This city sculpted by Puget Sound and Lake Washington and crowned with leafy hills abounds with lively diversions, both indoor and outside, plus a sunny and mild climate from June through well into October, making it one of the country’s most enchanting summer destinations. It’s actually a cool getaway year-round popularity (yes, even during the grayer, wetter winter months), with superb restaurants, offbeat shops, and a mix of accommodations for all budgets. Downtown - with its dashing, postmodern skyline - contains a mix of enticing museums, historic blocks, and trendy retail-entertainment strips.

The city’s many visiting gays and lesbians are often drawn to Seattle’s GLBT hub, Capitol Hill. Students, dot-comers, latter-day hippies, and young families of all persuasions live in this lofty, leafy neighborhood a 20-minute walk or short cab ride east of downtown. Cutting-edge music, liberal politics, coffeehouses and microbreweries, computer technology, and environmentalism are among the ties that bind Capitol Hill’s disparate populations.

The best way to enjoy Seattle is to set aside a few hours each day, and focus on a particular neighborhood and its corresponding draws. Start by touring downtown, with its landmark Pike Place Market, a sprawling 1907 structure abuzz with fishmongers and food marketers of every ilk. If you love to eat or cook, the halls of gourmet goodies are reason alone to while away an afternoon here. You’ll also find scads of genuinely interesting shops, such as art galleries, bath and beauty shops, clothiers, jewelry and crafts makers, and indie booksellers. Other appealing attractions downtown include the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center and the Seattle Aquarium, which are down along Puget Sound’s salt-aired piers, and the acclaimed Seattle Art Museum.

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