Destination Guides


Washington

General   Weather   Airports   Attractions   Activities  

Introduction

Space needle in Seattle ©Yatharth

Washington State, in the northwestern extremity of the United States bordered by Canada and the Pacific Ocean, offers a unique opportunity for visitors to blend the fun of a vibrant city vacation with an exciting wilderness experience, all within a relatively short distance of each other.


In the scenically set young city of Seattle, hugging the shores of the Puget Sound, high-tech attractions both educate and entertain at the foot of the city's famous landmark, the soaring Space Needle. It is just a step from the waterfront of this dynamic metropolis onto a ferry, which transports you to the wild windswept Pacific beaches, or the emerald green islands of the Sound.


Travel inland to explore national parks, three within easy reach of Seattle, most set around the peaks of the volcanic Cascades Mountains and sporting forests, rivers, lakes and glaciers. In summer the green western wilderness areas draw thousands of hikers, climbers and cyclists, while in winter the skiers head for the slopes.


The north-eastern part of the state, across the barrier of the Cascades Mountains, is desert-like with warm, dry air and a landscape befitting the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. The southeast is carpeted with wheat fields and dotted with historic towns while the central Columbia River Plateau is a rugged area, sculpted by glaciers and ice age flooding, characterised now by wheat fields, lakes and orchards.


Washington is a diverse and beautiful state that can truly claim to offer 'something for everyone'.


Climate Info

The climate in Washington varies across the state from east to west, and the state is divided both geographically and climatically by the Cascade Mountain range. The western part of Washington tends to be mild and humid, and is one of the world's rainiest areas, while the eastern region is cooler and drier with a more continental type of climate, experiencing hot summers and cold winters. Western Washington often experiences heavy cloud cover, fog and drizzle, and although summers tend to be sunny, they are milder than in the east. In the western area, average temperatures in summer can range from 44°F (7°C) on the slope of the Western Cascade Mountains (which experience some of the heaviest snowfall in the US) to 80°F (27°C) in the foothills, while winter temperatures range from 20°F (-7°C) on the western slopes of the Cascades to 48°F (9°C) along the Pacific coast. The average temperatures in Eastern Washington are more extreme, with summer temperatures ranging from a cool 48°F (9°C) on slope of the Eastern Cascades to 92°F (33°C) in the south-central part of the state and winter temperatures range from 8°F (-13°C) in the northeastern Cascades to 40°F (4°C) on the southeastern plateau. Rainfall in Seattle is usually heaviest from October to March.


Getting Around

Seattle city centre is well serviced by public transport, with an excellent bus system, historic streetcars along the waterfront, and a high-speed elevated Monorail which links downtown to the Seattle Center and offers views over the harbour and beyond. The bus system is the most extensive and runs throughout the night, but less frequently after 8pm. Fares on buses and trams are slightly more expensive during peak hours. Taxis can be hailed from taxi ranks or ordered by telephone. Parking in Seattle is expensive and limited, but traffic isn't too bad outside of rush hour and the city is fairly easy to navigate. Renting a car for excursions outside the city is a good option.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

LocationThe airport is situated 12 miles (19km) south of Seattle and 15 miles (24km) north of Tacoma.
Time DifferenceGMT –8 (GMT –7 from March to November).
Contacts

Tel: +1 206 433 5388.

Transfer terminals

The terminals are conected by an underground people mover.

Getting to city

The SeaTac/Airport Station provides passengers a direct connection between the airport and downtown Seattle. The station is on the fourth floor of the airport's main parking garage. Shuttle Express offer door-to-door shuttle services leaving regularly for the nearby towns and cities. Public King County Metro Transit buses run on schedule to destinations in and around Seattle.

Car Rental

Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz and National have facilities at the airport.

Airpor Taxis

To arrange for a taxi, use one of the curbside phones or visit one of the Information Booths.

Airport Facilities

Facilities at the airport are extensive, including a variety of fast-food and full-service restaurants, several bars and retail outlets. The airport has ATMs and currency exchange desks, and also offers a pet relief area, a massage bar, shoe shine services, smoking areas and a baggage storage service.

