Seattle is often regarded by travelers as one of the most beautiful American cities for its modern and historical architecture, lush green forests (hence the name “Emerald City”), beautiful waterways, surrounding islands and mountains, and the incredible views from nearly every part of the city.
Wherever you go throughout the city, you’ll see a proliferation of coffee houses, live music venues, bars, seafood restaurants and gaming establishments. Seattle is home to many large retail and technology corporations, all of which influence the city’s landscape: It’s home to the first Starbucks, Nordstrom, the first Amazon retail store and the first commercial monorail. It’s also the epicenter of the gaming industry, with 300-plus gaming companies in the vicinity, including Nintendo and Microsoft, and employing thousands. Whether you’re an old-school pinball and arcade enthusiast, or a modern devotee of Mario Bros., you’ll find several outlets to engage your passion.
If you begin your sightseeing on the waterfront at Pike Place Market, you’ll get a taste of Seattle’s cultural and culinary offerings, so bring your appetite and your wallet. With more than 200 vendors, the market sells fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy products, baked goods, gallery art and crafts. The variety of specialty foods made locally (Greek yogurt, éclairs) or imported (cooking oils) is astounding. The market is 111 years old and one of the oldest continually operated farmers’ markets in the country.
Also on the waterfront is the Great Wheel, a 175-foot Ferris wheel that extends over Elliott Bay on Pier 57. The lights are so bright at night you can’t miss it. At the Seattle Aquarium, you can view sea creatures native to the Pacific Northwest. From Pier 52, take a ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bainbridge, Alki or Bremerton. Alki Beach Park is a great location for a relaxing day trip: have a picnic, rent a kayak, or simply gaze in awe at the Seattle skyline.
Seattle is a gastronomic delight, and seafood dominates the restaurant scene. At Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56, you can feast on fresh oysters for breakfast starting at 11 a.m. On Pier 54, Ivar’s Acres of Clams, launched in 1938, serves classic seafood and fresh local fish. The restaurant’s signature dish, Acres of Clams, gives you one pound of local Manila clams served in a steaming broth of garlic, white wine and butter. At the elegant Art of the Table, you can choose from a three- or five-course tasting menu that celebrates the diversity of locally grown produce. The menu changes based on seasonal produce availability. For casual upscale American food, try Joeys Lake Union in Bellevue. For a unique experience with live performance, The Pink Door is a must. Cabaret shows, trapeze entertainment, live music and hip ambience make this a required stop, along with the to-die-for lasagna and other Italian delights. Be sure to look for the pink door in the alley – there’s no sign.
For breakfast, Biscuit Bitch offers southern-style fixings at three locations, and servers throw out the b-word like they’re tossing biscuits to each other, but it’s all tongue-in-cheek humor. Get there early to avoid the line out the door. Salty’s Waterfront Seafood Grill at Alki Beach boasts an award-winning brunch with traditional breakfast items as well as seafood and overlooks Alki Beach Park.
Seattle has no shortage of bars and live music, and many venues provide arcade games. Try Shorty’s for arcade and video games, frosty cold beer and hot dogs. A private room is available for parties. The Radiator Whiskey at Pike Place Market boasts a specialized collection of bourbon and also serves American food. Lava Lounge in Belltown is a popular dive bar for tropical rum drinks, slushies and shuffleboard.
For live music venues, check out Neumo in Capitol Hill for indie rock and punk bands, hip-hop, country and more. It contains three bars and balcony seating. Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub features live Irish music, traditional Irish food and Seattle’s largest Scotch collection. Catch your favorite sports games here, too. And finally, a storied piece of history lives at the Crocodile, where grunge bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam have played, among many others. Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the 10 best live clubs in the country.
No visit to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Space Needle, a 605-foot monument to the 1962 World’s Fair and Space Age aspirations. As a result of recent renovations, the Space Needle now offers The Loupe, the world’s first and only revolving glass floor, at 520 feet up. Here you can see 360-degree views of the city, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier and the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges. Try out the virtual reality bungee jump and eat at Sky City at the Needle Restaurant for an unforgettable experience.
Across from the Space Needle sits the Seattle Center Station, home to the Seattle Center Monorail. Boarding it will transport you one mile to downtown Seattle and the Westlake Center Mall.
Aviation has a long and storied history in the city, also. Learn about it at The Museum of Flight, which offers 175 aircraft and spacecraft, millions of rare historical photographs, thousands of artifacts and more all detailing the history of flight. For more aviation enlightenment, drive north 25 miles to Everett for the Boeing Tour at the Future of Flight Aviation Center — North America’s only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant.
If you’re a pinhead — one who lives, breathes and sleeps pinball games — you’ll already know about the Seattle Pinball Museum in Chinatown. It houses a collector’s paradise of 50-plus pinball games from the 1960s to the present with an occasional older antique on display.
As football season ramps up, catch the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Renton. For the closest seat to the action, purchase a field seat — yes, they’re on the field only yards away from the game — and they come with a slew of VIP perks. The stadium has beefed up its food offerings with a variety of new vendors. For a budget deal, check out the 12s Combo at any Seattle Dog location: two hot dogs, two waters and a bag of popcorn for $12.
During baseball season, the Seattle Mariners play at Safeco Field. Off-season or on-season, you can take a one-hour tour of this premier ballpark for $12 (or $11 for military personnel). Go behind the scenes and view the press box, owner’s suite, dugouts and more.
o Major industries: Clean energy, aerospace and defense
o Minimum wage: $15 per hour without health benefits
o Cost of Living: 27% above the national average
o Median Household Income: $84,288
o Median Home Price: $502,000
o Home Ownership: 46%
o Median Rent Price: $2,180
o Forbes List: #3 Best Place for Business and Careers
o Unemployment: 3.4%
o Job growth: 3.4%
o Loan originator average salary: $65,825