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The [http://www.weather.com/weather/local/USWA0395? weather] can be rainy (but is usually just drizzly) on any given day, even the Fourth of July.  Mid-July through early September is often sunny, although the [http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayNORMS.asp?AirportCode=KBFI&SafeCityName=KBFI&StateCode=WA&Units=none record high] is only 100 degrees fahrenheit.  The [http://www.weather.com/weather/climatology/monthly/USWA0395?from=search average high for August] (the warmest month) is only 76 degrees.  The short, dark and overcast winter days would be less bone-chilling if it snowed instead of drizzling at a few degrees above freezing.  As long as you don't kill yourself in the winter, the long, incredibly pleasant summer days can make up for the depressing half of the year.
 
The [http://www.weather.com/weather/local/USWA0395? weather] can be rainy (but is usually just drizzly) on any given day, even the Fourth of July.  Mid-July through early September is often sunny, although the [http://www.wunderground.com/NORMS/DisplayNORMS.asp?AirportCode=KBFI&SafeCityName=KBFI&StateCode=WA&Units=none record high] is only 100 degrees fahrenheit.  The [http://www.weather.com/weather/climatology/monthly/USWA0395?from=search average high for August] (the warmest month) is only 76 degrees.  The short, dark and overcast winter days would be less bone-chilling if it snowed instead of drizzling at a few degrees above freezing.  As long as you don't kill yourself in the winter, the long, incredibly pleasant summer days can make up for the depressing half of the year.
  
One interesting fact is that Seattle has less annual rainfall than New York City, however the rain is spread out over a larger number of days, so while NYC gets heavier downpours, Seattle suffers from an almost chronic drizzle which occasionally strengthens to a full-blown torrent. Because of this, you're far less likely to encounter a sunny day in Seattle than in most of the US. On the plus side, this means the rain rarely presents a safety hazard, though local drivers are unlikely to reduce their speed or make any adjustments for wet driving conditions.
+
One interesting fact is that Seattle has less annual rainfall than New York City, however the rain is spread out over a larger number of days, so while NYC gets heavier downpours, Seattle suffers from an almost chronic drizzle, which only occasionally strengthens to a full-blown torrent. Because of this, you're far less likely to encounter a sunny day in Seattle than in most of the US. The month of December tends to be extremely wet and it's rare to find bright, sunny days during this month. One positive from all of this wet weather is that Seattle drivers tend to drive slow and safe year round because they have grown accustomed to driving on wet, slippery streets.  Because of this slow and safe driving pace, many nonlocal drivers tend to see Seattleites as being seemingly very polite.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==

Revision as of 14:16, 13 May 2006

Seattle, Washington, is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Nicknames have included: the Queen City, Jet City, and, more recently, the Emerald City.

The city is a green gem, with an abundance of evergreen trees throughout, and spectacular views of the Cascade mountains to the east and the Olympic mountains to the west. Known for being the home of Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo of America, Starbucks, and the University of Washington. Seattle is also the home of a vibrant arts scene and an ever expanding park system.

A view of the Seattle waterfront

Contents

Districts

Seattleites nearly always describe a location in terms of its "neighborhood." This is partly because of a potentially confusing system of street addresses (see Get Around). The breakdown into neighborhoods is informal and mutates over time, and while there are often signs on major arterial roads to let you know that you are "entering" a particular neighborhood, the placement of these signs is arbitrary.

Still, knowing what neighborhood you're looking for can be a good sanity check when you're looking for an address. A Seattleite would describe 1401 45th SW as being in West Seattle, and 1401 45th NE as being in the U District (University District), which you'll note are diagonally opposite on the map. See Get Around for an explanation.

The Seattle City clerk maintains an interactive map that starts with the high-level districts, but lets you click on those to get the detailed neighborhoods too.

Overview of Seattle districts
  • Along Lake Washington
    • Montlake
    • Madison Park
    • Madrona. Upper Madrona has a nice little shopping district.
    • Leschi. Mainly of interest for its waterfront parks.
  • South of downtown (or I-90)
    • Beacon Hill
    • West Seattle
    • Columbia City
    • Georgetown (including Boeing Field/King County Airport)
    • South Park

Some others that may crop up are:

  • Sodo - Originally "South of the Dome", referring to the now-demolished Kingdome. To keep some sense in the name, it is sometimes explained now as "South of Downtown".
  • Maple Leaf, Lake City, Ravenna, and Wedgewood have similarly fuzzy boundaries as you move from Northgate towards Laurelhurst.
  • The "East Side" means the region east of Lake Washington comprising the suburbs of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond.

