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Seattle, Washington - Overview and Essential Travel Information
by cctraveler2 at TravelPost

'Sleepless in Seattle', it might happen to you as well. Not because of the fact that you couldn't sleep but rather because you did not get any sleep at all. Although Seattle cannot compete (yet) with big cities such as Chicago and San Francisco, it most certainly has a sparkling and exciting nightlife. Bars and clubs in abundance, where you can check out the latest local or internationally renowned bands. The 'Emerald' city is also known for its Opera, theatres and comedy clubs. Maybe Tom Hanks should have spent some more time there....

Seattle is surrounded by water and mountains and the city's attraction lies in the stunning views from the top of the 'Space Needle' or from the ferries.

The waterfront and the neighbouring 'Pike Place Public Farmers' Market' still are a must for both locals and tourists. While you're at Pike Place, keep an eye out, the one and only original Starbucks can be found there.

On rainy days, go to one of the museums such as the Art Museum or the Langston Hughes Cultural Center.

When life is still not exciting enough, you can always make an underground mystery tour. Not quite as infamous as Chicago's, Seattle's great fire required the city to rebuild on top of the old. Definitely worth a look.

It isn't for nothing that series such as 'Twin Peaks' and the 'X-Files' are shot in this region which can get quite spooky nearby the waterfront at night ...

If there is one thing this city needs ? its defenitely another CoffeeShop... Amongst my favorites i would suggest Bauhaus, if it were only for the location, and the donuts served with a smile.

SIGHTS

Quite honestly speaking, Seattle does not have to offer that many sights such as historical landmarks and memorial sites. If there is one thing you should see then it is, of course, the Space Needle on 5th Ave N and Broad St (206-443-2111). It is the internationally known symbol of the 'Emerald City', made by E.E.Carlson and from the top, you can have some great views of the city. The 185m high Needle is housed in the Seattle Center.

Besides 'the Needle', there are quite a lot of museums and parks to pay a visit. For those who've come to Seattle not to find Tom Hanks but the paradise of beer, they should pay a visit to 'Beer Central' (First Ave 1415, 206-622-6044) which offers all sorts of beers.

Seattle is a nice place to stroll around. There is the waterfront, when you want to breathe in some fresh air and have a look at the incoming or going ships or the nearby islands. When you feel like shopping, pay a visit to the adjacent Pike Place Market which is a continually operating farmers' market with no less than 600 businesses.

Pioneer Square is in the heart of the oldest neighbourhood in Seattle and is part of the National Historic Disitrict. The red-brick buildings are a lust for the eye and house shops, cafes and bars. You can also participate in underground tours at this square. Check out the museums and parks.

GETTING AROUND

Seattle's Sea-Tac Airport is 13 miles (21km) south of the city via I-5. Gray Line's Airport Express and Shuttle Express both offer inexpensive rides to and from Seattle's major downtown hotels. Taxis are another option, although they're not for those with a small budget. There are plenty of car rental agencies at the airport if you want to chauffeur yourself.

Metro Transit buses blanket the metropolitan area with most buses running through downtown on 4th Ave or in the Bus Tunnel which has five downtown entrances. In the immediate downtown area, all bus rides are free from 6am to 7pm in the area between 6th Ave and the Waterfront and between Jackson St in Pioneer Square and Battery St. Note that Seattle Center is outside of the free-ride district.

For bus schedules and route maps check out the King County Metro web site: http://transit.metrokc.gov

Another great mode of transportation, especially for tourists, is the Seattle Trolley that runs form most of the main tourist places downtown. Stops indicated by bright yellow sandwich boards include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, The Waterfront, Pioneer Square, The International District, Safeco Field, and the Seattle Art Museum. The trolley runs every 30 minutes. Passes are $17 for adults and $9 for children (cash only) and are good for two consecutive days. The trolley is available from May to October every day during the hours of 9AM to 6PM.

If you're driving to Seattle, you'll probably arrive via I-5 or I-90. It's usually wise to check traffic conditions before you hit the freeways as Seattle's traffic is second only to that of Los Angeles in sheer hellishness. Downtown Seattle also has miles of one-way streets and parking can be a nightmare.

For trips outside the city limits, the Washington State Ferry system is a wonderfully scenic way to get around. The views of the city are top and making a tour on a warm sunny summer day is definitely a good option. Ferries leave from the piers along the Alaskan Way waterfront.

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