Packed between Elliott Bay, Pioneer Square, Belltown, and Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle unsuprisingly contains the city's business district and a number of large retailers. Also in downtown are the Central Library, the Paramount Theater, Pike Place Market, and several local and federal government administration buildings.
Getting in by car is not recommended, because of congestion and parking problems, but possible. These are the main ways for getting into Downtown.
- From I-5 northbound, take either exit 164 to James or Madison St, or take the left exit 165 to Seneca St.
- From I-5 southbound, take either 166 (Stewart St), 165B (Union St) or 165A (James St)
- From SR-99 northbound, take the exit onto Seneca St.
- From SR-99 southbound exit onto Wall St then turn left onto 5th or 2nd Ave.
- From I-90 from the eastside, continue straight onto the exit 4th Ave S, then turn left toward downtown: OR exit onto I-5 north and follow the I-5 northbound directions.
- From WA-520 from the eastside, exit onto I-5 south and follow the I-5 southbound directions.
Washington state ferries  offer service from the Seattle pier (at 801 Alaskan Way) to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton: this is a very fun and scenic ride.
By public transit
- Metro Transit  operates bus routes throughout Seattle, connecting downtown to outlying neighborhoods. Fares are $2.25 at rush hours and $1.75 all other times of the day.
- Sound Transit  provides express bus service from the outlying suburbs and communities of the Seattle Area to downtown, however service is mostly limited to rush-hour periods.
- In addition to buses, Sound Transit also operates a light rail line  running south to Tukwila, and the Sounder , a commuter rail service with lines running between Seattle-Tacoma and Seattle-Everett. The Sounder stops at the King Street Station at the southern end of downtown.
Seattle's downtown is quite compact and northwest-southwest streets can easily be walked. However, northeast-southwest streets can be extremely steep. When your feet are tired, hop onto the free Metro buses for a break.
By public transit
Downtown is the hub of Seattle's public transit system, and a variety of modes serve the district. Metro Transit  serves downtown very well, and much of downtown is a ride-free area, so buses are free during the daytime. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, a hub for many Metro bus routes, is within the ride-free area and runs the length of downtown Seattle from the King Street Station (near Qwest Field and Safeco Field) at the southern end and Westlake Center and the convention center at the northern end.
The South Lake Union Streetcar  connects the Westlake Center in north downtown to the nearby neighborhood of South Lake Union just to the north. Fare is $1.75 for adults and $0.50 for seniors/youth.
The Seattle Center Monorail  makes a direct connection between Westlake Center and the Seattle Center north of downtown, which is home to the Space Needle. Round-trip fares are $4 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1.50 for youth.
- Pike Place Market, 1501 Pike Place, . Pike Place level, M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM: Down Under level, 11Am-5PM. Pike Place Market is not entirely indoors, but nearly. It is comprised of dozens of little shops tucked into a few square blocks downtown, on multiple levels. If you hate shopping you still might like this place, with its quirky atmosphere (including the famous seafood shop where the staff throw your fish from one end to the other). As the weather gets warmer, more artisans set up booths to sell photographs, glass, ceramics, and fresh flowers. Several farmers come to sell their produce, and a vast amount of tiny hole-in-the-wall places offer all kinds of cuisine (french, russian, mexican, seafood chowder, etc...) It is within walking distance of the NCL Cruiseline dock...good if you want to walk from the boat, but making the market rather crowded when their boats are in harbor. Hours are shortest on Sunday: only 11AM-5PM. Look for big blond Johnny Hahn on his portable piano, or one of the other regular street musicians on a more conventional street instrument. Leave the more trafficked areas behind and go downstairs to explore the creepy, dusty corridors full of obscure little shops. The weird, cramped Parrot Store even further downstairs (on 1st Avenue) is worth the $0.50 admission if you like parrots.
- Bay Pavilion on Pier 57, 1301 Alaskan Way (on the waterfront below Pike Place Market), ☎ +1-(206) 623.8600 (fax: +1-(206) 343.9173), . A "touristy" destination, with shops, restaurants, and a game arcade and carousel for kids.
- Odyssey Maritime Marine Center, 2205 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, ☎ +1-206-374-4000 ([email protected], fax: +1-206-374-4002), .
- Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way (on Pier 59 on the Waterfront), ☎ +1-206.386.4300, . Located on Pier 59 on the Seattle waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium showcases native fish and mammals of the Pacific Northwest. The newly opened Windows on Washington (WOW) exhibit is a view into the area Neah Bay, the most northwest point of the "lower 48". There are two touch tanks featuring animals of the inland sea and outer coast, in the main area of building one along with a display of two giant pacific octopuses.The Seattle Aquarium is actively engaged in the study of the six gill sharks, a prehistoric shark that normally lives in waters 500 to 1000 feet deep, but at night comes to within 50 or so feet of the surface to feed. The aquarium's unique location on Puget Sound provides an environment to observe and tag the six gill shark, right at the aquarium. Adult six gill sharks may reach up to 14 feet or more.Also in building one are warm water exhibits, with individual "jewel" tanks surrounding a display of fishes native to areas of Pacific Coral Reefs. A small cafeteria and gift shop is also located in the front part of building one. Building two houses a display of local birds as well as a Harbor Seals, Great Northern Fur Seals, and Sea Otters. All mammals at the Seattle Aquarium were either born in captivity or rescued animals.
- Seattle Art Museum, 100 University St. (at First Ave.), ☎ +1 206 654-3100 ([email protected]), . Wed-Sun 10 AM - 5 PM, Thu/Fri until 9 PM, closed Mon/Tue. The museum's recent physical expansion, coupled with an aggressive campaign to expand the collection, now displays an good overview assortment of art from around the world. Though the permanent exhibitions only occasionally delve deeply into a specific subject (such as the enormous variety of pieces in the porcelain room), extensive special exhibitions fill the gap. Suggested admission: $13 adults, $10 seniors (62 and over), $7 students with ID and youth 13–17, Children 12 and under free. Some special exhibitions charge an additional fee. Admission to the museum is free for everyone on the first Thursday of each month.
- Safeco Field, . Just south of Pioneer Square, Safeco Field, home to the Seattle Mariners, is one of the finest ballparks in the country. Right field bleacher seats enjoy a panoramic view of downtown and Elliott Bay, and the stadium offers anything from traditional ballbark dogs and macrobrews to fine gourmet fare and local beers. There couldn't be a better way to spend a summer evening in Seattle.
- Benaroya Hall. An aesthetically and acoustically beautiful new concert hall. Tours available.
- Washington Convention and Trade Center, . Major convention centre, straddling the I-5 freeway on the east side of Downtown.
- Seattle Bug Safari, 1501 Western Avenue, Suite 304, ☎ +1 206-285-BUGS (2847) ([email protected]), . Mo: 11AM–6PM, Tu–Sa: 10AM–6PM, Su: Closed. A bug zoo and a gift shop. Adult (13-64) $8, Child (3-12) $6, Seniors/Military/College Students $7, Toddler (0-2) FREE.
Architecture & Views
- The Seattle Public Library's Central Library, 1000 4th Ave, . A dramatic glass and steel structure in the heart of downtown Seattle, designed by Rem Koolhaas, that opened in May 2004. This is not an average public library and has become a tourist destination in its own right. A popular way to experience the unique architecture of the building is to take an elevator to the 10th floor, the highest observation deck. From here you can walk down to the main floor through the Book Spiral; the core of the structure which organizes the library's books in one continuous path of uninterrupted Dewey Decimal progression.
Downtown Seattle from water
- Smith Tower Observation Deck, 506 2nd Ave, . The Smith Tower (built in 1914) was Seattle's first skyscraper. Take the attendant-operated elevator to the observation deck on the 35th floor (and watch 33 office lobbies pass by through the translucent doors). From the observation deck, you'll find views of Elliot Bay, the mountains, the sports stadiums, downtown, Pioneer Square and other neighborhoods, and - yes - the Space Needle. The interior of the 35th floor contains the Chinese Room, with an ornate carved ceiling and a number of decorative flourishes imported from China in the early 20th century. Entry is $5-7.5. The observation deck isn't open every day, check the schedule beforehand, or stop by and see if they're open when you're in the neighborhood.
- Columbia Center, 701 5th Ave (at Columbia St), ☎ +1 206 386-5151. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. The second tallest building on the West Coast and the tallest in Seattle has its own 73rd floor observation deck. Great views from the top. Arguably a better (and definitely cheaper!) view than offered by the Space Needle, though it doesn't cover a full 360 degrees and the space is shared with the city traffic monitoring center. This building isn't well known as a tourist attraction, so there is little to no line to get to the top. Occasional closures due to private events or security alerts. $5 adults, $3 students.