Understand

Seattle was founded on the rough, physical industries of fishing, logging and coal mining, with San Francisco as her primary customer. Boeing was founded in 1916, and as natural resources were depleted, grew to be Greater Seattle's primary industry. The region's strong economic dependence on Boeing gave the oil recession and cancellation of the SST (Supersonic Transport) in the early '70s a grim effect. Over the last twenty-five years, the area has become less seedy and more developed with the massive influx of Microsoft money (and other software and biotech proceeds), but Pioneer Square is still the original Skid Row. (Myth says that Yesler Way was a "Skid Road" for logs being dragged downhill to Henry Yesler's lumber mill, although the mill was actually sited to take logs from Elliot Bay, not from inland).

Seattle is also substantially influenced by the presence of the University of Washington (the largest single campus on the west coast and one of the top two recipients of grant money), as well as multiple smaller colleges and universities. Seattle is also the center for financial, public health, and justice systems in the northwestern part of the USA.

Climate

The weather can be rainy (but is usually just drizzly) on any given day, even the Fourth of July. Mid-July through early September is often sunny, although the record high is only 100 degrees fahrenheit. The average high for August (the warmest month) is only 76 degrees. The short, dark and overcast winter days would be less bone-chilling if it snowed instead of drizzling at a few degrees above freezing. As long as you don't kill yourself in the winter, the long, incredibly pleasant summer days can make up for the depressing half of the year.

One interesting fact is that Seattle has less annual rainfall than New York City, however the rain is spread out over a larger number of days, so while NYC gets heavier downpours, Seattle suffers from an almost chronic drizzle, which only occasionally strengthens to a full-blown torrent. Because of this, you're far less likely to encounter a sunny day in Seattle than in most of the US. The month of December tends to be extremely wet and it's rare to find bright, sunny days during this month. One positive from all of this wet weather is that Seattle drivers tend to drive slow and safe year round because they have grown accustomed to driving on wet, slippery streets. Because of this slow and safe driving pace, many nonlocal drivers tend to see Seattleites as being seemingly very polite.

Get in

By plane

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, (Airport code: SEA), called "SeaTac" by locals, connects Seattle to all regions of the world, with especially frequent transpacific routes. Alaska Airlines provides something approximating discount air fare to and from the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. There are several choices for getting from the airport to the city center:

  • Taxi - The trip is about 20 minutes by taxi ($25 - $35); catch one on the third floor of the parking garage.
  • Rental car - On a weekend, you might want to shop the internet for rental cars, since they can be less than $12/day (plus roughly 18% tax; also consider hotel parking fees, if any). Beware of the fact that taking a rental from the airport will incur an 11% "airport tax" surcharge. If you are able to rent a car from a downtown location you will not have to pay this and will save a considerable amount of money.
  • Commercial shuttle buses are about $5 - $12.75.
  • Metro(city bus) - Routes 194 (express, 30 minutes) and 174 (45 to 60 minutes) will also get you downtown for $2.00. Get exact change by buying a latte at the little Chinook coffee stand by the baggage claim downstairs, then exit the terminal, turn right and walk all the way to the south end of the building where you will find a couple of Metro bus stops with schedules posted.

By train

Amtrak provides service from all along the west coast. The Amtrak Cascades runs three trains a day between Seattle and Portland (two run between Seattle and Eugene, Oregon, via Portland) and one a day to Vancouver, British Columbia. The service is quicker and much more reliable than the regular Amtrak trains, which can be delayed for hours on the long (over a day) trip from California.

Additionally, the Empire Builder provides daily service to Chicago via Minneapolis and Glacier National Park.

Seattle's King Street Station is located south of downtown, near Safeco Field.

By car

Interstate Highway 5 (I-5) cuts through the middle of Seattle North to South. Interstate 90 (I-90) runs from the I-5 interchange in Seattle all the way to Boston, Massachusetts.

By bus

Seattle's Greyhound bus station is located at the northeast edge of the downtown core.

