The Olympic Peninsula lies to the west, Tacoma and Olympic, the state's capital to the south, the far bottom of the Puget Sound.
SeaTac - the international airport with daily non-stops to Tokyo- Narita, London.
The region is dominated by the sound and lakes. Puget Sound has many islands: Vashon Island, which is the only Island that is part of King County. Its rolling hills and verdant land brings farmers, hippies (one of the largest non-vaccination populations and the largest measles outbreak recently). Plenty of excellent vegan cafes and eateries. Bainbridge Island which was known for ship building, then strawberries grown by the large Japanese population, now a mix of eccentric and city commuters given the 35-minute ferry ride into Pioneer Square downtown Seattle. BARN (an artist institute) is possibly the best craft studio / education facilities I've seen. Whidbey Island, the second largest island in the continental United States behind Long Island, is home to a large Navy base (as is most of this region including Bremerton and the joint military base with nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers), Ebey's Landing and the Coupeville region is the only National Historic Reserve with a mix of Victorian-era main street, bakery and muscle-featuring restruants, farm land, and cypress edged cliffs housing a migratory bird population. Since 1908, the Captain Whidbey Inn has housed city folk hoping to escape to the idyllic surroundings. And lastly the San Juan Islands which greet the ocean going vessels coming in from China and Alaska / Vancouver, BC as well as the orca and salmon in the sea.
Bellingham is to the north. A crafty town with a recently torn down paper mill turned park, an arts district with studios, galleries, and a few museums. And a university. Considered the worst weather in the continental united states from the darkness: rain and cold throughout much of the year.
The Cascade Mountain range hugs close to the coast and is the reason for much of Seattle's water - both trapping the rain coming off the ocean and encouraging the snow melt heavy rivers to gush down into lakes and through the middle of the city... starting from Monroe and Issaquah along the Snoqualmie Valley to the Sammamish Lake holding the towns of Sammamish, Redmond - the bicycling capital of the PNW, home to Microsoft, and Marymoor park which is the region's largest dog park and where big names come for the outdoor summer concerts - along the Sammamish river and bike trail, to Bothell - McMenaman's Anderson School is a historic refurbed school with hotel rooms, a few resturants and bars, a movie theatre, and a tiki lounge and public swimming pool - previously the elementrary school's swim team's hangout. To Kenmore where you can still hop on a sea plane to the islands of Washington all the way to northern Vancouver Island and southern Alaska, dumping you in Lake Washington with the mega yachts sit at the mage manshions of Bill Gates (Microsoft), Paul Allen (Microsoft), and Jeff Bezos (Amaon), among other billionaires from the region's tech inventions: Tabluea, Valve, Steam, Bungie Games, Smartsheet, possibly Magic Cards?
Bellevue, originally a whaling depot, now mall-city with high-end condos, businesses, and shops for the growing urban population of east side. There's a Zio Zeigler mural (street artisit in SF) in the lobby of the W Hotel, so it's cool, but it's trying. But just outside lies Crossroads Mall which is more like an international community center with a food court rep'ing the most average food from all corners of the globe, a sari and traditional costume shop, library extension, used book store (Half Priced Books).
Take the 90 or 520 bridges across Lake Washington into Seattle, past the homeless camps covered with blue tarps.
Starting from the south of downtown, we actually need to go west to West Seattle where some of the best city beaches are. Going into to town comes what could only be described as a Port. It's where Boeing tests its planes (one of many), the railroad comes in from the east and up from the south, and the ships dock and unload their containers.
South of Downtown (SoDo) is home to a few breweries (Georgetown, a neighborhood within this reach) has Elysian, as well as antique shops from dimly light / low ceiling discount hall, to hip warehouse, to well-curated (maybe not belonging in a home) galleries of almost art furniture.
Up the hill is a ridge that brings you nearly in to downtown roughly called Beacon Hill, but including Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Rainer. Extermely diverse and on the battleground of gentrification. Park land intersects with historic craftsman homes and exposed brick shops.
