Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Seattle


In a big city such as Seattle, there are many New Year’s Eve events that are expensive and require lots of advanced planning for you and your friends. For many students, this is unrealistic. Today’s blog post will highlight fun, inexpensive, all-ages events that will make you excited for 2018!

Where to watch fireworks (beginning at 12:00 AM, January 1):

  • Seattle Center: You can watch fireworks from the base of the Space Needle and other areas around Seattle Center! This prime location fills up quickly, so make sure to go early (around 10:00 PM) to find a spot. Take public transportation, as the area experiences a lot of traffic and closed streets on this day.
  • Gas Works Park: If you want to watch closer to UW, you can take a quick bus ride to Gas Works Park. The view of the Space Needle is partially obstructed, but it is still an excellent place to view fireworks.
  • Lake Union: Lake Union offers a stunning view of the fireworks, as well as plenty of close restaurants and bars.
  • Kerry Park: Kerry Park is the most infamous parks in Seattle. With a stunning view of Seattle Center, this is a prime location to watch fireworks. However, Kerry Park is relatively small, meaning it will fill up quickly.
  • Alki Beach Park: Alki Beach is a gorgeous location, close to water, and with a distant yet unobstructed view of the Space Needle. Take the King County Water Taxi over earlier in the day and enjoy an incredible view at midnight. Since it is by water, bring a blanket and take a place near one of the beach fires to stay warm.


New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s: One of Seattle’s most famous restaurants, Ivar’s, has one restaurant on the pier. This means that you can enjoy food and a view until the fireworks begin. This is a wonderful way to enjoy a classic Seattle dish while welcoming the new year.

When: December 31, 9:00 PM

WhereIvar’s Salmon House on Northlake Way

Price: Free + cost of food


Winterfest New Year’s Eve Celebration: Winterfest happens all winter long at Seattle Center, but there are special events for New Year’s Eve! There is live music, dance, and other fun activities for hours before the fireworks. Then, when it reaches 12:00 AM, you already have a great view of the fireworks.

When: December 31, 8:00 PM (Ring in the New Year at Seattle Center); 10:00 PM            (Dance Party at the Fountain)

Where: Seattle Center – the Armory and Fountain

Price: Free


Bellevue Square Celebration Lane: Bellevue Square has a holiday-themed parade (named “Snowflake Lane”) leading up to Christmas, but they start “Celebration Lane” the day after. You can watch this New Year’s-themed parade anytime from the 26th to the 31st, and is sure to get you in the spirit for 2018!

When: December 26-31, 7:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Square

Price: Free


First Night Tacoma: This event features live music, food, and activities for people of all ages. If you want to explore another city and ring in the new year with a large, energetic crowd, check out First Night Tacoma!

When: December 31, start time around 6:00 PM (view schedule online)

Where: Event is centralized around Pantages Theater. Route is within Broadway between S. 7th, and S. 11th

Price: Buy a button online or in-person. Prices vary depending on time of purchase.

Light Shows:


One of the most enjoyable, inexpensive holiday experiences is a light show in a Seattle zoo or garden. These outdoor spaces are decorated with colorful lights along plants, fences, and pathways. This creates a beautiful, bright scene to stroll through. These light shows occur close to UW (Woodland Park Zoo), in Bellevue (Bellevue Botanical Gardens), or further away in Tacoma (Point Defiance Zoo), so you can check them out wherever you are.

Wildlights (Woodland Park Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24 & 25), 5:30-8:30 PM

Where: Woodland Park Zoo

Price: $11.95

Zoolights (Point Defiance Zoo)

When: November 24 – January 1 (closed December 24), 5:00-9:00 PM

Where: Point Defiance Zoo

Price: $10.00 at Front Gate, $8.50 online

Garden d’Lights (Bellevue Botanical Gardens)

When: November 25 – December 31; 4:30-9:00 PM

Where: Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Price: $5.00


We hope you enjoy your Winter Break, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with family and friends. We wish a joyful 2018 to you, your family, and friends!

