Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Seattle and get you in the mood for travel
Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present)
This hit television drama starring Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo portrays the lives and love affairs of surgeons at (fictional) Seattle Grace hospital.
Much beloved by Seattleites—the 100th episode was filmed on the city streets—this television comedy series stars Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, a quirky radio psychiatrist.
It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)
Elvis Presley plays a down-on-his-luck crop duster pilot in this musical comedy featuring the Space Needle, Seattle Center, and the monorail.
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Second-rate Seattle jazz clubs provide the film noir backdrop for this story about the piano-playing Baker brothers (Jeff Bridges and real-life brother Beau) and their sexy singer (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Set partly in Seattle’s Lake Union houseboat neighborhood, this romantic comedy follows the long-distance relationship between Annie (Meg Ryan), a journalist in Baltimore, and Sam (Tom Hanks), a widowed father in Seattle.
Seattle’s favorite librarian Nancy Pearl, a National Public Radio commentator and author of the Book Lust series, recommends these quintessential Seattle reads:
Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle, by Murray Morgan (1951)
“Accessible and engaging,” this history of Seattle’s early days stars the infamous characters that founded the city. “It’s a must-read if visiting downtown, Pioneer Square, or the Capitol Hill neighborhoods.”
The Good Rain: Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest, by Timothy Egan (1990)
Following the route of the 19th-century explorer Theodore Winthrop, New York Timesjournalist Timothy Egan explores the natural beauty, environmental challenges, and politics of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson (1995)
“A sad but hopeful” fictional tale, David Guterson’s novel details a murder trial on a small Puget Sound island (based on real-life Bainbridge) and explores relationships, discrimination, and betrayal in the 1950s.
Until Proven Guilty, by J. A. Jance (1985)
The first in an old-fashioned murder mystery series starring Seattle detective J. P. Beaumont; offers an insider’s tour of gritty 1960s Seattle.
Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)
Seattle-born legendary guitarist’s most acclaimed album, with hit songs including “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” and “Foxy Lady.”
Ten, Pearl Jam (1991)
Local band’s debut album that helped launch the grunge movement and includes “Even Flow,” “Alive,” and “Jeremy.”
Nevermind, Nirvana (1991)
Grunge went mainstream with this Seattle band’s surprise hit album and the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Breathless, Kenny G (1992)
Grammy award-winning Seattle saxophonist’s best-selling instrumental album with singles “Forever in Love” and “By the Time This Night Is Over.”
Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter (2007)
The husky-voiced, Seattle-native Sykes mixes folk, country, and rock in this introspective album garnering national attention.
From hip-hop artist Sir Mix-A-Lot to grunge greats, Seattle has inspired a wealth of musical talent. Here are some tunes to help you explore:
- “Seattle” by Perry Como
- “The Mud Shark” by Frank Zappa
- “Seattle” by Bobby Sherman
- “Viva! Sea-Tac” by Robyn Hitchcock
- “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” by Nirvana
- “Goodbye Seattle” by Andrew Lloyd Webber
- “Emerald City” by United State of Electronica
- “Sub Pop Rock City” by Soundgarden
- “Acres of Clams” by Francis Henry
- “Seattle the Peerless City” by Arthur Dillon
Subscribe to Nat Geo Traveler
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!