As someone hailing from the picturesque state of Oregon, my heart holds a special place for the magical world of Disneyland. Despite the distance, this enchanted park feels like my 'home' park, being ...Read more
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The Emerald City is known as an epicenter for arts, technology and outdoor recreation. People here love to explore the thousands of hiking trails that surround the area on the coast and in the nearby forests of the Cascade Range and the Olympic Mountains. The region is also known for its scenic waterways; from kayaking to yachting, Seattle's multitudes of lakes, rivers, and bays provide endless opportunities for water-related fun.
In addition to providing a great venue for recreation, the area's marine resources also play a major role in one of the city's main industries — shipping. The Port of Seattle brings in over 6 million metric tons of cargo each year and has become the fifth largest container port in the country and the 37th largest in the world.
But it isn't Seattle's bustling industries that make up the true backbone of this unique city — it's the over half million recreation-loving residents that call Seattle home. From the latte-drinking Starbucks addict to the tech-savvy Microsoft employee to the guy who staffs the 65-foot climbing wall at the gigantic R.E.I. flagship store, the people of Seattle reflect the quintessential, laid-back Northwest vibe.
From June to September, average temperature ranges from 55-70° F; from October to March, average temperature ranges from 35-50° F; and in April and May, average temperature ranges from 45-65° F
The combination of water, hills and lush greenery in a mountain setting on the shores of Puget Sound make Seattle, Washington, one of the most beautiful urban areas in the U.S. With its efficient bus system, growing light-rail network and compact downtown district, Seattle is also user-friendly.
Seattleites have plenty to brag about: There's the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, plus the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders FC sports teams. There are fine restaurants, good museums and vigorous arts and music scenes.
Even Seattle's infamous rainy winter weather has a good side. All that rain helps make Seattle the evergreen "Emerald City" and produces wonderful flowers. And Seattle is where Starbucks got its start, in 1971, at Pike Place Market.
Sights—The spectacular variety of Pike Place Market; the view from the Space Needle; the view of Puget Sound from the decks of Washington State Ferries; the Volkswagen-crushing troll and other public art in Fremont; the historic buildings and galleries of Pioneer Square Historic District; the city skyline from Gas Works Park; the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard.
Museums—The interactive music exhibits at the Museum of Pop Culture and the adjoining Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame; Native American and African art at the Seattle Art Museum; the stunning Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront; the impressive holdings of the Seattle Asian Art Museum; cutting-edge contemporary art at the University of Washington's Henry Gallery; aviation and aerospace artifacts at the Museum of Flight; gorgeous glassworks at Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Memorable Meals—The fresh seafood and beautiful views at Anthony's Pier 66 and Chinook's at Salmon Bay; creative Pacific Northwest dishes at the legendary Dahlia Lounge; unique Italian-American entrees and cabaret-style entertainment at The Pink Door; the inspired dishes and table-side service at El Gaucho; espresso everywhere.
Late Night—Dessert at Dilettante Mocha Cafe; jazz at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley; the best bands in town at Tractor Tavern, Neumos or The Showbox; salsa and swing dancing at Century Ballroom; viewing city lights from Salty's on Alki Beach; hanging out in Belltown; bar-hopping on Capitol Hill; late-night breakfast at 13 Coins Restaurant.
Walks—The Washington Park Arboretum and its Japanese Garden; Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill; Alki Beach Park for a California-esque stroll; walking, biking or skating through the city on the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Especially for Kids—The Children's Museum in the Seattle Center; interactive exhibits at Pacific Science Center; the tide pools at the Seattle Aquarium; the highly regarded Woodland Park Zoo; the covered playground at Gas Works Park; Carkeek Park; the fish ladder at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks; the bizarre Archie McPhee toy and novelty shop.
Seattle borders Puget Sound, the salty inland waterway that flows through the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Pacific Ocean. Several freshwater lakes also shape the city. Lake Union is home to the houseboat community spotlighted in the movie Sleepless in Seattle, and more recently has been home to massive redevelopment projects, including the site of Amazon's headquarters. Gigantic Lake Washington, spanned by two bridges, separates Seattle from Bellevue, Redmond (home to Microsoft), Kirkland and other suburban cities on the Eastside.
Seattle's waterfront hugs the curve of Elliott Bay. Pioneer Square, the oldest part of the city, is to the south, just up from the Alaskan Way waterfront, and comprises the southwest corner of downtown Seattle. Two massive sports stadiums stand just south of the neighborhood: CenturyLink Field houses the Seahawks football team and the Sounders FC soccer team; T-Mobile Park is home to the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Directly southeast of Pioneer Square lies the multiethnic International District, filled with Asian grocery stores and gift shops.
