Seattle/Queen Anne-South Lake Union
Northwest of Downtown Seattle, Queen Anne is a hilly residential neighborhood with marvelous views of the city's skyline. Magnolia, a wealthy residential neighborhood, sits on a peninsula west of Queen Anne, separated from Queen Anne by Interbay, an unexpected commercial and industrial strip in the valley between the two hilly neighborhoods.
Seattle Center, at the southern base of Queen Anne Hill, was originally built to host the 1962 World's Fair. Today, Seattle Center is a park-like facility surrounded by many of Seattle's finest event venues and museums, as well as two notable survivors from the World's Fair: the Monorail and the Space Needle, both of which have become icons of the city.
Directly north of Downtown is South Lake Union, a formerly industrial neighborhood as well as one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Seattle. Recent years have brought a wave of gentrification, and today South Lake Union is home to Amazon.com's new headquarters and a range of biotech organizations, a lot of new housing developments, and a new streetcar line.
Seattle Center and South Lake Union lie within easy walking or bicycling distance of Downtown. Climbing up Queen Anne Hill, on the other hand, is more of a workout. Aurora Avenue (SR-99) is a highway that divides Seattle Center and South Lake Union and can only be crossed in a few spots.
Note that Queen Anne Avenue is the dividing line between the "North" and the "West" roads. So don't be surprised if you cross 1st Avenue N, and then shortly thereafter find yourself crossing 1st Avenue W without having changed direction!
Due to its geography, Queen Anne Hill can be difficult to navigate for the unfamiliar, especially by car. There are two simple ways to get to the center of the neighborhood: The first is via Queen Anne Avenue from the south (though take note: Queen Anne Avenue traffic is south-only when south of Roy Street). The second is by 3rd Avenue W from the north side, near Seattle Pacific University. Approaching by Dexter Avenue, Gilman Avenue, W Dravus Street or any of the numerous side streets should not be attempted unless you have time to kill.
Denny Way runs along the south side of Seattle Center. Parking is plentiful, albeit often expensive.
Dexter, Westlake, Fairview, and Eastlake Avenues pass through South Lake Union. Mercer Street is the primary east-west route and most convenient access from I-5, although it's amongst the most traffic-congested streets in the city.
To access Magnolia, from the north take Emerson Street Bridge over 15th Avenue towards the Fisherman's Terminal. From the south, take 15th Avenue W (Elliott), exiting at the Magnolia Bridge.
By public transit
- King County Metro. Queen Anne is served mainly by bus routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 13, and the RapidRide D line, all of which which make stops convenient to the Seattle Center. South Lake Union is served by bus routes 26 and 28 on Dexter Avenue, while Fairfax Avenue is served on weekdays and Saturdays during the day by route 70 and on evenings and Sundays by routes 71, 72, and 73. Magnolia is served by the relatively infrequent 24 and 33, with 33 serving Discovery Park. See the Metro Transit website for schedules and maps.
- Seattle Center Monorail. The monorail makes a direct connection between Westlake Center in Downtown to the Seattle Center. The 1962 vintage Alweg monorail is perfectly good transportation and kind of cool, but it doesn't go anywhere else. One-way $2.25 adults, $1 seniors/youth, no transfers or OCRA cards accepted.
- South Lake Union Streetcar. M-Th 6AM-9PM, F Sa 6AM-11PM, Su 10AM-7PM, all at 15 minute intervals. South Lake Union is served by the South Lake Union Streetcar, which runs from the Westlake Center in Downtown to the south shore of Lake Union. The streetcar was initially announced as the "South Lake Union Trolley" until the developer realized the unfortunate acronym, which is still used by many residents. Local coffee shop Inner Chapters on Fairview Avenue sells T-shirts that say, "Ride the S.L.U.T.". $2.25 adults, $1 seniors, $1.50 youth.
- Discovery Park, 3801 W Government Way, ☎ . The highest point in the city, this can be thought of as Seattle's unofficial central park given its huge, somewhat secluded nature, with a number of trails that meander through the green forests down to the lighthouse at the beach. The park also contains wildlife you don't typically find in a large city. A visitors' center with information about the wildlife living in the park as well as the best trails to hike is located in the center of the park.
- Kerry Park, 211 W Highland Dr, ☎ . A photographer's paradise, this is perhaps the most obvious spectacle in Queen Anne. This park affords the quintessential view of Downtown Seattle with the Space Needle in the foreground, and (depending on the weather) Mount Rainier and the Cascades, as well as across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island.
