Seattle

Seattle, Washington sits at one of the most beautiful spots in the United States. Occupying a narrow isthmus between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, it is the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, with four million people calling the area home. Seen from above, carpets of evergreen trees, pristine blue waters, and snowy white mountains surround the downtown's metallic skyscrapers, earning the city its nickname The Emerald City.

On the ground, you will find a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. Next to the progressive downtown and the freewheeling feel of Capitol Hill, you can find a laid-back atmosphere in the districts to the north and ethnically diverse neighborhoods to the south. The many restaurants, coffee shops and microbreweries are worth indulging in after a day spent strolling through the city's many parks and beaches or admiring the arts and architecture. And just outside the hectic city are snow-covered mountains, evergreen forests, and stunning coastline to explore. Even for the bold and the adventurous, it's hard to get enough of Seattle.

Districts

Most visitors to Seattle tend not to venture beyond Downtown, the International District, and the Seattle Center; which is a shame, since neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, West Seattle, and those north of the ship canal are where much of the fun is actually at! Seattleites usually describe their city in terms of neighborhoods. Although the boundaries of the neighborhoods are sometimes sketchy, there's usually a proud feature that represents each neighborhood.

While there are formally more than thirty districts, this guide has been broken down into the following more digestible list for a visitor's convenience:

Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods

Overview of Seattle districts
Downtown
Seattle's commercial and financial core, home to the waterfront, the Pike Place Market, and some of the most stunning architecture in the city. The northern area of Belltown has a collection of many of the city's best, if not most expensive, restaurants and bars.
Pioneer Square-International District
The oldest neighborhoods of Seattle, containing classic buildings, art galleries, innumerable restaurants, and the Chinatown.
Queen Anne-South Lake Union
Perched on the hills northwest of Downtown, here you will find wealthy neighborhoods peppered with panoramic parks. On the area's south is the newly developed commercial center of South Lake Union (home of the rapidly growing Amazon headquarters), and the Seattle Center with its Space Needle.
Capitol Hill-Central District
The nightlife and retail core of Pike-Pine at the west meets the quiet, diverse residences of Madison Park at the east. This area is also the gay capital of Seattle.

North of the Lake Washington Ship Canal

Ballard
A mostly residential area, home to the canal locks. The area is known for its Scandinavian heritage, chic boutiques, and the thriving historic Downtown Ballard.
Fremont and Wallingford
The self-proclaimed "center of the universe", a bohemian (though rapidly gentrifying) area noted for its public art.
University District (commonly called the "U District")
Home to the sprawling University of Washington campus, numerous inexpensive eateries, and plenty of entertainment.
North Seattle
The city's mostly residential and gently gentrifying northernmost tier, bordering Shoreline. Noticeable commercial activity is present in the Northgate, Aurora, and Lake City neighborhoods.

South of Downtown and I-90

SoDo-Georgetown
Continuing south of Downtown past the sports stadiums, this industrial district contains the well-hidden but thriving Georgetown neighborhood.
South Seattle
A mostly residential area bordering Lake Washington, served by light rail and home to Jefferson and Seward Parks.
West Seattle
A scenic residential area with great parks, ample beaches and wonderful vistas over the harbor and Downtown.

While in Seattle you will likely hear reference to the "Eastside", which refers to the region east of Lake Washington comprising the suburbs of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond.

Understand

History

Like the rest of the United States, the Seattle area used to be home to Indian settlements, with the first humans believed to have entered the region nearly 4,000 years ago. The area was first mapped by George Vancouver in the 1790s, but the first European settlers didn't arrive until 1851, when Luther Collins led a party of settlers to the mouth of the Duwamish River (in what is today southern Seattle), followed shortly by a party led by the more notable Arthur A. Denny of Chicago, who settled at Alki Point in West Seattle. Confrontations between the original settlers initially flared, only to die out as the groups settled together on the Elliott Bay. The area was then named Seattle by David Maynard, in honor of Chief Si'ahl of the Duwamish & Suquamish tribes, and later officially established as a city in 1869.

By the 1880s, development of a modern city came to life with the erection of buildings, a streetcar system, and a lumber mill at the end of a timber skid row (what is now Yesler Way), only to be destroyed by fire in 1889. The city came alive again in 1903 with the Klondike Gold Rush, when Seattle served as the departure city for miners bound for Alaska and the Yukon. During this boom time, hills were flattened for development and the Lake Washington Ship Canal was created.

The city's economy slowed down again during the Great Depression and World War II, but experienced a renewed fervor with the establishment of the aircraft company Boeing and the occurrence of the 1962 World's Fair, which opened the gates for modernization of the city. Heavy dependence on Boeing took an economic toll on the city during the 1970s oil crisis, but Microsoft's move from Albuquerque to the Seattle area further promoted the charm of Seattle. Soon, Amazon.com, Nintendo of America, T-Mobile, Starbucks, and numerous biotech companies also established their headquarters here, bringing an influx of population growth and money into the area. Today, the Seattle metropolitan area's wealth and its four million inhabitants (more than half of the population of Washington State) make it the economic powerhouse of the Pacific Northwest and a city of huge importance for the entire United States.

Culture

Seattle is historically a very diverse city and multiculturalism is seen as a virtue. Whites make up about 70% of the population, while more than a tenth of Seattlelites are of Asian descent. English is spoken virtually everywhere in the city but there are ethnic areas in South Seattle where Vietnamese and Tagalog are also commonly spoken, as well as Chinese and Japanese in the International District. The ZIP code 98118 in South Seattle is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the entire United States!

Being a very politically left-wing part of the country, Seattle has one of the most sprawling LGBT communities in the US, second only to San Francisco. The Capitol Hill area, east of downtown, is the place for LGBT-friendly business and bars, as well as a resource center. A large PrideFest takes place annually at the Seattle Center, along with preceding events such as a Pride Parade.

Locals have long talked of the Seattle Freeze, referring to the cold politeness of residents. The theory is that while they are very polite and warm on first interaction, they are actually reserved, and interactions rarely lead to real acts of friendship (an invitation to dinner, personal conversations, etc.). The origin is obscure, but it is mostly assumed to be from Scandinavian immigrants that brought their home country's customs here, including this equivalent to introversion. Expect to have to make all the "first moves" to meet people here.

