Port City of Seattle – The Pearl of Washington
Officially named after the chief Noah Seattle of the indigenous Duwamish people, its residents affectionately call Seattle the Emerald City, due to its large forests and proximity to nature. You might also often hear is its misleading nickname: Rain City. Since it rains here on average no more than in any other American city, the name actually comes from its location as a port city, which is surrounded by forests, mountains, and the sea at the same time.
The city offers its residents a high quality of life, recreational opportunities in nature and cultural programs. All of which make Seattle a desirable place to live. With the stratovolcano, Mount Rainier, ever looming on the horizon and thanks to its location in the Puget Sound ocean bay, the place offers countless adventures to nature lovers.
Located in the state of Washington, Seattle is only 150 kilometres away from the Canadian border. In case you are looking for great hiking trails through Canada, there are definitely lots of great options there to add on to your trip as well.
Seattle Culture and Economy
An interesting fact for all coffee lovers out there is that the famous Starbucks coffee shop was founded in Seattle! Even today, you can still buy your speciality coffee at the first ever Starbucks. The original Starbucks opened in Pike Place Market in 1971; it was in the years after that all the fancy creations followed.
But the city doesn’t only have coffee to offer. It also has a lot to show in terms of famous personalities and successful companies. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix, musician and rapper Macklemore, and entrepreneur and programmer Bill Gates all grew up in Seattle.
Bill Gates actually had a major impact on the city. Having founded his software manufacturer Microsoft here, Seattle is now home to one of the most important IT companies in the world, and therefore stands at the centre of the modern IT industry.
But Microsoft is not the only corporate giant that is based out of Seattle. The aircraft manufacturer Boeing and the online company Amazon both have their headquarters in the city as well.
Space Needle & Seattle Center
The city’s landmark stands out from the skyline and offers its visitors a panorama that cannot be put into words. The nearly 200-metre-high observation tower is found on the grounds of the Seattle centre. Built in 1962, the centre was designed for the World’s Fair in order for nations to display their new technical and artistic architectures. At this local landmark, you will also find the Pacific Science Centre, Museum of Pop Culture, and the Seattle Centre.
[Fun Fact Omitted as it seems Germany relevant and not appropriate for a global/ English-speaking audience]
Fun fact: The planning team came up with the idea after a visit to the Stuttgart TV tower in Germany. Both offer a revolving restaurant in addition to their observation decks.
Pike Place Market Food Tour
Rumour has it that Pike Place Market is the oldest market in the USA. This is a tale that we undoubtedly believe, since it is as much a part of the cityscape as the Space Needle itself.
We were totally enchanted by the atmosphere and the large selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood that was available. You simply just won’t be able to walk past all of the culinary delicacies that are on offer from the most diverse of nations.
One of the funnier spectacles to be seen at Pike Place is the fish throwing vendors. Whilst this may seem like a terrifying prospect, there’s no need to worry as all the thrown fish only ends up with the buyers. As you fight your way through the crowded alleys to the back of the market, and the loud shouts of the vendors die down, you’ll come across an array of local artists and street musicians.
The experience is rounded off by the famous Gum Wall, which is a collection of metre-long walls, fully covered with chewing gum. Both the exit walls on the right and left are completely covered with the stuff, but we haven’t officially seen anyone sticking their gum onto the wall ourselves.
It started in the 1990s when waiting patrons at the local theatre stuck their gum onto the wall. Over time, it developed into an interactive work of art, which the City of Seattle only tolerates now because it’s become a landmark in its own right.
Mt. Rainier National Park & Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls not only thrills locals, but also attracts travellers. With over 1.5 million visitors a year, it is one of the most popular attractions in the state.
Snoqualmie Falls not only looks breathtaking, but it holds a spiritual significance to the region’s natives as a place of burial. They believe that man was created in the waterfall and will therefore find his final resting place there, too.
Another sight of Washington’s nature is Mount Rainier National Park, which is home to the stratovolcano of the same name. It features the largest glacier region in the USA, this side of Alaska. More than 1.8 million travellers visit the national park annually. In addition to visitor centres, you can also ask for help with your visit at numerous ranger stations.
German Town – Leavenworth
For a taste of German culture during your trip through the Pacific Northwest, you can’t miss the small town of Leavenworth. Those familiar with the clichés of rural Bavarian towns will immediately recognise the distinctive German farmhouse buildings and wooden structures, set in the alpine landscape of the surrounding Cascade Mountains.
From Octoberfest to Christmas markets to Mayfest, you’ll get it all here. The town, known as Washington’s Bavarian village, offers wine stores, German home cooking and an abundance of beer gardens for your visit.
Washington State Ferries
Seattle is located in the beautiful Puget Sound inlet, so you have the possibility of taking one of the Washington State Ferries. You’re even able to get to Canada on one of the high-speed catamarans. There is plenty enough space to expand these existing ferry lines in addition to offering boat tours as well. The Seattle Harbour Cruise is ideal for those who want to enjoy an idyllic sea cruise around the Puget Sound.
Our insider tip is to take a spin around the harbour in the evening hours on one of the boat tours or ferries. At this point of the day, you’ll see the perfect golden sunset over the city skyline and the sea, whilst Mount Rainier towers in the background of this idyllic view.
Seattle Great Wheel
Decades after Seattle’s skyline-defining Space Needle was built, the Seattle Great Wheel was added. It is located downtown, directly on the famous Pier 57. Because you can gaze over the horizon in both directions, the Wheel offers a completely new view of the city. On the left is the wonderful urban skyline, with the Space Needle and the forests in the distance. On the right, you can see Mount Rainier and its ice-covered glacier peak.
Seattle has been voted the most liveable city in the U.S. several times, and not without good reason. Its proximity to nature, but also the lively city life and a thriving economy, offer the whole package to both those who live there, and to those who visit.