South Lake Union
- Lake Union Park (on the Lake Union Waterfront). A recently opened park, home to the Center for Wooden Boats and the Museum of History and Industry.
- The Center for Wooden Boats, 1010 Valley St, ☎ . Opens daily at 10AM except Mondays November through mid-April; closing hours vary by season. Free boat sails Sunday 10AM (signup), 11AM-3PM (cruise). An intriguing museum where you can learn about maritime culture and experience sailing traditional wooden boats. The center's programs allow you to get a hands-on feel, putting in control of crafting and sailing your own wooden craft. On Sundays, rain or shine, you can get a free boat ride on a classic wooden boat around the lake for an hour. At times artist-in-residence Saaduuts leads programs. Free.
- Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), 860 Terry Ave. N, ☎ . Daily 10AM–5PM, Thursdays until 8PM. The museum focuses on the history of Seattle and the greater Puget Sound region, with exhibitions focusing on the maritime history of the city and the rise of the region's technology industry, as well as a set of changing exhibits. $17 adults, $12 seniors, children under 14 free; always free the first Thursday of the month.
- Northwest Seaport/Maritime Heritage Center, 1002 Valley St (in Lake Union Park), ☎ . Home to a number of historic ships, including a schooner, a tugboat, a fireboat, a lightship, and a steamer, along with several others.
- South Lake Union Discovery Center, 101 Westlake Ave N, ☎ . 11AM-6PM daily. An introduction to the neighborhood, with displays explaining the history of South Lake Union. There is also a model of the whole neighborhood in the building.
- Public Art at Amazon.com Headquarters, 426 Terry Ave N. While the Amazon.com buildings are not open to the public, there are several signed outdoor art pieces around the complex and other nearby buildings, and you can hob-nob with "blue badges" at local restaurants and coffee shops. Seattle Architecture Foundation also leads guided walking tours.
- Space Needle, 400 Broad St. M-Th 10AM-9:30PM, F-Sa 9:30AM-11:30PM, Su 9:30AM-9:30PM. The iconic Seattle landmark, built for the 1962 World's Fair and still a wildly popular attraction for visitors. The view is spectacular on a clear day when the sun sets, when Downtown Seattle contrasts beautifully with the ocean to the west and the snow-capped mountains in every other direction. You can get a comparably good view for free from Bhy Kracke Park (pronounced "By Crackie") atop Queen Anne Hill. If you have reservations to the revolving restaurant at the top, called Sky City, the elevator ride is free. Sky City is surprisingly good given its touristy setting, and a three-course brunch adds $45.95 (tax and gratuity not included) to the cost of going up the tower. The restaurant completes one revolution per 45 minutes as you eat. $21 adults, $19 seniors, $13 ages 4-12, under 4 free; tickets are $2 less if you buy them online in advance. Day/night tickets, which allow you to visit twice within 24 hours, are available.
- Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave N, ☎ , fax: +1 206 443-3631, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM–6PM daily. An interactive science museum featuring permanent and temporary exhibits, a butterfly atrium, IMAX theater, planetarium, and laser shows. General exhibits: $10 adults, $8.50 seniors, $7 children; exhibits + IMAX: $15 adults, $13.50 seniors, $12 children.
- Experience Music Project, 325 5th Ave N, ☎ , fax: +1 206 443-3631, e-mail: email@example.com. Memorial Day-Labor Day: 10AM-7PM daily; Labor Day-Memorial Day: 10AM-5PM daily. A rock n' roll museum designed by Frank Gehry with exhibits on Seattle musicians as well as a special exhibit dedicated to Jimi Hendrix. There are many interactive exhibits, but don't expect to get a turn without a long wait. $18 adults ($15 if purchased online), $15 seniors/military, $12 youth/students, children 5 and under free; free admission 5PM-8PM on the first Thursday of the month from Labor Day-Memorial Day. This museum is tied to the Science Fiction Museum; the admission fee includes both.
- The Children's Museum, Seattle, 200 2nd Ave N. M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM. An independent non-profit museum which hosts popular traveling exhibits and features permanent exhibits and programs geared towards children. General exhibits: $7.50, $6.50 seniors, children under 1 free; no adults admitted without a child.