Residents' shyness also extends to anger and annoyance. Locals often make fun of themselves for their passive aggressive culture, where even in the most upsetting circumstances they will retain their polite nature.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 47 49 53 58 64 69 74 76 68 60 51 45
Nightly lows (°F) 36 38 40 43 48 53 56 56 53 48 42 38
Precipitation (in) 5.1 3.7 3.3 2.2 1.7 1.4 0.7 0.9 1.6 3.0 5.1 5.4

A common stereotype of Seattle is that the sky is always grey, rainy, and depressing. But it may surprise you that rain is almost always absent in late spring through early fall, making Seattle an excellent place to spend summer. It's warm and comfortable, with little to moderate humidity and temperatures averaging in the upper 70s (about 25°C), though sometimes rising to the 80s and even 90s (above 30°C). Furthermore, because of Seattle's high latitude, the sky is bright from around 4:30AM to 10PM during the summer months, giving you ample daylight for outdoor activities.

During all other seasons, the sky above Seattle is often murky, grim, rainy and breezy, with occasional days of sun. It can be dry but cold, or mild but rainy. Even in the case of dry weather, the morning typically starts with fog that usually vanishes by midday. Despite its location as the northernmost big city in the U.S., winters in Seattle are not as harsh as those east of the Cascades. Marine air from the Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean moderate Seattle's climate, so that most precipitation falls as rain and little as snow. However, on occasion a snowstorm will hit, though it's a fairly rare event. The area consists of complex topographical features; thus it can be raining in the city itself but sunny five miles north or snowing in heaps ten miles away at the Cascade foothills, often puzzling weather forecasters.

Despite the Rain City reputation, the main challenge of Seattle's weather is more the overcast skies than the rain, and in fact Seattle has less annual rainfall than most cities east of the Rocky Mountains. Seattle's rain usually comes in a drizzle that lingers for days, which only occasionally strengthens to a full-blown torrent that rarely lasts long.

Literature

Film and television

As might be expected, nearly all movies and TV shows set in Seattle feature at least an establishing shot of the Space Needle.

Music

Although Seattle may be more well-known for grunge, it has had a long, diverse and tolerant music history from early on, including a politically radical American folk scene in the 1920s to a thriving post-war jazz scene that boomed in many clubs throughout the area.

Grunge was heavily influenced by the counterculture music scene that dominated Seattle from the mid-1970s through the 1980s, with such noted acts as a gay glam theater group called Ze Whiz Kids and bands like The Telepaths, The Beakers, and Red Dress. Seattle also has another musical claim to fame in native son Jimi Hendrix, although he found his success in England; nevertheless, this hasn't stopped Seattle from erecting a statue of him in Capitol Hill and devoting an entire section to Hendrix at the Experience Music Project in the Seattle Center.

Grunge didn't really emerge until the 1980s and was a combination of punk and metal promoted by such notable Seattle-based groups like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The genre emerged and slowly grew through the mid-1980s before exploding to international fame in 1991 with the release of Nirvana's breakthrough album Nevermind, but its prominence came to a end after singer Kurt Cobain's shocking suicide in 1994.

Local favorite radio station KEXP is a great source for alternative and experimental music and has helped launch the careers of not only grunge bands like Nirvana but more recent local hip hop favorites such as Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and the Blue Scholars as well as many other nationally known alternative bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate, Modest Mouse, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, The Head and the Heart and Fleet Foxes.

A view of the Seattle waterfront

Tourist information

The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau operates two visitors centers. Both offer maps, brochures, event details, tour bookings, and restaurant reservations:

Get in

By plane

See also: Air travel in the USA

A longer, yet cheaper way to cross Canada

Travelers who are traveling between Eastern Canada and western Canada (especially Vancouver) can make use of the cheaper fares when flying to or from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before transferring by bus, due to favoritism and high taxes that makes Canadian domestic air travel expensive (see Vancouver: Get In). Allow at least an additional 3 hours for transfer between transportation modes and travel across the border. Remember to have a passport (and visa if necessary) with you because you will be traveling between international borders.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

  Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA), universally nicknamed "Sea-Tac", is located in the city's southern suburbs 14mi/22.5 km south of downtown Seattle. It's a major domestic hub for Alaska, Northwest and West Coast destinations, and also handles many international trans-Pacific routes, as well as some flights to major European airports and Dubai, UAE. In addition, the airport is well-connected to virtually every part of the US, with multiple daily flights to many major US cities, as well as to Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska Airlines uses this airport as its primary hub and is by far the biggest carrier here, with Delta catching up with an international hub here and an increasing number of domestic destinations.

The reliable Central Link light rail connects the University of Washington, the downtown area, and South Seattle to Sea-Tac, with trains running every 10 minutes; the trip to Downtown Seattle costs $3 and takes about 40 minutes. The airport station is connected to the 4th floor of the parking garage (accessible via the pedestrian bridges on the departure level of the terminal); look for the signs to point you in right direction. A taxi will cost about $60-$70 to downtown and take about 30 minutes depending on traffic conditions, or you can take a shuttle bus for around $40-$60 for the same duration. More details about other means of ground transportation can be found in Sea-Tac's separate guide.

Bellingham International Airport

Located about 90 minutes (94mi/150km) north of Seattle, the much-smaller Bellingham International Airport can be used as a cheaper alternative to fly into Seattle , despite the scarcity of flights. Low-cost carrier Allegiant Air flies to its West Coast hubs year-round from Bellingham (and not from Sea-Tac), in addition to seasonal flights by Alaska Airlines. Bellair Airport offers scheduled services from Bellingham International Airport to the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle and to SeaTac.

Private aircraft and seaplane

Kenmore Air floatplane arriving at a terminal on Lake Union

Private aircraft can use   King County International Airport (IATA: BFI), universally known as Boeing Field. It's also south of the city, but much closer to town than Sea-Tac airport.

Seaplane service is available between Seattle and various island destinations throughout Washington state and British Columbia. Kenmore Air operates year-round scheduled floatplane services from their terminal on Lake Union to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, and summer flights from their base at Kenmore on Lake Washington's north end to Nanaimo, Campbell River and many other destinations in northern British Columbia. Wheeled plane service is also offered from Boeing Field to Friday Harbor and Eastsound airports. A ground shuttle service is available from the Lake Union and Boeing Field terminals to SeaTac.

Portland International Airport

Located about 3 hr (160mi/256km) south of Seattle, the smaller Portland International Airport is another alternative to fly into Seattle especially with low-cost carriers, Spirit Airlines and Volaris (flights from Mexico). There are no direct shuttle services from Portland International Airport to Seattle but there are Greyhound, Bolt Bus and Amtrak services from downtown Portland to downtown Seattle.

By train

Historic King Street Station

Amtrak provides service from the   King Street Station, located south of downtown near CenturyLink Field. The Amtrak Cascades runs four trains daily between Seattle and Portland (two of which continue to Eugene, Oregon) and two a day to Vancouver, British Columbia. Additional service from Portland to Eugene and from Seattle to Vancouver is offered on the Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach. These trains are more reliable schedule-wise than the long distance trains and offer certain amenities not available on regular Amtrak trains, such as more space for bikes, more laptop outlets, a "Bistro Car" which serves local foods and wine, and the occasional movie.

