Explore Seattle Neighborhoods
Seattle, Washington, the largest city in the state with an estimated 745,000 residents as of 2018, is located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, and just 100 miles south of Canada. It is the seat of King County, Washington.
Seattle offers visitors a wide range of spectacular natural and man-made wonders, a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, and a fantastic menu of northwest cuisine.
One of Seattle most recognizable landmarks is the 607-foot-tall Space Needle. With distinct neighborhoods like Fremont and Wallingford, you can feel at home with the overwhelming community atmosphere, or disappear between the tall buildings in downtown Seattle.
Of course, Seattle is known for its coffee, and coffee companies founded or based in Seattle include Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Tully’s, as well as many successful independent artisanal espresso roasters and cafes.
In July 2016, Seattle was the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Seattle in 1994. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. Seattle has retained a comparatively strong economy, and remains a hotbed for start-up businesses, especially in green building and clean technologies: it was ranked as America's No. 1 "smarter city" based on its government policies and green economy.
There are a thousand new people arriving in Seattle every week - for getting a job at Amazon, at a start-up, or a job in construction. Most Seattle neighborhoods feel like small separate towns. The public transportation is clumsy, and the hilly street system makes biking unpleasant, leading to necessity to have a car.
Seattle is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Median Seattle renters are now paying $1,448 a month, up $92 from 2015, according to census data analyzed by the Seattle Times. But the market feels more expensive than that because many of the new apartment buildings coming online or showing up on Craigslist are far more expensive than that. According to a various indicators, rent ranges from $1,300 to $1,800 a month for a one bedroom. For buying a condo, median Seattle home now costs $725,000. A recent report found that households need to make $93,400 or more a year to afford mortgage payments. That's why nearly half of the Seattleites are now renting.
Belltown is located on the city’s downtown waterfront, on land that was artificially flattened as part of a regarding project. The neighborhood is bounded on the north by Denny Way, on the southwest by Elliott Bay, on the southeast by Virginia Street, and on the northeast by 5th Avenue. The area is named after William Nathaniel Bell, on whose land claim the neighborhood was built.
According to 2010 data, there lived approximately 3,000 people, median age 42. There were 2,003 households but significantly more single homeowners than family type.
Although it was formerly a low-rent and semi-industrial arts district, in recent decades it has transformed into a neighborhood of trendy restaurants, boutiques, nightclubs, and residential towers as well as warehouses and art galleries. It is walkable neighborhood with everything you need.
Queen Anne Hill is a neighborhood and geographic feature in Seattle, and is located northwest of downtown. The neighborhood sits on the highest named hill in the city, with a maximum elevation of 456 feet. It covers an area of 2.8 square miles, and has a population of about 32,000. Queen Anne is bounded on the north by the Lake Washington Ship Canal; on the west by 15th and Elliott Avenues West; on the east by Lake Union and Aurora Avenue North.
Queen Anne has approximately 18,000 households and a total population of about 32,000. Queen Anne is disproportionately populated by unmarried, young adults. The population is more racially homogeneous, better educated, and wealthier than Seattle as a whole.
Queen Anne Hill derives its name from the housing style that prevailed here in its early days. The construction design for the time was English Baroque.
Capitol Hill is a densely populated urban neighborhood, close to downtown Seattle, and a major center for the city’s LGBTQ and counterculture communities. Capitol Hill is home to some of the city’s grandest mansions and many attractions. Students here attend Seattle University, Seattle Central Community College, and Cornish College of the Arts. Broadway is the central commercial street, lively with shops, coffee houses, and restaurants.
Volunteer Park includes a conservatory, a 108-step brick water tower with one of the best views of the city and region, and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Just north is the historic Lake View Cemetery hosting the graves of Seattle’s pioneers as well as iconic martial arts film stars Bruce and Brandon Lee. Another great local park is Cal Anderson Park, with a water reservoir, inverted fountain, playground, jogging path, and sports playfields.
Downtown is Seattle’s main financial district, waterfront, and shopping area which make up the bulk of Downtown. It is also home to the landmark Pike Place Market, the soul of Seattle. The Market’s traditions, products, and people create a unique shopping destination and a thriving community. Visitors and residents enjoy award-winning restaurants of all cuisines, excellent shopping including Nordstrom’s flagship store, and activities ranging from concerts, museums, and beautiful downtown parks to enjoy the breathtaking views of Seattle and the Puget Sound. Popular attractions include the Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park, and the first Starbuck’s Coffee Shop, located in Pike Place Market.
