The ultimate guide to where to stay in Seattle! Learn about the best Seattle neighborhoods to explore, depending on your budget and travel style.
One of the largest cities on the West Coast, Seattle is home to a lively arts scene, at least a hundred festivals, and a booming tech industry.
You'll never have to worry about what attractions are around you when deciding where to stay in Seattle – they're everywhere! Not only are you able to enjoy the many dazzling parks and museums dotting the city, there are also various opportunities to venture out into the wilderness and partake in any number of outdoor activities.
Seattle might get a bad rap for being dreary and rainy most of the year, but that just motivates residents and visitors to take advantage of great weather when summer does arrive. Because when it does, Seattle is truly unmatched.
Read on to learn more about the best neighborhoods in Seattle, the best hotels in Seattle, and all the travel tips you should know before you go in terms of what to see and how to get around the city.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Where to Stay in Seattle: The Best Neighborhoods
Seattle is home to more than half of Washington's population, which means that its residents are truly invested in making the Puget Sound Lowlands a place to call home. When you're planning your visit, the five following Seattle neighborhoods are excellent options with a stellar dining scene that's only getting better with time.
Use this Seattle neighborhood guide to find your ideal base for your trip!
If you're looking for a festive community to welcome you with open arms, Capitol Hill is your go-to place to stay in Seattle. Music lovers will be delighted at the assortment of excellent record stores in Capitol Hill, like Everyday Music, Wall of Sound, or Zion's Gate Records.
As the city's LGBTQ+ neighborhood and nightlife hub, Capitol Hill is home to some of the hippest bars, restaurants, and venues in Seattle. For travelers who are looking for good foodie spots, a 20-30-something vibe, and a thriving art & music scene, this is one of the best places to stay in Seattle.
Impress your significant other/friends/family members with your A+ taste in interior decor and bar bites at Single Shot, resplendent with marble and Margherita flatbread.
Looking for something heftier? Go with Japanese stalwart Momiji with its endless selection of sushi rolls and Kyoto-style dishes, or Witness for some deliriously delicious chicken n' waffles. It's a big bonus that all of these places have an awesome list of cocktails and other alcoholic libations.
There are countless reasons why Capitol Hill is the best area to stay in Seattle.
Where to Stay in Capitol Hill
Seattle Metropolitan - Get tight and cozy with your bunkmates at the Seattle Metropolitan, a sparkling clean hostel with some seriously cheap rates given its central location. The Seattle Metropolitan only offers bunk beds in mixed dormitory rooms, but $30/night is hard to beat. There's a kitchen, living room, and free Wifi available for your convenience, and the hostel itself is a short walk from Volunteer Park, the Japanese Garden, and Washington Park Arboretum.
11th Avenue Inn Bed & Breakfast - You'll know you've arrived at this charming B&B when you come across the gorgeous purple blooms adorning the front. Complimentary hot breakfast is included with your stay, and what a decadent breakfast it is (the French toast and fresh fruit are sure to make you drool)! For an affordable rate, you can get a room lovingly decked out with antique furniture and a queen-sized bed. Plus, Pike Place is only a mile walk away!
Seattle Pike & Pine Luxury Suites by Nspire - This striking condo hotel is ideal if you're traveling with a midsize group (3-4 people), boasting eclectic and colorful furnishings, gorgeous aerial views, and useful amenities such as in-house washer & dryer. Thanks to its stellar location, you can easily cook a meal in the condo's sleek kitchen or check out of one of the many restaurants in Capitol Hill.
Pike Place Market
Although it's not officially one of the "neighborhoods of Seattle," Pike Place Market is the go-to destination for people visiting Seattle. Perched next to Elliott Bay, Pike Place Market is the oldest currently-operating public market in the US and still manages to wow its visitors.
With dozens of vendors packed into the market, most people come to Pike Place to witness the "flying fish" – in this case, the fishmongers actually flinging fish at each other once someone makes an order.
While you're at Pike Place Market, visit the original Starbucks location a stone's throw away (although if you want to visit a seriously impressive Starbucks location, you should check out the Starbucks Roastery on Capitol Hill).
Beecher's Handmade Cheese is a mac & cheese mecca for anyone who wants to slurp down noodles combined with decadent cheese. You also can't leave Pike Place Market without eating seafood, so grab a fat pint and cup of clam chowder at The Athenian Seafood Restaurant & Bar or chow down on mussels & clams at The Pink Door.
