Take in a chocolate exhibit or ice cream cruise in S. Lake Union

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Thursday, July 10, 2014 11:58am
  • Life

Goodbye, Frasier. Hello, Chocolate.

Everything you want to know about chocolate is on display at MOHAI, Seattle’s Museum of History &Industry.

Love and chocolate. War and chocolate. Money and chocolate.

“Chocolate: The Exhibition” covers the global history from the ancient Mayans to Hershey’s Kisses. The rooms even smell like chocolate. Nice touch.

MOHAI is among the attractions at South Lake Union, a pleasant refuge from the confines of suburbia and a 15-minute streetcar ride from downtown Seattle. The area offers intoxicating sweets and opportunities to do whatever floats your boat.

The chocolate show, which runs through September 28, occupies space that formerly had the Seattle skyline set from the long-running television show “Frasier,” complete with duct-taped chair and stuffed dog Eddie.

The exhibit is multi-media and bilingual, with text in English and Spanish. You can look and touch. Use a cacao bean abacus for calculating an Aztec grocery bill. Sit on truffle cushions while contemplating whether life is like a wall-to-wall box of chocolates.

Craving chocolate? No problem. The gift shop sells Theo Chocolate and other Seattle favorites. Eat dessert first, then have a sandwich and wine at the museum’s cafe.

MOHAI relocated in early 2013 to the 50,000 square-foot art deco building that formerly housed the Naval Reserve Armory. It’s a tribute to Seattle’s fun and colorful history, from sex and salmon to computers and grunge. There’s Nirvana music, a Lusty Lady sign and 99 bottles of Washington beer on the wall.

See one of the original UPS delivery trucks from the 1920s and the funky Lincoln’s Toe Truck with fat pink fiberglass toes. Touch the 65-foot spiky wooden sculpture made from schooner planks. Watch a slapstick comedy about the 1889 fire that destroyed downtown (nobody died), complete with the glue pot that started it all.

Next, head outside to check out the variety of boats at MOHAI’s neighboring dock.

Take a free tour of the steamship Virginia V, a member of Puget Sound’s original ferry system. Docent Ed Brown, dressed in nautical uniform, will tell you all about the ship’s hard-working past.

“She was part of the Mosquito Fleet,” said Brown, an Arlington native. “The ships were very competitive. Ships would hit each other while in transit. Crews would jump from ship to ship and get into fist fights. Out of the hundreds of ships in the Mosquito Fleet, this is the only steamship left intact.”

These days, Virginia V goes out on the water for leisurely cruises when she isn’t sitting pretty at the dock.

Her neighbor is the bubbly Ice Cream Cruise ferry that serves chocolate root beer floats on narrated jaunts around Lake Union.

“The chocolate brings out the tartness in the root beer and is a more refreshing drink,” skipper Larry Kezner said. “Vanilla is too sweet.”

His ice cream boat holds 43 passengers and pets are welcome. “We’ve had parrots,” Kezner said. “Anything that gets along with people we’ll take. Mostly dogs. I can’t recall having any cats.”

You can be the captain of your ship at The Center for Wooden Boats, which has rowboat, canoe and other rentals. The maritime museum gives free rides on Sunday on sailboats to steamboats.

“There are youth programs and lots of activities,” center volunteer Dave Erskine said. “Plus my wife and I were married here, so you can rent the facility for that.”

Couples can also get married on the ice cream boat and Virginia V, then sail off on their honeymoon in their own boat.

“People donate boats to us and we sell them,” Erskine said. “I can make a deal with you.”

Hmmm, very tempting … but it won’t fit in the streetcar.

Streetcar

The glass-enclosed South Lake Union Streetcar runs at 15-minute intervals Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cost is $2.50; 65 and older 75 cents; ages 6 to 17, $1.25. Free for children 5 and under. For more information, visit www.seattlestreetcar.org.

MOHAI

Museum of History &Industry, 860 Terry Ave. N., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; open until 8 p.m. Thursdays. Cost is $17 for adults; senior (65 and older) $15; student/military $14. Free for ages 14 and younger. For more information, visit www.mohai.org.

Upcoming events

Learn: Chocolate-making classes with Dawn’s Candy and Cake, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and September 13, MOHAI’s Microsoft Lakefront Pavilion. Cost is $5 per person, plus MOHAI admission.

Watch: Chocolate double-feature movie night, Aug. 23, Lake Union Park: Pre-movie entertainment at 6 p.m.; “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at 8 p.m.; and “Chocolat” at 9:45 p.m. Free.

Ships and stuff on South Lake Union

Ice Cream Cruises: Include a humorous narration of old Seattle and some funky background music with tour of floating homes, Gas Works Park and the “Sleepless in Seattle” houseboat. Sunday cruises are year-round on the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $11 for adults; $10 seniors; $7 ages 5 to 13; $2 for under 5. Pets OK. Cash or check only. Friday and Saturday, summer-only cruises through August, are 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. Cost is $15 for adults, $14 seniors, $7 ages 5 to 13; $2 under 5. Ice cream floats, treats and beverages, $2 to $4. Call 206-713-8446 or go to www.seattleferryservice.com.

Steamship Virginia V: Dockside tours of the 125-foot steamship made in 1922 are noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, also on select Mondays and holidays. Free. Available for public excursions, private charters, parties and weddings. For more information, go to www.virginiav.org.

The Center for Wooden Boats: 1010 Valley St., has boat rentals, classes, workshops, field trips, lectures and tugboat storytime. Admission is free. Free rides on sailboats to steamboats on Sunday. Signups start at 10 a.m. For more information, call 206-382-2628 or visit www.cwb.org.

Seaport museum: Northwest Seaport Heritage Museum Center has a fleet of historic ships that offer public tours, sleepovers, tugboat storytimes, workshops and party rentals. For more information, visit nwseaport.org

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com

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