Visiting Seattle with No Mas Coach as our tour guides is no normal tour. Instead, Jon and Ben take Jason and I on a journey into the wild and whacky side of Seattle. They introduce us to giant trolls, floating space shuttles, dinosaurs and orbiting planets. You won’t find this itinerary in the tourist brochures, but this self-guided tour will help you discover some seriously strange things to do in Seattle.
Welcome to the Centre of the Universe
Be warned, the hippy enclave of Fremont holds itself in high regard. In fact, in 1991, a group of scientists in a bar (surely, that’s a dangerous combination!) claimed that the intersection of N Fremont Ave and 35th St N was the Centre of the Universe. Just one indication maybe, that Fremont locals may be a somewhat bonkers bunch.
Whilst this assertion can neither be proven or disproven, residents have proudly erected a colourful sign to mark the centre of the universe. It also points you helpfully towards some of the crazy ‘artistic residents’ of the neighbourhood. Let’s take a look at just a few!
A giant troll under a bridge
Remember the children’s fairy tale, Billy Goat’s Gruff? Well it seems that it’s not entirely a tale, because in Fremont, a giant troll really does live under a bridge. Instead of charging goats however, the troll skulks under the Aurora Bridge on 36St North and has been known to crush a VW beetle.
The troll has lived here since 1989, when local sculptor Steve Badanes won a competition to breathe new life into the underbelly of the bridge. Inspired by the folktale, he created an 18ft troll from steel, wire and concrete. It is the biggest troll you are ever likely to see and is pretty formidable at night. Nevertheless, we can’t resist the urge to clamber all over it posing for photos. You can just make us out in this photo.
A short walk away, is an equally shocking discovery. Lenin, the creator of communism, the nemesis of the United States stands 16 feet tall on a busy intersection nearby. The bronze statue weighs over 7 tons and is allegedly the only statue of Lenin where he is not holding a book or waving his hat.
Created by the sculptor Emil Venkov, it was discovered by Lewis Carpenter, an American teaching in Poprad. He found the statue after it was violently toppled in the 1989 eastern bloc revolutions. It arrived in Fremont in 1996, and now taunts locals on the intersection of Fremont Place North, North 36th Street and Evanston Avenue North.
Allegedly it’s up for sale, so if you feel like paying homage to the dictator, you might take home one hell of a souvenir from your trip.
Cold war rocket
Another quirky reminder of Cold War hostilities sits atop a building on the corner of North 36th Street and Evanston Ave North. The 53-foot rocket arrived in Fremont in 1991 after reports that the rocket fuselage was due to be dismantled.
The Fremont Crest and motto is engraved on the base and seems rather fitting. ‘De Libertas Quirkas’ or ‘freedom to be peculiar’ is a pretty apt motto for this eccentric corner of the city.
The Fremont area seems to have a fascination with grisly monsters and cold war memorabilia. Next up, are two topiary dinosaurs on the southwest corner of the intersection of Phinney Avenue North, North 34th Street and North Canal Street.
This mother and baby dinosaur duo were originally created by the Pacific Science centre to promote an exhibition. After its close, the pair were sold to local activists for $1 plus moving costs.
Gasworks Park is a little further afield from Fremont, but within walking distance. Alternatively, you could jump on a JUMP bike and save your leg muscles.
The former gasworks closed in 1956 and opened as a park in 1975. Although it looks like a scene from a grisly horror movie, Seattle’s World Naked Bike Ride starts here. It is also the finish point for the Solstice Cyclists.
At night, the rusting metalwork is a haunting reminder of the past, and distinctly spooky. It offers however incredible views of the Seattle skyline both by day and night.
Map of strange things to do in Seattle
If you want to recreate this extraordinary tour of the weird and whacky sights of Seattle, then this map will help you navigate between the attractions. As you wander you will pass independent distilleries, small cafes and galleries, gift shops, spas and craft beer pubs. The area is a more like a bohemian village than a suburb of a major city.
Your recommendations for strange things to do in Seattle
Maybe you have some other recommendations for the weird and wonderful in this eclectic city. I would love to hear your stories, so feel free to join the conversation in the comments below.
Start planning your trip now!