If, after a few hikes through the wild areas in and around Seattle, you decide you want to keep a bit of this wildness close at hand, pick up a copy of Terry Donnelly and Mary Liz Austin's Wild Seattle: A Celebration of the Natural Areas In and Around the City (Sierra Club Books, 2004), a coffee-table book filled with beautiful photos.

David Guterson's immensely popular Snow Falling on Cedars (Vintage, 1995), though not set in Seattle, does take place on a fictionalized Puget Sound island that sounds a lot like the Seattle bedroom community of Bainbridge Island. More recently, the Asian-American experience in Seattle is also the focus of Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ballentine, 2009).

Fans of murder mysteries should be sure to check out J.A. Jance's series of J.P. Beaumont mysteries, which feature a Seattle homicide detective. Although Seattle author Mary Daheim's Emma Lord mysteries aren't set right in Seattle, they take place in a fictitious town not far away.

If you've already been on the Seattle Underground tour, you know all about William Speidel's Sons of the Profits (Or, There's No Business Like Grow Business: The Seattle Story 1851-1901 [Nettle Creek Publishing Company, 2003]). This entertaining account of the first 50 years of Seattle history tells it like it was, much to the chagrin of straight-laced historians who didn't like the way Speidel dredged up the exploits of profiteers and prostitutes in writing this fun book. Despite the title, Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle (University of Washington Press, 2003), by Murray Morgan, is a more straightforward history of Seattle, and equally readable.

Films & TV

While the gray skies of Seattle aren't exactly the favorite backdrops of filmmakers, there have been some memorable films shot in Seattle over the years. Of course, Sleepless in Seattle (1993), starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is perhaps the best known of these, and boat tours of Seattle's Lake Union always point out the houseboat that was used in the movie. Singles (1992), directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, and Bridget Fonda, features 20-somethings and the famous Seattle grunge music club scene. Long before the days of grunge, Elvis Presley made his way to Seattle in It Happened at the World's Fair; the 1963 film is set at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, which gave Seattle the Space Needle. The Seattle jazz club scene is the backdrop for 1989's The Fabulous Baker Boys, which stars brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Early Seattle history was the focus of Here Come the Brides (1968-70, ABC), about an 1870s logging company that brings 100 women to Seattle as wives for the lumberjacks, and its title song, "Seattle," was a hit single for both Perry Como and "Brides" star Bobby Sherman. In 1960, John Wayne and Stewart Granger starred in North to Alaska, a story of romance and the lust for gold.

The Last Mimzy (2007), a family film about two kids who develop paranormal powers after they find a box of special toys, is set partly in Seattle and partly on nearby Whidbey Island. In Life or Something Like It (2002), Angelina Jolie stars as a Seattle TV reporter who is told by a psychic homeless man that she has only a few days to live. Nearby Tacoma serves as the backdrop for 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, a retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. In Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993), with Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda, and Chris Isaak, a reincarnated Tibetan lama turns up in Seattle. The red-hot days are the backdrop for Disclosure (1994), with Michael Douglas and Demi Moore.

ABC's Grey's Anatomy (2005-present) is set in Seattle; and, if you were a fan of the TV show Frasier, you've seen plenty of Seattle scenery and heard lots about this city.


Although many rock-music fans might think that Seattle music started and ended with grunge, that's just not true. Seattle has been producing noteworthy music and musicians for more than 60 years.

Long before grunge -- in 1948, to be precise -- a young, blind musician named Ray Charles moved to the Emerald City and made his first record. A decade later, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who was born in Seattle in 1942, began playing in his first local band. Although Hendrix's career would not take off until long after he had left Seattle, the musician is much celebrated here in his hometown. EMP (Experience Music Project), Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen's music museum, started out as a place for Allen to show off his extensive collection of Hendrix memorabilia and eventually grew into a major shrine to popular music. Up on Capitol Hill, at the corner of Broadway Avenue and East Pine Street, there's a statue of Hendrix. The guitarist's grave is at Greenwood Memorial Park, in the nearby suburb of Renton.

In the mid-1980s, a new sound emerged in Seattle. It merged heavy metal with punk music and came to be known as "grunge." The Sub Pop recording label was the premier grunge-music record company, and Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden quickly came to dominate the airwaves with their new sound. However, the grunge scene effectively came to a screeching halt when Nirvana bandleader Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994.

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