get your morning jolt while also learning how to play a new game from one of the game experts on staff.  

At Capitol Cider, a gluten-free eatery and bar, play Battleship, Cards Against Humanity, Clue and other games while sipping the eponymous drink or a cocktail. Come on Tuesdays for Cider and Games Night, when the restaurant is guaranteed to be a little quieter, all the better for planning strategy while enjoying a few pints. 

Image by Brie Braun
Flatstick Pub

Flatstick Pub, with locations in Kirkland and Pioneer Square, is an indoor miniature golf sanctuary, with local beer on tap and many odes to Seattle sprinkled from hole to hole. The Kirkland location even welcomes dogs and has a pup-centric “Yappy Hour.” REBECCA RATTERMAN

Mox Boarding House, Bellevue, 13310 Bel-Red Road; 425.362.3050; moxboardinghouse.com 
Card Kingdom (Café Mox), Ballard, 5105 Leary Ave. NW; 206.436.0540; moxboardinghouse.com 
Blue Highway Games, Queen Anne, 2203 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.282.0540; bluehighwaygames.com
Beveridge Place Pub, West Seattle, 6413 California Ave. SW; 206.932.9906; beveridgeplacepub.com
Uptown Espresso and Gameporium, West Seattle, 3845 Delridge Way SW; 206.933.9497; velvetfoam.com
Capitol Cider, Capitol Hill, 818 E Pike St.; 206.397.3564; capitolcider
Flatstick Pub, Kirkland, 15 Lake St., Suite 100, 425.242.1618; and Pioneer Square, 240 Second Ave. S, 206.682.0608; flatstickpub.com

Image by Hyatt
Lounge first and then jump into the saltwater pool at Olive 8 hotel’s Elaia Spa

Lounge and Swim Indoors
The weather outside may be frightful, but inside the pool water is warm and inviting
At a few local spots, going for a swim can feel like a mini vacation. The eco-conscious Elaia Spa at the Hyatt at Olive 8 hotel features a 65-foot saltwater lap pool (far better for your skin than chlorine; $40 for pool only, Monday–Thursday) located in a light-filled room with floor-to-ceiling windows. After your swim, dip into the hot tub, visit a sauna or get a massage. Also downtown, the luxe Fairmont Olympic Hotel opens its pool to day visitors ($20). Enclosed in a solarium, it’s washed in light by day and illuminated by city lights at night. Grab a bite poolside; the hotel’s room service menu is available at the recently updated health club, and morning swimmers get free coffee and fruit. Also check out one of the two dry saunas with hot stones and eucalyptus oil. 

Visit the North Shore Lagoon, a delightfully flora-filled, tiki-themed indoor pool at McMenamins Anderson School, a hotel and entertainment complex in Bothell. Water cascades from bamboo chutes above into the 89-degree pool water below. Bothell residents (and hotel guests) can swim here for free; other adults pay $8 for a two-hour open swim or lap session. Once you’re done, grab dinner and drinks in the upstairs South Seas pub—featuring more than 80 rums—overlooking the pool. The hotel also has a brewery and a new-release movie theater. 

Want to enjoy a film while you float? Head to the Central District’s Medgar Evers Pool for the monthly Friday movie (7–8:30 p.m.; $5.25) or to Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center for the monthly Float & Float Movie Night (5–7 p.m.; $7). The deep end is closed off so movie fans can relax as they watch a film, playing on two screens, and then enjoy a root beer float (served in another room)—it almost feels like it was summer. NS 

Elaia Spa, Hyatt at Olive 8, downtown, 1635 Eighth Ave.; 206.676.4500; olive8.hyatt.com
Fairmont Olympic Hotel, downtown, 411 University St.; 206.621.1700; fairmont.com/seattle
McMenamins Anderson School, Bothell, 18607 Bothell Way NE; 425.398.0122; mcmenamins.com/AndersonSchool 
Medgar Evers Pool, Central District, 500 23rd Ave.; 206.684.4766; seattle.gov/parks
Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center, Bainbridge Island, 8521 Madison Ave.; 206.842.2302; biaquatics.org

Climb Every Mountain
While you’re waiting for the weather to clear, have an adventure with The Dirtbag Diaries

Fitz Cahall is a storyteller who calls Seattle home and the West’s mountains, deserts and forests his office. In 2007, he created a podcast, The Dirtbag Diaries, to share stories of outdoor adventurers who ski, surf, bike or climb; later, he also founded the outdoorsy digital storytelling agency Duct Tape Then Beer. Listening to a Dirtbag tale isn’t the same as climbing a mountain or running a marathon, but it just might tide you over until your next outdoor escapade. 

