South Seattle occupies a broad swath of the city between I-5 to the west and Lake Washington to the east. Though often overshadowed by flashier neighborhoods, continued development and the recent introduction of Seattle's first light rail line are raising its profile.
The area contains numerous neighborhoods with their own distinct characteristics, including:
- Beacon Hill — A mostly residential neighborhood with a stop on the light rail and a variety of parks, restaurants and bars, as well as commanding views of the mountains and Downtown.
- Columbia City — Once a forgotten part of the city left to decay, Columbia City has been revitalized in recent years. Known mostly only by locals, Columbia City is a quiet gem that offers great restaurants, bars, live entertainment, movie theaters, art galleries, and shops. Also, be sure to explore the Columbia City Library, a recently updated Carnegie library.
- Mount Baker — Classic tree-lined streets with stately bungalows mark this mostly residential neighborhood on the shore of Lake Washington.
- Othello — A bustling multi-cultural neighborhood conveniently located with its own light rail station offing a wide variety of shops and restaurants.
- Rainier Valley — Home to more immigrants than any other neighborhood in Seattle. Small shops and restaurants abound, particularly African and East Asian.
- Seward Park — A local park that's also the name for this neighborhood along Lake Washington south of Mount Baker.
- South Seattle — In addition to the area, "South Seattle" can also refer to a small residential neighborhood west of Mt. Baker.
Rainier Ave S. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way are the two main thoroughfares that run north and south through the district. Interstates 5 and 90 is the major highway through Seattle and offers several convenient exits into South Seattle.
- The Central Link light rail is a clean and timely way to travel to South Seattle, with trains running every 10 minutes for most of the day. The line runs from the University of Washington through Downtown to Seatac Airport with several stops in the South Seattle area, including Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, Columbia City, Othello and Rainier Beach.
- King County Metro bus routes #7 and #42 travel along Rainier and MLK, respectively, with frequent service seven days a week; the 7 is also one of the few routes to operate between 1 and 5AM. The #36 travels the length of Beacon Hill with connections at the Beacon Hill light rail station. East-west bus service is limited to local routes.
Like most of Seattle, attitudes towards bikers are fairly generous and there is a fair amount of built in bike lanes but some of the hills can be intimidating to unaccustomed cyclists. There are several popular bike trails through south Seattle including Lake Washington Boulevard which is a scenic, approximately 8-mile (13 km), route through Seattle, Washington, that hugs Lake Washington. There are views of the lake, small sections of rainforest, meadows, and views of the Cascade mountains. From the north end at Coleman Park (just south of Interstate 90)the trail runs all the way to Seward Park in the south. Bike maps can be obtained from the city here.
- Lakewood Moorage, 4400 Lake Washington Blvd S, 98118, ☏ . Tuesday thru Saturday 11AM - 5PM 24-hour security gate with tenant access, Summer hours 10AM - 5PM Memorial Day thru Labor Day. limited guest moorage is available on this Lake Washington marina north of Seward Park which includes a small craft boat launch. Not near any facilities except parks so other transport should be arranged.
- Seward Park creates a small protected harbor on the north shore that is popular for overnight moorage, especially in the summers.
- Northwest Seaplanes, 860 W. Perimeter Road – Renton, WA 98057, toll-free: . provides scheduled and charter seaplane flights to destinations from South Lake Washington, near South Seattle to the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and British Columbia’s Inside Passage. They operate 4 planes each offering six seats.
- 1 Northwest African American Museum, 2300 S Massachusetts St, ☏ . W 11AM-5PM, Th 11AM-7PM, F-Su 11AM-5PM. Short but powerful museum on the history of Blacks in the Northwest. $7 adult, $5 children 4-12, students, seniors; free the first Thursday of every month.
Designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in Seattle's early days, park planners across the country recognize Seattle's park system as one of the best preserved and best designed in the United States. More importantly, while many eastern cities have only one or two Olmsted-designed parks, Seattle has an extensive multi-park plan linked by boulevards. It is this legacy that makes Seattle one of the most livable spots in the country including Jefferson and Seward parks in South Seattle.
- 2 Jefferson Park, 3801 Beacon Ave S, 98108 (located on Beacon Hill half a mile south of the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station). 4AM - 11:30PM. Seattle's sixth largest park at 45.2 acres and offers unparalleled views of the Duwamish River, downtown and the Olympic Mountains. It is the home to the Jefferson Park Golf Course, Jefferson Park driving range, Jefferson Skatepark, tennis courts (lighted), basketball courts, the Jefferson Community Center, Jefferson Lawn Bowling, and Beacon Mountain an ecologically oriented playscape with a water park in the summer.
- 3 Seward Park. The entire park is a large peninsula that is surrounded by Lake Washington. Kids activities in the summer, great scenery, and a 2 and half mile paved level path that circles the whole peninsula, are a few of the attractions.