- Chihuly Garden and Glass, 305 Harrison St, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Th 10AM–10PM, Fr-Su 10AM-11PM; last ticket sold one hour prior to closing. This museum provides a look at the inspiration and influences that inform the career of artist Dale Chihuly. The on-site exhibition hall contains eight galleries and three drawing walls, offering visitors a comprehensive look at Chihuly’s significant series of work. The centerpiece of the museum is a glasshouse with a suspended 1,400-piece, 100-foot-long sculpture. Also on the grounds is a lush garden, which serves as a backdrop for four monumental sculptures and other installations. $19 adults, $17 seniors, $12 children, children 3 and under free..
- Bite of Seattle, Seattle Center. Mid-late July. Part of the Seafair festivities.
- Bumbershoot, Seattle Center. Early Sep. A music and arts festival featuring dozens of local and world-class musical acts.
- Seattle Center WinterFest, Seattle Center. Various activities/events during the holidays such the WinterFest Ice rink (skate rental available for fee), Winter Train & Village, ice sculpting displays and other events. Runs from late November to late December/early January (check website for exact schedule and times).
- Northwest Folklife Festival. Memorial Day weekend (end of May). A more low-key and global version of Bumbershoot. free ($10 donation suggested).
- Easy Street Records, 20 Mercer St, ☎ . M 9AM-midnight, Tu-Sa 9AM-11PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Large record store featuring many local artists and a large vinyl selection.
- REI, 222 Yale Ave N, ☎ . Seattle is one of the best cities in the world to buy high-quality secondhand outdoors equipment — good to know, because brand new equipment is often really expensive. REI's flagship store in Seattle has a twice-yearly Garage Sale clearance event and a clearance section downstairs where you can often find boots, down sleeping bags, tents, etc. with easily repairable damage at a fraction of the cost.
There are a number of food carts that typically cater to office workers at the South Lake Union complex. They generally open for lunch on weekdays, with tenants changing each day.
- Blue Moon Burgers, 920 Republican St.
- Mad Pizza, 1263 Thomas St, ☎ . 11AM-10PM.
- Dick's Drive In, 500 Queen Anne Ave N.
- The 5-Spot, 1502 Queen Anne Ave N, ☎ . Daily 8:30AM—midnight, closed Sa-Su 3PM-5PM. A busy diner with an ever-changing theme-based menu and decor to match. Sometimes it's New York City, sometimes Hawaii. The food is good and reasonable priced, but be prepared to wait during busy periods, especially weekend brunch.
- Bamboo Garden, 364 Roy St. Serves up delicious food from the rich tradition of Chinese vegetarian cooking. With a menu that boasts over 120 items, there's a lot to choose from, and the servings are generous. Also one of the few certified Kosher restaurants in Seattle.
- Jillian's Billiards on Lake Union, 731 Westlake Ave N, ☎ . American cuisine and prime sports viewing. Over 30 billiard tables, ping pong, darts, an extensive arcade room as well as the latest video game systems.
- Phuket, 517 Queen Anne Ave N, ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F 11:30AM-10:30PM, Sa 12:30PM-10:30PM, Su 12:30PM-9:30PM. A cozy and well-appointed Thai restaurant across from Dick's. It can get very crowded, especially during events at Key Arena. The menu is not as extensive as in some other Thai restaurants, but has ample selections to choose from. Try the green papaya salad or the Panang curry with salmon.
- Lunchbox Laboratory, 1253 Thomas St (across from REI). Previously the Southlake Bar and Grill.
Queen Anne is a relatively upscale neighborhood, and generally the restaurants rise to the occasion.
- Canlis, 2576 Aurora Ave N, ☎ . 5:30PM-close. Great high-end restaurant with a wonderful view overlooking Lake Union and Queen Ann Hill. Live piano music. Best to make reservations well in advance (a week or two ahead) and dress well. $150.
True to Seattle form, you need never go more than a few blocks without stumbling into a coffee shop. At the corner of Queen Anne Ave N and Boston St, for example, there is a Caffe Ladro, a tea shop called The Teacup, and a Starbucks.
- Caffe Fiore, 224 W Galer St (W Galer Ave at 3rd Avenue W). Daily until 7PM. An organic coffeeshop three blocks north of Kerry Park, offering a true experience of Seattle coffee house culture: good local art on display that changes on the first day of every month, consistently excellent coffee, environmental consciousness to a fault (the straws are compostable), and neighborly vitality that's easy to witness but hard to describe. Handsome baristas remember the orders of regular patrons, and most everyone you see is a regular patron. The coffee is rich, aromatic, and consistently excellent. Outdoor seating for sunny summer days. The most common order is a short latte, and for good reason.
