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If one word could sum up the city of Seattle, it might be: wet. It rains in the city about 50% of the time, on average, mostly as drizzle or light rain. Even Seattle’s most famous export, Starbucks Coffee, is liquid!
Rain or shine, though, it’s still one of America’s great cities and a first-rate vacation destination. Its mild climate and all that rain create a lush, green landscape, earning Seattle the nickname “the Emerald City.” Its colorful history, natural beauty, and thriving arts and entertainment community all contribute to a seemingly endless list of interesting things to see and do.
Seattle was named after the chief of a local Suquamish Native American tribe, Noah Sealth (Chief Seattle), who was one of the city’s founders. Before it got the name Seattle in late 1852, the city was known as Duwamps.
The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 destroyed most of the downtown area. It was rebuilt within a year, right on top of the old remains.
Seattle’s number one tourist attraction is the 605-foot-tall Space Needle (206-905-2100), built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The fair’s theme that year was Century 21, so the futuristic Space Needle, which gives the city its distinctive skyline, was built with a “flying saucer” on top. The five-level top house dome, which houses a revolving restaurant and observation deck, is balanced so perfectly that the restaurant originally rotated with just a one-horsepower electric motor. Today the Needle hosts about a million visitors a year.
Located in downtown Seattle, the Pike Place Market (206-682-7453) is internationally recognized as America’s premier farmer’s market. The century-old, nine-acre market is home to more than 100 farmers who rent tables by the day, along with street performers, year-round merchants, restaurants and shops. You’ll need reservations for a Market Heritage Tour (206-774-5249), which includes history, insider’s shopping tips and a few odd tales.
The very first Starbucks Coffee store is located in the Pike Place Market. Because of the historic area’s building restrictions, the store still looks like it did when it first opened in 1971.
Adventure-seekers can find plenty to do in Seattle and the nearby islands, including whale-watching, sea kayaking, cycling, and even seaplane touring.
Natural beauty abounds in Seattle’s 400 parks and green spaces, but the best-known is probably Mount Rainier National Park (360-569-2211). You can experience its stunning views from your car or on foot; most roads are open to cars, hikers and mountain climbers from late May through early October. The park offers camping, picnic facilities, and other lodging and dining amenities.
Walk the subterranean passages of Underground Seattle (206-682-4646), the remains of Seattle’s original downtown before the fire of 1889, on a guided walking tour that’s peppered with humor and “stories the pioneers didn’t want you to hear.”
With 150 bridges, there’s bound to be at least one troll, right? Visit the Fremont Troll, located in Fremont (206-632-1500), a bohemian district described as “Seattle’s most artistically eccentric community that hovers somewhere between the ’50s, ’60s and the 23rd century.”
Another kitschy landmark, the giant Hat n’ Boots, was originally part of a gas station and was to be the cornerstone attraction for a 1950s shopping complex. Original plans called for the office to be housed under the 44-foot hat, and restrooms in each of the 22-foot-tall boots.
Other local attractions include the Seattle Art Museum (206-625-8900), the Seattle Aquarium (206-386-4300) and the Seattle Waterfall Garden (206-624-6096). The city’s healthy supply of niche and historical museums includes the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (206- 220-4240), the Wing Luke Museum of Asian Pacific American history (206-623-5124), the Experience Music Project – Science Fiction Museum (1-877-EMP-SFM1), Seattle Children's Museum (206-441-1768), the Museum of Flight (206-764-5720) and more.
Besides packing your rain gear, locals advise that you dress in layers. The area’s terrain makes it prone to occasional and unpredictable heat spells, dry spells and temperature drops. June, July and August are Seattle’s warmest and driest months, with summer temperatures generally hovering around 75 degrees. Highs in the winter months are around 40-50 degrees, with spring and fall high temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
Wet or dry, warm or cold, Seattle offers so many indoor and outdoor activities that virtually any kind of vacation can be had there. Don’t let dialysis stop you from experiencing this beautiful city.
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