The University District, or "U-District", surrounds the University of Washington in northeast Seattle. It's centered on University Way Northeast, which all the locals call "The Ave".
Surrounding neighborhoods include Ravenna to the north and Laurelhurst to the east. Largely residential, their attractions are included here.
By car, take the 45th-50th Sts. exit from I-5, or head north from the Montlake Blvd. exit on SR-520. Parking on the campus itself is very expensive, up to $15 per day, although it's free after noon on Saturdays and all day Sundays. The vast E-1 lot east of campus on Montlake Blvd. is a relative bargain at $7, but without a university ID, you'll have to pay in all quarters! Street parking is more plentiful away from the campus.
The Link light rail service is the fastest way to get to the area from central and southern Seattle, making its way under Capitol Hill to Downtown in less than ten minutes, and out to the airport in about 45 minutes. The Link station is located at the southern end of campus, next to the football stadium at Montlake Blvd and Pacific Street. King County Metro runs numerous bus routes to the area, with prominent transfer points at Campus Parkway/University Way and the UW Link station. Prominent routes serving the University District include the 70 and 74 to Downtown, the 31/32 to Fremont, the 43 and 49 to Capitol Hill, the 44 to Ballard, the 48 to Greenwood and the Central District, and the 67 to Northgate. The campus has excellent and wide-ranging commuter bus service, though most of the routes to the distant suburbs do not run on weekends or holidays.
- Ravenna Park, 5520 Ravenna Ave. NE. Fans of comic artist Charles Burns might like to visit this park, the site of some of the creepier scenes in his book "Black Hole."
- Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St (One block west of University Way NE on 45th), ☎ +1 206 682-1414. Live music venue in a 1921 theater building, operated by the same management as downtown's Paramount and Moore.
The UW campus has a number of notable museums and buildings which are open to the public.
- Suzzallo Library, at Red Square, ☎ +1 206 543-0242. The Suzzallo is a grand Gothic-style structure. The high-ceiling Graduate Reading room is especially impressive.
- Red Square (formally called the Central Plaza). This red brick-paved plaza fills with students moving between classes, hanging out, or some student-led activities.
- The Quad (Liberal Arts Quadrangle). Surrounded by the liberal arts buildings, the Quad turns a wonderful shade of pink in early spring, when the Japanese cherry trees bloom. These blooms only last a couple weeks, however.
- Burke Museum, University of Washington, 17th Ave NE & NE 45th St, ☎ +1 206 543-5590. Daily 10AM-5PM, first Thu of each month 10AM-8PM. A natural history museum with lots of Northwest Indian artifacts and dinosaur skeletons. The Burke also houses the controversial "Kennewick Man" bones. $9.50 general, $7.50 seniors, $6 students and youth, children 4 and under free, free for everyone on the first Thursday of every month.
- The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 15th Ave NE & NE 41st St, ☎ +1 206 543-2280, fax: +1 206 685-3123, e-mail: email@example.com. Th-F 11AM-9PM, Sa-Su 11AM-4PM. One of the biggest contemporary art galleries in Washington, The Henry shows well-known contemporary and modern artists of visual media, as well as an annual exhibition of the UW's Master of Fine Arts students. $10 general, $6 seniors, free for UW students and staff, free for everyone on first Thursdays.
- University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center (behind Husky Stadium at Montlake Blvd. and NE Pacific St), ☎ +1 206 543-9433. Hours vary, call for details. Rents canoes and rowboats, with all the necessary accessories. The ramp is also a good location to launch canoes and kayaks of your own. $7.50/hour, with substantial discounts for UW students, staff, and alumni.
- Agua Verde Paddle Club, 1303 NE Boat St. Hourly kayak rentals from Portage Bay providing access to the Arboreteum, Lake Washington and Lake Union.
- Burke Gilman Trail. Stay to the right on this relatively flat paved bike/pedestrian path that runs along the shoreline of the lake and the canal past campus.
- University Heights Center for the Community, 5031 University Way NE (five blocks from UW), ☎ +1 206 527-4278. M-F 8AM-10PM, Sa 9AM-3PM, Su 9AM-1PM. A not-for-profit community-based organization in the University District which offers an array of classes, host activities and events for the University District & Greater Seattle Area. Accepts visitors everyday. Once a Seattle School, now a designated landmark. Stop in the center or just cruise by and visit the Farmer's Market every Saturday year round.
