Seattle Essentials

Updated: June 21, 2017

18 Things to Know About Seattle

Where to stay, and what to do in Seattle, Washington.

    The Basics

  1. Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, located 60 miles north of Washington’s State capital city of Olympia.
  2. Nestled on the shores of Puget Sound, Seattle maintains an active sea port, and is the fourth-largest container gateway in North America. Harbor Island on Elliott Bay is the nation’s largest man-made island.
  3. It rains a lot in Seattle, though not as much as most people think. The city averages 152 wet days per year, but generally this falls as a light drizzle; at 37 average inches, Seattle receives 2 inches less rain per year than the national average of 39. The weather in July through September is usually sunny and dry.
  4. Seattle sits between two mountain ranges, with the Olympic Mountains to the west, and Cascade Mountains to the east. The Canadian border is 110 miles north of Seattle.
  5. The four largest employers in Seattle are Boeing, Microsoft, the University of Washington, and Amazon.com.
  6. Seattle’s University of Washington is consistently ranked among the nation’s top universities and loveliest college campuses. The University’s waterfront Husky Stadium is known as the most scenic setting in college football.
  7. Visiting Seattle

  8. The best time to visit Seattle is June through August. In summer, Seattle is sunny, dry, and warm, with daytime highs generally around 75°F and low humidity. Flights, ferries, and tours all run with greater frequency during this time, however. Hotel and travel prices will be higher, and availability will turn scarce — so make reservations well in advance.
  9. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is located 15 miles south of downtown Seattle. The best and most reliable transportation from Sea-Tac to downtown is Seattle Town Car. Link light rail is the cheapest, at $3/ride.
  10. Seattle has two cruise ship ports, and both are located near downtown. Seven cruise lines call Seattle a home port, offering 7-day cruises to Alaska: Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.
  11. Seattle’s two sports stadiums sit just south of downtown in the SoDo neighborhood. Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners MLB team, while both the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Sounders (MLS) play at CenturyLink Field.
  12. Seattle Neighborhoods

  13. Downtown Seattle is the most popular area for visitors to stay. It’s home to most of the city’s best (and most expensive) hotels, as well as lots of great shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Attractions include Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, Westlake Center and Pacific Place malls, and Nordstrom’s flagship location.
  14. Belltown is adjacent to downtown, sitting just north of the city center. It’s known for nightlife and high-rise condos, and is home to the Olympic Sculpture Park. From Belltown, it’s an easy walk to both downtown attractions and Seattle Center.
  15. Pioneer Square is the historic heart of the city, and is where you’ll find Seattle’s oldest buildings and the Underground Tour. Pioneer Square is within walking distance to Seattle’s two sports stadiums, the ferry terminal at Colman Dock, and downtown attractions.
  16. Queen Anne is home to the iconic Space Needle, and the Seattle Center entertainment complex that incorporates the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Key Arena, and the Seattle Children’s Museum and Theatre. Queen Anne hotels are generally less expensive than downtown.
  17. South Lake Union is a hi-tech hub, home to many prominent biomedical and technology companies, such as Amazon.com. South Lake Union is home to the Museum of History and Industry, the Center for Wooden Boats, and the seaplane company Kenmore Air.
  18. Seattle’s Waterfront neighborhood sits just west of downtown, perched aside Puget Sound’s Elliot Bay. This is where you’ll find the Seattle Aquarium, the Great Wheel, and the Wings Over Washington ride, as well as docks for Washington State Ferries, Argosy sightseeing cruises, the Victoria Clipper, and the West Seattle Water Taxi.
  19. Seattle Things to Do

  20. Seattle Center – a large entertainment complex that also incorporates the Space Needle – was originally created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and remnants of the fair’s space-age theme remain in the Center’s mid-century architecture, sculpture, and the Monorail that runs from the base of the Space Needle into downtown.
  21. Aside from the Space Needle, Seattle Center’s campus also houses the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Seattle Children’s Museum and Theatre.

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