Seattle's steep hills, lush greenery, and abundant bays, lakes, rivers, canals, and of course Puget Sound have earned it the title "The Emerald City." On a clear day, you can see snow-capped Mount Rainier in the distance.
The city of Seattle is made welcoming by natural boundaries of hills and water that produce a variety of city neighborhoods that feel like small towns - each with their own distinct culture. Pike Place Market, walking distance from the Westin Hotel, is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in the country and a wonderful place to view or purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and seafood. The downtown area contains a multitude of stores, including Nordstrom's flagship store. Belltown, the hippest and fastest developing part of downtown offers cutting edge nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. Further afield, Pioneer Square, the International District, Capitol Hill and Fremont give you a taste of Seattle's local charm.
Opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and other outdoor activities abound in the Seattle area. The Washington Park Arboretum and the Seattle Waterfront are wonderful places to take in the natural surroundings. The Woodland Park Zoo is a world leader in naturalistic animal displays. Longer trips might include Snoqualmie Falls, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade or Olympic mountain ranges.
Top Seattle Attractions
Seattle is big enough to keep visitors busy with weeks of explorations, and even residents who have spent years here still have not ventured into all its nooks and crannies. Whatever you do, try to see at least several of the following (see the links below): Pike Place Market (this should be number one on every list), Pioneer Square, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Aquarium, Space Needle, Experience Music Project, Pacific Science Center, Ballard Locks, Woodland Park Zoo, Burke Museum, and the Museum of Flight. For even more fun, add in the ever-popular Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, a stroll around Green Lake or through the arboretum in Volunteer Park, or a visit to one of the citys funky and delightful neighborhoods:
Pike Place Market
Since 1907, local farmers have been offering fresh produce at the Pike Place Market. The market complex is home to several hundred businesses, ranging from fish markets to arts and crafts shops, bookstores, street musicians, and dozens of restaurants, delis, and take-outs.
The Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle boasts an award-winning zoo. Exhibits include African Village, African Wild Dogs, Bug World, Family Farm, Tropical Rain Forest, Tropical Asia Elephant Forest and Trail of Vines, Northern Trail, Sumatran Tiger Cubs, Day and Night building with snakes, reptiles and nocturnal animals, Rain Forest Food Pavilion and ZooStore; 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle; adults $10; seniors 65 and older and students with ID $9.25; youths 6 to 17 and disabled $7.50; 3 to 5 $5.25; toddlers free; (206-684-4800 or www.zoo.org).
The Ballard Locks connect Puget Sound with the fresh water of Salmon Bay, Lake Washington, and Lake Union where you can watch vessels being raised and lowered. The locks also feature seven acres of botanical gardens and salmon fish ladders that can be seen from an underwater viewing window.
Enjoy spectacular artifacts and amazing specimens at the region's only and major natural history museum. The Burke Museum houses many interactive events and exhibits such as a rumbling volcano, real dinosaur skeletons, and an Ice Age mastodon.
Experience Music Project
The Experience Music Project (EMP) is a one-of-a-kind music museum combining interactive and interpretive exhibits to tell the story of the creative, innovative, and rebellious expression that defines American popular music. This newly opened museum features a world-class collection of artifacts, unique architecture, state-of-the-art technology, exciting interactive presentations, and a dynamic ride-like attraction. EMP will encourage visitors of all ages and backgrounds to experience the power and joy of music in its many forms.
Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight showcases the history of aviation technology from its inception to the present. Exhibits are housed in the Red Barn, Boeing's first manufacturing plant, and in the glassed-in Great Gallery Complex located near Boeing field.
The Pacific Science Center
Located under the arches near the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center is a six-building complex offering hands-on science adventure. It also contains a planetarium, a three and one-half story IMAX theater, and the Spacearium featuring laser light shows.
Pioneer Square is a 30 block historic district that has sidewalk cafes, art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, nightclubs, restaurants, and parks.
The Seattle Aquarium, located at Pier 59 on the waterfront, features several species of birds, fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals. Highlights include the 400,000-gallon Underwater Dome with a 360 degree view of Puget Sound's aquatic life, the Pacific Coral Reef Exhibit, the Tide Pool Exhibit, sea otters, seals, and a salmon ladder and hatchery.
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum, located in downtown Seattle, features more than 20,000 art objects, from African, Asian, ancient Mediterranean and Egyptian collections, to old master paintings and contemporary Northwest art. The museum also houses a cafe and store.
This 74-acre campus was developed in the heart of Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair. Today's Seattle Center grounds are home to the Pacific Science Center, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Boeing IMAX Theatre, Seattle Repetory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Children's Museum, Seattle Children's Theatre, the International Fountain and more!
The Seattle Space Needle
The Space needle, Seattle's crowning landmark, offers a 360 degree view from the observation deck which includes both an indoor and outdoor viewing deck, a gift shop, and an espresso bar. Above the observation deck is a revolving restaurant offering Northwest cuisine.
The Seattle Waterfront is a great place to stroll where a variety of shops, restaurants, and coffee shops can be found. Waterfront Park offers a great view of the Seattle skyline and the oceangoing vessels on Puget Sound.
Washington Park Arboretum
The Washington Park Arboretum is a 200 acre living museum of trees, shrubs, and vines featuring more than 10,000 exotic plants. The grounds also include a 3.5-acre Japanese Garden that features azaleas, Japanese maples, rhododendrons, camellias, evergreens, mosses, ferns, a pond, and a teahouse.
Washington State Ferries
The Washington State Ferries are the State's number one tourist attraction and the second largest mass transit system in the state of Washington. Sparkling waters, snow-capped mountains, cityscapes, salt air, leaping Orca whales, the call of the gulls - a journey aboard a Washington State Ferry appeals to the senses.
Metro buses are free in the downtown area before 7pm. Fares are $.85 within the city and $1.10 across city lines.
Washington State Ferries cross Puget Sound to various destinations. Further information about Ferries can be obtained by calling (206) 464-6400.
The monorail connects Seattle center to Westlake Center (across from the Westin Hotel). The Monorail leaves at 15 minute intervals from 9am to 11pm.
CITYPASS - Six of Seattles most popular attractions - the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Aquarium, the Museum of Flight, Argosy harbor cruise, and Woodland Park Zoo - have gotten together to offer a half-price CityPass that provides entrance to all of these for $33.50 adults, $29 seniors, and $21.50 ages 6-13. Passes are valid for nine days, and can be purchased at any of the six attractions. This is an excellent deal for travelers, and beats waiting in lines for tickets at each venue.
Links from the Seattle Times (daily newspaper) Summer Guide
Opportunities to explore the city on foot or take in the sights by plane, bike, bus, or boat.
Hours and exhibit information.
Public gardens and arboretums in Seattle and surrounding areas.
Handicrafts and fresh produce, flowers and plants from Washington farms.
Seattle-King County Convention and Visitors Bureau
Tel: +1 206 461 5800
Fax: +1 206 461 5855