Packed between Elliott Bay, Pioneer Square, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle unsurprisingly contains the city's business district and a number of large retailers. Also in downtown are the Central Library, the Paramount Theater, Pike Place Market, and several local and federal government administration buildings.
Getting in by car is not recommended, because of congestion and parking problems, but possible. These are the main ways for getting into Downtown.
- From I-5 northbound, take either exit 164 to James or Madison St, or take the left exit 165 to Seneca St.
- From I-5 southbound, take either 166 (Stewart St), 165B (Union St) or 165A (James St)
- From SR-99 northbound, take the exit onto Seneca St.
- From SR-99 southbound exit onto Wall St then turn left onto 5th or 2nd Ave.
- From I-90 from the eastside, continue straight onto the exit 4th Ave S, then turn left toward downtown: OR exit onto I-5 north and follow the I-5 northbound directions.
- From WA-520 from the eastside, exit onto I-5 south and follow the I-5 southbound directions.
Washington State Ferries offer service from the Seattle pier (at 801 Alaskan Way) to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton: this is a very fun and scenic ride.
By public transit
- King County Metro operates bus routes throughout Seattle, connecting downtown to outlying neighborhoods. Fares are $2.50 at rush hours and $2.25 all other times of the day.
- Sound Transit provides express bus service from the outlying suburbs and communities of the Seattle Area such as Bellevue, Everett, and Tacoma.
- In addition to buses, Sound Transit also operates the Link Light Rail line running south to the airport, Tukwila and SeaTac,
- Sounder, a commuter rail service with lines running south to Tacoma and north to Everett. The Sounder's terminal is the King Street Station at the southern end of downtown.
By water taxi
- 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. Adults ORCA fare $3.50, Cash or ticket fare$4.00, Seniors (65 ) $1.75 Youth (6-18) ORCA Youth Card fare $2.75 -Cash or ticket fare $4.00 - Children (5 and under) Free.
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.
By public transit
Downtown is the hub of Seattle's public transit system, and a variety of modes serve the district. Metro Transit serves downtown very well, both on the surface and in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel running between the King Street Station (near Qwest Field and Safeco Field) at the southern end and Westlake Center and the convention center at the northern end. Fares are $2.25 ($2.50 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.
- The South Lake Union Streetcar connects the Westlake Center in north downtown to the nearby neighborhood of South Lake Union just to the north. Fare is $1.75 for adults and $0.50 for seniors/youth.
- The Seattle Center Monorail makes a direct connection between Westlake Center and the Seattle Center north of downtown, which is home to the Space Needle. Round-trip fares are $4.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors & for youth.
- Argosy Cruises, 1101 Alaskan Way, Pier 55 Seattle, WA 98101. Various, harbor cruises vary by season.. The boating company also holds special dinner & sightseeing cruise events. But the most common tour visitors take is the hour-long journey on Elliott Bay, cruising right to the downtown limits to have you a throughout view of Seattle, not just the Space Needle but the freight harbor too. Prices are various according to your itinerary ($23.75 for harbor cruise).
- Bay Pavilion on Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way (On the waterfront below Pike Place Market), ☎ , fax: +1 206 343-9173. A "touristy" destination, with shops, restaurants, and a game arcade and carousel for kids.
- Benaroya Hall, 200 University St (at 2nd Ave), ☎ . Free tours offered Tu, F at noon and 1PM. An aesthetically and acoustically beautiful new concert hall. Tours available.
- Columbia Center, 701 5th Ave (at Columbia St), ☎ . Open every day 10:00AM-8:00PM (closed on New Years Day, Memorial Day,4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). The second tallest building on the West Coast and the tallest public viewing on the West Coast at 932 feet (284.2 meters). Great views from the top and more than 330 feet taller than the Space Needle with a view some people claim is better than the Space Needle. It has a 73rd floor observation deck and as of July 1, 2013 it offers a full 360 degree panoramic view. . This building isn't well known as a tourist attraction, so there is usually little to no line to get to the top. Tickets available for purchase online or on 73rd floor. There is a new cafe in the observation deck serving sandwiches and drinks and a food court at the bottom of the Columbia Center. $12.50 adults, $9 students, seniors and military with ID and kids 6 to 12..