Related: What to do With Two Days in Seattle
Where to Stay in Pike Place Market
Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle - Right across from Pike Place Market and right next to the Gum Wall, Green Tortoise Hostel gets the job done with free breakfast and decently priced bunk beds in both mixed and female-only dorms. There's also plenty of common areas for you to hang out in and make new friends.
Pensione Nichols - Five minutes away from Pike Place Market and 10 minutes from the Waterfront Park, Pensione Nichols is a cozy B&B infused with plenty of natural light. Not only is continental breakfast included, but Pensione Nichols comes equipped with a game room and daily maid service.
Palihotel Seattle - Painted in emerald hues that pay a tribute to Seattle's nickname, Palihotel Seattle is situated close to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. If you're looking for one of the best hotels near Pike Place Market, look no further than the Palihotel.
The interior decor is incredibly stylish with plush pillows – seriously, the rooms and common areas are straight out of Architectural Digest – and the restaurant The Hart and the Hunter is a delicious mixture of Southern-inspired dishes and Seattle's relaxed vibes. Bunk beds, queen rooms, and king rooms are all available.
Queen Anne is an idyllic suburb northwest of Seattle, perfect for traveling couples or families who like to stay off-the-beaten-path – with the exception of lower Queen Anne, the nearby Seattle Center, and Space Needle!
Due to its residential nature, you won't find many hotels in Queen Anne but there are plenty of beautiful craftsman homes and apartments you can rent for a short-term stay.
In addition to the gorgeous architecture, Queen Anne is filled with incredible restaurants. You won't actually get to cook a wolf, but How to Cook a Wolf serves rustic and tasty Italian dishes and will blow you away by its attention to the ingredients.
You can also try experimental French dishes at Toulouse Petit, or dine on Korean sandwiches and noodles at the low-key GoldinBlack. If you happen to be in Seattle during football season, Buckley's is a must-visit tavern if you want to cheer on the Seahawks!
As Seattle districts go, this is one of the more local places you can stay without being too far from the main attractions.
Where to Stay in Queen Anne
SoBe Westlake Apartments - This delightful condo hotel can house up to 6 people with their array of 2-bedroom apartments. When you consider the fact that you get a fully-equipped kitchen and beautifully decorated living spaces all for the price of roughly $135/night, SoBe Westlake Apartments are a steal for the location. Plus, it's a twenty minute walk to the iconic Space Needle!
The Mediterranean Inn - Literally decked out with a rooftop deck, The Mediterranean Inn is the ideal choice if you're looking to spend a little extra on accommodation. All rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, kitchenette, coffeemaker, and microwave, and you can always hit up the fitness center if you're not getting in enough cardio from walking all over Seattle.
Staypineapple at the Maxwell Hotel - The Maxwell Hotel has the best of both worlds – the trappings you would expect from an elegant hotel chain and the laidback quirkiness of Seattle proper. Famous for its pineapple treats, bold colors, and for featuring local artists, the Maxwell Hotel is committed to delivering you a top-notch memorable experience.
Pioneer Square is the perfect district to stay in if you're a history buff and looking to learn more about what makes Seattle fascinating. Not only does Pioneer Square possess the distinction of being Seattle's first city center, but the Renaissance Revival architecture and art galleries will delight those who want a visual feast. The neighborhood also has some of the best hotels in Seattle.
But, Pioneer Square isn't all historical facts, exhibits, and good hotels. Plenty of trendy eats can be found, with ooey-gooey Cow Chip Cookies and Good Bar (that used to be a bank!) being particular highlights. A pilgrimage to Il Corvo or Manu's Bodega is a must, even though their to-die-for pasta and Cuban/Dominican/Caribbean bowls are only available on weekday afternoons.
Where to Stay in Pioneer Square
HI - Seattle at American Hotel Hostel - A hostel with minimalist dorm rooms, private rooms, and funky-fresh living room decor, HI is conveniently located near popular hubs of public transit and the Chinatown and International district.
Silver Cloud Hotel - If you're visiting for a sports event at Seattle Stadium, Silver Cloud Hotel is the perfect spot for you to celebrate a hard won victory or commiserate over a bitter loss. Not only does Silver Cloud Hotel have a sports bar on its premise, but the hot tub and rooftop pool are definitely worth checking out for a quick dip.
