SEATTLE - Visitor Information for UW Conference Participants
Visitors will find that downtown Seattle is easily walkable and is waiting to be explored. A fine international restaurant community, a thriving retail shopping district, world-class cultural institutions, and many visitor attractions are within comfortable walking distance within the downtown area. Seattle is surrounded by pristine waterways, including Lake Washington to the East and Puget Sound to the West. The Olympic Mountains are to the west, the Cascade Mountain range to the east and the majestic Mount Rainier to the south.
Orienting Yourself in Seattle
Some quick notes to help you navigate your way through downtown Seattle:
The Space Needle is NORTH. The main retail core of Seattle is in the heart of downtown between Third and Sixth Avenues and between Stewart and Union streets.
Downhill toward the water is WEST. Head west to the waterfront to enjoy fish and chips or an inexpensive ferry ride.
Mount Rainier is SOUTH. Seattleites call it “the mountain” and we sincerely hope you catch a glimpse of our mountain during your visit.
The Interstate 5 freeway is EAST. The Capitol Hill neighborhood is to the East of downtown on the other side of I-5.
Pike Place Farmers Market
The bounty of fresh produce and local artisan products at the friendly Pike Place Market has caused countless people to fall head over heels in love with Seattle. It’s located right downtown and is a not to be missed. Pike Place’s nine acres have been a staple in Seattle for more than a century. It’s been called “the soul of Seattle,” and for good reason. Be sure to see the original Starbucks store; the famous fish-throwers at Pike Place Fish Company; the colorful flower, produce and seafood stands on the main level, and the kitschy shops on the lower level
Take in the views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains from the Seattle waterfront. Check out the Seattle Aquarium to learn about life in the waters off the Washington coast. Take an inexpensive ferry ride to Bainbridge Island and enjoy the Seattle skyline from out in Puget Sound. The waterfront offers both casual dining where you can grab some fish and chips or fine dining restaurants offering fresh, local seafood.
Seattle Central Library
This is the type of library that almost makes it hard to read — it’s housed in a building that is just that striking. The design was conceived as five stacked boxes, which were staggered to allow maximum light into the building. Take photos inside the triangular Fifth Avenue entrance, which showcases a curtain of windows reflecting diamond-shaped light onto the floor.
[Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus, Office for Metropolitan Architecture; built in 2004.]
The Seattle Center is home to many cultural and sports institutions, hosts annual festivals and features the iconic Space Needle. The grounds here were home to the 1962 World’s Fair. Below are some of the highlights of the Seattle Center.
Seattle Center Monorail
What’s a World’s Fair without a little dash of the future? The monorail saw more than 7.3 million guests ride it during the fair’s six month Seattle run. Now, the one-mile ride that takes two minutes from Westlake Center (at Fifth and Pine streets) to the Seattle Center carries about 2.5 million riders a year. The monorail departs every 10 minutes between 9 a.m. and11 p.m. daily.
The Space Needle is two things: the most distinctive part of the Seattle skyline and the best place to view the city itself. With 360-degree views from the 605-foot-high observation deck, visitors can marvel at amazing views of Seattle and all the surrounding areas including the Puget Sound, the Olympic and Cascade mountains, Mount Rainier and more. There is also a gift shop at the bottom and SkyCity Restaurant right below the deck. Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to midnight.
Experience Music Project Seattle Center
This museum is dedicated to rock music. So it’s fitting that an early model took shape when Gehry deconstructed several electric guitars and used the pieces as building components. Take photos of the 21,000 metal shingles, each a unique shape, which appear to be different colors depending on how the light hits them. [Designed by Frank Gehry; built in 2000]
Pacific Science Center
With daily planetarium, science and laser shows, and two large IMAX theaters that showcase everything from Hollywood hits to educational features designed for the massive screens, the Pacific Science Center mixes fantastic entertainment with plenty of learning opportunities.
Downtown Seatttle Shopping
Seattle boasts a thriving downtown retail core. With more than 1,000 different retailers large and small, downtown is a regional shopping destination providing a blend of top national retailers – including flagship stores for Nordstrom and REI – and independent boutiques not found anywhere else. Multi-level shopping centers include Pacific Place –(upscale shops, restaurants and a multi-screen cinema) and Westlake Mall (shops and a food court). The main retail core boundaries are roughly 2nd–6th Avenues between Stewart and Union streets. Outside of the retail core, visit Uwajimaya with its premiere selection of Asian gifts and groceries. Located in the International District.
On the Water
Taking one of the many water-based tours throughout Seattle will give a unique perspective on the city, and even the chance to peek at Bill Gates’ massive lake estate. Outfits such as Argosy Cruises and Waterway Tours offers a variety of cruises including lunch and dinner trips on Elliott Bay, passage through the Chittenden Locks, cruises around the lakes, and themed trips. Another popular and unique option is Ride the Ducks of Seattle, which takes guests through city streets on an amphibious World War II vehicles, then into Lake Union for a look at beautiful houseboats, yachts and the skyline.