Seattle is also served by the long-distance Coast Starlight, which runs a once daily train along the same route with the same stops (except Tukwila & Oregon City) between Seattle and Eugene. The train continues south from Eugene to Sacramento, the Bay Area and eventually Los Angeles, California. The Starlight has been frequently delayed for hours coming north from California, but has more recently improved reliability. Additionally, the Empire Builder provides daily service north to Everett and then east to Spokane where it is joined (or split if going westbound) with another branch of the line coming from Portland. From Spokane the train continues east to Chicago via Glacier National Park and Minneapolis. The Builder continues to experience longer and more frequent delays than the Starlight due to increased coal train traffic in Montana and North Dakota.

Sound Transit operates a commuter rail service called the Sounder from Seattle to Lakewood (via Tacoma and towns along the corridor) and to Everett (via Edmonds & Mukilteo). However, the Sounder is limited mostly to rush hour service on the weekdays, with some service for special events like the Seahawks and Mariner games.

By car

The two main interstate highways into Seattle are Interstate 5 going north-south along the Puget Sound and Interstate 90 from the east, crossing Lake Washington. Alternatively, you can take State Route 99 from the north or south - the road from the north begins as Aurora Ave N and splits at the south as State Routes 509 and 99 - or State Route 520 from the east, crossing a floating bridge across Lake Washington. Interstate 405 runs parallel to I-5 on the east side of Lake Washington from Everett to the airport.

The downtown area of Seattle, SoDo and South Lake Union is mostly a commercial and business area, so it is packed during commuting hours. I-5 is infamously congested, and traffic is also heavy on the southern portion of I-405 and the SR-520 bridge, though the recent addition of tolling has significantly eased traffic on the bridge.

By bus

Except for Greyhound Lines, there is no designated long-distance bus terminal in Seattle, so all bus services have their own stops scattered around the city. A number of them do have stops at the Greyhound Terminal (503 S Royal Brougham Way), in front of the King Street Station at 303 S King St and/or at Door 00 (south end at lower level of the terminal) at the Sea-Tac airport. See below:

By public transit

By ferry

King County Metro Water Taxi

Ferries are the primary mode for commuters living on the opposite sides of the Puget Sound from Tacoma/S Vashon Island (in the south) through Seattle/Kitsap Peninsula to Anacortes/San Juan Islands (in the north), since the sheer distance and the shipping traffic on the Sound make building a bridge difficult. For tourists, it's also a fantastic way to see some very picturesque views of the city and the surrounding country; be sure to bring a camera!

By cruise ship

Seattle is the main departure city for cruise ships heading towards Alaska or western Canada's fjords. Cruise ships to Seattle may be docked at one of two terminals in the Port of Seattle.

By private boat

Seattle was originally built for access from boats and there are marinas offering both public and reciprocal guest moorage located throughout the area, especially around Lake Union and the ship canal (see individual district guides for further information). Elliot Bay Marina, Shilshole Bay Marina, and Bell Street Marina all have reciprocal guest moorage. On Lake Union and in Salmon Bay there are other options including Fisherman's Terminal.

Get around

Seattle's freeways cut through the city rather than circling it, and while driving isn't the norm if you're only getting around the downtown area, it may be useful to get to anywhere else. With that said, the use of alternative transportation modes such as public transit, ride-sharing, walking and cycling are among the highest in the U.S., despite the hilly nature of many neighborhoods. If you do drive, note that you'll want to avoid driving during rush hours unless you know an alternate route away from the easily clogged interstates and state routes a car accident at a bridge to West Seattle, for example, can back traffic up all the way to the northern city limits!

Orientation

Helpful mnemonics to navigate Seattle

  • STreets run eaST and weST
  • aveNueS run North and South
  • EveN numbered addresses are on the East and North side of the road (which is likely called a street or avenue)
  • Use the mnemonic "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest" for downtown street names, from Yesler Way to Westlake Park. The streets are named as six first-letter pairs of these words (Jefferson & James, Cherry & Columbia, Marion & Madison, Spring & Seneca, University & Union, Pike & Pine))

Seattle's street designations are generally easy to remember once you understand them. Most of the city is laid out in a grid, with north-south roads called Avenues and east-west roads being Streets. There are occasional irregularities: Ways are long roads that don't always conform to the grid, Drives are long, circuitous routes, and there's the occasional very short Place or Court.

Seattle has a somewhat convoluted address system that can be confusing to the uninitiated. Outside the downtown area, the city is divided into 7 compass directional sectors (N, NE, NW, W, E, S, SW; no SE section), with the name of the sector applied to every road that passes through that sector. Streets are written with the sector before the name (e.g. NE 45th Street or NE 45th) while avenues are written with the sector after the name (e.g. 45th Avenue NE or 45th NE). Roads within the downtown area (as well as some avenues east of Downtown and some streets north of Downtown) have no directional designation. Take this into consideration when looking for directions to a specific address.

When locals give you directions, they may refer to an intersection (especially in the case of a bus stop). The first road mentioned is the street it is at, followed by the crossing street adjacent to the stop, but sometimes they neglect to specify whether it's an "avenue" or a "street," so inquire to be sure and you'll avoid the risk of winding up in the wrong part of the city!

On foot

Walking is highly encouraged for short trips, especially if your destination is within Downtown or Capitol Hill. While the streets and drivers are generally friendly for pedestrians, do keep your street smarts. Avoid walking alone in Downtown at night due to the frantic beggars. For more information about street safety, look at the "Stay Safe" section.

Seattle pedestrians are noted for their unusual refusal to jaywalk. Unlike many other large American cities (particularly those on the East Coast), in Seattle you'll see groups of pedestrians patiently wait for the light to change before stepping off the curb, even when there isn't a car in sight. The reasons for it are unclear, though it's often suggested that the local police are particularly strict about enforcing the jaywalking law.

The block layout in the downtown area is pretty compact; a walk from Denny Way to Yesler Way should take roughly half an hour. Walking away from the shore in the downtown area requires some effort, given the steep elevation of the streets. Outside the downtown area, especially Capitol Hill or the northern and western parts of the city, there are many hills (albeit less hilly and steep than San Francisco). In fact, walking is a great form of exercise in Seattle, with abundant jogging tracks in the parks and longer trails like the Burke Gilman Trail, which runs along the northern side of the ship canal and the western rim of Lake Washington.

By public transit

Public transit fare cards

The ORCA card is a contactless fare card that enables you to transfer seamlessly between Seattle and the Puget Sound's various transit agencies, similar to Hong Kong's Octopus or London's Oyster. The card is free but you must put in a minimum of $5 to start using it and you can add money or monthly passes to the card. Day passes are also available for $8 and can be used for all bus and train services.

