Despite its reputation for bad weather, Seattle gets only 36 inches of rain a year—less than Chicago, New York, or New Orleans—and has a fairly temperate climate year-round. June through September is the best time to visit, when temperatures range from 65 to 75 degrees.
Ace Hotel 2423 First Ave.; 206/448-4721; doubles with shared bath from $80, suites with private bath from $145. A hip newcomer in the heart of Belltown. Opens this month.
Alexis Hotel 1007 First Ave.; 800/426-7033 or 206/624-4844; doubles from $225. Posh boutique atmosphere and a prime downtown location.
Four Seasons Olympic Hotel 411 University St.; 800/223-8772 or 206/621-1700; doubles from $260. Old-world elegance and outstanding service, plus one of the best swimming pools in the city.
Hotel Monaco 1101 Fourth Ave.; 800/945-2240 or 206/621-1770; doubles from $225. Stylish and comfortable rooms with vibrant decoration; a chic, spacious lobby; and a dynamite restaurant.
Inn at Harbor Steps 1221 First Ave.; 888/728-8910 or 206/748-0973; doubles from $160. Urban "inn" set in a residential high-rise. All rooms have fireplaces, sitting areas, and courtyard views.
Inn at the Market 86 Pine St.; 800/446-4484 or 206/443-3600; doubles from $145. A warm and intimate 70-room inn with a fabulous location in the heart of Pike Place Market. Best breakfast: café au lait and crusty French bread at nearby Café Campagne.
Sorrento Hotel 900 Madison St.; 800/426-1265 or 206/622-6400; doubles from $190. Small luxury hotel in an elegant 1908 building east of downtown.
W Seattle 1112 Fourth Ave.; 877/946-8357 or 206/264-6000; doubles from $245. Sleek business quarters near Benaroya Hall. Opening in September.
GREAT DEAL Pacific Northwest Journeys On the web at http://www.pnwjourneys.com; 800/935-9730 or 206/935-9730. For a $45 fee, this Seattle-based company will make your hotel reservations at its preferred rates, offering substantial savings-book a three-night stay at the Monaco or Four Seasons, for example, and you'll get $200 to $250 off rack rates.
Café Campagne 1600 Post Alley; 206/728-2233; dinner for two $60. A wonderfully Gallic setting by the Pike Place Market, with low ceilings and wooden tables. Try the petits plats, followed by rich cassoulet or the spicy lamb burger and crisp fries. Bistro cooking at its best.
Brasa 2107 Third Ave.; 206/728-4220; dinner for two $60. A new addition, with an earthy, robust menu from James Beard Awardwinning chef Tamara Murphy (formerly of Café Campagne).
Cascadia 2328 First Ave.; 206/448-8884; dinner for two $80. Big news: In June, Kerry Sear, former executive chef at the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel, will open his own place-specializing in Northwest cuisine-on Belltown's restaurant row.
Dahlia Lounge 1904 Fourth Ave.; 206/682-4142; dinner for two $80. Tom Douglas's signature cooking combines several cultures (Pacific Rim, Mexican, Russian) within one thrilling meal. Save room for Seattle's best desserts-especially the caramel pear tart or coconut cream pie.
Flying Fish 2234 First Ave.; 206/728-8595; dinner for two $80. Go for the clean lines, tapas-size portions of rock-shrimp spring rolls or razor clams, great platters of crab, mussels, and snapper, and exotic, flown-in fish.
Macrina Bakery Café 2408 First Ave.; 206/448-4032; lunch for two $20. Belltowners stop in for gutsy, flavorful breads (served at many of Seattle's best restaurants), along with fried-egg sandwiches on "Giuseppe" bread, bowls of fresh fruit, and foamy lattes.
Marco's Supperclub 2510 First Ave.; 206/441-7801; dinner for two $70. One of the Belltown originals, this intimate, sexy bistro is still my favorite. Start off with the fried sage leaves; you'll swoon.
