Known as the Emerald City because of its parks and forests, Seattle makes a wonderful pre- or post-Alaska cruise stay
With its waterfront overlooking the islands of stunning Puget Sound and a dramatic backdrop of the Cascade Mountains, Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, offers a range of unique experiences.
What to do:
Many of Seattle’s visitor attractions are close to the waterfront and you can get a bird’s-eye view of the city, mountains and Puget Sound from the observation deck at the top of the 605-feet high Space Needle (spaceneedle.com). Other must-sees include Chihuly Garden and Glass (chihulygardenandglass.com), showcasing the extraordinary designs and sculptures of acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly, and Seattle Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Park (seattleartmuseum.org).
Seattle is famed for its music scene (it’s the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix, and it’s where Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Ray Charles became established artists) so it’s well worth visiting the Museum of Pop Culture (mopop.org), which traces American popular music from rock ‘n’ roll to the present day and includes the world’s largest collection of Hendrix memorabilia.
There are also lots of attractions within driving distance. Three national parks – Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic – are just two hours away. Twilight fans can join a tour to Forks, the setting for the vampire novels, on the edge of the Olympic National Park.
You can explore Puget Sound by pleasure cruiser or by the network of ferries that offer frequent services to the Olympic Peninsula and Bainbridge Island. Alternatively, take a seaplane to the pretty fishing villages of the San Juan Islands, where you can spot Orca whales from mid-April to early October.
Where to shop:
At Fremont Market there are retro and vintage stores; historic Pioneer Square has an eclectic mix of shops selling everything from rugs to rare books; and even if you’re not planning on buying any fish a visit to Pike Place market (pikeplacemarket.org) is a must, and home to the first ever Starbucks. You’ll also find colourful stalls selling vintage clothing and antiques here. Downtown Seattle is where you’ll find big names including Nordstrom.
Where to eat:
Salmon is Seattle’s signature fish, and it’s also known for Olympia oysters and Dungeness crab. You’ll find lots of seafood restaurants on the waterfront; other favourites include hot dogs with cream cheese, and Top Pot doughnuts, as bought by President Obama, no less; plus it’s the place to try the famed Northwest wines, award-winning chocolate and of course the city’s celebrated coffee.
When to go:
Seattle is a year round destination, but mid-June through to September – cruise season – is when it’s most likely to be dry and warm; its also the season when many of the area’s natural attractions are at their most breathtaking.
British Airways (britishairways.com) and Icelandair (icelandair.co.uk) fly to Seattle. Luxury hotels include the Fairmont Olympic (fairmont.com/seattle) conveniently located close to Pike Place Market and many local attractions. You can find out more about cruise holidays to Seattle at visitseattle.org.
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