Downtown Seattle from the water

Packed between Elliott Bay and the hilly neighborhoods to the east, Downtown Seattle unsurprisingly contains the city's bustling financial and retail district. This is also where many of Seattle's tourist attractions are, including the iconic Pike Place Market, the expansive Seattle Art Museum, the touristy waterfront, and some of the city's most stunning architecture, all within easy walking distance of each other.

Get in

By car

Getting in by car is not recommended, due to the congestion and parking problems, but if you have to, these are the main routes to get in:

By ferry

Washington State Ferries offer service from Pier 52 of the Seattle waterfront (also known as Colman Dock) to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton, which makes for a very fun and scenic ride.

Additionally, the King County Water Taxi offers service between Pier 50 on the downtown Seattle waterfront and Seacrest Park in West Seattle, with amazing views of the city. Fare is $4.75 for adults ($4 with an ORCA card), $2 for seniors/disabled, $4.75 youth ages 6-18 ($3 with an ORCA card), free for children 5 and under.

By public transit

Downtown is the hub of Seattle's public transit system, and a variety of modes serve the district. King County Metro serves downtown very well, both on the surface and in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel running between the International District Station at the southern end and the Convention Center at the northern end. Fares are $2.50 ($2.75 during the weekday rush hour) and include a paper transfer (or an automatic transfer if you pay using an ORCA card) good for two hours.

Get around

Seattle's downtown is quite compact and northwest-southeast streets can easily be walked. However, northeast-southwest streets can be extremely steep. When your feet are tired, hop onto the Metro buses for a break.

A rule of thumb to remember the downtown street names, from Yesler Way to Westlake Park, is the mnemonic "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest", as the streets are named as six first-letter pairs of these words (Jefferson & James, Cherry & Columbia, Marion & Madison, Spring & Seneca, University & Union, Pike & Pine).


Pike Place Market
Seattle Central Library Exterior, as seen from 5th Ave.



Most of the district's retail is situated around Westlake Station, roughly in an area bordered by 3rd and 8th Avenues, Olive Way and University Street. Pike Place Market is in and of itself a tourist attraction as well as a place to buy souvenirs and groceries.


Many of the best eating options in Seattle can be found downtown, primarily at the Pike Place Market and in the Belltown neighborhood.


Pike Place Market

The shops around Pike Place Market are an excellent place to grab some cheap eats. Pick up some bread, cheese, sausage and smoked meats and have a picnic on the park at the north end of the Market, or get a cup of coffee and sit at a table on the sidewalk.

  •   Pike Place Chowder, 1530 Post Alley,  +1 206 267 2537. Daily 11AM-5PM. Usually has long lines (up to 30 minutes) due to the fact this location is more well-known. Has more choices of chowder. Seats quickly fill up!
  •   Pike Place Chowder, 600 Pine St (4th floor of Pacific Place),  +1 206 838-5680. M-Th 11AM-8PM, F-Sa 11AM-9PM, Su 11AM-7PM.


View of downtown and I-5 at dusk



Bars and taverns



Plaque inside the first Starbucks store


If you're staying in Seattle, you're very likely to stay in Downtown, as here is where most of the city's accommodations are offered. Most splurge options are in the area surrounding the Pike Place Market or Westlake, while most budget options can be found in the Belltown neighborhood.





Cellphone signals are strong throughout Downtown, save for in the Downtown Transit Tunnel. Wi-Fi connectivity is available at most coffee shops. The Seattle Central Library has lightning-speed plug-in and wireless internet connections.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.