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The stiking skyline of Seattle    
The American west-coast city of Seattle will always be associated with rainy days, Kurt Cobain, and coffee-bean-empire Starbucks. But while there's no getting away from these facts, you have to visit this interesting destination to make your own memories.

The skyline is striking, with skyscrapers and mountains piercing the oft-grey skies above Seattle; the music scene is a lot more diverse than grunge band Nirvana; and you can grab a coffee at any number or ethical, organic and hip cafés and eateries, where you can also tuck into a sumptuous menu of typical American cuisine and globally-influenced dishes, plus some fresh-from-the-water seafood.

Visit the Space Needle, catch a show at the theatre, check out science and music museums, stroll along the Pacific Ocean coast, go shopping on the Waterfront: whatever you do in Seattle, let the local people and their unique outlook guide you - and pack an umbrella. Lake in Seattle

Hotels in Seattle are typical of standards in the United States of America: huge rooms, large beds (usually two queen beds), and top facilities. They might not always be stylish, but rooms are well equipped, comfortable and clean.

Seattle hotels are pretty good value too. Budget hotels and motels are in good supply, though they're usually found on the city outskirts on main roads leading in and out of the Downtown area. Be sure to book early to secure good-value accommodation in the central areas of Seattle such as Downtown, the Waterfront, and around the Space Needle. Big brands can be found across the city. Look out for names such as Sheraton, W, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Best Western, Doubletree, La Quinta, Travelodge, Hampton Inn, Fairfield, Ramada, Courtyard, Days Inn and Comfort Inn.

Trendy Belltown, to the north of the city centre, is packed with fashionable restaurants and boutique-style luxury hotels, with South Lake Union hosting a crop of new hotels and offering easy access to the attractions of Seattle, which are mostly concentrated around Downtown.

Top five attractions

Space Needle

Iconic landmark of the city with a dizzyingly high observation deck.

Seattle Aquarium

Underwater family fun and excitement at Pier 59.

Seattle Waterfront

This dynamic, urbanised seafront features shops, cafés and the century-old Pike Place Market - a perfect spot for bargains and local produce.

Experience Music Project

Seattle has produced some of the world's best musicians. This fascinating museum celebrates them and delivers a rhythmical nod to pop culture.

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Said to be the world's first museum dedicated to the world of Sci-Fi.

Events

Fremont Street Fair; June: Thousands don costumes and take to the streets to parade and party. Interestingly, only human-powered floats are allowed to take part in this carnival-like celebration.

Bite of Seattle; July: Prepare your taste buds for a friendly long weekend of sampling the best of Seattle's food and drink culture. And when you need a break from eating, there's plenty of live music and family entertainment.

Seattle Center Winterfest; November-December: Six weeks of free entertainment as the city paves the way for Washington State's countdown to Christmas. Fairy lights, roast chestnuts, street performers, grottos and stalls - the festivities begin here.