Downtown is the hub for Metro Bus Routes to get you wherever you need in the Greater Seattle Area and beyond, and Free Ride areas operate most hours to make travel within downtown convenient and free!
Eastlake is a neighborhood in Seattle and is named because of its location on the eastern shore of Lake Union. Eastlake is bounded on the west by Lake Union, on the north by Portage Bay, on the east by Interstate 5, and on the south by E. Garfield Street.
The neighborhood contains a mixture of residential buildings, both houses and apartments, and small businesses, especially on Eastlake Avenue. Though populated by all manner of Seattleites, Eastlake is a particularly attractive location for people with ties to the University of Washington, which can be reached quickly by a number of bus routes. The neighborhood is also home to, among other things, stores, restaurants, the original Red Robin gourmet burger restaurant (now closed), and a bakery.
Eastlake is home to Seattle’s highest concentration of houseboats, the likes of which were made famous in the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle. Their architectural styles range from the bohemian-eclectic to exuberant stucco-modern. New construction of houseboats taking place on Fairview Ave. E. is underway, with the slips alone often selling for over $1 million.
The 1918 construction of the ship canal connecting Lake Washington to Puget Sound raised Lake Union somewhat, and brought shipyards and other industry. The lake supports every conceivable use: industry, residences near and on the water, a major fish run, birds and other animals, boating, aviation, tourism, recreation, and more.
Named for its position as the first hill one encounters from Downtown Seattle toward Lake Washington, First Hill offers the convenience of being near Downtown but also offers a sense of retreat from the city pace. First Hill had it’s beginnings as Seattle’s first true residential neighborhood in the 1890’s, and today is the city’s most diverse neighborhood in terms of the variety of housing stock and the mix of businesses found in the area.
First Hill is home to Swedish Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, and Virginia Mason Medical Center, as well as several excellent schools. Since 1898, First Hill has been the home of the private Jesuit Seattle University. Seattle Central Community College is another excellent option for students, and Seattle Central is committed to creating a learning environment that is accessible, diverse, responsive, and innovative. Also located on the hill are Northwest School and Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences–two highly regarded private schools–and the Catholic O’Dea High School, as well as several churches that have become city landmarks: Trinity Episcopal Parish Church, St. James Cathedral, and Seattle First Baptist Church.
In July 2010, Frye Art Museum in First Hill was voted on of America’s best free museums. The Frye Art Museum has been carrying on the legacy of its founders and bringing free art to the larger Seattle community since 1952.
The First Hill Streetcar line is underway, and will connect diverse and vibrant neighborhoods on Capitol Hill, First Hill, and in the Chinatown/International District, while serving medical centers (Harborview, Swedish, and Virginia Mason) and higher education (Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University).
The Green Lake neighborhood is located in north central Seattle. Its centerpiece is the lake and park after which it is named. The generally accepted boundaries are Interstate 5 to the east, N 85th Street to the north, Aurora Avenue N (State Route 99) to the west, and N 50th Street and Woodland Park to the south.
There is an extensive variety of housing types in Green Lake. Since 1995, the neighborhood has undergone significant redevelopment. Many houses have been completely remodeled and enlarged, often with the addition of another floor. This is a consequence of Green Lake’s easy access to Downtown via both Interstate 5 and Aurora Avenue N.
Green Lake is home to Green Lake Elementary School, Bishop Blanchet High School, and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department’s Green Lake Small Craft Center (GLSCC). GLSCC is the site of Green Lake Crew, a public rowing program, and the Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club.
There is also a 2.8-mile path around the lake provides a perfect recreational spot for runners, bikers, skaters and walkers. Many others use the athletic fields or visit the park for boating, picnics and swimming.
