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Why Is Seattle Called 'The Emerald City'?

Seattle is so scenically blessed it's almost laughable. Look to the west and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains frame your view. To the south lies 14,411-foot Mount Rainier, a majestic presence on the horizon despite it being 90 miles from the city. The sparkling waters of Puget Sound reflect the Seattle skyline and feature an intricate network of bays, inlets and islands large and small. Long, skinny Lake Washington is beautified by an almost continuous series of parks and greenbelts along its shore. And Seattle sits right in the middle of it all. The vistas are, in a word, awesome, and the city’s greenery is at the root of its nickname “The Emerald City.”

If you don't spend all day gawking at nature's splendor, plenty of fun things to do in Seattle await. Besides just the downtown Seattle area, this is a city full of distinctive neighborhoods—from hip, socially diverse Capitol Hill to the salty, Scandinavian-flavored Ballard, a reminder of Seattle's maritime heritage. So what are you waiting for? Ride to the top of the Seattle Space Needle for an incredible 360-degree view of the city. Shop for locally made crafts and souvenirs at Pike Place Market. Hop aboard a ferry to Bainbridge Island. Above all, drink plenty of coffee—you're going to be busy as you explore the Emerald City.

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Seattle, WA

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Travel Information

City Population

608,660

Elevation

350 ft.

Sales Tax

State and county sales taxes total 10.1 percent in Seattle. A lodging tax of 10.1 to 15.6 percent is levied along with a 17.8 percent rental car tax.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(206) 625-5011

Hospitals

Harborview Medical Center, (206) 744-3000; Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, (206) 364-0500; Swedish Medical Center-First Hill, (206) 386-6000; University of Washington Medical Center, (206) 598-3300; Virginia Mason Medical Center, (206) 223-6600.

Visitor Information

701 Pike St. Seattle, WA 98101. Phone:(206)461-5800 or (866)732-2695

Air Travel

Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (206) 903-6260 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

Amtrak passenger trains, (800) 872-7245, arrive and depart the King Street Station at 303 S. Jackson St. Amtrak also serves Edmonds, Everett, Tacoma and Tukwila.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. station is at 503 S. Royal Brougham Way; phone (206) 624-0618 or (800) 231-2222.

Taxis

Taxis must be contacted by phone or hired while stopped at cab stands. Major companies are Farwest Taxi, (206) 622-1717; Orange Cab, (206) 522-8800; and Yellow Cab, (206) 622-6500.

Public Transportation

Transportation by bus, trolley, street car, light-rail, monorail and trains is available in Seattle.

Boats

Two companies provide water transportation within the greater Seattle area and to British Columbia.

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