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Enjoying the Native Cuisine and Culture of The Pacific Northwest at Puget Sound’s timeless Tillicum Village
For 50-plus years, or about as long as the Space Needle has stretched to the sky high above Seattle, visitors to the Pacific Northwest have enjoyed the interactive dining adventure that is the Tillicum Village Experience, offered by Argosy Cruises.
While other cities might have themed-dining establishments that offer up “real” jousting with gelatin shots, The Tillicum Village is an authentic recreation of traditions that have been passed down through the generations of the Coast Salish tribes. In fact, you might even learn a little a bit while chewing on a chunk of salmon cooked on stakes around a fire, a method thousands of years old (did you know that the namesake of Washington state’s largest city, Chief Seattle, was born here?).
This five-acre village experience is located in the middle of Puget Sound on beautiful Blake Island, a 475-acre state park that is only accessible only by boat. This may sound “ancient” and “exotic," aka isolated, remote and expensive. In fact, this family-friendly four-hour “escape” from the modern world is anything but. All you’ll need to do to get to Tillicum Village is venture to downtown Seattle’s central waterfront and sign up at Pier 55 to board the incredibly scenic passenger cruise operated by Argosy Cruises.
And as for that (gulp) price? It’s one of best deals in the Northwest, and better yet, CityPASS holders get a HUGE discount. Originally $79.95 for adults, CityPASS holders are able to enjoy it for almost half-price at only $45 using the coupon in the booklet. Now that’s a bargain!
And here’s what you get: Once you’ve made the 45 minute cruise across the Puget Sound to Blake Island, each visitor is greeted by an employee from Tillicum Village in colorful Northwest Coastal Native regalia. Under tall trees and more-often-than-not blue skies, you are then escorted to the longhouse (a single roomed building where native peoples of the coastal tribes across the world have long gathered to eat and hang out).
At this point visitors are given a cup of hot clams in nectar to heat up their stomachs and soothe their souls. As visitors enter the longhouse, a cooking display shows whole salmon being cooked on cedar stakes over an alder wood, glowing ember fire in the traditional style of Northwest Coastal Natives. Everyone is encouraged to participate in a healthy, salmon-centric buffet-style meal featuring the just-cooked salmon. Upon completion of the meal, the Tillicum Village dancers provide a nearly half-hour long show/teachable moment that incorporates holographic technology and traditional stories, dances, and songs of Northwest Coastal Native groups. Following the performance, visitors can get a bit more culture with a visit to a gallery featuring regional Northwest artwork. They may also choose to watch a totem pole carving demonstration by Native Americans, or just walk off dinner along the beaches and trails of the island.
When visiting Tillicum Village, please be sure to visit the Heritage Room, which houses some beautiful antique masks and artwork as well as samples of basketry and everyday items such as fishing weights. You can also find authentic carved totem poles on the grounds of Tillicum Village, as well as other pieces of native art.
Want to re-visit history? Tillicum Village can help you do that, and even make sure you have time (and dollars) to explore the many other wonderful Seattle attractions you'll find in this great city.
The Tillicum Village Experience is run on a seasonal basis. Please check the schedule here.