Seattle: The Emerald City

Built on seven hills, with unmatched mountain and water views, the wealth of natural beauty in and around Seattle astonishes first-time visitors. Bounded on the west by Puget Sound, an inland arm of the Pacific Ocean, and on the east by Lake Washington, the city occupies a north-south corridor, slender at the waist, with hundreds of miles of salt and freshwater shore-line literally touch the city’s boundaries. The Cascade mountain range is east of the city, and the Olympic Mountains are to the west. Thousands of square miles of evergreen forest extend out from the city, and, on a clear day, the views of mountains and water are spectacular.

Seattle is a major port, transportation hub, and manufacturing center and the principal city of Washington State and of the Pacific Northwest.

Some of Seattle’s best-known attractions are the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Woodland Park Zoo, Waterfront, Ballard Locks, and the new Experience Music Project. These urban landmarks are clustered in pedestrian-scale sections, best savored on foot. Central business district buses are free, and the Monorail speeds quickly between downtown and the Seattle Center (site of both the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project).


Seattle has a mild climate all year round. The Olympic Mountains protect the Puget Sound area from heavy rainfall and high winds from the west. On the east, the Cascade Mountains shield the area from winter cold. Winter days are short, but summer days are long, with16 hours of daylight in midsummer. The average summer temperature is 73 degrees (22.8 C), and maximum afternoon temperatures of 90 degrees (32.2 C) or more are uncommon. Average yearly rainfall in Seattle is 36.2 inches (92 cm).

Sights and Scenes

Here are some “best bets” for a Seattle Sunday (or any day for that matter). Some are designed for rain, some for shine. Some will take a few minutes, some a whole day. Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the Waterfront are in walking distance from the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and the conference hotels.

Pike Place Market

The in-city farmers’ market so captures the essence of Seattle it is on almost everyone’s must-visit list. The Market occupies a nine-acre historic district and offers a profusion of vegetables, flowers, fish, baked goods and crafts from more than 100 farmers and 150 craftsmen. There are dozens of cafes.  Hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Many of the restaurants stay open until late in the evening. Pike Place Market is a great place to buy handicrafts, to eat, to people-watch, and to view the harbor.



Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square was settled soon after Seattle was founded in 1851. This is the site of the Skid Road (along Yesler Way) to skid logs downhill to the sawmill and the waterfront. Pioneer Square’s handsome brick buildings were built after the Great Fire of 1889. Pioneer Square has scores of interesting shops, antique galleries, and ethnic restaurants and more art galleries per square foot than any other city in the US. The underground tour of the old storefronts beneath the current-day Pioneer Square provides a glimpse of Seattle, circa 1889.

The Waterfront

Seattle’s waterfront, once known as “the Gold Rush Strip” stretches from Pier 51 on the south to Pier 70 on the north. It’s a popular area for strolling, shopping, dining, and exploring. Pier 70 houses a complex of shops and restaurants in a restored wharf. Waterfront Park is at Pier 57, with its public fishing pier, fish and chip bars, and import houses with merchandise from around the world. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop at Pier 54 specializes in souvenirs and curiosities, including two mummies (Sylvester and Sylvia). You can also take a ferry ride or visit Maritime Park. While visiting the waterfront, ride on the vintage trolley system and get a feeling of some of Seattle’s historic past.




The Ballard Locks

One of Seattle’s most popular attractions, the Ballard Locks have served since 1917 as a watery elevator to lift vessels from the saltwater of Puget Sound to freshwater lakes, and vice-versa. First-timers are often mesmerized by the sight of a lock full of vessels being raised or lowered from 6 to 26 feet (depending on the tide). The locks, the fish ladder, and the Carl English Gardens are open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The visitor center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Seattle Center

Seventy-four acres of arts, entertainment, recreation, shopping, dining, and educational and cultural adventures awaits you at the Seattle Center. Home of the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle Center hosts the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, the Experience Music Project, Fun Forest Amusement Park, Seattle Children’s Museum, and the historic Seattle Center Monorail, which now connects to the Westlake Center.

The Space Needle

Seattle’s landmark, which opened in 1962, provides visitors with a matchless view of the city and Puget Sound. On a clear day, visitors also spot Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and the Cascade and Olympic ranges from the top-level observation deck. Hours for the observation deck are Sunday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. -11: 00 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight. The SkyCity restaurant is one level below the observation deck. As you dine, the outer seating area revolves ever so slowly, making a complete revolution each hour.



Experience Music Project

The Experience Music Project is the new interactive music museum located at the Seattle Center. Designed by Frank Gehry, The Experience Music Project is Seattle’s most unusual building—both in shape (a “blob”?) and in color (red, blue, gold, silver, and purple). Inside you will find kiosks offering interactive tours of rock history, a treasure trove of musical memorabilia (including Bob Dylan’s1949 Martin guitar, Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock guitar, Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocruiser, and Janis Joplin’s “groovy pants”), and much, much more.

Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily.

Woodland Park Zoo

The Woodland Park Zoo, one of the nation’s ten best, is known for its natural habitats, especially a large, lush gorilla exhibit and tropical forest for elephants. The five-acre African savanna is home to hippos, lions, zebras, springboks, and giraffes. Don’t miss the walk through the swamp or the trip through the Nocturnal House, home of the shy, seldom seen creatures of the night. The zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

General Information


The American Dollar, with one dollar equaling 100 cents. Approximate rates of exchange in mid-January 2001 were:

US$1.00 = .67 British Pounds
US$1.00 = 1.50 Canadian Dollars
US$1.00 = 6.9 French Francs
US$1.00 = 2.06 German Marks
US$1.00 = 115.69 Japanese Yen
US$1.00 = 1.05 Euros

All major credit cards are accepted in all hotels, most restaurants and department stores.


Banks in downtown Seattle are usually open Monday–Friday from 9:00 am–5:00 pm. Some banks are open Saturdays from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Automatic teller machines are available throughout town.


The current sales tax in Seattle, Washington is 8.6%.


In general, a tip of 15 percent is given to waiters, waitresses, hairdressers, taxi drivers, etc. Bellhops, doormen, porters, etc., at hotels, airports and railway stations are generally paid $1.00 per item of luggage.

Visitor Information

Visitor information is available in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. This one-stop center provides visitors with tourist information and services such as travel planning, information on activities, and attractions.

Visitor Information
800 Convention Place
Washington State Convention & Trade Center
Center-Lobby Level
(206) 461-5840


Category Breakfast  Lunch  Dinner  
Fast Food $3-4 $5-7 $8-10
Economy $5 $8-12 $10-20
Deluxe $15-25 $15-35 $25-50