Famous for its addiction to caffeine (there are over 1,000 Starbucks here), and as the birthplace to bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the rock giant Jimi Hendrix, there is a lot to mark Seattle out as an important place on the map. Seattle has a very relaxed and friendly vibe. There’s a robust music scene here, great bars, and world class seafood. Plus, with lots of nature surrounding it, it’s easy to see why so many people move here.
Hostel prices – Expect to pay around $26-30 USD per night in a shared hostel room. Private rooms cost a little more at around $70 USD for a double.
Budget hotel prices – Budget hotels cost start around $70 USD per night.
Average cost of food – You can get a good dinner for about $25 USD. Fast food and lunch will be a bit cheaper at around $7-15 USD. There are many lunch places where you can get $5 USD meals, especially in Chinatown.
Transportation costs – Taxis will come in at about $15 USD for a ten minute journey. Metro bus tickets cost $2.50 USD. Also check out Uber and Lyft taking over town.
Money Saving Tips
Cheap metro tickets – Metro tickets are $0.25 USD cheaper on a weekend and outside of the rush hour (6-9 am and 3-6 pm).
CityPASS – This discount ticket offers entrance to six of Seattle’s biggest tourist attractions for a reduced rate.
Eat in Chinatown – For the cheapest food, eat in Chinatown.
Top Things to See and Do
Visit the Seattle Center – Home to the Space Needle, the city landmark where views from the top will allow you to find your bearings, this park is a mini-entertainment complex. There is the International Fountain, the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Pacific Science Center, Center House which includes its own theater, the outdoor Mural Amphitheater and… well, you get the idea.
Stroll though Pike Place Market – Running since 1907 and overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the United States. This nine-acre area is a vestibule of countless shops, stalls, galleries and cafes selling everything from crafts to fresh produce. I loved it here. Make sure you watch the fish throwers for some good entertainment.
Head to Pioneer Square – Once in the heart of the city, Pioneer Square is the site where the city’s founders first settled in 1852. History is all around with cobblestone streets and classic red brick buildings lining the ninety-acre district. I highly recommend the underground tour. It provides a rich history into the early beginnings of Seattle.
Eat seafood at the Port of Seattle – Enjoy the beauty and cleanliness of the Port of Seattle at the Waterfront Park and the Bell Street Pier at Pier 66. It includes pavilions and restaurants which trace all the way along Elliott Bay almost until Pike Place Market. Bay Pavilion in particular is a cry back to the waterfront of yesteryear with original wooden design in place. Stop here to sample some great seafood.
Find music in Hing Hay Park – Visit the International District and go to Hing Hay Park, a district home to musical performances and cultural events or go to be a part of the atmosphere, chess players and morning Tai-Chi are part of the park’s regular activities. Or perhaps do like the locals and find a karaoke bar (this will not be difficult) and a place to drink bubble tea! If you want to find out more about this Asian-American community then consider a trip to the Wing Luke Asian Museum.
Visit the Woodland Park Zoo – Woodland Park Zoo which spread across 65 acres has more than 1000 animals from 290 species. While I am not a big fan of zoos (I don’t like caged animals), this zoo does a nice job of treating the animals better and providing detailed educational information to visitors.
Sea the Sea Life at the Aquarium – Whilst on the topic of friendly, (not so) furry things, perhaps a trip to the Seattle Aquarium is also in order. Set amongst the backdrop of Seattle’s busy Waterfront area, here you can view inhabitants of Seattle’s Puget Sound as well as creatures from all over the world.
Visit the Seattle Art Museum Downtown – A 48 foot Hammering Man sculpture marks the outside of this vast museum. There are a lot of good art exhibits, with a heavy focus on modern art. There are always special exhibits (when I was there, it was Picasso). Try to visit their special museum nights where the museum offers live music, drinks, and interactive art activities. It’s a better way to spend an evening than at the bar.
Check out the Boeing Museum of Flight – If you like planes, this place is a must see. You’ll see planes through the ages and get a chance to see the original Boeing “factory.” You can see the original Air Force One too. Keep in mind this place is located out of the main part of the city.
Watch boats at the Ballard Locks – The locks provide a link for boats between the Puget Sound and the Ship Canal. Locals and tourists alike watch the parade of boats pass through as the locks’ water levels are adjusted. I highly recommend the fish ladder which allows salmon to pass between the fresh and salt water. There are glass panels below the water line to watch the fish as they swim. It’s pretty cool.
Alki Beach – Sticking out onto Puget Sound, this is a great spot to kick back and relax on the shore, watch the cruise ships passing by or simply people watch. After all that activity, treat yourself to a meal at one of the many restaurants around this area.
Learn about the Gold Rush – The Klondike Gold Rush Museum offers an interesting look at one of the formative periods in North American history – the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1897, news of the gold discovery in the Canadian Yukon sent throngs of Seattle prospectors up north. This in turn brought many people to Seattle, who used it as a gateway to the north. Admission to the museum is free, and it’s definitely worth a visit.