Seattle is the largest city in the U.S. state of Washington, but it's not the capital (that is Olympia, which is much smaller). It is the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee and this first branch of the global company therefore is a tourist attraction. You will find this shop at Pike Place Market, a colorful farmer's market in the center of town. Seattle is also the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and grunge music. You will learn everything about this at the Experience Music Project. Other interesting museums are the Science Fiction Museum and the Museum of Flight. Seattle's symbol is the Space Needle, a more than 180 meters high tower (with revolving restaurant), which was built for the 1962 World's Fair.
The city has a population of almost 600,000. Seattle is located in a large urban area with almost four million inhabitants.
Seattle is located in the northwest of the United States, on the Puget Sound, a jagged cove of the Pacific. West of Puget Sound are the Olympic Mountains, in the east, Seattle borders Lake Washington, and behind that are the mountains of the Cascade Range.
Seattle arose as a center of fishing, forestry and coal mines. With the establishment of airplane manufacturer Boeing (in 1916), Seattle's economy changed drastically. Soon it became the region's largest private employer and it still is, although the headquarters was moved to Chicago. Microsoft is located in Redmont, a suburb of Seattle and furthermore, the city is the headquarters of Starbucks. In recent years, the city is attracting more and more high-tech companies, mainly specializing in biotechnology. Furthermore, Seattle is an educational center with many higher education institutions, such as the University of Washington.
The city's airport is located in the southern suburbs. Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (often referred to as Sea-Tac) is only half an hour away from the center by rental car (except during morning and evening rush hours) The airport is located at a junction of highways (State Routes 518, 99 and 509, almost three kilometers west of the Interstate 5.
Seattle has an extensive and good public bus system. Paying is somewhat confusing. When going to the center, you pay when you get on the bus; from the center to the suburbs you pay when getting off the bus. Rides in the downtown are free.
There are some other features of public transport: the South Lake Union Streetcar, a tram between the center and South Lake Union, the monorail between the center and Seattle Center (for the Space Needle), and a water taxi between the port and West Seattle (beautiful view of the city and surrounding mountains).
Traffic and Parking
Except during rush hours, you can easily drive around in a rental car in Seattle. The street plan is clear, but you will have to get used to the names. For example, all north-south streets are called Avenue (sometimes Boulevard or Way) and all east-west streets are called Street. Furthermore the geographic location is mentioned after the name for Avenues and in front of the name for Streets (for example NE 45th Street and 45th Avenue NE).
There is ample parking, both in the streets as in parking garages. Keep in mind that you do not exceed parking times in the streets. It is enforced strictly and fines are high.
There is a wide range of hotels in Seattle in every price range. Therefore, out of season it is not difficult to find suitable accommodation. If you would like to visit Seattle in summer, we recommend booking your hotel room in advance. Hotels and guesthouses near Pike Place Market are the most popular among tourists.
For more information about Seattle we recommend Google and the following sources: