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Seattle is an experience, not just a cruise destination port, named one of America’s favorite cities by Travel and Leisure.com and CNN Headline News, Seattle offers the best of both urban and outdoor experiences, providing the perfect point of departure for your next cruise. Enjoy touring, shopping, lively cuisine, micro brews, fine Northwest wines and of course Seattle’s famous coffee.
 
If you picked  a cruise to the 49th state, be ready for home to wild and open spaces where all manner of flora and fauna thrive. The breathtaking scenery includes beautiful bays and harbors, old-growth forests, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and fjords. When it comes to animal-spotting, there are numerous varieties of whales, sea lions, and harbor seals in the water; bears, moose, fox, and caribou on land; and eagles soaring overhead.
 
In 2015, the cruise ship terminals at Bell Street Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 and Smith Cove Cruise Terminal at Terminal 91 will serve seven major cruise lines including Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
Alaska cruise seaoson From May through September, the Port of Seattle becomes a popular embarkation point for cruise ship passengers heading north to British Columbia and Alaska. Cruise ship traffic has increased dramatically in Seattle since 1999, going from six ship visits and about 6,000 passengers to over 220 ship visits and an estimated 950,000 passengers in 2015.
 
High Season: June - August
Quirks & Perks of Sailing in Season: Temperatures are at their warmest (highs: 50's - 70's), plus the further into the summer you are, the better your chances of seeing wildlife on the various expeditions. The downside: Demand is so strong, you need to book months (better yet, a year) in advance to get the best land and tour packages. Keep in mind, with so many ships sailing Alaska now, there can be a tremendous amount of congestion in small-town ports.
 
To minimize joining the masses, select a ship that sails an off-schedule (such as Holland America's Wednesday departures and Carnival Cruise Lines' Tuesday departures). For a pricing advantage, northbound glacier routes tend to be cheaper than southbound.
 
Mid-June through late August is the busiest time for tourism in Alaska; this is when cruise ships are often booked to full capacity. Since most families in North America vacation during this time period, you can expect more children and teenagers on Alaska sailings. Ports of call along the Inside Passage may suffer from an influx of tourists; in more laid-back cites like Juneau, locals often retreat from city life.
 
Booking and Prices
Prices correspond with demand during the Alaska cruise season, with July being the most expensive month for cruises. The cheapest rates -- often $100 to $200 less per person than high season -- are found during the shoulder seasons of May, early June and September. It’s advised to book ahead, as peak-season rooms may be booked a year in advance
 
Low Season: May and September
Quirks & Perks of Sailing in the Off Season: Shoulder-season perks include smaller crowds and cheaper prices as a result of the weather gamble (highs: 50's - 60's) and the possibility of snow. May sailings typically encounter less rain than summer cruises, and the scenery is arguably more beautiful with more snow-capped mountains; September cruisers benefit from end-of-season souvenir bargains and a possibility of catching the Northern Lights. A few caveats to note: Shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled than in high season, especially boat and helicopter tours. In addition, Denali National Park has been known to close in September due to snow.
 
If you want to avoid the crowds and take advantage of lower prices, May, early June and September are the best times for an Alaska cruise. In May and early June the weather is drier; in September there are noticeably less mosquitoes than during the height of summer. If you book an Alaska cruise during these shoulder seasons instead of high season, you’ll only be missing out on a few hours of sunlight per day and a couple extra degrees on the thermometer.
 
There’s more to Alaska than its natural beauty, though. You’ll visit some very small towns and villages where the locals will welcome you and the restaurants will thrill you with meals that include succulent Alaska king crab legs, wild salmon, and halibut. If an Alaskan cruise is starting to sound good to you, consider one of these iconic seven-night voyages, based on your ship-size preference.
 
Alaska With Small Cruise Ships
Un-Cruise Adventures’ “Inner Reaches Western Cove” Journey (Ketchikan to Juneau)
 
This particular voyage is available on Un-Cruises’ adventure ships Wilderness Adventurer, Wilderness Discoverer, and Wilderness Explorer, as well as the luxury yachts Safari Endeavour and Safari Explorer. The itinerary visits Tongass National Forest/El Capitan Passage, Klawock Native Village, Chatham Strait, Frederick Sound, The Brothers Islands/Stephens Passage, and Endicott Arm for Fords Terror. When we say Un-Cruise ships are intimate, we’re not kidding. The ships listed above cater between 36 and 84 passengers, so everyone gets special attention. It also means there are no wait times to jump into the skiff to get close to whales, seals, and sea lions or to venture ashore on an included shore excursion.
 
