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The best Hotels, Restaurants, Shopping, Art, Cultural Attractions, and just plain Fun Stuff to do and see in Seattle, Washington.
Ace Hotel: The hip Ace Hotel applies the Ikea model—minimalist décor, great design, nice prices—to loft-style living in 24 rooms featuring army-issue blankets on the beds and photo murals on the walls. Rooms from $95. 2423 First Ave., 206-448-4721
Pike Place Market: The site is now celebrating its 100th year in trade of giant Dungeness crab, rosy organic apples, and bouquet upon bouquet of blooms. Grab a sandwich from Three Girls Bakery and an assortment of nuts, cheeses, and local cherries for a picnic on the sea-view Harbor Steps nearby. 1501 Pike Place, 206-682-7453
Etta’s Seafood: Seattle superchef Tom Douglas builds his menu around market produce at this cozy spot, where picture windows take in the neighborhood bustle. Don’t miss the crab cakes or the wild king salmon on the grill. 2020 Western Ave., 206-443-6000
Pyramid Alehouse: Near Safeco Field, the joint offers more than 15 microbrews and packs Mariners fans into the beer garden on game day. Try the yeasty, unfiltered Hefeweizen, which took the gold in the 2004 Great American Beer Festival. 1201 First Ave. South, 206-682-3377
Caffe Ladro: Linger over the Seattle Post-Intelligencer or, even better, people-watch. After all, even though you’d be supporting the local economy with a trip to Starbucks or Seattle’s Best, those brews are available both in your own hometown and virtually every airport. 801 Pine St., 206-405-1950; 108 Union St., 206-267-0600
International District: The home of Chinese immigrant workers built after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 burned down the original Chinatown. Hit the Uwajimaya grocery for Asian gifts, candy, and pickled exotics. Eat at either its food court or at nearby Hing Loon for rave-worthy seafood (go with the handwritten specials).
Pioneer Square: Head to the city’s founding Victorian neighborhood for a browse around the shops. Prowl the underbelly of the city with the unique Underground Seattle tour, which ventures below grade for a spooky tour of the city’s origins before the streets were elevated following the 1889 fire.
Nordstrom Rack: Seattle is home to Nordstrom, the now-nationwide department store funded in 1901 through a stake in the Alaskan gold rush. You could shop the downtown flagship, of course. Instead, follow the locals to Nordstrom Rack, the nearby outlet store where deep discounts should leave you with enough for dinner.1601 2nd Ave., 206-448-8522
Seattle Art Museum: Kick off your trip with a visit to Seattle’s cultural gem downtown. The newly expanded, nearly doubled showcase is strong in modern and African art, but strongest in must-see American Indian art, including menacing wood-carved masks of birds and dishes modeled after (miniaturized) whales. 100 University St., 206-654-3100
Seattle Aquarium: Stroll the city’s lively waterfront until you reach the aquarium, four piers over, for a glimpse of the critters that call the Sound home. Inside, the Underwater Dome surrounds visitors with sharks, rockfish, and schooling sturgeon in a 400,000-gallon tank; the curious can touch starfish in tide pool tanks. Pier 59, 1483 Alaskan Way, 206-386-4300
Olympic Sculpture Park: A nine-acre former industrial site-turned-greensward seeded with artworks by Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, and Alexander Calder. Take the central descending Z-shaped path through native landscapes down to Elliott Bay for a unique cultural exercise. 2901 Western Ave., 206-654-3100
Central Library: Spy through the stacks by walking in and around another of Seattle’s new architectural showpieces, the 11-story glass Central Library designed by Dutch star-chitect Rem Koolhaas. Even if you haven’t cracked open a book since English Lit, take a peek at the four-story spiraling book stack and the angular, light-flooded space. 1000 Fourth Ave., 206-386-4636
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks: Hop a bus to the Ballard neighborhood to admire mighty maritime engineering at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Water levels are raised and lowered to allow ships to pass between freshwater Lake Washington and saltwater Puget Sound. See salmon making their way upstream to spawn at the fascinating fish ladder. 3015 NW 54th St., 206-783-7059
Lake Union: Northwest Outdoor Center rents kayaks for self-guided spins all the way to Alaska, but stick to the 2-mile South Lake Union loop for a look at landing seaplanes, the Center for Wooden Boats, and some of the city’s finest houseboats.2100 Westlake Ave N., 206-281-9694
FUN STUFF: SEATTLE
Argosy Cruises: Relax after a morning of walking aboard one-hour Harbor Cruise launching from Pier 55. City meets scenic as you cruise around Puget Sound’s Elliott Bay and past Seattle’s industrious shipping terminals and photogenic skyline, all serenely backdropped by the Olympic and Cascade ranges. Pier 55, 206-623-1445
Pink Door: The subterranean offers a cabaret that features different acts on different days, so you can see a trapeze swinger, burlesque dancer, tarot card reader, balloon artist, accordionist, jug band—half the fun is finding out. But first you have to find it: Head down Post Alley and look for the unsigned pink door. 1919 Post Alley, 206-443-3241
Experience Music Project: The raucous Frank Gehry-designed building mirrors the goings-on within—a sensory roots-to-legacy exploration of rock ‘n’ roll. Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen’s love of Jimi Hendrix inspired the site, and there’s plenty of the hometown rock hero to celebrate. 325 Fifth Ave. North, Seattle Center, 206-367-5483
Space Needle: Ascend the landmark 605-foot Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair icon that doesn’t exactly reach the stratosphere but nonetheless affords in-the-round sea and mountain views. Downtown lies between you and snowcapped Mt. Rainier, making for a stunning photo on a clear day. Grab a touristy but scenic lunch in the rotating SkyCity restaurant. 400 Broad St., 206-905-2100
Jeremy Todd Wellness Spa and Salon: Located at the downtown Fairmont Olympic Hotel. A therapist at this pampering spa invented the aromatherapy-meets-Hawaiian massage, a rhythmic routine that could become the next big thing in the spa world. Don’t miss it.411 University St., 206-262-9000
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