Short Breaks: 48 hours in Seattle

Now is the time to visit this famously rainy city. Not only is its arts festival in full swing, it is also the driest month.

WHY GO NOW?

September sees the edge taken off August's heat and the blooming of some beautiful autumn colours. It's also just about the driest month in America's wettest state. Another good reason to visit the city this month, however, is for Bumbershoot. One of the US's top music and arts festivals (for details, visit: www.bumbershoot.org) takes place on the Labour Day long weekend (3-6 September) and, if it's got you inspired, Seattle is a great jumping-off point for trips further afield in the States or in Canada.

BEAM DOWN

British Airways (0345 222111) has the non-stop Heathrow-Seattle route to itself, but any of a host of US carriers will take you there from a variety of UK airports with a single change of plane. Examples: United from Heathrow via Chicago; Northwest from Gatwick via Minneapolis; Continental from Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester or Glasgow via Newark; American from Heathrow or Glasgow via Chicago, or from Gatwick or Manchester via Dallas- Fort Worth. Expect to pay around pounds 300 return through a discount agent until the end of October, and possibly less thereafter.

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Unlike most American cities, Seattle can be a beast to navigate due to hilly terrain and waterways. Conveniently, most of the major points of interest are in the downtown area but, for others, you'll have to trawl the city's many neighbourhoods. A good map is a must. Look out for copies of Streetwise Seattle, similar to an A-Z, (available from bookshops). Seattle's main Visitor Information Center (1) is downtown at 800 Convention Place, the Washington State Convention and Trade Center (00 1 206 461 5840). For information before you go, contact the Port of Seattle UK Office (0171- 978 5233).

CHECK IN

Seattle certainly has imagination when it comes to hotels. The Ace Hotel (00 1 206 448 4721 or: www.TheAceHotel.com) is a funky place (2) that crosses minimalist deco architecture with youth hostel chic. Instead of the requisite bedside bible and mints, you get a copy of the Kama Sutra and two condoms. Rates start at US$65 (pounds 41). For something more opulent, check into the MarQueen Hotel (001 206 282 7407 or: www.MarQueen.com) in the Lower Queen Anne neighbourhood (3). It started life as an apartment building in 1918 and still holds its early 20th-century charm despite all the mod cons. A corner suite, with two large rooms and kitchen, starts at US$239 (pounds 153). If your budget is a little tighter, try the excellent Hostelling International youth hostel (4) near Pioneer Square (001 206 622 5443 or visit: www.hiseattle.org). For a great central location, you pay from only US$15 (pounds 9.60).

TAKE A HIKE

Pioneer Square (5), the heart of old Seattle, is an excellent starting point for a tour of Downtown and, with an inexplicable number of shops devoted to oriental rugs, it's also a great place for antique hunting. The square's 19th-century architecture makes it feel like you're on the movie set of a Jack London adaptation. Nearby is the Smith Tower (6), a 42-storey building - the tallest building in the world outside New York when it was built in 1914. And, if you want some greenery, don't miss Pioneer Square Park (7) and Occidental Park (8). Both have fine examples of Northwest Coast Indian totem poles.

TAKE A RIDE

America is a car kind of country. From cruising classic Chevys to faster- than-light Italian jobs, Americans love their cars. This love is reflected in the gridlock, which occurs daily - morning and evening - so the best way to avoid it is not to rent a car, at least if it's a short visit. Seattle has an excellent bus system and a day pass costs just US$2 (pounds 1.30). Otherwise, join the tourists along the waterfront (running as far as Pioneer Square) and hop on its revitalised tram system.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Once you've had your fill of turn-of-the-century Seattle, catch the streetcar to the international district (9), Chinatown and Little Saigon, for some tasty nosh. Five dollars should be enough to fill up on delicious noodles and, afterwards, you can stroll through the International District Community Gardens (10). A hangover from Depression- era poverty, it's used today by about 120 people to grow their fruit and veg. There are also some great views of the Seattle skyline and Elliot Bay from this area.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

The Pike Place Market (22) is a Seattle institution. Despite some close calls, the market has been there since 1907, and is the oldest continually operating market in the United States. It's a maze of vegetable and fish stalls, of clothing and antiques, and arts and crafts. Fresh crabs are stacked in chest-high piles, while fishmongers toss huge salmon around like a rugby balls. Just remember the two cardinal rules of a visit to the market: don't eat before going, and don't ever attempt to drive there. There's masses of delicious food to munch on and, even if you get your car close enough, you'll never find a parking space.

SUNDAY MORNING GO TO...

Bainbridge Island to worship the skyline. The ferry ride across Puget Sound to Winslow on Bainbridge Island offers some amazing views of Seattle's skyline. Only from the boat can you appreciate how Seattle fits into the natural setting that surrounds it. There are plenty of package boat trips, but the best way is to take the commuter ferry like the thousands of locals who do the trip each day. Ferries depart from Pier 52 (21) on the hour, almost every hour. The journey takes 35 minutes each way, and costs US$3.50 (pounds 2.25) and the return trip is free for foot passengers.

DEMURE DINNER

America's Pacific Northwest is a fish and seafood lover's dream. Local fish includes salmon, red snapper, tuna, halibut, cod and trout and there's also an abundance of razor clams, crabs, mussels, oysters and shrimps. No wonder most Seattle restaurants make fish such a big part of their menus. McCormick's Fish House & Bar (00 1 206 682 3900) (18) is a bustling place that offers a daily sheet of fresh fish dishes, mostly grilled with zesty sauces, and accompanied by local oysters. There are also a number of good restaurants along the shores of Lake Union. Chandler's Crabhouse & Fresh Fish Market (00 1 206 223 2722) (19) serves excellent fish and seafood and its open-air seating (weather permitting) makes it a great place to eat while watching the sun set or seaplanes take off. Alternatively, catch the Teatro ZinZanni (001 206 352 2727) (20), which promises "love, chaos and dinner" in a giant red tent on an empty lot. Diners are served a five-course meal while listening to the music of a six-piece band and watching the antics of jugglers, magicians and opera singers.

AN APERITIF

Downtown Seattle is largely for the Armani-suit set, but don't let that put you off. Try the bar at El Gaucho (00 1 206 728 1337) (13), a 1940s timewarp with mink-lined booths. The bartenders at Von's Martini and Manhattan Memorial (001 206 621 8667) (14) can make 'em both shaken and stirred. However, a stay in Seattle isn't quite right without a visit to a brewpub. One of the nicest is the Six Arms Pub & Brewery (15) in Capitol Hill or, if you enjoy a little rowdiness, try Big Time Microbrew and Music (16) next to the university. For something completely different, check out the Big Picture (00 1 206 256 0566) (17), a newly-renovated cinema that not only has a great bar, but also has waiters to bring you a drink while you're watching the latest flick.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

A tight schedule is going to narrow your choices. First and foremost head to the Seattle Art Museum (11). It's unmistakable thanks to the four- storey sculpture of the Hammering Man wielding his tools at the building's entrance. And, since 1991, the museum has housed one of the best collections of Northwest Coast Native art in the region. Especially interesting are the totem poles, masks and canoes. Admission costs US$6 (pounds 3.80), which includes entrance to the Seattle Asian Art Museum (12) if used within a week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Anna Smaill’s debut novel, The Chimes, is a fusion of fantasy and romance
booksMan Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Sport
Ji So-Yun scores the only goal of the game
sport
Arts and Entertainment
One of the Pyongyang posters, the slogan of which reads: ‘Let the exploits of the northern railway conductors shine!’
art
Life and Style
Linguine with mussels and fresh tomatoes
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

    £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

    Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

    £26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it