- Pike Place Market, 1501 Pike Place (1st and Pike, above the waterfront). Pike Place level: M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Down Under level: 11AM-5PM daily. Pike Place Market is not entirely indoors, but nearly. It is comprised of dozens of little shops tucked into a few square blocks downtown, on multiple levels. If you hate shopping you still might like this place, with its quirky atmosphere (including the famous seafood shop where the staff throw a fish from one end to the other). As the weather gets warmer, more artisans set up booths to sell photographs, glass, ceramics, and fresh flowers. Several farmers come to sell their produce, and a vast amount of tiny hole-in-the-wall places offer all kinds of cuisine (French, Russian, Mexican, seafood chowder, etc...) It is within walking distance of the NCL Cruiseline dock...good if you want to walk from the boat, but making the market rather crowded when their boats are in harbor. Hours are shortest on Sunday: only 11AM-5PM. Look for big blond Johnny Hahn on his portable piano, or one of the other regular street musicians on a more conventional street instrument. Leave the more trafficked areas behind and go downstairs into the Down Under area to explore the creepy, dusty shops. The weird, cramped Parrot Store even further downstairs (on 1st Avenue) is worth the $0.50 admission if you like parrots. Do not miss the Post Alley, a hidden gem filled with gourmet restaurants and unique souvenir shops.
- Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way (on Pier 59 on the Waterfront), ☎ . exhibits open 9:30AM-6PM, last admission at 5PM. Showcasing native fish and mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Among the highlights are the Windows on Washington (WOW) exhibit, two touch tanks featuring animals of the inland sea and outer coast, a display of two giant pacific octopuses, gill sharks, Pacific coral reefs, a display of local birds as well as Harbor Seals, Great Northern Fur Seals, and Sea Otters. Adults $17, children (4-12) $11, children 3 or under free.
- Seattle Art Museum, 100 University St (at 1st Ave), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W,Sa-Su 10AM-5PM, Th-F 10AM-9PM, closed M-Tu. The museum's recent physical expansion, coupled with an aggressive campaign to expand the collection, now displays an good overview assortment of art from around the world. Though the permanent exhibitions only occasionally delve deeply into a specific subject (such as the enormous variety of pieces in the porcelain room), extensive special exhibitions fill the gap. Suggested admission: $19.50/adult, $17.50/senior/military, $2.50/students/youth, children 12 and under free. Admission is free for all on the first Thursday of the month.
- Seattle Bug Safari, 1501 Western Ave, Suite 304, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M 11AM–6PM, Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su closed. A bug zoo and a gift shop. Adults (13-64) $8, children (3-12) $6, seniors/military/college students $7, toddlers (0-2) free.
- Seattle Central Library, 1000 4th Ave, ☎ . M-Th 10AM-8AM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. A dramatic glass and steel structure in the heart of downtown Seattle, designed by Rem Koolhaas. This is not an average public library and has become a tourist destination in its own right. A popular way to experience the unique architecture of the building is to take an elevator to the 10th floor, the highest observation deck. From here you can walk down to the main floor through the Book Spiral; the core of the structure which organizes the library's books in one continuous path of uninterrupted Dewey Decimal progression. Free.
- Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Pl. Major convention center, straddling the I-5 freeway on the east side of Downtown.
- Tilikum Place Park, 5th & Cedar. Home to the famous statue of Chief Seattle. Sit in the park in the 5 Point Cafe's outdoor seating and enjoy views of the Space Needle, and watch the monorail go by.