By boat

  • Washington State Ferries connect downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island, to Bremerton, and to Vashon Island, and connect West Seattle to Vashon Island and to Southworth (Key Peninsula). All ferries are for both vehicles and passenger except the ferry between downtown Seattle and Vashon Island.
  • As of August 2004, the Kitsap Ferry Company runs a 250-passenger (no cars) catamaran between Bremerton and Seattle. Private ferry service is also to begin in October 2004 between Seattle and Kingston.
  • High Speed Catamaran Passenger ferries connect Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)

Get around

Navigating

Seattle's street designations make sense once you understand them, but unless you do understand them, you can end up many miles away from your destination.

All North-South streets are labeled "Avenues" while East-West streets are labeled "Streets". The city is roughly divided into a 3 by 3 grid with nine directional sectors (i.e. N, S, NE, NW, etc.) Street addresses in each sector are written with the area name BEFORE the street's number, e.g. NE 45th Street or NE 45th. Avenue addresses in each sector are written with the area AFTER the avenue number, e.g. 45th Avenue NE or 45th NE.

There are four major exceptions:

  1. Downtown streets and avenues have no directional designation.
  2. There is no SE section. Instead, the S section is extra wide.
  3. East of downtown, avenues have no directional designation (streets are preceded by 'E').
  4. North of downtown (between Denny Way and the ship canal), streets have no directional designation, but avenues are followed by 'N'.

All in all, it's probably worth a few dollars to buy and carry a map when you're trying to find an address.

By bus

Metro Transit (electric or diesel city buses) actually works pretty well. The web trip planner is straightforward and accurate, as long as your bus is on time. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can buy an All-Day Pass for $2.50 from the bus driver. On weekdays, a $5 Visitor Pass can be purchased at various retail locations.

Buses in downtown Seattle are free between 6am and 7pm in the downtown core of Seattle. Just get on and get off. To read the details refer to Metro Free Bus info.

Sound Transit (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).

If presented with multiple routes to get to the same destination, try and ascertain which routes use Hybrid Flyer buses, recognizable by the yellow rather than green route indicators. They have air conditioning unlike every other model Metro uses, which during Seattle's warm season will be quite useful. Generally the Hybrids are used on routes which go downtown, through the temporarily out-of-service bus tunnel.

By car

On weekends, you can often rent cars at locations throughout the city for well under $20/day.

Flexcar has cars in many parts of the city, waiting for someone to pick them up, drive them around, and drop them back off. It's a cool idea, but it won't do you much good as a tourist, and rental cars are cheaper. Sorry!

Be mindful of where you park because parking laws are enforced and the fines can be hefty! A parking ticket can be in excess of $35 for going overtime in a 2-hour zone.

By bicycle

Bicycling is better than in most cities, except for the damp roads, frequent rain and San Francisco Jr. hills. Buy yourself some Gore-Tex raingear at REI's Flagship Store (222 Yale Ave). Many major roads in Seattle have properly maintained bicycle lanes, and drivers don't actively try to kill you as in some other major cities.

Bicycle transportation in the greater part of Seattle is facilitated further by the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is a paved walking/jogging/cycling trail that winds its way from the north end of Lake Washington, down around the University of Washington, then west towards Ballard. The trail is on an old railroad right-of-way, so it maintains a very consistent elevation and is excellent for commuting or a casual day's touring. Myrtle Edwards path is located on the sound starting at the north end of downtown and continuing for the most part all of the way to the Ship Canal Locks. It is much more scenic than the Burke.

All Metro buses are equipped to carry two bicycles on racks on the front, at no extra charge. Metro doesn't allow riders to load or remove a bicycle in the downtown Ride Free Area between 6am-7pm, although it doesn't hurt to ask if you've goofed.