You can purchase cards and add value or passes to the card at vending machines in transit centers and light rail or Sounder rail stations, QFC & Safeway supermarkets, and Metro's customer service center at King Street Station (next to the Amtrak station) & Westlake Station (every end or beginning of the month) where reduced fare ORCA cards for the youth and people ages 65 or above can be issued. To use the card, tap it on the card reader (the device with the ORCA logo) each time you enter a bus (or, in the case of streetcars, trains or ferries, at the card reader on the platform or at the turnstile). Your first tap for each trip entitles you to free rides (technically called 'transfers') for the next 2 hours, with the exception of Washington State Ferries.

By bus

King County Metro Bus
RapidRide

King County Metro is the primary public transportation agency not just for Seattle but throughout King County as well. The bus service is generally easy to navigate, especially from downtown, with multiple lines to most tourist attractions. There are two types of bus service offered: the ordinary local service (green/yellow or blue/yellow buses) and the frequent express RapidRide service (red/yellow buses). You must pay upon boarding (or if you have a transfer, show it to the driver) at the front. To request a stop, pull the cord alongside the windows or, on most buses, you can press a red button next to the back door. All upcoming stops are announced by display on the board at the front of the bus and by voice.

Buses generally operate from 5AM to 1:30AM, and run from every 5 minutes up to every hour, depending on route, time of day, and day of the week; a few selected routes are peak-only or night-only service and RapidRide routes are 24 hours. The adult bus fare is $2.50, although the fare increases during rush hour (on weekdays 6-9AM and 3-6PM; $2.75 within the city limits and $3.25 for rides outside the city limits). The youth (ages 6-18) and senior (ages 65 or older) fare is $1.50 and $1.00, respectively. Up to four children under age 6 can ride free with a paying adult. If you pay by cash (exact change only), you'll get a paper transfer good for within a 2-hour period to ride other King County Metro buses. An ORCA card allows you to transfer to other transit agencies within the same period of time for free. Special service is sometimes deployed from Downtown and certain transit centers for major events, primarily to the Seattle Center, the University of Washington for Husky football games, or to CenturyLink Field for Seahawks and Sounders games.

To figure out your nearest bus stop and real-time arrival times, you can download the One Bus Away app to your smartphone. Arrival times are also displayed at certain Downtown bus stops as well as most RapidRide stops. Paper schedule and maps of the bus route can usually be found at transit centers.

When traveling to destinations outside the downtown core, make sure to ask the drivers about the green and white "EXPRESS" signs in their windows or the "VIA EXPRESS" on the road display if they are going to your destination. Some of these express routes are intended for regular commuters traveling between residential neighborhoods and Downtown and make few or no stops between, but may be useful for getting to destinations such as the University District, West Seattle, and Ballard. A rule of thumb is that three digit route numbers are for service to/from and within outside the Seattle city limits, but a few of them should still pass through major attractions within the city area.

In Downtown, most buses and RapidRide buses go along 3rd Avenue and high-capacity routes use the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel alongside the Link light rail. The tunnel has five stations, from north to south: Convention Place, Westlake, University Street, Pioneer Square, and International District/Chinatown (the last of which is convenient to King Street Station). The bus tunnel is useful for bus and light rail transfers, but watch your belongings.

By rail

Seattle rail system map

If you need any help, go to the Customer Stop at Westlake Station in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, security officers in the tunnel, or ask a local. Seattleites are always eager to help and may offer help, even if they see you looking confusingly at a tourist map!

By ferry

King County Metro provides a Water Taxi service between Pier 50 (beside Pier 52/Colman Dock) in Downtown and Seacrest Park in West Seattle, a ride which takes 15 minutes and is an optimal connection to Alki Point. Fares are $4.75 one way, $4 with an ORCA card. Boats depart every half-hour on weekdays and every hour on weekends during the summer months, with reduced service during the winter.

By car

Cars are fairly useless for transportation within the city proper, but are a great asset if travelling to Bellevue/Redmond or Everett/Tacoma. Note that many roads Downtown are one-way, which might require some extra navigation. On weekends, you can often rent cars at locations throughout the city for well under $20/day. One of the challenges in driving in Seattle includes the hilly terrain, especially in Downtown, Capitol HIll and Queen Anne, where you have to be extra careful in applying your brakes.

Be aware though that parking is scarce in Downtown due to the recent dedicated bike lane developments and even your hotel will levy exorbitant fees for overnight parking at their property! Street parking fares are $1 to $2.50 per hour, but be mindful of where you park and your duration because parking laws are enforced and the fines can be hefty! A parking ticket can be in excess of $35 for going overtime in a 2-hour zone. Outside Downtown, many establishments provide free parking.

When parking on a hill, remember to always apply the parking brake and turn your wheels so that the car will roll into the sidewalk instead of the street if the brakes give out (i.e., when facing uphill, turn toward the street; when facing downhill, turn toward the curb). Failure to park properly can run the risk of having your car roll downhill.

Drivers traveling on Interstate 5 between Downtown and Northgate as well as Interstate 90 between Downtown and Bellevue can make use of the express lanes for a generally quick and smooth ride to downtown in the morning, or to the suburbs in the afternoon and evening. Even though Seattle is only the 20th largest city in the U.S., its traffic jams are second only to Los Angeles. This is mainly due to inland waterways causing choke points around the few available bridges.

By taxi

You can call or hail a taxi from any major street in Seattle or most hotels will call them for you. However, most of Seattle's taxi services are unfriendly and expensive, especially if you are only trying to get around the downtown area. Some taxi drivers will even refuse to take you if your destination is less than 15 blocks away. The fares are regulated by the city government, which consists of:

If you are heading to SeaTac airport from the downtown area, a flat fare of $40 is applied.

The rudeness of some taxi drivers has caused people to avoid taking them and look for car-sharing alternatives (see the following section). But should you be in dire need of a taxi, call one of these companies:

By car-sharing

If your destination is miles away and you don't have a car, yet public transportation seems inconvenient for you, you can use the ride-sharing services like those provided by Uber or Lyft. Download their app to your phone to reserve a car, register your card for payment, punch in your current location and destination, and a car will be in front of you in no time; they do not take prior reservations. If you prefer to drive yourself, Car2go or Zipcar vehicles are abundant, especially in Downtown, Capitol Hill, and University District. Seattleites often prefer this method to taking the reckless and overpriced taxis.

By motorcycle

The rainy weather makes motorcycling difficult but not impossible. Drivers exhibit an alarming obliviousness to motorcycles, and riders should take care to stay well out of a car's blind spot and preferably ahead of, rather than behind, any car. Motorcyclists get preferred boarding on the ferries and there are many parking spots Downtown reserved for motorcycles.