Just south of downtown is where the sports happen: Seahawks (football) and Sounders (fütbol) play in Qualcomm Field and Mariner (baseball) in T-mobile park. The exhibition center is here as well: boat shows, car shows, and large concerts (Vampire Weekend). In this industrial area lies Starbucks and Filson.
Walking in to town, you'll see Pioneer Square which is the original downtown core. Union Station, a smaller NYC Grand Central Station - is where you can catch the Amtrack down to Portland as well as hop on the train that will one day bring you all the way to Redmond. Smith Tower: a white 30-ish story "sky scraper" was the tallest building in the west when it was built and sits in the main square, you can see its iconic base with jutting column and triangle cap. There's an underground part of the neighborhood that you can visit on a tour along Yesler Way. Fun shops (sowing shop, gallery, consignment) and a few good eateries (London Plane) in here as well. Weyerhauser's HQ is here in one of the only modern buildings, but it's full of thick wood beams... likely from one of their forest that they own and milled in their factory.
Head along Alaska Way, you'll bump in to the Ferry terminal with rides to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island. The other pier buildings - formerly canneries, ship yards, and spots of industry are now curiosity shops, the aquarium, and the ferris wheel, primarily a tourist walk. And with the highway viaduct on cement stilts shadowing over the waterfront torn down with a 1 billion dollar tunnel under the city, expect this area to become more pleasant with parks and plans for better public transit (may be a light rail).
Up the hill east is the core of downtown. Mostly working buildings for finance like Washington Mutual and SafeCo, tech like Rover, DocuSign, Uber. The main hotels are in this region as well.
The Public Market on Pike St. sits on the edge between these two zones. I like the Pike St Press and the antique store off of Alaska way as you walk up. The fish throwing is a marvel of stamina and physics. Vietnamese-owned flowers are always in full plumage. Sample some smoked salmon and feel bad about getting so much for free, so buy a bit. There's a gum wall on the way up from the market (street below) that's sort of gross but is Instagramable.
A few shops along the old brick are to note. The perogy place has some of the best, but the line doesn't justify it. The original Starbucks Coffee is here as well, you can buy mugs with the original Starbucks siren logo on it (which you can many places now), again, the line isn't worth it. It's just a Starbucks coffee, like anywhere else in the world - it's part of their brand. You will notice that all of the baristas (partners as they are called) are wearing black aprons at this location. This isn't style - it's actually a designation (sort of like a black belt of corporate coffee) for a highly skilled coffee maker and you need to go through special training and get certified. Beecher's Cheese is next door where you can see the curds turning into solid cheese (but you can actually buy the curds).
Just off this road used to be the red light / show district but the last place, Lusty Ladies (100% female owned), shut down a few years back. There's a Four Seasons and a high-end chocolate shop next door now.
Within walking distance is the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and the Seattle Public Library, designed by modernist Rem Koolhaus of Denmark and housing some of the best rare maps in the region.
Up towards the hotel core is Westlake center which is basically an urban mall. A Macy's (but likely not for long), the original Nordstrom, and other typical mall stores like H&M and J.Crew.
Over and down is Belltown with some solid resturants and shops. Pretty cool in the '90s, but getting older. Shiro's Sushi is here. Tavour holds its annual beer tasting as well.
There are a few blocks around here of relative nothingness, and to the east, it's I-5 which creates a strong seperation of this downtown core and the rest of the city. The convention center looms over the highway being held in place by the land above the open-air recess of the road. Corrogated cement chunks puzzle-piece together among vines drooping down. It's like a brutalist Frank Lloyd Wright mixed with distopic city transporation scape, but I still think it's beautiful.
Backtracking a bit east, we have the REI headquarters and flagship store (with a massive rock climbing wall that you can book).
Amazon has basically taken over this part of town, so while it doesn't really have a name, it's more or less Amazon, with Amazon employees living in the apartments and using Amazon money to pay for their poke bowls, fade haircuts and french bulldog manicures, and their 7 dollar lattes that they can drink in the biodomes (fka Jeff Bezo's glass balls). Everything is black and modern, sucking in the little of what Seattle has to offer for sunlight.