See

Tours

  • Seattle Tours [1] is a three hour, 50 mile tour of Seattle. Door to door service from SeaTac, Tukwila, Bellevue and downtown Seattle. Seattle Tours also runs a daily tour to the Boeing Assembly Plant (see below) which also includes a stop at the Columbia Winery for a tour and tasting.
  • Ride the Ducks Seattle [2] is an hour or so ride on an amphibious World War II vehicle (yes, part of the ride is on Lake Union), not cheap ($23 adult) and not for those with a limited sense of humor (the style is a bit over-the-top). Definitely unique.
  • Gray Line [3] offers the standard big-city set of tours, including $21 for two and a quarter hours on a double-decker; $29 for a three-hour bus tour, and $49 for seven hours of combined bus and boat touring.
  • Beeline Tours [4] offers a $38, three-hour tour similar to Gray Line, but in a smaller vehicle (that is, with fewer people).
  • For a more intimate and quirky tour try Show Me Seattle Tours[5]. Their mini-bus holds a maximum of 14 people. Highlights of their tour are the Troll in Fremont, salmon ladder at the Locks, and the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat.
  • Argosy Cruises [6] offers a harbor cruise, two lake cruises, a locks cruise, and dinner cruises.
  • Seattle Underground Tour [7] will take you underground in Pioneer Square. The city was built on a swamp, and there was a fire, and there was no proper sewage system, so the city built up the roads and buried the first floor, now the basement level, of much of the original Pioneer Sq. area. One can also get married underground.
  • It's a bit outside Seattle, but the Boeing Everett airplane factory tour [8] is a fascinating look at the world's largest building, as measured in cubic volume.
  • Anacortes Kayak Tours- Not in Seattle, but an easy driving distance (90 minutes), and folks can be sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands with Anacortes Kayak Tours. Unlike other kayak tours in the San Juans, this company does not require an expensive ferry ride.

Museums

  • Seattle Art Museum (Downtown) is closed for remodeling, planned re-opening is scheduled for Spring 2007. Until then, the Seattle Asian Art Museum is the main center of activity.
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum (Capitol Hill)
  • Museum of Flight, near Boeing Field. The name tells you right away whether you personally will find this interesting; at minimum, it will get you inside on a rainy day. The collection includes 131 aircraft and spacecraft ranging from wood and fabric crates to the SR-71 and, parked right in the front (car) parking lot, sleek Concorde. Don't bonk the landing gear with your car door!
  • Experience Music Project (EMP) EMP is the rock and roll museum, designed by Frank Gehry, and which has the Jimi Hendrix special exhibit.
  • Science Fiction Museum (SFM) (Denny Regrade & Seattle Center) is home of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame as well as numerous exhibits.
  • Frye Art Museum is a small private collection, free admission, on First Hill, always has parking and worth a visit.

Indoors

  • Pike Place Market (Downtown) Pike Place Market is not entirely indoors. It is comprised of a few square blocks downtown, and it is a market, although most sidewalks are covered and there are entirely indoor areas. If you hate shopping you still might like this place.
  • The Seattle Public Library's Central Library (Downtown) An impressive and uniquely designed building.
  • Smith Tower (Downtown)
  • Space Needle - the most expensive elevator ride in America. You can get a comparably good view for free from Bhy Kracke Park (pronounced "By Crackie") atop Queen Anne Hill. If you are going to eat at the (also expensive) revolving restaurant near the top, the elevator ride is free. The restaurant completes one revolution per hour as you eat. The sensation of looking up to discover a different view than when you looked down a few minutes ago doesn't nauseate most people.
  • Monorail - Not as expensive as the trip to the top of the Space Needle. If you need to get between downtown and Seattle Center, the 1962 vintage Alweg monorail is perfectly good transportation and kind of cool, but it doesn't go anywhere else.
  • Columbia (now Bank of America) Tower The fourth largest tallest building west of the Mississippi and the tallest in Seattle. Great views from the top.

Outdoors

  • Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (a.k.a. Ballard Locks) in Ballard
  • Woodland Park Zoo (South Gate at N 50th St and Fremont Ave N, on Phinney Ridge), $10 for adults, is open 9:30am to four p.m in the winter, five p.m. in the spring/fall, and six p.m. in the summer. It has mostly realistic and spacious habitats for the animals, unlike the animal jails in some zoos. The Raptor Show at 3pm on non-rainy weekends is particularly entertaining if you get the bird handler with the Bronx accent: "If dis boid's head were da same size as youses, its eyes would be da size of sawftbawls."
  • Check out the troll under the Aurora Bridge, near Fremont!

