Welcome to our comprehensive guide on where to stay in Seattle, Washington, also known as the Emerald City. As the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region, Seattle is a bustling destination filled with a range of tourist attractions, luxury hotels, and iconic locations like the Space Needle. With so much choice available, finding the ideal place to stay in Seattle can be quite challenging, particularly for first-time visitors. That’s why, in this article, we are going to examine the best areas to stay in Seattle. We will outline the top neighborhoods, tell you why each has made the cut, and explain exactly who will get the most from staying there. This should give you everything you need to ensure your stay in Seattle is absolutely perfect.
We begin our search in Seattle’s most popular area, Downtown Seattle. Located at the heart of the city on the shores of Elliot Bay, Downtown Seattle is made up of numerous districts that include Pioneer Square, Belltown, and Pike Place Market. It is a diverse destination that makes a great choice for all manner of visitors to stay in Seattle. As is usually the case in a major city centre, the Downtown area is filled with major attractions, some of the best luxury hotels, and a plethora of amenities like bars, shops, and restaurants, all walking distance apart.
The first of three sub-districts of Downtown that we are going to look at, Pioneer Square is located immediately south of the very centre of the district. Containing a denser collection of attractions than perhaps anywhere else in the city, Pioneer Square is a great place for those travelling without a car, who want plenty of things to do within walking distance. For starters, you have the Ups Waterfall Garden Park. The Waterfall Garden Park is located on the grounds of the original UPS building and was created in 1978.
Pike Place Market
The Pike Place Market district is another sub-district of Downtown and is centred around the famous Pike Place Market itself. The Pike Place Market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest farmers markets in the country to have remained in continuous operation. Located right on the waterfront, Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations and the 33rd most visited in the world, with more than 10 million visitors making the trip to Pike Place Market each year.
The last of the Downtown sub-districts we will be looking at, Belltown is located immediately north of Pike Place Market, in the northwest corner of the region. It is an incredibly popular destination to stay in Seattle as, despite its central location, it has a large number of cheap hotels. This means that even those on a budget will be able to find affordable accommodation within walking distance of some of the most popular attractions and amenities in the city. Beyond that, it even has a number of popular attractions in its own right for you to enjoy as well.
Located immediately to the north of Downtown, Uptown is the more common name for the neighborhood of Lower Queen Anne. After Downtown, it is the most popular place for tourists to stay in Seattle. Not only is it near all of the other districts we have looked at so far, but it also has a number of its own attractions, including the most popular destination in the city, the Space Needle. Queen Anne is a large district spread across the Queen Anne Hill, made up from the individual neighborhoods of North Queen Anne, East Queen Anne, West Queen Anne, and Lower Queen Anne, which is also known as Uptown. Queen Anne Hill quickly became a popular spot for the rich and wealthy after the settling of the city, due to the fabulous views available from atop it. It gets its name from the Queen Anne architectural style that many of the mansions and homes were built in.
Capitol Hill is located to the northwest of Downtown Seattle and offers a diverse landscape, suitable for various different travelers to the city. Despite what the name suggests, Capitol Hill is not actually the location of the Washington State Capitol, which lies over 60 miles away, in the city of Olympia. Capitol Hill in Seattle is instead known for a number of other reasons. Firstly, much like Queen Anne, Capitol Hill is home to one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Seattle. “Millionaire’s Row” features some of the most expensive housing in the city, surrounded by amenities to match its price tag.
South Lake Union
The South Lake Union neighborhood is sandwiched between Capitol Hill to the east, Downtown to the south, Queen Anne to the west, and Lake Union to the north. This already makes South Lake Union a fabulous place to stay in Seattle for anyone planning to explore all of those areas. However, it is the latter of those areas that makes the South Lake Union district so attractive. On the south end of Lake Union, you will find Lake Union Park.
The University District, also known as the U District, is located just to the north of Capitol Hill, on the other side of Portage Bay. Named after the main campus of the University Of Washington, which is located here, the U District is unsurprisingly incredibly popular with students. If you are looking for where to stay in Seattle to best experience the bohemian culture that often goes hand in hand with student-dominated areas, the University District is it.
Fremont is located on the other side of the Aurora Bridge from Queen Anne. It used to be referred to as the “Republic Of Fremont” and was well known for its counterculture. Many artists moved to the area to embrace the atmosphere and develop their latest works in the friendly surroundings. In recent years, the area has seen a lot of gentrification and this culture has become a lot less prominent, although it does still exist. However, many of the pieces of art the neighborhood was known for remain to this day.
Phinney Ridge is located immediately to the north of Fremont, with its eastern boundary running around the western shore of Green Lake. I mention this, as it is Green Lake and the neighboring Woodland Park that draw the vast majority of visitors to Phinney Ridge. With a near 3-mile path running around its shore, Green Lake is a popular destination for hikers, cyclists, roller skaters, etc. Numerous species of birds and fish, as well as mammals like rabbits, make it a great way to spend time outdoors and do some wildlife spotting.
On the north edge of Phinney Ridge, you will find the neighborhood of Greenwood. Fairly detached from the center of the city, it offers a much more relaxed experience than you’ll find elsewhere. Numerous bars, restaurants, coffee shops, theaters, and stores are present throughout Greenwood, offering an incredible range of things to do and see. No matter your budget, you will have plenty of entertainment, without having to be surrounded by mobs of tourists the whole time.
Our penultimate destination of Ballard is located in northwest Seattle, looking out over the Puget Sound. It is located on the western border of all three of our previous destinations and is a fabulous choice for anyone who prefers to stay a little further from the city center. It also offers a few charms and attractions that are unique exclusively to this part of Seattle. For instance, it has traditionally been home to a large Scandinavian, seafaring community. This creates a great opportunity to experience an entirely different culture and sample their foods and wares.
Our final destination of Woodinville is actually a separate city, located on the other side of Lake Washington. While this may sound like a strange inclusion in an article focusing on where to stay in Seattle, it has plenty to offer for the right visitor. This is the sort of place best suited to those who want to explore Seattle but would prefer to stay in a slightly more remote and refined destination.
Seattle is a fabulous city that is often overlooked due to its location. Whether you want to see iconic sights like the Space Needle or simply enjoy the views of the Seattle skyline while dining in local restaurants, you should now have everything you need to make your Seattle trip a successful one. So, now you know where to stay in Seattle, all that’s left is to go and start getting things booked, so you can look forward to uncovering its wonders for yourself as soon as possible.