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Holiday Guides for North America - United States

Seattle And The North-West United States

If you haven't been to cool, stylish Seattle and surrounding area then you're missing out on a treat.

The US city of Seattle in the north-west of the United States offers an ideal location from which to explore this corner of the country.

Seattle is famous for coffee, rain and its vibrant music scene and is a lively, cool place to visit, with a laidback cafe society and a lot to explore.

History, Culture And Tradition

With a population of just over half a million people, Seattle has all the charm of a small city, with warm locals and a range of outdoor pursuits in the surrounding area.

Originally home to the peaceful Duwamish tribe, the area that is now Seattle was first settled in 1851 and was a frontier town for several decades before it was linked by rail to the rest of the country in 1893.

With a history of logging, Seattle became part of the Gold Rush at the end of the 19th century, as prospectors headed for the Yukon. With a thriving shipbuilding industry, it grew rapidly in the 20th century and is now home to a number of international companies, including Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon.com.

Seattle has a very mixed population, with Asian immigrants, African-Americans, Jews, Native Americans, Scandinavians and Latinos, all living side by side. The city's arts scene is equally diverse and world-renowned, with rock music and the film industry enjoying a strong presence.

Things To See And Do

The famous Space Needle, Seattle's landmark, looks like a UFO hovering over the city. It towers over the Seattle Center, built for the 1962 World's Fair. The center has now become a cultural complex and hosts major concerts, festivals and sporting events. Reached by monorail from downtown, the Seattle Center has its own opera and theatres and stunning views from the observation deck of the iconic Space Needle.

The city is home to a number of excellent museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and the Wing Luke Asian Museum. For younger visitors, the Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, Children's Museum and the 3-D Omnidome are firm favourites, as are the vintage waterfront streetcars.

The fashionable Fremont district is vibrant and different, with its Sunday market, outdoor cinema and sculptures, including the 18ft Fremont Troll, which lurks below a bridge.

Shopping in Seattle ranges from upscale boutiques to the Pike Place Market, the oldest continuous working public market in the US. The market offers a dizzying array of treasures, from locally caught fish to handmade jewellery and carved wooden gifts.

You can also gaze at colourful and strange fish in the Seattle Aquarium, before visiting the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

After a few days in Seattle, you might want to head down the coast towards Oregon and the city of Portland, a charming, old fashioned sort of place whose traditional clapboard houses, wide streets and numerous parks belies its city status. Home to 700,000 people, it is a delightful place to visit, with small brewpubs, cafes, music and art venues and stunning views on its doorstep.

The city is home to the largest new and used bookstore in the world. Powell’s City of Books covers an entire city block and you can spend hours browsing through its shelves. The recently-renovated Portland Art Museum has a broad collection of American art and a new contemporary section.

One of the chief delights about visiting Portland is the surrounding countryside and you should take the opportunity to visit the great outdoors, hiking in the forests, swimming in secluded creeks and staring up at towering, dormant volcanoes.

Weather In Seattle

The North West of the United States experiences fairly high rainfall amounts and fewer spells of clear weather than other parts of the country.

Average temperatures during the day can vary from a cool 7 degrees C in January to a pleasant 23 degrees C in July and August. Summer is also the best time to go if you want to avoid the showers.

Destination Checklist For Seattle

  • The official language is English.
  • The international dialling code to use is +1.
  • The US Dollar is the currency in use.
  • The region is 7 hours behind GMT.