When you rent a car in Seattle, you get not only the freedom of the city, but the chance to explore the natural parks, mountains, islands and rivers that surround it.
"We're city and country; in Seattle you get the best of both worlds.”
There's no shortage of green in the Emerald City, not least because it rains a lot! But there is certainly something special about Seattle, thanks mainly to a thriving music, dance and art scene, which gives it a unique, creative buzz.
Considered to be the birthplace of grunge music, the feel is very cosmopolitan and open-minded, where the kitsch and contemporary take centre stage.
With an eclectic mix of city dwellers, this is a welcoming and vibrant place. Plus, about half of Seattle residents over the age of 25 have a college degree, making them good conversationalists too.
As famously quoted in the film Sleepless In Seattle: "It rains nine months a year in Seattle." So pack those waterproofs just in case!
You might not find a specifically Seattleite dish, but what you will find are plenty of quality street-food sellers. You’re in the States; you’ve got to get a hot dog.
From music legends Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain through to the talented Bruce and Brandon Lee, Seattle is a hot spot for celebrity folk.
The Seattle Public Library system has the highest percentage of library card-holders per capita in the country.
"Welcome to Seattle, whose perpetually cloudy skies mean that if the sun peeks out for a second, everyone drops whatever they're doing and gears up to take their kayaks or bicycles out." - Lonely Planet.
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Whether you're a regular gallery-goer or not give this a go - the building itself is a work of art. For a taste of the unique, check out contemporary artist Ann Lislegaard's multimedia showcase.
There is an underground parking garage for visitors; the entrance is just north of the museum.
Here's one for die-hard sci-fi fans. Dedicated to science-fiction props and memorabilia, it's Trekkie heaven. Still, if music is more your thing, try making your own CD at the Experience Music project instead.
There are many car parks and ample street parking in surrounding areas. The largest are located at 5th Avenue North and Harrison Street.
No trip to America would be complete without some skyscraper action, and this is Seattle's tallest. Make your way to the observation deck on the 73rd floor for some jaw-dropping views.
Metered street parking is available outside the tower.
Indulge your inner child with a trip to this chocolate factory. Book in to an all-you-can-eat tour, which, while it's very informative and interesting, lets you sample chocolate throughout. Brilliant.
You can park at the Jay-Dee Parking Garage in North Lake Way.
As the Seattle landmark, this alien-like building is quite unlike anything else in the city. Bypass the viewing deck for a knock-out meal at Sky City, the rotating restaurant, so you can sample the 360-degree views along with great dishes from the menu.
Normal and valet parking is at the base of the centre. Prices start from £1.
If you’re looking for a real wilderness experience then you’ll find it here. This national park covers almost 2,800km ² and is home to extensive woodlands with hiking, climbing and horseriding opportunities galore.
Head north on I-405 to the Monroe/Wenatchee exit (Highway 522). Follow Highway 522 and continue to Highway 202 (approximately half a mile).
Taller than even Niagara's mammoth sprays, this 270-foot fall is a truly staggering sight. After gawping, visitors can hike, horse ride and canoe close by.
Head north-east on Broad St toward Taylor Ave N and follow signs for I-5. Merge onto I-5 S, then take exit 27 toward Snoqualmie. It should take you no longer than 45 minutes to get to the falls, traffic permitting.
The Olympic National Park, with its snowcapped peaks, rain forest and windswept ocean coastal areas, is definitely worth the drive. Located on the Olympic Peninsula in the north-west corner of Washington state, it covers nearly one million acres and shelters three distinct ecosystems.
Head north-east on Broad St toward Taylor Ave N. Follow signs for 244th St SW W and merge onto NE 205th St/244th St SW/Lake Ballinger Way/WA-104, heading towards Port Angeles. The drive will take around three hours and involves a short ferry ride.
Escape city life with a trip to this huge freshwater lake, north of central Seattle. With a tranquil vibe and varied wildlife, you'll probably find it very hard to leave.
Head north-east on Broad St toward Taylor Ave N - the journey should only take 15 minutes.
" Seattle drivers aren't aggressive, so getting around the city shouldn't be too much of a hair-raising experience! The Denny and Madison roads seem to cut diagonally across the city, forming a strange pentagon shape, and our intersections are shaped funny too, but it makes driving in Seattle all the more interesting. "