Parks

  • Cowen Park has a play structure for children and a backstop for baseball/softball. Cowen is connected to Ravenna Park via a wooded ravine that makes for good jogging and walking. It is a particularly nice walk in the (rare) snow.
  • Discovery Park [9] in Magnolia is great for kite-flying.
  • Gasworks Park [10] in Wallingford is built on the former site of the city gas facility, and a few hulking tanks and pipes are preserved, giving it a slightly eerie feel. The hill at the center has a sundial on top, and offers a spectacular view of downtown across Union Bay, as well as gusts of wind great for kite-flying. Don't eat the carcinogenic dirt!
  • Golden Gardens Park in Ballard is one of two places in Seattle that still allows bonfires on the beach. Set on the Puget Sound, it offers spectacular views of the sun setting over the Olympic mountain range on clear days.
  • Greenlake [11], north of the University District, has side-by-side 4km (2.75 mile) asphault and gravel trails for walking, jogging and rollerblading around the circumfrence of the algae-infested "lake" (really a big pond), plus several sports fields. On the East side there are areas of grass where you can often find pick-up soccer, volleyball as well as basketball on outdoor courts. There's also an indoor swimming pool, which is much cleaner than the lake. If the signs warn that the lake is closed, don't ignore them or risk getting "swimmer's itch" from the plentiful parasites spread through duck feces. The surrounding neighborhood is vibrant and fun in good weather, with rental rollerskates, bikes, restaurants, etc.
  • Kubota Garden, a spectacular 20-acre park space in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of South Seattle. To quote the linked website, the Garden contains "streams, waterfalls, ponds, rock outcroppings, and an exceptionally rich and mature collection of plant material." Established by Fujitaro Kubota in 1927, he wanted to "display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese manner."
  • Myrtle Edwards Park [12] on Elliott Bay has a nice view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
  • Ravenna Park in the Ravenna area is a good park for baseball or soccer.
  • The University of Washington Arboretum [13] is 230 acres of urban greenery with collections of oaks, conifers, camellias, Japanese maples and hollies. Often filled with people going for walks on sunny summer days, especially weekends.
  • Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill, home of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM).

Do

Events

  • Seafair [14] is in July and early August, with the unpredictable Seafair Pirates kidnapping women (seriously) and plundering the town. Neighborhood events such as parades and street fairs run throughout the festival, with the downtown Torchlight Parade in late July. The hydroplane races and the Blue Angels bring loud, fast boats and planes to Lake Washington (which are unpopular with some liberal Seattleites, but a well loved tradition for others).
  • Bumbershoot [15]. A music and arts festival, held on Labor Day weekend (beginning of September) in the Seattle Center, featuring dozens of world-class musical acts (and many local ones as well).
  • Northwest Folklife Festival [16]. A more low-key and global version of Bumbershoot, held in the Seattle Center on Memorial Day weekend (end of May). Even more important - it's free ($5 donation requested at the entries - but not required).
  • Bite of Seattle [17]. Held in mid-summer in the Seattle Center. Eat till you explode.

Cycling

  • Mountain biking. Try riding "The Tapeworm" in Philip Arnold Park in Renton, southeast of Seattle. Other trails are in this park, as well.

Boating

  • Visit the Center For Wooden Boats (1010 Valley St at the south end of Lake Union, (206) 382-2628) and poke around boats in various stages of restoration, from big broken hulks to gorgeous polished speedsters. Rent an antique boat and go for a row or a sail. They as well offer free sailboat rides on Lake Union. Call ahead to check the schedule.
  • Rent kayaks from Northwest Outdoor Center on west side of Lake Union or from Agua Verde on Portage Bay between Lake Union and Lake Washington.
  • Rent a canoe from the WAC (Waterfront Activities Center, (206) 543-9433, at the University of Washington, a quarter mile south of Husky Stadium, where parking sucks except after noon on Saturdays. Open to the public ($7.50/hr) and students ($4/hr). Paddle across the Lake Washington Ship Canal into the Arboretum and watch ducks, geese, swans, random migratory birds, and lots of other boats. If you're an experienced sailor, you can also rent a sailboat after a checkout with their staff.
  • Learn to Row on Lake Union (Lake Union Crew, (206) 860-4199. Classes are held year round and occur over a 4 week period with 3 classes per week. There are evening and morning sessions to fit any schedule. The classes teach you the basics of sweep rowing (one oar per rower) and sculling (two oars). The facilities are beautiful and located right on Lake Union just south of the University Bridge.

Drink

Coffee

Seattle is the home of Starbucks, SBC (now owned by Starbucks), and Tully's, but there are over a hundred good locally owned coffeehouses. (Besides the places below, see the district articles.)