- 4 Kubota Gardens, 9817 55th Ave S, ☏ . Daily 6AM-10PM. In 1927 Fujitaro Kubota bought 5 acres (20,000 m2) of logged-off swampland in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle and began his garden. Kubota Garden has since grown into a stunning 20-acre (81,000 m2) landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. The Gardens are a spectacular setting of hills and valleys, interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, bridges, and rock outcroppings with a rich array of plant material. Free.
- 1 Ark Lodge Cinemas, 4816 Rainier Ave S (in Columbia City), ☏ . Vary by movie times. Amazing historical movie theater in Columbia City. $8 weekend matinee.
- 2 Columbia City Farmer’s Market, South Edmunds Street between 37th Ave S and the alley at 36th. W 3-7PM, May 1-October 16. Founded in 1998, the Columbia City Farmers Market was voted Seattle's Best Farmers Market in the Seattle Weekly's annual "Best of Seattle" contest for 2012. Over 40 Washington State farmers and small food vendors make this market a popular weekly destination; market days are full of the colors and sounds of shoppers from around the world who live and work in this historic neighborhood.
- 3 Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . Tu-Su 6PM-2AM. Great place to see a band play.
- 4 Mountains to Sound Greenway (Begins at Jose Rizal Park). Dedicated walking and bicycle path running from Beacon Hill across Rainier Ave to Mount Baker district, Mercer Island and Bellevue.
- 1 Andaluz, 4908 Rainier Ave S (between Ferdinand and Hudson), ☏ . M-Tu noon-6PM, W,F-Sa noon-8PM, Th noon-7PM, Su noon-5PM. Women's clothing, jewelry and accessories.
- 2 Bike Works, 3709 S Ferdinand St, ☏ . Tu-F: Noon - 6PM, Sa: 11AM- 6PM, Su: 11AM - 5PM. Bike Works is an innovative organization centered around bicycles that combines youth development, community engagement, bicycle recycling and a social enterprise bike shop to help build a sustainable and healthy community.
- 3 Columbia City Gallery, 4864 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . W-Su 11AM - 7PM. The Columbia City Gallery is an artists’ cooperative that brings together emerging and professional artists working in diverse media. The gallery provides an exhibition space for local artists, additional space for exhibits by guest artists & a welcoming environment for visitors of all ages.
- 4 Mutual Fish Co, 2335 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-5:30PM. top notch seafood store with sushi grade fish, amazing selection and friendly helpful service
- 5 Viet Wah Super Foods, 6040 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, ☏ . Su-Th 9AM-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-9PM. A South Seattle institution with an amazing selection of Asian and even Mexican groceries
Many diverse ethnic restaurants can be found throughout South Seattle with many gems tucked away in residential areas. However most tend to be centered around three neighborhoods, each with their own nearby light rail stations, Beacon Hill, Columbia City and Othello.
- 1 Bar del Corso, 3057 Beacon Ave S, ☏ . Tu-Sa 5PM-10PM. Wood-fired pizzas, Italian dishes (salumi, cheeses and desserts), Italian wines/cocktails, and local beers on tap. Pizzas up to $20.
- 2 Columbia City Bakery, 4865 Rainier Ave S (east of the Columbia City light rail at Edmunds St), ☏ . M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa-Su 7AM-5PM. Excellent bread, pastries, cakes, and coffee. Mostly a dessert or snack place, though the ham and Gruyère croissant makes for a nice light lunch. Most pastries about $3.
- 3 Delite Bakery, 2701 15th Ave S (one block west of the Beacon Hill light rail station), ☏ . M-F 7:30AM - 6:30PM Sat 7:30AM - 6PM. A Beacon Hill gem located just steps from the light rail station, great Pan de sal rolls and excellent for little sandwiches Up to $5.
- 4 El Sabroso Bocados Latinos, 2524 16th Ave S (taco truck right next to Beacon Hill light rail station), ☏ . great Mexican food, try their tortas Up to $10.
- 5 El Sombrero, 4868 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . M-F 11a-10p; Sat 12p-10p; Sun 12p-9p. Family-friendly, authentic Tex-Mex restaurant with full bar. Entrées $12-$15.
- El Quetzal, 3209 Beacon Ave S (a few blocks south of the Beacon Hill light rail station), ☏ . Family-friendly, but not your standard Tex-Mex, lots of amazing specials and good for large groups. $.
- Geraldine's Counter, 4872 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . Tues-Fri 7a-9p; Sat-Sun 8a-3p. Classic American comfort food with fresh, local ingredients and a sophisticated touch.
- Island Soul, 4869 Rainier Avenue S, ☏ . Lunch: 11AM-2PM M-F; Dinner 5AM-9PM M-Th, 5PM-10PM F, 2PM-10PM Sat. Authentic Caribbean cuisine from chef Bobby Laing. $$.