- Figure Drawing, top floor of the Art building on UW campus. Su 10:30AM-1PM. Show up early to secure an easel and to find the host room. This nude figure drawing session is open to the public. Bring your own supplies, and cash for the model fee. Model is usually female. All levels welcome. $1-4 depending on number of attendees.
- U-District Farmer's Market, NE 50th St and University Way NE. Sa. Local produce, cheeses and other products can be found here.
- U-District Street Fair (Along the Ave). May. This street fair includes some performance artists (mainly musicians), many booths selling their wares, some food stalls and some live music. A rather generic affair over-all.
- Friends of the Seattle Public Library Book Sale, Building 30, Magnuson Park. Held twice yearly, in April and September. Over 200,000 books, CDs, and videos from library surplus and private donations occupy an entire airplane hanger. Many items for $1.
- The Curious Nest, 2916 NE 55th St, ☎ +1 206 729-6378. Th-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Assortments of found and new items, such as French antiques, ceramic plates, jewelry and other classy gifts.
- Gargoyles Statuary, 4550 University Way NE. A unique shopping experience for Gothic or history buffs, this store is replete with atmosphere and has one of the most creative product displays in the area. Authentic replicas of medieval, Romanesque and Gothic statuary peak out at you from all corners of this shop while ambient strains of Gregorian chant or 'Dead Can Dance' play over the store's sound system.
- Magus Books, 1408 NE 42nd St, ☎ +1 206 633-1800. Used book store with large selection. They rarely buy books for cash even though they claim to, but sometimes accept used books in trade.
- University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE. A notably large and excellent bookstore, with frequent authors' readings. Also the place to get UW Husky goods.
- University Village, 2623 Northeast University Village St (past 25th Ave on the east side of campus). A slightly more upscale shopping atmosphere than the Ave, Village is an outdoor shopping mall where you can find branches of many well-known chains, including Microsoft and Apple stores. On the typical rainy day, you can make use of the complimentary yellow umbrellas while walking outdoors.
- Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way NE, ☎ +1 206 524-8554. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Claiming to have the largest selection of films, music, anime, and even video games, in the country, with over 120,000 titles from the US and around the world available for rent or sale. Large selection of hard to find box sets and collectors edition videos for sale. Parking is limited, but there's usually always someone pulling out of a parking spot.
- Recycled Cycles, 1007 NE Boat St (directly south of the Stevens Court parking garage.). Sells, rents, and repairs bicycles. This place is always building new bikes. Prices can be reasonable if a buyer is willing to sacrifice high end components.
As can be expected of a college neighborhood, there are plenty of inexpensive places to eat in the U-District.
- Aladdin Gyrocery, 4139 University Way NE (between NE 41st and 42nd Sts), ☎ +1 206 632-5253. Su-F 9AM-2AM, Sa 9AM-3AM. These gyros are big, and the halal lamb & beef meat is grilled after it is shaved off of the cone. Aladdin's no longer permits smoking inside. Vegetarians love the falafel with thick tahini sauce. Credit cards are not accepted. Up to $12.
- Araya's Vegetarian Place, 5240 University Way NE (between NE 52nd and 55th Sts), ☎ +1 206 524-4332. M-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. The 1st vegan Thai food restaurant in the Northwest features a reasonably priced buffet from 11:30AM to 3PM. On a nice day, you can order the buffet to-go and have a picnic at Gasworks Park, although it is a long walk. prices average about $10.
- Cedars, 4759 Brooklyn Ave NE (at NE 50th St), ☎ +1 206 527-4000, fax: +1 206 524-4199. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Cedars shares an Indian menu with Taste of India (they have the same owners) and includes Mediterranean dishes as well.
- Pho Thy Thy, 4129 University Way NE (between NE 41st and 42nd Sts), ☎ +1 206 632-4909. 10AM-9PM daily. The menu, prices, and cream puffs appear to be clones of Than Brothers (number 9 at Pho Thy Thy is exactly the same as number 9 at Than Brothers). With that said, there are three things make Pho Thy Thy better: the vinyl booths are not ripped up, the warm glow of the TV makes for good company to solo lunchers, and credit cards are accepted. Up to $9.
