Seattle

The high-tech boom created an enthusiastic and philanthropic audience for Seattle's arts community, which continues to grow. The gorgeous Benaroya Hall is a national benchmark for acoustic design. Its main tenant is the Seattle Symphony. At the Seattle Center, the ethereal Marion Oliver McCaw Hall combines Northwest hues and hanging screens in colorful light shows accompanying performances by the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Although the city's music scene has lost some of its shine after Portland became the go-to city for indie rock, music is still a main form of entertainment here. This very literate city also supports a full calendar of readings, lectures, and writing workshops.

The Seattle International Film Festival gets a lot of attention, but the city also hosts numerous smaller festivals throughout the year. The most popular include STIFF (Seattle's True Independent Film Festival; www.trueindependent.org) in June; the Children's Film Festival (www.childrensfilmfestivalseattle.nwfilmforum.org/), held at the Northwest Film Forum in January; and the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (www.threedollarbillcinema.org) in October.

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