Seattle is known as the 'Emerald City', and just like the home of the Wizard of Oz in the fairy tale, it is a magical place. Rated as one of the world's most liveable cities, after Melbourne and Montreal, it boasts among its citizens three out of the world's ten richest men, including Bill Gates, head of the mighty Microsoft Empire. The city's emergence as a trend-setting and fashionable metropolis with sky-high property prices has occurred in less than 200 years, since it was founded in 1869.
Sitting at the extremity of the United States' northwest, at the gateway to Canada, Seattle reaches for the sky with its landmark soaring 'space needle', built in the 1960s, a modern monument that epitomises the city's image as a high-tech, dynamic and young community.
Seattle is not a place that fosters couch potatoes. Visitors and locals alike revel in the outdoor activities the city's situation provides for. Seattle sits on the shores of two large lakes and Puget Sound, with remote wilderness less than an hour away, and it is flanked by two major mountain ranges (Olympics and Cascades), with Mount Rainier in full view from the city. It is also within easy reach of the San Juan Islands, Pacific Ocean beaches and major rivers.
This active city lends itself to walking tours, particularly around the two main tourist areas, the waterfront and Pike Place Market. In addition, 80 percent of the city limits are surrounded by water, so tour boats also abound. To fully enjoy Seattle be prepared to go boating, and bring a comfortable pair of shoes.