- The Seattle Great Wheel (Ferris wheel), 1301 Alaskan Way, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 10AM-11PM, Fr-Sa 10AM-12 Midnight.. A 175 feet tall Ferris wheel with 42 gondolas each holding up to 8 people. The wheel also extends over 40 over the pier into Elliot Bay. Age 4-11 $8.50, Age 13+ $13, VIP $50.
- SceneInSeattle Fine Art Tours. This is a tour for people who aren't in town for "Art Walk" but still want to know about what is happening in Seattle's art scene. It was started by a local gallery and is headed by a curator or gallery owner. You walk through the "West Edge" also known as the Museum District galleries and learn about Seattle's art history, up-and-coming artists, scandals, and public works. It is a lovely insiders view about makes it a lot easier to find the galleries which can be hidden away. They also tour other neighborhoods like the "East Edge" of Pioneer Square.
- Gameworks, 1511 7th Ave (Next to Regal Cinema), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-midnight, F 11AM-1AM, Sa 10AM-1AM, Su 10AM-midnight. Gameworks is a chain gaming store for people to have fun. Doesn't matter if you are a teenager or an adult, this is a great place to release the stress and enjoy all types of video games. There are variety of games. World Sports Grille is the restaurant & bar inside that serves American food.
- VAIN, 2018 1st Ave (2 blocks north of Pike Place Market), ☎ . Open late most evenings check website for daily hours. VAIN now occupies the home of the infamous Vogue nightclub. Vain is a community space, boutique and hair salon. The upper two floors are 20 working art studios. They have an active arts calendar and host other cultural events and fundraisers. Know for supporting "alternative visions of beauty" you can expect to find an 8 year old getting their first mohawk along side a 68 year old having a conservative bob trimmed up. $15-$65.
Pick up some bread, cheese, sausage and smoked fish from the shops in Pike Place Market and have a picnic on the grass at the north end of the Market, or get a cup of coffee and sit at a table on the sidewalk.
- The 5 Point Cafe, 415 Cedar St (at 5th Ave & Cedar St, adjacent to Tilikum Place Park), ☎ . 24 hours. Seattle's oldest restaurant, serving huge portions of American comfort food since 1929. The full menu is served 24 hours every day. Full bar with stiff drinks. Over 25 local beers and liquors. Great jukebox and an eclectic mix of regulars and locals, tourists, politicians, young hipsters, freaks and grouchy old men. Free wifi. Outdoor seating. A true piece of Seattle history not to be missed. $10.
- Cyber Dogs, 909 Pike St (in the convention center at the corner of Pike and 9th, across from the Express Lanes Onramp), ☎ . 11AM-midnight daily. Serves superb and delicious vegetarian and vegan dogs, coffee, juice and beer. Internet access available. $4-8.
- Ivar's Acres of Clams, 1001 Alaskan Way (on the waterfront). Smoked salmon plate-lunch and fish-n-chips served outdoors at a scenic downtown waterfront location. Ordering at the walk-up counter outside is inexpensive.Please do not feed ducks and seagulls as human food is harmful for birds! Good food, but pretty touristy. $7.
- Jack's Fish Spot, 1514 Pike Place (in Pike Place Market). lunch. A good place to get dungeness crabs in Seattle. If you have a kitchen, buy them live and cook them yourself.
- Nordstrom Cafe, 500 Pine St (on the 4th floor of the Nordstrom store). lunch, dinner. $10.
- Piroshky Piroshky, 1908 Pike Place (on the east side of the market), ☎ . May-Sep M-F 7:30AM-6:30PM, Sa-Su 7:30AM-7:30PM, Oct-Apr 8AM-6:30PM daily. A very popular eatery in Pike Place Market, specializing in those same Russian pastries that make up their name. They have many varieties, both savory and sweet from which to choose. The smoked salmon, the cheese, onion & garlic roll and the apple cinnamon roll are all excellent. $3-5.