Seattle’s Underground Tour
The city’s history starts underground, where early developers struggled to build on the marshy land of what is now Pioneer Square. After numerous disasters and poor decisions, they decided to start over and build a new Seattle atop the old one. This whimsical tour takes guests through some of the areas left intact below the surface of today’s streets. The day-time tours are g-rated for all crowds, but the adults-only nighttime Underworld Tour takes a decidedly seedier approach to the story telling.
Getting Around Seattle
King County Metro
Metro buses travel to nearly every corner of Seattle. For bus schedules and regional trip planning, visit metro.kingcounty.gov, or
call (206) 553-3000 24 hours a day.
The details of riding the bus:
• Exact fare is required at all times. Off-peak adult fare: $2.25. Peak hour adult fare within Seattle: $2.50.
• Board and pay at the front door for every ride.
• Metro has a two-zone fare system. The Seattle city limits are the zone border.
• Generally, peak hours are Monday–Friday, 6–9 a.m. and 3–6 p.m.
• Nearly all Metro buses are fully accessible.
The South Lake Union Streetcar is the first in a planned streetcar network. It travels from downtown’s Westlake Center to Fairview and Campus Dr. in the South Lake Union neighborhood, with 11 stops along the way. It runs seven days a week at 15-minute intervals during the following hours:
Monday–Thursday, 6 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 6 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Fares are $2.50. For more information, go to www.seattlestreetcar.org.
Ten things you can see and do in Seattle....
You can't go to Paris without stopping by the Eiffel Tower. And you can't visit Seattle without checking out the view from the world-famous Space Needle. Here's a handy "must do" list for first-time visitors and those who want to be sure they've done everything.
The Space Needle
Seattle Center, 400 Broad St.; 206.905.2100;
A 41-second elevator ride takes you up 520 feet to the observation deck of the Space Needle, built for the 1962 World's Fair. Enjoy a meal at SkyCity, the restaurant at the top that revolves 360° while you dine.
Pike Place Market
Between First Ave. and Western, from Pike to Virginia streets www.pikeplacemarket.org
Born in 1907, Seattle's Pike Place Market is the granddaddy of farmers' markets. Today, it's a major tourist attraction with 200 businesses operating year-round, 190 craftspeople and 120 farmer booths - plus street performers and musicians. Flowers by the bucketful, flying fish, fresh pastries and fruit, handmade cheeses, local honey, wine, an assortment of restaurants, import goods, antiques, collectibles and lots of surprises are around every corner.
Traveling by ferry is a state of mind as much as a means of transportation to some of the Puget Sound's most historic and scenic sites. Views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains, the Seattle cityscape and the green shorelines will draw you out onto the deck to feel the salt breeze on your face. The state ferry system takes passengers and their vehicles from Seattle and nearby departure points to Vashon Island, the Kitsap Peninsula, the San Juan Islands and Canada. For privately operated ferries, see the Sightseeing & Tours (page 35) and Visitors Services/Travel & Transportation (page 120) listings in this guide.
Meet Alki, the sea otter pup born at the Aquarium. Walk under the water in a glass dome as bluntnose sixgill sharks and other Elliott Bay creatures swim all around you. Touch a sea anemone. Learn about the lives of salmon at the world's first aquarium-based salmon ladder. Marvel at the impossibly bright-colored coral reef fish. And don't forget to wave to the giant Pacific octopus.
The Seattle Waterfront
Piers 52 to 70 on Alaskan Way
A bustling collection of attractions, restaurants and shopping, as well as starting points for ferries, cruise ships, the Victoria Clipper and Argosy boat tours are located here. Feed the seagulls at the statue of Ivar Haglund in front of Ivar's Acres of Clams, stroll by the fountains on the wooden piers of Waterfront Park, admire the view or shop for souvenirs.
Woodland Park Zoo
South Gate: 750 N. 50th St
See more than 1,000 animals of 300 different species, from elephants and gorillas to piranhas and penguins, in naturalistic exhibits at the Woodland Park Zoo. Drop by at scheduled feeding times and talk with the people who care for the animals.
Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
608 First Ave.
After the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, the city was rebuilt over the top of the ruins. This guided tour takes visitors through the hidden subterranean passages that once were the main roadways and storefronts of old downtown Seattle and tells stories of the frontier people who lived and worked there.
The Seattle Public Library
1000 Fourth Ave.
Designed by world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the award-winning glass and steel structure of the new Central Library makes the building seem a little off-kilter and translucent - allowing passersby on the street to look in.
A short, narrated cruise takes you to an island village, where you'll feast on salmon cooked in the authentic Native American way. A stage show of traditional dances and stories entertains and teaches you about the people who lived in the Northwest first.
Ride the Ducks of Seattle
516 Broad St, Seattle
Tour Seattle by land and water on a WWII amphibious landing craft. This 90-minute adventure tour will have you "quacking up" through the streets of Seattle. You'll see the major sights of the Emerald City on land before you head out to the funky Fremont neighborhood where you'll splash into Lake Union.