SEATTLE - First tip: Don't come to Seattle right now.
The rainiest March on record just ended, and April started just as wet.
Seattle gets less rainfall overall than New York and Washington D.C., as any local will tell you. But there's no use denying it: the rain takes longer to come down, and that means a lot of wet and dreary days.
Come back between late June and mid-September, when Rain City blooms into the Emerald City and green leaves, blue lakes and white-capped mountains shimmer through the long, dry, sunny days.
Protected by mountains on three sides and cooled by blasts of fresh ocean air, the capital of the Pacific Northwest is a summer haven for book readers, coffee-drinkers and outdoor adventurers who don't want to stray too far from a good dinner. (Map: http://goo.gl/maps/U0OST)
The metro region of 3.5 million and climbing was built on salmon, logs and outfitting Yukon Gold Rush prospectors, but it went on to launch more than its fair share of world changers, from Bill Boeing and Bill Gates to Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.
The home of Macklemore, the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and freshly legal marijuana is riding high in 2014. Each of these appears to have loosened the locals' famous reserve, making this summer an ideal time to visit.
Here are tips for getting the most out of a trip to Seattle from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.
Seattle's emblematic Space Needle, the flying saucer on legs a mile north of downtown, was built for the space-crazed 1962 World's Fair.
The old-fashionedly futuristic structure is not worth a postcard, but the view from the 520-foot (159-meter) high observation deck is. On a clear day the 360-degree panorama is the best way to take in Seattle's topography and marvel at the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges to the east and west, respectively, and the mammoth Mount Rainier to the south. (http://www.spaceneedle.com/home/) In the centre of town, Pike Place Market - built in 1907 and almost torn down in the 1960s - is the blueprint for the farmers markets springing up across the country.
The noisy fish throwers cater chiefly to the dense packs of tourists, but the local produce is excellent, especially in summer as plums, cherries and apricots ripen. (http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/) A few minutes' walk down the steps from the market sits the Seattle Great Wheel, a smaller version of the London Eye, swooping over the Alaskan Way waterfront where cruise ships and local ferries chug by.
Go at dusk on a clear summer evening - after 9 p.m. for most of June and July - and try not to weep at the orange-purple sunset behind the Olympic Mountains. (https://seattlegreatwheel.com/)
If you have kids or want to buck Seattle's famously indifferent welcome to strangers, try Ride the Ducks for an amphibious sightseeing tour set to a cheesy pop soundtrack and enforced hilarity. Just remember the locals will hate you. (http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com/)
If you have a spare day and a car, drive two hours south to see 14,410-foot- (4,392-meter-) high Mount Rainier up close, where glaciers descend all the way to touch meadows raging with wildflowers. Sunrise Visitor Center at 6,400 feet (1,950 meters) is as high as the road goes, but only open July to early September in the brief window between snows. (http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/sunrise.htm)
And don't forget to load up on outdoor gear, just in case it does rain, or you decide to scale Rainier, at the flagship REI store in South Lake Union with its own 65-foot (20-meter) indoor climbing wall (http://www.rei.com/).