- If you aren't in town for "Art Walk" but still want to know about what is happening in Seattle's art scene try "SceneInSeattle Fine Art Tours"*. This tour was started by a local gallery and is headed by a curator or gallery owner. You walk through the "West Edge" also known as the Museum District galleries and learn about Seattle's art history, up-and-coming artists, scandals, and public works. It is a lovely insiders view about makes it a lot easier to find the galleries which can be hidden away. They also tour other neighborhoods like the "East Edge" of Pioneer Square.
- VAIN, 2018 1st Ave (Located 2 blocks north of Pike Place Market), ☎ 206 441 3441, . Open late most evenings check website for daily hours. VAIN now occupies the home of the infamous Vogue nightclub. Vain is a community space, hair salon, boutique and hair salon. The upper two floors are 20 working art studios. They have an active arts calender and host other cultural events and fundraisers. Know for supporting "alternative visions of beauty" you can expect to find an 8 year old getting their first mohawk along side a 68 year old having a conservative bob trimmed up. $15-$65.00.
Pick up some bread, cheese, sausage and smoked fish from the shops in Pike Place Market and have a picnic on the grass at the north end of the Market, or get a cup of coffee and sit at a table on the sidewalk.
- Cyber Dogs, 800 Convention Pl (in the convention center @ the corner of Pike and 9th, across from the Express Lanes Onramp), ☎ +1 206 405-3647, . Serves superb and delicious vegetarian and vegan dogs, coffee, juice and beer. Internet access available.
- Ivar's Acres of Clams , Downtown Seattle waterfront. Smoked salmon plate-lunch and fish-n-chips served outdoors at a scenic downtown waterfront location --please do not feed ducks and seagulls as human food is harmful for birds! Good food, but pretty touristy. Ordering at the walk-up counter outside is inexpensive (~$7).
- Jack's Fish Spot , found in Pike Place Market, only open for lunch. One of the best places to get dungeness crabs in Seattle. If you have a kitchen buy them live and cook them yourself.
- Nordstrom Cafe on the 4th floor of the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store. Best surprising value for lunch or dinner (e.g, salmon dinner for less than $10).
- Piroshky Piroshky, 1908 Pike Place (On the east side of the market), ☎ +1 206 441-6068, . May through September: M-F 7:30 AM-6:30 PM, Sa-Su 7:30 AM-7:30 PM; October through April: 8:00 AM-6:30 PM daily. A very popular eatery in Pike Place Market, specializing in those same Russian pastries that make up their name. They have many varieties, both savory and sweet from which to choose from. The smoked salmon,the cheese, onion & garlic roll and the apple cinnamon roll are all excellent, but, then again, discovering you own favorite is half the fun. $3-5.
- Tacos Guaymas, several locations but one 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.
- Campagne Restaurant, 86 Pine St., . Country cuisine in an urban setting brings the joys of coastal France to Seattle.
- Chez Shea, 94 Pike St., . Despite a change in ownership, one of Seattle's most romantic restaurants retains its intimate, elegant charm.
- Mama's Mexican Kitchen, 2234 2nd Ave. (in Belltown, between Blanchard and Bell). Plentiful portions of decent food and a fun, festive atmosphere. Don't miss out on the Elvis Room.
- Matt's in the Market, 94 Pike St., Ste. 32, . Charming Market ambiance and tasty seafood selections make for a fine low-key dining experience at this lilliputian spot.
- McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, 1103 First Ave, ☎ +1 206 623-5500, . Daily 11:30AM-11PM. Part of a chain, there's nothing unique to Seattle about the place, but the location is convenient and the food consistent.
- The Night Kitchen, 216 Stewart St. (at 2nd Ave.), ☎ (206) 448-8810, . 6 PM — 9 AM, daily except M night/Tu morning. One of Seattle's very few all-night dining options, and the only one downtown. Bistro fare in the evenings switches over to snacks, burgers, and breakfasts after 12:30 AM. Just opened as of Jan. 2010, no liquor license yet (expected "soon"). Dinner entrees ~$14, late night snacks $6–10, breakfast $8–12.
- Palace Kitchen, 2030 5th Ave., . Tom Douglas' upscale saloon is a hit any time of day.