These cruises are perfect for anyone who really wants to get to know Alaska and partake in active excursions like hiking and kayaking.
 
Where You're Docked
There are two cruise terminals in Seattle: Ships dock at the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal, which is in downtown Seattle, or at Terminal 91, which is Holland America's home base. The latter is much less convenient and requires a taxi ride to get downtown. Belltown (the new Olympic Sculpture Park is located both on the waterfront and in Belltown), the area surrounding the Bell Street pier, has seen a great deal of urban renewal and an influx of trendy shops, hotels and restaurants within just a few steps of the dock.
 
Bell Street Pier / Pier 66 , 2225 Alaskan Way
The Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal anchors an 11-acre complex along Seattle's downtown waterfront. This vibrant, multi-use property is home to Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, which offer weekly sailings to Alaska.
 
This terminal is within walking distance to town. Pick-up service to and from the both cruise terminals is available. Taxi service to the airport ranges from $25 - $40 for the approximate 20 - 30 minute drive.
 
Parking
The Bell Street Pier garage is available to all cruise passengers. Conveniently located directly across from the cruise terminal, it offers 1,700 spaces of covered, secure parking. Friends and family who pick up or drop off cruise passengers also are encouraged to use the garage.
General parking is available for $21 per day (includes taxes).  Customers will receive a $1 per day discount when booking online at Republic Parking Northwest. Parking demand is quite high, so reserve early.
You may prepay for parking online.  When you prepay, parking is guaranteed.
Location: 9 Wall Street.  Enter at the corner of Alaskan Way and Wall Street.
25 handicap parking stalls available
Maximum height is 6'6"
Questions? Call the Republic Parking garage staff at (206) 783-4144
 
(There is almost nothing of interest around Terminal 91 at this time; it's in the industrial port.)
 
Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean,Carnival  and UN Cruise Adventures are using Terminal 91 facilities almost exclusively for their sailings. Smith Cove Cruise Terminal / Pier 91 2001 W. Garfield Street Seattle's new cruise terminal at Pier 91 is located at the north end of Seattle's waterfront, just 10 minutes from the city's retail core and famous Space Needle. Smith Cove is home to Carnival, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Take a cab into town.
 
If you've dropped off your luggage at the Bell Street Pier and are just waiting to board, there are several really nice lunch spots in Belltown not too far away. Flying Fish, (300 Westlake Avenue North, 206-728-8595) an award-winning restaurant specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine, serves lunch (on weekdays only, alas) including a quickie two-course meal from the extensive menu. It's within walking distance from the two dockside hotels and is open every night for dinner. You're in Seattle, so just walk about three feet in any direction and you can get a great cup of coffee, espresso, latte or cappuccino with biscotti, either from a street cart or in a real sit-down joint. Pacific Place shopping center (Sixth and Pine) is a healthy fifteen-minute walk from the Bell St. pier, much of it uphill, but it does offer some swanky shops like Tiffany if you need to buy a bauble or two. If you have a couple of hours to kill, wander down to the amazing Seattle Aquarium (1483 Alaskan Way, 206-386-4300) where you can visit the exhibits. Or go a bit further to Pike Place Market, have lunch (or weekend brunch) at Etta's (2020 Western Ave., 206-443-6000), browse the stalls, throw a fish and return to the ship with bouquets of fresh flowers for your stateroom.
 
Getting Around
Bus service from Pier 66 along the waterfront and to downtown is actually in the "free zone," available from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day. The waterfront trolley has been removed, but a bus that goes along the same route has taken its place. It is Metro route 99. Cabs are plentiful, and if you want to walk, the waterfront offers plenty of eateries and sights, including Seattle's magnificent oceanfront aquarium, as you meander to Pike Place Market and downtown.
 
Getting from SeaTac airport to the city center will cost between $28 and $35 in a cab, plus tip.
 
If you'd prefer to reserve a shared or private shuttle, limousine or sedan for your transfers between the airport and cruise port or just around town Shuttle Express provides reasonably priced transportation for visitors in the Seattle area. Look for cruiser specials on their Web site.
As you should in any major city, beware of your surroundings, and be careful when carrying cash, wallets and purses. Leave expensive jewelry safely stowed in your in-cabin safe.

Things To See and Do
Seattle situated between two major mountain ranges on the banks of Puget Sound, Seattle exists in a virtual wonderland for outdoor recreation. Amidst all of this nature, though, Seattle is also a smart and sophisticated place, known for technology and airplanes as much as for salmon and Sasquatch. Activities and attractions here match that dichotomy, providing equal doses of extreme and more mellow, indoor sports.
 
