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Located on the shore of sparkling Elliott Bay, with the snowy peak of Mount Rainier in the distance and a modern skyline of glass skyscrapers, SEATTLE has a famously picturesque setting, as well as a friendly charm, and plenty of fun coffeehouses, good restaurants and engaging clubs, making a lengthy visit worthwhile, especially during the summer.

Flooded out of its first location on Alki Point in what is now the suburb of West Seattle, the town in the 1850s shifted to Pioneer Square (south of the downtown core), renaming itself after the Native American Chief Sealth, who helped reduce violent tensions between whites and local tribes. As the surrounding forest was gradually felled and the lumber shipped out, Seattle grew slowly until the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 put it firmly on the national map as a transport and commercial hub. From the beginning of the twentieth century, the Boeing corporation was crucial to the city’s economic strength, and more recent success stories have included Microsoft, Starbucks and w Amazon.com, the boom times interrupted only by the occasional dot-com bust or housing crunch.

Despite the changes wrought by Seattle’s solid economy as the city grows into an international destination, its more established neighbourhoods remain distinctive, and it has a pleasantly down-to-earth ambience, whether you come here during peak season, or make like the locals and brave the steady rains (with many fewer visitors) from October to May.