See also: Things to Do in Seattle
The seaport city of Seattle has long been known as the fastest growing cities in all of the United States. Home to a diverse population and rich history, it is a treat for travellers looking for a culturally diverse yet very urbane city in a modern sense. Seattle is also known for its unique geographical location on the isthmus, the unusual hilly topography of an otherwise urban city space, and the ecology of the Puget Sound region.
Add to that the iconic landmarks in and around the central business district and the neighborhood of Queen Anne including the Space Needle, the Seattle Great Wheel, the 5th Avenue and Paramount Theatres and the intrigue grows manifold. Travellers would know better than to miss out on a ferry boat ride on the sophisticated Washington State Ferry or a jazz and/or alternate rock grunge performance at one of the several iconic performance halls. With so many things to choose from, your stay will have to expertly planned. But don't worry because we have come up with a list of some of the best neighborhoods (and the unique experiences that accompany them) to help you plan your perfect vacation to Seattle!
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Do not be fooled by the unusually compact central business district of Seattle because the neighborhood is filled with surprises. Amidst the skyscrapers that make up large parts of the area, you will find some of the most iconic public spaces in all of the West Coast. Start with a tour of the 5th Avenue, where you will the famed theatre of the same name. The 5th Avenue Theatre has hosted production and film screening since with 1926 and is easily one of the most recognisable landmarks in Seattle. Not far off, on the 9th avenue is another famous theatre, the Paramount theatre, known for its vaudeville shows aside from the film screenings.
You can always move on the Museums, the kind that Downtown Seattle has in plenty. The famous Seattle Arts Museum, the distinctive Pinball Museum, and the painting and sculpture gallery at the Frye Art Museum are a few that definitely warrant a visit. The last of these is located on the First Hill, known for its varied style of residential buildings. The sub district has a good mix of restaurants and eateries if you wish to enjoy a quick brunch outside of the main business district. Connecting the First Hill to Downtown Seattle is the Freeway Park, which offers a unique brand of urban green spaces with its mix brutalist concrete construction and plenty of greenery.
The First Hill streetcar service runs through most parts of the neighborhood making travel hassle free. Finding a hotel should not a be problem owing to the status of the neighborhood as the city's major business district.
The more artsy sub district of Downtown is the waterside neighborhood of Belltown. Belltown's claim for the artsy goes way back to the 1910s when two of the neighborhood's most important establishments came into being: Cornish College of Arts, which churned one artist and actor after the other and the Film Row, a street that would become the centre of Seattle's film industry with many theatre halls opening here.
The neighborhood today is covered in street art, graffiti, terracotta art exhibits and has numerous trendy restaurants, bistros, and bars in the offing. And while rapid modernisation has taken over the neighborhood, it still retains a lot of alternative hipster charm. While you're in Belltown, do not miss out on the Olympic Sculpture Park. The open green spaces boats of a breathtaking modern art exhibits, beach access, and unparalleled views of the Space needle.
South Lake Union streetcar has a transit line passing through the neighborhood making access from the Central district easy. Hotels are in plenty, but look for one with majestic views of the city.
One could fault travellers for spending too much time in the central district while in Seattle, but there are simply too many things to do here. Running along Elliott Bay shore, the neighborhood is home to some of the best waterside eateries that offer stunning views of West Seattle, especially during the night time. Do not miss out on a Washington State Ferry ride while in the area. You can board the ferry from the station at Pier 52.
Another iconic landmark of the Seattle with stunning views of the city is the Seattle Great Wheel, which offers around 15 minute-long rides is also situated in Waterfront. The historic Pike Place Market overlooking the Elliott Bay have is a major attraction for shopping. Farmers and local craftsmen run stores selling souvenirs and collectible, quirky magic shops and gift shops, restaurants and home-grown eateries that will keep you interested all day long. Rest assured, you will not find a dull moment in the busy and vibrant marketplace in the heart of the city.
Once the centre of activity in Seattle, the Pioneer Square neighborhood was completely rebuilt after the Seattle Fire of 1889. Despite rapid development that followed the area has done well to preserve its historical value, preserve quite literally actually. The 'Seattle Underground' as the original wood-heavy district that burnt in the fire has been preserved below the cities now raised ground level and is accessible through guided tours. It's distinct and a very interesting side of the present-day megacity that you should definitely looks o explore. The National Historical Park also details the rise of Seattle during the Gold Rush.