The city’s commitment and connection to its marine surroundings are on view at the Seattle Aquarium. As an alternative, though, visitors can choose to get out on the water, either by sea kayak rental or by riding the Washington State Ferry system. There are multitudes of scenic waterfront and woodland parks at which to enjoy the region’s natural beauty, and the piece de resistance is Mt. Rainier National Park, where visitors can get up close to the namesake peak, hike, camp or picnic.
 
In Ballard, The Chittenham Locks, where ships travel from the Puget Sound to Lake Washington and Lake Union, exemplifies Seattle’s dependence on its waterways and educates the public about salmon conservation. On the cerebral side, Seattle museums offer enlightenment on aviation, history and industry, art and science. And here, even music and sci-fi get time in the spotlight, thanks to the 140,000-square-foot Frank O. Gehry-designed Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Hall of Fame at Seattle Center.
 
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Seattle's proximity to the Pacific Rim, combined with its substantial and longstanding Asian population, make the city an obvious home for a first-class repository of Asian art and artifacts. Primarily focusing on the work of artists from India, Japan, and Korea, the museum features an extensive array of pan-Asian art. Its collections encompass paintings, sculptures, and textiles, among other media, offering a broad cultural perspective on Asia's diverse traditions. Themes are both secular and religious, the latter highlighted by displays such as a meditating Buddha and Hindu deities, which illuminate the significance and reach of Asia's many religions. The museum store offers Asian merchandise and books. (206-654-3100, 206-654-3121)
 
Space Needle
Space Needle (Seattle Center, 206-905-2100). This indelible landmark allows you to soar in seconds to the Observation Deck 520 feet above the ground. There's a 360-degree view of Seattle, the mountains, the ferries, Puget Sound and the islands, Lake Washington ... and if you can't see it all with the naked eye, don't worry. Complimentary telescopes are part of the package. Info:www.spaceneedle.com. The Web cam at the top of the Observation Deck is a great way to see the ships at dock, too:www.spaceneedle.com/view/webcam.html.
Well, we still don't have jet packs and flying cars, but the most iconic symbol of that 1960's space-age promise -- the Space Needle -- still stands as Seattle's most-recognized tourist attraction. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the forward-looking theme of which was "Century 21," the 602-foot Needle looks like a huge flying saucer on a towering tripod. At the 520-foot level, the observation deck provides panoramic views of the area's surrounding bays, lakes, mountains, and other points of interest. Just below, at 500-feet, diners enjoy a 360-degree view in the revolving Sky City restaurant. On the way up to, entertaining and comedic elevator operators rattle off fun facts and invite visitors to test their Needle knowledge. (206-905-2100)
 
Woodland Park Zoo
Encompassing some 65 wild acres in the midst of urban Seattle, this world-class zoo houses more than 1,000 animals from 290 species and draws over a million visitors annually. Lush, forest-like habitats replicate the wild, so exhibits closely resemble natural habitats. The Bug World exhinit is a favorite for children, with live creepy crawly specimens that include walking sticks, beetles, and ants. Other popular exhibits include the elephant forest, African savanna, snow leopards, and jaguars. In rain-prone Seattle, the zoo's multiple indoor exhibits and viewing areas keep the zoo experience from being deluged. are also available should the weather be uncooperative. Picnics are popular with the zoo crowd, but cafes and food kiosks cater to visitors, as well. (206-548-2500)
 
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Founded in the late 1970s by a retired Tacoma pediatrician and his wife, who donated the 715 acres for the park, this regional gem is home to more than 200 species of indigenous wildlife. In residence are snowy owls, river otters, bald eagles, lynxes, gray wolves, cougars, grizzly and black bears, and bobcats. On a good day, all of these creatures and more can be spotted during the 50-minute tram ride that meanders through the park. For the more adventurous, five miles of trails that wind through this pristine wilderness. The Cheney Discovery Center provides interpretive nature education for kids, and the Fir Bough Cafe is the perfect place to fuel up for more exploring and learning. (360-832-6117, 360-832-7152)
 
Washington State Ferries
With the largest ferry fleet in the United States, the Washington State Ferry system operates 22 boats. Lining up to drive a vehicle onto the deck of the vessel is just the beginning of a truly Northwest experience. Onboard, get out of the car and enjoy educational and interpretive signage around the ship. Grab a latte or hot chocolate to warm your hands, and step out into the brisk salt air on the open passenger deck to take in the passing bay, mountain and island views. Just two possible itineraries for a day trip to explore Puget Sound from the main Seattle terminal include the Seattle-Bainbridge Island Edmonds run or the route for Fauntleroy-Vashon Island-Edmonds. The fleet's biggest boats travel between Seattle and Bainbridge; the island offers a combination of rural charm and sophisticated amenities. Fares vary seasonally by route. (206-464-6400, 1-800-843-3779)
 
Seattle Aquarium
Otters are the highlight on any visit to Seattle Aquarium. The friendly looking, furry critters are just so cute--no matter what they're doing--that it's hard to tear yourself away from their spacious habitat. This is especially true at feeding time, when these whiskered characters really ham it up for fresh fish. The otters are worth the price of admission, but there is plenty more to see. The main highlight is the underwater dome that submerges visitors beneath the waves of an encapsulated Puget Sound, putting them face to face with a host of indigenous Pacific Northwest marine life, including the giant octopi that live in its murky depths. No aquarium would be complete without an educational component, and here that includes a marine touch tank for children and a information on the life cycle of salmon. (206-386-4300)
 
Museum of Glass
A centerpiece of Tacoma's downtown revival, the Museum of Glass appears to have sprouted right out of the bank along the Thea Foss Waterway. A gleaming steel cone, 90 feet tall, tilts at an improbable angle as its house-sized base emerges from within the building and tapers toward the sky. The huge cone is both the roof and the chimney vent of the museum's Hot Shop Amphitheater glass studio. The shop is the center of activity--a working studio complete with stadium seating from which visitors witness a continual schedule of glass-blowing demos. The museum's galleries host rotating exhibitions of contemporary glass art and related media from an international slate of artists. World-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly is a Tacoma native, and his hand was behind the Bridge of Glass, an elevated pedestrian walkway connecting the glass museum to the nearby Washington State History Museum. (253-284-4719, 253-284-4750)
 
Pike Place Market
Sights, smells, and sounds make Pike Place a head-spinning whirlwind for first-time visitors. Fishmongers near the main entrance entice buyers with loud hawking and dexterous salmon throwing antics, the briny smell of fresh seafood filling the air. Countering that are the rows of vibrantly colorful flower stalls, which emit their pleasing perfumed aromas to passersby. Farm-fresh produce is mounded high along the aisles, and local artisans display their art and wares unique to the Northwest. Restaurants, a brewery, and specialty shops for everything from antiques to movie ephemera fill the multi-level maze. To help visitors find their way, the Market Foundation offers fun and informational tours Wednesdays through Saturdays, starting at the Market Heritage Center at 1531 Western Avenue. Once you have your bearings, pick out a favorite spot and enjoy some of the best people-watching around in this eclectic and progressive environment. (206-682-7453, 206-774-5249)
Pike Place Market is the oldest continually operating farmer's market in the country, and the home of "those fish-throwing guys." The south end of the market houses the edibles, including the fish stalls, the original Starbucks, fresh meats, and fruit and vegetables. The north end is filled with artists' wares and freshly cut flowers (which cruise passengers are seen carrying back to the ship to brighten their cabins on their voyage -- a nice-sized bouquet can run as low as $5). And don't forget to go to the lower levels; you might find a weird collectible that you've always wanted, or you can get your palm read by a self-proclaimed psychic. It's about a 15-minute walk along the waterfront from the cruise dock, or you can take the free-zone bus. Info: www.pikeplacemarket.org
 
Museum of Flight
Hands-on informational and historical exhibits distinguish this museum, which appeals to aspiring pilots and to those whose feet have never left the ground. Displays in the Red Barn, where Boeing's first planes where constructed, chronicle the history of flight up to the late 1930s. In the six-story Great Gallery, more than 20 planes hang from the ceiling and cause guests to gape in amazement. Additional sights include a mock air traffic control center, an early Air Force One presidential plane, and a Blackbird, the fastest plane ever built. Furthermore, the outdoor airpark lets visitors explore some of the museum's largest planes. Other amenities include complimentary guided tours, a variety of free films, a cafe, and a museum store. (206-764-5720)
 
Mount Rainier National Park
This slumbering volcano is the most heavily glaciated mountain in the United States outside of Alaska. At 14,417 feet, it is the fifth tallest peak in the continental U.S. Because of its northern locale, glaciers and extreme weather, Washington State's prime peak is used by many mountaineering groups to train for ascents of the world's most challenging climbs. In warmer months, flocks of climbers challenge the summit's less strenuous routes, and throughout the year a variety of activities are available to extreme athletes and vacationing families alike. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails wind through dense forest past placid lakes and frothing waterfalls. The scenic Wonderland Trail encircles the entire park. There are also plenty of short, spectacular day trips for hiking in summer of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Lodging is available at the historic inn at Paradise, where the visitor center offers meals and interpretive natural history. (360-569-2211, 877-270-7155)
 
Experience Music Project
 Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen had a great idea, partly inspired by the fact that Jimi Hendrix was a Seattle native. This interactive museum/exhibit space/gallery is housed in a spectacular Frank Gehry building near the Science Center, and offers hands-on music creation in a state-of-the-art studio, among other things. Contemporary artists, classical musicians and retro songsters are featured along with memorabilia and live concerts. Info: The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is also co-located with the Experience Music Project. Open daily in the spring/summer from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and daily in the fall/winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.empsfm.org at (325 Fifth Ave. N. at Seattle Center, 206-770-2700 or 1-877-367-7361)
 
Pioneer Square (Starts at Alaskan Way and Yesler Way)
Seattle's first neighborhood, is a charming blend of cobblestone streets and turn-of-the-century architecture with some notable historic features. Smith Tower, built in 1914, was for a time the tallest building (at 42 stories) in the world outside of Manhattan. There's a waterfall garden and the Klondike Gold Rush National Park, plus lots of shops and coffee houses to entertain for an entire day. Info: www.pioneersquare.org
Paris isn't the only city that has underground excursions; Seattle has them too. The Underground Tour (206-682-4646) takes you beneath Pioneer Square, where the old streets and original storefronts from the Gold Rush Days are visible. Info:www.undergroundtour.com
 
Gas Works Park (2101 N. Northlake Way) is a 20-acre playground created on the grounds of an ancient gas plant at the north end of Lake Union. Many of the original buildings still stand; the "gasworks" equipment is brightly painted and provides a unique and exciting climbing environment for kids. The big hill at the top is ideal for kite-flying. Info: www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=293
 
Ballard Locks (Lake Washington Ship Canal, 3015 NW 54th St., 206-783-7059), actually named the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, is an engineering marvel that allows passage from Puget Sound into Lake Washington and vice versa. There's a dam, a spillway and, best of all, a 21-step fish ladder so you can actually watch salmon swimming upstream to return to their place of birth to spawn. There's an underwater viewing area as well. Info: www.nws.usace.army.mil
 
Seattle has been blessed with several parks and urban green areas designed by the Olmsted brothers, the team responsible for the design of New York's Central Park and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Volunteer Park (www.seattle.gov/parks/park_detail.asp?ID=399) is located high above the city in a rolling landscape that offers breathtaking views, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, a band shell for summer concerts, playgrounds, formal gardens, a reservoir, an esplanade for strolling, and a huge glass Conservatory reminiscent of the one in London's Kew Gardens. It's a lovely place to spend a lazy afternoon. Check out the funky shops and boutiques in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, too.
 
Located about 30 minutes from downtown (when it's not rush hour!), Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery (Woodinville, 425-488-1133,http://www.ste-michelle.com), the largest in the state, offers free tours and tastings. You can also visit Columbia Winery (425-482-7490, www.columbiawinery.com), right across the road. A small fee applies for tastings there.
 
Have you ever wanted to see the Concorde, or go through Air Force One? You can at the incredible Museum of Flight (at Boeing Field south of Seattle, 206-764-5720), which also includes a "Personal Courage Wing" featuring rare and restored World War I and World War II fighting aircraft. Kids will love it too. Info: www.museumofflight.org
 
It is said that you can return anything at any time to Nordstrom (500 Pine Street, 206-628-2111) and their salespeople will refund your money with a smile; their standard of customer service is taught in business schools around the world. What started as a simple shoe store in 1901, across the street from this new flagship emporium, has evolved into the standard-bearer for class and sophistication. If you can't afford to shop here, pretend it's a museum and browse through the "exhibits" before enjoying a sweet treat in its cafe; then head for Nordstrom Rack at 1601 Second Avenue, near Pike Place, where excess inventory is sold for a pittance. Just don't call it "Nordstrom's"; that's a big no-no. It's NORDSTROM.
Seattle Houseboats: You can't get onto most of the docks since they are gated, but you can walk along the roads at the east end of Lake Union and gawk at these floating castles, many worth well into the multi-million-dollar range.

Eating Out
Over the last 25 years or so, Seattle’s reputation as one of the great restaurant cities in the U.S. has grown steadily. Before that time, there were some good ethnic Asian and Italian restaurants, and always one or two classic French eateries, but eating out in Seattle was mostly about seafood and steak. And the seafood was usually wonderful, because it’s hard to ruin a slab of salmon or a fresh Dungeness crab. Creamy clam or oyster chowder, or tomato-based seafood chowders, were on just about every menu. The incredible bounty of the region was on display every day at the Pike Street Market. Then the food scene exploded. It was like a complete change of food consciousness, or awareness. Cooking became an art and the materials needed to create that art were close at hand, where they’d always been, but perhaps not appreciated. The “buy fresh, eat local” food philosophy now pervades the Seattle food scene, which now places a premium on sustainable fishing and organic farming practices. The ethnic restaurants are as plentiful and popular as ever, but “Pacific Northwest cuisine” is the general code term for locally sourced ingredients. The big difference now is that many different styles of cooking and flavoring are used to turn those ingredients, no matter how humble, into edible adventures. I’ve covered a wide range of dining choices for you, some of them old favorites that have lost none of their appeal, some that are special destination restaurants where Seattleites go for good food and fabulous views, and others that showily showcase the “new” style of Pacific Northwest cuisine. Many of Seattle’s best downtown restaurants are independent kitchens attached to hotels, others are neighborhood spots outside the downtown core. Wherever you choose to eat, you will be impressed with the quality of the food and the professional friendliness of the service.
 
For real dining deals, though, you'll need to head to the 'hoods. Seattle is a city of self-sufficient neighborhoods, and within these urban enclaves are dozens of good, inexpensive places to eat. These are neighborhood spots that aren't usually patronized by visitors to the city. However, if you have a car and can navigate your way to outlying neighborhoods or are comfortable exploring by public bus, such neighborhoods as Queen Anne, Madison Valley, Madison Park, Columbia City, and Ballard, are all great places to stroll around looking for just the right restaurant to fit your tastes and your budget. In the Upper Queen Anne neighborhood alone, I've counted more than a dozen restaurants within a 6-block area -- and most of them have something or other to recommend them. Stroll the compact commercial blocks of one of these neighborhoods, and keep an eye out for newspaper reviews plastered in the front windows of restaurants. Pick one that the local paper liked, and you probably won't go wrong.
 
Price Categories
Prices are for a three-course dinner (alcoholic beverages and tip not included).
Very Expensive $80 and up
Expensive $40-$79
Moderate $20-$39
Inexpensive Under $20
Alfresco All Summer
Eight to nine months of rain and cloudy skies is a heavy price to pay for long summer days and sunsets that linger until almost 10pm. So can you blame Seattle's residents if they just won't go inside during the summer? The thought of eating indoors on a summer evening can be just too depressing to contemplate. If you happen to be here in the rain-free months (July, Aug, and Sept), and just don't want to eat indoors, here are some suggestions for alfresco meals.
If you got any closer to the water than the narrow deck at the Six-Seven, you'd need a wet suit. No deck in Seattle has a better view. Want a million-dollar view for pennies? Take the water taxi to Alki Beach and have fish and chips on the patio at Alki Crab & Fish Co.. You can get the same view and dine on more creative (and expensive) fare down the street at Salty's on Alki. There's more high-end fish to be had with your views at Ray's Boathouse/Ray's Cafe, a restaurant with a split personality and killer views. Keep an eye out for bald eagles.
 
If you don't have to have a view with your meal, try the shady courtyard patio at Volterra, in the Ballard neighborhood. Serafina, not far from the east shore of Lake Union, is another good Italian restaurant with a garden patio. There's still more alfresco Italian at The Pink Door, Seattle's favorite "secret" Pike Place Market restaurant, which has a big deck with a big view. If you're more in the mood for an urban sidewalk-table experience, head to the Virginia Inn near Pike Place Market. For a thoroughly Pike Place Market experience, grab a table at El Puerco Llorõn, an inexpensive Mexican place on the Pike Street Hill Climb.

While spring and fall can be dreary and drizzly in Seattle, anyone visiting during these times of year have a consolation prize for putting up with the rainy weather -- Seattle Restaurant Week. During this event, which actually spans two weeks in April and October, more than 100 restaurants offer three-course dinners for $28 and three-course lunches for $15. Actually these "weeks" only span Sunday through Thursday, but it's still a great deal. For more information, visit www.theseattlerestaurantweek.com
Waterfront: Ivar's Acres of Clams (Pier 54, 206-624-6852), a Seattle institution for over 80 years, is located along the waterfront near the ferry docks. It started out as a little fish stand and has grown into a multi-restaurant corporation, but this, the original, is still special. Yes, it is touristy, but so what? The food is great, really inexpensive and brilliantly served, and the menus are fun and funny. If you listen carefully, you can still hear the ghost of old Ivar yelling his signature "KEEP CLAM" as you blissfully munch on clams, calamari, fish and sourdough rolls while watching the Washington State ferries arrive and depart at the adjacent dock. Info:http://www.ivars.net
 