How did The Dirtbag Diaries come about? Ten years ago, I was working as a freelance writer when I realized I wasn’t going to have great success with that industry. I had always loved the radio style of storytelling, so I recorded a podcast and sent it to 30 friends. Then I checked the counter on how many people had listened and watched it grow to 300, to 3,000. That was the moment I knew my life changed. By the fourth episode we had sponsors, which were rare, and I kept working and searching for stories.

What kind of stories? It’s a podcast geared towards the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean they’re the most epic tales. We wanted a space that allowed people to tell their own stories, so we have a series called “The Shorts.” We like to have stories that share what it means to be happy, fulfilled. We all crave the freedom of being removed, which is what makes this podcast appeal to everyone.

Image by Darren Aronofsky
Dirtbag Diaries podcast host Fitz Cahall

What’s your favorite episode? “Help Wanted” has been a really popular one. It’s about climbers Disney hired to climb the side of the Matterhorn Mountain [at Disneyland] while people are on the ride. Recently, we collaborated with REI for the National Parks Centennial and we got some great stories from that.

What is your advice for surviving the winter blues? Take solace that it’s not that bad. If it’s raining in the city, you know that it’s snowing up in the mountains. The winter is a good time to make plans and reset. It’s when I will be reading my guidebooks and doing research for trips in the next year.” SARAH MURPHY 


Embrace the Outdoors
Enjoy some camraderie on a winter hike or bike ride
Hearty Seattleites don’t stop hiking just because the weather turns wet and gray—ask any member of The Mountaineers. This club, open to all (yearly membership $75–$130; nonmembers can join two activities as guests; mountaineers.org), has been getting people outdoors rain or shine since 1906. The nonprofit offers day hiking, climbing, snow adventures and seminars to brush up on climbing skills and avalanche safety. Choose your level of difficulty and activity (winter is an especially great time for bird-spotting) and then sign up for a day at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge or any number of lowland hikes in the Issaquah Alps, including the new Margaret’s Way trail. Make a weekend of it by booking a place in one of five Mountaineers lodges located around Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and Mount Baker. Each cabin has its own character and opportunities for exploration; we like the Winter Carnival at Meany Lodge, in the Wenatchee National Forest near the Stampede Pass train tunnel, which has a private ski slope for lodge guests only and boasts 32 downhill runs. The sleeping accommodations are bunk style, so it’s even better if you can get a group of friends together.

Take a guided snowshoe walk at Snoqualmie Pass ($15–$25 suggested donation); offered by the U.S. Forest Service on weekends from January through March. Sign up in advance for the 90-minute, 1-mile trek that’s appropriate for beginners. As you walk on snow several feet deep, you’ll be at eye level with the middle tree canopy of the old-growth forest; from this perspective and with insights from your guide, you’ll see and learn about lichen and the forest ecosystem. Done snowshoeing before? Then sign up for the hike around Commonwealth Basin, or for the photography outing at Commonwealth Creek, both at Snoqualmie Pass. Snowshoes and snowshoeing instruction for all tours are provided. Or go further afield to Stevens Pass or to Mount Baker where exact walking location is determined by snow levels and weather (go to discovernw.org/ and search “snowshoe”).

Above and below: Join a Mountaineers hike for a walk on a snow-free forest trail or head to a higher elevation for a  U.S. Forest Service guided snowshoe tour offered at a number of locations including Mount Baker

Image by U.S. Forest Service

Take a free group bike ride with Cascade Bicycle Club (cascade.org/rides). Choose your pace and distance, from 10-mile joyrides to 100-mile excursions, each offering a variety of terrain. The rides take place daily and are led by experienced cyclists. Even better, sign up for the Chilly Hilly, a 33-mile ride around Bainbridge Island and the club’s official kickoff to the biking season, this year on February 26. New to cycling? Experienced but needing to brush up your skills? Cascade has a class for you. 

