Seattle is a city of many neighborhoods: Eclectic, urban, outdoorsy, artsy, gritty, down-to-earth, or posh—it's all here, from the quirky character of the Seattle Waterfront and the eccentric "Republic of Fremont," to hipsters walking baby carriages past aging mansions on Capitol Hill. There's something for just about everyone within this vibrant Emerald City.Indeed, part of Seattle's diversity lies in the topography: The city is a feat of environmental engineering. When the Denny party arrived on its shores, "Seattle" was a series of densely forested valleys covered by Douglas fir, Western hemlock, and red cedar. Where SoDo (the stadium district south of Downtown) currently is was nothing but mudflats. Pioneer Square was actually an island of sorts where Duwamish tribespeople crossed to the mainland over sandbars.Once Seattle started to grow, its residents literally changed the landscape. Massive Denny Hill once occupied the Belltown neighborhood, but it simply had to go. The multi-stage "regrade" started in 1899 and was completed 32 years later. The Denny Hill Regrade was just one of dozens of projects; another equally ambitious earth-moving mission was the construction of the canal that links Lake Washington to Puget Sound. Today, the city is once again moving a lot of earth around with the construction of a light rail line across the city; it's changing the look, feel, and energy of neighborhoods as a result.It's hard to think of Seattle as anything but natural, though. After all, the city owes much of its appeal to its natural features—the myriad hills that did survive settlement offer views of mountain ranges and water, water, water. Outside of Downtown and other smaller commercial cores, Seattle's neighborhoods fan out in tangles of tree-lined streets. Massive parks like Discovery, Magnuson, and Washington Park Arboretum make Seattle one of the greenest and most livable cities in the nation. From the peaks of the Olympics or Cascades to an artistically landscaped garden in front of a classic Northwest bungalow, nature is in full effect every time you turn your head.Taking a stroll, browsing a bookstore, or enjoying a cup of coffee can feel different in every one of Seattle's neighborhoods. It's the adventure of exploring that will really introduce you to the character of Seattle.
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Things You Can’t Miss
I love everything Frederick Law Olmstead, father of New York's Central Park, designed. At Volunteer Park, you can see how his son continued his legacy.
Image Credit: Panoramic Images / Getty Images
I rarely give up my healthy eating for a doughnut. But at Top Pot I’d give up everything for the “feather boa” with pink icing and coconut shavings.
Image Credit: Lauri Patterson / iStockphoto
For a stay beyond the typical downtown scene, try the “I live here” neighborhood feel of South Lake Union. Great shops, restaurants and plenty of hotels.
Image Credit: Mark Weiss / Getty Images
This year-round farmers’ market has been a Seattle institution for over 100 years. Scope out the mouth-watering produce, and you’ll understand why.
Image Credit: KingWu / Getty Images
Love a bit of vacation reading? What better place to do it than at the historic Seattle Public Library. Here, you can curl up with almost 2.5 million books.
Image Credit: Anne C. Dowie / Getty Images
Make sure to have a camera handy for this boat trip across the waters of Puget Sound. It’s one of those “only in the Pacific Northwest” kind of moments.
Image Credit: Mint Images / Art Wolfe / Getty Images
The surrounding Olympic Mountains make for a spectacular backdrop to this newly developed sculpture park in downtown Seattle. The sculptures are neat, too!
Image Credit: Richard Cummins / Getty Images
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Shared Trips to this Destination
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Must Reads Before You Go
Seattle vacation travel guide and tour information including highlights such as EMP Museum, Henry Art Gallery and Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.
Discover the very best of Seattle.
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