- Wild Ginger, 3rd Ave. at Union St. (just north of Benaroya Hall). ""Asian.
- Dahlia Lounge, 2001 4th Ave, ☎ +1 206 682-4142, . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM (). Tom Douglas' premiere restaurant and, perhaps, one of Seattle's very finest. It is a very eclectic and creative restaurant. There is an emphasis on seafood that runs throughout the ever-changing menu with many Asian influences, too. The appetizers tend to outshine the entrees, so opt for making a meal by ordering one of each and leaving room for dessert (the freshly-fried doughnuts delivered in a paper sack are a bit incongruous, but deservedly popular).
- Le Pichet is an excellent French bistro, in the heart of downtown. Try the roast chicken.
- Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 727 Pine St, ☎ +1 206 624-8524, . Tucked in the center of the downtown hotels. Side dishes served on a per-table basis, so make sure you can agree with your companions! Skip the happy hour.
- The Metropolitan Steakhouse (Met), 820 2nd Ave (at Marion St), ☎ +1 206 624-3287, . Caters to the expense-account set with its massive portions, classic steakhouse ambiance, and top-grade beef. $50.
Bars and taverns
- Cyclops, 2421 First Ave (Belltown). Good, hip (but not ultra-hip) bar, and not a bad restaurant either. Interesting neo-retro decor. The Ace Hotel is upstairs.
- The Owl N' Thistle, --808 Post Avenue (in Post Alley)--is a great Irish bar. A house band, nice regulars, and halibut burger to die for. Happy hour is 3-7, M-F.
- The Pink Door, 1919 Post Alley (Pike Place Market), reasonably good Italian restaurant, but it's a better bar, with a rather European market ambiance and a trellis-covered outdoor deck. Occasional cabaret-style live entertainment, no cover.
- Noc Noc, . --1516 Second Avenue -- When visiting Seattle, this is a great place to unwind. The old-fashioned bar attracts an eclectic crowd that enjoys a very late night.
- Shorty's, --2222A Second Avenue -- A variety of classic pinball games and honest hot dogs make this a unique watering hole. Be sure to check out the Trophy Lounge hidden in the back.
- Tula's, 2214 Second Ave (Belltown). Tula's is a good and affordable venue for local jazz. Cover charges range from $5 to $12.
- The Wildrose , one of the country's oldest lesbian bars, is 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.
- Pike Brewery, On 1st Ave. near the Pike Place Market. Great variety of beers (try the Kiltlifter) and good food too. Can be found in grocery stores and on tap at some bars.
- Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery, and Restaurant , 1201 First Ave. S. One of the more prominent breweries in Seattle. This beer can be found on tap at numerous bars across the city, as well as in most local grocery stores.
Plaque inside the first Starbucks store
- Bellino Coffee, 2421 2nd Ave, +1 206 956-4237. European style coffee shop located in Belltown. The focus of the place is to make top notch espresso drinks. They have also created a comfortable place with nice chairs and outdoor seating.
- Caffè Bella , in Belltown, +1 206 441-4351. 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.
- Local Color, +1 206 728-1717, . Serves Caffé Vita coffee in Pike Place's largest independent coffeehouse. Also an art gallery, with new art on the walls at the beginning of each month. The first Saturday of every month, holds an art opening from 6PM-9PM.
- Starbucks Store #1, in the Pike Place Market. Who would have thought, when this unassuming place opened in 1971, that it would give rise to a global empire? So get in line, order a latte (no different from anywhere else in the world), and ponder the vagaries of history. And check out the uncensored mermaid which acted as the original logo for the company.
- Online Coffee Company 1111 1st Ave, +1 206 381-1911, . Internet cafe with both computers and free wireless. Drink purchase gets 30 free minutes on store computers, includes great espresso(micro-roasted), beer and wine or pay $0.14 per minute. Comfortable decor, very welcoming, close to downtown amenities.
- City Hostel Seattle . 2327 2nd Ave, +1 206 706-3255 or toll free +1 877 846-7835. Warm friendly accommodation. Private room available. Free breakfast and Wi-fi. All rooms have murals painted by local artists. $25 dorms.
- Green Tortoise Hostel  105b Pike St, +1 206 340-1222 or +1 888 424-6783. Right across the street from the famous Pike Place Market, and around the corner from its old Hostel. The new hostel, with a view of the Puget Sound and the Market, has 30 newly-remodeled bunk rooms in the elegantly restored Elliot Hotel Building. Free internet stations and WiFi, free dinner 3 nights a week, and free breakfast every morning. The Green Tortoise is a Seattle backpacker institution that also runs festive low-budget bus tours to Mexico and Central America.