By bicycle

Cycling is better in Seattle than in most American cities. In fact, during rush hour it's often faster to bike than to drive! Bicycle usage has increased significantly since the early 2000s and drivers are a little more accustomed to bicycles in Seattle than in other major cities. Your main drawbacks will be the wet roads, the rain, and the hilly terrain, so you might want to pack some raingear. Many major roads in Seattle have properly maintained bicycle lanes, and you are allowed to ride bicycles on all Seattle roads except the Interstates, the State Route 520 floating bridge, and the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Bikeshare kiosks called Pronto are available throughout the city. A purchase of a 24-hour ($8), a 3-day pass ($16), or an annual membership ($85) at the kiosk entitles you to a ride for 30 minutes and a small surcharge for every half hour thereafter, up to 24 hours. The bikes can be picked up and returned at any kiosks citywide, but do not forget to take the helmet before you ride and dock the bike correctly when you return it! Coverage is limited to Downtown, Pioneer Square, the International District, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and the University District.

The city maintains a bike map with suggested biking routes for visiting major attractions.

Bicycle transportation in the greater part of Seattle is facilitated further by the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is a paved walking/jogging/cycling trail that winds its way from the north end of Lake Washington, down around the University of Washington, then west along the canal towards Ballard. The trail is on an old railroad right-of-way, so it maintains a very consistent elevation and is excellent for commuting or a casual day's touring. The Elliott Bay Trail overlooks Puget Sound and starts at the north end of Downtown in Myrtle Edwards Park, continuing north along the shore of Elliott Bay. It is much more scenic than the Burke trail, with gorgeous views of the Olympics and Mt. Rainier, and more quiet since it doesn't intersect with any roads.

If you are tired from cycling or looking for a quick ride to another biking place, King County Metro buses have bike racks on the front of the bus. Just don't forget to unload it when you get off!

Here are a few places that offer bike rentals:

See

Pike Place Market
Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles

Seattle has a lot to see, be it prominent sights or attractions tucked away in quiet neighborhoods. For more information, look at each district's individual articles.

Landmarks

The first thing that pops into most people's minds when they think of Seattle is the Space Needle, located north of Downtown in the Seattle Center. Although it's not the tallest building in Seattle, it still has a wonderful 360-degree view of both the city and the surrounding landscape. It is best to visit at sunset, when the mountains and sky will be lit up in beautiful colors. For a cheaper and less crowded option, head to the observatory at the Columbia Center Building, which is higher than the Space Needle! For a better view of the waterfront and the downtown area, go aboard the Seattle Great Wheel.

Downtown, the Pike Place Market is Seattle's largest tourist area. Home to the famous fish market, the original Starbucks Coffee shop, produce stands, and a dedicated lane each for florists and foods. Don't forget to visit Post Alley, just a block away from Pike Place as you walk away from the shore, as there are some excellent food and souvenir places tucked away.

Museums

The Experience Music Project beneath the Space Needle

Seattle has a number of top-notch museums. Downtown is home to the renowned Seattle Art Museum (SAM), which displays an good assortment of art from around the world. In the Central District is the Seattle Asian Art Museum, an off-shoot of the Seattle Art Museum which focuses on Chinese and Japanese Art, but includes works from as far away as India. Additionally, The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in the International District is the only Asian Pacific American museum in the nation. Nearby is the Frye Art Museum, a small private collection featuring 232 paintings by Munich-based artists. Not a museum, but open to browsing by the public, is the Seattle Metaphysical Library in Ballard, which specializes in material not found in normal libraries.

Surrounding the Space Needle on the grounds of the Seattle Center are several more big museums, including the Pacific Science Center, an interactive science museum with an IMAX theater and plenty of science displays, the Experience Music Project, a rock & roll museum celebrating Seattle's vibrant music scene, the Chihuly Garden & Glass, which takes glass art to the next level, and the Science Fiction Museum, with recreations of iconic sci-fi movies and television shows. Nearby South Lake Union is home to both the Museum of History and Industry and the Center for Wooden Boats.

On the waterfront in Downtown is the popular Seattle Aquarium. The University District holds the Henry Art Gallery, one of the biggest contemporary art galleries in Washington, and the Burke Museum, a combination natural history/archaeology museum. Further out in Georgetown is the Museum of Flight, with a large collection of aircraft ranging from wood and fabric crates to the sleek Concorde.

Architecture

Seattle's Downtown from the Space Needle

Most of the architectural attractions in Seattle are located in the downtown area, easily traversed on foot. Among the highlights are the Central Library, a unique contemporary building with an enormous glass-fronted atrium; the Columbia Center, the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest and which offers excellent views from its observation deck; and the Seattle City Hall with its roof garden. On the south side of Downtown, near Pioneer Square, is the Smith Tower, an Art Deco building which is Seattle's oldest skyscraper and has an observation deck. North of Downtown in the Seattle Center, the Experience Music Project, designed to resemble Jimi Hendrix's smashed guitar, is done in a manner only Frank Gehry could conceive; nearby is the new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, with its 12-acre garden.

Of course, the most popular view in Seattle remains the one from the revolving top of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. And given the retro-futurism look of the Space Needle, a fitting way to get there is via the Monorail, which connects the Seattle Center to Downtown. Another excellent view is from the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57, a ferris wheel that offers superb views of the skyline and the waterfront.

Parks and outdoors

Seattle is peppered with parks, from small urban squares to large forested areas, many with breathtaking views of Seattle and the Puget Sound. Seattle's original park system was designed by the Olmsted brothers in Seattle's early days, and park planners across the country still celebrate Seattle's park system as one of the best designed and best preserved in the United States. While many other American cities have only one or two Olmsted-designed parks, Seattle has an extensive multi-park plan linked by boulevards, and this legacy makes Seattle one of the most livable cities in the country.

South Lake Union and downtown Seattle as seen from South Lake Union park

The Seattle Center is actually a park itself, with attractions besides the Space Needle and the center's numerous museums. The Kobe Bell and the mural beside it and the International Fountain are often overlooked but should not be missed. Up on Queen Anne Hill is Kerry Park, where you'll be spellbound by the most photographed view of Seattle. To the west is Discovery Park, the city's largest park with trails less traveled traversing hills and offering a view of the unspoiled landscape, wildlife, and a lighthouse.

