Seattle is a major Pacific Rim port, with a strong economy anchored by leading companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Costco, REI, and Boeing. There is a large biotech sector, led by the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The quality of life here is outstanding. Neighborhoods are safe and interesting, with housing prices lower than California and the Northeast. The city is filled with bookstores, cafés, and restaurants. Sports fans cheer on the Seahawks (football), Mariners (baseball), Sounders (soccer), Storm (basketball), and of course the Washington Huskies. Fans of the fine arts enjoy the Seattle Art Museum, Symphony, Opera, Ballet, and some of the best mainstream and fringe theater in North America, while those looking for live music will have dozens of options to choose from. The area boasts an extensive system of parks and bike trails, hosts major film and music festivals, and provides any number of entertaining diversions to accompany the area's natural wonders.
For those times when you want to get away from the city, you’ll find no shortage of appealing destinations nearby. Hikers will enjoy the three National Parks (Mt. Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic) within a 3 hour drive and dozens of hiking trails within an hour of the city in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. Skiers will find half a dozen ski areas from 1 – 4 hours away, and sailors can spend days enjoying Puget Sound, Whidbey Island, and the San Juan Islands. Cyclists can choose to stay in the city and explore the 30 plus miles of the Burke-Gilman trail, or take the ferry out to ride Vashon, Bainbridge, or Whidbey Islands. Other options within a half-day’s drive include whale watching in the San Juan Islands; Mt. St Helens volcano; the wine country of southeast Washington; the United States’ only temperate rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula; hiking, biking, or windsurfing the Columbia Gorge between Washington and Oregon; and the countless beautiful mountain and coastal areas of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.
Simply put, summers are gorgeous (the best in the United States, even). Winters are overcast, although not especially cold. Spring & Fall get some of each.
Walk Score: top ten most walkable US cities
Sierra Club's Rankings of Environmentally Friendly Universities: UW ranked #2