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Seattle

  • How do I get there?

    Seattle, being the last major port in the Pacific Northwest before you hit Canada, is a hub that serves all modes of transportation. Depending on how much time you have to travel, consider one of these options.

    TRAIN:
    Amtrak has 3 individual lines from across the country that arrive at King Street Station in the heart of the International District. The Empire Builder line runs from Chicago across Lewis and Clark's famous trail in the American West to Seattle; the Coast Starlight Line passes up the California coast from Los Angeles; and the Amtrak Cascades Line runs between Vancouver, Canada and Eugene, Oregon and the magnificent Mt. Hood. All fares vary by line and schedule, so consult their website accordingly.

    BUS:
    Greyhound, which is the largest long-distance carrier in the country, connects Seattle with major cities all over the continent.

    Another bus option is BoltBus for points between Vancouver, Canada and Portland, Oregon.

    PLANE:
    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), or “Sea-Tac," is your gateway. Sea-Tac is between Seattle to the North (about 15 miles) and Tacoma to the south (about 30 miles). It currently serves 26 domestic and international airlines serving over 70 domestic non-stop destinations, 21 international destinations, and a total of 75,000 passengers per day.

    If you've chosen to fly to Seattle, the next step is to make your way to a hotel. For that, there are also many ground transportation options.

    From Sea-Tac Airport to Seattle:

    Public Transportation:
    The King County Metro Transit System has several bus stops on International Boulevard. Follow the signs to the Light Rail on the 4th floor of the parking garage and exit from the station onto International Boulevard. All the bus departure times are shown at the bus stop, or you can take a printed guide from the Ground Transportation Information Booth which is located on near Baggage Carousel number 12.

    Taxi:
    Taxis are available from the 3rd floor of the parking garage. Depending on gas prices, there may be a $1.00 surcharge, but this will be indicated on the dashboard from the start of the trip, and that is in addition to the $1.00 airport surcharge. The price of a ride to Downtown Seattle is approximately between $45 and $50 before tip, and most taxis accept major credit cards. If you're coming back to Sea-Tac from your Downtown Hotel, the fare is flat rate of $40.

    Three companies listed by the airport and the Visitor's Center are:

    Yellow Taxi: (206) 622-6500
    Orange Cab: (206) 522-8800 or (206) 957-0866
    Stita Taxi: (206) 246-9999

    Buses, Shuttles, and Courtesy Vehicles:
    Sea-Tac area hotel shuttles pick up passengers on the third floor of the parking garage, which is connected by elevator to the Baggage Claim area. The shared ride and scheduled airport van services, which can take you to Seattle or many surrounding towns, can be arranged and picked up in Door 00 on the Baggage Claim level. To select the shared service that is right for you, take a peek at this handy Ground Transportation by Location guide on the Sea-Tac website.

    Shuttles, Limousine Services and Rental Cars:
    The Seattle Tacoma International Limousine Association (STILA) offers limos and private car services that will pick you up outside of Baggage Claim or on the 3rd floor of the parking garage. You can make a reservation upon arrival through the touch screens near baggage claim, the curbside courtesy phones, or at the Ground Transportation Booth on the 3rd floor of the parking garage. If you want to make a reservation in advance, call (206) 930-1966. To rent a car, take a designated shuttle bus outside of baggage claim to Rental Car Facility where you'll have access to 13 major companies.

  • What is the lay of the land?

    Like every major city, Seattle boasts diverse neighborhoods to suit your travel style. From the stunning and unique architecture of Queen Anne, to the hip hotspot of Fremont, to the tourist haven that is Downtown and Pike Place, you'll find a little bit of Seattle's unique culture whereever you venture. The Seattle Visitor Center's website provides an overview of the major neighborhoods that are worth exploring, and we're inclined to agree.

  • How do I get around?


    PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:
    If you’re on a budget, your best option is public transportation, which is easily accessible and simple to use.

    Bus:
    The Metro bus service is one of the more extensive in the U.S. and can get you anywhere in the city you want to go. The buses are clean, safe, eco-friendly, and many lines run almost 24-7. Fares are $2.25/ride during off-peak hours in all fare zones; $2.50/ride during peak hours in one zone (i.e. within Seattle proper); and $3.00/ride during peak hours in two zones (anything outside of Seattle proper is in Zone 2). Plan your trip directly from the Metro homepage, or Hop Stop. Don't forget to carry exact change, or consider purchasing an ORCA card from one of the designated vending machines. You can fill and refill these cards with as much cash as you like, which is an added convenience especially if you're staying in Seattle a while.

