For a city of fewer than 600,000 people, Seattle packs a mighty punch on the global stage. Whether you want to get on the Twilight tourist trail, or indulge in cutting-edge style, this is a city that could leave you sleepless…
Seattle boasts the headquarters for mega-brands such as Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and you don’t have to spend long in this go-getting city in the Pacific Northwest corner of the US to understand why it has produced so many successful entrepreneurs. Its setting, 113 miles south of the Canadian border, is inspirational – with a waterfront overlooking the islands of beautiful Puget Sound and a dramatic backdrop of the Cascade Mountains.
With so many blue-chip employers, it’s no surprise that more than half the population of Seattle has a university degree. The high standard of living is reflected in a lively arts scene, excellent shopping and restaurants courtesy of celeb chefs such as Tom Douglas.
Much of the city’s success is down to the fact that it loves being at the forefront of cutting-edge styles. Over the last 25 years or so, it has given the world a whole range of fads from grunge music (think Nirvana and Pearl Jam) to modern-day coffee shops.
A stroll around Seattle’s neighbourhoods shows that the pioneering spirit lives on. For a hint of what may be the next big global fashion, check out the trendy restaurants and bars of Belltown, the nightlife on Capitol Hill and the artists’ community of Freemont.
What to see & do
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 built for the Century 21 Exposition in 1962.
Pike Place Market has been operating in the heart of downtown Seattle since 1907. It is home to 500 colourful stalls selling just about everything from fruit, vegetables and fresh fish, to crafts, vintage clothing and sought-after antiques.
Pioneer Square historic district – where founders settled in 1852 – recalls Seattle’s beginnings as a lumber town. Today its Victorian buildings house museums, art galleries, bookshops, restaurants and bars.
Brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the Experience Music Project traces American popular music from rock ‘n’ roll to the present day. It includes the world’s largest collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.
Where to drink
The infamous Crocodile Cafe in Belltown was at the heart of the Seattle grunge scene in the early 1990s. After closing in 2007, the club re-opened last year as a live rock venue.
Pike Brewing Company alongside Pike Place Market, is one of the oldest and largest brew pubs in the city. Choose from a dozen beers brewed on site, with cheeky names such as Naughty Nellie, Kilt Lifter and Old Bawdy.
Zig Zag Cafe on a steep hill leading to Pike Place Market, is a classic cocktail bar that attracts an eclectic crowd.
Where to eat
Lowell’s (1519 Pike Place) in the heart of Pike Place Market, is a casual, budget eatery that is a Seattle institution which serves soups, sandwiches and seafood in a stunning setting.
Ivar’s Acres of Clams (Pier 54, 1001 Alaskan Way) on the Seattle waterfront has been serving some of the best seafood in the city since 1938. The vast menu is reasonably priced.
Tom Douglas is among a growing band of celebrity chefs from the Pacific Northwest. His chic Belltown restaurant, the Dahlia Lounge specialises in Asian fusion dishes.
Where to stay
The 76-room boutique Sorrento Hotel stands on a hill overlooking the downtown area and oozes traditional charm.
The contemporary Hotel 1000 mixes retro chic with uber-cool luxury. Its waterfront setting makes it a favourite with fashionistas and media types.
Hyatt at Olive 8 is the latest luxury hotel to open in the downtown area. Facilities include a large gym and spa.
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.
Vampire hunters should head for the little town of Forks, setting for the Twilight series of novels and films, on the edge of the Olympic National Park. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle, and although the films were not filmed here there are a number of guided tours including day trips from Seattle with Evergreen Escapes.
Thirty miles north of downtown Seattle, the giant Boeing plant offers daily tours. Visits begin and end at the Future of Flight Aviation Centre where interactive exhibits include the chance to design an aircraft and have its airworthiness tested by computer.