The largest city in the northwest United States, Seattle is home to over 550,000 people (38 million in the metropolitan area) and county seat of King County. Founded in the 1850s, it was named after Chief Seattle, or Sealth.
Pike Place Market, one of Seattle's oldest tourist attractions draws visitors to the waterfront for shopping, dining and grazing through the produce market. In the former World's Fair site at Exposition Park, all but the most acrophobic like the Space Needle, sci-fi fans flock to the Science Fiction Museum and music-lovers like the Experience Music Project, housed in a fanciful, Frank O. Gehry-designed structure.
Historic Pioneer Square is favored for boutique shopping, dining and the Seattle Underground Tour, a tongue-in-cheek prowl beneath the city's sidewalks that blends Seattle history and corny jokes in equal proportions. The Museum of Flight houses an extensive and fascinating collection of aircraft and aviation memorabilia, including the first presidential jet plane (Air Force One) and a Concorde.
Seattle visitors are blessed with one of the largest selections of top-rated hotels anywhere, ranging from the elegant Grand Hyatt in the middle of downtown to the earthy Edgewater, sitting over the bay with spectacular Puget Sound views. Other options include the hip Watertown Hotel, rated as one of the most healthy hotels by Health magazine, Hotel Monaco, ranked in the world's top 100 hotels by Travel & Leisure and the romantic Hotel Sorrento. Budget options include Pensione Nichols, Inn at Queen Anne and the Moore Hotel, while Greenlake Guest House and the Chambered Nautilus top the bed and breakfast brigade.
The Seattle Times rates Rover's French cuisine pricey-but-worth-it. Other high-end dining choices they give high marks to include Campagne, Cascadia and Crush, whose chef Jason Wilson was named one of Food & Wine magazine's 10 Best New Chefs for 2006. Lower-priced but also well-regarded are Black Bottle and Crow. In Pioneer Square, Il Terrazzo Carmine serves Italian fare. Six Seven restaurant at the Edgewater Hotel takes top honors for waterside dining.