  • Caffé Vita (on Capitol Hill - blocks away from downtown, (206) 709-4440 / in Queen Anne - north of downtown) [18]. This coffee roaster/retailer defines the true meaning of "independent coffee roaster". Great lattes (and just about any other drink) complete with latte art, always friendly (and cute) baristas, and a hip yet understated ambiance. The Capitol Hill location also hosts their coffee roaster and HQ, where patrons can see clearly how the coffee beans are roasted.
  • Zoka (in what is variously known as the Meridian District or Tangletown, between Wallingford and Green Lake) [19]. Studenty place, great desserts, and they roast their own coffee. There is also a Zoka located north of the U-Village shopping complex.
  • C & P Coffee Company (in West Seattle) tel. (206) 933-3125 [20]. Offers awesome coffee from Lighthouse Roasters, free wireless access and live music.
  • Caffè Bella (in Belltown) tel. (206) 441-4351 [21]. Organic coffee from Caffé Vita coffee roasters. Pastries, tea, wine and beer at night. Live music. Free wireless access. Near the Space Needle on 5th Ave.

Bars and Taverns

In Washington, "bars" have a full liquor license, while "taverns" are restricted to beer, wine and cider.

The Wildrose, one of the country's oldest lesbian bars, is located on 11th and Pike. A full bar, the 'Rose' also serves light meals and snacks. The requisite pool table is always waiting for the next challenger.

See the district articles for listings.

Eat

See the district articles for more listings.

Steak & Seafood

  • Ivar's Salmon House, north of Lake Union. Various seafood entrees served in a neo-longhouse replete with totem poles and various other carved cedar adornments. Meals can be moderately expensive (~$25).
  • Ivar's Acres of Clams, Seattle waterfront. Smoked salmon plate-lunch and fish-n-chips served outdoors at a scenic downtown waterfront location -- share your meal with the seagulls! Off the Alaskan Way. Good food, but pretty touristy. Ordering at the walk-up counter outside is inexpensive (~$7).
  • Jack's Fish Spot, found in Pike's Place Market. One of the best place to get dungeness crabs in Seattle. If you have a kitchen buy them live and cook them yourself!
  • Crab Pot Restaurant & Bar, located on Seattle's Historic Waterfront, whose specialty - The Seafeast - is what makes it unique! They take a variety of crab, clams, mussels, shrimp in the shell, salmon, halibut, oysters, potatoes, corn on the cob and andouille sausage steamed with mouth watering spices and pour it right on your table!
  • McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, located in dowtown Seattle, whose speciality id their whole menu! They pride themselves in serving the best seafood and steak in town. They receive their seafood fresh from the waterfront pier every day. You can come here on a business dinner or with the whole family! So if you want to enjoy a upscale, relaxing exceptional seafood restaurant, this is your place!
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse located at 727 Pine Street Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 624-8524. This magnificent setup of a restaurant excels in creating the most lavishingly delicious steak nationwide. The unique thing about this restaurant is that you order whatever meat or seafood you desire and then as a table, order what side dishes you wish to eat along with your meat. So come to this restaurant with people who can agree on what to eat with!
  • Ray's Boathouse, located in Ballard next to Shilshole Bay Marina. Great food and great views.

Asian

  • Upmarket Asian fusion food at Wild Ginger (just north of the Symphony Hall at 3rd and Union) and
  • Monsoon (obscurely located on 19th E, on the far side of Capitol Hill from downtown).
  • Authentic Bangkok-style Thai food at Thai Tom on University Ave and 47th.

For the best variety, head to the International District.

Mexican

Seattle is not known for Mexican food, but...

  • Agua Verde, (Boat Street) on Portage Bay between Lake Washington and Lake Union, just south and west of the University of Washington is a standout, attractive but informal, with creative, contemporary Mexican cooking, including a lot of great vegetarian and seafood options.
  • Mama's Mexican Kitchen in Belltown
  • Gordito's Healthy Mexican Food has huge servings, a fast, but sometimes long line, way-cheap prices, amazingly tasty burritos that most folks can't finish in one sitting, lots of homemade salsas (on the salsa bar), an outdoor patio, and always nice service. If you ask most people in Seattle where the good Mexican food is, they'll say Gordito's or the Taco Bus that drives around town (good luck finding it). 213 N 85th St, 98103, (206) 706-9352
  • Tacos Guaymas at several locations - closest to downtown is on Broadway near Pine - offers authentic Mexican meals (like you find in the Oaxaca market). Try the Sopa de Tortilla or the Wet Green Burrito.
  • La Carta De Oaxaca, in Ballard is well-known for amazing small plates (tapas-style) of Oaxacan food. Usually crowded, but there are excellent margaritas to pass the time.
  • Cactus, in Madison Park is a local favorite. A creative mix of Mexican, Southwestern and Spanish cuisine complemented by great coctails. Always full, outdoor seating in the summer.