    Streetcar:
    The Seattle Streetcar runs from Downtown Seattle up to the south end of Lake Union, one of two in the immediate Seattle area, where you can rent kayaks and enjoy the view of the Seattle skyline. The streetcar runs costs $2.50 per ride (exact change or ORCA card) at 15 minute intervals from 6am to 9pm Monday through Thursday, 6am to 11pm Friday and Saturday, and from 10am to 7pm on Sundays and holidays.

    Monorail:
    The Seattle Center Monorail links Downtown Seattle and the Seattle Center, home to the iconic Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The fare is $2.25 per ride (exact change or ORCA card), and it runs from 7:30am to 9pm Monday through Thursday, from 7:30am to 11pm on Fridays, 8:30am to 11pm on Saturdays, and 8:30am to 9pm on Sundays.

    BY CAR

    Taxi:
    Cabs start at a standard rate of $2.50 and the fare increases by $.50 incrementally based on certain criteria. Three companies listed by the airport and the Visitor's Center are:
    Yellow Taxi: (206) 622-6500
    Orange Cab: (206) 522-8800 or (206) 957-0866
    Stita Taxi: (206) 246-9999

    Parking:
    If you've picked up a car at Sea-Tac, be sure to check out how to use the Pay Stations and also find the Parking Regulations including parking zones, rates, and hours.

    ON FOOT:
    Seattle has been ranked the 6th most walkable city, particularly in the Downtown, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, University, and Fremont areas. Bring your walking shoes to keep up with all of the hills.

    BY BIKE:
    Even if it's raining, one of the most popular ways to get around Seattle is by bike. Hit up The Bicycle Repair Shop on the corner of Madison and Alaskan Way for rentals by the hour or by the day. They'll provide you with everything from a helmet, to lock, to gear bag, to a map of some self-guided rides. Seattle Cycling Tours, at 714 Pike Street, offers twice-daily guided rides of Seattle, as well as private rentals.

  • What do I need to know about money?

    Seattle does not even rank on lists of the most expensive cities in the US to visit, which actually makes it a beautiful place that's worth more than its economic value. That said, some of our standard money tips still apply.

    Sales Tax:
    Seattle's sales tax is 9.5% for all general sales, except for most grocery items.

    Hotel Costs:
    The average hotel room price is $155 per night, and some hotels near Pike Place run well over that average per night. Don't be discouraged however, for there are rooms to be found so long as you're willing to look.

    Tipping:
    In the US the base hourly wage for someone in the service industry (i.e. servers, bartenders, etc) can vary by state and be minimal. Therefore, it is customary to leave a tip based on the quality of service. Cash is always preferred to credit card, so have extra small bills on hand for these purposes.

    Restaurants: While servers in Seattle bars and restaurants are actually paid the minimum wage of $9.19 per hour, it's still considered polite to leave a tip. Like most places, gratuity isn't generally added unless you're part of a party of 8 or more, but be sure to double check before leaving extra cash anyway. If the gratuity hasn't been added, 15%-18% is a good place to start for good-but-not-great service.

    Bars: $1-$2 per drink.

    Bag Service: $1-$2 per bag for skycaps and bellhops; more if bags are heavy.

    Valet Parking: $1-$2 when picking up car.

    Hotel Housekeeping: $1-2 per night.

    Concierge Services: $5-10 if they arranged tickets, reservations, or other activities.

    Taxi Drivers: 10%-15% of total fare.

  • Do I need a Visa?

    Citizens of countries enrolled in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may enter the US for 90 days or less with a valid passport without a visa. If your country does not participate in the VWP, you will need a to obtain a visa from a US consulate or embassy in your country in addition to your passport. The visa process can be complicated, but Discover America, the official travel and tourism website for the US, has a simple and user-friendly explanation.

  • What is the climate like?

    Like much of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle's temperate climate means cool, mild, and wet winters and dry, warm summers. Average temperatures range from highs between 45°F (7°C) – 53°F (12°C), and lows between 36°F (2°C) – 39°F (4°C) in the winters, and highs between 64°F (18°C) – 76°F (24°C), and lows between 47°F (9°C) – 46°F (13°C) in the summers. You may be surprised to learn, however, that Seattle's reputation for being constantly rainy is up for debate. It actually rains less in Seattle than many East Coast cities (about 37.5 inches per year), but it does rain more frequently than many other states with 152 days of precipitation per year, with the majority coming in November, December, and January. It is also one of the cloudiest: nearly 300 days per year are partly or mostly cloudy, which may also add to the reputation for dreary and wet. The best advice we can give regarding how to dress for Seattle weather? Layers.

    Find more about Weather in Seattle, WA
    Click for weather forecast

  • What are the regular business hours?

    Most banks and branches of the Post Office are open from 8am to 5pm Monday-Friday, and until early afternoon on Saturdays. Many shops and stores are open until 9pm or 10pm, and restaurants serve customers until 11pm.