- Red Lion Hotel Fifth Avenue Seattle Hotel, +1 206 971-8000, Fax: +1 206 971-8100, . Distinctive downtown hotel featuring modern lifestyle amenities, concierge, restaurants and lounges, meeting venues, business & fitness centers, and Seattle’s largest rooftop dining patio - a unique Seattle Lodging experience.
- Inn at Queen Anne, . A small hotel offering budget and extended stay lodging accommodations near local tourist attractions and the waterfront.
- Renaissance Seattle Hotel . 515 Madison Street. A full service hotel in the heart of downtown.
- Travelodge Seattle Center, 200 6th Ave N, ☎ 206-441-7878, . Two blocks east of the Space Needle and monorail terminal, adjacent to Belltown. About a mile's walk (or a few minutes on the monorail) from the downtown core.
- Alexis. 1st Ave (near 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 [Dale Chihuly] glass piece in the lobby.
- The Crowne Plaza Seattle Downtown, 1113 Sixth Ave, +1 800 521-2762 or +1 206 464-1980, . Superb location downtown, enjoy the view of the Space Needle out of the guest rooms. A few blocks away are the historic Pike Place Market, the new Seattle Central Library, Safeco Field and Qwest Field in Pioneer Square. Also offers Port of Seattle cruise package as well as many other Seattle packages. Home to the Regatta Bar and Grill featuring fresh seafood and prime meats.
- The Edgewater . Pier 67, 2411 Alaskan Way. +1 800 624-0670 or +1 206 728-7000. Near the Pike Place Market, right on the water, and famous for three things: you could at one time literally fish right out of your window, it was the site of a notorious Led Zeppelin incident, and the Beatles stayed here during their 1964 tour. Rooms either face the city with no great view other than the Space Needle, or face the water. These latter rooms enjoy the non-stop action of the ferries and cruise liners in the harbor. The restaurant is elegantly decorated with a few outdoor tables right over the water.
- The Fairmont Olympic . 411 University St, +1 206 621-1700. The only hotel in the Northwest to win a five-diamond award. Pulls off grand and luxurious perfectly, is in the middle of downtown. The hotel can start at $450 peak season, other the $300's.
- Hotel 1000, 1000 First Ave, ☎ +1 206 957-1000, . New high-tech, boutique style hotel in downtown
- Hotel Max . 620 Stewart St, +1 866 833-6299. In the heart of downtown, offers an artistic setting for both business and leisure travelers.
- Hotel Monaco Seattle . 1101 4th Ave, +1 800 945-2240. . Funky Kimpton boutique hotel directly across the street from the W in the heart of the city.
- Inn at the Market Hotel, 86 Pine St, . Centrally located in the historic Pike Place Market downtown, facing the waterfront and Elliott Bay. Short walk to Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall, Pioneer Square, Westlake Center, and lots of dining and shopping.
- Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle . 2125 Terry Ave, +1 206 264-8111. Designed by Hirsch Bedner, this AAA 4-Diamond award recipient hotel exudes an 'East meets West' theme with sleek modernity. Furthermore, the hotel offers a prime location in downtown's cultural epicenter.
- The Sorrento Hotel, 900 Madison St, +1 800 426-1265, . This historic hotel has crowned the First Hill since 1908. It is a posh, Italinate, 7-story hotel with fine dining in the AAA - 4 diamond Hunt Club - For a classy night out before the "hopera".
- W Seattle . 1112 Fourth Ave, +1 877 W-HOTELS or +1 206 264-6000. For the terminally hip traveler. Decorated in a stunning palette of black, black, silver, cream, and black.
- Hotel Max, 620 Stewart St, ☎ +1 866 833-6299, . checkin: 4pm; checkout: noon. Set in the heart of downtown Seattle, the Hotel Max is not just a hotel but also a gallery of sorts; with more than more than 350 original paintings and photographs spread among the lobby and guest rooms. $119-$169.
- The Westin Seattle, 1900 5th Ave, ☎ +1 206 728-1000, .
- Sheraton Seattle, 1400 6th Ave, ☎ +1 206 621-9000, . Immediately adjacent to the convention center.
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