- Italian Family Pizza, 1206 First Ave, ☎ 206-538-0040. Very Good East Coast style pizza restaurant operated by East Coast transplants with very good pizza at reasonable prices.
- Café Bengodi, 700 1st Avenue (at Cherry St.), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. daily 11:00am to 10pm. A cramped and friendly restaurant with well-made Italian dishes. Part of the Seattle's Little Italy group.
- Campagne Restaurant, 86 Pine St. Country cuisine in an urban setting brings the joys of coastal France to Seattle.
- Mama's Mexican Kitchen, 2234 2nd Ave (in Belltown, between Blanchard and Bell). Plentiful portions of decent food and a fun, festive atmosphere. Don't miss out on the Elvis Room.
- Matt's in the Market, 94 Pike St, Ste. 32. Charming Market ambiance and tasty seafood selections make for a fine low-key dining experience at this lilliputian spot.
- McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, 1103 1st Ave, ☎ . Daily 11:30AM-11PM. Part of a chain, there's nothing unique to Seattle about the place, but the location is convenient and the food consistent.
- Palace Kitchen, 2030 5th Ave. Tom Douglas' upscale saloon is a hit any time of day.
- Wild Ginger, 1401 3rd Ave (at Union St, just north of Benaroya Hall). Asian fusion.
- Il Fornaio - Ristorante, 600 Pine Street (located in Level 1 Pacific Place), ☎ . Chain Italian restaurant that serves great pasta, soup, pizza, and grill with fresh ingredients and real Italian recipes. Environment is really comfortable inside the restaurant with Italian style interior and great street views of Downtown Seattle through the windows.
- Dahlia Lounge, 2001 4th Ave, ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Tom Douglas' premiere restaurant and, perhaps, one of Seattle's very finest. It is a very eclectic and creative restaurant. There is an emphasis on seafood that runs throughout the ever-changing menu with many Asian influences, too. The appetizers tend to outshine the entrees, so opt for making a meal by ordering one of each and leaving room for dessert (the freshly-fried doughnuts delivered in a paper sack are a bit incongruous, but deservedly popular).
- Le Pichet, 1933 1st Avenue. An excellent French bistro, in the heart of downtown. Try the roast chicken.
- Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 727 Pine St, ☎ . Tucked in the center of the downtown hotels. Side dishes served on a per-table basis, so make sure you can agree with your companions! Skip the happy hour.
- The Metropolitan Steakhouse, 820 2nd Ave (at Marion St.), ☎ . Caters to the expense-account set with its massive portions, classic steakhouse ambiance, and top-grade beef. $50.
- Purple Cafe & Wine Bar (Purple), 1225 4th Ave (at University St.), ☎ . M-Th 11AM-11PM, F 11AM-midnight, Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-11PM. Has an extensive wine list and some of Seattle's best food. Don't forget to try the salted caramels for dessert!
- Daily Grill, 629 Pike St (adjacent to the Sheraton), ☎ . 11AM-11PM, happy hour 3PM-6PM. At the corner between 6th and 7th ave, Daily Grill is a good option to go after movies or shopping. Daily Grill serves quality American food and has great interior when you step in. Definitely go during happy hour — appetizers start at $3.95.
- Elliott's Oyster House, 1201 Alaskan Way (between Ferry Terminal and Waterfront Park), ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, happy hour M-F 3PM-6PM. Seafood specialty restaurant that most famous for serving fresh oysters. In addition, the menu has options of various seafood to choose from, such as King Salmon, Sockeye, Dungeness Crab, King Crab, Yellowfin Ahi(a type of tuna), you name it. Happy Hour is affordable with chef's choice of fresh oysters on the half-shell starting at $0.75 each at 3PM, $1.25 each at 4PM, $1.75 each at 5PM, and other deals. The restaurant is located right by the dock and the view is fantastic during summer while sitting outside.
