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I’ve learned that your first impression of a city remains with you always.

Seattle is surrounded by water, mountains, and forests.Catch a photo of glacier-covered Mount Rainier from the ferry.

Every time I fly into Seattle I am awed by the snowy mountain peaks, forests of black firs and the unrelenting wateriness of the scenery.

Even the drive from the airport into town is bordered by huge fir forests and the area is veined with raging rivers and puddled with lakes.

You have to love a city with so many mountains, water, flowers, good beer and coffee shops.

Seattle nurtures a nature-loving version of life. You’ll see it everywhere; on the ferries filled with day trippers, with backpacks and hiking boots, to the waterfront picnickers taking in the views of the Olympic Mountains on a sunny day.

Recently I visited Seattle again to visit many of the “Top 10 Sights to See” as voted by locals at 

Wander through pulsating Pikes Place Market and meet some of the local farmers, (there are over 100), the cheese makers, the entertaining fishmongers, independent bakers and artists. Banjo players, street performers and dozens of flower stalls create a festive atmosphere year round.

Watch the flying fish show at Pike Place Market.

Don’t miss the show when the fish vendors toss slippery salmon to each other over the heads of unsuspecting shoppers.

Eating and drinking are definitely favorite local pastimes, so stop for lunch at the popular Pike Place Chowder. Their New England clam chowder has won first-place awards everywhere in the country. After winning the Newport, Rhode Island “Great-Chowder-Cook-Off” for three years running, their chowder recipe earned membership in the Hall of Fame. Try a few of the eight varieties made daily; from gluten-free or vegan to the fabulous seafood chowder, made with fresh salmon, ocean clams, veggies and herbs, bought daily from the farmers’ and fishermen’s stalls in the market.

Seattle is the home of Starbucks and the original store is at Pike Place Market. Every Seattleite has an opinion about “What Is Seattle’s Best Coffee?” Locals frequent neighborhood cafés and are loyal to their favorite Seattle-roasts. The warm scent of fresh brewed coffee will lure you into neighborhood cafes for a latte, cappuccino, macchiato or mocha.

Mini neighborhoods give the city character. Kerry Park in the classy Queen Anne district is the best place for a photo op of the Seattle skyline. On a sunny day you’ll enjoy the sparkling views of Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island, the Olympic Mountains and majestic Mount Rainer in the distance.

Ballard is another historic and unique little town in Seattle’s big city. Take time to linger in one of the iconic little cafes and sample the local roasts. Capitol Hill is a fun area to explore for funky boutiques and bar-hopping.

Get out on the water for the best views of Mount Rainier (see if in the distance?).

Hop on a ferry to a nearby island for stunning scenery of bays, beaches, forests, seaside, and mountains. You may even see orca whales or eagles.

Nordstrom’s, Sur la Table, Starbucks and Microsoft began in Seattle or nearby. But to get back to the nature-based core of Seattle, stop by the flagship REI Store (Recreational Equipment Inc.) — a mecca for all people who engage in outdoor sports. There is a huge variety of outdoor gear and clothing, and the Pinnacle, one of the tallest freestanding indoor climbing walls (three stories), is an attraction in itself. They have everything thing you could ever want for hiking, camping, paddling, climbing, biking, skiing…. you name it. They have a good travel section, too, with luggage and accessories. And there’s also a book section, with guides, adventure tales, and all kinds of maps.