- Saigon Deli, 4142 Brooklyn Ave NE #105 (at NE 42nd St), ☎ +1 206 634-2866. Saigon Deli serves a broad Vietnamese menu but the attraction are the báhn mì sandwiches which are among the best in the University District and are best ordered with an egg. They also serve a unique noodle soup with butternut squash broth. All entrees come with yogurt dessert. $2-$5.
- Schultzy's, 4114 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 548-9461. 7AM-12PM. German sausage joint. Come here to enjoy good times with friends, watch the game, or just drink a half liter...or a liter...or a boot of beer! around $10.
- Wayward Vegan Cafe, 801 NE 65th St (at 8th Ave NE), ☎ +1 206 524-0204. 9AM-9PM daily. Vegan, worker owned, collectively run cafe. Breakfast entrees $6-11, lunch entrees $8-12, dinner entrees $11-15.
- Agua Verde, 1303 NE Boat St (at 15th Ave NE, near the water), ☎ +1 206 545-8570. 11AM-3:30, 4-9PM daily, Closes Sunday October–March. Excellent selection of fish and other tacos and other imaginative Mexican fare. If the restaurant is too crowded and the weather is good, order from the takeout window and eat in the small park to the west. Also hosts a paddling club Up to $20.
- Chaco Canyon Cafe, 4757 12th Ave NE (at NE 50th St), ☎ +1 206 522-6966. M-F 7AM-9PM, Sa-Su 9AM-9PM. Vegan bakery and cafe that also features a raw foods menu. Coffee and tea available. Breakfast/brunch $5-$11, lunch/dinner $6-$13.
- Garam Masala Indian Cuisine, 4537 University Way NE (between NE 45th and 47th Sts), ☎ +1 206 632-1900. 11AM-11PM daily. Indian and Pakistani restaurant with the usual dishes. Entrees $8-$15.
- Jewel of India, 4735 University Way NE (between NE 47th and 50th Sts), ☎ +1 206 523-5275. 11:30AM-10PM daily. Sit at the window and watch the drug dealers while you dine on the best Malai Kofta in Seattle. Buffet available 11:30AM-3PM. handy coupon Entrees $10-20.
- Pizza Pi, 5500 University Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☎ +1 206 343-1415. Tu-F 4PM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-9PM. This is Seattle's only all-vegan pizza joint. $20 for medium pizza (12"), $27 for large(16").
- Shalimar, 4214 University Way NE (at NE 42nd St), ☎ +1 206 633-3854. This Pakistani-North Indian restaurant serves what might be the best South Asian food in the city. Pakistani food is subtly different than Indian. Creamier and richer and not averse to the use of beef. Definitely not a place for calorie-counters but everything is good to the last dish. Try the blackberry lassis, chicken korma, and channa bhatura. Around $15.
- Taste of India, 5517 Roosevelt Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☎ +1 206 528-1575, fax: +1 206 729-7754. M-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Taste of India is in a funky building that has been amateurishly expanded, but the food is quite good. Mutter Masala available here (not at Cedars). Around $12.
- Thai Tom, 4543 University Way NE (between NE 45th and 47th Sts), ☎ +1 206 548-9548. M-Sa 11:30AM-9PM, Su 1PM-8PM. The closest thing Seattle has to a Bangkok street stall, with simple and spicy dishes which are as much fun to watch being cooked (just behind the counter) as to eat. If you expect something other than street food service, you might be disappointed. The food is fantastic. No credit cards.
- Thanh Vi, 4226 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 633-7867. U. District branch of a Little Saigon staple, with a far broader menu than the Ave's many phở joints.
- Heidelberg Haus, 2122 NE 65th St, ☎ +1 206 466-5369. W-Su 5PM-10:30PM. Managed by a German immigrant family, it's the only authentic German restaurant in Seattle, with beer on tap. Main courses $12-$20.
Bars and taverns
- Pizza A Mart, 5026 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 517-4000. One of the most popular bars with UW students. Always crowded Wed-Sun. Great pizza. Strong drinks.
