Seattle, Washington, the largest city in the state, is located on an isthmus between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, about 100 miles south of Canada. Seattle offers visitors a wide range of spectacular natural and man-made wonders, a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, and a fantastic menu of northwest cuisine.
One of Seattle most recognizable landmarks is the 607-foot-tall Space Needle. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, and features an observation deck and the rotating SkyCity Restaurant, which was named 2009 Restaurant of the Year by the Washington Wine Commission. Seattle also offers the architecturally adventurous Experience Music Project, and the dramatic nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park. The city’s Pike Place Market is a teeming, sprawling bazaar featuring fresh fish and produce, seasonal flowers, local crafts and stunning views of Puget Sound.
The state of Washington is known for its outdoor attractions, and Seattle is no exception. For outdoor adventure in an urban setting, Seattle offers Seacrest Park, a long strip of park along West Seattle’s Harbor Avenue. The park has three coves for diving, and offers a wide range of underwater habitat and features, including the wreck of the Honey Bear. For outdoor adventure or just some relaxation, Seattle offers hundreds of public parks, or the sandy Alki Beach in West Seattle. Or head north to Discovery Park or Golden Garden's beach front playgrounds.
With distinct neighborhoods like Fremont and Wallingford, you can feel at home with the overwhelming community atmosphere, or disappear between the tall buildings in downtown Seattle. Escape to Crystal Mountain or nearby Steven’s Pass to ride the overwhelming fresh powder that falls each year in the mountains. If you find yourself coming to see the “grunge” of Seattle, make sure to check out the Experience Music Project or any number of live music venues. The birthplace of music icons such as Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam, Seattle has many ways to rock any visitor’s world.
For top cuisine in Seattle, check out Wild Ginger, Pink Door, the Dahlia Lounge and Ray’s Boathouse for fresh seafood and waterfront dining. Of course, Seattle is known for its coffee, and coffee companies founded or based in Seattle include Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Tully’s, as well as many successful independent artisanal espresso roasters and cafes.
Like most of the state, visitors to Seattle will likely come through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, commonly known as Sea-Tac, which serves most major U.S. airlines, and many international carriers. The airport is the primary hub for Alaska Airlines, and served more than 31 million passengers in 2009, making it the 17th-busiest airport in the U.S. Ground transportation, including rental cars, cabs and shuttles, are available at all major airports in the state, as well as downtown areas.
Seattle's climate is usually described as temperate Oceanic or Marine West Coast, with mild, damp winters and relatively dry, mild summers. Temperature extremes are moderated by Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean and Lake Washington. The region is partially protected from Pacific storms by the Olympic Mountains and from Arctic air by the Cascade Range. Although Seattle has a reputation for being a rainy city, the reputation derives from the frequency of participation, rather than the amount. With an average annual precipitation of 37.1 inches, Seattle is drier than most US cities. Most of the precipitation in Seattle falls as drizzle or light rain. Thunderstorms occur only occasionally.
Winters in Seattle are cool and wet with average lows around 35 to 40 °F (1.7 to 4.4 °C) on winter nights. Colder weather can occur, but seldom lasts more than a few days. Summers are dry and warm, with average daytime highs around 73 to 80 °F (22.8 to 26.7 °C). Hotter weather usually occurs only during a few summer days. Between October and May, Seattle is mostly or partly cloudy six out of every seven days. A sunnier, drier climate typically dominates from mid-July to mid-September, with an average of 0.8 inches of rain in July and 1.0 inch in August.