- El Diablo Coffee Company, 1811 Queen Anne Ave N (mid-block between Blaine and Howe.). Attached to an independent bookstore, this two-story perennial student favorite features interesting (if loud) murals that style the upper and lower sections into "Heaven" and "Hell". Different from the Seattle norm, they offer coffee in the Cuban style; the Cafe Cubano, a strong sugared espresso, is highly recommended and a good deal. The most important aspect of all Cuban espresso varieties is that they are sweetened while the espresso is being brewed. There is no such thing as "unsweetened" Cuban coffee. Also served are fresh lemonade, bottled beer, and excellent cakes. Courtyard seating allows for people-watching on nice days.
- Top Pot Doughnuts, 325 W Galer St (At 4th Ave W), ☎ . Lodged in a former neighborhood grocery, this place offers "hand-forged" doughnuts, coffee, juice, and the like. Free wireless available.
- Macrina Bakery, 615 W Mcgraw St (At 6th Ave W). A premier local bakery whose chef was a finalist for a 2007 James Beard Award. Selection changes seasonally and daily, but there's always something delicious on offer. An excellent choice for a breakfast or light lunch; cafe-style seating encourages you to sit down and stay a while. Espresso can be inconsistent, if you're picky, grab food to go and walk elsewhere for coffee.
If you're looking for something to balance out all that caffeine as a stimulant, Lower Queen Anne fits the bill.
- Chopstix, 11 Roy St, ☎ . Tu-W 5PM-midnight, Th-F 5PM-2AM, Sa 6PM-2AM. A 'dueling piano' bar on lower Queen Anne, Chopstix is a fun, lively place where two grand pianos occupy center stage. There are plenty of sing-along opportunities and requests are taken (tipping helps). Dinner available until 10PM. $7 cover charge F-Sa.
- Ozzie's, 105 W Mercer St, ☎ . 8AM-2AM daily. Karaoke is the name of the game at Ozzie's and is available every night starting at 9PM.
- Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge, 601 Queen Anne Avenue North, ☎ . Daily 8AM-2AM. Excellent restaurant and lounge featuring New Orleans-style food and drink that was listed as a 2012 Travelers Choice Awards winner for one of America's best restaurants and one of the best happy hours in the USA by CNBC survey (great beignets). Happy hour every day from 4PM to 6PM and 10PM to 1AM with a breakfast happy hour from Monday to Friday from 8AM to 11AM.
Much of this area is residential or light commercial, with lodgings few and far between; Downtown offers far more options. However, the Seattle Center area hosts several smaller hotels.
- Comfort Suites Downtown - Seattle Center, 601 Roy St, ☎ .
- Holiday Inn, 211 Dexter Ave N, ☎ , fax: +1 206-728-2779.
- Homewood Suites by Hilton Seattle, 206 Western Ave W, ☎ . All suite hotel with views of Elliott Bay, 4 blocks from Seattle Center and the Space Needle, 6 blocks from the Olympic Sculpture Park.
- Inn at Queen Anne, 505 1st Ave N, ☎ .
- MarQueen Hotel, 600 Queen Anne Ave N. Boutique lodging accommodations.
- The Mediterranean, 425 Queen Anne Ave N, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 206 428-4699.
- The Maxwell Hotel, 300 Roy St (between Nob Hill and Third Ave), toll-free: . Unique dog and earth-friendly lodging with a business center, free parking, and views of the Space Needle.
- Travelodge Seattle Center, 200 6th Ave N, ☎ . Two blocks east of the Space Needle and monorail terminal, adjacent to Belltown. About a mile's walk (or a few minutes on the monorail) from the downtown core.
- Queen Anne Chiropractic Center, 1905 Queen Anne Avenue North (across from Metropolitan Market on top of Queen Anne Hill), ☎ . M-W-F 8-7 Tu-Th 10-6 Sa 9-12.
Nearly all coffee shops offer wi-fi. Seattle Public Library branches have wi-fi and internet terminals; you'll need a library card, or if you lack one, ask at the front desk for a one-day login.
- Queen Anne Branch, 400 W Garfield St (at 4th Ave W). M-Tu 1PM-8PM, W-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, closed Su.
- Magnolia Branch, 2801 34th Ave W (at W Armour St). M-Tu 1PM-8PM, W-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, closed Su.