- College Inn Pub, 4006 University Way NE. The classic student haunt, serving thick ales and tasty chili.
- Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St (east of I-5). "Sorry we're open" says the sign at this Seattle institution founded in 1934. It's been a favorite of beatniks, radicals, and poets; erstwhile visitors have included Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsburg.
- Knarr Tavern, 5633 University Way NE. Just a year younger than the Blue Moon, with a Viking theme and a refreshing alternative to the frat-bars further to the south. Popular with neo-hippies (there's a Grateful Dead cover band night). Pool tables and an Alpine-style shuffleboard.
- Earl's on the Ave, 4333 University Way NE. Pours the strongest drink on the Ave. Mondays are $4 Long Islands. Home of old geezers and greek collegians, and has an excellent kitchen.
- Big Time Brewery, 4133 University Way NE. Brews a variety of its own beers and serves pizza, chili and sandwiches.
- Galway Arms, 5257 University Way NE. Pirate themed, Irish punk bar. Happy hour from 4 - 7PM everyday, which includes $2.50 microbrews (including Anchor Steam), cheap, decent pub food. Three pinball machines. Punk bands occasionally play here on Friday or Saturday night.
- The Pub at Third Place, 6504 20th Ave NE. Well lit bar below a coffee house and book store. The entire bar is wood paneled, with tables being cross sections of trees. All day happy hour on Sundays. On the north end of the U-dist.
- Ravenna Alehouse Tavern, 2258 NE 65th St. Bar on the north-end of the Ave. Pool and Darts. Generally devoid of the college students most other bars in the area attract.
- Teddy's Tavern, 1012 NE 65th St, ☎ +1 206 522-4950. M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su 1PM-2AM. A nostalgic sports bar with 8 wide screen TVs, pool tables, and typical bar games. The real party is outside with table tennis court & seating area. Feel free to bring outside food (not drinks) or you can ask the bartender to deliver (not make) a burger!
- Lounjin, 4527 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 888-2827. M-W 3PM-9PM, Th-F 3PM-10PM, Sa 1PM-6PM. This place has a vibe like none other on the Ave. Now serving ramen. Perfect for the cold weather. With their rich red walls and the velvety red curtains, the place looks straight-up classy. Lounjin serves Zoka coffee and has a large assortment of teas and flavors. The fresh baked goods are provided by Louisa's bakery. With a large sake selection, and one of the very few classy places to serve beer, wine, and appetizers, this is the place to bring your friends or hookup to the free wifi and study in style.
- Trabant Coffee & Chai, 1309 NE 45th St (between University and Brooklyn), ☎ +1 206 675-0668. M-F 6:30AM-Midnight, Sa-Su 9AM-Midnight. Hangout for students and community members. Serves chai, coffee, and espresso drinks, as well as pastries, breakfast, and lunch. Friendly baristas and chill atmosphere.
- Cafe Allegro, 4212 University Way NE (Access from the alley in back), ☎ +1 206 633-3030. Fifty years ago they were beatniks, thirty years ago they were hippies, who knows what they're called today, but they still hang out here. Great for philosophical discussions, working on your Ph.D thesis, and wireless internet access.
- SureShot Espresso, 4505 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 632-3100. Daily 7AM-Midnight. This hip little coffee joint features coffee from Caffe Vita, vegan pastries, mexican hot chocolate, and WiFi. There is comfortable seating and a backroom with old fashioned arcade games and pinball. The atmosphere is loud when they're playing indie rock music such as The Shins in the background.
- Cafe Solstice, 4116 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 675-0850. M-Th 6:30AM-11PM, F 6:30AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-9PM, Su 7AM-11PM. This cafe is features coffee from Lighthouse Roasters and baristas with attitude. The atmosphere is subtly hip (with music such as Aphex Twin playing in the background) and is usually packed with students from one of the neighboring universities. Also serves homemade soups, sandwiches and pastries.
- Boulevard Grocery, 2007 NE Ravenna Blvd, ☎ +1 206 517-5572. Cafe located in a small local grocery. Serves Cafe Vita, basic pastries, hot and cold sandwiches, and Dilletante chocolates. Free wireless internet available.
