Seattle is a coastal seaport city and the seat of King County, in the U.S. state of Washington. Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. From 1869 until 1982, Seattle was known as the “Queen City”. Seattle’s current official nickname is the “Emerald City”, the result of a contest held in 1981, the reference is to the lush evergreen forests of the area. Seattle is also referred to informally as the “Gateway to Alaska” for being the nearest city in the contiguous US from Alaska, “Rain City” for its frequent cloudy & rainy weather, and “Jet City” from the local influence of Boeing.
Among Seattle’s prominent annual fairs and festivals are the 24-day Seattle International Film Festival, Northwest Folklife over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous Seafair events throughout July and August (ranging from a Bon Odori celebration to the Seafair Cup hydroplane races), the Bite of Seattle, one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the United States, and the art and music festival Bumbershoot, which programs music as well as other art and entertainment over the Labor Day weekend.
One of the oldest continuously-operated farmer’s markets in the U.S., Pike Place Market presides over a nine acre historic district in the heart of downtown Seattle. The market features fresh fish and produce stands, arts and crafts, ethnic groceries and gift stores, vintage clothing, antiques and collectibles, international restaurants, cafes and food bars. Street musicians, sanctioned by the Pike Place Market Preservation Development Authority (PDA), entertain at designated locales throughout the market. The Pike Place Market is located between First & Western Avenues bound by Union & Stewart Streets.
One of the foremost natural history museums in the region, The Burke Museum features both natural and cultural artifacts from the Pacific Northwest and the Pacific Rim ranging from Native American totem poles and hand-carved cedar canoes to dinosaur skeletons, fossils, gems and minerals.
Argosy Cruises is Seattle’s largest water sightseeing tour operator, offering excursions of Seattle’s harbor, Lakes Union and Washington, the Hiram Chittenden Locks and Puget Sound. The one-hour, narrated Harbor Cruise departs from Pier 55 on the Seattle waterfront and cruises Elliott Bay (Seattle’s busy harbor) several times daily with hours changing seasonally. Argosy offers a two and a half hour Locks cruise which departs from the Seattle waterfront and cruises Elliott Bay through the Hiram Chittenden Locks into Lake Union, featuring Seattle’s floating houseboat community.
Pike Place Market (Free). Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously-operated farmers market in the U.S. Enjoy samples of local foods from vendors and be entertained by street musicians. Entrance to the market is free, street performers gladly accept donations.
Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system, carries 23 million passengers per year aboard 28 vessels serving ten routes. Ferries range in size from small, high-speed passenger-only boats to vessels that carry 2,500 passengers and 202 automobiles. Among the most popular and scenic routes are the ones leaving Seattle’s waterfront. These car ferries (also open to foot and bicycle passengers) travel to Bremerton (on the Olympic Peninsula) and Bainbridge Island. Several other routes operate on Puget Sound with comparable fares and regular sailings, including Mukilteo-Clinton (Whidbey Island) and Edmonds-Kingston (Olympic Peninsula).
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