Seattle nestles against Puget Sound, one of the world’s great natural harbors and a mecca for yachtsmen the world over. Crisscrossed by picturesque ferries, it reminds travelers of San Francisco, Hong Kong or Sydney.
Despite being located not far from the Canadian border, it is blessed by surprising warm ocean currents which make it a sub-tropical agricultural zone. Commercial tulip farms abound in the suburbs to the north and west.
Downtown Seattle has lots of shopping opportunities and nationally known restaurants, but the charm of the city is found in its neighborhoods. In Freemont, just 3 miles north of the city center, there is a thriving counterculture reminiscent of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Its motto is: “Freedom to be peculiar”.
The Freemont Arts Council specializes in eclectic artistic expression and statuary. And once a year, the community plays host to a nude cyclist parade. It also is home to Freemont Brewery, considered by many to be the best microbrewery in an area full of microbreweries. Visit the Theo Chocolate Factory for their delicious confections or grab a mug of specially blended coffee at Millstead & Co.
After all that good food and drink, put on your cross trainers and go jogging in any one of the many local parks that dot the city, like Green Lake Park or Washington Park Arboretum, where kite flying is the order of the day.
Seattle was the first city in the Northwest to institute a city-wide bike sharing program. Look for the green Pronto Share bike stations. Borrow a bike and return it to any bike share location within 30 minutes and it’s free. For longer journeys, the program charges $2.00 per hour. It’s a way of encouraging urbanites to bike around the city, lowering the demand for public transportation and taxis.
Traveling with youngsters? The Woodland Park Zoo is world renowned and rated one of the 10 Best zoos in America. The Seattle Aquarium is on the Seattle waterfront and right next to the Seattle Great Wheel, a gigantic Ferris wheel with covered seating that affords a spectacular panoramic view of the City and and the Sound.
While near the water, walk uphill to the iconic Pike Place Market. This working fish and produce market not only has a great view of the harbor, it offers the freshest of seafood, fruits and vegetables. Just don’t be surprised if you see giant fish being tossed from one stall to another to satisfy a customer’s request. It’s an authentic Seattle adventure and not to be missed.
No description of the area would be complete without mention of Mt. Rainier, towering more than 14,000 feet just east of the City. It’s possible to spend several days in the area without being aware of it because of low fog or clouds. But when the sun breaks through (which it does from time to time!), Rainier dominates the horizon, smiling down on Seattle like a benevolent and loving protector.
The best part about Seattle isn’t craft beer or great lattes, it is truly one of the most beautiful and scenic cities in America.
Source: Lonely Planet. Photo credits: Seattle.gov; Wikipedia