Where to Stay in Seattle: Best Areas

Where to stay in Seattle

Are you wondering where to stay in Seattle? Here we’ll guide you through the best places to stay in Seattle, along with the recommended sights and activities to get the most out of your visit.

Located on the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound, Seattle is a celebration of both the modern and pioneer. Famed for its seafood, music, architecture, and unique attractions such as the Space Needle, it’s no wonder an estimated 40 million visitors from around the world visit Seattle each year. 

With so many things to do and see, Seattle may seem like an intimidating metropolis to navigate; however, you may be surprised to find just how easy the Emerald City is to get around in, with many of the most popular areas in close proximity to one another.

Like most major U.S. cities Seattle boasts an exceptional public transportation system, and if you plan to stay longer than a night in Seattle, it’s definitely worth looking into an ORCA pass, which can save you both time and money while you get the most out of your stay in Seattle.

Where to stay in Seattle: Best Areas

1. Downtown, where to stay in Seattle for first timers

Seattle’s bustling downtown area was founded in the mid-nineteenth century and hasn’t stopped buzzing since. 

Home of the 175 foot tall Great Wheel, Seattle’s downtown district is where you can additionally find the Olympic Sculpture Park, covering 8.5 acres of ground, as well as the world-renowned Seattle Art Museum.

Visitors can dine and shop along the many outlets, as well as take a harbor cruise around Eliot Bay for farther afield activities.

History lovers will want to check out the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, while fans of pinball won’t want to miss the quirky Pinball Museum.

For java worshippers there’s the flagship Starbucks Reserve and Roastery, while seafood lovers won’t be disappointed by the bounty of fresh, locally caught fish, crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters, and other mouthwatering delicacies.

There’s no shortage of hotels, hostels, and bed & breakfasts in the downtown Seattle area, ranging from the 5 Star to more budget-friendly. 

Although Seattle typically gets a steady stream of tourist traffic year-round, special rates and discounts can be found online and through seasonal promotions.

One of the most unforgettable places to stay in Seattle, downtown is a not-to-be-missed “must” on your Seattle to-do list.

2. Pike Place Market (Downtown), our favourite place to stay in Seattle

If you venture nowhere else during your stay in Seattle, you absolutely must check out Pike Place Market. Opened in 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continually operating public farmers’ markets in the United States. 

Seattle’s most famous and oft-visited landmark is where true foodies can unite to sample some of the best fare in the Pacific Northwest, with Italian eatery the Pink Door, Pike Place Chowder Room, and The Crumpet Shop all recommended gastro tour stops. 

Besides market offerings, Pike Place also has plenty of food trucks, pop-up eateries, and local niche spots to satiate your palate.

3. Seattle Center, central location and great for getting around

Planned for the 1962 World’s Fair, this civic area contains more than 30 cultural, educational, and entertainment organizations, along with a legion of public and community programs through which thousands of Seattle’s events are planned each year.

Today guests can stroll the grounds, enjoy a live music or theater performance, pop into one of the many campus galleries, and savor an abundance of dining and shopping experiences besides. 

You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a hotel, of which there are many in the immediate and surrounding areas.

4. University District, laid-back and youthful area

Home to the University of Washington campus, the University District offers visitors a laid-back and youthful experience thanks to its large student population. 

Visitors can step into the contemporary Henry Art Gallery and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, catch a game at Waterside Husky Stadium, and enjoy the many shops, cafes, and casual eateries favored by the residents.

Just a short walk from the district is Portage Bay, a popular spot for kayaking and other outdoor activities.

Because of its majority student population, most visitors prefer not to stay in Seattle in the University District, but save it for daytime exploring instead. 

Fortunately, University District is conveniently accessible by public transportation, and a short distance from Seattle’s major attractions.

5. Pioneer Square, great neighborhood for sightseeing

The oldest neighborhood in the city, Pioneer Square was first erected by settlers and would later go on to become one of the busiest and most diverse places to stay in Seattle. 

Brimming with shops, restaurants, cafes, museums, and some of Seattle’s most stunning architecture, Pioneer Square keeps both the old and the new alive and thriving.

Guests will want to visit the Smith Tower, built in 1914 and holding the title of tallest building on the West Coast for many years until the Space Needle overtook it in 1962, while the first Thursday of every month is Pioneer Square’s Art Walk, in which galleries open their doors to the public, with complimentary food & drinks. 

Lovers of the macabre will want to check out Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, which guides visitors through Seattle’s intricate network of underground tunnels, passages, and hidden nooks.

Pioneer Square is one of the most in-demand areas to stay in Seattle, and boasts a variety of luxury and boutique hotels, as well as more budget-friendly chain hotels and hostels.

6. Capitol Hill, one of the trendiest areas to stay in Seattle

One of Seattle’s trendiest areas, Capitol Hill is where locals head to enjoy the clubs, cafes, and hip new eateries. 

Perched atop a hill in the historic mansion district is Volunteer Park, where visitors can promenade along the trails and through the Japanese Garden, the latter designed and constructed in 1960 by Juki Iida. 

Newcomers can also explore the plant conservatory and Asian Art Museum, and are encouraged to take in the city’s panoramic views; nearby at the Lake View Cemetery, fans of Bruce Lee can visit the late actor’s grave. 

Music devotees shouldn’t miss paying a visit to the iconic venue The Crocodile, where bands such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and R.E.M. found their feet in the early 90s.

Hotels in the Capitol Hill area can typically run high, as most of them are luxury lodgings. That cautioned, it’s recommended that you keep an eye out for special online deals and travel packages.