Vegetarian

  • Cafe Flora (2901 E. Madison) in the Madison Valley neighborhood offers upscale, all-vegetarian cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Menus change weekly. Closed on Mondays.
  • Carmelita is where you go to celebrate a special event or impress a date: exquisite vegetarian fare with excellent service in an elegant yet unpretentious atmosphere. The chef, Dan Braun, is back in charge of the kitchen after a few years away, with a menu that changes more often than the seasonal menu they had been following. It's enough of a top-notch eating experience that you can even take meat eaters there to have a wonderful meal.
  • Bamboo Garden serves up delicious food from the rich tradition of Chinese vegetarian cooking. With a menu that boasts over 120 items, there's a lot to choose from, and the servings are generous. Located on 364 Roy Street.
  • Moonlight Cafe, 1919 S. Jackson St (on the north edge of the International District), 206-322-3378. Serves excellent vegan mock-meat versions of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes such as noodle bowls and sesame beef. In fact they boast a full vegan menu with as many dishes as their seperate carnivorous menu offers. $7-$10.
  • Cyber Dog, 800 Convention Place (in the convention center @ the corner of Pike and (9th?) across from the Express Lanes Onramp.), 206-405-DOGS. Serves superb and delicious vegetarian and vegan dogs, coffee, juice and beer. Internet access available.

Other

  • Lots of good Ethiopian food with entertaining names ("Yemisser Wat," "Atakilt Aleecha," and "Niter Kibeh") in the Central District.
  • Grand Central Bakery offers hearty sandwiches (on their signature artisan breads!), soups, salads, modest breakfasts, fabulous pastries, and of course coffee -- at two locations: / Pioneer Square and Eastlake (near Lake Union).
  • The Red Mill Burgers has really tasty beef and veggie burgers. Two locations: Phinney Ridge 312 N 67th St and Interbay 1613 W Dravus St
  • Truly Mediterranean makes wonderful falafel, shawerma, and other delights. In a surprisingly quiet corner of the University District: 4741 12th Ave NE.

Sleep

Budget

  • Seattle Green Tortoise Hostel [22], 1525 Second Avenue, (206) 340-1222 or 1-888-424-6783. A Seattle backpacker institution which also runs festive low-budget bus tours to Mexico and Central America.
  • The Seattle Hostel [23], 84 Union Street, Seattle WA 98101, about 2 short blocks to Pike Public Market, is an excellent base for exploring Seattle. It also close to all the great Seattle attractions: Pioneer Square, walking distance to the new Seattle Central Public Library (which offers free wi-fi in an architecturally stunning building), the waterfront, Belltown, and the International District. It also offers free breakfast every day with bagels, muffins, juice, toast, and cereal in its waterfront facing common room. Security is also paramount here: travellers need an electronic keycard to enter the common areas and the dorms. The information staff is really friendly. The hostel is reasonably clean, and the private room with shared bath is an excellent deal (dorms space and private room with private bath is available). You can't beat the location, the facilities are excellent, and the room prices make it an exceptional deal.
  • Panama Hotel [24] If you want a private old-fashioned room, modest but clean, with bathroom down the hall -- consider the historic Panama Hotel, in the International District . Very relaxing tea / coffee house, with free wireless internet connections, on the street level.

Mid-range

(Note, it is certainly optimistic to one's budget to call the W, the Edgewater, or a Kimpton boutique "Mid-range.")

