WELCOME TO SEATTLE and TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Seattle has emerged as an international business center, home to Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstroms and the birth place to Boeing airplanes. More recently, the world has gravitated to its music scene, ecotourism, general and family attractions. Symbolic of its arrival on the big stage, Seattle's skyline is as dramatic as any. Downtown teems with energy, restaurants, cafes and nightlife. To begin understanding how residents relate to their city, first appreciate its natural setting as a hilly isthmus surrounded by Elliott Bay to the west, Lake Washington to the east, volcanic Mount Rainier National Forest to the south and Canada to the north.
Such a topography of mountains, hills, large bodies of water and attractive waterfronts produces a city of neighborhoods that often feel like small towns: Magnolia, Denny Blaine, Madrona, Madison Park, Washington Park, Mount Baker, Leschi, Lakewood and Seward Park, to name a few. Civic leaders wisely preserved plentiful doses of park space between and within communities that, from any aerial vantage point, make this a city of evergreen vistas, hence the well-deserved nickname “Emerald City.”
Adults love general attractions like merchants tossing 30-pound salmon or sifting through rows of fresh Alaska King Crab legs in Pike Place Market. Even locals visit Pike Place regularly. Dare you taste the smoked salmon while there - you’ll definitely want to ship some home. Starbucks Coffee started across the street on Pike Place. Though quaint looking with old-growth trees, popular Pioneer Square is known for beer pubs, sports bars, nightclubs and frequent outdoor concerts. Pioneer Square is the favorite pre-game and post-game destination for fans of Seattle Mariners baseball at the Safeco Field or Seattle Seahawks football at Quest Field – both are architecturally striking sports stadia. Don't forget to lounge at a marina cafe in Lake Union. And for international spice, check out Uwajimaya Market in the Chinatown/International District.
Since the 1962 World's Fair, families have rode the monorail from downtown to Seattle Center, featuring its landmark Space Needle, Experience Music Project with Science Fiction Museum, Pacific Science Center, Children’s Museum, Children’s Theatre, vintage carousel, and other fun attractions. Though the Seattle Sonics no longer play NBA basketball at Key Arena, the WNBA Seattle Storm has started another winning tradition for families to enjoy. Plan on spending a day or two at Seattle Center.
Seattle features one of America's most popular places to collectively dine on a waterfront, visit an restored arcade, take a day cruise or catch an hour-long ferry to a verdant island. When you return, don't forget to haggle with vendors selling wares on Alaskan Way. And remember to visit the remarkable Seattle Aquarium specializing in superbly adapted creatures of the Pacific Northwest.
Families should also make the short drive to Museum of Flight, the largest museum of its type on the West Coast. Expect to be wowed! Check out Hiram Chittenden Locks, Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture and the evergreen Woodland Park Zoo for engaging experiences loved by parents and kids alike. And if the mood strikes you, take an Argosy cruise over to Tillicum Village for a taste of its great Pacific Northwest Native American culture.
African American sites and attractions include the Northwest African-American Museum, Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, Douglass-Truth Library, Nu Black Arts West Theatre, First AME Church and Mount Zion Baptist Churches. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park is easily one of the nation’s best memorials to a great black leader. Most of Seattle's black residents live in the racially diverse districts of Madrona, Capital Hill and Seward Park. An Ethiopian immigrant influx has also produced numerous Ethiopian restaurants that compete for your patronage.
Seattle exudes artistic confidence anchored by the Seattle Symphony and Opera at Benaroya Hall, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Museum of History & Industry, Henry Art Gallery, and numerous art galleries. In fact, the metro area features the nation's 7th largest population of artists.
A short ride south, Tacoma is worth a visit because a modest sized community of African Americans came to work in the paper mills and settled here. Today, they have a distinctive community as reflected in the Tacoma African-American Museum.
The mild weather enhances outdoor recreational activities like boating, fishing, golf, water sports, mountain climbing, skiing, hiking, and biking in and around the city. You really get the sense that everyone just wants to make the most out of this wonderful environment. Seattle-Tacoma is not a Black heritage destination, but everyone should visit, if only for its sheer beauty.