Visitors Guide to Seattle, Washington, USA
The city of Seattle is situated in the eastern area of the state of Washington in Northwest America, between the waters of the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Known for its appealing atmosphere and emergence as the USA’s city of the 1990s, Seattle’s waterfront is its main attraction and this lies along the Alaskan Way, although the city does contain a number of must-see sights.
Seattle’s community is built on commerce, fishing and timber, greatly influenced by the nearby Boeing aerospace company. Full of gourmet coffee shops, museums, art galleries and a lively nightlife, the city now also celebrates an important tourism industry.
Seattle is a large cosmopolitan city, covering around 90 square miles / 233 square kilometers, with a population of almost 600,000. The city incorporates many smaller communities and important, historical neighborhoods. Amongst these locations are the Ballard, Belltown, Capitol Hill, Pike Place Market, Freemont, Greenlake, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, SODO and University districts.
Tourist attractions in Seattle are varied and impressive, making Seattle an excellent vacation destination. Facilities include many notable landmarks and monuments, museums and art galleries, parklands, recreational activities and insightful guided tours of the city. Top attractions include the Boeing Factory, Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Fisherman’s Terminal, the Smith Tower Observation Deck, Hing Hay Park, Safeco Field Stadium, the Seahawks Exhibition Center and the Seattle Center – both a cultural center and popular amusement park constructed for city’s World Fair, which was held in 1962.
Seattle is perhaps best known for its eye-catching Space Needle, which towers around 150 meters / 490 feet on the city skyline, offering spectacular views. City museums worth a visit include the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Museum of History and Industry, the Science Fiction Museum and the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Popular parklands in the Seattle area include Discovery Park, Freeway Park, Green Lake Park and the Washington Park Arboretum.
Around Seattle, public transport provides a number of affordable options, including Amtrak trains, Greyhound and regional buses, and boats from Canada. One of the most popular ways to travel around the city is on the Metro Transit Buses, which are cheaper outside of peak hours. Renting a car is another transport option favored by many visitors to Seattle, allowing easy exploration of the city and surrounding areas.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport stands around 12 miles / 19 km from the city center and is a bustling transportation hub. With many passengers both arriving and departing each day. The airport provides a number of affordable ground transport options, which include shuttle buses, taxis, car rental options and luxury limousines.
The city’s central downtown district is often booked solid during the summer months, when hotel rates are at their highest. However, outside of downtown Seattle you will find many further hotels, which are more reasonably priced and just a short distance from the city center. Room rates are also often reduced during the rainy season, from October to April, and at weekends. Bed and breakfast accommodation in Seattle is both affordable and popular with visitors, with a number of options being located close to the waterfront.
Seattle takes its coffee very seriously and is famous for being the origin of Starbucks, with the first store still in operation at Pike Place Market. Many other stylish coffee shops and espresso bars can be found throughout the city, together with an abundance of restaurants and dining options. Restaurants in Seattle cater for all palates and many are concentrated along the waterfront, where seafood is a particular specialty. The northwestern side of the city is another popular dining location, with restaurants offering Pan-Asian, Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican and more traditional American cuisine.
Seattle is a popular shopping destination offering a large range of major shops and stores. Facilities include a number of famous designer outlets, vast department stores, boutiques and large shopping malls. Popular shopping areas include Broadway Avenue East, First Avenue, Maynard Avenue, Pike Street, Pine Street, Queen Anne and West Dravus, Seneca and Fourth Avenue and University Way.
The Seattle area is known for its rain, although this is a little unfair, since the city’s annual rainfall averages less than 40 inches / 100 cm. Much of the weather is both fine and mild, with hot summers and cooler winter weather. Temperatures are hottest during the months of July and August, peaking at around 25°C / 77°F. January is the coldest month, when temperatures during the daytime average 8°C / 46°F, well above freezing.