Things to do / Travel Guide
The Northwest Washington and the Cascades region, known for some of the most livable cities in the United States, is also home to one of the country's most varied assortments of factory tours. Indeed, whether you're a wine connoisseur or a beer maven, a baseball fan or a football fanatic, there's a factory tour for you in this region. And of course almost everyone in your party will enjoy getting a behind-the-scenes look at two of the largest companies in the United States, on the Boeing Factory Tour or at the Microsoft Museum.
Boeing Factory Tour
Travel to Everett in order to count yourself among the millions of visitors who come to take the world's most popular factory tour, the Boeing Factory Tour. As guided tours are conducted in order to showcase the massiveness and magnificence of the company's aircraft, you'll find yourself oohing and aahing in wonder. Take in the site of 747, 767, and 777 jets being manufactured as you walk through the largest building in the world (by volume).
Factory Tours North of Seattle
Up near the Canadian border, about halfway between Bellingham and Everett, you can visit Samish Bay Cheese and the SeaBear Smokehouse to see where some of the region's delicious food comes from. At Samish Bay, you can visit the farm and witness the small-scale, hands-on process that goes into making fresh organic cheese. And SeaBear Smokehouse is the place to visit if you want to see how fresh Pacific salmon is filleted, smoked, and packaged. If some free smoked salmon isn't enough to sate you, then after the tour you can buy some more fish and fish products at great value in the site's outlet store. Both operate year-round and are free.
Brewery and Winery Tours in Northwest Washington and the Cascades
About halfway between Everett and Bellevue, right next to each other in Woodinville, a winery and a brewery await those in search of an alcoholic beverage (and tour). A Redhook Brewery tour is great for the thirsty masses, as for just $1 you'll get to learn all about their beer and ale making processes, taste a bunch of free samples, and even keep a souvenir glass. Tours of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, on the other hand, are somewhat more exclusive, as it's limited to visitors over age 16, and as it charges a hefty admission fee. For those who choose to go on this winery tour, you'll be treated to a tasting while learning about the winery's history, heritage, and grape fermentation processes.
Tour of the Microsoft Visitor Center
Just north of Bellevue, in Redmond, sits the headquarters of the largest software maker in the world, Microsoft. Bill Gates invites you to take a free behind-the-scenes tour of the Microsoft Visitor Center (of course it's free - the company manages to make money elsewhere), where you can learn about the history of the company, its vision, and its founding principles. Inside, exhibits showcase PCs, mobile gadgets, gaming consoles, and other technology the world has been introduced to and become familiar with over the last few decades.
Stadium Tours in Seattle
Baseball fans will revel in the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of one of the nicer ballparks in the United States, SAFECO Field. This stadium tour, open during the baseball season (from April-October) takes you around the home of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners. You'll be able to walk through the press box, luxury suites, dugouts, and even the natural grass field itself.
And whether it's football season or not, you can walk on the hallowed gridiron during a tour of
Seattle Seahawks Stadium. On this stadium tour sports fans will be able to take a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium's press box, playing field, and even the visitor's locker room! And of course you'll get to sit in a luxury suite for a few minutes too.
Factory Tour of the Seattle Times Newspaper
See how newspapers are printed and watch as news rolls hot off the presses at the Seattle Times Newspaper, in Bothell. While on this free factory tour you'll be able to get an up-close look at the gigantic machines that print out millions of newspaper copies a year, as well as see how all that paper is packaged and loaded on trucks for delivery.
Behind-the-scenes and factory tours are typically family-friendly activities good for a short and interesting diversion from a region's mainstream tourist activities. Generally inexpensive, visitors are often given complimentary tastes and samples, like sweet chocolate treats at Boehm's Chocolates, in Issaquah. Note that some tours have irregular hours and admission restrictions. Click on the individual icons for more practical information.
Behind-the-Scenes and Factory Tours in Seattle, Tacoma, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Washington and The Cascades