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2 7 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E are featured in Olympia's Bountiful Byway tour program, which gives group travelers opportunities to meet farmers and learn about the work they do. Highlights include picking lavender and shopping for gifts at a local lavender farm, as well as Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm, where groups can learn about cider production and sample the farm kitchen's signature apple fritters. G I G H A R B O R : WAT E R F R O N T A N D M A R I T I M E H I S T O RY About 40 miles north of Olympia, the town of Gig Harbor offers a scenic waterfront with large helpings of charm and maritime history. "We have a small, quaint, historic downtown with maritime heritage that's very evident as you walk along the waterfront," said Karen Scott, director of tourism and communications for the city of Gig Harbor. "We're sheltered by a bay that is pretty scenic and has spectacular views of Mount Rainier through the head of the harbor." Many groups start their time in the area at the Harbor History Museum, which is right on the water. The museum features exhibits that trace Gig Harbor's past, with a focus on maritime history. One of the chief highlights is a historic fishing vessel that volunteers are working to restore. Visitors can watch the restoration work on the large ship and talk with volunteers about their maritime memories. Maritime enthusiasts will find more to enjoy at the Gig Harbor Boat Shop, a nonprofit organization that promotes the history and art of wooden boatbuilding. Groups can take part in special boatbuilding experiences there. And Harbor WildWatch, an environmental organization, teaches visitors about the marine wildlife living in Gig Harbor, with diving demonstrations and other experiences that give guests close-up looks at sea creatures. Groups can take narrated sightseeing cruises offered by a number of com- panies in Gig Harbor, during which they'll learn about the city's commercial fishing past and see some of the "net sheds" that are leftovers of that tradition. "Net sheds are what the commercial fishermen used to store their nets," Scott said. "We still have the largest inventory of net sheds on the Puget Sound." S E AT T L E : C I T Y O F I C O N S At the center of the Puget Sound tourism scene is Seattle, a city packed with Pacific Northwest icons. Groups should take two or three days to explore the highlights of this city, which range from art and music to architecture, coffee, shopping and more. The best place to start is Seattle Center, an area in the heart of the city that hosted the 1962 World's Fair. The Space Needle there offers fantastic views and upgraded, interactive digital experiences. But recently, visitors can't M U S I C I N S E AT T L E Artwork by David Brown M usic factors into Seattle's cultural scene in a big way. The city made a name for itself with the grunge and alternative music movements of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with bands such as Pearl Jam and Nir- vana getting their start in Seattle clubs. There are still plenty of places for visitors to catch live local music in Seattle, including some of the venues where those artists once played. But for groups, a radio station based in Seattle Center offers great opportunities to get a taste for Seattle's eclectic music culture. "The radio station KEXP is widely listened to by locals — it's really a music station for the people, by the people," said Visit Seattle's John Boesche. "They just moved their studios into Seattle Center in a really neat, interactive area that is open for folks to check out. They do a lot of live shows and have artists on all the time." In addition to watching a live radio broadcast, visitors can relax in the studio's cafe, where local coffee purveyors roast beans and provide signa- ture drinks for visitors. "It just feels like Seattle," Boesche said. "You're sitting there having fancy coffee and listening to a grass-roots radio station broadcast indie music." I S S U E F E B R U A R Y 2 017 Courtesy KEXP/Visit Seattle