Downtown Seattle and industrial harbour
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Downtown Seattle and industrial harbour

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Seattle travel guide

If Seattle was a person it would be the one who everybody else wants to be: the cool, indie kid with the kooky style, the chilled attitude and the fat wallet. Seattleites are a relaxed bunch, just as happy catching waves on Puget Sound or hiking in Olympic National Park as they are sipping cold brews in Starbucks, rummaging through vintage fashion stores or grooving to the latest tunes in speakeasy-style basement bars.

The city has a well-deserved reputation for fostering creativity and enterprise. This is the birthplace of global mega-brands Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing, but it’s also a spawning ground for fabulously eccentric micro-companies. In the kookier neighbourhoods you can barely move for independent book stores, nano-breweries and pot shops. Then there are the wonderfully weird institutions – the underground Metaphysical Library; the ‘Official Bad Art’ museum; the giant troll lurking underneath a Fremont overpass.

Of course, Seattle doesn’t lack for more conventional attractions. No visit to the city would be complete without a trip up the Space Needle, with its world-beating views over Puget Sound and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. There’s also a first-class art museum, a superb science centre, a waterfront aquarium, the shimmering Frank Gehry-designed EMP Museum and an extraordinary garden of organic glass sculptures at Chihuly Garden and Glass.

MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry), meanwhile, ignites curiosity in Seattle’s past in its sprawling location at Lake Union Park, and the Seattle Great Wheel whirls seaside lovers round and round on a downtown waterfront pier.

Exploring Seattle’s neighbourhoods is like meeting different family members. There’s Capitol Hill with its indie boutiques and hidden speakeasy bars, Ballard and its Scandinavian-infused historic streets, or funky Fremont, the self-dubbed ‘centre of the universe’. Downtown’s shiny skyscrapers rub shoulders with heritage buildings around Pioneer Square, home to the original settlers.

Culture more your thing? From cutting-edge theatrical productions to folk, rock and opera performances, the city that brought the world grunge continues to set trends. Over 100,000 visitors attend Bumbershoot, North America’s largest urban arts festival, held each Labor Day weekend. Seattle’s culinary scene is thriving too, with new restaurants opening every week and food festivals running throughout the summer. With an eclectic nightlife scene and stellar shopping to boot, there’s little this stylish city can’t offer.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.