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Destination Guide: Seattle

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There’s no other way to say it: Seattle is glorious.

It’s glorious in the summer, when the whole city sunbathes, there are festivals galore and Mt. Rainier rises majestically on the horizon. But it’s also glorious in February, when Seattleites fight gray days by enjoying cozy restaurants, hikes in evergreen forests and steamy floats in hot tub boats (more on those in a moment.)

Here’s a quick travel guide that covers the basics of visiting the Emerald City: what to do, where to stay, and what to eat in Seattle, Washington.

5 Fun Things to Do in Seattle

  1. Take a sunset stroll at Golden Gardens Park. This popular park in Ballard is the perfect place to soak in the uniquely Northwestern scenery; sailboats gliding on Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains rising beyond. Golden Gardens offers hiking trails, fishing, sunbathing and fantastic people-watching.
  2. Visit Pike Place Market. You knew we were going to say it! As touristy as it is, this iconic market is still one of the most fun things to do in Seattle. Arrive hungry, because Pike Place is home to fragrant bakeries, even more fragrant cheese shops, and gourmet food stalls galore. And of course, you have to watch the Pike Place fish guys throw fresh fish.
  3. Soak in a hot tub boat. Yes, it’s real. The Hot Tub Boat was invented in Seattle, and true to its name, it’s a boat that is also a diesel-fired hot tub. Jump in and cruise around Lake Union with up to five fun-loving friends.
  4. See wild orcas. Puget Sound is home to an amazing array of marine life: orca whales, humpback whales, porpoises and sea lions. You have a good chance of seeing them if you take a whale-watching cruise in the sound. You may be so enchanted by these intelligent and social animals that you want to linger in the San Juan Islands and take a kayak tour to their hunting grounds.
  5. Explore the Chihuly Garden. Artist Dale Chihuly elevated glassblowing from craft to fine art with intricate works inspired by sea life and flowers. Chihuly Garden and Glass, located next to the Space Needle, includes eight galleries and a glass conservatory filled with vibrant glass installations.

4 of the Best Boutique Hotels in Seattle

The Maxwell Hotel calls itself “a celebration of the living arts,” with murals, hand-painted tiles, and artwork everywhere you look. Guests love its cushy rooms and fun perks: an indoor pool, complimentary beach cruisers, pineapple mini cupcakes for happy hour, and a free shuttle service. The best part is its location next to the Space Needle.

When the Hotel Sorrento opened in 1909, its first guests were “the anxious prospectors, cagey entrepreneurs and curious tourists who attended the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which was pretty much the first time anyone outside the Northwest had ever heard of Seattle,” the hotel says. Now, it’s a historic landmark known for its Fireside Room cocktail bar and well-appointed rooms.

Looking for luxury? The Edgewater Hotel on Pier 67 is the place for sprawling views of the mountains and Elliott Bay. Despite its serene atmosphere, the Edgewater has been a favorite haunt of rock stars over the years, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and KISS.

One of the very best boutique hotels in Seattle is The Thompson. Expect impeccable guest rooms, complimentary sparkling wine when you arrive, discounts at local boutiques and spas, and memorable local fare at the in-house restaurant, Scout PNW.

3 of the Top Restaurants in Seattle

You can’t leave Seattle without dining at Ivar’s (grabbing some chowder at Sea-Tac Airport doesn’t count). This seafood chain, founded by a colorful restaurateur in 1938, has several locations. We’ll recommend Ivar’s Salmon House, which serves alder-smoked salmon as well as the iconic fish-and-chips and white chowder.

In a city with so much fresh seafood and deep Japanese heritage, a sushi dinner is a must. One of the top restaurants in Seattle is Sushi Kashiba, founded by Shiro Kashiba — “the grandfather of Seattle sushi,” according to Condé Nast Traveler.i Try the black cod marinated in sake and miso paste.

And for fine dining, it doesn’t get any cooler than Canlis. This legendary Seattle restaurant occupies a midcentury building that offers sweeping views of the city, a celebrated wine program, and elegant, artfully presented food. Just don’t roll up in shorts and sneakers; attire is dressy, and jackets are required for men.

Ready for your Seattle getaway? Remember that travel insurance is a must for domestic trips! It can be invaluable if you experience flight delays, lost luggage, a covered trip cancellation or other travel mishaps. Find the plan that’s right for you!

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