Overlooking Lake Union in Fremont is Gasworks Park. Once the site of a coal gasification plant, the plant has been replaced by lush green hills surrounding one small section of rusting—yet surprisingly picturesque—machinery from the coal plant. The park is filled with spectators for the 4th of July fireworks and is also a great place for boaters to access Lake Union. For a day at the beach, head over to Golden Gardens Park or the less crowded Carkeek Park for a view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains; West Seattle's fully sandy Alki Beach offers a great view of Downtown Seattle. Joggers can spend their time at Green Lake Park or Magnuson Park for a serene view of water by the running tracks.

A place to see trees from around the world is at the Washington Park Arboretum in the Central District. The Arboretum contains a Japanese Garden (closed in winter) that plays host to a traditional Japanese festival. For a more laid back and Zen atmosphere, the Kubota Garden at Rainier Beach in south Seattle has streams and waterfalls, ponds, rock outcroppings, and an exceptionally rich and mature collection of plants. If you are into animals, head to the Woodland Park Zoo to see animals from around the world held in pleasant, naturalistic exhibits.

Do

Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles

Tours

Water sports

Sailboat moored at the Center for Wooden Boats

Seattle is surrounded by Lake Washington and Puget Sound, in addition to a number of bodies of water such as Lake Union or Green Lake in the city proper, so activities from kayaking to swimming are commonly practiced especially in the summer. Primary locations include Lake Union and Lake Washington where there are often some recreational boat traffic.

If you have no rowing experience, classes are offered at Lake Union Crew. You can also rent a sailboat or join a free Sunday cruising at Center For Wooden Boats, or a kayak at Northwest Outdoor Center.

Events

Most of Seattle's festivals take place in the summer, the only long stretch of time when Seattle has days of sunny weather.

Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow at Daybreak Star Cultural Center
In costume for the Fremont Fair

Sports

It's always crowded and loud at CenturyLink Field!

In terms of professional sports teams, Seattle has been underrated until recently. Of the four biggest U.S. professional leagues, two have teams in Seattle, and the fast-growing Major League Soccer also has a Seattle team.

Even prior to the recent success of the local National Football League franchise, the Seattle Seahawks, CenturyLink Field has long been packed to the gills by the "12th men" (the name for loud, devout Seahawks fans) watching their home game in late summer through early winter. Soccer fans can enjoy the Seattle Sounders FC games May through September, also held in CenturyLink Field. Safeco Field next door is home to the Major League Baseball Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, Seattle has one of the strongest followings for women's teams in sports. The Seattle Storm plays WNBA basketball at KeyArena in Seattle Center, while Seattle Reign FC has been recently established together with the National Women's Soccer League. In minor league men's sports, the Seattle Thunderbirds junior hockey team (players age 16 to 20) plays in Kent.

College teams also have a proud presence in town. The University of Washington Huskies play basketball and football at their own arena on campus. In October or November, the rivalry between U-Dub (short name for the campus) and Wazzu (Washington State University) is flaring, with the Apple Cup football match played at Husky Stadium every odd-numbered year. Seattle University has the Seattle Redhawks, another NCAA Division I team, but with a much lower profile than U-Dub. Also, the Gonzaga Bulldogs from Spokane play one men's basketball game each season at KeyArena in an event billed as the "Battle in Seattle".

Entertainment

Learn

The Quad at University of Washington

Given the huge influx of people to Seattle, educational institutions have been constantly adding programs to the point that they now cover virtually every occupation. These are some of the institutions:

Community colleges often offer some fun short-term courses. North Seattle College has the most diverse selection, with a focus on machinery, ventilation, and even wristwatch making. Other colleges within the same system are Seattle Central College and South Seattle College. If you want to get out of the crowded city, you can also choose Green River to the south, as well as Shoreline and Edmonds to the north.

Work

Seattle is a well-known center for business, being the home of the headquarters of tech companies Amazon.com and Microsoft, aircraft manufacturer Boeing, coffee chain Starbucks, retail and grocery stores such as Nordstrom, REI and Costco are also based here. As well as many startup companies, many of which are tech-based startups pushed out of Silicon Valley due to the exorbitant costs of operating there. Recruitment to startups is generally easy, and while you can't expect similar wages or work environment to the large companies, many do offer compensations such as free haircut, lunch, apartment rent with one or more working partners, or carpool service. Demand for tech jobs, especially programmers, is constantly rising.

Health is another growing sector of the economy. Seattle is one of the fittest cities in the nation and nutritionists, doctors, and nurses are in need to take care of the growing population. Biotech companies are also on the rise. Comparatively, the hospitality business has been growing at a glacial pace compared to the tech moguls.

One good reason to work in Seattle, or the rest of Washington state for that matter, is that there is no state income tax.

Buy

Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles

If you want it, you can most likely get it in Seattle. The city has many small, locally owned business in addition to the more typical large shopping malls. A sales tax of 9.5% applies for all purchases except most groceries, newspapers, and prescription drugs.

Downtown

Abundant seafood at Pike Place Market

Other districts

Fresh produce at a farmers' market in Ballard. In the summer, Seattle has over a dozen weekly farmers' markets; Sunday in Ballard and Saturday in the University District are among the few year-round markets.

Eat

Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles
This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget up to $10
Mid-range $10-$20
Splurge more than $20

Typical of a big city, Seattle has a diverse range of fare representative of cuisines from around the world. Local chains and hole-in-the-wall restaurants dominate the city's dining atmosphere, and hearty, inexpensive meals can be found all over the city. Note that many Seattle restaurants, particularly the hole-in-the-wall establishments, only accept cash.

Local specialties

Seattle's proximity to Alaska and the waters of the Pacific Ocean make it an excellent place to enjoy seafood. Look for salmon during the late summer months as options are abundant and the prices are among the cheapest on the West Coast, especially the red (sockeye) salmon. Shellfish are a prized resource of the Puget Sound, where the cool, clean waters provide an optimal habitat. Clams, mussels and oysters can be found easily, but other specialties like geoducks (pronounced GOO-ey-ducks) are sometimes available for the more adventurous. The Dungeness Crab, named for a nearby town on the Sound, is a popular seafood prized for its sweet, tender flesh and high ratio of meat. The Dungeness is a commercially important crab in Washington's waters but other crab species are also common. The Alaskan King Crab, caught from the deep cold waters of the Pacific Ocean near Alaska, has a more frequent presence here than the rest of the lower 48.

Donut shops and bakeries are virtually everywhere, with some offering warm in-house brewed coffee, making them an excellent delight in the cold weather or as a snack.

The mild climate also supports many types of fresh produce. Farmers' markets are a normal occurrence on the weekends, especially in residential areas, and they usually have better quality produce than what you can get at supermarkets. They're an excellent opportunity to taste local delicacies and experience the local culture. Apples, which are exported from Washington and shipped all over the world, are in season around October.

Seattle also boasts a wide variety of Asian cuisine, from East Asia to the South. Family-run and hole-in-the-wall teriyaki, ramen, sushi, and Chinese restaurants are abundant and scattered throughout the area.