You don’t need to be part of a club to hike and bike during the winter. But if you don’t join a like-minded group, will you really get off the couch and step outside where the fun is? NS

Image by Eddie Bauer
Test a jacket before buying in the Eddie Bauer Ice Box at the Bellevue Collection store

Cold Case
Put your winter gear to the test in Eddie Bauer’s Ice Box
Whether your winter plans include a ski trip to Whistler or a walk around your neighborhood on a frigid day, ensure your cold-weather gear is good to go by making Eddie Bauer’s in-store Ice Box your first stop. Temperature controlled to reach as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the 8-by8-foot glass chamber is the centerpiece of Eddie Bauer’s recently renovated flagship store in Bellevue and was created for customers to test winter coats against conditions similar to what they would find outdoors. The idea is based on how store founder Eddie Bauer and fellow employees used to test products in the 1950s: spending the night with camping gear and apparel in storage lockers in downtown Seattle. With a scenic mountain landscape as the interior backdrop and ice-block bench to sit on, the EB Ice Box of today is far more civilized and…well…pretty cool. SM

Eddie Bauer, The Bellevue Collection, 1050 Bellevue Way NE; 425.453.0450; eddiebauer.com

Taking Flight
Sometimes, getting through a Pacific Northwest winter means going south to the desert. These destinations—just one flight away—offer a healthy dose of sun so fun it’s sinful

Image by Parker Palm Springs
The pool at the Jonathan-Adler designed Parker Palm Springs

Palm Springs: Sun, Shop and Play

Boasting 269 days of sunshine—117 more than Seattle—and just 134 minutes away via Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the former Rat Pack playground of Palm Springs still offers a welcome burst of warmth and sun-soaked activities.

Stay: Kick off a long weekend at the spunky, Jonathan Adler–designed Parker Palm Springs, where Brad and Angelina fell in love in happier days. This month, a top-secret “bohemian glamour” renovation is being unveiled, refreshing the rooms, lobby, pool, spa (and you). Be sure to check out the swanky new wine bar, Counter Reformation.

Shop: The city overflows with curated vintage shops filled to the brim with modernist furniture and decor. Cruise the Uptown Design District, where contemporary shops such as Just Modern, Christopher Anthony, Bon Vivant and A La Mod mingle with Trina Turk’s flagship shop. 

Play: Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ($17-$26) up to hiking trails, killer views and a 30-degree temperature drop. Trek 40 minutes outside Palm Springs to Pioneertown, which began as a set for Western movies. Today, Pappy & Harriet’s roadhouse is where Paul McCartney and Cold War Kids have been known to pop in for a surprise show. Chase away the rainy blues at the happening Ace Hotel, where it’s all about lounging poolside with hip, beautiful people and sipping artisanal drinks. (Day passes, $20, are available weekdays to those not staying at the hotel.) 

Image by Jamie Kowal
A bartender at work at Bootlegger Tiki

Eat: A 90-year-old theater now houses the sleek, James Beard Award–winning Workshop Kitchen + Bar, which boasts a farm-to-table menu and gourmet cocktails. Crowd favorites include the duck fat fries, mesquite-grilled pork chop and the Prohibition-inspired gin drink Bee’s Knees. Grab a Stumptown cold brew at Ernest Coffee, named after the tiki bar’s founding father, Ernest Gantt. For happy hour, head next door to the speakeasy Bootlegger Tiki, where rad cocktails await. LARA MORGENSON BURNAP

If you go...
Parker Palm Springs
: Palm Springs, 4200 E Palm Canyon Drive; 760.770.5000; theparkerpalmsprings.com
Palm Spring Aerial Tramway: Palm Springs, 1 Tram Way; 888.515.8726; pstramway.com
Ernest Coffee: Palm Springs, 1101 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.318.4154; ernestcoffee.com
Bootlegger Tiki: Palm Springs, 1101 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.318.4154; bootleggertiki.com
Bon Vivant: Palm Springs, 766 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.534.3197; gmcb.com
A La Mod: Palm Springs, 886 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.327.0707; alamod768.com
Just Modern: Palm Springs, 901 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.322.5600; justmodern-decor.com
Christopher Anthony: Palm Springs, 800 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.322.0600; christopheranthonyltd.com
Trina Turk: Palm Springs, 891, 895, 897 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.416.2856; trinaturk.com 
Workshop Kitchen + Bar: Palm Springs, 800 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.459.3451; workshoppalmsprings.com
Ace Hotel: Palm Springs, 701 E Palm Canyon Drive; 760.325.9900; acehotel.com
Pappy & Harriet’s: Pioneertown, 53688 Pioneertown Road; 760.365.5956; pappyandharriets.com

