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, Wedgwood to the northeast, 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.
Metro Transit bus routes 71, 72, 73, and 74 offer express service between the U-District and downtown. The transfer point at Campus Parkway and University Way connects to numerous other services. The campus has excellent and wide-ranging commuter bus service, though most of the runs to the distant suburbs do not run on weekends or holidays.
The UW campus has a number of notable museums and buildings which are open to the public.
- Suzzallo Library, at Red Square, ☎ . 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 plaza fills with students between classes or just hanging out.
- The Quad (Liberal Arts Quadrangle). Surrounded by the liberal arts buildings, the Quad turns a wonderful shade of pink in the 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, ☎ . Daily 10AM-5PM, first Thu of each month 10AM-8PM. A natural history museum with lots of Northwest Indian artifacts and dinosaur. 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, ☎ , fax: +1 206 685-3123, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 all 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), ☎ . 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.
- 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.
- Burke Gilman Trail. Stay to the right on this relatively flat paved bike/pedestrian path.
- U-District Farmer's Market, NE 50th St and University Way NE. Sa. Local produce, cheeses and other products can be found here.
- Agua Verde Paddle Club, 1303 NE Boat St. Hourly kayak rentals from Portage Bay providing access to the Arboreteum, Lake Washington and Lake Union.
- 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.
- University Heights Center for the Community, 5031 University Way NE (five blocks from UW), ☎ . 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.
- 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.
- Bhangra / Bollywood dance with Mollie lessons, 4332 University Ave NE (rear entrance in alley, next to University Bookstore.), ☎ . Tuesdays, Wednesdays. Bhangra / Bollywood dance classes. Beginner and advanced. $18.
- 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."
- Gargoyles Statuary, 4550 University Way NE. A unique shopping experience for Gothic or history buffs. This store is replete with atmosphere. 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. It has one of the most creative product displays in the area. You'll find a unique gift to suit almost any budget.
- Magus Books, 1408 NE 42nd St, ☎ . 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. One of the largest and best bookstores in the country, with frequent authors' readings. Also the place to get UW Husky goods.
- University Village (past 25th Ave on the east side of campus). A slightly more upscale shopping atmosphere than the Ave. You can find branches of many well-known chains, like the Apple Store and the QFC supermarket.
- Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way NE. Su-Th 11AM-midnight, M-W 11AM-11PM. Has a large selection of world films, independent films, and anime. Print out one of these coupons before you visit. 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 Street (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, there are plenty of inexpensive places to eat in the U-District.
- Agua Verde, 1303 NE Boat St (at 15th Ave NE, near the water), ☎ . 11AM-9PM daily, to-go window open M-F 7:30AM-2:30PM. 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.
- Aladdin Gyrocery, 4139 University Way NE (between NE 41st and 42nd Sts), ☎ . 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.
- Araya's Vegetarian Place, 1121 NE 45th St (between 11th and 12th Aves NE), ☎ . M-Th 11:30AM-9PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-10PM. This decent vegan Thai food restaurant features a reasonably priced buffet from 11AM to 3:30PM. Tip: on a nice day, you can order the buffet to-go and have a picnic Gasworks Park, although it is a long walk.
- Cedars, 4759 Brooklyn Ave NE (at NE 50th St), ☎ , fax: +1 206 524-4199. M-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Cedars shares an Indian menu with Taste of India (they have the same owners) and includes Mediterranean dishes as well.
- Chaco Canyon Cafe, 4757 12th Ave NE (at NE 50th St), ☎ . 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), ☎ . 11AM-11PM daily. Indian and Pakistani restaurant with the usual dishes. Entrees $8-$15.
- Hillside Quickie's, 4106 Brooklyn Ave NE (at NE 41st St), ☎ . M-F 11AM-9PM, Sa noon-9PM. Vegan sandwich shop using tempeh and tofu. The Jerk-influenced sandwiches are excellent.
