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Seafair Clowns, bubbles, magic and music at Waterfront Whimsea family fun festival kick off the summer season on the Seattle waterfront Sunday, June 8.

A kids’ bounce house, games and music by the local indie-rock kids’ band The Not-Its! are among attractions at the Waterfront Park event. Bubbleman kicks off the day at 11 a.m. and the Seattle Fire Department fire boat is scheduled to make an appearance in Elliott Bay from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The waterfront is full of parks, restaurants, views and attractions to fill a day or an hour or two on a summer day. The historic working waterfront is quintessential Seattle, a great place to take visitors from out of town, but don’t wait for them to arrive to take a walk in the fresh sea breeze, watch the ferries cruise by and admire the views of the Olympic Mountains.

Waterfront Park’s fountain, views, benches and picnic tables on Piers 57 to 59 are on the site of the 1897 arrival of two tons of gold that started the Alaska Gold Rush, a boon to early Seattle. Ivar’s restaurant and outdoor seafood bar, a local tradition since the 1940s, has a popular sculpture of Ivar Haglund next to the outdoor seating where feeding the noisy seagulls is encouraged.

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Another of Seattle’s most popular attractions, the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, opened in 1977 and renovated in 2007, features Window on Washington waters, tide- pool touch tanks, a 360-view of Puget Sound sea life in the Underwater Dome, Pacific Coral Reef exhibit, sea otters and harbor seals. Seattle Aquarium, usually open daily, is closed Friday, June 6, for a fundraising event.

The waterfront’s newest big attraction, opened in 2012, is the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57, the largest observation wheel on the West Coast, with fully enclosed gondolas offering great views of the city and Elliott Bay. The slow, smooth ride is suitable for all ages and wheelchair-accessible so everyone can take a spin.

Myrtle Edwards Park’s 1.25-mile path along Elliott Bay is another waterfront mainstay, adjacent to Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, transformed from an industrial backwater to a nine-acre seaside bluff with large sculptures, views and native plants.

Waterfront boat ride options include Argosy Cruises, Washington State Ferry Terminal drive-on or walk-on to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton, and the King County Water Taxi between Pier 50 and Seacrest Dock in West Seattle. The 10- to 15-minute daily water-taxi crossings link downtown to Alki Beach and shuttle buses to West Seattle destinations and are popular for commuters and recreation, including bicyclists.

Pedestrian access from the waterfront to Pike Place Market and downtown is available via the Pike Street Hillclimb and by elevator from the Public Market Parking Garage. The Seawall Replacement project is causing some traffic revisions in the waterfront area; see for complete information on driving, parking, cycling and public transportation options.

Madeline McKenzie:

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