Car Parking

Parking rates at Sea-Tac Airport range from $4 per hour to daily rates of $35. Long term rates of $28 per day or $130 per week are also available.

Websitewww.portseattle.org/seatac


Walla Walla Regional Airport (ALW)

LocationThe airport is located three miles (5km) northeast of the central business district of Walla Walla.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT -7 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
Getting to city

Valley Transit Route 1 has service to Walla Walla Community College, located very near the airport. While the normal service does not run to the airport, it will stop there on request. Buses run approximately every 30 minutes between 6.15am and 5.50pm, Monday to Friday. Taxis, shuttles and rental cars can also be arranged.

Car Rental

Car rental companies are available at the airport and include Budget, Enterprise and Hertz.

Airpor Taxis

Taxis are available from the airport but should be booked in advance.

Airport Facilities

Terminal facilities are basic, but include a restaurant and vending machines.

Car Parking

Free long-term parking is available for a maximum of two weeks.

Websitewww.wallawallaairport.com


Tri-Cities Airport (PSC)

LocationThe airport is located two miles (3km) northwest of Pasco.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT -7 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
Getting to city

The Grape Line Shuttle offers three trips daily between Pasco and Walla Walla, including stops at the airport and bus stations. Some local hotels offer transfers to guests with advance bookings. Taxis and rental cars are also available.

Car Rental

Rental cars are available from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National, among others.

Airpor Taxis

Taxi service is available from the airport. Ideally, taxis should be booked in advance.

Airport Facilities

Airport facilities include a restaurant, charging ports, and a gift shop.

Car Parking

Short-term parking is free for the first 15 minutes, then charged at $2 for the first hour, and about $2 per hour thereafter up to a daily rate of $12. Long-term parking is also free for the first 15 minutes, with a daily maximum of $8.

Websitewww.triflight.com


Pangborn Memorial Airport (EAT)

LocationThe airport is located four miles (7km) east of Wenatchee.
Time DifferenceGMT -8 (GMT -7 from mid-March to the first Sunday in November).
Getting to city

There is no public transport servicing the airport, however taxis and rental cars are available and some local hotels offer shuttle transfers to guests with advance bookings.

Car Rental

Rental cars are available at the airport from Avis, Budget, Hertz and Enterprise.

Airpor Taxis

Taxis, limos and shuttles are available from the airport. It is advisable to book a taxi ahead of time.

Airport Facilities

This is a very small airport, but terminal services do include a cafe, vending machines, ATMs, a small library and good disabled facilities.

Car Parking

Short-term parking is free for the first four hours, then charged at a daily rate of $13. Long-term parking is $10 per day. Payment is made at self-service kiosks that accept cash and credit cards.

Websitewww.pangbornairport.com


Pike Place Market


Rachel, a giant piggy bank, stands guard over the Pike Place Farmer's Market in downtown Seattle, placed there to raise funds to preserve this National Historic District founded in 1907. The bustling market has provided the local people with producer-priced goods for decades, and continu
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Pike Place Market ©Daniel Schwen



Seattle Space Needle


Anyone who has seen a picture of the Seattle skyline will be familiar with Seattle's internationally recognised symbol, the futuristic Space Needle building. From afar it looks like a spinning top, with the needle pointing skywards. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair to
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Space Needle ©informant



Experience Music Project


One of Seattle's most popular attractions is the Experience Music Project, basically a rock 'n roll music museum with a difference, housed in a colourful psychedelic building designed by Frank Gehry at the base of the Space Needle.