- Jones Barbeque, 3810 S Ferdinand St., ☏ . The Columbia City outpost of the acclaimed, small local barbecue chain.
- Kusina Filipina, 3201 Beacon Ave S (a few blocks south of the Beacon Hill light rail station, look for their giant mural), ☏ . family owned Filipino restaurant
- La Medusa, 4857 Rainer Avenue S, ☏ . Tues & Thur 5p-9p; Wed, Fri, Sat 5p-10p. Italian restaurant billed as "Sicilian soul food" from chef Julie Andres.
- Sunset Cafe, 8115 Rainier Ave S (On Rainier Avenue, south of Hillman City), ☏ . 12 noon - 9:30p, 7 days a week. Central and South Seattle are by no means short of good Ethiopian restaurants, but this one is definitely a standout for its food. Service is friendly, if not the most efficient. $.
- Travelers Thali House, 2524 Beacon Ave S (a few blocks north of the Beacon Hill light rail station in a cool converted house), ☏ . Serving fresh, amazing, healthy Vegetarian Indian dishes on seasonal rotation, with creativity, love and flair.
- Tutta Bella Pizzeria, 4918 Rainier Avenue S (In the heart of Columbia City), ☏ . 11AM-10PM. Award-winning Neapolitan pizza, certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Recognized as Independent Pizzeria Of The Year by Pizza Today magazine in 2010. More laid-back than their several other Seattle locations.
- Wabi Sabi, 4909 Rainier Avenue South, ☏ . Lunch M-F 11:30a-2p, Sat 12:30p-3:30p; Dinner Sun-Thu 4:30p-9p, Fri-Sat 4:30p-10p. Contemporary-themed sushi bar and Japanese restaurant.
Like the rest of Seattle, South Seattle takes its coffee very seriously. Although there are several chain coffee shops like Starbucks, for the genuine experience visit one of these shops to rub elbows with the locals. Many of the establishments listed above (e.g. Tutta Bella, Columbia City Bakery) are also excellent for coffee.
- Empire Espresso, 3829-A South Edmunds St, ☏ . Columbia City Coffee.
- The Station, 2533 16th Ave S (50 meters north of the Beacon light rail station). cozy neighborhood coffee shop with friendly owners and nice revolving art shows.
- Victrola Coffee Roasters, 3215 Beacon Ave S (1/4 mile south of Beacon light rail station). neighborhood coffee shop limited food and cool map of Beacon Hill on the wall.
Seattle is well known for its local craft beers and most pubs carry a variety of local breweries so don't be afraid to ask your server when you want to try something new. Georgetown Brewery is a south Seattle based brewer so look for their varieties such as Manny's and Lucille.
- Amorcito Lounge, 2410 Beacon Ave South (a few blocks north of the Beacon Hill light rail station (between S 14th Ave & Bayview St)). small dive bar with strong drinks and food from Java Love.
- Columbia City Ale House, 4914 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . Su-Th 11:00-23:00, F-Sa 11:00-24:00. Many local beers on tap and food specials that change out weekly. All their food is made in house, fresh, no microwaves, no heat lamps and no deep-friers.
- El Quetzal Bar, 3209 Beacon Ave S (a few blocks south of Beacon Hill light rail station), ☏ . Full bar connected to El Quetzal Restaurant but with its own menu and unique drink specials.
- Lottie's Lounge. A neighborhood-centric lounge with full food menu and inspired original cocktail specials.
- The Bourbon. Located in the same building as the Columbia City Theatre, with a full bar menu, occasional DJ's and karaoke night.
- The Oak (3 blocks south of the Beacon Hill light rail station). Located on Beacon Hill this bar boasts a wide selection of local craft beers, mixed drinks and a well developed menu.
- Tippe and Drague Alehouse (1/2 mile south of the Beacon Hill light rail station). Located on Beacon Hill this bar boasts an amazing selection of local craft beers and cider in a cozy old world feeling bar.
Generally a residential area South Seattle does not have a wide variety of places to stay. Visitors not staying with friends tend to find hotels downtown.
- 1 Casa de Esperanza, 3317 S Hanford St (at 34th Ave S), ☏ . Bed and breakfast near Mount Baker Park and Lake Washington. $80+.
Most coffee shops offer free wifi and all branches of the Seattle Public Library have open wireless, using the SSID spl-public. Public computers with Internet access and basic office software are available for up to an hour at a time, but require either a SPL library card or a temporary pass available from the circulation desk. All services are free.
- Beacon Hill Branch, 2821 Beacon Ave S (2 blocks south of Beacon Hill light rail station), ☏ . M-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
- Columbia Branch, 4721 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . M-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
- NewHolly Branch, 7058 32nd Ave S, ☏ . M-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.
- Rainier Beach Branch, 9125 Rainier Ave S, ☏ . M-Th 10AM-8PM, F-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1-5PM.