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King County

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King County [dead link] is the largest county in Washington State by population, home to roughly 30% of the state's residents. It stretches from Puget Sound to the Cascade Range, encompassing the major cities of Seattle and Bellevue and their sprawling suburbs, as well as wide stretches of rural farmland and uninhabited mountain terrain.


Ships on Puget Sound with the Cascade Mountains
  • Seattle - The seat of King County and the Pacific Northwest's largest city, with an extensive range of attractions.

The rest of the county is described by its location relative to Seattle and Lake Washington.

North King County[edit]

Largely upscale suburbia, heavily residential.

East King County[edit]

Better known as the Eastside, this is the fastest growing region in the county.

South King County[edit]

Most visitors will only see the Sea-Tac Airport, in the city of SeaTac. (The airport's name came first.) Continuing south merges into Pierce County, soon reaching Tacoma.


The rural, sparsely distributed towns of the far east county are the one respite from the sprawl.

Other destinations[edit]

  • Stevens Pass - Ski resort in the Cascades on the eastern edge of the county


Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

The major interstates are I-5, running north-south through Seattle to Snohomish County and Pierce County, and I-90, running east from Seattle through Bellevue and Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass and Kittitas County. The notoriously congested I-405 splits off from I-5 at Tukwila in the south and Lynnwood in the north, serving Bellevue and the other cities of the Eastside. SR-167 is an alternate route from Tacoma to the south county, while SR-18 is a high speed bypass from north of Tacoma to I-90 east of Issaquah.

By plane[edit]

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, (IATA: SEA), called "SeaTac" by locals, connects Seattle to all regions of the world, with especially frequent transpacific routes. Competition is fierce and fares are low on service to the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

By boat[edit]

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

Metro Transit [dead link] (electric or diesel city buses) actually works pretty well. The web trip planner [dead link] is straightforward and accurate, as long as your bus is on time.

Sound Transit [dead link] (diesel and hybrid buses, trains) is more expensive, but has many convenient express routes that travel South (to Tacoma), East (Redmond, Bellevue), and North (Bothell, Lynnwood). Unlike Metro, it serves the adjoining counties as well.

Outside of the immediate Seattle-Bellevue area, many routes operate only during weekday rush hours. Check your schedules in advance, and beware of holiday service cutbacks. The number of the route also tells you which area of the county it serves:

  • Below 100 - Seattle only
  • 100s - South King County
  • 200s - Eastside
  • 300s - North King County
  • 500s - All Sound Transit routes

By rail[edit]

Sound Transit Link Light Rail service connects Sea-Tac Airport, Tukwila and Seattle.

Sounder commuter rail service, operating weekday rush hours only, connects Seattle to Tacoma via Kent and Tukwila.

By car[edit]

All but essential for reaching the outermost suburbs and mountains. In addition to the interstates, major routes include SR-520, linking Seattle's University District to Bellevue and Redmond; SR-18, a major freeway in the south county from Federal Way to Issaquah; and SR-509, the alternate route from the airport to Burien and Seattle.

Traffic congestion is a major problem in the Puget Sound area on all freeways and major roads. Avoid traveling during rush hour if you can, particularly along I-5 and across the Lake Washington bridges.

Lake Washington is crossed by two floating bridges: the I-90 bridge is free, but the SR-520 bridge charges a toll that varies by the time of day. There are no toll booths: unless you have a transponder, your license plate will be recorded and a bill will be mailed to you automatically in a few weeks. The long detour around the lake in either direction will usually waste far more time than you'll save in toll money.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to King County is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!
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