- Jewel of India, 4735 University Way NE (between NE 47th and 50th Sts), ☎ . 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
- Kiku Tempura House, 5018 University Way NE (between NE 50th and 52nd Sts), ☎ . 11AM-10PM daily. Kiku is possibly the oldest Japanese restaurant on the Ave with over 20 years of history. The owners have changed many times over the years, but they've basically kept the same menu from the beginning with new dishes. Expect good portions and reasonable prices but it can be crowded during meal rushes.
- My Sweet Lord Cafe, 5521 University Way NE (between NE 55th and 56th Sts), ☎ . W-Sa 7:30PM-11PM, Su noon-3PM. Hare Krishna restaurant that is by donation only.
- Pam's Kitchen, 5000 University Way NE (at NE 50th St), ☎ . Su-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. Awesome Caribbean food. The roti bread is delicious.
- Pho Thy Thy, 4129 University Way NE (between NE 41st and 42nd Sts), ☎ . 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.
- Pizza Pi, 5500 University Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☎ . Tu-F 4PM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-9PM. This is Seattle's only all-vegan pizza joint.
- Saigon Deli, 4142 Brooklyn Ave NE #105 (at NE 42nd St), ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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.
- Shalimar, 4214 University Way NE (at NE 42nd St), ☎ . 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.
- Taste of India, 5517 Roosevelt Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☎ , 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).
- Thai Tom, 4543 University Way NE (between NE 45th and 47th Sts), ☎ . 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.
- Wayward Vegan Cafe, 5253 University Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☎ . 9AM-9PM daily. Vegan, worker owned, collectively run cafe. Breakfast entrees $6-9, lunch entrees $8-10, dinner entrees $11-15.
Wedgwood is home to several neighborhood gems, including the landmark Wedgwood Broiler, the Wedgwood Ale House (locally owned, with great beer and delicious, made from scratch pub food), and the Fiddlers Inn (with a cabinlike ambiance, fantastic beer on tap, and an eclectic menu of food ranging from vegetarian burritos to some great pizza). Cafe Javasti offers gourmet coffee drinks, homemade baked goods, and crepes, and Cafe Van Gogh serves espresso drinks, wine and gelato.
- Wedgwood Broiler, 8230 35th Ave NE (between NE 82nd and 84th Sts), ☎ . M-Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11AM-10PM; bar/lounge open later. The Wedgwood Broiler offers two distinct microcosms. The bar/lounge includes a healthy mix of patrons of varying ages and trivia nights while the main restaurant area is a considerably more grim affair with geriatric customers lurking in a gloomy, windowless room. Nevermind the aesthetics though. The food here is excellent, including a French dip with some of the best au jus ever created, and a chicken caesar salad with no shortage of chicken. Robust flavors and filling, heavy dishes mean that the non-active should steer clear!
- Grateful Bread Bakery & Cafe, 7001 35th Ave NE (at NE 70th St), ☎ . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa 7:30AM-6PM, Su 8AM-6PM. Grateful Bread is a bakery and cafe that offers handmade bread and pastries, as well as espresso and panini sandwiches. It is predominantly a family spot, especially during the period right before and after school. It is locally owned and has a very casual atmosphere.
Bars and taverns
- Pizza A Mart, 5026 University Way NE, ☎ . 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 Street (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.
- Lounjin, 4527 University Way NE, ☎ . M-W 3PM-9PM, Th-F 3PM-10PM, Sa 1PM-6PM. This place has a vibe like non-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 out classy. Lounjin serves Zoka coffee and aims to please with 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), ☎ . 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), ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ , toll-free: , fax: +1 206 528-0898, e-mail: email@example.com. A classic 1915 Georgian Colonial home on a hill. Elegant gardens, personalized service, and delicious breakfasts. $104-$204.
- Hotel Deca, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, toll-free: . 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.
- University Inn, 4140 Roosevelt Way NE, toll-free: . 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.
- University View House, 5012 21st Ave NE, ☎ . 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.
- The Watertown Hotel, 4242 Roosevelt Way NE, toll-free: . 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.
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.