North Seattle is a loosely-defined area, often including anything north of the Ship Canal that bisects the city. For the most part, this article covers only the area between 85th Street and the city limits at 145th Street. The neighborhoods to the south are collected in Ballard and the University District; to the north is the suburban city of Shoreline.
The neighborhoods in North Seattle include those just north of Ballard and west of I-5 (usually considered as "Northwest Seattle"): Crown Hill, Greenwood, Licton Springs, Broadview, Bitter Lake, North Park, and Haller Lake; those east of I-5 (and usually considered "North Seattle"): Lake City, Pinehurst, Victory Heights, Northgate, Maple Leaf, and Wedgwood.
Lake City's main drag, Lake City Way, while still the host of some creepy dive bars, thrift/pawn stores, and used car dealerships, is the focus of most urban development. New restaurants offering international cuisine are opening, and a 24-hour Starbucks is a sign that yuppie culture has arrived in Lake City.
If you are going past the Lake Washington Ship Canal, you are on your way. From the south, most people enter the area from 15th Ave NW & Greenwood Ave N from Ballard, Aurora Ave N from Fremont, Interstate 5 from Downtown, 15th Ave NE & 25th Ave NE from University District. From Shoreline you can follow the same routes. From Interstate 5, you can get off at Lake City Way NE, N 85th Street, N Northgate Way and NE 125th Street.
The Northgate Transit Center, immediately south of Northgate mall, is the hub for local service, and also serves the route 41 express bus between Downtown and Lake City, route 40 to Ballard, and the 67 to the University District. The park-and-ride lots on all sides are free. Although the 41 runs frequently, neighborhood routes often drop down to hourly or half-hourly service during the weekends. Using King County Metro's trip planner in advance is recommended.
You can also enter the area using RapidRide Line E, an express service between Downtown and Shoreline that makes stops along Aurora Ave N, route 5 along Greenwood Ave N to Fremont and Downtown, route 26 from Wallingford and Fremont, route 73 from the University District, and routes 347/348 from Shoreline. Route 372 and SoundTransit's 522 run from Bothell and Kenmore and passes Lake City.
Main routes running north and south are those that you use to get in, plus 5th Ave NE and Roosevelt Way NE. Main routes running east and west are NE Northgate Way and NE 45th Street, that lead towards Lake City Way NE and Sand Point Way NE respectively. The Northeast and North road sectors are split by Interstate 5, while the Northwest and North road sectors are split by Greenwood Ave N.
Areas south of Northgate and near the rim of water bodies are hilly, so take some caution while driving, especially when it is raining.
- The same bus routes you use to get in the area also traverses through important points on this neighborhood.
- RapidRide Line E runs from downtown along Aurora Ave N to Aurora Village Transit Center (NE 200th Street)
- Route 75 goes to University of Washington from Northgate Transit Center, via NE Northgate Way, Lake City Way NE, NE 125th Street, and Sand Point Way NE.
- Route 345 & 346 goes to Shoreline (west of Interstate 5) from Northgate Transit Center, via Meridian Ave N. Routes 347 and 348 have the same route but splits after reaching NE 145th Street (city border line), in Seattle they pass through 5th Ave NE, NE Northgate Way, Roosevelt Way NE, Pinehurst Way NE, and 15th Ave NE.
The Burke-Gilman Trail runs from along the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the University of Washington, University Village, entrance to Magnuson Park, and then runs along the western rim of Lake Washington. Despite the hilly surroundings, the track itself is actually flat for its former use as a railway line, so walking here will not need a lot of effort, but just watch out for bicycles.
- 1 Carkeek Park, 950 NW Carkeek Park Rd (Far northwest corner of the city; enter from NW 110th St or 117th St.), ☏ . 6AM-10PM daily. The century-old trees and surprisingly hilly terrain surrounding a small valley give the impression that you're far from the city. Excellent for a walk in the woods. Walkable beach below the train tracks. Free.
- 2 Maple Leaf Park, 1020 NE 82nd St, ☏ . This area used to be a reservoir. It is now drained, replaced by a wide open green area locals used for playing, but the infamous water tower is still standing. As it is the highest spot in North Seattle, you can catch a wonderful panorama of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, the Cascades, Lake Washington, and partially blocked Olympic Mountains.
