Pacific jewel: touring Seattle's brilliant landscape


September 19, 2014|By Stephanie Citron | For The Baltimore Sun

A series of occasional articles exploring destinations that are easily reached via nonstop flights from Baltimore.

Flying to the West Coast for vacation isn't often ideal for Baltimoreans. It can be difficult to find nonstop flights, and it's almost always a pricey venture. But that all changed this month when Alaska Airlines launched reasonably priced, nonstop service from BWI-Marshall to Seattle.

Despite its rainy reputation, Seattle is an ideal destination during the months of September and October, when the summer crowds have dissipated and chances for sunshine remain high. Visitors can see the city's magnificent oaks, elms and ginkos blaze rippling orange, yellow and crimson reflections across the Puget Sound while basking in daytime temperatures that hover at a pleasant 60-70 degrees.

Seattle, nicknamed Emerald City for its lush landscape, is blessed with some of the most dramatic topography in the United States, creating an exciting outdoor playground to explore. The city is snuggly tucked between the Cascade and Olympic ranges, in the shadow of Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, on a strip of land serenely floating between the saltwater Puget Sound and freshwater Lake Washington. It is an outdoor enthusiast's dream.

The city's prime Pacific seaport setting has long attracted adventurers and entrepreneurs. Beginning in the mid-19th century, gold prospectors and loggers ventured here seeking their fortunes. They were soon joined by commercial fishermen, who earn their living braving its brisk waterways year-round. Then masses of Asian immigrants arrived to help build the railways.

That original diverse society, brimming with an intrepid, optimistic spirit, is the essence of present-day Seattle, with its enterprising population of techies, artisans, musicians and chefs. Seattle residents are a culture unto themselves, a little outdoorsy (REI's headquarters are here), a little artsy and a little hipster.

Here's what to see, do and eat this fall in Seattle.

Fall fun events

Queen Anne Farmers' Market You can sample the autumn harvest of the Pacific Northwest at the Queen Anne Farmers' Market, featuring items from 50 Washington farms, procurers of artisan food and cooking demonstrations. Thursdays through mid-October. West Crockett Street at Queen Anne Avenue,

Earshot Jazz Festival Masters, Monsters and Nentors is this year's theme for Seattle's citywide Earshot Jazz Festival, featuring more than 50 concerts and events from Oct. 10 to Nov. 11. Some of the headline acts include jazz greats Pharoah Sanders, Joe Lavano, Joey Baron and Taylor McFerrin (son of Bobby).

Hot Stove Society Hungry to re-create Seattle's distinctive fare when you get home? Tom Douglas, James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of 10 Seattle eateries, just launched a new cooking school featuring cooking lessons from local celebrity chefs and cookbook authors. The hands-on classes at the Hot Stove Society include a meal.

The Seattle International Comedy Competition claims to be the original "Last Comic Standing." Thirty-three shows feature top comedians from around the world competing for the title from Nov. 5 to Nov. 30. Audiences and judges render votes until a champion is declared at the final show.

Don't-miss attractions

Museum of History and Industry Considered Washington state's Smithsonian, the newish MOHAI exhibits millions of artifacts representing the cultural and industrial evolution of this region. Don't miss seeing Boeing's first commercial aircraft and the evolution of local corporations like Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks. 860 Terry Ave N.,

Pike Place Market Local residents particularly love the Pike Place Market in autumn, when it's full of fall produce and the summer tourists have departed. Famed for the "flying fish" tossed by vendors in its Fish Market, this circa-1907 bazaar is a hodgepodge of practically everything, from crafts to flowers to food to boutiques. It's also home to the original Starbucks. First and Pike streets,

Distillery tours There's always a new craft distillery popping up in Seattle. With so many great choices, how to choose? Hop aboard a 10-passenger Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, a speakeasy on wheels, for distillery tours and tastings guided by local mixologists. Along the way, guests are treated to handcrafted cocktails, artisan snacks and intriguing tales about Seattle's colorful spirits history. The Downtown Brown tour is the newest offering, celebrating the city's craft whiskey and bourbon purveyors.

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