Eating options by district

Downtown and Pioneer Square hold many cafés and high end restaurants. Belltown to home to most options for downtown dining, with restaurants in every price range and some of the city's best-reviewed restaurants. Pike Place Market's stands offer plenty of samples, with plenty of popular options also available in Post Alley. The Waterfront, naturally, has a selection of seafood restaurants. Budget options around downtown can especially be found at Westlake Park or South Lake Union, where food carts cater to workers wanting a quick and easy lunch.

The Chinatown Gate, entrance to the International District at S King Street

Outside of the Downtown area, Capitol Hill has plenty of hip cafés and bars, with many among the best-reviewed in the city and visited by local celebrities, as well as many Ethiopian and Thai eateries. The International District is known for its dim-sum, communal Chinese and Japanese offerings, as well as Vietnamese restaurants on the east side of the neighborhood. South Seattle also has a diversity of ethnic restaurants, while West Seattle holds more elegant mid-range to high-end choices, mostly European, seafood, and steak and many with a full bar.

North of Downtown, Queen Anne Hill seems to offer a little bit of everything near the Seattle Center. North of the canal, Ballard has mostly European fare with some Mexican, Mediterranean, and Asian options. Fremont has an increasing number of American and world cuisines in small establishments, some of which are so popular they generate long lines. The University District has a myriad of budget and international restaurants, while North Seattle has some scattered family-run Asian restaurants.

Drink

Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles

Few, if any, American cities can challenge Seattleites' love of coffee. This is perhaps best signified by the Seattle-based international chain Starbucks, but locals aren't satisfied by recognized chains alone, as evidenced by the hundreds of good locally owned coffeehouses. The best places to look for coffee are in Capitol Hill or Queen Anne Hill, where they take matters of coffee very seriously.

Microbreweries are a Northwest specialty, and Seattle has many to offer for beer enthusiasts. The larger brewers, like Redhook and Pyramid, distribute their products regionally or nationally, while other brews can only be found in local stores or bars (some notable brewers don't bottle their product). Elysian, with three pubs in various neighborhoods, and the Pike Brewing Company, located in Pike Place Market, are other popular local brewers. Many microbreweries have set up shop in South Seattle and Washington State is one of the largest growers of hops in the world making this key beer making ingredient readily available.

In Washington, bars have a full liquor license, while taverns are restricted to beer, wine and cider. Many Seattle bars have a world-class beer selection featuring local Northwest style micros, many of them crafted in Seattle. Beer aficionados should check out Uber Tavern, Brouwer's Cafe, or the Stumbling Monk, or visit the Beer Junction in West Seattle, which is primarily a bottle shop with a staggering selection but which also has a bar and regular tastings. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though! There are also plenty of drinking options to be found in the Belltown portion of downtown (south of Denny Way), Fremont, Ballard, the University District, and Capitol Hill. The good news is Washington state is one of the last states that allows all alcoholic drinks to be sold openly at supermarkets, so liquor is readily and cheaply available even if you don't want to go to a bar.

Wine is another Northwest specialty, and there are a number of wineries just thirty miles from Seattle proper in Woodinville. Many more can be found a 2-3 hour drive away on the other side of the Cascades in Washington Wine Country. You can find local vintages in grocery stores, wine shops, restaurants, and wine bars such as Bottlehouse and Purple.

Like any other city with a large Asian population, bubble tea or boba milk tea shops has been recently popping up, and are popular among young people. Bubble tea is basically milk tea with various flavors and tapioca balls. Many of these shops also offer Asian snacks and delicacies. If you are thirsty and hungry, and budget is your main concern, this can be a good option. Most of these can be found in the University District as well as a few in the International District.

Sleep

Individual listings can be found in Seattle's district articles
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Less than $150
Mid-range $150-$250
Splurge More than $250

For such a large city, there is a surprising lack of accommodation options available, thus rooms in Seattle are more on the expensive side. Most sleeping options are in Downtown and consist mostly of mid-range or high-end hotels. Other options, especially budget hotels and hostels can be found near the Seattle Center, the University District, the International District, and in North Seattle. There are also bed and breakfast options in Fremont, Ballard, and Capitol Hill. Steer clear of the motels along Aurora Avenue N, as there are many sketchy places where you stay at your own risk.

Alternatives to Seattle accommodations are a train ride away south in Tukwila & SeaTac, especially the areas surrounding the airport but also down in an area by SouthCenter Mall in Tukwila, as there are plenty more hotels to choose from with a wide range of rates. You can also find more options for hotels across the I-90 bridge to Bellevue or other towns on the other side of Lake Washington, such as Kirkland, Issaquah, or Renton.

Connect

Telephone

The area code for the City of Seattle is 206. Surrounding areas use other area codes, including 425 which encompasses the eastern and northern suburbs including Bellevue, Redmond, Lynnwood, and Everett, 253 for all areas south of Kent such as Tacoma, Federal Way, and Fife, and 360 for everywhere else west of the Cascades. All of Washington east of the Cascades uses the 509 area code.

Pay phones can be found mostly in train stations, but these usually go unused and most of them are on the verge of being taken down. As in much of the rest of the country, you will pretty much need a cellphone to make calls while you are on the go. Cellphone reception is excellent throughout most of the city, with the exception of the Downtown transit tunnels.

Internet

Free Wi-Fi can be found at all Seattle public libraries. As part of a pilot project, the City of Seattle provides free Wi-Fi access in Columbia City, the University District area, four downtown Seattle parks (Occidental, Freeway, Westlake and Victor Steinbrueck), and the City Hall lobby area. The Seattle Center also provides free wireless internet in the Center House building. RapidRide and Sound Transit commuter buses also offer free Wi-Fi.

There are various internet cafes in the Seattle area, especially in the University District and the Downtown neighborhoods. Additionally, many coffee shops offer free and paid wireless access (all Starbucks locations offer free Wi-Fi). 4G LTE coverage is well covered by most, if not all, major telecom companies, but reception gets poorer the closer you get to the mountains.

Stay safe

Statistically, the number of crimes in Seattle is similar to what you would expect in any major city in the United States. By and large, as long as you use some common sense, you are unlikely to be the target of any crime. Auto break-ins and theft are a problem in the city, so never your leave valuables visible in a car and always lock your car doors. Be wary of the rising trend of smartphone theft.

Downtown Seattle has a sizable population of homeless people (many neighborhoods have forced their homeless into Seattle's downtown core), and while many beg for change and some seem unstable, only a few are actually dangerous. It is worthwhile to be careful after dark in some areas around the downtown core. Some places to watch your back near major tourist areas include under the viaduct along the Waterfront, Belltown, between Pine and Pike Streets in Downtown, and around Pioneer Square, where you'll want to beware of drug dealers and beggars. Areas you'll want to avoid at night (at least without company) include along Aurora Avenue and Lake City Way in the north of the city, SoDo, and the International District.