Four Seasons Hotel Seattle - If you go luxury, you have to go with Four Seasons. One of the best Seattle hotels, The Four Seasons boasts some of the most stunning views of the city and waterfront. The infinity pool and Goldfinch Tavern aren't bad perks either. If you're wanting to stay at one of the most beautiful Seattle waterfront hotels, this place is it.
Known for its buzzy nightlife, Belltown has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Seattle.
Belltown is within throwing distance of major Seattle attractions and big companies, making it a desirable place for young 20-somethings to work and play in the area. There have been active commitments to resist gentrification of the neighborhood, and where Belltown shines is in its storied establishments such as grunge rock venue, Crocodile.
If you want an almost-taste of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", head onto his former apprentice's spot at Shiro's Sushi – there, you can order an omakase at the tables for $75/person or take a chance on as many pieces as you want at the counter. Top off your delicious Belltown dinner with drinks and skeeball at The Rabbit Hole.
Where to Stay in Belltown
Kings Inn - Staying in one of Seattle's busiest neighborhoods means that prices aren't the most budget-friendly, but you can reserve a cozily furnished room with either a queen bed or two twin beds at the Kings Inn for a relatively affordable rate. The biggest plus about Kings Inn is its central location. You're less than a mile away from many historic Seattle landmarks like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Seattle Art Museum!
Hotel Ändra - A stylish boutique hotel that pays homage to Scandinavian aesthetics, Hotel Ändra features a flat-screen TV, ironing facilities, and plush bathrobes for you to relax in after a hot shower! Go downstairs to dine on Greek/Pacific Northwest cuisine at the Lola Restaurant or Northern Italian cuisine (so lots of pasta and mozzarella) at Assaggio Ristorante.
Kimpton Palladian Hotel - The best place to stay in Seattle for the luxury traveler, The Kimpton Palladian Hotel has a stately grandeur befitting its price tag and offers many perks to their guests. You can take one of their free bikes out for a spin, join for an evening wine hour, or enjoy delicious seafood at their restaurant Shaker + Spear. Just a 1,000 feet away from Pike Place Market, Kimpton Palladian Hotel is great value for its location and luxe experience.
How to Get Around Seattle
Unlike some of its West Coast brethren (I'm looking at you L.A.), Seattle is blessed with somewhat decent public transportation. In fact, it's strongly discouraged that you get a rental car since parking can get expensive and the streets cramped with traffic.
With a combination of rideshares (Uber/Lyft), taking the bus, rail, or taxi, and walking, you'll be able to make it around the Emerald City with little to no problem.
While you're navigating Seattle via public transport, you're going to need an Orca card or cash to use for the bus, ferry, rail, or all three. Once you've purchased an Orca card for $5 or less, you can easily reload it with either cash or daily/monthly passes.
The Orca card is good for the following: Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries.
Seattle's public transit consists of:
Link Light Rail: A straight shot from SeaTac to downtown to wherever else you need to go, the Link Light Rail will get you from airport tarmac to the city center in roughly half an hour. It also makes mini stops at several sports stadiums, special Seattle districts like Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square, and the University of Washington.
King County Metro Transit: The most convenient way to get around Seattle, the city buses are plentiful (with over 200+ routes!) and take you throughout most of the city for a cheap price. Not bad, especially considering that Seattle tends to be a pricier city than most.
Seattle Streetcar: These brightly colored streetcars have two different routes throughout the city. One begins at Pioneer Square, threads through International District, before taking you to Capitol Hill as your final destination. The other one takes you to South Lake Union from downtown.
Seattle Center Monorail (only takes cash): This line takes you from Seattle Center in Queen Anne (where you can visit the famous Chihuly Garden, Olympic Sculpture Park, and more) all the way to downtown. Even though there's only one line, it's a stunning trip that takes you to the majority of Seattle's hotspots in a speedy fashion.
Ferry: Looking to make a day trip to any of small cities near Seattle, like Bremerton or Bainbridge Island? Taking the ferry can be a relaxing way to check out the surrounding area and catch some great views of the water at the same time.
Washington State is home to the largest ferry fleet in the US, so the Washington State Department of Transportation operates a tight ferry schedule at Colman Dock that will allow you to take either your car/bike on board.
If you're looking to go somewhere more obscure, there are private ferries and taxi boats, like the King County Water Taxi, but they will most likely not allow you to bring transportation.
