Perhaps the most prominent city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is situated on Elliot Bay, with a backdrop of lakes, mountains, and forest. Indeed, the city itself is surrounded by lakes, including Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Lake Sammamish. The Olympic Mountains are to the west and the Cascade Mountains are to the east. Two volcanoes, Mount Rainer and Mount St. Helens, complete the picture.
With a population of ca. 3.5 million, Seattle is the center of a business-friendly region that includes the headquarters for such firms as Microsoft and T-Mobile USA.
The city, which derives its name from the name of a local Indian leader, Chief Sealth, has a very mild, Mediterranean-like climate with wet winters and dry summers. Although it is perceived as a rainy city, Seattle receives less rainfall than Atlanta, New York City, or Washington, D.C.
Visitors flock to the Pike Place Market, one of the country’s oldest farmer’s markets. In addition to the original Starbucks across the street, the market boasts over 300 vendors selling a variety of produce, seafood, flowers, meat, and local arts and crafts.
The Seattle Aquarium is a popular attraction that houses a 400,000-gallon (1,520,000-liter) underwater dome that gives visitors a 360° view of sea life including sharks, salmon, and sturgeon.
The Space Needle, located at the Seattle Center, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has become the city’s symbol. The views from the observation deck are breathtaking.
The Seattle Center is a major arts complex, housing the Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Intiman Theatre, the Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Children’s Museum, and the Pacific Science Center. The Experience Music Project, a music museum with interactive exhibits, is also there.
Seattle boasts impressive restaurants and nightlife, with the Belltown, Capital Hill, and Pioneer Square neighborhoods (among others) providing a wide variety of dining options and late night drinking establishments.
Situated on the top of Capital Hill, Volunteer Park offers stunning views of the city skyline and the Olympic Peninsula, and is home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the botanical gardens of the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Located on a peninsula jutting into Puget Sound, Discovery Park is the largest park in the city, with 11.81 miles of hiking tails.
No visit to Seattle is complete without a trip to Bainbridge Island. The 35-minute ferry ride gives visitors a superb view of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound and the island boasts a small arts community and trendy cafés.
The Pacific Northwest is also the home of many well-known wineries including Château Ste-Michelle, JM, Novelty Hill, and Januik (the aforementioned all being in Woodinville). Beer lovers can visit the nearby Red Hook brewery, known for its Hefeweizen.
–Cody Burke is a Contributing Editor at Executive Road Warrior and Senior Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm. Photos by Jonathan B. Spira