Across the I-5 is generally Capital Hill, but there's a pretty big difference between lower and upper. Lower is becoming a neighborhood called Pike / Pine with its core as a former 1940s car showroom now turned Starbucks' version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory called the Reserve. Lots of brass, moving beens, baristas with mustaches, and fancy looking lights and chairs. Oh, there's also a train terminal-esque board that announces something... I forget what...but it's loud and enjoyable and adds to the scene. It's a fun hangout when it's cold and rainy outside because the space is so large and engaging. In the back is a single gender nuetral bathroom with a lot of stalls, a growing design trend in this neighboorhood (Optimism brewery has the same). Around this core is my favorite clothing store in the city - Glasswing - which I can't really afford anything but it's fun to touch and smell everything from from Japan, Portugal, and a "designer who always shows up high with the best clothing to sell". There's a few other high-end stores on this road. Stika and Spruce next door is an American(a) New resturant; it's decent. Stateside and it's sister bar always delivers: it's asian fusion, but not like the high-res showy photo kind, like the if you traveled a bunch to Asia and were an excellent home cook style.
Upper Capital hill is fun and lively: a small Castro with bowling, karoke, gay bars and dance clubs. Nextdoor is Volunteer Park, one of the closest larger parks close to downtown.
Circling North again, we drop into all of the neighboorhoods surrounding Lake Union, the final lake where all that water from the Cascades dumps in to the sound. Starting with the water front, we have Queen Anne (lower is on the same level as Seattle, upper is, as you guessed, up a pretty significant hill and overlooking Seattle), then Seattle Center where the 1964 World's Fair was located - one of the icons of Seattle, the Space Needle is a great lookout and recently re-opened their resturant. Key Stadium - also part of the fair - used to house the Super Sonics (basketball), has laid dormant for a long time since the team left for Oklahoma City, and now is getting remodelled for aparently a hockey team coming to the city. The Rep and other theatres are here as well as the science museum. colorful and complex Frank Geary designed Experience Music Project + Science Fiction interactive museum now called MoPop. You can take the monorail (the Disneyland futurist way of originally getting to the expo above ground) from here to the Westlake center (shopping) a few miles away.
As we cross Lake Union, we technically leave Seattle, though it feels still part of it. The Ballard Locks holds the fresh water from the mountains back from the brine water of the sound. Boats of all kind - commercial fishing, sailing, row boats, even jet skis wait to go up/down the 30 foot difference in water levels.
Ballard was a fishing town (and still is to a certain extent), and has its own city feel. There's a rose garden and Army Corp of Engineers building near the locks, a newly built (and as you guess it nordic-modern) Nordic Museum mostly about the emegration of Swedes (and other nordic origins) to Seattle between 1910 and 1940. Ballard has possibly the best farmer's market on the main street every Saturday during harvest season.
Moving east up the lake, there's Fremont with its many funky establishments (odd shops, arcade brewery, troll statue under the bridge)... along with a smaller tech hub of Tabluea, Google, and Facebook. Theo chocolate factory is here where you can take tours and do a hands-on workshop.
Walingford up the way is turning around, then quickly you hit University of Washington which is almost a city on its own with 60,000 students and services - food, housing, books - that surround it. The campus main library is in a gothic style (as with many of the original campus) built for the world expo featuring timber production and a central view of Mt. Rainer (largest - dormant.... - volcano in america). Towards the water runs the Burke Gilman trail, which is one of the first rails-to-trails in the US and goes all the way to Issaquah (as well as the coast in Discovery Park).
Green Lake is back towards Fremont with a lake as its central piece. Ilumnata during the fall celebrates the vernal equinox with handmade light installations. The zoo is here as well.
Shoreline to the north has a college (and art fair) where Kelsey took anatomy and other courses.
On the backend of Seattle to the east (between Lake Union and Lake Washington) is Madrona with old, large houses, many parks, and some traditional shop and eateries.
A focus on order and clean, progressive and effecient operations and government. Cold climate and distant people. Wealth from creating value. Japanese influence with an integration into the natural world. An enlightened - professoral approach to living.
Everret, Kirkland, Mercer Island https://zoom.earth/