On Nov. 30 I got the opportunity to experience a familiarization (FAM) departure of the Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour, a joint venture between Evergreen Escapes and Ride the Ducks of Seattle. The tour starts with a fun and silly “Duck” ride through downtown to view holiday lights. Then, board a Mercedes van for comfortable ride to the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle for an elegant wine dinner at Fall Line Winery. The tour departs at 7 p.m. from Westlake Center (in front of P.F. Chang’s) and ends around 10 p.m. There is only one more scheduled departure for 2011, Dec. 30. The cost is $114 per person. Call Evergreen Escapes for availability at (866) 203-7603, or locally at (206) 650-5795.
Ride the Ducks Holiday Lights Tour
I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the Ride the Ducks Holiday Lights Tour, but it turned out to be a blast. This portion of the tour lasts 40 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with the Ride the Ducks concept the idea is a sightseeing tour on an open-air bus/boat. Normally part of the tour is on land, then the bus converts to a boat for the water portion. The Holiday Lights Tour does not have a water component, I imagine because it would be too cold. The vehicles used are actually vintage WWII-era vehicles known as DUKWs. The amphibious landing crafts played an important role in WWII; now they play an important role in Seattle tourism. For more history, please see here.
Before departing Westlake Center all tour guests received a gift bag featuring small chocolate chip cookies, a packet of Gummi bears, a candy cane, a discount card for businesses at Pacific Place, an “All Access VIP” card for the Hard Rock Cafe, and, perhaps best of all, a coupon for a free espresso beverage with purchase of a pound of Starbucks Christmas Blend (valid only at Westlake Center Starbucks). After departing Westlake Center, the “Duck” meandered downtown until reaching Pier 66, then it turned south to drive along the Waterfront. From there we drove through Pioneer Square, then went up to Pike Place Market before turning east toward the Convention Center. We then tooled around downtown some more before ending at Westlake Center. The distance covered is not very much, but it does take time to navigate downtown Seattle, even at night.
Our driver was “Captain Yukon” and he was hilarious. In between brief talks about Seattle history and local trivia the driver played funny Christmas songs, and the passengers made all kinds of racket with a provided noisemaker (handheld sleigh bells) and a “duck call” whistle. If this sounds silly, well, it is. But it’s also great fun. The only drawback to this tour is that while it’s billed as a holiday lights tour, there really aren’t that many lights in downtown Seattle. There are some lights, but they are very understated and are often white. The most decorations actually seemed to be in Pioneer Square, where some trees are “wrapped” to look like presents and where the iron Pergola of Yesler Way and First Avenue is appropriately lit up. For locals this may seem like a good number of lights but if you’ve been to cities or neighborhoods that go all out for Christmas you may be underwhelmed by the lights of Seattle.
(For part 2 of this article please see Seattle’s ‘Wacky Holiday Lights & Wine Tasting Tour’, part 2).
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