First off, Seattle has great public transportation, so when visiting the city you really don't need a car if you plan on doing city things! From the airport to downtown Seattle (where Pike Place Market & the first Starbucks is located), you can take the train in and be in the center of it all within 45 min for a one way fare of $3.25! (Also if you're staying in downtown, most hotels are valet only and can charge up to $40/night for parking!)
The Link Light Rail is pretty awesome, it doesn't have too many stops, and it can get you to a lot of the major places with very little hassle! Some of the major stops are SeaTac Airport, Westlake (downtown Seattle), Capital Hill, and University of Washington.
The Seattle Bus System is also very handy. Even though I have a car, I prefer taking the bus when going from one side of the city to the other. Bus fares range depending on time, but it can be as low as $2.50.
Other modes of getting around in the city: Seattle Street Car, Monorail (I feel like this is the most pointless of the public transportation system and more for tourists going to and from the Space Needle lol), and of course taxis, Uber, & Lyft.
Limited Time in the City (1-2 Days)
If you only have a day in the city and want to see as much as you can, here are some things I recommend doing...
Pike Place Market: This market is open daily. It's the market known for fish throwing among the seafood stands, the plethora of colorful flowers, random knickknacks, farmers market, food stands, and plenty of things to see and do! I personally like to avoid the weekend crowds and go during the weekdays.
Original Starbucks: I have actually been told that it's not truly the first Starbucks, but Starbucks markets this location as the Original store, and they have plenty of novelty items sold here with their original logo. It's right next to Pike Place Market
The Gum Wall: Located underneath the Market is this infamous wall where tourists like to stick their gum. It's probably full of bacteria, but people still do it. The city pressure washed all of it off at one point, but people just come back and stick their gum everywhere. I find the smell of chewed gum nauseating lol.
Food spots that tourists are a fan of near the Market: Pike Place Chowder, Le Panier French Bakery, Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Piroshky Piroshky, Biscuit Bitch, Mee Sum Pastry, The Crumpet Shop, and The Pink Door.
Space Needle & Chihuly Glass Museum: From Pike Place Market to the Space Needle, it's about a 1 mile walk. If you don't want to walk, you could take the Monorail from downtown. Whenever I mention Chihuly to a person who lives outside of Washington they don't know who that is. The question I always ask is "Have you been to the Bellagio in Vegas? You know the colorful glass art ceiling in the lobby? Chihuly is the artist behind that." You can actually get a bundle ticket needle and glass museum for around $40. Otherwise Chihuly by itself is $24 and Space Needle is also $24 by itself.
Sky View Observatory: Everyone knows that the Space Needle is not the tallest building in Seattle right? If you want amazing views from the tallest building in Seattle, you have to head over to the Columbia Center, that tall black building deep in downtown. The views from the top are pretty awesome, and it's around $15
Coffee Lovers: For all Starbucks lovers, a must is the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Capital Hill. It's pretty impressive. For others looking for local coffee that have great reviews, stop into Seattle Coffee Works, Storyville Coffee, Street Bean, and the list of local coffee shops go on...
Pike Place Market around the holidays
View from Sky View Observatory
More to Seattle Than Downtown, Seattle Neighborhoods
Most of the well known tourist spots are in downtown, but Seattle's also known for it's numerous quirky neighborhoods, from Queen Anne, Capital Hill, to Ballard and Fremont, all these places are still in the city of Seattle. Each are very different from the other and all offer some kind of tourist attraction.
Fremont: Less than 4 miles from downtown, this quirky neighborhood hosts the yearly Summer Solstice Parade where each year around the Summer Solstice, locals paint their bodies and ride around on bikes naked.... but besides that, there's the Fremont Troll (troll under the bridge, get it?), Gasworks Park, which has a great view of downtown, and the Fremont Sunday Market that are all there year round. There are also great food places to eat at like, Pie and Red Star Taco Bar.
Queen Anne: This ritzier neighborhood is about 2 miles from downtown, and has some beautiful homes to look at, but also has one of my favorite parks to take visitors to! Kerry Park has a great view of the city and Puget Sound and on a nice day, the mountains are on display! A notable restaurant in Queen Anne to try is Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge.
Capital Hill & Belltown: If you are more into the nightlife scene, Capital Hill and Belltown are the neighborhoods to go to for a good night out. From their lively bar scene and restaurants, there's plenty to do till the wee hours of the night.
Ballard: Maybe it's me, but I feel like this is a more locals scene, they've got a good nightlife here as well, but they also offer cute boutiques and restaurants to shop at and try. They also hold a great farmers market on Sundays year round. Some of my favorite Ballard food spots are: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery (if you are a dessert fan), and Un Bien for Cuban sandwiches.
That's just the tip of the iceberg for Seattle neighborhoods, there's so many more and so much more to talk about, but I will leave it at that with the neighborhoods for now. Can't cover all places! (Other notable neighbors are South Lake Union, Wallingford, Pioneer Square, U District, Magnolia....)
South Lake UnionSeattle Parks
When I visit cities as a tourist, I don't think of going to parks, but since I have lived in Seattle, this city has some amazing parks! From Discovery Park, with it's 11 miles of trails and lighthouse, to Golden Gardens Park with its beaches, there's so much greenery here, if you have time go visit one of the parks! Other notable parks are Ella Bailey Park, Green Lake, Kerry Park, Gasworks Park, Carkeek Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, and Volunteer Park.
View from Kerry Park
View of the Olympic Mountains from Discovery ParkSeafood in Seattle
There's actually been more than one occasion where people have asked me where good seafood is in the city and I always leave it out. So here is my list of the best places to get your seafood fix on...
- Pike Place Chowder (more of a casual spot where you order at the counter, and they specialize in chowder of course)
- Duke's Chowder House (fancier sit down restaurant on Lake Union, they've got a bit of everything, chowder, fish tacos, salmon)
- Elliot's Oyster House (also a fancier sit down restaurant, this one specializing in oysters but also has great seafood dishes)
- Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar (more hip and trendy oyster place)
- City Fish Market (this is actually one of the fish stands at Pike Place Market, but they sell oyster shooters, shrimp and crab cocktail ready to eat and it's delicious and on the go kinda deal)
- The Crab Pot (this is the most touristy seafood restaurant out of all of them, the kind where they dump seafood on the table and you eat with your hands, it's more about quantity than quality I feel)
I have so many more recommendations, places to see, restaurants to try, I feel like it's endless. I feel like this is a good start though. I'm not from here, but growing up I visited Seattle a handful of times and every time I left, I always thought it was a great city. Now that I'm older and actually live here, I think I'm going to stay for a while. Seattle, you have stolen my heart.