7. Queen Anne, lots of tourist attractions

This steep hill features a mix of residential neighborhoods and commercial attractions, particularly in Lower Queen Anne

Here you can glimpse the Seattle Space Needle, visit the Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden and Glass, and take in the gorgeous views of nearby Kerry Park.

Upper Queen Anne is known for its stunning Victorian houses, and is the perfect neighborhood to stroll and enjoy a relaxing meal in one of the cozy local restaurants.

In fact, the Queen Anne area is one of the more low-key places to stay in Seattle, and is perfect for visitors wishing to live like a local during their trip.

8. South Lake Union, business area with bars, restaurants and shops

South Lake Union may be more instantly recognizable as a hub for megalith corporation Amazon and the biotech industry, but there’s much more to see and experience. 

With its hip bars, restaurants, and tempting food trucks, South Lake Union is the optimal spot for lunching, shopping, and taking in some of Seattle’s greatest sights.

The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), located on the waterside, showcases the history of Seattle’s growth, businesses, and noteworthy inventions. 

Close by is the Center for Wooden Boats, which additionally rents out canoes, rowboats, sailboats, as well as conducts sailing lessons. 

For an unabashedly indulgent experience, you can check out the Seattle Selfie Museum, which encourages guests to take selfies against and with the museum’s fun and zany sets and props.

Hotels are plentiful in and around South Lake Union, with many just a short walk from Seattle Center.

9. Belltown, where to stay in Seattle for nightlife

Sleek and sophisticated, Belltown is Seattle’s destination for high-end boutiques, galleries, cafes, and bistros, with its high-rise condos an equally impressive draw. 

Visitors will also find some of the city’s best nightclubs and live music venues such as the Crocodile within a short walking distance, as well as the Olympic Sculpture Park. 

The Belltown area also offers a variety of food and tasting tours, with demonstrations at working studios such as the Seattle Glassblowing Studio.

While lodgings can be readily found in Belltown they can be steeply priced, so keep an eye out for special online rates or consider a nearby hotel just a short walk to Belltown.

10. Woodinville, where to stay in Seattle for wine and fine cuisine lovers

Woodinville, while technically part of the metropolitan Seattle area, could very well be considered a separate city in its own right. Don’t let this deter you, however, as Woodinville has plenty to offer, especially for wine and fine cuisine lovers. 

Woodinville is celebrated for its many wineries where visitors can tour and taste, which include the magnificent Chateau Ste. Michelle and Airfield Estates Winery. 

Extensive tours like the Woodinville Wine & Snoqualmie Falls Tour treat guests to a luxe tour of Woodinville wine country while indulging in complimentary tastings, snacks, and start-to-finish transportation. 

For foodies at heart, why not take a classical cuisine cooking class at Auberge de Seattle, French Country Inn?

Woodinville boasts a number of luxurious hotels, bed & breakfasts, and on-site winery lodgings. For a truly unique Seattle experience, Woodinville is a world apart and yet right next to everything you want to see during your trip.

11. Fremont, good neighborhood to stay in Seattle

Similar in many ways to Woodinville, Fremont was originally planned as a separate city but by the late 1800s was incorporated into greater Seattle. Fremont has maintained much of its independent spirit, however, and it’s easy to imagine the independent city’s bygone era. 

The European-influenced Fremont Market, established in 1900, takes place on Sunday, with visitors and locals alike flocking to the stalls for clothing, home goods, jewelry, crafts, antiques, and an assortment of food items.

A hike to the top of Gas Works Park’s hill will award you with photo-worthy views of Seattle, as well as Lake Union and Fremont Canal. Park attendees can also visit the remains of the United States’ sole coal gasification plant. 

Back down the hill you’ll find an array of trendy shops, bars, and bohemian art installations, with the Fremont Troll, located under the Aurora Bridge, an iconic must-see.

12. Ballard, great eateries, indie shops, and breweries

Ballard is another up-and-coming neighborhood that’s experienced a wave of outside interest in recent years thanks to its popular eateries, indie shops, and Ballard Avenue breweries. 

The nearby Golden Gardens Park beach is an idyllic spot for picnics, sunbathing, and sports while gardening enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Carl S. English Botanical Gardens. 

Guests can also explore the area’s Scandinavian roots at the Nordic Heritage Museum, while the Lake Washington Ship Canal Fish Ladder offers underwater views of migrating trout and salmon through the titular fish ladder. 

Last but hardly least, the Ballard Farmer’s Market is where you’ll find the freshest seafood and other produce and handmade goods.

There are many guest houses, inns, and traditional hotels to choose from should you wish to stay in the Ballard area, with many visitors preferring the quiet, understated ambience of the neighborhood.

13. Greenwood, where to stay in Seattle on a budget

Located in north central, about 15 minutes from downtown Seattle by car, Greenwood is a laid-back local neighborhood populated by bars, coffee houses, speciality shops, art and music venues, and a wide range of restaurants. 

Although largely residential, Greenwood has been steadily building its own outside draw with private guest apartments and boutique hotels. 

14. Phinney Ridge, residential and quiet negihborhood

Named after the ridge dividing Ballard from Green Lake, Phinney Ridge is a residential neighborhood also located in north central Seattle. 

Although comparatively quiet in relation to its neighboring areas, Phinney Ridge has a welcoming, relaxed vibe that is sure to be a draw for visitors looking to experience Seattle like a local.

Phinney Ridge residents have no shortage of bars and eateries to choose from, with everything from craft beer to burgers to bistro fare on offer. 

A unique point of interest is the African Village, located in Woodland Park Garden, where guests can explore an authentic East African village through the use of tools, furniture, and artifacts in an immersive environment.

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