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Seattle, Washington Travel Guide

Seattle Summary


  • Safe, with a low crime rate
  • Beautiful, natural scenery: green hills, waterfront, and mountains
  • Active nightlife scene
  • Vibrant downtown, where there's always something to do
  • Full of many easy-going people living a laid-back lifestyle
  • Compact downtown area (easy to walk or bike around)
  • Culturally diverse population
  • Environmentally friendly


  • Overcast weather (a pro for some!)
  • Major traffic as a result of poor infrastructure and lack of public transportation
  • Poor public transportation; no central hub for transit
  • Expensive, especially in the summertime, when it can be hard to find even a budget hotel for less than $150 a night


  • Belltown: A hip, up-and-coming neighborhood just north of downtown that offers visitors trendy bars and restaurants as well as an active nightlife scene
  • Downtown Seattle: The heart of Seattle, home of Pike Place Market, and your go-to district for all things Seattle
  • Queen Anne: Offers visitors an unmatchable view of Seattle's skyline, as well as decent restaurants, bars, and cultural sights
  • University District: A student-oriented district that's somewhat secluded from the rest of the city, but boasts beautiful scenery and good, cheap eats
  • Eastside: A loosely-defined area that encompasses multiple cities including Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, and Kirkland

What It's Like

Eclectic, diverse and relaxed, Seattle welcomes folks from all walks of life; the mantra in this open-minded city seems to be "If you're okay with us, we're okay with you."

Locals will tell you it doesn't rain that much, but the sky is relentlessly cloudy, and a sunny day yields to city-wide celebration. Seattle still offers plenty of indoor options if the clouds prevail on your trip. Stay tucked inside one of Seattle's many rustic cafes, sipping an Americano, or taste-testing the city's best brews. If you don't mind a little moisture, charge down a lush bike trail or leisurely cruise on Puget Sound.

No visit to Seattle is complete without a few hours at the famed Pike Place Market, popular for its "three-Fs" -- flying fish, flowers, and fabulous food. This sums up what Seattle's all about: great food, great company and great coffee.

Where To Stay

Traffic in Seattle is a nightmare and public transportation is a major inconvenience, so leisure travelers' best bet is to stay in Downtown Seattle, within walking distance of most of the tourist sites. It can be pricey -- especially as you get closer to the water, where hotels offer spectacular views -- but you save on convenience.

The South Lake Union neighborhood in Belltown can be less costly, and many hotels provide shuttles to Downtown -- but it's just a little too far to walk to the tourist sites. Queene Anne, home to the headquarters of and the Gates Foundation, draws business travelers, as do the Eastside suburbs. Families of students attending The University of Washington might want to stay in the aptly named University District.