SEATTLE IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE
If you already live here, you know what makes it special. If you are thinking of moving here, read on...
Seattle at a Glance
The Seattle area is a beautiful and stimulating place, alive with growth, energy and ideas. A lot is going on in the region, in technology, the arts, commerce, medicine, politics, outdoor life and pop culture. Located on Puget Sound and surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges, Seattle is one of the most beautiful urban centers in the country. In fact, the Seattle metropolitan area is considered one of the most desirable places in the country in which to live and work.
The area features thriving club, music, literary, movie and arts scenes; acclaimed symphony, opera, ballet and theater companies; exciting, professional sports teams; renowned restaurants; vibrant cultural and music festivals; and great outdoor adventures for hiking, biking, boating, skiing and fishing.
It's a great place to nest as well. Distinct and livable neighborhoods, with great shopping, city parks, lakes, bike routes, gyms and cafes close by. And as for the weather·it rains much less than you might think. Truth is, it rains less here than it does in New York, Washington, D. C and a number of other East Coast cities. The temperature in Seattle is mild, which means pleasant summers and very little snow in the winter - except in the nearby mountains.
Ferry boats transport thousands of commuters and tourists to the many islands in the Puget Sound as well as to the Olympic Peninsula. Island travel is also possible via one of several seaplane services. If you're a cyclist, there are miles of bike routes and trails you can use for recreation or to commute to work.
Getting Out of Town
In addition to the many attractions and amenities Seattle has to offer, some of the most spectacular scenery in the world can be found if you head out of town. Seattle is close to Mount Rainier, Olympic and Cascades National Parks. In the Northwest part of the state, you can visit lush rain forests and mountainous alpine country, taking in the views of snow-covered peaks of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. You can visit the canyons and deserts of Central and Eastern Washington or find year-round recreational activities along the Pacific coast. You can journey north to the cities of Vancouver and Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, or travel east and south to the neighboring states of Idaho and Oregon.
About 100 years ago, when Seattle was about the size of today's downtown, a handful of smaller villages, each with its own flavor, sprang up on the outskirts. Most kept their names and despite inevitable changes over the years, managed to retain some of their original character. We've profiled several neighborhoods to give you a taste of the city's richness.
Downtown: In recent years, downtown Seattle has experienced a renaissance of sorts. Sophisticated apartment and condominium buildings with ground floor shops have replaced vacant lots and dilapidated structures. Anchor stores such as Nordstrom and The Bon Marchˇ have been joined by trendy new businesses. The Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Symphony, many cinemas and rich nightlife all add to the excitement of downtown living. Residents and tourists alike enjoy shopping at world famous Pike Place Market in the heart of downtown.
International District: Just south and east of downtown, this was the home of immigrant Chinese laborers in the late 1800s who worked in the lumber, fishing and railroad industries. They were followed by waves of Japanese and Filipinos and more recently by Vietnamese, Koreans and Pacific Islanders. The "ID" is said to be the only area in the continental United States where so many different Asian groups have formed a single neighborhood.
Belltown: Part of the area north of downtown called the Denny Regrade, Belltown has been transformed in the past 10 years into a hip, vibrant melange of unusual restaurants, funky cafes, thrift shops, condos and apartments. It's a place to try downtown living, and attend concerts at places like the Crocodile Cafe and Sit 'n' Spin, or drink after-work ales at pubs such as the Two Bells Tavern. Belltown is also home to a coterie of artists who can still afford lofts there.
Ballard: Ballard, a few miles north of downtown Seattle, retains a funky, working-class charm that hints strongly of its Scandinavian heritage and, more than just about any other neighborhood, paints a vivid portrait of city life a century ago. Ballard is the place for a growing number of bistros, pubs and art galleries. Farther south, along the Ship Canal, are steel fishing boats, giant crab pots in huge stacks, and in off-season, much of the Alaska salmon fishing fleet rests dock-side at Fisherman's Terminal.
Fremont: One of the Seattle's liveliest neighborhoods, modestly calls itself "the Center of the Universe." Located north of the Ship Canal that connects Lake Union to Puget Sound, Fremont is served by its own colorful bascule bridge. Home to such curiosities as the giant Troll statue under the Aurora Bridge, the Slovakian sculpture of Vladimir I. Lenin on N 36th Street, the neighborhood is famous for its artsy air and lively mix of bistros, bookstores, boutiques and coffee shops.
University District: The campus of the University of Washington is a feast of architectural styles, with stunning views of Mount Rainier, well-tended gardens, well-stocked libraries and two worthwhile museums (the Burke and Henry). It anchors an energetic, youthful neighborhood, made up mainly of college students, but there's more to the U district than "U Dub." University Avenue, ("the Ave") is home to ethnic restaurants, music shops, cafes, pubs and the University BookStore.
Capitol Hill: This neighborhood's original inhabitants were wealthy citizens who lived in grand mansions - many of which still stand - and dreamed of it becoming the state capitol. Though that dream was never realized, Capitol Hill is easily the city's most culturally diverse section and, along its main street, Broadway, its most energetic. Capitol Hill is home to a vibrant, diverse gay and lesbian community, and a magnet for young folks ranging from skateboarders to punk rockers, to serious book-toting students (three colleges reside here). After cruising Broadway and its numerous funky shops and ethnic restaurants, take a stroll through one of Seattle's favorite urban escapes, Volunteer Park. It's the home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a lush conservatory.
Central District: Just east and south of downtown, this neighborhood has historically drawn immigrants of various nationalities, and has been one of the lower-income areas, though new development is changing the face of the "CD." The CD is seeing an influx of new churches, new homes and new businesses, established by people who appreciate its proximity to downtown and Interstate 90. Quiet streets lined with charming bungalows and Victorians surround a small but busy commercial district.
West Seattle: South and, obviously, west of downtown lies this neighborhood of quiet streets, noisy beaches and rising home prices. Separated from Seattle by the Duwamish River and a bustling industrial district, West Seattle has a remote feel to it that appeals to the recent migration of young urban professionals moving there. Besides gorgeous views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains and downtown, the area has two worthy attractions. Alki Beach, the city's most popular shoreline, is a mecca for the sun-and-Spandex crowd with its long strand of sand and paved bike/rollerblade path. South of Alki Beach is Lincoln Park, a lovely shoreside acreage of trees, rocky beaches and beautiful sunset views.
Eastside: Once the domain of turn-of-the-century logging camps, summer cabins and berry farms, the Eastside (of Lake Washington) is now the capitol of the Northwest's high-tech sector. Historically, as it developed the Eastside was viewed as a bedroom community serving Seattle. Now the Eastside is its own rapidly growing urban area. The reverse commute across Lake Washington's two floating bridges, with people heading to the Eastside to work, rivals the traditional traffic jams. Bellevue is the largest city on the Eastside. Kirkland features upscale homes, art galleries and dining. Redmond is home to Microsoft. These and other small Eastside cities feature spectacular homes and plenty of shopping, from major malls to quaint boutiques.