Rainy Season Dining Deals
 
City Center: Take time from a busy day of downtown shopping to enjoy contemporary American cuisine in the convivial environment of the FOX Sports Grill (1522 Sixth Ave., 206-340-1369). "Upscale yet casual," this restaurant serves up sports on giant plasma screens but has no kitschy memorabilia. Instead there are armchairs, sofas and places to relax and unwind while you munch. Info:www.foxsportsgrill.com
 
Pike Place: Located at the north end of Pike Place Market, Etta's Seafood (2020 Western Ave., 206-443-6000) is a perfect place to sit after the walk from Pier 66. It offers fresh seafood daily, as well as weekend brunch. Info: www.tomdouglas.com
 
Pioneer Square: Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery and Restaurant (1201 First Ave. S., 206-682-3377) serves upscale pub fare and offers brewery tours daily. Info: www.pyramidbrew.com/alehouses/seattle
 
Chinatown, Int'l District: House of Hong (409 8th Avenue South, 206-8622-7997, www.houseofhong.com) is well known for one thing: dim sum! Seventy-five items of dim sum are offered daily, along with other menu items.
 
Capitol Hill: Coastal Kitchen (429 15th Ave. E., 206-322-1145) is a casual seafood eatery in the heart of hipness; it serves breakfast, too. Info: www.seattle-eats.com/coastalkitchen
 
Lake Union: Chandler's Crabhouse (901 Fairview Ave. N., 206-223-2722) serves up fresh seafood and beautiful views of Lake Union. Info: www.schwartzbros.com/chandlers.cfm
 
Ballard and the Locks: Weekend breakfast, daily lunch and dinner are offered at Chinook's at Salmon Bay (1900 W. Nickerson St. 206-283-4665, www.anthonys.com/restaurants/info/chinooks.html), located where the fishermen dock with their catch.
 
The Hunt Club (900 Madison Street, 206-343-6156): The romantic ambience at this restaurant, located off the lobby at the Sorrento Hotel, plays second fiddle only to the innovations of the executive chef, who decides his menus based on what's fresh in the market and which fresh herbs and vegetables he can bring to the restaurant from his own garden. Consistently voted "The Best Place to Kiss" in Seattle, it's an ideal mood-setter; enjoy after-dinner drinks and nightly jazz (Thursday to Sunday evenings) in the even more romantic Fireside Room, adjacent. Info: www.hotelsorrento.com/food-drink/hunt-club/
 
Restaurant Zoe (Capitol Hill, 206-256-2060), in the heart of Belltown near the cruise port, has been Zagat-rated one of Seattle's top five restaurants for New American Cuisine. Calling itself an "Urban Bistro," it combines the best of Northwest ingredients with unique and innovative menu options. Info: www.restaurantzoe.com
 
The Pink Door (1919 Post Alley, 206-443-3241, www.thepinkdoor.net): The main draw here is the view over Puget Sound from the arbor-covered alfresco patio. Located just above Pike Place Market, it's a lovely spot for a breather after tangling with the crowds below. There you'll find Italian trattoria-style food with "Italian garage sale decor," according to the owner.
 
Earth and Ocean (1112 Fourth Ave., in the W hotel, 206-264-6060): Even if you don't have a full meal there, at least go in for coffee and dessert. The focus there is on organic, sustainable foods. Info: www.earthocean.net

Shopping
Downtown Seattle is the home of retail giants like Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer and REI, all of which were founded here. High-end shops abound, and you can find every top designer name in a downtown location. But to find local treasures and unique Seattle specialties, leave downtown and explore the shops in Ballard, Fremont, and other neighborhoods.
 
As Washington's largest city, Seattle is also home to all the national retail chains you would expect to find in a major metro area, including Banana Republic, Old Navy, Levi Strauss, Ann Taylor, Coach, St. John, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and Barneys New York. If you forgot to pick up that dress in Chicago or those running shoes in New York, have no fear -- you can find them here.
 
Seattle does, however, have one last bastion of local merchandising: Pike Place Market. Whether shopping is your passion or just an occasional indulgence, you shouldn't miss this historic market, which is one of Seattle's top attractions. Once the city's main produce market (and quite a few produce stalls remain), this sprawling collection of buildings is today filled with hundreds of unusual shops, including Seattle's Market Magic, for magicians and aspiring magicians (tel. 206/624-4271; www.marketmagicshop.com); Tenzing Momo, which sells essential oils, incense, herbs, and the like (tel. 206/623-9837; www.tenzingmomo.com); and Left Bank Books, a bookstore for anarchists and their kin (tel. 206/622-0195; www.leftbankbooks.com).
 
