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Summer of 14

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560 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
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There are a handful of stores in San Francisco that sell quirky and distinctive clothing, jewelry, and homewares. Eden & Eden is one. The brother-and-sister owners stock some vintage pieces and a nice selection of funky jewelry from the U.K. I've...
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600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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With no sign above its unassuming storefront, Tartine is most easily recognized by the line that snakes out its door and down Guerrero Street. People patiently wait for flaky pains au chocolat (the best outside Paris, in my opinion), decadent...
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2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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There is no better way to begin the grand taco crawl down California’s coast than by visiting one of San Francisco’s most famed taquerias. If you ask a local, chances are that La Taqueria is going to be an honorable mention. Accolades hang on the...
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4035 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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An artist and an architect curate a cool mix of practical things here. You’ll find books on furniture and design, and interesting items like wooden radios and pencil sets. Lots of it is handmade. The store also sells chairs and tables that Luke...
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2300 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
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The beautiful boutique Nest on Fourth Street in Berkeley, takes me right back to France even before I walk in. The displays of the books, fabrics, gifts, jewelry and artwork through through the glass windows was enough to make my heart leap when I...
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4519, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA

In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San...

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220 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
For a dose of culture, head to Park Life in the Inner Richmond. The goal of this gallery-cum-retail space is to feature today’s most engaging contemporary art. Located in a 1,400-square-foot former furniture store, Park Life showcases 10 exhibits...
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One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Outdoor markets always tell a story about their city: what goods are for sale, what foods are locally grown and how the residents interact with one another as they buy and sell their wares. San Francisco's Saturday Market at the Ferry Terminal...
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3885 Cesar Chavez, San Francisco, CA 94131, USA
Celia Sack’s store devoted to food- and drink-related books also serves as a gathering place for San Francisco chefs, foodies, and visiting authors. For anyone who collects cookbooks or rare first editions, it’s a worthy stop. The staff is...
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824 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Stepping into Paxton Gate is like entering a wonderland. What began as a small store in an alley off Market Street in 1992 has since grown into their location on Valencia Street, a mecca for those interested in the oddities of the natural world....
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Outer Sunset, San Francisco, CA, USA
When I went back to San Francisco for the second time in August, I ended up staying in the Outer Sunset. A new store just opened there in the summer called Establish SF and I fell in LOVE! They sell and custom make jewelry there as well as sell a...
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400 Gate 5 Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
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Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Today it is one of the most lasting examples of midcentury American design. Heath is famous for its tableware collections, as well as its tile. The colors are amazing, and their bud vases make for...
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1836 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710, USA
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Berkeley's 4th Street shopping area offers 3 blocks of unique shops and restaurants. Some of my favorite spots are The Gardener for gardening accesories and housewares, Nest for beautiful gift items and linens, and Bette's Oceanview Diner for...
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57 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
It doesn't matter how well you think you know a place—there's always somewhere new worth exploring. San Francisco is packed with secret hideouts. One of my all-time favorites has to be the Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room—and the rather...
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56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
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In the largest Chinatown outside Asia, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory glows in the somewhat dark Ross Alley. A group of writers from a Trafalgar Guided Vacation enter the building and see the fortune cookies being made. The untainted, non...
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555 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
I recently signed up for a drawing class with a few fellow AFARians, and I came to this art supply store—near Jackson Square in the Financial District—to stock up on materials. Sporting wall-to-wall color and two floors of pencils, paints,...
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754 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
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This place is tiny, but it's one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. The menu is small so there are only a few choices, but no matter what you get, you'll be happy. Make sure to try the iced coffee. It's made with chicory, the way it's done...
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75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco for a calming escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's located beside the De Young and Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and offers a variety of snacks to nibble on while enjoying...
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100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
The Victorian-era glass and wood structure, which looks like a sugar-coated castle atop a grassy slope, is Golden Gate Park's oldest building. It's also one of San Francisco's most splendid historic sites. Wander through five different galleries...
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449 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
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Miette describes themselves as San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop, and it would be hard to disagree. Bright, colorful, and cheerful, these American takes on classic pastries are some of the best you’ll find in the city. Miette (which means...
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525 Laguna St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
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For traditional German food in a cozy setting reminiscent of a traditional Bavarian Wirsthaus, you can’t beat Suppenküche in Hayes Valley. Owner Fabrizio Wiest, who was born and raised in Germany, worked as a graphic designer before he moved to ...
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437 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
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While in line at Chantal Guillon, I overheard a patron say, "There are too many." Yes, there are many macarons in pastel colors lining the glass case and cafe. And, thankfully, you can buy a box of one of each flavor: Persian rose, salted caramel,...
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Ferry Building, One San Francisco Bay Trail #8, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
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Blueberry Boy Bait may sound like a B-side song from an alternative band, but it's actually just an ice cream flavor offered by Humphry Slocombe, a small shop in the Mission District. Owner and former pastry chef Jake Godby has made the name...
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3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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It's no wonder that on any given weekday afternoon, the line for ice cream at this legendary San Francisco establishment goes out the door and wraps around the block. Once you try it for yourself, you'll understand: it's just that good. With...
