If all you know about Seattle is rainy days and the Space Needle, come take a closer look. Seattle (which, incidentally, gets less rainfall per year than New York City) is divided into several neighborhoods, each with their own main strips, nightlife, parks and exciting points of interest. Pick a zone, any zone, and spend the day getting to know the real Seattle.
One of the most popular neighborhoods for those not willing to live "in" the city, Ballard has a personality all its own. Golden Gardens Park is a great place for a walk or bike ride, and there's plenty of drinks and seafood available at restaurants like Bad Albert's Tap & Grill and Ray's Boathouse.
A political-sounding name for what is unmistakably a liberal, life-loving neighborhood. If you've only got a few days in Seattle, you could easily spend an entire day just in Capitol Hill, checking out the Seattle Asian Art Museum, grabbing a latte at one of dozens of cafes, or browsing for books at the Elliot Bay Bookstore's new location.
"Welcome to the Center of the Universe"; this is the sign that greets you in Fremont, and it only gets quirkier from there. There's the famous Fremont Troll hiding under the Aurora Bridge, as well as a statue of none other than Lenin in the center of the neighborhood. This is the place for the Fremont Oktoberfest (for beer lovers) and Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade (for those who can't get enough of the naked body-paint bike parade). Of course, there's shops, cafes and restaurants galore, each with its own flavor and personality.
Looking for a relaxing day to take a stroll, see a few sights and find a nice cafe to chat over a cup of coffee? Madison Park has all this and more, with the Madison Park & Beach offering gorgeous views, and the bistro-style menu at Madison Park Café offering classic French food and wine, the perfect end to the day.
If dim sum, sushi, or bibimbap is what you're craving, head to the International District, east of downtown Seattle. In addition to a selection of various Asian restaurants, take some great family photos under the pagoda at Hing Hay Park, or visit the Wing Luke, a small museum that offers a big peek into the art and culture of Japan and China.
Kirkland, in a word, is classy. A quick drive across the lake brings you to a selection of trendy cafes, fabulous art galleries, and world class restaurants like Trellis, which features a menu of seasonal, "farm-to-table" meals. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate not only the many wineries, but also Kirkland Uncorked, the neighborhood's annual "Wine, Dine and Design" festival.
Pike Place Market
The market on any given weekend is buzzing with tourists and locals alike, sampling fresh local produce, checking out the catch of the day, or shopping for the perfect souvenir. Pike Place is the United State's oldest farmer's market, and in addition to groceries boasts a huge variety of restaurants, including the original Starbucks. Piroshky Piroshky is an iconic stop, where visitors line up to purchase delicious sweet and savory Russian piroshkys, and a hot bread bowl of seafood bisque or one of several chowders at Pike Place Chowder is the perfect meal on a chilly, gray day.
As the historic area of Seattle, Pioneer Square is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city. History lovers will adore the Underground Tour, which leads you beneath the city to the original Seattle. This is also a popular area for nightlife, with options like a drink at Central Saloon or an evening belting out your favorite tunes at 88 Keys Dueling Piano Bar.
Queen Anne Hill
This is what suburbs are meant to be; at least, for those who don't want to give up the convenience and quirk of the city. Queen Anne manages to be both trendy and understated, from indie bookshops like Queen Anne Books to the hip martini stop Tini Bigs.
It's country location doesn't hide the fact that Redmond is home to huge corporations, including Microsoft and Nintendo, which make this one of the more affluent neighborhoods. Both Marymoor Park and the Lake Sammamish State Park are on the list for cyclists and walkers, and for those more interested in shopping, check out Redmond Town Center.
So much more than just the Space Needle; if you're looking for a place to take the kids on a nice day, Seattle Center is the place to be. In addition to famous Seattle events like Bumbershoot and The Bite of Seattle, the center has plenty of restaurants, rides and arcade games for the kids, as well as the Pacific Science Center, Seattle Opera, and Intiman Theater. Museum lovers can't miss Seattle's famous Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame, which is also the end of the Monorail (which goes straight to Westlake Center).
That's a mouthful; locals call it "U-Dub," the neighborhood known for fantastic restaurants, bars, shops, and the beautiful campus of the University of Washington. This is a hip, energetic neighborhood with everything from clubs to farmer's markets, as well as the fabulous University Bookstore. For Apple geeks, University Village houses the only full Apple Store in Seattle.
Get your quintessential West Coast fix with a stroll along Seattle's Waterfront, with an endless supply of picturesque scenes perfect for capturing a great family photo. In addition to the ferry terminal, where you can head off to Bainbridge or Bremerton Islands, you can also catch a fun water taxi over to West Seattle (much more fun than the long bus ride). Some of Seattle's most well-known restaurants are on the waterfront, including Elliott's Oyster House and Ivar's, and kids and adults alike will have a blast at the Seattle Aquarium.
Five minutes strolling down the street, sand and ocean on one side and bungalow-style houses, burger joints and cafes on the other, you'll swear you were in California instead of Washington. The West Seattle vibe is laid back and a popular place for water sports as well as bikers and joggers. Don't miss Alki Beach, Seattle's most famous beach, where you can lay in the sun with a view of downtown on the other side of the bay.
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