After tasting the bounties of the Northwest, it's hard to go back to Safeway, Sanka, and Chicken of the Sea. Sure, you can get wine, coffee, and seafood where you live, but do a little food shopping in Seattle, and you'll be tapping the source. Washington State wines, coffee from the original Starbucks, and fish that fly -- these are just a few of the culinary treats that await you here.
 
The Shopping Scene
 
Although Seattle is a city of neighborhoods, many of which have great little shops, the heart and soul of the Seattle shopping scene is the corner of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue. Within 2 blocks of this intersection are two major department stores (Nordstrom and Macy's) and two upscale urban shopping malls (Westlake Center and Pacific Place). A sky bridge between Nordstrom and Pacific Place makes shopping that much easier. Fanning out east and south from this intersection are blocks of upscale stores that have started to look more and more familiar as small, local shops have been replaced by national and international boutiques and megastores. Here in this neighborhood, you can now find Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Barneys New York, Coach, Gap, and Niketown. Among these, a few local independents remain.
 
Within this downtown shopping district, you also find the loosely affiliated shops of Rainier Square (www.rainier-square.com). Although not actually a shopping mall, Rainier Square, which is bordered by University and Union streets and Fourth and Sixth avenues, is packed with great upscale shops and boutiques, including Brooks Brothers, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Northwest Pendleton, and St. John.
 
Pike Place Market is the city's main tourist shopping district. The market is a fascinating warren of cubbyholes that pass for shops and it has dozens of T-shirt and souvenir shops, as well as import shops and stores appealing to teenagers and 20-somethings. While produce isn't usually something you stock up on during a vacation, several market shops sell ethnic cooking supplies that are less perishable than a dozen oysters or a king salmon. You may not find anything here you really need, but it's fun to look.
 
Just west of and downhill from Pike Place Market is the Seattle waterfront, site of many more gift and souvenir shops. This is the city's tackiest and most touristy neighborhood--save your money for somewhere else.
 
South of downtown, in the historic Pioneer Square area, you'll find numerous art galleries, some of which specialize in Native American art. This neighborhood has several antiques stores but is also home to a dozen or more bars (and attracts a lot of homeless people). It's fun to explore by day, but it's strictly for young partiers by night.
 
As the center of both the gay community and the city's youth culture, Capitol Hill has the most eclectic selection of shops in Seattle. Beads, imports, CDs, vintage clothing, politically correct merchandise, and gay-oriented goods fill the shops along Broadway. The Pike-Pine District, a pair of streets connecting downtown with Capitol Hill, is my favorite shopping neighborhood in this area. Lots of small, independently owned shops offer a satisfying variety of gifts and other goods.
 
The Wallingford neighborhood, just north of Lake Union, is anchored by an old school building that has been converted into a shopping arcade full of boutiques selling interesting crafts, fashions, and gifts. This area seems to be most popular with young moms and their kids.
 
The Fremont neighborhood, a couple of miles west of Wallingford, has an assortment of shops. The neighborhood clings to its fun, funky, counter-cultural roots despite its ongoing gentrification. There are still some retro clothing stores here, as well as import stores, craft galleries, and a few clothing boutiques.
 
To the west of Fremont, you'll find Ballard, a former Scandinavian neighborhood that is currently one of my favorite shopping districts in Seattle. Tree-shaded Ballard Avenue Northwest is lined with historic brick buildings, most of which are now home to great little shops operated by highly creative individuals. You never know what you'll find in these shops, which is why it's so fun to shop here.
 
The University District, also in North Seattle, has everything necessary to support a student population -- and also goes upscale at the University Village shopping center.
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Ballard Sunday Farmers Market
 
Pike Place Market is the best and biggest public market, and open daily, but it is not Seattle’s only market. Stretching for two blocks along Ballard Avenue, between NW 20th and NW 22nd avenues in the picturesque heart of the old Ballard neighborhood, the year-round Sunday Farmers Market in Ballard is a destination for locals and market-lovers throughout the city. Open from 10am to 3pm, the stalls sell fresh organic produce, cheeses, meats, mushrooms, fish, bread and baked goods, wine, and artisan crafts. There are also ethnic food stalls. Many of Ballard’s most delightful shops are open as well, and so are restaurants and places to stop for a coffee and some people-watching.


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