On Friday and Saturday nights, it is wise to take caution while at Capitol Hill. The many bars in the area can also contain drunk and unruly people, which in very rare cases can lead up to assault or shooting. But as long as you are not looking for trouble, you will be safe.

Drivers in Seattle are typically nice but indecisive, but as long as you're careful as a pedestrian, you don't run a high risk of getting hit. Cyclists should be extra wary of traffic and opening doors of parked cars, especially Downtown.

Marijuana

Washington state has legalized the consumption of marijuana for recreational use. By law, only persons aged 21 and over can purchase marijuana, and then only from licensed retailers. Purchasers are limited to one ounce of usable marijuana (the harvested flowers or "bud"), 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, or 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.

Under no circumstances should you consume marijuana in public or while driving, nor should you transport it out of the state or give it to anybody else for consumption. The DUI limit is .08, but even a smaller number can still lead to an arrest. Any other regulations not stated here should be treated the same as with alcohol. Smoking is not allowed in any public places, and must be done at least 25 feet away from doors, windows, or ventilation shafts.

Weather

During fall through early spring, when the weather is said to be sunny, the morning often starts with fog before the afternoon sunshine clears it. Be careful if you're driving, as visibility can be near zero in the early morning, depending on the location. Watch out for black ice as well if the temperature is below freezing. Occasionally, this condition will persist for days and air quality will deteriorate as emissions will get trapped over the city; in these cases, an Air Stagnation Advisory and Burn Ban will be issued, and those with breathing problems should take precautions in such an event.

In case of rain, take the normal precautions while driving to avoid skidding; drive 10-15 mph slower than the speed limit and avoid driving through large puddles. If you are heading to the mountains in the winter, take the typical winter driving precautions, like putting chains on your tires or changing to traction tires. If it does snow in Seattle, it is not recommended to drive, as the city is typically unprepared for such an event and motor vehicles become a moving hazard -- stuck, skidding, or rolling down the city's hills.

LGBT

While Seattle’s LGBTQ community is well integrated throughout the entire city, Capitol Hill is the heart of Seattle’s gay cultural scene and is a historical hub of gay and gay-friendly businesses, bars, restaurants and clubs. Its eclectic nightlife and central location make Capital Hill the ideal place for an exciting night out. But more family friendly gay activities can be found in other areas as Seattle has the second-largest percentage of gay, lesbian or bisexual residents among large cities in the U.S.

Stay healthy

As long as there are no extreme weather events, Seattle is a perfectly lovely place. Many parks have jogging tracks and fitness centers are abundant, making Seattle one of the fittest cities in the nation.

Temperatures can get extreme during the summer, and there is always at least one annual instance where temperatures hover above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, although the little humidity makes the heat less oppressive. Drink plenty of liquid to keep yourself hydrated and don't leave anybody inside a car.

When it rains, Seattleites frequently don't use umbrellas, since the drizzle is constant and is sometimes accompanied with wind. Rather, the locals are more likely to wear a hoodie jacket or a poncho, and packing one is recommended. During the long stretch of mild (40-50 degrees) and dry days in winter, smog often covers the skies of Puget Sound, as there is no way for the pollutants and moisture to clear out of the area. If an Air Stagnation Advisory or Burn Ban is issued, take precautions if you have breathing problems. On these days, you might want to consider heading to the mountains, where you're more likely to experience sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures.

During a hike in between thick lines of trees at the parks, be careful to check for ticks. If a bulls' eye rash develops at the tick bite site, immediately seek medical help and treatment with antibiotics. Despite its location close to mountains, wild animals such as bears or beavers are very unlikely to stray at the city.

Smoking is not allowed in any public places, and must be done at least 25 feet away from doors, windows, or ventilation shafts.

Tap water is safe to drink and is among the best quality in the United States, from undisturbed and uncontaminated water sources fed by snow melt in the Cascade mountains.

Cope

Newspaper

There are also several ethnic newspapers including Northwest Asian Weekly, and numerous neighborhood newspapers including the North Seattle Journal, and the West Seattle Blog. The University of Washington also publishes The Daily of the University of Washington.

Radio

Seattle is in the top 20 of the largest media market in the US, thus virtually every genre you can think of has its own radio station:

Television

Seattle is the 13th largest television market in the US, with all big five English (ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, FOX), four Spanish (Univision, Telemundo, Azteca, MundoFOX), and independent networks represented. All big five except CW, and Univision have local news, weather, and sports alongside syndicated & network primetime TV shows. You can also stream on their website when they broadcast local news.

You can also get Canadian television, but over the air coverage is very poor, so a cable subscription may be necessary.

Hospitals

Seattle has a large number of primary- and secondary-care medical centers, including the only level 1 trauma center serving Alaska, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Additionally, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center is the pediatric referral center for those same states. An area roughly located between Interstate 5 and Broadway is dubbed as Pill Hill for having three of Seattle's largest medical centers within the small complex: Harborview, Virginia Mason, and Swedish.

In the event of a medical emergency anywhere in the U.S., dial 9-1-1 for free from any phone, including payphones at no cost.

Consulates

Most consulates are in downtown Seattle, but some are elsewhere:

Go next

Ferries

If you're staying anywhere near downtown, the state-run ferries leave from Colman Dock, a pier at the south end of the Waterfront, an easy walk from downtown. Passengers on foot pay $7.50 for the westbound trip; the return to Seattle is free.

Driving

Just getting out and driving around the area with no destination in mind can be a great experience, as the Seattle area, like most of the Pacific Northwest, is very scenic. If you'd like more specific destinations, try some of these:

Within the metropolitan area

Day trips

Cascade Mountains

Skiing/snowboarding

An equivalent to Denver but far fewer in number, Seattle is the gateway to winter resorts on the Cascade mountains. Drive for one hour to the resorts to enjoy everything from leisure snowball fights to downhill skis, a perfect escape if you are bored with Seattle's rain. Winter sports season is generally November–May, depending on how much snow there is. Generally, the highest ski resorts will open for the winter season longer.

Routes through Seattle

Vancouver Edmonds  N  S  Tukwila Portland
END  W  E  Edmonds Spokane
Vancouver (via ) Shoreline  N  S  Tukwila Portland
END  W  E  Mercer Island Spokane
Everett Shoreline  N  S  Tukwila Tacoma
END  N  S  White Center Tacoma
END  W  E  Bellevue Redmond
END  SW  NE  Jct W Bothell Monroe


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 30, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.