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2 8 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E stop raving about Chihuly Garden and Glass, a newcomer to the Seattle Center that celebrates the artwork of Seattle son and famous glassblower Dale Chihuly. "Chihuly Garden and Glass has quickly become the No. 1 attraction in Seattle on Trip Advisor," said John Boesche, director of tourism development for Visit Seattle. "It's literally right next door to the Space Needle, about a 150-foot walk, and you can get packaged tickets for the two attractions." Another highlight of the Seattle Center is MoPOP, for- merly known as the Experience Music Project, or the EMP Museum. The museum has been expanded beyond its initial music focus to now explore various elements of pop culture, with exhibits exploring such diverse subjects as the cultural significance of Lego toys and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. But music still factors prominently into the experience. "They have one of the world's largest high-definition screens in what they call the Sky Church," Boesche said. "They play music videos there and let people dance and have fun. They also have sound labs where you can learn how to play the guitar and the drums." Many groups also make time to visit Pike Place Market, one of the country's largest and oldest working farmers markets. Visitors can browse food and goods from some 250 permanent vendors and 150 day stalls, and rub elbows with chefs who shop at the market each day to pick items for their restaurant menus. The market is undergoing an expansion that will add a brewery and more retail space. Starbucks Coffee, the worldwide caffeine phenomenon, got its start at Pike Place Market, and travelers can still get a drink at the original Starbucks Café there. Coffee lov- ers will also enjoy a visit to the nearby Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which opened eight blocks away in 2014. "This is a massive facility where Starbucks roasts and distributes all of their reserve coffee for distribution all over the world," Boesche said. "It's a really neat experience. You can do tasting flights and try different coffee preparations." S A N J UA N I S L A N D S : WAT E R A N D W I L D L I F E It's a bit of a hike north from Seattle to the San Juan Islands, which sit about 100 miles away at the mouth of Puget Sound. But the trip pays off in big ways, with water, wildlife and a taste of laid-back island culture Pacific Northwest style. "We're most known for our watchable wildlife," said Barbara Marrett, communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau. "We have resident orca whales that come in the summer, from April through September. Humpback whales and minke whales are here for a good By Blakely Photography, courtesy City of Gig Harbor SUNSET AT GIG HARBOR Courtesy Visit Seattle Courtesy San Juan Islands VB By Jim Maya, courtesy San Juan Islands VB AN ORCA SPOTTING NEAR THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS THE SPACE NEEDLE AT SEATTLE CENTER SEA LIONS AT CATTLE POINT IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS