Washington, United States
With natural splendors and fresh salmon at every turn, it's a wonder Seattleites stay indoors long enough to invent new technologies, storm the stage at rock shows and roast great gourmet coffee. But the Rem Koolhaas Library, Space Needle cocktails and Pacific Northwest collection at the Seattle Art Museum offer powerful consolations when it drizzles outside.
Getting Around Seattle
The best way to get around Seattle is by walking and using public transit. The LINK Light Rail is efficient and inexpensive. If you plan on exploring the greater Seattle area, a car is a better option. The LINK will take you downtown from the airport for about $2.50 in about 30 minutes.
Nearby Airports
  • Seattle Tacoma International Airport-SEA
Airport Taxis
  • $45
Things to Do and See in Seattle
BallardCapitol HillMagnoliaGreen LakeWest SeattleFremontUniversity DistrictWallingfordMadison ParkColumbia CityInternational DistrictQueen AnnePioneer Square
The historic heart of North Seattle, Ballard's waterfront Fisherman's Terminal is the home port of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet (made famous by the TV show Deadliest Catch). The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (aka Ballard Locks) are a 1916 engineering marvel that connects freshwater Lake Washington and Lake Union with Puget Sound in a 26-ft drop. The Locks attract visitors with botanical gardens, hiking trails, and underground viewing windows to watch spawning salmon negotiate fish ladders on their way to Lake Washington. Historic downtown Ballard is pedestrian friendly and home to trendy boutiques, clubs, coffee houses and bistros. Don't miss the Ballard Avenue Sunday Farmer's Market, held year-round. One of Ballard's hidden gems is Carkeek Park, 220 acres of lush forest, meadows, wetlands and beaches crisscrossed with well-maintained hiking trails.
Northeast of downtown is Capitol Hill, easily Seattle's most idiosyncratic district. In the shadows of the mansions of "Millionaire's Row," Seattle's counter-culture and gay scenes are thriving. Considered to be the birthplace of Grunge, Capitol Hill remains the vanguard of cultural and artistic trends. Along Broadway, you might bump into improvised street theater by day and spontaneous street parties at night. The Capitol Hill scene has a definite edge, but local businesspeople and soccer moms aren't fazed by its antics. Off Broadway are several other streets (Pike, Pine, 12th and 15th Avenues and Olive Way) lined with cafés, theaters, bars and coffee houses.
Seattle's largest neighborhood is geographically isolated from the rest of the city because of the rail lines (crossed by only three bridges) that separate it from Queen Anne. Magnolia is mostly a residential district, but it hosts one of Seattle's premier recreational attractions. Discovery Park is the city's largest public park, with 534 acres crossed by 12 miles of hiking trails. The park was originally a U.S. Army base called Fort Lawton, and many of the military structures still stand. The three-mile loop trail is a popular hike through densely wooded undergrowth to blufftop views overlooking Puget Sound. The United Indians of All Tribes Daybreak Cultural Center is located within the park boundaries, and blackberry picking is popular in fall.
In the heart of North Seattle, freshwater Green Lake is surrounded by a 2.8 mile path where thousands stroll, jog, skate, and bike. Swimming, kayaking, and recreational rowing classes are also popular on the lake. The surrounding park is home to a variety of tree species, many labeled with brass nameplates. North of the lake, the Greenwood neighborhood is a vibrant, charming district. East of the lake across I-5 is the Roosevelt neighborhood, with a bustling commercial district centered around a Whole Foods grocery on 65th, and a cluster of high-end electronic shops along Roosevelt Way's "audio row."
West Seattle is a collection of neighborhoods located south and west of Downtown across the Duwamish River. Alki Beach is a popular recreation spot, with a sandy beach and shoreline walking trail offering vistas of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Downtown Seattle across Elliot Bay. Schmitz Preserve Park has hiking trails through an old growth forest, and Lincoln Park has well-maintained networks of hiking trails. The commercial district of West Seattle is centered around the junction of Alaska and California streets, where diners are spoiled for choice between Husky Deli and Elliot Bay Brewery and Pub.
Fremont is famous/notorious for its annual Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, featuring naked bicyclists. At the center of Fremont's self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe" stands a seven-ton, 16-foot bronze statue of Vladimir Lenin, striding confidently into the future. Two blocks south past eateries, clubs, and pubs is the Fremont Rocket, a WWII airplane tail boom modified to look like a Cold War missile. Lurking menacingly beneath the Aurora Avenue Bridge is an 18-foot tall concrete sculpture of the Fremont Troll. A life-size, lifelike cast-aluminum sculpture of six people and a dog called Waiting for the Interurban graces the intersection of 34th and Fremont Avenue, across the street from local-legendary Blue Moon Burgers. There is a thriving and vibrant Fremont Sunday Street Market year-round.
The University of Washington occupies the center of the U District, but the "U" is more hip and sophisticated than your average college town. Local cultural attractions include the Henry Art Museum and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. The heart and soul of the U District is "The Ave" (University Avenue NE), which caters to a population of 40,000 students with an eclectic mix of clubs, pubs, funky shops, coffee bars, and indie eateries. Galway Arms is an Irish pub on The Ave that regularly features first-rate punk rock and metal bands. Big Time is Seattle's original brew pub, and Dante's has been a popular nightclub since 1966. Every third Friday of the month from 6 to 9 pm, the neighborhood hosts an art walk.
Nestled between the U District and Fremont (east and west) and Green Lake and Lake Union (north and south), Walingford is a quaint neighborhood with its own personality and a thriving business district. While strolling up 45th Avenue in the heart of Wallingford, be sure to stop at Archie McPhee's, a candy and novelty store with an eye-popping collection of gag gifts, wacky toys and entertaining oddities. Nearby, Olympia Pizza dishes some of the best pies in town and lines form for Molly Moon's homemade ice cream. South of the business district on a peninsula jutting into Lake Union is Gas Works Park, a former industrial plant. Here you can pick up the Burke-Gillman Trail, a 17-mile paved bike-and-hike trail winding from Old Ballard to the north tip of Lake Washington.
Madison Park is named after the 24-acre green space located on the shore of Lake Washington, where beaches offer stunning views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier. The surrounding neighborhood hosts scores of locally-owned cafés, pubs, coffee houses, toy stores, ice-cream shops, bakeries and boutiques. West of Madison Park is the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum, one of the finest public gardens in the U.S. Jointly managed by the University of Washington and the city of Seattle, the park is open year-round and has a formal Japanese Garden at the south end of the Arboretum.
In the late 19th century, Columbia City was separated from Seattle by dense forest. Seattle rapidly expanded in the early 20th century and Columbia City was annexed in 1907. During and after World War II, the area was settled by African American defense workers. Redlining and racism contributed to a steady decline of the population in the 1960s-70s. Gentrification began in the 1980s with an influx of gays and lesbians, artists and urban pioneers seeking bargain housing prices. Property values have skyrocketed since the 1990s and Columbia City is now one of the hottest, hippest, most ethnically diverse destinations in Seattle. With art galleries, live theater and music venues, bars, bakeries and restaurants, Columbia City is the commercial and cultural center for the surrounding neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Rainier, Lakewood and Seward Park.
International Districtmore on International District »
Located just east of Pioneer Square, the International District was originally settled by immigrant Chinese laborers in the late 19th century. Later immigrants from Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia and the Philippines moved into the district, which is now considered one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the city. In 1986 the International District received official federal designation as the "Seattle Chinatown Historic District," and its immigrant roots are honored in Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific Experience. One of the neighborhood's top attractions is the Uwajimaya Asian Grocery and Gift store, a 36,000 square-foot supermarket stocked with enough exciting ingredients to launch your own international restaurant chain.
The district is named after the signature showy Victorian architectural style of its historic homes. When Seattle hosted the 1962 World's Fair, the fairgrounds and iconic Space Needle were constructed at the southern edge of Lower Queen Anne. The former fairgrounds area is now known as Seattle Center, home to the Pacific Science Center, Experience Music Project museum and the spectacular Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. Perched atop Queen Anne hill, Kerry Park provides panoramic views of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound and majestic Mt. Rainier. Queen Anne is in Seattle's southwest quadrant, north of Downtown and across the shipping canal from Fremont.
Seattle was founded in 1852 on tidal flats, in an area now called Pioneer Square. In 1889 the mostly low wooden buildings built were devastated by fire. By decree new buildings were constructed of stone or brick, and "street level" was raised one or two stories higher. The neighborhood was rebuilt atop the old ruins, which remained buried and mostly forgotten—until 1965, when promoter Bill Speidel established Seattle's Underground Tour. Speidel and others helped revitalize Pioneer Square in the 1970s and succeeded in having much of the neighborhood designated a historic district. Today the area is quite pedestrian-friendly and its Romanesque Victorian architecture is key to the district's charm. The Pioneer Square neighborhood is home to upscale art galleries and studios, antique shops, sports bars, cafés and bookstores.
Our friends at pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
Il Corvo
Mike Easton's hand made pasta and charcuterie has become a regular habit for lunch goers, who now have more than twice as much space to nosh in with Il Corvo's recent move to Pioneer Square.
Braving the lines for cured meat sandwiches and hot fare like porchetta is a Seattle rite of passage. Salumi is open just a handful of days and only for lunch, so come prepared for crowds. And yes, it's worth it. At least once. And probably more.
Getting seats at this 107-year-old Japanese restaurant can be an utter puzzlement, but should you crack the code, the mind-boggling list of specials are where it's at.
Bar Sajor
Matt Dillon has opened his first of several planned Pioneer Projects — a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant that is big, bright and airy. Plates are just as pretty: albacore with smashed avocado and Israeli za'atar, and resident king salmon roasted in buttermilk with crispy fava bean leaves are just some of the menu minglers.
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