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Best Landmarks in Seattle

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Nestled amidst numerous attractions and landmarks like Space Needle, Seattle Center, IMAX Theater and Chihuly Gardens, the International Fountain never fails to capture the attention of the visitors. Join in the fun with kids and beat the summer heat by playing in the water. Else, you can sit on the rim and watch as the spacecraft-like art installation at the center throws out water at jet speed. The fountain is bound to bring out the kid in you.

Located in Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Volunteer Park Conservatory is a botanical garden made up of five different houses. Modeled after the Crystal Palace in London, these ornately, victorian style greenhouses hold various botanical wonders. Each greenhouse holds a different variety of plants, from succulents, ferns, palms and bromeliads to cacti and seasonal flora. A Seattle staple since 1922, the extensive collection has grown thanks to generous donations from the public and private benefactors. Visitors can roam through the greenhouses for a small fee of USD 4 or choose to take one of the tours on offer. Be sure to visit the website for further details.

Located on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, Kerry Park is a popular park in Seattle that is renowned for providing the beautiful panoramic views of the city. With Mount Rainier as a picturesque backdrop, this park is popular with locals and tourists alike. At night, the view of the city from the park is breathtaking and dream-like which makes it perfect for pictures.

This 200-acre (80.93 hectare) park is a must-see for every Seattle visitor with even an hour of free time. With its lush green spaces, its breathtaking Japanese Garden (open 10a daily), and its abundance of rare trees, plants and flowers (more than 40,000 species), it is one of the brightest jewels in the Emerald City. Scenic and aptly named Azalea Way cuts a path through the park. The Graham Visitor's Center can be rented for social events, meetings and seminars for 45-75 guests. Rates include kitchen and audio-visual equipment. Call or visit the web site for detailed information and hours.

It's hard to miss the colorful Hat 'n' Boots structure while riding on the Carleton Avenue in Georgetown. Although it is now relocated in Oxbow Park, this eye-catching attraction was once part of a western-themed Texan gas station, built in the 1950s. While the hat served as a shelter for the gas station, the boots were used as washrooms for the cowgirls and the cowboys. Today, you can visit these quirky historic landmarks, which were restored to its original style in 2010.

The Seattle Center Monorail is the first full scale commercial monorail in the United States. Like the Space Needle, this train is a remnant of the 1962 World's Fair. Riding above ground, it takes passengers on a two-minute ride between two terminals: Westlake Center downtown and Seattle Center. Although short, the trip has nice views of Elliott Bay, downtown and the Capitol Hill area.

This downtown location is the hub for all of the Seattle Public Library branches, and it circulates more than a million books annually. It has a large computer area and a 200-seat auditorium where literary programs, workshops and events for kids are held (all free of charge). Other services include an area to assist deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing patrons, a genealogy desk for those researching family history, and a writer's room to encourage new writers.

Located on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the Sky View Observatory provides unobstructed views of Mount Rainier, the city, Elliot Bay, the Space Needle, Olympic Mountains, Bellevue and more. Popular among tourists and locals alike, this landmark is the tallest public observatory west of the Mississippi, reaching nearly 1,000 feet (304 meters) . Visitors pay a small fee to ride the elevator up and experience the breath-taking view. Visit in the evenings to take advantage of the spectacular sunset, but be sure to get there an hour before closing when the last tickets are sold for the night.

When it was built in 1914, this 42-story downtown tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. In 1962, the 605-foot Space Needle outreached it, and for many years afterwards, the Seattle skyline was bracketed by these two spires. Today Smith Tower, with its many windows and ornate pyramid top, is still a beloved Seattle edifice. Anybody can waltz in to take an old-fashioned ride in one of the eight brass-caged, manually operated elevators. The 35th floor observation deck has lovely views.

Seattle's most famous landmark, the Space Needle's futuristic design rises over 600 feet (182.88 meters) tall. The tower was originally built for the 1962 World Expo in Seattle, and was designed with cutting-edge know how by award-winning engineer John K. Minasian, known for his work at Cape Canaveral, home of the U.S. Space Program. From the top, the Space Needle provides 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the Cascade and Olympic mountains. Besides the Skydeck restaurant, the Space Needle also features a gift shop and observation deck.

Bill Gates, known for Microsoft as well as their many philanthropic endeavors, hails from the Emerald City and in fact, Microsoft Headquarters is located in nearby Redmond. Founded in 2000, Bill and Melinda's foundation strives to enhance education, healthcare and alleviate poverty, in the United States as well as abroad. The visitors center located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, aims to educate guests on the many programs, activities and initiatives the foundation takes part in. Learn about the Gates family, employees and the many people who benefit from the foundation. The center features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to think critically on world issues and try to come up with their own solutions. Admission is free and tours are available upon request.

This garden, designed by world renowned garden designer Juki Iida, is a tranquil heaven of three and a half acres. The garden has coordinated plantings of maples, pines, mosses, ferns around a pond that has turtles and goldfish. Tea ceremonies are also performed on the second, third and fourth Saturday of every month. Observing this special ceremony is free, but participation is charged. The garden is at its peak bloom during mid May and is well worth visiting for its fresh colours and fragrances. For some days the times may vary, please check the website.

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