Photo credits: Lake Union Seattle, Pinterest, Red Tricycle,  Seattle Bloggers, Bellevue.com, Huffington Post

Snow in Seattle: Affordable Winter Fun


While Seattle experiences mostly rain and wind during the winter months, there are beautiful, snow-covered mountains just a short distance away. For many students, winter sports are a great way to spend a weekend, and we are always looking for affordable options. This blog post will help you find the best deals for winter sports and other winter fun in the Seattle area. Have a great December, and stay warm!



Stevens Pass

  • Learn-in-3 Guarantee: This deal is for beginners who want to learn to ski or snowboard, and is a great value if you are learning. Each visit while in the program includes a lesson, rental equipment, and helmet. After you “graduate” the program, you can access other deals and discounts.
  • College Season Pass: This season pass is the best value for college students, and is available to current, full-time students (IELP students, that means you)!

Crystal Mountain

  • 5-Pack Tickets: If you want to ski or snowboard more than a few times, or you want to go on the slopes with friends, this deal gives you 5 vouchers to use yourself or split between a group.



The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • You can rent snowshoes at the Summit and snowshoe on their trails! Snowshoeing is a more affordable option than skiing and snowboarding, and still allows you to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Pacific Northwest mountains.

Crystal Mountain:

  • You can rent snowshoes and ride the gondola to trails for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Crystal Mountain has multiple lifts and the only gondola in Washington, meaning the ride to the trails is as wonderful as the journey down.

Hurricane Ridge:

  • Hurricane Ridge is a favorite spot for beginners. Although they do not rent snowshoes on-site, you can rent them from REI and bring them with you to the trail.



The Summit at Snoqualmie:

  • At the Summit, you can rent tubes and slide down one of their many tubing lanes. This is an affordable option that allows you to get out and enjoy the snow!

Suncadia Resort:

  • This resort offers a tubing hill AND a ice skating rink! For a low price, you can spend a few hours tubing, a few hours ice skating, and then warm up inside a restaurant at the resort.



Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis:

  • If you enjoy races but are worried none are happening in the winter, Seattle has you covered! The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis is a charity run where you can raise money for arthritis and enjoy a brisk walk or run in Westlake Park, Seattle.

Curl up with Hot Cocoa

If you want to remain closer to Seattle and stay warm with a hot drink, we would suggest trying the best hot chocolate Seattle offers! If coffee is more your style, try out one of our many coffee shops around UW.



  • The Chocolate Box offers delicious, unique hot chocolate drinks, and other delicacies. The location is right next to Pike Place Market, making it a fantastic stop during a fun day downtown.

Near UW:

  • The Chocolati Cafe has locations around Seattle, and the Wallingford location is a short bus ride away from UW. They offer interesting flavors in their hot cocoa, and it is a great place to study and enjoy some treats.
  • Fran’s Chocolate is conveniently located in University Village, and offers a delicious hot chocolate mix for sale. You can bring this back home and enjoy a rich chocolate drink while watching holiday movies!

Gingerbread Village


  • Every year, the Sheraton Hotel hosts a Gingerbread Village, this year at City Centre. Seattle architecture firms, master builders, and culinary artists team up to create incredible gingerbread structures. This is a fun holiday event that keeps you warm and indoors on chilly, rainy Seattle days. You can view these from November 21 to January 1 at City Centre.

Polar Bear Plunge


  • One strange Seattle tradition is the Polar Bear Plunge, where Seattle residents ring in the new year by running into the cold water of Matthews Beach Park on January 1st. The Meadowbrook Community Center writes “We jump in the water at ‘high noon’ as a ginormous group of revelers welcoming in the new year with a sense of rejuvenation and renewal as we emerge.” Participate in this Seattle tradition and enjoy one of Seattle’s beautiful parks!


Photo Credits: National Park Service, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, Actively Northwest, Summit of Snoqualmie, Findwell Seattle, Bon Appetit, Curbed Seattle, Seattle Parks, Feasts of all Seasons.

Celebrate 4th of July this Summer!