The museum was planned originally by Microso
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Experience Music Project ©Cacophony



Seattle Art Museum


Seattle's downtown Art Museum is landmarked by the animated thudding massive steel sculpture by Jonathon Borofsky called 'Hammering Man' that stands outside. Inside the remarkable building, designed by Robert Venturi, are a large range of exhibits covering European and American art, from
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Seattle Art Museum ©Natokh



Pioneer Square


Billed as 'where Seattle begins', the historic district of Pioneer Square features more than 20 city blocks of historic buildings, more than 30 galleries, a vibrant retail sector and the city's most exciting nightlife. Some of the businesses that have premises on the square are Intrigue
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Pioneer Square ©Joe Mabel



Museum of Flight


Next to Boeing Field, south of downtown Seattle, the Museum of Flight consists of a six-story glass and steel construction, which was the original Boeing factory and which used to be one of the mainstays of Seattle's economy. Inside is a collection of more than 130 aircraft, some suspend
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Museum of Flight ©Fawcett5



Snoqualmie Falls


About an hour's drive into the Cascades Mountains east of Seattle is the resort of Snoqualmie Falls, where the Salish Lodge and Spa is famous for having been the setting for many scenes from the hugely popular television series, Twin Peaks. The dramatic falls plunge 270 feet (82m) down a
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Snoqualmie Falls ©Meher Anand Kasam



Puget Sound Islands


Washington State Ferries depart regularly from the Seattle waterfront piers carrying passengers to and from the many islands in scenic Puget Sound. Visitors generally favour Bremerton, about 20 miles (32km) west of the city, actually on the tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. Here stands the Pu
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Aerial view of Bainbridge Island ©Dcoetzee



Olympic National Park


Wilderness lovers revel in retreating to the wild Pacific Coast with its glacier-capped mountains, magnificent stands of ancient forest, fascinating biological diversity, and wild Pacific coastline. About 95 percent of the park has been designated a wilderness area, which protects a uniq
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Olympic rainforest ©National Park Service



Mount Rainier National Park


One of the oldest national parks in the United States, Mount Rainier National Park was founded in 1899 to preserve the lofty volcano, Mount Rainier, known to the Native Americans as Tahoma.


The snow-capped peak is visible from Seattle, 90 miles (145km) away and dominates the
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Mount Rainier National Park ©Samuel Kerr



Mount St. Helens


One Sunday morning in May 1980, Mount St Helens, one of the snow-covered peaks of the Cascades Mountains, lying about 168 miles (271km) south of Seattle, erupted, causing a massive landslide,devastating a vast area of forest and killing 57 people. The volcano continued erupting intermitt
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Mount St Helens ©Lyn Topinka



Seattle Aquarium


Located on Seattle's waterfront, the Aquarium provides fun and exciting ways to see amazing sea creatures and colourful coral life of the Pacific, and includes touch pools with animals like sea stars and urchins from Puget Sound and Washington's outer coast. The Window on Washington Wate
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Rockfish at the Seattle Aquarium ©merelymel



Washington State Ferries


As riding the mechanical bull is to Dallas, so is the ferry ride to Seattle - a quintessential part of experiencing the city. Coffee mugs are adorned with ferries, little model ferries are offered to tourists as trinkets to remember their visit by. Ferrying is a culture and a way of life
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Seattle Ferry ©Kandykornhead



Alaskan Ferry


Large cruise ships regularly travel to major ports in Alaska but a better, smaller option is the Alaskan Ferry. Departing from Bellingham Washington, these large ferries bounce against the major coastal towns of Canada, The Gulf of Alaska and stretching to the Alaskan Peninsula. The land
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Alaskan Ferry ©Jarfingle



San Juan and the Gulf Islands


The San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf islands form one of the best boater paradises in the world. The hundreds of islands are separated by nationality but are part of the same scenic and rugged archipelago, located off the northwest coast of Washington State.


Much of the
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San Juan County ©Michael Feist



The Gorge Amphitheater


High on the cliffs above the Colombia River, The Gorge is one of the best music venues in the country. A natural ravine coalesces at a cliff edge where a large stage hosts the biggest acts on tour in the Northwest. The 25,000-seat venue is privy to both the stunning view and sound qualit
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The Gorge Amphitheater ©Daniel



Woodland Park Zoo


Located in the Green Lake neighbourhood of Seattle, the Woodland Park Zoo is a great place to take the kids for a day out exploring and meeting the animals. Kids can enjoy animals such as African elephants, Arctic foxes, sloth bears and red pandas, or birds like snowy owls, parrots, Chil
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An Eastern Rosella at Woodland Park Zoo ©pixelgerm



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