Top 10 Sights to See in Seattle
Seattle is a representation of what its residents care most about – elevating their passions into an art form. The following attractions listed all have a wholly unique Seattle flavor that makes you wonder why there aren't more places of this quality in the rest of the world:
Central Public Library
This glass giant is a dazzling tribute to the pursuit of knowledge and intelligence. Not only is there enough glass to make Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum jealous, but it can also house up to almost 1.5 million books. The "Books Spiral" spans 4 stories, allowing you to peruse the entire spiral without ever having to take the stairs.
Seattle Art Museum
Sure, Seattle Art Museum (or SAM) might host some world-class exhibitions (including one on teatime porcelain), but have you ever checked out their events? SAM highlights local talent by putting on art shows, speaker panels, and musical performances to further enlighten the visitors lucky enough to visit this establishment.
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
If you've been doing your research on Seattle, chances are you've come across the brilliant orange glass blooms lit aflame in a glass enclosure. Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is a must-visit for anyone who has an appreciation for 1) bold colors and 2) craftsmanship. The way that Chihuly has been able to manipulate glass into its many malleable forms is nothing short of astonishing.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Near the Seattle Art Museum is a 9-acre plot of land with sculptural colossi scattered across the terrain. Free tours of the Olympic Sculpture Park are available to the public, and you get the chance to embark on a 60-minute journey and learn about landscape design, the history of the land itself, and the brilliant creatives behind the artwork.
Pike Place Market
Is it cheating if I've already dedicated an entire section to this massive, marvelous spectacle of a farmers' market? Nope! As popular as it may be with tourists, Pike Place Market is still a mainstay in the quintessential Seattle itinerary. After all, with so many flowers, fish, and other gourmet delights abound, there's no chance you'll ever get bored of this place.
Is the Space Needle worth the trip up? It depends on if you want to shell out the money for a ticket and you aren't scared of heights, but the Space Needle is certainly worth at least one trip to the top.
The view at the observation deck is breathtaking, giving you glimpses of the skyline, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and the islands surrounding Seattle. But, even if you don't go up the tower, gazing at the 604 foot behemoth is jaw-dropping enough.
Nestled in the Queen Anne neighborhood, Kerry Park gives you picture-perfect views of the Seattle skyline. Even though Kerry Park is smaller than most of Seattle's impressive parks, you'd be hard pressed to find a better sunset than at this location.
Museum of Pop Culture
Founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen as a loving tribute to music, fantasy, science fiction, video games and more, the Museum of Pop Culture does exactly what its name implies – it pops! Designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, the museum's iridescent walls are hard to miss and resist as it lures you into one of its many incredible exhibits.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Although most people opt to make a stop by the original Starbucks location near Pike Place Market, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a far larger and more impressive sight. You can literally watch the workers take unroasted beans, roast them, grind them, and have them turned into any type of coffee you want all in one go.
The Great Wheel
It only costs $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $9 for kids to take a whirl on Seattle's iconic Great Wheel. Once you're safely in the gondola, the Great Wheel will take you to a peak height of 157 feet and give you unbeatable views of the bay and Seattle.
Top 3 Day Trips from Seattle
As fun as it is to stick around in downtown Seattle, might I remind you that there are plenty of amazing places to explore right on the outskirts of the city? Lace up your boots and get ready for some views you'll find difficult to get anywhere else with these spots.
Woodinville Wine Country
Just a short 30 miles away from downtown Seattle, Woodinville Wine Country is the proud home of over 90 wineries, all armed with the same mission – to serve you the best wine made in Washington. Make a day trip out of tasting rooms until you're pleasantly buzzed and dine on some excellent farm-to-table cuisine!
Mount Rainier National Park
One of the most famous national parks on the West Coast, Mount Rainier dazzles all who are fortunate enough to witness its majesty in person. While the active volcano is already impressive in itself, hiking through the fields of flowers is a magical experience.
Drive 2.5 hours from Seattle and follow the Skykomish River to this alpine village that looks straight out of a movie. Leavenworth's Bavaria influences run strong, and you can easily hike, camp, and eat plenty of German sausages all in one day!
What to Pack for Seattle
Looking for more travel inspiration for the Pacific Northwest? Check out these related posts!
- 3 Outdoor Date Ideas in the Bay Area (To Enjoy During Quarantine) - September 16, 2020
- 11 Best Large Camping Tents (2020 Buying Guide) - September 10, 2020
- 64 Best Christmas Gifts for Parents | Ultimate Gift Guide for 2020 - August 20, 2020