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Travel Center - Seattle Photos & Reviews

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Glacier covered Mt. Rainer located South of Seattle.

 

Seattle Brief Introduction

Ever wondered whether caffeine is a viable substitute for sunshine? If so, Seattle is your kind of town. More than any other city in the region, Seattle epitomizes what people know of (and how they feel about) the Pacific Northwest. Even so, it's got a few surprises up  its sleeve.

Never mind that its clear days can be suicidally few - its residents (Chairman Bill, perhaps, excepted) are among the nation's most outgoing and outdoorsy. If you're looking for lifestyle (and who isn't these days?), Seattle has it in spades.

Sure, it had everybody wearing flannel shirts and whistling Nirvana for a while, but consider also the good things it's given us: you can see the roots of America's micro brewing revolution in the bellies of many a Seattleite, and the city's chilly mornings had the espresso generation popping long before Starbucks sold its first cup.

 

Location

Seattle is situated in the west of Washington, the northwestern-most state in the 'lower 48'. The largest city in the state, Seattle sits on a skinny slip of land between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal divide the city into northern and southern halves; downtown and the Capitol Hill and Queen Anne neighborhoods lie south of the canal, with the U District to the northeast.

Compared to the rest of the city, downtown orientation is pretty straightforward. Historic Pioneer Square contains most of the must-see sites. Seattle Center, home to many of the city's cultural and sporting facilities, is just northwest of downtown. Alaskan Way is the Waterfront's main drag. Interstate 5 runs north-south through the city centre.

Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport is 21km (13mi) south of the city. Amtrak trains use the King St Station, north of the new Seahawks stadium, just south of Pioneer Square. Greyhound's bus terminal is at 8th Ave and Stewart St, on the northern fringe of downtown. Green Tortoise buses leave from behind the Greyhound depot.

 

When to Go

Seattle's reputation for rain is somewhat undeserved - catching just 38in (97cm) per year, Seattle's rainfall ranks well behind many Midwestern and eastern cities' totals. When it comes to damp and chilly, though, not many places in the US can touch Seattle.

Averaging only 55 days of sunshine a year, you can pretty well expect to see some form of fog, mist or cloud while you're there. Winter highs top out around 50F (10C), summer highs float between 75 and 85F (25 to 30C) and the majority of rain falls between November and April. Snow is unusual, though when it comes, it's heavy. Summer is the choicest time for a visit, when marine clouds in the morning tend to burn off completely by afternoon. Spring and autumn attempt to confuse residents with alternating rain and sun throughout the day.

Events

Seattle's first big ethnic festival is Chinese New Year, held in the International District, usually in January. Pioneer Square embraces its somewhat rowdy reputation on Mardi Gras (usually in late February), adding in that special Seattle touch via the annual competitive Spam-Carving Contest. Seattle's main gay pride event is the Freedom Day Celebration, which is usually held the last Sunday in June. The Northwest Folklife Festival takes over Seattle Center during Memorial Day weekend, the last weekend in May, when 5000 performers and artists present the music, dance, craft and food of over 100 countries.

Seattle has two spectacular summer festivals that, more than any other events, bring the city to life. The first, Seafair, is an extravagant three-week celebration in July and early August featuring hydroplane races on Lake Washington, a torchlight parade downtown, an airshow, lots of music, a carnival and the arrival of the naval fleet. Bumbershoot, held at Seattle Center over Labor Day weekend (in early September), features an arts & crafts street fair, fine art exhibitions and an amazing assortment of theatrical and musical events. As autumn rolls around and thoughts turn to earthier matters, the Western Washington Fair presents a bewildering array of livestock and agricultural displays, another carnival and live entertainment. It's held in Puyallup, south of Seattle, in mid-September.

 

Attractions

Pike Place Market

For a hungry traveller on a budget, Seattle has no greater attraction than the Pike Place Market. Nearly a century old, Pike Place is one of Seattle's most popular landmarks, as famous for the theatrics of its boisterous vendors as it is for its vastly appealing edibles.

Its most popular buildings are the Main and North arcades, with their artfully arranged banks of produce, and fresh fish, crabs and mollusks piled high on ice.

The best bet for enjoying the market is to go on an uncrowded weekday morning. Wander slowly, sample frequently and remember to keep your eyes peeled for flying fish: the fishmongers hurtle huge salmon between their stalls at breakneck speeds!

 

Seattle Center

The 1962 World's Fair brought in nearly 10 million visitors from around the world for a glimpse of Tomorrow, Seattle-style. What remains of the futuristic enclave of exhibition halls, arenas and public spaces is today called the Seattle Center. Don't be surprised if it generates more nostalgia for The Jetsons than thoughts of the future.

No other icon epitomises Seattle as well as the Space Needle, a 183m (600ft) rocket-styled observation station and restaurant. After the 43-second zip up its elevators to the top, the brave of stomach are treated to breathtaking 360 views. A 2.5km (1.5mi) experiment in mass transit, the monorail is another signature piece of the 1962 fair. Today, it provides fun and frequent transport between downtown and Seattle Center, covering the distance in only two minutes.

 

Puget Sound

Island-strewn, misty and mysterious, Puget Sound is a great area to explore via ferry. The most popular ferry trip is the link between Seattle and Winslow, Bainbridge Island's primary town. Winslow has an array of restaurants, but most people take the ferry simply for the great views of Seattle.

Bremerton is the largest town on Kitsap Peninsula and the Puget Sound's principal naval base. The main attraction here is the Naval Museum and USS Turner Joy, a US Naval destroyer at the waterfront park by the ferry terminal. The ferry makes 13 trips daily from Seattle's Pier 52.

 

Snoqualmie Falls

An hour's drive into the mountains east of Seattle is the Salish Lodge and Spa at Snoqualmie Falls. This beautiful resort lodge, perched atop the 82m (268ft) Snoqualmie Falls, was the locale for many of the scenes from the TV series Twin Peaks. The drive into the Cascades, views of the waterfall and short hikes in the area, followed by lunch at the lodge (jokes about cherry pie and a cup of joe are mandatory) make for a nice day away.

Four ski areas - Alpental, Snoqualmie Summit, Ski Acres and Hyak - are another prime draw. The falls and resort are 6km (4mi) northwest of the town of Snoqualmie on Hwy 202.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 
     
   

 

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