There's so much to see and do in Seattle that it's hard to choose the best, but some of our favorites are:
Pike Place Market
Every city has a market, but nothing quite like Seattle's century-old Pike Place Market. It began in 1907 as a farmers market, but has expanded over the years so that today there are over 300 stalls in 13 buildings spread across 9 acres near the waterfront. Plenty of fish stalls, then, but flower stalls, bakeries, chilli sellers, cheese-makers, candy stores, ceramics, antiques, jewelry, books, clothes, toys, games... you name it.
You should see the whole waterfront area, especially on a fine day, but also make time to visit Seattle Aquarium. The highlight here is probably the Window on Washington Waters exhibit, an amazing 120,000 gallon tank with foot-thick glass. It shows what's going on beneath the waves in Puget Sound, and check the times of the daily dive shows because special masks enable the divers to talk to you, an unusual feature. Needless to say there's a great deal more here, and children will love the hands-on Discovery Lab.
Seattle Art Museum
Quite simply the best art museum in the whole Pacific Northwest, with so much quality work on display it's hard to know where to begin. The Native American collection? The 20th century art by Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Gilbert and George? The fascinating 19th century American landscape paintings? The collection of work by modern local artists? Put the museum high on your Seattle 'top things to do' list.
Seattle Center and Space Needle
The Space Needle has become a symbol for Seattle, and though it dates back to the 1962 World's Fair it's become timeless, in a way. You have to go to the top, of course. It would be like going to Paris without going up the Eiffel Tower. It isn't cheap, as is usual with this kind of thing, but the elevator ride that whisks you to the top in just 43 seconds (give or take a nano-second), and the awesome views from the observation deck just have to be experienced.
Allow plenty of time for the whole Seattle Center too, as this complex includes things like the Children's Museum, the Pacific Science Center, and for rock music fans the unmissable Experience Music Project. That's their 3-story Guitar Tower in the photo (Photo (c) Howard Frisk, Courtesy of Seattle CVB).
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The Napa Wine Country Inn and Gardens in St Helena, Napa Valley, overlooks a vineyard and has free wine tastings every evening, and offers guests help with booking wine tours.
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La Jolla in southern California is north of San Diego off the Pacific Coast Highway and has museums, good shopping, restaurants, hotels, beaches, wildlife, and the wonderful Birch Aquarium.
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Cambria on California’s Central Coast is a good stop on the Pacific Coast Highway, with hotels and restaurants, and close to Hearst Castle and the Piedras Blancas Beach to see elephant seals
To help you in choosing your Pacific Coast Highway hotel, guesthouse, inn, bed-and-breakfast, resort, motel or other accommodations, we've prepared our Pacific Coast Highway Hotels Guide. In it we do mini-reviews of accommodations along the Highway, from Seattle to San Diego, through Washington, Oregon, and California.
In all there are over 200 hotels listed, complete with 8 pages of color maps showing the towns where our recommended hotels can be found. There are both alphabetical and geographical indexes, helping you plan your journey.
We also include color photos of all the hotels that are our Personal Favorites. Here's the link to read more about our ebook guide to Pacific Coast Highway hotels.
The 2016 edition of our Hotels Guide is available with maps and color photos (if you have a color reader) in the US Kindle Store for only $4.99 and in the UK Kindle Store and other Kindle stores worldwide at prices based on the US price.
If you want a paperback edition of the 2016 guide with only black and white photos and black-and-white maps, it costs $6.99 at the US Amazon Book Store and £4.99 in the UK Amazon Store.