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King County 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.


Map of King County

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]

  • 1 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, (SEA IATA), 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 public transit[edit]

King Country Metro[edit]

King County Metro, +1 206-553-3000. Operates bus, streetcar, and monorail routes in King County. Communities within the county served by this operator's routes include Auburn, Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, North Bend, Redmond, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Tukwila, Vashon Island, White Center, and Woodinville.he web trip planneris straightforward and accurate, as long as your bus is on time.

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

Sound Transit[edit]

Sound Transit, toll-free: +1-888-889-6368. Has regional public transit routes including Sounder trains, Link light rail, and express bus in King County (e.g. Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Seattle), Snohomish County (e.g. Everett, Lynnwood) and Pierce County (e.g. Puyallup, Tacoma).

  • Link light rail operates in Seattle, traveling north to Northgate Mall and south to Angle Lake via Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
  • Sounder commuter rail service, operating weekday rush hours only, connects Seattle to Tacoma via Kent and Tukwila.
  • Sound Transit has many convenient express bus routes that travel South (to Tacoma), East (Redmond, Bellevue), and North (Bothell, Lynnwood). 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. All Sound Transit routes have route numbers that are in the 500s.

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!