- 3 Warren G. Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE. Seattle's second-largest park, formerly the Sand Point Naval Air Station. The wide-open spaces of the park support numerous athletic fields and picnic spots, with windsurfing and a boat launch along the Lake Washington shoreline. The buildings remaining from its military days are home to many community organizations and special events.
- 1 Salmonfest Seattle, along NE 125th Street from 25th Avenue NE to Lake City Way NE. August. Lake City has a great street fair in late summer, complete with street vendors, food, music and a parade with local kids and performers on up to the SeaFair Pirates. It has a small-town feel while the streets are lined with all sorts of families and crazies from the neighborhood. Fun for all. Not for those who can't stand a city crowd.
- 2 Jackson Park Golf Course, 1000 NE 135th St, ☏ . A decent 18-hole championship and a 9-hole executive golf course plus a driving range. Championship course: $35 weekday, $45 weekend; Executive course: $8.50 9-hole, $14.00 18-hole (playing twice).
- 3 Underwater Sports, 10545 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . M-F 9AM-7PM, Sa-Su 9AM-6PM. You can buy diving gear here but the unique thing about this place is that they offer open water scuba diving certification classes, as well as more basic swimming classes. Lessons conducted at their indoor pool and then out in the Puget Sound.
Most shopping options are located at or around NE Northgate Way until Roosevelt Way NE, or Lake City Way NE and NE 125th Street. Along Aurora Ave N, most retail options are appliance and bulk stores.
- 1 Northgate Mall, 401 NE Northgate Way, ☏ . Your average mall, with chain brands occupying large spaces, a satisfactory food court, three department stores for all levels of budget, and a Barnes & Noble bookshop. Note that most restaurants cannot be accessed directly from inside the mall, you must exit at the secondary gates at branch corridors in the middle of the mall.
- 2 DSW Designer Shoes Warehouse, Northgate Mall (outdoors, facing 5th Avenue NE), ☏ . 10AM to 9PM. It's a shoe wonderland, with thousand of shoes for a bargain. Even lower prices on the shelves at the back.
- 3 Math 'n' Stuff, 8926 Roosevelt Way NE. A toy shop mainly for bookworms & brain teasers, and the artsy.
- 4 Green Lake Jewelry Works, 550 NE Northgate Way, ☏ . Custom made jewelry. Rings are especially pricey and takes weeks to make, but made to the utmost precision & worth every penny.
- 5 Express Jewelers, Northgate Mall, ☏ . Last minute ideas for a jewelry gift & most importantly, to fix what you have.
- 6 Cash & Carry, 13102 Stone Ave N, ☏ . Head here to stock up food & drinks. Shop in bulk but one by one is possible. Cheaper than big warehouse chains.
Restaurant choices are very scattered throughout the whole area. Teriyaki restaurants can be found easily albeit hole-in-the-wall.
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.
- 1 Aloha Ramen, 3004 NE 127th St (The entrance faces Lake City Way NE), ☏ . Lunch: Weekends noon-2:30PM; Dinner: Wednesday-Sunday 5PM-8:30PM. Hole in the wall place, big bowl of succulent ramen for a very low price. Specialties include its house ramen, katsu ramen or tan tan. The crispy gyoza must not be missed either. typically $6 to $8, up to $10.
- 2 Burgermaster, 9820 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . Sunday-Thursday 11AM-11PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-midnight. Designed to be a drive-thru, but there's limited seating area inside. American style burgers & sandwiches that is not the fast food norm; it is a 60-year-old local family brand that has higher standards. Other items include milkshakes, fish & chips, salads, and snacks. $5-$8 for burgers & sandwiches.
- Family Donut, 2100 N Northgate Way (right off I-5 (next to Hotel Nexus and Saffron Grill)). Mon-Fri- 5:00 am-7:00 pm, Sat-6:00 am-5:00 pm, Sun-6:00 am-2:00 pm. Very good family-run doughnut shop with excellent donuts and coffee.
