Seattle, Washington, Seattle Great Wheel
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Seattle Great Wheel iStock.com / fotoguy22
Seattle, Washington, Pike Place Market
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Pike Place Market iStock.com / james Anderson
Seattle, Washington, coffee
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Seattle, Washington, Pike Place Market
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Fish throwing at Pike Place Fish Market iStock.com / phudui
Seattle, Washington, Chihuly Garden and Glass
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Lake Union houseboats iStock.com / PhilAugustavo

Seattle

Seattle, Washington, Space Needle Space Needle iStock.com / RiverNorthPhotography

Seattle rocks in all of the ways you would expect, with its abundance of coffee shops, stellar music scene, and easy access to the great outdoors. And then there are ways you wouldn't expect, such as its creative food scene. Many cruises to Alaska launch from here, and there's lots to do if you decide to arrive early and spend a day or two exploring the city before setting sail.

What We Love

The Scenery Is Spectacular: With greenery and glistening water, and islands and mountains in the distance, the Emerald City is every bit as visually appealing as you've heard.

Nordstrom: The enormous shoe department helps make this one of the city's top attractions, but there's history here, too. John W. Nordstrom founded the store in 1901 with money from the Klondike Gold Rush.

Best Known For

Pike Place Market: Whether you come to witness shouting fishmongers throwing salmon, buy Rainier cherries, eat crab cakes, or shop for souvenirs, joining the crowds at the historic waterfront market is a must-do.

Space Needle: Look up to see the iconic, 605-foot-high tower, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair (known then as the Century 21 Exposition). You can pay to go up to the observation deck for 360-degree views of Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier.

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Who It's Best For

Culture Vultures: Experience the work of masters like Frank Gehry and Jimi Hendrix (Experience Music Project Museum), Dale Chihuly (Chihuly Garden and Glass), and Andy Warhol (Seattle Art Museum), among others.

Families: Kids will love riding ferries to the surrounding islands (even if just to get on the water) and attractions, including the Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

You May Get Lost: The city can be a tad confusing to navigate, including down by the waterfront. Be prepared to check maps or ask for help.

Big City Problems: Seattle grapples with a large homeless population, especially in the downtown area.

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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