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Within its downtown core, Seattle is an easy walking city—but because of its maritime topography, the layout of the streets doesn’t always follow an easily understandable grid. It is also a large, sprawling city. To take in more of the Seattle, and to understand it better, you may want to sign up for an organized tour. For boat tours, see the box “Boat Tours” (p. ) under “Exploring Seattle,” the highly entertaining and highly recommended Underground Tour (p. ) is listed in that section as well.

Walking Tours

See Seattle Walking Tours (www.see-seattle.com; tel. 425/226-7641) offers guided walking tours of downtown Seattle with a knowledgeable guide, visiting Pike Place Market, the waterfront, and the Pioneer Square area. Tours cost $20.

You’ll learn a lot about local history and discover hidden corners of the city on the 2-hour tours offered year-round by Duse McLean/Seattle Walking Tours (www.seattlewalkingtours.com; tel. 425/885-3173). These tours wind their way from the International District to Pike Place Market, taking in historic buildings, public art, and scenic vistas. Tour price is $15 per person.

For an insider’s glimpse of life in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District, hook up with Chinatown Discovery (www.seattlechinatowntour.com; tel. 206/623-5124). They offer tours of the neighborhood and specialized tours based on locales used in the best-selling novel The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, set in Seattle’s Chinatown.

Food-focused tours of Pike Place Market are offered by Savor Seattle (www.savorseattletours.com; tel. 888/987-2867), which charges $38 for a 2-hour tour, and Seattle Food Tours (www.seattlefoodtours.com; tel. 206/725-4483), which charges $39 for a 2  1/2-hour tour.

Touring Seattle by Duck

World War II amphibious vehicles called Ducks are used for fun and intriguing tours that combine both land and water. Seattle Duck Tours  (www.ridetheducksofseattle.com; 516 Broad St.; tel. 800/817-1116 or 206/441-3825) show off the standard Seattle sights, but then plunge right into Lake Union for a tour of the Portage Bay waterfront, with its many houseboats and great views. The 90-minute tours leave from a parking lot across from the Space Needle and cost $28 for adults and $17 for kids.

Scenic Flights

Seattle is one of the few cities in the United States where floatplanes are a regular sight in the skies and on the lakes. If you want to see what it’s like to take off and land from the water, contact Seattle Seaplanes , 1325 Fairview Ave. E. (www.seattleseaplanes.com; tel. 800/637-5553 or 206/329-9638). Their floatplanes take off from Lake Union for 20-minute scenic flights over the city at a cost of $98.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.