Image by Kimpton Hotels
Hotel Palomar's rooftop bar and pool

Phoenix: A sun time in the big city
You know how bad it can be in Seattle in winter, right? That’s how good it is right now in Phoenix. January averages a high of 67 degrees with 21 days of sun, which is probably why you see so many dazed and blissed-out Seattleites there every winter. If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for? Hop a flight from Sea-Tac to Sky Harbor Airport and get ready to spend the weekend admiring towering saguaro cacti from behind your Ray-Bans. 

Stay: Outdoor pools are ubiquitous at Phoenix hotels, but Hotel Palomar offers a distinctively larky plunge: a rooftop pool with adjoining bar. Get your vitamin D fix while sipping an icy Buffalo Trace Manhattan. Or go old school at the vintage 1929 Biltmore, especially if you’re a Frank Lloyd Wright fan (he helped one of his students design the hotel). With multiple pools, a spa, sprawling golf courses and amenities from here to eternity, you won’t want to rush home to the cloud bank.

Image by Foskett Creative
High above town, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

Play: If you think all desert plants look alike, you’ll learn differently at the Desert Botanical Garden. Take the docent-guided tour to discover how the plants of the Sonoran Desert have adapted to violent temperature variations. In the afternoon, head uphill to Taliesin West, once Wright’s winter headquarters. Take one or more of nine tours that explore different aspects of the architect’s genius, and then imagine what it would be like to spend a couple of weeks in a self-built hut on the grounds, which artists and architecture students still do during prestigious residencies.

Begin your next day in Old Town in nearby Scottsdale at the early-morning dining spot, The Breakfast Club, and then browse neighborhood stores, from touristy boutiques to refined shops selling Native American jewelry. And if you get a sudden urge for cowboy boots (and you will), Saba’s, a Western wear shop, is calling to you. Resistance is futile.

Hike the afternoon away at the South Mountain Park/Preserve, where you can take your pick of 50 miles of marked desert trails. On the fourth Sunday of each month, dubbed Silent Sundays, no motor vehicles may enter the park, affording an exquisitely peaceful opportunity to commune with nature. You’ll discover, as local Edward Abbey said, that “wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.”

Eat: As one local pointed out, Phoenix mirrors Seattle in one way: Restaurant openings are weekly events. Since you’re in the Southwest, eat locally inspired cuisine. Dick’s Hideaway is known for its authentic New Mexican menu. For a more upscale experience, the new Barrio Café Gran Reserva, helmed by James Beard Award–nominated chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, features nouveau Mexican cuisine. Start your day at Luci’s at the Orchard (look for the signature water tower), a café, juice and coffee bar with outdoor seating. It’s part of The Orchard Phx, a recently redeveloped 2-acre property that was once an orange orchard and now also includes a restaurant and a candy and ice cream shop. VIRGINIA SMYTH

If you go...
Arizona Biltmore
: Phoenix, 2400 E Missouri Ave.; 855.689.2878; arizonabiltmore.com
Hotel Palomar: Phoenix, 2 E Jefferson St.; 877.488.1908; hotelpalomar-phoenix.com
Desert Botanical Garden: Open daily, $10–$22; Phoenix, 1201 N Galvin Parkway; dbg.org
Taliesin West: Open daily, prices vary; Scottsdale, 12345 N Taliesin Drive; 480.627.5340; franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/index.html
South Mountain Park/Preserve: Phoenix, 10919 S Central Ave.; 602.262.7393; phoenix.gov/parks
Barrio Café Gran Reserva: Phoenix, 1301 W Grand Ave.; 602.252.2777; barriocafegranreserva.com
Dick’s Hideaway: Phoenix, 6008 N 16th St.; 602.241.1881 
Luci’s at the Orchard: Phoenix, 7100 N 12th St.; 602.633.2442; lucisorchard.com
The Breakfast Club: Scottsdale, 4400 N Scottsdale Road; 480.222.2582; breakfastclub.us