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Seattle, Washington

Seattle

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Appeals most to middle of scale-Centric-Authentics, Centric-Venturers and also Mid-Venturers

Did you know … ?

  • Seattle had the first “skid road”  — the name referred to a road built to transport logs.
  • Despite its reputation, the city gets less rain than Mobile, Ala., or Miami.
  • Seattle boasts the highest percent of library cardholders of any U.S. city.
  • The name Seattle honors Chief Sealth, but the city’s first name was Duwamps.
  • Seattle has America’s tallest city hall (62 stories).

Port city extraordinaire

Seattle is a haven for nature lovers, cyclists, cruise enthusiasts — and the wine lovers visit nearby wineries. Conventioneers also are a significant part of Seattle’s visitor population.

The city had an inauspicious beginning: Settlers arrived in 1851 during one of the wettest winters on record. But, fast-forward to today and visitors find a thriving metropolis of around 650,000 and plenty of attractions to please even the very finicky. They also find a city where, yes, it rains, but the sun also makes a glorious show. Take note: Seattleites buy more sunglasses per capita than residents of any other U.S. city.

Part of Seattle’s success is attributable to the port, which drew traders in the late 19th century. Also, the city was almost totally destroyed in an 1889 fire, but resilient locals undertook a massive rebuild in what is today Pioneer Square, the centerpiece of sightseeing focused on Seattle history.

The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the late 1800s gave the fledgling city another boost, followed by the Klondike Gold Rush, which turned Seattle into a way station for prospectors and goods en route to the Yukon.

In the early 20th century, the new Lake Washington Ship Canal linked Lake Union to Puget Sound and beyond. The locks along the canal are a popular attraction for today’s visitors. Ditto for the city’s 50-mile Emerald Necklace system of parks; the parks lure cyclists and other lovers of the outdoors.

If Seattle wasn’t already on everyone’s mental map by then, the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair put it there, and the Space Needle observation tower still draws visitors.

Today, Seattle is known as the city of Boeing, Microsoft, Nordstrom and, of course, Starbucks. Innovations in art and music have left their mark, too, most notably, the Nirvana and Pearl Jam, credited with creating the grunge rock movement in the ’90s.

And the port, responsible for much of Seattle’s early prosperity, is the largest in the Pacific Northwest, boasting two cruise terminals that bring 250,000 passengers each year. They come, rainy days or no, and find a clean and safe city that nicely brackets their cruise experience.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Explore the city the way the locals do, by bicycle on 90 miles of signed bike routes.
  • Buff up on Beatles and Pearl Jam lore with the Seattle Music Map, An Insider’s Guide to Seattle’s Music History. Buy the map once in town or download it from the Internet, and set off on your self-guided walking tour — which includes the hotel where the Beatles stayed during their 1964 world tour.
  • Enjoy the wild nightlife in Pioneer Square, an area also known for its art galleries and Victorian architecture.
  • Go kayaking or canoeing on Lake Union in the city, or venture into the waters around the San Juan Islands, about 80 miles north of Seattle, where lucky visitors might spot an orca (which is a dolphin, not a whale).
  • See the sights aboard a Kenmore Air floatplane or take a dinner flight to the restaurants on neighboring islands aboard Seattle Seaplanes.
  • Ride the Washington State Ferry System, the country’s largest, which operates from 20 terminals, and feel free to bring your bike.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Visit a few of the 30 wineries in Woodinville just outside Seattle, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia.
  • Spend a morning at the nine-block Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated farmers markets in the country.
  • Join a tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center, a commercial jet interpretive center with interactive exhibits on commercial aviation, a theater and a rooftop observation deck.
  • Learn about the goings-on in the city’s waterfront at the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center at Pier 66, or hop aboard a sightseeing or dinner cruise, offered at Piers 55 and 56 via Argosy Cruises.
  • Feed your inner music lover at the Experience Music Project, a Frank Gehry-designed museum that honors rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and hip-hop — and everything in between.
  • Attend the Northwest Coast Native American stage show on nearby Blake Island, accessible by boat from Pier 55.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Hit the high seas aboard one of the cruise ships that sail from Seattle’s port. There are an estimated 190 sailings annually.
  • Savor a cup of java at the original Starbucks store in the Pike Place Market.
  • See the sights from the waterfront, Pioneer Square and the Chinatown-International district aboard a vintage trolley.
  • Pick up the new Seattle Native American Heritage Guide or the Artists’ Guide to Seattle from the Seattle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for a self-guided tour.
  • View the denizens of a new 120,000-gallon exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium, reopened in June 2007 after a $41 million redo.
  • Steep yourself in culture at the Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Seattle at www.visitseattle.org