SEATTLE Set between two major mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades, with the Puget Sound's fjord-like waters to the west and massive Lake Washington to the east, Seattle has one of the most dramatic settings of any city in the country.
The frequent moody cloud cover can hide those jagged mountains but on clear days 14,411-foot (4297 meter) Mount Rainier can be seen from the city.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in the northwestern U.S. city.
6 p.m. - If the clouds have lifted even a bit, there's no better place to watch the sunset over Elliott Bay than from the Seattle Art Museum's nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. Besides wandering about the 20 sculptures from major artists like Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson and Richard Serra, you can enjoy further views of the changeable bay by strolling along the paved trail through nearby Myrtle Edwards Park.
7 p.m. - Head up to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and start the weekend with cocktails at Tavern Law, named by GQ Magazine as one of the 25 best bars in America.
There are plenty of handcrafted cocktails to enjoy in the Prohibition-era surroundings, but celebrate the start of your getaway with a custom champagne cocktail. Peruse the menu. The oxtail banh mi sandwich, based on Vietnamese tradition, will give you a taste of the Pacific Rim influence that figures in so many Seattle menus.
9 p.m. - Seattle takes its jazz seriously and there's no better spot than Dimitriou's Jazz Alley downtown to hear it. With any luck, a musician like Grammy Award-winning Arturo Sandoval will be holding court. Or maybe you'll catch the funky horn-driven Tower of Power.
9 a.m. - Fortify yourself for the day ahead with one of the best Mexican breakfasts anywhere at Senor Moose in the lively Ballard neighborhood. The crowded restaurant offers breakfast specialties culled from regions throughout Mexico. Try the outstanding huevos motuleños with black beans inspired by the Yucatan breakfast staple. Even though it's early, go ahead and get an order of the flawless guacamole and chips. It's surprisingly good with a cup of Senor Moose's strong coffee.
11 a.m. - Get a sense of Ballard's historic status as Seattle's Scandinavian neighborhood at the Nordic Heritage Museum and at stops such as the shop Scandinavian Specialties, where you can pick up house-made cured meats, homemade Swedish meatballs and a bowl of traditional yellow split pea soup.
Ballard also has a lively shopping scene. KAVU, a local Seattle clothing and gear company, offers the quintessential Northwest look, with hip interpretations of outdoorsy style clothes. Stop at The Secret Garden Bookshop which has a carefully chosen selection of books for children and adults. For lunch, head to the nearby Ray's Boathouse Cafe with views for which Seattle is famous, along with the seafood.
3 p.m. - Spend the next two hours absorbing more of Asia's influence on Seattle at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The museum, which is situated in lovely Volunteer Park, showcases exquisite art from various centuries and numerous counties in Asia.
5 p.m. - Continue your exploration of Seattle's hot cocktail scene at the Zig Zag Cafe tucked away behind the Pike Place Market. Try the One Legged Duck, a blend of Rye Whiskey, Dubonnet, Mandarine Napoleon and Fernet Branca. Order a plate of marinated olives to go with it, or try the cheese plate. Much of the food on the menu is sourced at the Pike Place Market.
7 p.m. - Since you're already at Pike Place, head to Matt's in the Market on the third floor of the Corner Market Building, where the food matches the view. Meat lovers can try the Pork Belly Confit with kimchi broth. For those who prefer seafood try the clams with chorizo and cava or order anything with Dungeness crab or perhaps some oysters on the half shell. For a larger plate try the seafood stew.
9 p.m. - For a great evening head to the Triple Door in the heart of downtown Seattle, which offers music ranging from pop chanteuse crooners to Apple Jam, a group presenting a critically praised tribute to the Beatles. A great wine list is available, along with excellent cocktails and Southeast Asian inspired plates. The satays are a perennial favorite.
10 a.m. - For brunch try Salty's at Alki in West Seattle. It can be crowded, but the views and lavish assortment of Northwest foods on offer more than make up for it, including piles of Dungeness crab and smoked salmon, along with brunch staples like Eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles. Afterwards walk for miles along the waterfront through Alki, Seattle's premiere people watching neighborhood and beach scene. Seals often pop their heads up here, and you'll see ferries chugging off to local islands.
1 p.m. - Seattle is a book lover's town, and readers have many fine bookstores to visit. Seattle Mystery Bookshop in historic Pioneer Square is one of the best and offers both new and used books. Passionate, friendly staff can help you find the perfect read.
For an excellent general selection, Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill has the goods, many with staff recommendations, plus a great selection of unique cards. It's easy to lose yourself in the stacks, so keep an eye on the clock if you need catch a flight.
(Reporting by Elaine Porterfield; editing by Patricia Reaney)
(This story fixes typo in ninth paragraph)