Seattle Guide

"It rains nine months a year in Seattle." So says David Hyde Pierce to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when his character is trying to talk hers out of moving there. Actually, despite this widespread misperception, Seattle only gets about 36 inches of rainfall per year—less than New York City. There are a lot of drizzly, cloudy days, though; in fact, not seeing the sun is the norm.

But it certainly doesn’t keep Seattleites stuck indoors. Residents of this lush, progressive Pacific Northwest city spend an inordinate amount of time in nature, whether that means bicycling along woodsy streams, hiking through tranquil pine forests, or simply strolling around Green Lake at lunchtime. To look like a native, don't bother with an umbrella (it rarely rains hard)—just pull on a fleece jacket before heading outside.

Essential Seattle

  • Pike Place Market: This glorious year-round farmers’ market is loaded with local produce, fish, cheese, and flower stands. This is where you can watch workers hurling fresh fish through the air and where you can visit the first Starbucks store ever opened.
  • Walk the waterfront: Seattle boasts miles of strollable sidewalks lined with restaurants facing the shore. Keep an eye out for houseboats.
  • Space Needle: Hands down the city’s most famous symbol. Head to the observation deck for views of downtown as well as Mount Rainier, the Cascades, and islands in the Pacific.
  • Fremont Troll: Check out this large, locally beloved sculpture that dwells, fittingly, under a bridge in the quirky Fremont neighborhood, which was once the center of Seattle’s counterculture.
  • EMP Museum: Housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building near the Space Needle, this interactive museum features award-winning, hands-on exhibits dedicated to pop culture, particularly music and science fiction.

Exploring Neighborhoods

  • Capitol Hill is one of the city's liveliest areas for nightlife and entertainment. The streets are packed with one-of-a-kind restaurants, galleries, shops, and bars. If you visit during the day, make sure to try an espresso at Caffe Vita, which is often ranked as the best place to get coffee in a city that knows a thing or two about coffee.
  • Queen Anne: Explore the colorful, historic Victorian houses and quaint coffee shops in Queen Anne before making your obligatory stop at the nearby Space Needle.
  • Alki: This peninsular, waterfront district features a boardwalk, a beach, and restaurants selling fresh seafood. Like a compact surf-town.

Where to Stay

  • Inn at the Market: The interior is stylish and the service top-notch, but the best feature is the location: it’s the only hotel set right in Pike Place Market.
  • The Edgewater Hotel: Past guests at this downtown hotel have included Led Zeppelin, KISS, and, during their first world tour in 1964, the Beatles (some fans reportedly tried swimming to the hotel across Elliott Bay to get closer.)
  • Greenlake Guest House: Feel like a local at this cozy B&B found right on the banks of Green Lake. Guests are treated to a lavish breakfast each morning.
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