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Destination Insight: Seattle Guide

Home to Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon to name just a few, Seattle has long been a prime business travel hotspot, alongside being a world-beating destination for leisure travel of course.

On your next business trip to the Emerald City we hope that you can make the most of your visit and find time for these 8 unmissable attractions.

  1. Pike Place Market

pike place market seattle

One of America’s very first farmers’ markets, Pike Place Market has been a Seattle staple for over a century. These days it sprawls across nine acres with 500 shops, stalls and restaurants, including the original Starbucks and a thronging fish market.

Arrive hungry to make the most of the indulgent treats on offer from the stalls, including creamy mac and cheese from Boecher’s Handmade Cheese,  barbeque pork buns from Mee Sum Pastry and cinnamon-coated doughnuts from the Daily Dozen. Mmmm, is it lunchtime yet?

  1. Ride the Space Needle

Seattle Space Needle

So many cities have observation towers these days but few can compare with the elegance of Seattle’s Space Needle.

The iconic, 605-foot structure was designed by hotelier Edward Carlson in 1962 for the World’s Fair - and fittingly for such a caffeine-fuelled city the original design was first scribbled on the back of a napkin in a coffee house.

Zip up to the Observation Deck or book a table in the Skycity Restaurant to savour some classic Pacific Northwest cuisine half a kilometre high.

  1. Take a Walk on the Grunge Side

Before Starbucks and tech giants put it on the map, Seattle was famous in the 90s for being the epicentre of the alternative rock scene known as grunge. Today you can follow the Stalking Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Tour, a mini-van adventure which will take you around the haunts of local legends Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix (who pre-dated the scene of course but was perhaps an honorary grunge godfather?) and the final home of perhaps the city’s most famous son, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

  1. Spy some Art in the Open

seattle olympic sculpture park

One of the city’s biggest attractions is the Olympic Sculpture Park. Opened in 2007, this futuristic outdoor arena crisscrossed with landscaped, zigzagging walkways is the only one of its kind in the US and showcases some spectacular works of art, including Jaume Plensa’s Echo, whose bulbous white head appears to contort from different perspectives and Alexander Calder’s The Eagle, a bold red geometric shape which deliberately echoes the Space Needle.

Seattle also has many fantastically vibrant murals of course, including this ingenious series of concrete stencil works which only materialise in the rain. We do hope that London and Manchester is watching. There’s even a handy google map of the city’s finest examples of street art.

  1. Scale Mount Rainer

If you have a full day to spare, why not venture a little outside of the city to take in the splendour of Mount Rainer? Mighty Rainer towers 14,000 feet high above the national park, where you can take in its snow-capped peak, crashing waterfalls and abundance of plant and animal life.

After watching the 30-minute film in the excellent Whittaker School of Mountaineering visitor centre, seasoned guides will take you on a leisurely hike to some of the mountain’s best viewing points. Don’t forget to pack your camera - and a waterproof for this notoriously rainy region!

  1. Take to the Water

seattle waterways

Seattle is a popular cruise port that’s bordered by water, presenting a full gamut of aquatic adventures to dive into. There are so many that we could easily devote an entire guide to these, but just for starters, you could paddle your own canoe with a self-guided sea kayaking trip to Portage Bay past countless elegant houseboats and yachts clubs or take a tour of the many charming antique lighthouses dotted around the Puget Sound coastline.

Later drop into the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59 to wave at the sea otters and giant octopi – and snag a free ride courtesy of the volunteer skippers at the Center for Wooden Boats, who kindly take visitors out every Sunday on their schooners and spirit boats.

  1. Meet the Ghosts of Pioneer Square

Seattle’s original downtown area burnt down in 1889, but these days it’s much revitalised, packed with pizzerias, hip galleries, artisanal boutiques, bars and historic museums to explore. Come at night for a ghost tour or during the day experience the Underground Tour and discover some equally spooky subterranean passageways.

  1. Tour the Taprooms

While it seems that almost every place has a thriving craft beer scene these days, Seattle is positively booming with micro-breweries of the highest order opening up all the time.

Some of the city’s best brews can currently be had at Fremont, with its buzzing patio, the ever-changing but reliably satisfying Holy Mountain Brewing Company and Cloudburst Brewing Company, which proffers seasonal specials sourced from Pike Place Market vendors. Bring your growler and settle in for the night.

Getting to Seattle

Pioneer Square Seattle

Seattle has 3 airports, but the main international hub is Seattle Tacoma Airport, just off the Pacific Highway S. The airport has four terminals and a station on the Link Light Rail Network which delivers you to the downtown area in around 30 minutes, with trains departing every 15 minutes between 5am and 1am.

Getting Around Seattle

Seattle offers enviable transport links, with a light rail network, buses, modern streetcars and of course the famous Seattle Center Monorail.

An All Day Regional Transit Pass can be used on most of these and costs $8 per day.

There are also ferries and the Pronto Bike Share with 500 bikes for hire at 50 stations. Ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar all have a presence in the city centre.

Learn More

Discover many more of Seattle’s attractions on the tourist board’s website Visit Seattle.

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