Seattle is known for...
The Pacific Northwest’s largest city is surrounded by water and boasts a historic seafaring culture. Founded on the harbor of Elliott Bay and reaching only 450 feet above sea level, Seattle’s collection of neighborhoods is located between Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east. Seattle’s rainy reputation aside, with ship canals, locks, marinas, islands, bays, lakes, rivers and creeks dotting the landscape in every direction, much of this major seaport’s identity (Mariners & Seahawks anyone?) is tied up in fishing, sailing, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, and commuting by ferry. You simply haven’t seen Seattle until you’ve seen it from the water.
Seattle’s reputation for being a city fueled by coffee, and lots of it, may have something to do with a little company called Starbucks. Founded in 1971, Starbucks was followed in the region by (most notably) Seattle’s Best, Tully’s, Top Pot, Cherry Street, Peet’s, Caffe Ladro, Victrola and Espresso Vivace. The city’s thriving coffee shop scene is also fortified by a dizzying array of independent local artisanal espresso roasters and cafes. Most people have their favorite shop, their local shop, their on-the-way-to-wherever shop and the interesting thing to note is that there’s no saturating this market. There cannot be too many places to stop and grab a cup. Not here, not ever. Long live caffeine.
Surrounded by 13 national parks in the State of Washington including the Mount Rainier, North Cascade, Olympic, San Juan Island, and Lewis and Clark National Parks, Seattle is home to a general population of rock-climbing, mountain-hiking, bike-riding, snowboarding, all-season-camping eco-conscious nature enthusiasts (and not coincidentally the birthplace of the national retail sporting good and outdoor recreation gear corporation, REI.) Whether it’s beaches, glaciers, waterfalls or rainforest you’re after, you can find it here. Even in town it’s difficult not to stumble upon natural settings for outdoor activity such as Green Lake, Discovery Park, Alki Beach, Seward Park and the Burke-Gilman Trail. Just step outside and take a look around.
Home to critically acclaimed chefs including Jason Stratton of Spinasse, Ethan Stowell of Staple & Fancy, Maria Hines of Tilth, and Tom Douglas of Lola, Seattle has a reputation for being serious about food. The acts of growing, preparing and eating all elevated to near art form status without being pretentious to the point of excluding the everyday Seattleite. It’s a farmer’s market, locavore and seafood culture. Seattle area residents generally like to support their friends and neighbors by buying what the area has to offer and eating what our surroundings inspire.
Making a 2009 Forbes list of America’s Best Cities for Families, Seattle raked as the seventh-most-affordable city in which to raise a family. If all the strollers and dogs out on the sidewalks at any given time are any indication, Seattle is certainly living up to that assessment. Adding to the stroller posse are an increasing number of the city’s substantial LGBT population (Seattle ranks second behind San Francisco with 12.9% of citizens polled identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual.) And with 53.8% of the city’s population over the age of 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher and consistently being ranked in the top two of America’s most literate large cities, it’s no wonder people feel comfortable with the education prospects of raising children in Seattle. The countless family-friendly fairs, festivals, markets, restaurants and activities such as those provided at the local zoos and aquariums, are also great support for local moms and dads. As an added bonus, at well over 120 in the city of Seattle alone, a playground is always just a stone’s throw away. And because dogs are people too (and family members not to be overlooked) it’s worth mentioning that Seattle is regarded as a fairly dog-friendly city.