Seattle is broken up into different neighborhoods, which is how locals give directions and talk about their city. Seattle is not chock full of super touristy sites like other large US cities, which makes having a truly indie experience much easier.
  • Even though it's one of the most touristy sites in Seattle, Pike's Place Market is a great place to spend a day wandering. Pike's Place offers much more than some guys throwing fish, so be sure to spend plenty of time exploring the rest that this labyrinth of a market has to offer.
  • Seattle is home to a plethora of parks that are perfect for hanging out in, relaxing, and exploring. Check out Volunteer Park, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, and the Golden Gardens Park.
  • If you find yourself in Seattle during the first Thursday of the month, then head to Pioneer Square where most of the galleries are open and free to the public. Many even offer complimentary wine and snacks.
  • Seattle is split into neighborhoods, all of which have their own unique vibe. Where you stay in Seattle will determine what type of experience you have.
    • The downtown area of Seattle is split into several different neighborhoods, all within walking distance of each other - Downtown, Belltown, Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Pioneer Square are a few of the different neighborhoods located in the city center.
    • About 10 minutes (or a $10 cab ride) from the downtown area is Queen Anne, Capital Hill, Fremont, and the University District. These areas are a bit cheaper, have more parking, and they're a bit quieter than the central neighborhoods.
    • West Seattle is laid back beach type community across Elliot Bay from the city center. The most popular beach in Seattle, Alki, is located here.

Why you should add Seattle to your RTW travel list

  • Even though the city is spread out, the public transport options are pretty good, with plenty of buses, a light rail, a commuter rail, a streetcar, a monorail, and even a water taxi.
  • Drink a latte in every Starbucks – we dare you!
  • Drive out to the Microsoft campus and shake your fist at Bill
  • The name "Bumbershoot" is reason enough to hit this music festival
  • Watch out for flying fish at the Pike Place Market
  • Take in 360-degree views of the city from the Space Needle
  • Wander around the campus of "U Dub", the University of Washington
  • Take a ferry ride on Puget Sound
  • Hang out under the bridge with the Fremont Troll
  • Vancouver, Canada is only two hours away
  • Sample a homebrew from the Pacific Northwest

Why you should not add Seattle to your RTW travel list

  • The weather is gray and rainy quite often in Seattle, making all the outdoor activities on offer problematic.
  • While the public transport options are great, the city itself is still extremely spread out and can be expensive and timely to navigate and explore.
  • Navigating the confusing road names and neighborhoods can be extremely frustrating and difficult if you don't have a local contact.

Overview

You probably know all about the rain and the coffee, but there is a lot more to Seattle than that. The largest city in the Pacific Northwest has been attracting entrepreneurs, artists, and others in search of a pleasant lifestyle for several decades now and Seattle is now a major destination with a vibrant music and arts scene and plenty to do and see for everyone.

WHAT TO DO

Rather hilly and sandwiched between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington, Seattle offers gorgeous citywide views that might remind you of San Francisco. The Space Needle tower is instantly recognizable and the large complex at its base has the new, Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum among other things.

The downtown area is both pleasant and walkable, although much of it is covered by a free public transportation zone that comes in handy when it's raining. The Pike Place Market is touristy, but certainly worth a visit. Once you've seen the one guy throw a couple of fish to the other guy for no good reason, move on and check out the rest of the maze-like complex full of restaurants and unique shopping.

Pioneer Square is the oldest part of downtown Seattle and its pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with galleries, restaurants and interesting bars. The hipster and gay-friendly Capitol Hill district is one of the most visually fascinating in the city, and the bohemian Fremont district is also a tourist destination unto itself.

GETTING THERE

You'll be booking your flight into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Once there you can get a city bus downtown for around $2. You can actually arrive in Seattle by train if you are coming from California or Oregon to the south or from Vancouver, BC from the north and the train station is conveniently located downtown.

If you come to the airport by car you can save both time and money by booking your Seattle airport parking online. Another good option is to to book a Seattle airport shuttle which can take you from home to the airport and back.

WHERE TO STAY

Like many other American cities there aren't enough hostels in Seattle, but there are some good ones in great locations. Of course there are loads of Seattle hotels from which to choose, but the city is fairly spread out so make sure you choose your neighborhood carefully.

You can get around within Seattle on their good public transportation system, but if you want to get out of town you'll want to rent a car. Be warned, however, that all that water and those bridges are lovely to look at, but they tend to choke the traffic down to a standstill very often.