- Cafe Tribal, 5267 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 729-3886. A new Brazilian coffeehouse that has coffee, acai and other Brazilian juices and food. Very friendly Brazilian vibe and even some Brazilians hanging out playing and singing traditional Brazilian classics. Feijoada completa on Saturday afternoons.
- WOW Bubble Tea, 4553 University Way NE, ☎ +1 206 633-1229. M-Sa 1PM-Midnight. Credit cards accepted. Friendly staff and bright, tasteful environment. WOW stands for "Wonder of Worship," but even atheists will keep coming back to WOW for some of the most natural, juiciest tasting milk tea in Seattle. Some speculate that WOW is the reason for the Caucasian crossover into the world of milk tea.
- Chambered Nautilus Bed and Breakfast Inn, 5005 22nd Ave NE, ☎ +1 206 522-2536, toll-free: +1-800-545-8459, fax: +1 206 528-0898, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A classic 1915 Georgian Colonial home on a hill. Elegant gardens, personalized service, and delicious breakfasts. $104-$204.
- University Inn, 4140 Roosevelt Way NE, toll-free: +1-800-733-3855. In the heart of the university business district, a few blocks from campus. A boutique hotel that is pet-friendly, has a 100% smoke-free environment and includes a hearty breakfast bar. From $140.
- Hotel Deca, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, toll-free: +1-800-899-0251. Near the University of Washington. Originally opened in 1931, a stylish 158 room full service "boutique hotel". Panoramic city and mountain views, comfortable rooms and suites, and art-deco motifs. 100 percent non-smoking, WiFi. From $175.
- Silver Cloud Inn-University, 5036 25th Ave. NE, ☎ +1 206 526-5200. Just a short walk from the University Village mall. A local chain brand. Free breakfast and Internet on every room. Shuttle service within 2 miles provided upon request. From $190.
- University View House, 5012 21st Ave NE, ☎ +1 206 818-2243. Sitting on a bluff overlooking University Village and the Cascades, the house has a kitchen, large living space, and additional privacy. Available for stays of three nights to several months. From $180.
- The Watertown Hotel, 4242 Roosevelt Way NE, toll-free: +1-866-944-4242. Modern design, good location, moderately priced. Free internet in rooms. Exercise room with some limited equipment. Refrigerators, microwaves and coffee pots in each room. Friendly, capable staff. Free breakfast and beer-wine-snack happy hour in the evenings. Also offers free bikes, if you want to take a ride during your trip. From $235.
Unfortunately, the U-District isn't an entirely safe place late at night. If you find yourself walking down the Ave (University Way) at late hours, there will typically be fewer people loitering on the east side of the street. The number of panhandlers and "Ave Rats", as the homeless teen population is referred to, increases as you travel northbound, particularly past NE 45th St. The University campus is considered pretty safe. That being said, Seattle is a very tame city, and the Ave Rats tend to be harmless runaways more interested in spare change and each other than anything else. Indeed, the large student population of the neighborhood allows them to 'blend in' and escape in the neighborhood in a way they cannot anywhere else in the state: don't bother them and they won't bother you.
There have been increased incidents in the area east of "The Ave." between 45th and 65th where the student housing is. While walking late at night is still generally safe, it is better to walk in groups and to avoid poorly lit streets if possible.
If you are visibly female and have to walk at night, try avoiding "The Ave" from about 47th to 52nd because for some strange reason, women tend to be harassed more frequently on this stretch of the "The Ave" than on other parts. Recommended to head west and go down Brooklyn but even as far as Roosevelt Way and then go back to "The Ave" if you can. If you are heading north, stay on the right side of Roosevelt - better lighting. The U District is still safer than most parts of the country at night, but precautions are always a good thing.
At 52nd and Roosevelt Way NE, bar fights tend to end up out into the street, mostly on Fridays and Saturday evenings. They can be really brutal so just be careful, don't get involved, and call the police right away if you see something. Some of the fights have been really terrible so try to avoid this section at night if you can help it.
In general, don't travel down the alleys, and it's best to travel with a friend if you are not local to the area.
Public internet access is hard to find on the UW campus — although it has blanket wireless coverage, a university login is required. Consider trying the thicket of coffee shops surrounding the campus or the Seattle Public Library branch on Roosevelt Way at NE 50th St.