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 and Laurelhurst to the east. Largely residential, their attractions are included here.
Interstate 5 () By car, take the NE 45th-50th Streets (Exit 169) and from the NE Ravenna Blvd (Exit 170) exits from I-5, or head north from the Montlake Blvd. exit on SR-520. Parking on the campus 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 further away from the campus.
to From WA Hwy 520 take the Montlake Blvd NE (WA Hwy 513) exit which goes north into the eastside of the University of Washington Campus by UW Medical Center and the Huskies Stadium (football stadium). Going south Mountlake Blvd NE become 24th Ave NE into the Capitol Hill/Central District neighborhoods. Going east-west WA Hwy 520 connects I-5 in Seattle to I-405 between Bellevue and Kirkland. It continues northeast of I-405 to its terminus in Redmond. There is a toll to go across the floating bridge over Lake Washington in both directions. Toll collection is automated by the pre-paid/loaded 'Good to Go' pass on the windshields of the passing vehicles or by taking pictures of the license plates (front and back) and then mailing the toll bill to the registered owner. There are no toll booths to collect cash payments.
By public transit
Link light rail is the fastest way to get to the area from central and southern Seattle, making its way under Capitol Hill to Downtown in less than ten minutes, and out to the airport in about 45 minutes. The station is at the southern end of campus, next to the football stadium at Montlake Blvd and Pacific Street. King County Metro runs numerous bus routes to many outlying neighborhoods. Use routes 48 and 49 to Capitol Hill, 31/32 to Fremont, 44 to Ballard, 45 to Greenwood and Lake Union, 48 to the Central District, 67 to Northgate, 65 to Wedgewood, 372 to Lake City, and 75 to Sand Point. From University Ave routes 45, 71, 73, and 373 travel to the Link Station making connections easy. The campus has excellent and wide-ranging commuter bus services with Sound Transit (to eastside (542, 556) and Tacoma (586)); Community Transit (to Snohomish County from the Link Light Rail at Northgate Station); and King County Metro to the eastside suburbs & cities of Issaquah via Bellevue (271) and Kirkland (255).
The public transportation hubs (bus stations) in the U-District are the 1 UW Station on Montlake Blvd NE & Pacific by Huskies Stadium & UW Hospital; and 2 U-District Station along Brooklyn Ave (The 'Ave') between NE 43rd & 45th. Additional bus-stops/bays for this station are on University Way on NE 43rd and on NE 45th between Brooklyn Ave and University Way NE. Further north there are the 3 Roosevelt Station on Roosevelt Way (SB)/12th Ave NE (NB) & NE 65th in Ravenna, near Green Lake and in 4 Northgate Station for additional connections to buses going north as a number of routes to the U-District and/or downtown from the north have been truncated since 2020-2022. All the stations are served by the Link Light Rail.
- 1 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.
- 2 Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St (one block west of University Way NE on 45th), ☏ . Live music venue in a 1921 theater building, operated by the same management as downtown's Paramount and Moore.
The UW campus has a number of notable museums and buildings which are open to the public.
- 3 Suzzallo Library, at Red Square, ☏ . The Suzzallo is a grand Gothic-style structure. The high-ceiling Graduate Reading room is especially impressive.
- 4 Red Square (formally called the Central Plaza). This red brick-paved plaza fills with students moving between classes, hanging out, or some student-led activities.
- 5 The Quad (Liberal Arts Quadrangle). Surrounded by the liberal arts buildings, the Quad turns a wonderful shade of pink in early spring, when the Japanese cherry trees bloom. These blooms only last a couple weeks, however.
- 6 Burke Museum, University of Washington, 17th Ave NE & NE 45th St, ☏ . Daily 10AM-5PM, first Th of each month 10AM-8PM. A natural history museum with lots of Northwest Indian artifacts and dinosaur skeletons. $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.
- 7 Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 15th Ave NE & NE 41st St, ☏ , fax: , 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 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.
- 1 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.
- 2 Agua Verde Paddle Club, 1303 NE Boat St. Hourly kayak rentals from Portage Bay providing access to the Arboreteum, Lake Washington and Lake Union.
- 3 Burke Gilman Trail. Stay to the right on this relatively flat paved bike/pedestrian path that runs along the shoreline of the lake and the canal past campus.
- 4 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.
- 5 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.
- U-District Farmer's Market, NE 50th St and University Way NE. Sa. Local produce, cheeses and other products can be found here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 6 Laughs Comedy Club, 5220 Roosevelt Way NE. Comedy club featuring both locals and nationally-known stars.
- 7 Jet City Improv, 5510 University Way NE, ☏ . Improv comedy theater, with an emphasis on innovative improvisational formats.
- 1 The Curious Nest, 2916 NE 55th St, ☏ . Th-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Assortments of found and new items, such as French antiques, ceramic plates, jewelry and other classy gifts.
- 2 Gargoyles Statuary, 4550 University Way NE. A unique shopping experience for Gothic or history buffs, this store is replete with atmosphere and has one of the most creative product displays in the area. 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.
- 3 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.
- 4 University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE. A notably large and excellent bookstore, with frequent authors' readings. Also the place to get UW Husky goods.
