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The biggest city in the Pacific Northwest has a diverse population, a surplus of public parks and leafy residential neighborhoods on surrounding hills. Setting off the space age urban environment of the Seattle Center and the cluster of skyscrapers downtown, Seattle is ensconced in glorious natural scenery. There’s the vastness of Puget Sound, the outline of the Olympic Mountains off to the west, and the colossal mass of Mount Rainier, the most prominent peak in the United States.
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Here are 10 things to do in Seattle.
Walk around the iconic pike place market.
Cascading down a steep hill to the waterfront on Elliott Bay is a market of amazing proportions. With a history going back to 1907, Pike Place Market has farmers’ stands for seasonal produce, a wealth of permanent produce stalls, four fish markets, dozens of specialty food stores for hard-to-find ingredients, a crafts market with more than 200 traders and an absurd amount of places to eat.
Stroll around the Seattle Center.
Below Queen Anne Hill at the northern fringe of Seattle’s downtown, the Seattle Center is a cultural, arts and entertainment zone on 74 acres.
The Space Needle.
A defining feature of Seattle’s silhouette for almost 60 years, the Space Needle is a timeless symbol for the city. The windows on the observation deck now have floor-to-ceiling glass panels that are unobstructed by mullions, in line with the original sketches in the early 1960s.
Check out Chihuly Garden and Glass.
This glass and steel structure was inspired by Chihuly’s fascination for conservatories, and suspended from the ceiling is a 30-meter work in yellow, red, orange, and amber that seems to change with the light throughout the day.
Visit the Museum of Pop Culture.
Since 2000 the Seattle Center Monorail has zipped through this outlandish sheet-metal building by Frank Gehry Up to 2016 this was the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, before settling on the more manageable “Museum of Pop Culture”.
The Seattle Art Museum.
Anchored in downtown Seattle, the Seattle Art Museum has two other locations, at the Olympic Sculpture Park and the Asian Art Museum (closed for renovation at the time of writing).
Ride the Seattle Great Wheel.
The giant Ferris wheel at Pier 57 is the tallest on the West Coast at more than 53 meters.
The Seattle Great Wheel may seem like a tourist trap at first glance but has a lot going for it.
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.
On June 6, 1889, a cabinet-maker accidentally ignited a glue pot, and the ensuing Great Seattle Fire wiped out 31 blocks. One upshot was that the reconstructed city’s streets were re-graded one to two stories higher than the original city streets. This helped keep the central Pioneer Square dry, as it had been built on a mudflat, and prevented toilets from backing up at high tide. It also left a cavernous subterranean space where the old storefronts used to be. The only way to venture into the brick-lined bowels of the city is with this 75-minute guided walking tour. It’s exciting to explore the forgotten city, but you’ll also be told lots of humorous anecdotes about Seattle’s earthy and roguish pioneers. Tours set off on the hour every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Be amazed at the Washington Park Arboretum.
You can visit free of charge every day from dawn to dusk. Established in 1934, the Washington Park Arboretum has a top-notch winter garden, as well as world-class collections of maples, oaks, and camellias. The arboretum’s most treasured feature is the Azalea Way, a 3/4 mile walk bordered by flowering cherries, magnolias, dogwoods, and of course azaleas, all framed by second-growth conifers and evergreens.
Ride the Washington State Ferries.
Can you really say you’ve been to Seattle if you haven’t crossed the Puget Sound on a ferry? Washington State Ferries (WSF) maintains the largest fleet of ferries of any operator in the United States (23), running 12 different routes on what is the fourth-largest ferry system in the world. Perhaps the best trip is the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry, departing from Pier 52 and taking 40-45 minutes. Looking back, you can appreciate the skyline and the beautiful homes and beaches of West Seattle. Bainbridge Island is also desirable, often touted as one of the most liveable places in the United States. On landing, you could call in at the highly-rated Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
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