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24th St, San Francisco, CA, USA
24th Street in San Francisco (not to be confused with 24th Avenue!) is one of my favorite walks in the city. Hop off BART at the 24th Street - Mission station, and walk the 1-mile length of the street to see what cultural commentators mean when...
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616 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108, USA
There are electronics stores that blare, "art" stores with porcelain anything that offend, jewelery stores that glisten, and souvenir stores that . But you don't want any souvenir, you want something that says, "I was in Chinatown" but not "and...
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Haight St, San Francisco, CA, USA
San Francisco is known for its street fairs, and you might be surprised by the organic options you will have available (including the requirement to responsibly compost or recycle your waste as well). I have a childhood attachment to funnel cake...
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San Francisco, CA, USA
Even if you live here, exploring San Francisco's eclectic neighborhoods makes a fun day out, and with City Guides, it's also free. Founded in 1978, the nonprofit organization has more than 200 trained volunteers who lead history and...
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2648 59th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116, USA
If you want to relax by taking a walk, why not take a long winding path by the beach? Walking not your style? Fine, you can roller blade or bike too. If it’s nice and sunny there’s also the option to sunbath or walk along the surf. It’s about a...
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1011 Western Ave # 500, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
From the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle, you look out over Puget Sound. Beyond this arm of the sea, the snowcapped Olympic Mountains beckon. Few cities are as easy to escape from as Seattle. Get to the downtown ferry terminal, and you'll be on...
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5318 22nd Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
When you pick your way down the metal stairs into Space Oddity, it quickly becomes very clear that this vintage furniture store is the result of a collector’s passion. Owner Todd Werny focuses on midcentury style, assembling an eclectic mix of...
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616 Battery St, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
If you happen to see a giant, rotating pink elephant on your way to the Space Needle, relax — you haven’t had one too many. You’re just seeing the Elephant Car Wash’s famous neon sign, which has become a Seattle icon. It really is a working car...
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3526 Fremont Pl N, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
One of Fremont’s more unusual pieces of public art is a 16-foot-tall bronze statue of Bolshevik Russian Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. The statue was constructed by a Slovak Bulgarian sculptor, Emil Venkov, on commission from the Soviet...
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1118 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
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Unicorn is one of my favorite places to take visitors because there's just so much to look at: the lurid circus-painted walls, the costumed and accessorized taxidermy, the lavishly painted bar that seems to have been pulled off a carousel. During...
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1521 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
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The Elliott Bay Book Company is THE Seattle bookstore and, thankfully, survived its move from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill five years ago with soul and towering cedar bookcases intact. Elliott Bay lost a significant chunk of square footage...
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925 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
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If there's a single most iconic Seattle meal, it's probably fish and chips. We're rightly famous for our salmon, which is very tasty when given the batter-fried treatment, but halibut may be the most popular choice for locals (and well worth the...
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1622.5 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
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Another food-truck-made-good in a permanent location, Molly Moon’s now has five locations around town, but still sends out its iconic baby-blue truck for special events — just follow your nose to the heavenly scent of their freshly made waffle...
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Seattle, WA, USA
One of Seattle's landmark buildings, the downtown public library is a dramatically asymmetrical, 11 story glass-and-steel 'sculpture' that takes up an entire city block. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the interior features a continuous...
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1428 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Taking just the 'right' wrong turn on a visit to Pike Place Market can land you in Post Alley, where spearmint, wild cherry, and tropical punch bubble gum drizzles down the window panes and grape, peppermint, and lemon ice gum-cicles form from...
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85 Pike St #500, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
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Walk, cycle or people-watch along the shores of Elliott Bay, a downtown stretch known for its circusy flair and spectacular vistas. You can ride the Great Wheel or visit the beloved Seattle Aquarium, home to wolf eels, sea otters, and the world's...
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Pier 54 Walk, 1001 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
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Beautiful shot of Seattle's waterfront complete with her newest attraction, a ferris wheel!
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400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
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This "U.F.O. saucer on a stick" is an atomic age baby, dating back to the 1962 World's Fair. If you're lucky enough to catch the city's iconic symbol on a sunny day, take the 41-second elevator ride to the observation deck and behold the sweeping...
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325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
This sheet-metal fever dream of architect Frank Gehry is like a rock ’n’ roll Guggenheim, home to interactive and innovative exhibits that span music, sci-fi and fantasy, animation, video games and other scrambled bits of pop culture. A hands-on...
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1499 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
I have to be upfront, I don't believe in ghosts, but listening to these stories really made me want to. You meet at this little espresso shop where they serve Middle Fork and Caffe Vita Roasters. From there, your guide takes you around Pike Place...
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108 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
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Seattle has become a cupcake town; you can (and I have) had entire conversations debating the merits of various cupcake shops. Cupcake Royale is one of the best, and definitely worth a visit. They have rotating monthly flavors (pictured is the...