Plenty 1404 34th Ave.; 206/324-1214; lunch for two $15. An inviting neighborhood café in Madrona, just a few blocks east of Capitol Hill. Chef Jim Watkins is known for simple food, lovingly prepared. Great atmosphere and big, luscious desserts.
Sazerac 1101 Fourth Ave.; 206/624-7755; dinner for two $80. Southern-inspired food, dished up with flair in a high-concept, high-ceilinged space in the Hotel Monaco.
Stars Bar & Dining 600 Pine St.; 206/264-1112; dinner for two $100. Celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower's new Seattle outpost. The crowd is dressed-up and boisterous; the setting gorgeous and warm. On my last visit the cuisine and service were still a bit uneven, but I wager Stars will live up to its name before long.
Wild Ginger 1400 Western Ave.; 206/623-4450; dinner for two $60. An absolute must-visit. Many kinds of Asian cuisine-Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese-come together in a way that has earned this restaurant nearly landmark status.
ARO.space 925 E. Pike St.; 206/320-0424. One of Capitol Hill's newest clubs, with eclectic dance music, DJ's, and touring bands. Vegetarian dishes served in a hip cafeteria. Weekends see a lively gay and lesbian scene.
Baltic Room 1207 Pine St.; 206/625-4444. Piano jazz club on Capitol Hill, with velvet banquettes, a baby grand, and a fireplace.
Benaroya Hall 200 University St.; 206/215-4747. The Seattle Symphony's elegant new home in downtown Seattle.
Crocodile Café 2200 Second Ave.; 206/441-5611. Still the city's best live-music club, with hot bands, easygoing crowds, and a funky atmosphere.
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley Restaurant & Night Club 2033 Sixth Ave.; 206/441-9729. Grab a table close to the stage and hear nationally known jazz and blues artists perform while you dine.
Safeco Field First Ave. and S. Atlantic St.; 206/346-4000. The Seattle Mariners' new state-of-the-art stadium opens in July.
Ardour 1115 First Ave.; 206/292-0660. Whimsical women's wear, lush sweaters, and exquisite-yet-affordable jewelry.
Domestic Furniture 1422 34th Ave.; 206/323-0198. Full line of wooden and upholstered pieces by acclaimed artist and designer Roy McMakin.
Fig. 1A 95 Wall St.; 206/441-1919. FTD meets the chemistry lab: cement floors, white-tiled walls, and flowers displayed in beakers and flasks.
Flora & Henri 1215 First Ave.; 206/749-9698. Beautifully made children's clothing based on vintage designs.
Great Jones Home 1921 Second Ave.; 206/448-9405. Antiques and treasures for the home and garden; gifts, candles, and linens from Provence; whimsical stationery and note cards.
Mint 91 Wall St.; 206/956-8270. Industrial-chic furnishings with a 1940's, 50's, and 60's office look: mint-green file cabinets, vintage typewriters, globes, and more.
Nordstrom 500 Pine St.; 206/628-2111. Recently opened flagship for the Northwest's premier department store.
Pacific Place 600 Pine St. Seattle's newest and glitziest mall, with five levels of shops, restaurants, and movie theaters.
REI 222 Yale Ave. N.; 888/873-1938 or 206/223-1944. A temple to recreational equipment, with a 65-foot indoor climbing wall, rock-laden paths for trying out hiking boots, and a rain chamber for testing Gore-Tex.
Rudy's Barbershop 89 Wall St.; 206/448-8900. A youthful salon with a distinctly urban sensibility. Stop by for a bleach or a cut, and tune in to the local buzz.
Seattle Best Places (Sasquatch Books) An indispensable source for restaurant, hotel, and nightlife listings; locals swear by it.
Seattle by Bill McRae (Lonely Planet) This first-edition city guide from the well-known travel series came out in September and offers very thorough coverage.
Rent a bike from the newly opened Blazing Saddles (1230 Western Ave.; 206/341-9994) and riding from the Harbor Steps along the waterfront to the Chittenden Locks.