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If you’ve ever spent a rainy day sipping a Starbucks coffee while shopping on Amazon with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” playing in the background, you’ve had a taste of Seattle. Located in Washington between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington (imagine a city sandwiched by water), the Emerald City is the rainy birthplace of internationally-renowned coffee chains, the grunge music movement, a booming tech scene and is home to big businesses like Amazon, Microsoft and Costco.
Seattle is a diverse place to live that is finally hitting its stride. There has never been a better time to live in Seattle. Here’s how to get the most out of your time there.
The Icons of Seattle
It’s too obvious to begin anywhere but at the Space Needle. Erected in 1962 for the World’s Fair, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River at the time. There’s an observation deck 520 feet up and a rotating SkyCity Restaurant at 500 feet that makes a 360-degree rotation in 47 minutes. Don’t worry about walking up, though, because there are elevators that travel 10 miles per hour and reach the top in 41 seconds. The best part? Using your ticket to take the SkyHigh selfie!
Seattle’s Pike Place Market is home to the city’s iconic “Public Market” neon sign that you’re sure to see gracing post cards. This semi-outdoors market – it’s covered by a permanent roof – is home to merchant stalls offering an alluring range of fresh produce, fish, flowers, crafts, specialty foods and more. Whether you’re out shopping or just want to experience a pure slice of Seattle, strolling through Pike Place is definitely a stop you’ll want to make during your Seattle stay.
While you’re at Pike Place, make it a point to stop by the original Starbucks location, located right outside the market. Other than having slightly fancier décor, this Starbucks isn’t much different than your regular shop, but getting a coffee “where it all began” is something you can only experience in Seattle.
Time for a Night Out
Seattle has plenty of local bars to suit any mood. If you want British or Irish pubs, blues clubs, dive bars, college bars, lounges – you name it, Seattle’s got it.
• Lounges – Bathtub Gin & Co., voted one of Seattle’s Best Lounges by Zagat, is located in Belltown on the city’s waterfront. This densely-populated neighborhood is home to trendy restaurants and posh lounges. If you’re a gin fan, this bar will make your mouth water.
• Dive bars – If you prefer low-key venues, check out Shortys, which is one of the best dive bars in Belltown and features a collection of old school arcade games and pinball machines.
• College bars – Missing your college years? Step into the “U District” near the University of Washington. This district of neighborhoods is home to places like The Kraken Bar & Lounge where you can play arcade games and College Inn Pub if you’re in the mood for pool, darts and a great jukebox selection.
• Dance, dance, dance – Get ready for an intense clubbing scene at Tia Lou and Foundation Nightclub in Belltown.
• Live music – Check out an art-deco venue that’s home to great live music at the Show Box on 1st Avenue. The venue has been going strong for 75 years and hosted acts like Duke Ellington, Prince, The Ramones, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Calm Your Culture Craving
Seattle is embedded with art. Nearly 400 installations are permanently sited in the City of Seattle’s public art collection. You can find them in parks, on bridges, on the streets, at libraries and at public transportation stops. Follow this interactive map to see some of the most famous pieces of public art throughout the city. If that’s not enough, you can also visit:
• Seattle Art Museum – Only one block from the famous Pike Place Market, the galleries feature art from around the world. It’s easy to enjoy a day visiting the SAM’s three locations, which include downtown, Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront.
• Seattle Symphony Orchestra – This 112-year old orchestra brings the classics, but is also known for modern programming of contemporary works – including playing popular movie scores.
• Pacific Northwest Ballet – If Black Swan scared you from ever seeing ballet, give it another chance at the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Known for its outstanding Balenchine repertoire, this ballet also shows contemporary choreographers. If you’re in Seattle around Christmas, be sure to see the ballet’s world-renowned Nutcracker.
Do Your Thing Outdoors
Seattle has more mountains and nature than most people know what to do with. It’s called The Emerald City with good reason; Seattle has nearly 6,000 acres of parks within its limits and is surrounded by lush, green forests that stay green year-round.
The Seattle Japanese Garden is a 3.5-acre garden located within the city. It is a beautiful, peaceful place that will help you unwind from a stressful week. Feeling up for a day trip? There are also several national parks not too far from Seattle, including Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park. You can take a short trip and be completely immersed in nature.
Why You’ll Love Seattle
Despite the many activities and diverse areas that Seattle has to offer, as well as the booming tech industry, the city maintains its humility. It’s not uncommon for everyday folks to rub shoulders with high-powered CEOs at a local coffee shop. Seattle lacks the pretentiousness of many other cities, while maintaining its reputation as a world-class destination. That makes it a great place to not only work, but to really live.