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Seattle, in the extreme northwest of the United States (leaving Alaska aside for a minute), is a modern city with many attractions. The city only truly flourished at the end of the nineteenth century, when it became the base camp for people that went searching for gold in Alaska. At the time, it was a typical Wild West town, but nowadays nothing reminds of this anymore.
The site of the 1962 World Fair is now called Seattle Center. Here you will find the city's main landmark, the 184-meter-tall Space Needle. The tower houses a restaurant at an altitude of 152 meters and an observation deck at an altitude of 160 meters. But there is a lot more to do at the Seattle Center. You can for example visit the Experience Music Project, where all popular musical genres – jazz, rock and roll, gospel, blues, funk, punk, country and hip-hop – are addressed. Here you will find many memorabilia from the 1960s and 1970s including for example a large collection of gadgets from and about Jimi Hendrix, who was born in Seattle.
Somewhat comparable, but in this case with respect to stories and movies, is the Museum of Science Fiction, which pays a tribute to our imagination. The Pacific Science Center brings you back with both feet on the ground. This interactive museum is a lot of fun for children, who may shiver at the sight of the huge robotic insects at the Insect Village. And there is more for children at the Seattle Center. The Children's Museum is mainly geared towards very young children (up to 10 years of age) with large wooden cars, play stores and possibilities for dressing up.
Along Elliott Bay, a lively district called The Waterfront was created. The piers still function as such, but in addition there are many restaurants, shops, cafés and galleries. From here you can make boat trips to explore the harbors or the islands or to go fishing. At piers 62 and 63 outdoor concerts are organized every summer. On The Waterfront you will also find the Seattle Aquarium and the Maritime Discovery Center where visitors can try to pilot a container ship through the Puget Sound (virtually of course).
Not far from The Waterfront lies Pike Place Market, where seafood is sold. This is also the place where the world's first Starbucks opened up!
Pioneer Square, just south of the city center, is Seattle's oldest neighborhood. Here you will find many antique shops, but also galleries, antiquarian bookstores and shops that sell handmade toys. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park recalls the gold diggers who went to Yukon in Alaska and who often prepared themselves at the Cadillac Hotel, which houses the visitor center. (If you wonder how you know this Klondike? This is where Scrooge McDuck found his first gold!)
Right east of Pioneer Square lies Seattle's Chinatown, or International District, as it is called these days, because besides Chinese a lot of people from the Philippines, Japan and Asian countries live here as well. Obviously there are a lot of Asian shops, restaurants and also some temples, including a stunning pagoda in the Hing Hay Park, donated by the Taiwanese capital Taipei.
Seattle is the home base of aircraft manufacturer Boeing and so the city also has a Museum of Flight. Over 130 aircrafts are displayed on the museum's grounds.
Seattle has a city beach along Alki Avenue in the far west of the city. From here you have the best views of the city's skyline. During summer months the beach attracts a high number of visitors.
Across the Puget Sound lies Bainbridge Island, which can be reached by ferry from Seattle's port. The ferry arrives at the historical town of Winslow. Wonderful bike rides have been mapped out across the island. And did you think American wines only originate from California? That is not the case as Bainbridge Island also has a vineyard.
When you take the I-90 in your rental car from Seattle to the east, you'll reach the town of North Bend. Close to this town lie the Snoqualmie Falls. The 82-meter-high waterfalls are a favorite spot for having a picnic. You can also take hikes or bike tours in the surrounding area. Does the name Salish Lodge – located next to the waterfalls – sound familiar to you? That is very well possible as many scenes from the TV series Twin Peaks were shot here.
Mount Rainier National Park is located 144 kilometers southeast of Seattle, surrounding a 4392-meter-high volcano. The Indians call the volcano Tacoma.
Seattle has plenty of parking facilities, both on the street and in parking garages. Make sure not to exceed your parking time on the street though, as controls are strict and the fines are high.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (often simply called Sea-Tac) is located in the city's southern neighborhoods. From the city center you can reach the airport in your rental car in half an hour. The airport is situated near an intersection of freeways (State Routes 518, 99 and 509), almost three kilometers west of the Interstate 5.