- 3 Fu Man Dumpling House, 14314 Greenwood Ave N, ☏ . A small restaurant for a moderate appetite. Of course it offers dumplings fried & steamed, but they also have hot & sour soup, green onion pancakes and noodles. Accompany with its garlic sauce. 12 pieces of assorted boiled dumplings for $8. Soups: small $2, large $6, other meals $8-$10.
- 4 Jewel Box Cafe, 321 NE Thornton Pl, ☏ . Sunday-Thursday 6AM-11PM; Friday & Saturday 6AM-midnight. A quaint & warm cafe under an apartment complex. Bubble tea, coffee & tea with special mixes, sandwiches, breakfast & its house special: crepes. Up to $5 for a 24-oz drink, up to $10 for meals.
- 5 Mr & Mrs. Wok, 10000 Holman Rd NW, ☏ . Daily 11AM-9PM. One of the examples of the many family-run & hole-in-the-wall teriyaki restaurants in Seattle. Popular dishes are crab rangoon, chicken teriyaki, and yakisoba (fried noodle).
- 6 Pho An, 12526 Lake City Way NE, ☏ . Daily 11AM-9PM. A medium restaurant for a big appetite. Where else would you find pho with oxtail? Humongous & soothing portion of pho, and other accompaniments such as spring roll, fried tofu or banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich). $6-$9 per bowl.
- Taqueria de Pasadita, 2143 N Northgate Way (Behind the 76 gas station), ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. A food cart that though may not look so crowded (most people have it to-go), but lures regulars for their cheap yet succulent piece of taco and assorted Mexican street grubs. Even they offer traditional drinks such as the champurado and horchata. Taco $1.50 per piece, mains from $6.
- 7 Chaiyo Thai Cuisine, 11749 15th Ave NE, ☏ . Monday-Thursday 11AM-9PM, Friday 11AM-10PM, Saturday noon-10PM, Sunday noon-9PM. Thai dishes from all regions north to south.Try its spicy seafood fried rice and Pad See Ew. You can choose the level of spiciness for your dish. $6-$10.
- 8 Enat, 11546 15th Ave NE, ☏ . Daily 11AM-10PM. The area itself is filled with Ethiopian & Eritrean church and fellow restaurants. For the win, order the injera or the combos which consists of vegetables and/or meat on top of a big piece of bread, very filling for not 1, but 2 people.
- 9 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.
- 10 Indo Cafe, 13754 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . Sunday-Thursday 11:30AM-9PM; Friday & Saturday 11:30AM-10PM. Any Indonesian food you can think of is here. Order the Es Cendol or other kinds of ice with toppings for dessert, tidbit appetizers, chicken satay, Indonesian fried rice, the tuturuga (spicy beef curry) or Ayam Goreng Penyet (fried chicken, not breaded). Unless you can stand it, if the dishes say spicy make sure you ask for mild or your nose will run! Mains $6-$10.
- 11 Kona Kitchen, 8501 5th Avenue NE, ☏ . Weekdays 10AM-9PM, Weekends 8AM-9PM. Hawaiian style diner. All day breakfast & Hawaiian lunch & dinner specials. Savour the mac & cheese, mochiko chicken, kalua pig, spam musubi, or for more meat, Da Kanak Attack (lunch only). Rice portion is small and comes in scoops. $8-$15.
- 12 Santorini Pizza & Pasta, 11001 35th Ave NE, ☏ . M-Sa 4PM-10PM. Neighborhood Italian (with some Greek tones) restaurant known for good food and house wine. The cooks have a tendency to use ample amounts of cheese. Extremely large dessert portions, particularly the baklava.
- 13 Tropicos Breeze, 9710 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . Monday-Thursday 10AM-9:30PM; Friday & Saturday 10AM-10PM; Sunday 10AM-9PM. A hidden gem in Aurora, a Salvadorian cuisine. Its house specialties are pupusa & tamales. $8-$15; combos $8.
- 14 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!
- 15 Bick's Broadway Grill, 10555 Greenwood Ave N, ☏ . Daily 5PM-10PM. American BBQ & grill. Fine steaks, chops, and do not miss the coconut ice cream. Bistro type sit-down restaurant with fully functional bar & drink choices. Mains $12-20.