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1511 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
This photo shows a local neighborhood "map" in the window of one of my favorite stores anywhere, Metsker Maps in downtown Seattle. "Without geography, we're nowhere," proclaims a bumper sticker from what's been a family-run institution for over...
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1501 Pike Pl #322, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
BLMF Bookstore is proof that there are treasures to be found for the patient visitor who wanders down to the neglected lower levels of Pike Place Market. J.B. Johnson has owned this cozy, lovingly curated store for 17 years, ever since a guest at...
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1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Guarded by the Hammering Man sculpture outside, this superb museum collection romps from native tribal art to African masks to carvings from Oceania. Highlights include the 16th-century wood-paneled Italian Room and The Studio, a portrait of...
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1325 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
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Adored by locals, Fran’s Chocolates shop is a tasty local tradition. Indulge in one of their classic gold-foil-wrapped chocolate ingots, or savor their grey salt and smoked salt caramels—they're rich, intense, and deeply flavorful. Fran’s uses...
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1510 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Looking for some unique postcards to send home? Pike St. Press is a letterpress studio and gift shop where you can choose from letterpress cards and paper, pens and pencils, notebooks and art prints, or commission your own custom business cards or...
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1535 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
It should come as no surprise that Seattle has an umbrella boutique downtown. What might be a surprise is the fact that you can rent umbrellas by the day (and that a single day’s rental might be what you were expecting to pay to purchase one...
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2000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
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Many consider breakfast the most important meal of the day, so it has to be big, good, or both. The innovative approach Lola takes in redefining breakfast classics manages to catapult it into the later. Something as simple as a doughnut becomes...
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105 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
If you don’t have a car — or you just want a quick tour of the highlights — the Emerald City Trolley is a convenient way to get around town to popular sightseeing attractions. Destinations include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer...
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305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
I didn't expect to like the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, because it seemed like yet another overpriced Seattle attraction. But I was pleasantly surprised by this colorful, photography-friendly collection of the one-eyed glass artist's work....
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1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
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When the snowglobes and novelty-shaped pasta souvenirs just won’t cut it, a quick trip to the SAM Shop (located at the Seattle Art Museum downtown) should take care of your gift-giving needs. In addition to catalogs and trinkets inspired by the...
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1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
The 5th Avenue Theatre began as a vaudeville stage in 1924 and evolved over the decades into a movie palace. When the original theater closed down in 1978, a group of local businesses formed the non-profit 5th Avenue Theatre Association and raised...
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1621 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98102, USA
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It's an uphill walk to get to Glo's, and, once you get there, you'll have to wait because it's pocket sized. But let's say you sit on the benches outside, watching the busy intersection under grey stormy skies (the only kind you get in Seattle)...
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Seattle, WA, USA
Tokyo Dog isn’t the only Japanese hot dog food truck in town, but it does have the cutest logo: a grinning, cheery hot-dog Godzilla trampling a path of destruction across the Seattle skyline. The menu is pretty minimal, with just a handful of...
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2100 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
A piece of cinematic history, Seattle’s Cinerama is one of only three movie theaters in the world still capable of showing three-strip Cinerama films (as well as 35/70mm films). Recently remodeled, the large theater is full of old-time glamour,...
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1932 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
A couple of doors down from Fancy (see what they did there?), Schmancy is a whimsical little shop full of toys for kids of all ages. Novelties like food-shaped plush toys, finger puppets, mini knitting kits, Kidrobot figurines, and Japanese...
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Pier 54 Walk, 1001 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
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Yes, you read that right... "Keep clam" is the motto at Ivar's famous Seattle seafood restaurants. Ivar's has plenty of locations around town, from the casual fish-and-chip stands to the fancier waterfront Acres of Clams and Salmon House, but all...
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2901 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
Here's a bold claim: the Olympic Sculpture Park might just have something for everyone. Located on the waterfront, not far from Pike Place Market, it features great views of Puget Sound (well, on clear days) and the ferries going back and forth....
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370 Thomas St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Built as a people mover for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the Seattle Monorail is a surprisingly popular attraction, especially given that it’s not very practical. It goes from downtown to the Seattle Center and back, and that’s it. The ride is...
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Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
One of Seattle's most postcard-friendly areas, Pioneer Square is a beautiful, historical neighborhood with plenty to do. The galleries come alive for First Thursday art walks, not to mention the delicious lunch spots, quirky boutiques, and vibrant...
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Once the tallest building on the West Coast, Smith Tower offered panoramic Seattle views long before there was a Space Needle. The skyscraper was built in 1914 by typewriter tycoon Lyman Cornelius Smith. Ride an old-fashioned copper and brass...
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102 Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
Seattle has plenty of history — and if you believe the ghost hunters, it’s had its fair share of grisly deaths and eerie spirits, too. Based in Pioneer Square, Spooked in Seattle’s lively (and occasionally corny) 90-minute walking tour takes you...
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614 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
The Underground Tour is one of Seattle's most iconic attractions and a definite must-do for visitors. Sure, the tour guides tell corny jokes, but the history really is fascinating: in the late 1800s, after a devastating fire and chronic flooding...