- 5 University Village, 2623 Northeast University Village St (past 25th Ave on the east side of campus). A slightly more upscale shopping atmosphere than the Ave, Village is an outdoor shopping mall where you can find branches of many well-known chains, including Microsoft and Apple stores. On the typical rainy day, you can make use of the complimentary yellow umbrellas while walking outdoors.
- 6 Scarecrow Video, 5030 Roosevelt Way NE, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. Claiming to have the largest selection of films, music, anime, and even video games, in the country, with over 120,000 titles from the US and around the world available for rent or sale. 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.
- 7 Recycled Cycles, 1007 NE Boat St (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 of a college neighborhood, there are plenty of inexpensive places to eat in the U-District.
- 1 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. Vegetarians love the falafel with thick tahini sauce. Fee for credit card use below $10. Up to $12.
- 2 Araya's Vegetarian Place, 5240 University Way NE (between NE 52nd and 55th Sts), ☏ . M-Th 11:30AM-9:30PM, F Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. The 1st vegan Thai food restaurant in the Northwest features a reasonably priced buffet from 11:30AM to 3PM. On a nice day, you can order the buffet to-go and have a picnic at Gasworks Park, although it is a long walk. prices average about $10.
- 3 Cedars, 4759 Brooklyn Ave NE (at NE 50th St), ☏ , fax: . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Cedars shares an Indian menu with Taste of India (they have the same owners) and includes Mediterranean dishes as well.
- 4 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.
- 5 Schultzy's, 4114 University Way NE, ☏ . M-F noon-8PM. 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! Sandwich or burger $14.
- 6 Agua Verde, 1303 NE Boat St (at 15th Ave NE, near the water), ☏ . 11AM-3:30, 4-9PM daily, closes Sunday October–March. 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. Also hosts a paddling club Up to $20.
- 7 Broadfork Cafe - U District, 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.
- 8 Jewel of India, 4735 University Way NE (between NE 47th and 50th Sts), ☏ . 11:30AM-10PM daily. The best Malai Kofta in Seattle. Buffet available 11:30AM-3PM. handy coupon Entrees $10-20.
- 9 Pizza Pi, 5500 University Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☏ . Tu-F 4-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-9PM. This is Seattle's only all-vegan pizza joint. $20 for medium pizza (12"), $27 for large(16").
- 10 Taste of India, 5517 Roosevelt Way NE (at NE 55th St), ☏ , fax: . 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). Around $12.
- 11 Thai Tom, 4543 University Way NE (between NE 45th and 47th Sts), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-9PM, Su 1-8PM. 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.
- Thanh Vi, 4226 University Way NE, ☏ . U. District branch of a Little Saigon staple, with a far broader menu than the Ave's many phở joints.
Bars and taverns
- 1 College Inn Pub, 4006 University Way NE. The classic student haunt, serving thick ales and tasty chili.
- 2 Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St (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.
- 3 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.
- 4 Big Time Brewery, 4133 University Way NE. Brews a variety of its own beers and serves pizza, chili and sandwiches.
- 5 The Kraken, 5257 University Way NE. Pirate themed bar.
- 6 Cafe Arta & Pub at Third Place (Vios Ravenna), 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.
- 7 Teddy's Tavern, 1012 NE 65th St, ☏ . M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa Su 1PM-2AM. A nostalgic sports bar with 8 wide screen TVs, pool tables, and typical bar games. The real party is outside with table tennis court & seating area. Feel free to bring outside food (not drinks) or you can ask the bartender to deliver (not make) a burger!
- 8 Cafe Allegro, 4212 University Way NE (access from the alley in back), ☏ . In the 1950s, they were beatniks, in the 1970s, 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.
- 9 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.
- 10 Seven Coffee Roasters Market & Cafe, 2007 NE Ravenna Blvd, ☏ . A cafe in a small local grocery. Serves Cafe Vita, basic pastries, hot and cold sandwiches, and Dilletante chocolates. Free wireless internet available.
- 11 Tea Republik, 4527 University Way NE, ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM. This place has a vibe like none other on the Ave. Perfect for the cold weather. With their rich red walls and the velvety red curtains, the place looks straight-up classy. Plenty of tea here.
- 1 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. From $140.
- 2 Graduate Seattle, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, ☏ . Near the University of Washington. It opened in 1931, and is 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. From $175.
- 3 Silver Cloud Inn-University, 5036 25th Ave. NE, ☏ . Just a short walk from the University Village mall. A local chain brand. Free breakfast and Internet on every room. Shuttle service within 2 miles provided upon request. From $190.
- 4 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. From $235.
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. Seattle is, however, 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 Ave" than on other parts. It is 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: there is better lighting. The U District is still safer than most parts of the country at night, but precautions are always a good thing.
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 branches in:
- Seattle Public Library. 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 90 minutes at a time, but require either a SPL library card or a temporary pass available from the circulation desk. Free.
- 1 University Branch, 5009 Roosevelt Way NE (Roosevelt Way & NE 50th), ☏ . M Tu 1PM-8PM, W-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM.
- 2 Montlake Branch, 2401 24th Ave E (24th Ave E & E McGraw St. More in the Capital Hill neighborhood but still closer to University District.), ☏ . M Tu 1-8PM, W Th Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM, closed F.
- 3 Northeast Branch, 6801 35th Ave NE (35th Ave NE & NE 68th), ☏ . M Tu 10AM-8PM, W-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM.