Seattle, here we come!

The announcement by Aer Lingus earlier this week that they will start direct services to Seattle from Ireland next May is big news — at least in the Travel Centres household. Apart from being the home to both online and tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft and the fictional home of the greatest TV comedy series ever made — Frasier — Seattle is also gateway to the Pacific Northwest, one of the least familiar parts of the USA but also one of the most beautiful!

Located almost equidistant from both Vancouver in Canada and Portland in Oregon, Seattle is the perfect gateway city to explore this part of North America and Canada, being just a leisurely four-hour drive from both and Seattle airport also boasts good onward connection to the Orient and Japan. The Pacific Northwest (and indeed British Columbia) share a similar climate to Ireland with mostly mild winters and summers, punctuated with plenty of rain although they do tend to get more sunshine in summer and a lot more snow in winter, particularly at higher altitudes. Fair-skinned Irish travelers will there enjoy the absence of extremes there whilst enjoying all that the region has to offer in terms of seascapes, mountains and the great outdoors. Indeed, it is almost a given that in this part of North America, every reasonably affluent household has three kinds of vehicles parked outside — the family car (for commuting to work); a pickup truck and an RV of some description. Both Washington and Oregon states are amongst the least-populated states in the Union so the emphasis is on spending as much of one’s free time as possible in the great outdoors.

Although not large by American standards with a population of just over 700,000 making it similar in size to Dublin, Seattle was the fastest-growing city in the U.S. last year and is surrounded by both water (Puget Sound and Lake Washington) and thousands of acres of evergreen forest. The city’s name derives from that of a chief of one of the local Suquamish tribes that populated the area prior to the arrival of Europeans. The city was also the epicenter of the musical sub-genre known as Grunge which spawned groups such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Sound Garden, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock prodigy, Jimi Hendrix!

Seattle also boasts a strong link with the aviation world, hosting, as it does, the headquarters of the city’s biggest employer, Boeing which has over 80,000 employees or more than Microsoft and Amazon combined.

Every major city in the world has its own iconic structure and Seattle is no different so any visit to the city has to take in the Space Needle! Built in 1962 when Seattle hosted the World Fair that year, the space needle is an observation tower that stands over 600 feet high and which was, for many years, the tallest structure in the United States west of the Mississippi. Other notable visitor attractions in the city include the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum which celebrates the work of one of the world’s most original glass sculptors, Dale Chihuly and of course, the Boeing Factory Tour, to name but three. Other notable visitor ‘must sees’ in Washington include Mountain Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascades mountain range and generally considered to be one of the most potentially dangerous volcanoes in the world. Another natural wonder worth checking out is the Columbia Gorge which forms part of the Washington-Oregon border and which passes beautiful areas such as Mulnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the river.

Best time to visit Seattle and environs? May though to September.

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