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Introducing Belltown

Belltown's compact, easily walkable core is long on dining and entertainment options but relatively short on daytime attractions. The exception is the Olympic Sculpture Park, a grassy art garden that anchors the neighborhood and snares visitors strolling between Pike Place Market and the Seattle Center.

Capitol Hillers might disagree, but Belltown's main nightlife zone (1st and 2nd Aves between Blanchard and Battery Sts) is the best place in the city to string together a bar-hopping evening out. A few of the grunge-era landmarks are still in business, but these days distorted guitars compete with the chatter of the cocktail crowd. Whatever your fashion affiliations, Belltown's after-dark scene is hip and noisy and rarely stands still. Watch out for drunken hipsters and sidewalk vomit.

The Seattle Center, site of the highly successful 1962 World's Fair, is Belltown in reverse; sights and museums abound, but you'll struggle to find any memorable food. The solution: spend most of your sightseeing time in the Seattle Center (EMP Museum, Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle merit a day between them) and escape to adjacent Belltown for lunch, drinks and dinner.

Entertainment-wise, the Seattle Center offers plenty of sit-down plays, concerts and films. The McCaw Hall is home of the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, plus there's a cinema, a children's theater and a regional theater in the complex. It's also a fun place to just hang out, especially in summer when alfresco events and street performers take over.