    You can purchase alcohol 7 days per week between 6am and 2am.

  • What's the deal with the food?

    Come for the coffee (and we don't necessarily mean Starbucks) and stick around for the cuisine. From fresh Northwest seafood paired with a decadent local wine, to dishes rich with Asian, Latin, Italian, or French influences, Seattle's diverse food scene is set apart by its burgeoning talent pool and home-grown flavors. For some solid recommendations check out our suggested restaurants for Decibel.

  • What is the nightlife scene like?

    Ranked as one of the Best Nightlife Scenes in the USA, Seattle's live music scene is one of the best around. For our recommendations on where to get your groove on, check out our top picks for Decibel.

  • What are some laws I need to be aware of?

    Alcohol: The legal drinking age is 21, but in Seattle you can enter some nightclubs and bars (generally those that serve food) at 18 if you have legal identification. Bars must stop serving alcohol by 2am, but may continue to stay open as long as no booze is being served. Bars can begin serving as early as 6am. Beer and wine can be purchased in grocery stores, convenience stores, and department stores; spirits can be purchased at liquor stores or some chain grocers. Also, Seattle does not allow open containers.

    Smoking: There is absolutely no smoking in bars or restaurants in Seattle, with the exception of those who have outdoor areas in use, cigar bars, or hookah lounges.

    Marijuana: As of the 2012 state election, anyone over 21 can carry up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Driving: In Seattle you can drive at age 16, but they have a graduated licensing system with strict restrictions for those under 18.

  • Directory

    BEAUTY:

    Radar Hair & Records
    2724 1st Avenue South
    Suite A
    Seattle, WA 98134
    (206) 402-4549
    www.radarhairandrecords.com

    Mode Organic Salon
    1424 4th Avenue
    Suite 415
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 623-0195
    www.modeorganicsalon.com

    Squire Barber Shop
    112 Stewart Street
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 622-7871
    www.squirebarbershop.com

    CABS:
    Yellow Taxi:
    (206) 622-6500
    www.yellowtaxi.net

    Orange Cab:
    (206) 522-8800 / (206) 957-0866
    www.orangecab.net

    Stita Taxi:
    (206) 246-9999
    www.stitataxi.com

    DRY CLEANERS:
    Union Square Cleaners
    600 University Street
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 652-9965

    Northwest Tailor & Cleaners
    1516 2nd Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 623-5737

    Tony's Fine Organic Cleaners
    999 3rd Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 343-7549
    www.seattledrycleaners.net

    EMERGENCIES:
    University of Washington Medical Center
    1959 NorthEast Pacific Street
    Seattle, WA 98195
    (206) 598–3300

    GYMS:
    Gold's Gym
    1310 4th Avenue
    Suite 101
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 583-0640
    www.goldsgym.com

    ORGANIC:
    Sosio's Fruit & Produce
    1527 Pike Place
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 622-1370

    MarketSpice
    85a Pike Street
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 622-6340
    www.marketspice.com

    PHARMACIES:
    Bartell Drugs
    1628 5th Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 622-0581
    www.bartelldrugs.com

    POST OFFICES:
    1001 4th Avenue, Suite 25
    Seattle, WA 98154
    (206) 748-5417
    www.usps.com

    909 1st Avenue, Suite 100
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 748-5417
    www.usps.com

    301 Union Street
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 748-5417
    www.usps.com

    PRESS:
    The Seattle Times
    www.seattletimes.com

    The News Tribune
    www.thenewstribune.com

    The Stranger
    www.thestranger.com

    Seattle Weekly
    www.seattleweekly.com

    Seattle Daily Photo
    www.seattle-daily-photo.com

    PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION:
    Westlake Station Customer Shop:
    4th Avenue and Pine Street
    Seattle, WA 98101
    (206) 553-3000

    TATTOOS:
    Slave To The Needle
    508 Northwest 65th Street
    Seattle, WA 98117
    (206) 789-2618
    www.slavetotheneedle.com

    Pierced Hearts Tattoo Parlor
    5307 Roosevelt Way Northeast
    Seattle, WA 98105
    (206) 729-0200
    www.piercedhearts.com

    Lucky Devil
    1720 12th Avenue
    Seattle, WA 98122
    (206) 323-1637
    www.luckydeviltattooparlor.com

    TOURIST INFORMATION:
    Seattle Visitor Center and Concierge Services
    Upper Pike Street Lobby of the Washington State Convention Center, Seventh Avenue and Pike Street
    (866) 732-2695 / (206) 461-5840
    www.visitseattle.org

    Market Information Center
    Southwest Corner of 1st Avenue and Pike Street in the Pike Place Market
    (866) 732-2695 / (206) 461-5840
    www.visitseattle.org