By Jenny Peters
Seattle is a city of water, with its heart stretched along an isthmus lapped by the Puget Sound on the west side and Lake Washington on the east, and drizzled by an average of 37.49 inches of precipitation per year from above. That makes this sophisticated metropolis not just a very green place to visit, but also the perfect spot to enjoy riding the waves on sailboats, seaplanes, kayaks, and canoes.
The city of 725,000 people is also one of the world’s most technologically innovative, serving as headquarters to global giants like Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Costco. With such a creative population comes a huge variety of cutting-edge restaurants, sophisticated museums, and sizzling music venues, not to mention a rabid sports scene, with the beloved Seahawks keeping the city rollicking in fall and winter, and the Mariners in the spring and summer. Indeed, it’s never hard to find something to cheer about in Seattle.
Where to Stay
Seattle has hotel accommodations for every taste, ranging from the upscale Four Seasons Hotel Seattle in the center of the city to the quirky Edgewater Hotel (where the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and hometown favorites Pearl Jam have all stayed); bands love the W Hotel Seattle as well, for its special soundproofed “Sound Suite” that allows for all-night jams and recording sessions without disturbing the rest of the guests. Staying in the center of town allows for easy walking to most of the main sights of the city, so choose a downtown hotel and leave the car behind.
What to See
The arts thrive in Seattle. Start with the Olympic Sculpture Park, a free outdoor collection of 21 works by renowned sculptors, including Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly, and Alexander Calder. Indeed, public sculptures pop up all over Seattle, from the “Fremont Troll” under the Aurora Bridge to the Giant Red Twin Popsicle at Fourth and Blanchard. But it rarely gets more fanciful than at the Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center, which displays the famed glass artist’s (and Washington native) surreal creations indoors and out. Drink in more creative juices at the Museum of Flight, the Museum of Popular Culture, the Museum of History and Industry, and the Seattle Art Museum.
With a resume of rock royalty, the music scene in Seattle ranks among the nation’s best. The Showbox, a venerable 75-year old venue, hosts up-and-coming bands most nights; while Tractor Tavern is a favorite for local groups. At the Sea Monster Lounge, funk and blues abide. For a fascinating insider experience, head to suburban Shoreline and take the historic tour at London Bridge Studio, where bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden made many of their most famous recordings.
Join the Foodie Culture
Seattle’s waters bring plenty of fresh seafood to its menus and markets. Find all the crab, shrimp, lobster, oysters, and clams you could ever want at Pike Place Market — the epicenter of foodie culture in Seattle — not to mention tons of fruit, vegetables, oils, teas, spices, grains, and curries filling kiosks and cubicles. Several on-site restaurants can satisfy the assured hunger pangs. Try Steelhead Diner for a casual fish dinner or Can Can Culinary Cabaret to accompany your meal with multi-media, Parisian-style entertainment.
Coffee in Seattle goes far and beyond Starbucks, with beans seemingly roasting on every street corner. Start your day with a cappuccino at Moore Coffee and throw in one of their famous waffles, too, for a quintessential city experience. Add a bike ride to your locally roasted beans at Peloton Bicycle Shop & Café, or join the coffee nerds at the airy, rustic-chic Milstead & Co.
Fun for Kids and Grown Ups
Family fun also flows throughout the city. Start at the Seattle Aquarium for some oohing and aahing at puffins, otters, seahorses, and a giant octopus, all while learning how to better protect the world’s oceans. Up at Lake Union, rent kayaks and stand-up, paddle-boards, and sailboats for a spin on the scenic lake. Or rise above it all in a seaplane that takes off and lands right on the water.
If the children still have too much energy, whisk them into Seattle’s great outdoors. Just an hour or two from the city are the massive Snoqualmie Falls, as well as Olympia National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, all places of great natural beauty with plenty of fascinating trails, rivers, lakes, and mountains where kids can run free.
Fly to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or, Alaska, American, Delta, Spirit and United Airlines; or fly nonstop from Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) to SEA on Southwest Airlines.