- Mistral Kitchen, 2020 Westlake Ave (corner of 8th and Westlake), ☎ . 11am-10pm. Mistral Kitchen is the embodiment of every type of restaurant Chef/Owner William Belickis loves to experience himself: a place you can pop into after work for a drink and a snack, but also the first place that comes to mind when your 20th Anniversary rolls around. $30.
- RN74, Joshua Green Building, 1433 4th Avenue (at Pike Street), ☎ . Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30AM-2:30PM Dinner: Monday-Thursday 5:30PM-10PM Friday & Saturday 5:30PM-10:30PM Wine Bar: Monday-Friday 11:30AM-Close Saturday 3PM-Close. The cuisine at RN74 aims to be a perfect complement to the wines — creative, modern, but simple interpretations of regional French cuisine punctuated with seasonal, fresh ingredients and bold flavors, all executed with a signature original twist.
Bars and taverns
- Belltown Pub, 2322 1st Avenue, ☎ . 11AM to 2AM daily. Very good local pub with happy hour every day from 4PM to 6:30PM and a late night happy hour from 10PM to 1AM Sunday through Thursday during which food options (good veggie burgers) from $4 to $7 and $1 off wells and draft beers and 4$ glasses of Cabernet and Pinot Grigio are available. Pool table, Foosball, shuffleboard with free play are located upstairs and multiple flat panel TVs are located throughout the bar as well. Listed as best local pub (Readers choice poll) for 2011 by Seattle Magazine.
- Cyclops, 2421 1st Ave (Belltown). Good, hip (but not ultra-hip) bar, and not a bad restaurant either. Interesting neo-retro decor. The Ace Hotel is upstairs. Excellent breakfast.
- The Owl N' Thistle, 808 Post Avenue (in Post Alley). A great Irish bar. A house band, nice regulars, and halibut burger to die for. Happy hour is 3-7, M-F.
- The Pink Door, 1919 Post Alley (at the Pike Place Market). Mon-Thu 11:30 am - 11:30 pm Fri-Sat 11:30 am - 1 am Sun 4 pm - 11 pm. Reasonably good Italian restaurant, but it's a better bar, with a rather romantic European market ambiance and a trellis-covered outdoor deck. Occasional cabaret-style live entertainment, no cover.
- Shorty's, 2222A 2nd Avenue. A variety of classic pinball games and honest hot dogs. Be sure to check out the Trophy Lounge hidden in the back.
- Tula's, 2214 2nd Ave (Belltown). Tula's is a good and affordable venue for local jazz. Cover charges range from $5 to $12.
- The Wildrose, 1021 Pike St. One of the country's oldest lesbian bars. A full bar, the 'Rose' also serves light meals and snacks. The requisite pool table is always waiting for the next challenger.
- Pike Brewery, 1415 1st Avenue (near the Pike Place Market). Great variety of beers (try the Kiltlifter) and good food too. Can be found in grocery stores and on tap at some bars.
- Bellino Coffee, 2421 2nd Ave, ☎ . European style coffee shop located in Belltown. The focus of the place is to make top notch espresso drinks. They have also created a comfortable place with nice chairs and outdoor seating.
- Local Color, 1606 Pike Place, ☎ . Serves Caffé Vita coffee in Pike Place's largest independent coffeehouse. Also an art gallery, with new art on the walls at the beginning of each month. The first Saturday of every month, holds an art opening from 6PM-9PM.
- Starbucks Store #1, 1912 Pike Place (in the Pike Place Market). Who would have thought, when this unassuming place opened in 1971, that it would give rise to a global empire? So get in line, order a latte (no different from anywhere else in the world), and ponder the vagaries of history. And check out the uncensored mermaid which acted as the original logo for the company.
If you are staying in Seattle, you are highly possible to find options downtown, as here is where most of the city's accommodations are offered.
- City Hostel Seattle, 2327 2nd Ave, ☎ , toll-free: . Warm friendly accommodation. Private room available. Free breakfast and Wi-fi. All rooms have murals painted by local artists. $25 dorms.