- 16 Flying Squirrel Pizza Company, 8310 5th Ave NE. Sunday-Thursday 5PM-9:30PM; Friday & Saturday 5PM-10PM. Artisan & home made pizzas. Choose any topping you want or you can have the preset. 15" portion enough for up to 3 people. Pizzas from $18.
- 17 Saffron Grill, 2132 N Northgate Way, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-10:30PM. A fine establishment providing Indian and Mediterranean food. Same owners and same basic menu Taste of India in the U-District. Happy hour food and drink deals from 2PM to 7PM.
- 18 Toyoda Sushi, 12543 Lake City Way NE, ☏ . Wednesday,Thursday, Sunday: 5PM-8:30PM; Friday-Saturday: 5PM-9PM. Off-the-wall family-run restaurant specializing in fresh sushi & sashimi. Sit at the bar to see its making and if you aren't picky, ask for whatever they want to make & they will serve you. Specials are spicy tuna bowl and chef's choice. Free appetizer & miso soup. Sushi $3-$10; Mains $15-$25.
True to Seattle form, Starbucks and drive thru coffee huts are everywhere. If you are looking for alcoholic refreshments, there are numerous neighborhood dive bars — just ask around. In general, the farther north you get, the fewer options you have.
- 1 Boud's Pinehurst Pub, 11753 15th Ave NE, ☏ . Weekdays 10:30AM-2AM; Weekends 9AM-2AM. A dive bar with breakfast all day. Competitions every day such as Trivia Monday (except on football season), pool Tuesdays, beer pong Wednesdays. Daily drink specials. Happy hour 2-4PM & 9-11PM.
- 2 Elliott Bay Brewing Company, 12537 Lake City Way NE, ☏ . Monday-Wednesday 11AM-11PM; Thursday & Friday 11AM-midnight; Saturday 9:30AM-midnight, Sunday 9:30AM-11PM. Its name has spoken as a Seattle local brand. 100% organic barley as malt to brew a myriad of recipes. Drinks & gourmet snacks, none else. Monthly pairing specials also available. meals up to $15.
- 3 The Ould Triangle, 9736 Greenwood Ave N. Good Irish Pub. Has a back patio where you can smoke.
- 4 The Rickshaw, 322 N 105th St, ☏ . Weekdays noon-2AM; weekends 10AM-2AM. Best karaoke in town, and a mai tai that will lay you out. Happy hour is noon-6PM. meals up to $12.
- 5 Tim's Tavern on 105th, 602 N 105th St, ☏ . Weekdays 2PM-2AM; Weekends noon-2AM. Full fledged bar. Open mic every Tuesday & Sunday. And jamming live music every day. Private patio, beer garden, free parking.
Budget travelers can consider staying in North Seattle, as what can be found here is generally inexpensive. However, avoid Aurora Avenue's motels especially the off-brands that quote hourly rates. Staying at the slightly pricier national chain inns, while not fully keeping you away from the sketchy areas, are still safer and saner.
- 1 Comfort Inn, 13700 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . Not a sketchy place to stay but rooms look slightly worn out. Breakfast is a grab and go. From $85 per night.
- 2 Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites North Seattle - Shoreline, 14115 Aurora Ave N, ☏ . One of the best hotels on Aurora Ave. Rooms clean enough for a comfortable rest and guests get a complimentary breakfast. Also offers a limited fitness center and a pool. Easy bus access direct to Downtown Seattle. From $121 per night.
- 3 Hotel Nexus, 2140 N Northgate Way, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Free wi-fi, outdoor pool, complimentary scheduled shuttle service, and free room service from the on-site Indian restaurant, Saffron Grill. From $125 per night.
A few areas are not well-lit by street lights at night, so keep your belongings with you tightly. Avoid walking along Lake City Way NE and Aurora Ave N at night as robbery and muggings are not uncommon (albeit isolated) and both are generally sketchy areas.
All branches of the Seattle Public Library offer free wireless access. Use of public, internet-connected computers for up to an hour at a time is also free, though if you don't have a SPL library card, you must request a temporary login from the circulation desk.
Wi-fi is de rigueur in any self-respecting coffee shop.