Seattle has a fascinating history, starting in 1851 when white settlers established themselves on Alki Beach. A move quickly followed to what is now Pioneer Square, as it was more protected from the elements. The name of the city comes from Chief Sealth, a Duwamish Indian leader, who befriended the white settlers. The town saw a huge boom after gold was discovered in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, when Seattle established itself as the best outfitting point for prospectors. That adventurous and enterprising spirit lives on in the city today, where visitors and locals alike enjoy all the city has to offer.
Seattle’s culture is quickly shifting with the influx of new tech workers coming from other parts of the country. Overall, the people here are friendly, but reserved, a trait reminiscent of the strong Nordic roots of Seattle’s early settlers. It’s also a city of creativity, innovation and fun—it is the place where Boeing, Amazon.com and Microsoft were founded. Packaged alongside, people here are laid back, famous for wearing blue jeans and hoodies to office jobs (really, wearing blue jeans anywhere and everywhere), and embracing flexible work hours to make the most of beautiful weather.
Seattle’s generally mild weather means locals love to be outside. From beach volleyball and swimming in the summer months to skiing in the winter, not to mention year-round bicycling, running and hiking, it’s a great place for outdoor activities. Sandwiched between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of Lake Washington, with the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east, it isn’t far to the next adventure. Seattle is also a city for the arts—with visual artists, theater groups, musicians and authors in every neighborhood, there’s always a cultural event to check out.
The many neighborhoods that make up this city each have their own personality. Downtown, find plenty of shopping and dining, plus venues for theater and live music. Be sure to visit Pike Place Market, which has been an ongoing farmers market since 1907. The waterfront is also a must-visit, with the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Great Wheel and more. Seattle Center has museums, arts events and, of course, the Space Needle. Capitol Hill is a dense, urban core with plenty of shopping, dining and nightlife. Pioneer Square is the historical heart of the city—head underground with one of the tours offered here. Other excellent neighborhoods include Ballard, Fremont and the International District.