  • Best Western University Tower Hotel, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, 206-634-2000 or 1-800-899-0251. Formerly called the (Edmund) Meany Tower Hotel, a nicer but mid-priced hotel in the University District with a long history. Because the hotel is round, the rooms are shaped roughly like pie wedges and all have a view of something.
  • Renaissance Seattle [25] 515 Madison Street, Seattle WA 206-583-0300. A full service hotel in the heart of downtown
  • W Seattle 1112 Fourth Ave. 877-W-HOTELS or 206-264-6000. For the terminally hip traveler. Decorated in a stunning palette of black, black, silver, cream, and black.
  • Hotel Monaco Seattle 1101 4th Avenue. 800.945.2240. Funky Kimpton boutique hotel directly across the street from the W in the heart of the city.
  • The Edgewater, Pier 67, 2411 Alaskan Way, 1-800-624-0670 or 206-728-7000. Near the Pike Place Market, and famous for three things: you can literally fish right out of your window, it was Led Zeppelin's favorite for trashing rooms, and the Beatles stayed here during their 1964 tour.
  • Summerfield Suites Hotel by Wyndham 1011 Pike Street. Tel: (206) 682-8282. Fax: (206) 682-5315. Located downtown on Pike Street next to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.
  • Alexis 1st Avenue. Nearby the Coleman ferry docks and at the edge of the financial district, this art-themed hotel has original works throughout the lobby and in the rooms. Furthermore, it sports a big old Chihuly (a Northwest "artist" with whom most locals are fed up) glass piece in the lobby.

Contact

==Stay safe== Seattle is a fairly safe city. You should have no problems walking out and about at night. The downtown area is a lot safer than most other U.S. cities. The only problem that may arise when downtown, is the countless number of homeless. They really don't pose a threat. Auto theft is a problem in the city. Never leave valuables in a visible place, and always lock your car doors.

Get out

Boating

If you're staying anywhere near downtown, the ferries hardly seem like "getting out" since they leave from a pier at the south end of the waterfront, an easy and interesting walk from downtown.

  • Take a Washington State ferry to Bremerton and back. Almost 2 hours on the water, in a place as scenic as the Aegean Sea, walk-on passengers a little under $6 round trip. (A commercial ferry, passenger-only, is a bit more expensive and aimed primarily at commuters.)
  • Or, take the ferry to Bainbridge Island (30 minutes one way). Get off on the other side, walk about 1/2 mile into town for lunch or dinner, and walk back to ferry to come home.

Driving

Just getting out and driving around the area with no destination in mind can be a great experience, as the Seattle area, like most of the Pacific Northwest, is very scenic. If you'd like more specific destinations, try some of these:

  • Two mountain passes, Snoqualmie Pass (follow I-90 east) and Stevens Pass (take I-405 to Highway 522 east, then take Highway 2 east) provide fantastic views. Of the two, Stevens is arguably the more scenic.
  • Snoqualmie Falls (east of Seattle on I-90). The falls are scenic, and if you want to stay longer than it takes to just gawk, the Salish Lodge is pricey but incredibly romantic, with in-room jacuzzis and fireplaces. Trivia tidbit: Snoqualmie Falls is nearly 300 feet in height, compared to Niagra's 180 feet.
  • North Bend (also out I-90) is the town where parts of the 1990 David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks were filmed. West of "downtown," there are hundreds of old railroad cars and engines quietly rusting away, with a cute railroad depot/museum closer to town. Rides are offered April - October, as well as a "Santa Train" in late November and early December.
  • Roslyn is also out I-90 (not far past Snoqualmie Pass) and is where the TV series Northern Exposure was filmed. It holds many festivals including The Manly Man Festival, Pioneer Days, and Moose Days -- the latter is an annual Northern Exposure gathering held in late July. Might be worth a stop if you're out that way, or if you're a fan of the show, but it's a very small, quiet town without much to do most days. However, there is a great small museum in the downtown core right next to the Oasis Cafe. It is worth a browse as it profiles the city's coal mining past. Roslyn is worth the stop if you have the time!!!
  • The Olympic Peninsula features beaches on the Pacific Ocean, Cape Flattery (the extreme northwestern point of the contiguous U.S.), and the only rain forest in America, the Hoh Rainforest. Other notable scenic areas on the Olympic Peninsula are Crescent Lake and Hurricane Ridge. You can take the Kingston ferry over from Edmonds and follow Highway 104 west until it meets up with Highway 101 (head north), or head south on I-5 to Olympia and catch Highway 101 West there. Doing the complete loop is a nearly day-long drive, and you could easily spend several days there, but you'll see a lot of fantastic scenery even if you never stop the car.
  • Just a 2.5 hour drive north from Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia is home of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Skiing/snowboarding




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