Independence Day is one of the biggest American holidays during the summer. Traditional activities include having a BBQ, eating apple pie, watching fireworks, and wearing red white and blue. Even if you don’t identify as American, it’s a fun and easy holiday to celebrate, and there are so many ways to get involved around Seattle! Here are some of the many activities going on in Seattle this July 4th.

1.Seafair Summer Fourth

This free, family-friendly fair takes place at Gasworks Park, only about a 20 minute walk from West campus! There will be food vendors, live entertainment, and “All-American games” such as pie-eating contests and sack-races during the day, with a spectacular firework show after the sun sets over Lake Union.

Event Website: http://www.seafair.com/events/2017/seafair-summer-4th

Credit: seafair.com

2. Family Fourth of July, Seatac 

This festival takes place all day at Angle Lake Park and features a free water spray park with spray nozzles for children to run through, carnival rides and bouncers, and a fantastic firework show at night.

For more Info: http://www.ci.seatac.wa.us/government/city-departments/parks-community-programs-services/special-events/family-fourth-of-july

3. Burien’s Fourth of July Parade

This parade is one of the oldest and most highly attended in King County! Beginning at 3pm and running for about 2 hours, this parade features floats, pirates, marching bands, and so much more! For more information on how to get involved, visit their website:


Image result for burien independence day parade

4. Kent Fourth of July Splash

This unique festival features traditional American games from noon-5pm such as pie-eating contests and T-Bird puck and shoot. Kent also provides free shuttle transportation and parking close to Lake Meridian, and of course, no Fourth of July would be complete without a fireworks finale!

Event website: http://www.kentwa.gov/residents/parks-recreation-and-community-services/events/fourth-of-july-splash

Visit Greenwood & Greenlake

Located right next to one another these neighborhoods have a bunch of fun activities to do! Be sure to walk along Greenwood Avenue to see all what Greenwood can offer. See below for some examples of what you can do in these neighborhoods!

Visit Greenwood Car Show


A sign for the Greenwood Car Show

Each year on the last Saturday of June, Greenwood hosts the Greenwood Car Show where classic and vintage cars are put on display and people can walk around admiring them while enjoying food from outdoor vendors such as elephant ears. This is an incredibly fun event that is mainly outside, so if it is rainy bring a raincoat!

Eat at Chocolati Cafe


Coffee and chocolates go well together

Chocolati Cafe is a great cafe to satisfy your chocolate cravings. A cafe with excellent atmosphere for enjoying your day or studying; this cafe offers several different types of truffles.

Visit Green Lake Park


Green Lake is a great place to spend your day

Located in Greenlake, Green Lake Park has a 2.8 mile path around the lake which is perfect for biking, running, or walking along. At the park you can play basketball, play tennis, soccer, or rent paddle boards! If it’s a sunny day why not have a picnic there?

Visit the Taproot Theatre


Taproot Theatre was founded in 1976

Each year the Taproot Theatre produces five plays, each play has a “what you can pay” performance: on those performance days starting at 12PM some tickets are available for only $10! Starting at 5PM ticket may only be purchased only in person, but you can “pay your own price”! Make sure to take advantage of these events (see here for dates).

Eat at Gorditos


The baby burritos are huge!

A Mexican food restaurant, Gorditos is known for their “baby burritos” that is a burrito the size of a baby! You can check out their menu here. They offer both vegan and vegetarian meals so make sure to pay them a visit!


IELP Culture Night

Once a quarter the students of the International and English Language Programs get together to celebrate. The Mid Quarter Party’s theme changes each quarter – and this Spring Quarter it was Multi-Cultural Night!

KOREA 20160506_175704

The Korea booth was full of fun activities for visitors!

Students from the same countries worked together to set up a booth to show and teach others about their country. The Korean booth brought some Korean food, showed pictures of Korean dramas and popular games. They also brought a traditional Korean dress: a hanbok. Additionally, the Korean booth taught visitors how to make an origami hanbok! If you want to make one check it out here!


An origami hanbok

Another booth that taught origami was the Japan booth! They taught visitors how to make tops, boxes, cranes and much more! They were very knowledgeable and helpful. On the other side of the table Japanese food was shared – they brought crackers and made miso soup! It was all very delicious.


The Japan booth had Japanese food and origami!


Some of the food that the Japan booth shared

Many other booths brought food. For instance the Kuwait booth brought coffee, tea, and dates and small candies!


Party-goers try the Kuwaiti tea and dates

Right next to the Kuwait booth was the Latin America booth! At this booth students from Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Nicaragua worked together to give visitors a taste of Latin American culture.


A visitor learning about Latin America

Photo books and slideshows showed beautiful pictures of Venezuela and Nicaragua. The table also had sweets like the Brigadeiros (Brazilian chocolate fudge balls) and Requeson (a type of cheese found in Latin America). Check out the recipes for Brigadeiros here and learn more about Requeson here.

AFGHANISTAN 20160506_185956

A student gets his name written in a traditional Afghani language

The Afghanistan booth brought all sorts of food and drink to share with others! They brought dried jujube fruit (Annab), refreshing drink called Dogh with cucumbers, and Sohan which is a sweet dessert.

Next to the Afghanistan booth was the Taiwan booth. There they showed visitors about calligraphy in Taiwan and how to write different characters. They also had dumplings called Tang Yuan.


A student working on his calligraphy

The Libyan table was full of lovely pictures of important sites and beautiful views you can see in Libya. They also brought traditional clothing to show!


Some pictures of Libya on display

At the bottom of the picture above you can see Magrood which is a pastry you can find in Libya! They were very tasty!


Some traditional clothing from Libya

Before the night ended we got to see some traditional dances from the Afghanistan booth! Everyone joined in!

AFGHANISTAN 20160506_194442

Check out our Facebook page for more photos from this event!

Visit Seattle Center

In 1962 the World Fair came to Seattle. Many fun and spectacular landmarks were created and still remain to this day. As a result Seattle Center has all sorts of fun places to visit.

See below for a list of suggestions on what to do in Seattle Center.

Visit the Space Needle


You can see a great view of the mountains from the observation deck!

Built in 1962 for the World Fair, the Space Needle is now an iconic landmark in the Seattle skyline. It is one of the tallest structures on the west side of the Mississippi River! The observation tower, which can be reached by elevator, is 520ft (160 meters) above ground! Interested in visiting? Check out the website here.

Visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass


Chihuly Garden and Glass is a lovely museum

When buying tickets to the Space Needle you can buy tickets for this museum at the same time, saving money! This museum has many beautiful glass sculptures created by Dale Chihuly who is a native Washingtonian!

This museum is located near the Space Needle. It is open from:

Sundays-Thursdays: 10AM-7PM

Fridays-Saturdays: 10AM-8PM

Tickets are:


Youth (5-12 years): $15

Children 4 or younger are free!

Visit the EMP


The building is made up of over 21,000 aluminum and stainless steel panels!

Known as the EMP, or the Experience Music Project, this museum has many fun exhibits and activities year round! Many of the exhibits are about pop culture, art, cinema, and science fiction. They also have one of the largest collections in the world of personal instruments, photographs, hand-written lyrics and more for the Seattle band Nirvana and the musician Jimi Hendrix.

Tickets are:


Youth (5-17years): $16

Children 4 or younger are free!

If you have a student ID card show it to get a discount! See more here.

Visit the Pacific Science Center


The Pacific Science Center has fun exhibits for all ages!

Originally the Pacific Science Center was built for the 1962 World Fair in Seattle. It was known as the United States Science Pavilion. After the fair it became the Pacific Science Center. At the Pacific Science Center they have cool exhibits, IMAX movies, Laser Shows, Planetarium shows and more!

You can see what exhibits and events are going on at the Pacific Science Center here.

You can buy tickets either at the Science Center or online here.

Eat at the Armory


The Armory has a lot of restaurants if you ever get hungry

The Armory used to house the 146th Field Artillery and its tanks, however once the World Fair occurred it became the “Food Circus”, the first vertical shopping mall. Nowadays it is full of places to eat food, so if you’re hungry while visiting Seattle Center the Armory is a great place to eat.

Play at the International Fountain


The fountain is a great place to relax in the summertime

Another creation leftover from the World Fair, the water sprayed from this fountain can reach up to 120 ft! Located next to Key Arena, the fountain is a great place to cool off in the summer months. If you’re lucky you will see one of the water shows synchronized to music.



Visit Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, located just south of the University District where the University of Washington’s Seattle campus is located is a neighborhood full of culture! It has many great places to eat, relax, and encounter new things! See below for some suggestions for where to visit, eat, and have fun!

Volunteer Park


This sculpture is called “Black Sun”

Also home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park is a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the outdoors. It has a water tower build over 100 years ago in 1906! You can walk up to the top and see a great view of Seattle. Volunteer Park is is where you can find the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am-4pm. Tickets for the conservatory are FREE every FIRST Thursday and Saturday of each month. See more here.


This is the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Elliott Bay Book Company


The interior of the Elliott Bay Book Company

Founded in 1973, the Elliott Bay Book Company was originally located in Pioneer Square until it moved to it’s current location in Capitol Hill! It is a great local bookstore that everyone should visit!

Check out the events they have this month here!

Hello Robin


Hello Robin serves local ice cream from Molly Moon’s

Hello Robin is a bakery which bakes cookies fresh each day, with flavors such as Chocolate Chip, Birthday Cake, Mackles’more, and more! They specialize in ice cream sandwiches made from these cookies, with Molly Moon’s ice cream sandwiched between two cookies! You can visit their website here.

Tacos Chukis


Tacos Chukis is great! If you can find it.

Tacos Chukis is an excellent taqueria (a mexican restaurant which specializes in tacos) however it can be difficult to find. The prices though are on the lower end of many restaurants which are located in Capitol Hill! This taqueria is located upstairs in the Broadway Alley.



This drive has several locations throughout Seattle

Dick’s is located on Broadway, like many other restaurants in Capitol Hill. It was founded in Seattle in the 1950s, as part of a fast food boom that was sweeping across the country. It is one of Seattle’s favorite traditional burger joints! It is important to note that this restaurant only accepts cash as payment. You can visit their website here.

Century Ballroom


The Century Ballroom hosts all sorts of dancing!

Established in 1997, Century Ballroom promotes social dancing of all kinds! They host many events such as Bachata dancing, with a drop in lesson before. They also offer classes. Please note that many classes and events are only offered to those 21 and up.

Learn more here.

Dancing Feet

On Broadway, a major street in Capitol Hill where you can find a lot of places to eat there is an interesting art installment. The Broadway Dance Steps are bronze shoes in the ground, numbered to allow people to easily dance the rumba for instance without ever having to do it before! Read more about the history of the art installation here!



The steps are numbered so you can dance!

Next time you’re in Capitol Hill make sure to check these out!

Woodland Park Zoo & How to Visit Yourself

Last weekend IELP Student Workers took a group of IELP students to the zoo! Now that it is sunnier and it is getting warmer, more and more animals are outside to see! At the zoo you can see animals like lions, tapirs, gorillas, wolves, all sorts of birds, snakes, insects, and much more!

fall colors, leaves, foliage

During the summer time you can see giraffes!

Located in near Greenlake in Seattle, the Woodland Park Zoo is a great place to go with family and friends! The zoo opens at 9AM and closes at 6PM during the summer months, it closes at 4PM during the winter months.


The bears are always cool to watch

How to Get There:

From UW Seattle Campus: take bus #44 towards Ballard/Wallingford. Get off the bus at 46th Street and Phinney Ave N. From there it is a quick 3-5 minute walk to the West Entrance where the penguins are!

Zoo map

The bus route for bus 44 to Woodland Park zoo

From Downtown: Take bus #5 north-bound from downtown to the zoo’s West Entrance at Phinney Ave. N. and N. 55th St.