These famed outings aside, there is a whole different way of exploring the rich historic neighborhood. Take a casual walk around the neighborhood's avenues and streets and marvel at the architecture, which is largely Richardsonian Romanesque or drop by at one of the many art galleries that boasts of great exhibits. You can always grab a bite a bite from the bistro and food stalls at the public squares that offer several grab-and-go options that you can savour at a nearby park. Pioneer Square has also developed a lively nightlife and you can always go out to a bar (including Seattle's oldest: Central Saloon) or a nightclub later.
Pioneer Square is at a walking distance form some of the popular tourist attractions in the central business district, but is also serviceable through the First Hill Streetcar.
What happens when a culturally diverse neighborhood gentrifies into one of the most sought after districts at the heart of megacity? You get a planned urban city that houses not only a group of multicultural people, but also their embodies their respective histories, lives, and cultures in all their entirety. Columbia city is one such neighborhood; situated just South-East of the central business district of Seattle, it has become known for its restored historic housing and diverse restaurants and eateries run by the families and people residing in the neighborhood. Seattle's International district/Chinatown is adjacent to the north and offers some of the best variety of Asian cuisine in all of West Coast.
While you're in Columbia city, try out as many different cuisines as you can, especially around the Rainier avenue that forms the centre of activity. The historic Columbia Theatre and the Rainier Arts Centre offer live music performances from local musicians and brilliant art exhibits respectively and are the big draws outside of the 'international cuisine' of Columbia city. The Genesee Park is perfect for a family picnic as the large open spaces offer a perfect setting for group activities.
Columbia City is accessible through Seattle's light rail transit service Link Light Rail at the eponymous station. Much like most other things in the neighborhood, the staying options offer a variety of options ranging from affordable stays to luxury hotels.
Seattle's true alternative neighborhood, Capitol Hill is adjacent (on the northern side) to the central First Hill. Home to the city's main counterculture movements and landmarks including fringe theatres, the city's underground grunge music, alternative music venues, and the cinematheque: Northwest Film Forum, Capitol Hill will give you an experience like no other. If you can find time from tourist the establishments for avant garde theatre productions, screenings of international indie films, and live music shows, you can spend your time in one of the many home-grown coffee houses of the neighborhood.
Columbia Hill has a nightlife worth exploring as well with many microbreweries and several other pubs and bars, especially in its southern part. The Pike/Pine corridor in particular is home to some of the most hip and trendy bars including Poco Wine + Spirits, Oldfellow's Cafe, The Runaway, and Saint John's among others. The neighborhood is also the most LGBTQ-friendly area in all of Seattle and has a chic shopping district crowded by indie stores. The view of the city from the hill is an added incentive to stick around.
Capitol Hill is at a walking distance form the streetcar station at First Hill, but also has a Link Light Rail station. Rent might be a little pricey, but the neighborhood is perfect for shorter stays and weekend getaways.
The more laid-back side of Seattle is on full show on the largely residential district of West Seattle. It's lush and green with its urban forests, has a lot of bicycle tracks, a beach, and an extensive shoreline with stunning views of central district's skyline and such ranges as the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range. Let's start off with all things beaches; the Alki beach, one of West Coast's first tourist beaches is perfect for both a laid-back outings and the more exciting sporting plans. You can enjoy a picnic and bonfire with your family or go paddleboarding or kayaking.
You can find your way around the rest of the neighborhood on a rental bike. Be on a lookout for eateries, restaurants, and other entertainment options that entice you, especially in the sub district of Lincoln park, which has plenty of things to offer. Homegrown bars, lounges, and comedy clubs frequented by the residents are common in the area and good for a quick stop during the day.
West Seattle is connected to the central district through the West Seattle Bridge, but is also accessible through the Washington State Ferry. Hotels are few and far bwt, but you can always look for homestays and bed and breakfast options while in West Seattle.
That's our list of best neighbourhoods in the city. Take a pick for your ideal stay in the Emerald City!