- Green Tortoise Hostel, 105b Pike St (right across the street from the famous Pike Place Market), ☎ , toll-free: . Has a view of the Puget Sound and the Market, 30 bunk rooms in the elegantly restored Elliot Hotel Building. Free internet stations and WiFi, free dinner 3 nights a week, and free breakfast every morning. The Green Tortoise is a Seattle backpacker institution that also runs festive low-budget bus tours to Mexico and Central America.
- Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street. A full service hotel in the heart of downtown.
- Seattle Oasis Vacation Rentals, 2414 1st Ave, ☎ . Multiple condo-style vacation rentals located downtown.
- Motif Seattle, 1415 Fifth Ave, ☎ , fax: +1 206 971-8100. Distinctive downtown hotel featuring modern lifestyle amenities, concierge, restaurants and lounges, meeting venues, business & fitness centers, and Seattle's largest rooftop dining patio - a unique Seattle Lodging experience.
- Alexis Hotel, 1007 1st Ave (near the Coleman ferry docks). This art-themed hotel has original works throughout the lobby and in the rooms. Furthermore, it sports a big old Dale Chihuly glass piece in the lobby.
- The Crowne Plaza Seattle Downtown, 1113 6th Ave, ☎ , toll-free: . Enjoy the view of the Space Needle out of the guest rooms. Also offers Port of Seattle cruise package as well as many other Seattle packages. Home to the Regatta Bar and Grill, with fresh seafood and prime meats.
- The Edgewater, Pier 67, 2411 Alaskan Way, ☎ , toll-free: . Near the Pike Place Market, right on the water, and famous for three things: you could at one time literally fish right out of your window, it was the site of a notorious Led Zeppelin incident, and the Beatles stayed here during their 1964 tour. Rooms either face the city with no great view other than the Space Needle, or face the water. These latter rooms enjoy the non-stop action of the ferries and cruise liners in the harbor. The restaurant is elegantly decorated with a few outdoor tables right over the water.
- The Fairmont Olympic, 411 University St, ☎ . The only hotel in the Northwest to win a five-diamond award. Pulls off grand and luxurious perfectly, is in the middle of downtown. The hotel can start at $450 peak season, other the $300's.
- Hotel 1000, 1000 1st Ave, ☎ . New high-tech, boutique style hotel in downtown
- Hotel Max, 620 Stewart St, toll-free: . In the heart of downtown, offers an artistic setting for both business and leisure travelers.
- Hotel Monaco Seattle, 1101 4th Ave, toll-free: . Funky Kimpton boutique hotel directly across the street from the W in the heart of the city.
- Inn at the Market Hotel, 86 Pine St. Centrally located in the historic Pike Place Market downtown, facing the waterfront and Elliott Bay. Short walk to Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall, Pioneer Square, Westlake Center, and lots of dining and shopping.
- Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle, 2125 Terry Ave, ☎ . Designed by Hirsch Bedner, AAA 4-Diamond award recipient hotel.
- Sheraton Seattle, 1400 6th Ave, ☎ . Immediately adjacent to the convention center.
- The Sorrento Hotel, 900 Madison St, toll-free: . This historic hotel has crowned the First Hill since 1908. It is a posh, Italinate, 7-story hotel with fine dining in the AAA - 4 diamond Hunt Club - For a classy night out before the "hopera".
- W Seattle, 1112 4th Ave, ☎ . For the terminally hip traveler. Decorated in a stunning palette of black, black, silver, cream, and black.
- The Westin Seattle, 1900 5th Ave, ☎ .
- Blake Island State Park (located in Puget Sound in the waters between Seattle and the Kitsap Peninsula). Argosy Cruises offers regular service from Pier 55 to this island state park visible from downtown that was the birthplace of Chief Seattle and still offers guests Native American style dinners and dancing.