A vibrant mix of history, culture, big business and nature make this Emerald City the jewel of the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle is consistently voted among America’s most liveable cities and with its balanced combination of culture and commerce, urban development and natural beauty, it’s not hard to see why. This mixture is perhaps most noticeable when taking in the city’s skyline on a clear day; the skyscrapers of the city centre – dominated by the renowned Space Needle – are framed against the dramatic, snow-capped backdrop of Mount Rainer.
It is this proximity to the incredible natural bounty of the Pacific Northwest that earned Seattle the nickname of the “Emerald City” and you don’t have to go far to be immersed in the region’s beauty. An excellent way to explore the area is to take a boat trip on one of the two bodies of water that sandwich the city. Cruise along Lake Washington or Puget Sound for marvellous views of the cityscape and the many surrounding beaches and islands. The views of lush forests and pristine waterways from on board make it easy to see why Native American tribes began to settle here thousands of years ago.
And if you want to get even closer to the great outdoors then take a drive to Olympic National Park (2.5 hours north) or Mount Rainier National Park (1.5 hours east) for fantastic hiking, canoeing and camping among waterfalls and wilderness.
Seattle also has plenty to offer those who prefer manmade wonders. The city is a vibrant economic and cultural hub, whose built-up centre is home to many world-famous businesses such as Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks. Music also plays a huge role in the city’s cultural heritage: Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam all had their home here at different times. For more refined musical offerings, head to Benaroya Hall to see the Seattle Symphony Orchestra or catch some jazz at Lucid in the University District.
One of the unique aspects of Seattle is the number of diverse neighbourhoods offering different blends of shopping, nightlife and culture. Belltown is home to trendy restaurants and clubs, the waterfront area is always popular with visitors for its fresh seafood and souvenir shops, while the bustling, city-centre Downtown Seattle district gives a taste of big-city living. Historic Pioneer Square is where to head to learn about the town’s gold-rush past and as the sun sets on this wonderful city, stroll down to Kerry Park for magical views of the glittering skyline.