During the summer (April 1-September 30) tickets are:

Adult (13 -64 years old): $19.95

Child (3- 12 years old): $12.25

Toddler (0-2 years old): FREE

you can find more information about tickets here.


There are several ticket discounts you can get too!

Rainy Day Discount: especially during fall, winter, and spring there are a number of rainy days. You can check here to see if the discount is available if it looks rainy outside. With the discount you can get up to 50% off you ticket!

Transit Discount: If you take the bus to the zoo you can get $2 off your ticket! Just show your Orca Card/UPASS or a bus ticket when you buy the tickets!

Take a look at the zoo map here before you go!


A Humbolt penguin at the Woodland Park Zoo



10 Things to do Over Spring Break

Check out the top 10 places to see over Spring Break! List created by IELP teachers and student workers!

  1. Volunteer!

IELP students and student workers volunteering at Magnuson Park!

If you’re interested in volunteering over spring break check out more volunteer locations here!

  1. See the Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder

View of the Locks & the Botanical Gardens

Learn about the Ballard Locks and how to visit it here!

  1. Explore Volunteer Park and Arboretum

The Botanical Garden in Volunteer Park, located in Capitol Hill

All of the parks in Seattle are lovely and should be visited! Learn more here!

  1. Take a Ferry Trip

A ferry in Seattle


Look here to see some fun places to take the ferry! Click here to visit the WSDOT website to look at how much the trip will cost!

  1. Make a trip to Portland

The White Stag sign is a landmark in Portland

Some popular locations to visit in Portland are Voodoo Donuts and Powell’s Bookstore. For those of you who don’t want to drive you can take the Bolt Bus or the train! See more here and here!

  1. Visit the MOHAI

MOHAI has many exhibits on Seattle’s culture and history

Or any of the interesting museums that you can find in Seattle! Learn more here and here.

  1. Practice your English by watching movies!

Suzzallo Library  by Katherine B. Turner

You can rent movies from the UW libraries, just visit the Media centers! Check it out here!

  1. Visit the Columbia Center and Seattle Library

Columbia Center is the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle AND the tallest building in the entire state of Washington.


You can see Columbia Center in the center

The Seattle Public Library is a library AND a work of art! It looks just as cool on the inside as it does on the outside.


The Seattle Public Library

  1. See the Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park is an amazing park

The Olympic Sculpture Park is located Downtown, close to Pike Place Market, the Seattle Public Library and many other interesting places to visit!


Free First Thursdays!

On the first Thursday of the month many museums in Seattle are FREE!

Here is a list of some museums and links to see more. You can find more free Seattle museums  here.

The Center for Wooden Boats


The center for wooden boats is a maritime museum where you can rent boats and go sailing or rowing! You can also enroll in sailing classes, woodworking classes, boat building classes for kids and much more!

The Center for Wooden Boats is located right next to MOHAI – another interesting museum which is free on the first Thursday of the month!

Admissions is ALWAYS free, however rentals may have some fees or suggested donations.

First Thursday Art Walk

First Thursday art walk takes place every month in Pioneer Square from 6PM to 8PM. This art walk is the first art walk in the USA! Many art galleries in the area will open their doors to introduce their new exhibits and artists to the public, there are also  public art installations between galleries as well.

Henry Art Gallery


The Henry Art Gallery is located on the UW campus right in front of the George Washington Statue.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card) and children.

Admission on the first Thursday and every Sunday is free for everyone!

Burke Museum


Like the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum is located on the UW campus! The Burke Museum exhibits objects that demonstrate the natural and cultural heritage of Washington State such as plants, animals, and Northwest Native art.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card).

Admission is free for everyone on the first Thursday of the month!

Washington Park Arboretum


The Washington Park Arboretum (a type of botanical garden) is FREE for the everyone. If you’re interested there are tours on Sundays starting at 1:00PM at the Graham Visitors Center. Look at the schedule here.

The Washington Park also includes a play field and the Seattle Japanese Garden. You can get to this park from campus by a short bus ride on either bus 43 or bus 48 headed south.

Interested in the parks in the Seattle area? Look at some more cool parks here!