Pike Place Market enjoys a central location in downtown Seattle above the Seattle Aquarium and waterfront. North of the Market is trendy Belltown. Seattle Center lies even farther north, about a mile/kilometer from the downtown core, at the foot of elegant Queen Anne Hill. Hip Capitol Hill rises to the east, on the other side of Interstate 5. North of the Ship Canal and Lake Union, the funky neighborhoods of Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford and the University District run west to east.
Seattle got its start in 1851, when a small group of courageous pioneers dropped anchor at windy, inhospitable Alki Point in what's now West Seattle. Soon the settlers moved to a better location across the water on Elliott Bay. They built a town in present-day Pioneer Square and called it Seattle after a friendly Native American, Chief Sealth of the Duwamish tribe.
The first business, a lumber mill at the foot of Yesler Avenue, fed the demand for timber created by the California gold rush. The town survived the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which nearly gutted the wooden business district. Optimistic residents built over the ashes, creating the handsome redbrick structures that still grace Pioneer Square.
Seattle boomed in the late 1890s, when prospectors struck gold in the Alaska-Yukon fields. The city became a major transit point for fortune hunters heading north. Merchants grew rich outfitting the gold rushers, and shipbuilders raced to create boats for the Seattle-Alaska route.
The city became an important shipping and industrial center in the early 20th century. World War II strengthened the logging industry and sparked shipbuilding, aviation and other war-related activities. The Boeing Corporation fueled the city's economy in the postwar decades. Seattle hosted the 1962 World's Fair on what is now Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle.
In 1971, the world's first Starbucks opened in Pike Place Market, and Seattle soon became the espresso capital of the country. The city became a major player in the tech industry when Microsoft, Amazon and other companies set up shop in the 1980s and 1990s. Although Boeing, once a major employer, has moved its headquarters to Chicago, the Seattle metropolitan area remains home base for such big names as Nordstrom, Costco and REI. Seattle is also a major port for foreign trade.
These days, Seattle is best known as Amazon's home base, which has wrought a bevy of new development—and 40,000 new employees—that have helped shaped this former fishing village into a bona fide global city. The development has been a mixed bag, with locals complaining about constant noise and construction, growing traffic, increasing gentrification and rising prices that have driven long-term residents out of their homes. But such growing pains—according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Seattle has grown more than 18% since 2010, faster than any other U.S. city—haven't dampened the city's overall appeal, which still draws record numbers of visitors eager to explore its diverse offerings.
The ubiquitous Starbucks moniker arose from an old mining camp on Mount Rainier called Starbo. This name reminded an original Starbucks partner of a character named "Starbucks" in one of his favorite books, Moby Dick.
The term "Skid Row" originated in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Today, it's known as Yesler Way.
Ballard, the old Scandinavian fishing district, was once an independent city. A water shortage—exacerbated by a suspicious dead horse in the reservoir—forced the community to join Seattle in 1907. Embittered locals hung the flag at half-mast and draped City Hall in black crepe.
Harbor Island, which is a part of the Port of Seattle, is the nation's largest man-made island.
The Space Needle sways approximately 1 in/2.5 cm for every 10 mph/16 kph of wind, but 30-ft/9-m bolts keep it firmly anchored at the base of Queen Anne Hill. The tower's original name was Space Cage.
The Seattle Public Library system has the highest per-capita percentage of library-card holders in the U.S.
Standing nearly 3 mi/5 km tall, Mount Rainier is the highest point in Washington. One of the world's most massive volcanoes, it first erupted about a half-million years ago. If it erupts again, it will cause catastrophic damage to the Seattle region.
Keep your eyes peeled for familiar faces when dining or grabbing coffee around town: Bill Gates, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder and authors Neal Stephenson, Terry Brooks, Jonathan Raban, Timothy Egan and Dan Savage call the Emerald City home. Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix were also Seattleites.
Major cruise lines offer weekly service out of Seattle to Alaska May-September. Most cruise lines dock at Smith Cove Terminal, located at Pier 91 (2001 W. Garfield St.). Others depart from Pier 66, also known as Bell Street Pier, on the Seattle waterfront (2225 Alaskan Way).
A 1,500-space parking garage is located directly across the street from Bell Street Pier, and Smith Cove Terminal has 1,000 secure parking spaces and a complimentary shuttle to the terminal.
Concierge assistance, onboard airline check-in, luggage storage, taxi service and car rental are available at the cruise terminals. Bell Street Pier is located within walking distance of numerous restaurants, and Smith Cove Terminal offers a cell phone lot for passenger pickup. Phone 206-615-3900 or 206-787-3911 for more information. http://www.portseattle.org.
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