State: Washington. Capital: Olympia. Largest City: Seattle.
Almost completely surrounded by water, with the deep harbour of Puget-Sound combining with Lake Washington to the east, Lake Union to the North and the imposing Mount Ranier providing an elegant backdrop, it’s something of an understatement to say that Seattle has been blessed with great geological genes. For those who prefer to uncover urban treasures you’ll find central Seattle to be wonderfully compact and therefore easily navigable either on foot, by bus or via America’s first monorail.
To the north of the city lies the Canadian border, to the south the San Juan Islands and their local residents the Orca whales whilst west of Seattle the UNESCO World-heritage listed Olympic National Park boasts almost a million acres of tide-pools, alpine glacial lakes, and wildflower-filled lowland meadows
Harbour tours from Seattle’s Waterfront offer a chance to see the city from a different perspective.
Old fishing piers on Seattle’s Waterfront have been converted into stylish restaurants and quirky malls, whilst Pioneer Square is home to a number of art galleries, antique shops and bookstores. Head to Capitol Hill, easily reached up Pike or Pine Street where amongst the boutiques you'll find trendy coffee shops, restaurants and a host of late-night bars and music venues.
No visit to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the iconic Space Needle, designed in 1962, the futuristic Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall and is able to withstand a wind velocity of up to 200 miles per hour. Forty-one seconds is all it takes to whisk you up 520 feet to the Observation Deck from where you can view the spectacular 360 degree views of the city below.
Seattle Art Museum
Hosting an impressive collection of 25,000 exhibits ranging from Old Masters to ancient Asian paintings to African masks and Native American carvings, SAM offers an exciting artistic experience for people of all ages.
For creative works of a different kind, head to the beatnik neighbourhood of Fremont where you can see the Fremont Troll (a giant concrete troll moulded beneath the Aurora Bridge) a host of murals, a controversial statue of Lenin and even a Cold War rocket from the 1950s, poised for take-off.
Museum of Flight
Interactive exhibits, flight simulators, family and educational activities abound from the Great Gallery with its suspended aircraft to the William E. Boeing Red Barn - where you can learn about the birth of commercial aviation - to the museum space exhibit where you can climb into a full size version of the International Space Station’s Destiny Module.
Boeing Space and Flight Center
Situated approximately twenty-five minutes outside Seattle, this is the only place in North America where you can see the 747, 767, 777 and 787 jets being assembled right before your eyes.
120,000-gallons showcase a host of Northwest sea creatures including playful sea otters and harbour seals. Touch pools and virtual exhibits as well as dive shows make this a great place for adults and children alike.
Pike Place Market
Visit the winding alleys and stairways of Seattle's most celebrated culinary landmark and one of America's oldest farmer's markets. Established in 1907, Pike Place Market is a multi-sensorial delight of sounds and textures, tastes and aromas, not to be missed.
Experience revolutionary dining at SkyCity's rotating restaurant - every diner enjoys a free trip to the Observation Deck.
Pay a visit to 1912 Pike Place Market to see the humble beginnings of what has become the most famous coffeehouse in the world - Starbucks.
Movie buffs will know that dozens of television shows and films have been filmed on location in and around Seattle including: Frasier, Grey's Anatomy, and of course Sleepless in Seattle - to help with your location scouting, the City of Seattle Film Office has created a useful map that breaks down which films feature which location.
Seattle’s penchant for innovation extends beyond the world of software, coffee, aeroplanes and online shopping to cover American popular culture, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix are probably the city's most famous exports
Whilst Seattle is infamous for its rainy weather, spring brings warmer temperatures and summers boast plenty of sunshine making the best time to visit between May and October for dry days, warm afternoons and cooler nights.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Seattle.
British Airways direct from London Heathrow.
From London Heathrow to Seattle: 9 hours 30 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Travel Advice Update
The FCO travel advice for the USA has been updated with an amendment to the Entry requirements section - on 18 December 2015, the US Congress passed a Bill updating the requirements for the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP); under the new rules, with effect from 1 April 2016 all travellers wishing to enter the US under the VWP will need to hold a passport with an integrated chip.
The web-based Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) requires all passengers (including infants) travelling via or to the USA to apply for authority to travel a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel. You may be denied boarding or refused entry to the US if you have not registered and obtained authorisation. To apply visit the official website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ A charge of UD$14 per person (subject to change) will apply and must be paid by either credit or debit card.
Customs and Border Protection programme Global Entry gets pre-approved travellers through border control faster at some US airports. If you’re a British citizen and a frequent visitor to the USA you can now register to get a UK background check on www.gov.uk/apply-faster-entry-usa. If you pass the background checks, you’ll be invited to apply for Global Entry.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.