Ideas for enjoying the real life of Seattle (that often cost little or nothing).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Welcome to Seattle Song

Seattle thrives on the arts and cuisine, on outdoor recreation and intriguing thoughts, on community service and progressive politics. It is both sleek and crunchy-granola. It is a beautiful city with views of mountains and water in every direction. Nature pushes in close. I love where I live. Seattle and its surroundings are an amazing place to visit and to live.

The inevitable result, then, is that Seattle is also an expensive city. That is, if you don't know where to look. This blog will be covering life in the Emerald City, particularly for the newcomer or visitor, and with an eye to making it happen on a budget.

But before I start making suggestions, lets get you oriented. Seattle, Washington is in the Pacific Northwest, or Cascadia, region of the United States. It sits on the edge of Puget Sound, a large, salt-water inlet of the Pacific Ocean. To its West, on the Olympic Peninsula, are the Olympic Mountains. To its East are Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Seattle is called "the City of Seven Hills", although there are actually more than that. Although this makes driving a drag during our 3 days per year of snow, it gives virtually everyone at least a sliver of a beautiful view from their neighborhood. The city also encompasses other lakes, including Lake Union and Green Lake.

If you want to stay central to the downtown area, neighborhoods to consider include: Belltown, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne Hill, First Hill, South Lake Union, the International District and Capital Hill. From these neighborhoods, you can walk to downtown. Other central neighborhoods that are an easy bus ride to downtown include: Wallingford, Fremont, Madison Park, Madrona, East Lake, Leschi, Mount Baker, the University District, the Central District and Beacon Hill. Other areas, such as Green Lake, Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Georgetown, West Seattle, and Magnolia are great areas, but are further from the downtown core. Here is a neighborhood map and a link to neighborhood association sites to help. Unlike many other American cities, where the urban neighborhoods are pretty much the same, each neighborhood in Seattle has it's own, distinct personality. Do some research, including Googling, to find which area appeals to you most! Later on, I will delve more indepth on these cool neighborhoods individually, with sightseeing, shopping, and eating ideas.

Tomorrow's blog: Where to stay on the cheap.

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