Local Guide for Visitors to Seattle

In the lush Pacific Northwest, nestled next to Puget Sound, is the city of Seattle. The city was named after the Duwamish leader, Chief Sealth in 1852. Since that time, it has experienced economic flourishes from the timber, coal, railway, fishing and shipbuilding industries.
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In the lush Pacific Northwest, nestled next to Puget Sound, is the city of Seattle.

The city was named after the Duwamish leader, Chief Sealth in 1852. Since that time, it has experienced economic flourishes from the timber, coal, railway, fishing and shipbuilding industries. These days it is most commonly known for its booming technology industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquarters located here.

My partner and I were lucky enough to be based in Seattle for two months and made it our mission to explore as much of the "Emerald City" as we could.

Top five places to visit

5. Fremont
A trendy inner-city suburb, Fremont is located three miles from downtown Seattle. Its biggest attraction is the Fremont Troll, a concrete creation hiding beneath the Aurora Bridge. Visit during the weekdays to avoid the crowds and increase your chances of snapping the perfect Troll pic.

On the southern tip of Fremont is Gas Works Park, home to a former gas plant which has been reconditioned and transformed into a public piece of artwork. This remarkable park also provides a spectacularly scenic view of downtown Seattle.

4. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Nothing can really prepare you for the surreal and unexpected beauty of the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Unlike any other museum or art gallery that I have visited, this enchanting world of glass spills across an indoor, outdoor and glasshouse exhibit.

Situated at the "Seattle Center" alongside the EMP Museum and Seattle Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is a site best seen in person.

3. Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square was the "first neighborhood" of Seattle with its official incorporation in 1869. When the city was first built, city residents constructed it at sea level without realizing the tides would impact on their daily life.

In 1889, the "Great Seattle Fire" rampaged through the city and destroyed many buildings. The residents pulled together to build the city back up. This time it was raised above sea level with the new buildings built on top of the original streets.

There are various tour companies that run underground tours in Pioneer Square, exploring beneath the modern day streets of Seattle. For an underground tour with a twist, consider a historic haunted tour.

This eclectic neighborhood also hosts free public events regularly, including the "First Thursday Art Walk".

2. EMP Museum
In the 1990s, Seattle became immortalized in music history with the explosion of grunge into mainstream pop-culture. With bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden hailing from here and Nirvana from nearby Tacoma, there is a legacy of artists to be admired.

The EMP provides the opportunity to be immersed in the progressive past of contemporary pop culture, including the musical history of the Pacific Northwest. The colorful and vibrant display starts outside of the building with the rock 'n' roll inspired exterior. Each exhibit, whether for music, gaming, film or television, has been carefully crafted to provide maximum enjoyment for its viewers.

Children and adults alike will enjoy the interactive installations, including the Sound Lab where you can try your hand at the musical instrument you have always dreamed of playing. There are even soundproof booths for practicing and a studio to record your next hit. For those who take their music more seriously, check the timetable for workshops that run throughout the day.

1. Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle is a futuristic-looking tower standing at 184 meters (605 feet) tall with a revolving restaurant, SkyCity. Constructed in 1962 for the Seattle World's Fair, it has attracted millions of visitors from all over the world.

The Observation Deck provides 360-degree views of Seattle, including the downtown area, Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier and beyond. This is a vista that could never get boring. Step back inside for an abundance of interesting facts and stories on the beloved Space Needle. And if you still have questions, the helpful staff love to share their knowledge.

Eating and drinking
If you don't do anything else in Seattle, at least make sure that you eat good food and drink great coffee. It's hard not to in a city that has ample access to fresh produce and seafood. Another bonus is that this city is generally very vegan, vegetarian and food allergy friendly.

First stop is Pike Place Market, a public market where local vendors and farmers can sell their crisp produce and gourmet goodies direct to the public. The market can get quite busy, especially on weekends, however it is for good reason. Pike Place is definitely worth multiple trips as you eat your way through the different delicious foods on display.

Other great foodie neighborhoods include Ballard and Capitol Hill. Considered the "hipster" and "alternative" neighborhood, Capitol Hill is a great place to eat, drink, watch live music and buy vintage clothes.

There are so many independent and local cafes in Seattle that I would recommend sampling as many as possible. It is practically impossible to walk a block in downtown Seattle without running into at least one cafe. Some of our most recent favorites include Milstead & Co (Fremont) and Storyville Coffee Company (various locations downtown). Feeling adventurous? Try a lavender or hemp latte.

In addition to having the first ever Starbucks location in Pike Place Market, there is now also the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room for something a little more fancy.

The best way to get around downtown is to walk! Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Seattle as you pound the pavement towards your next destination.

Seattle is serviced by public buses, street cars, a Monorail and the Link Light Rail. To reduce your transport costs, invest in the Orca card (USD $5 deposit required) which can be purchased at ticket vending machines and associated retailers.

For those who prefer to drive, on Sunday there is free parking downtown.

This piece was originally published on as part of the "Local Guides" series.

A4A Local Guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.

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