Lower Queen Anne
Lower Queen Anne, commonly referred to as “Uptown,” sits in the shadow of the Space Needle between Seattle Center, site of the 1962 World’s Fair, and the base of Queen Anne Hill. Besides the Space Needle, Lower Queen Anne is home to Seattle landmarks such as the Key Arena (former home of the Seattle SuperSonics and current home of the WNBA Seattle Storm), the amazing Frank Gehry building that houses Experience Music Project and a Sci-Fi Museum, Pacific Science Center (home to the Boeing Imax Dome), and the newly completed Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This neighborhood is relatively quiet, yet jam-packed with restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars, record stores, boutiques, sports bars, grocery stores, apartment buildings, tech companies, and theaters. From fashionable hangouts such as Peso’s and Petit Toulouse to the venerable dive bar, Mecca Cafe, Lower Queen Anne has more options for a date night than you can shake a swizzle stick at. Favorite hangout places include one of Seattle’s original coffee houses, Uptown Espresso, a McMenamin’s pub, Chopstix Piano Bar, Racha Thai restaurant, and the Melting Pot. It’s also a theater-lover’s Mecca. Seattle Repertory Theater, On the Boards, Teatro Zinzanni, Seattle Children’s Theater, Intiman Playhouse, Pacific Northwest Ballet, SIFF Cinema, and the Vera Project are all within walking distance. Close to Downtown, this neighborhood is easy to get to via Metro bus lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 45, and scores a 95 on the Walk Scale.
Madrona is a mostly residential neighborhood in east central Seattle. It is bounded on the east by Lake Washington, on the south by E. Cherry Street, on the west by Martin Luther King Jr., and on the north by E. Howell Street.
Madrona’s motto, “The Peaceable Kingdom,” reflects its racially-mixed heritage. It’s a slow-lane kind of place where you can feel at home, even if it is your first visit.
34th street and houses all the local shops. Madrona offers seven of Seattle’s public parks! One of the area’s few sandy beaches is located at Madrona Park. Enjoy the walking trails and wooded setting of Frink and Leschi Parks, where swimming is also a popular pastime. Many of the homes, parks, and trails in the Madrona neighborhood offer breathtaking and peaceful views of Lake Washington.
Magnolia is the second largest neighborhood of Seattle by area. It occupies a hilly peninsula northwest of downtown. Magnolia is isolated from the rest of Seattle, connected by road to the rest of the city by only three bridges over the tracks of the BNSF Railway. It has been a part of the city since 1891. A good portion of the peninsula is taken up by Discovery Park, formerly the U.S. Army’s Fort Lawton.
Magnolia is bounded on the north by Salmon Bay and Shilsole of the Lake Washington Ship Canal, on the west by Puget Sound and Elliot Bay, on the south by Elliott Bay and Smith Cove, and on the east by Thorndyke, 20th, and Gilman Avenues W.
Although magnolia trees do line W. McGraw Street in the neighborhood’s commercial district, Magnolia’s naming was actually a misnomer. While out at sea, Captain Vancouver saw the huge Madrona trees atop the peninsula’s southern bluffs, but mistook them for magnolias and noted this in the ship’s log. Groups are actively working to save the remaining Madrona trees on the bluff.
On Magnolia’s south end is Magnolia Park, overlooking Puget Sound, Mount Rainer, and the city skyline. It features a picnic area and tennis courts across the street. Also in Magnolia are Smith Cove and its marina. Discovery Park, in the northwest, encompasses 534 acres and is Seattle’s largest park. The park is home to eagles, herons, falcons, foxes, and beavers. Seven miles of trails provide visitors with a wilderness experience and views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Parts of Fort Lawton, such as the officer’s homes and other historic buildings remain in the park. Adjacent to Discovery Park is West Point, featuring the West Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1881 and is the oldest lighthouse in the area. Walking trails descend from the park to two miles of beach and the lighthouse.
Magnolia’s business district, called “Magnolia Village” by locals, is home to many specialty stores and professional services, some of Seattle’s top restaurants, and industrial and marine services.
Magnolia Audio Video, a regional electronics retailer now owned by Best Buy, was started in and named after the neighborhood.
Although Maple Leaf’s name probably came from the Maple Saw Mill that operated to the east on Lake Washington, or perhaps from maple trees that once grew in the area. A popular story is that in the early days of Seattle’s settlement the neighborhood was “so far north that it might as well have been Canada”, and it was dubbed “Maple Leaf” by the locals. Maple Leaf is bordered on the south by the Roosevelt neighborhood and the University District; to the north by Pinehurst and Victory Heights neighborhoods of the Northgate district; to the east by the Lake City and Wedgwood; and to the west by North College Park.
Maple Leaf is home to approximately 20,000 residents, mostly residing in classic “Seattle box” bungalows and Tudor-style houses.
Maple Leaf’s main thoroughfares are Roosevelt Way NE from to NE 75th to 100th Streets and 5th Avenue NE from NE 85th to 90th Street. Notable neighborhood meeting spots on Roosevelt include the Reservoir Bar at 85th, Cloud City Coffee at 88th, the Roosevelt Alehouse at 89th, Judy Fu’s Snappy Dragon (famous for its handmade noodles) at 90th, the amazing Math Store across the street from Judy Foo’s, family-owned Maple Leaf Ace Hardware at 91st, and the Maple Leaf Grill (a casual restaurant in a charming white house) at 92nd. Locals also convene at 5th Avenue NE at Cafe Javasti and the independent San Marco Grocery at 84th.
Landmarks of the neighborhood include the water tower (decorated with maple leaves, of course) and reservoir at 85th and Roosevelt, and historic Waldo Hospital at 85th NE and NE 15th. Across Roosevelt Way from the water tower and reservoir is Saint Catherine’s School and Church. Just south is The Fairview Church and The Fairview School, one of the largest private primary schools in the city
Maple Leaf is one of two homes for a flock of feral parrots descended from escaped pets. They fly between Maple Leaf and Seward Park.
Montlake is an affluent residential neighborhood in central Seattle. The boundaries of the Montlake neighborhood are a collection of beautiful parks, lakes and waterways: to the east by the Arboretum, to the south and west by Interlaken Park. Capitol Hill is on its south and west sides, and the University of Washington lies across the Montlake Cut to the north. The Montlake Playfield, a project the Community Club began in 1929, faces Lake Union on the neighborhood’s northwest side. State Route 520 runs through the northern tip of Montlake, isolating four blocks from the rest of the neighborhood.
In 1944 the Montlake Community Club established the Montlake Public Library, which now serves the neighborhood from its new building on 24th Avenue East. Montlake is also home to Montlake Elementary School and Montlake Museum of History and Industry.
Like much of residential Seattle, Montlake is known for staunchly progressive politics.
Ravenna is a neighborhood in northeast Seattle, and it is named after Ravenna, Italy. Ravenna is bounded on the west by 15th and 20th Avenues NE, on the north by NE 75th and 85th Streets, on the east by 35th and 25th Avenues NE, and on the south by NE Ravenna Boulevard, and NE Blakeley or NE 45th Streets.
Many of the neighborhood’s residents are graduate students and professors at the University of Washington, with one of the main neighborhood roads, Ravenna Boulevard, commonly referred to as “professors’ row”. An eponymous grocery has been at the same location on the boulevard since the 1920s. Cowen-Ravenna Park, located near University Village and the walking or biking route connecting Green Lake to the Burke-Gilman Trail, are popular features of the neighborhood.
Though Ravenna is considered a residential neighborhood, it also is home to several businesses such as the University Village Shopping Center. University Village and Calvary Cemetery are also in south Ravenna.
South Lake Union
South Lake Union, on the shores of the beautiful Lake Union, is bounded by Denny Way to the south, Interstate 5 to the east, Aurora Avenue (or Highway 99) to the west and Lake Union to the north.
This neighborhood is right at the geographical center of Seattle. For commuters it is a very easy place to get to and from. Meanwhile, bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and the city’s first modern streetcar put South Lake Union residents within easy reach of the downtown core and its connections to the region’s new light rail system.
South Lake Union, known as SLU by residents, offers a convenient location close to everything downtown has to offer. Within South Lake Union, you’ll find plenty of parks, a Whole Foods market, and plenty of new and stylish high-rise condo buildings to call home. This community offers plenty of outdoor activities, including Lake Union Park and Denny Park.
South Lake Union sponsors new approaches to transportation, sustainability, recreation, and what-goes-where. It’s a recipe that’s yielded an exceptionally livable, walkable, and hospitable place.
Some of the most creative businesses and organizations in Seattle are located here, including REI’s flagship store, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Cornish College of the Arts. Recent development plans mean South Lake Union is poised to become a hub for science and biotechnology research in Seattle. Many of these companies are housed in landmark buildings constructed in the early decades of the twentieth century, giving much of South Lake Union a uniquely historical feeling.
The University District (commonly called the U District) is a neighborhood in Seattle, so named because the main campus of the University of Washington (UW) is located there. The UW moved in two years after the area was annexed to Seattle, while much of the area was still clear cut forest or stump farmland. The district of neighborhoods grew with the university to become like a smaller version of urban American cities.
The University District is bounded on the west by Interstate 5, on the east by 25th Avenue NE, on the south by the Lake Washington Ship Canal, and on the north by NE Ravenna Boulevard. It also includes, east of these boundaries, a small district on the north shore of Union Bay, bounded on the north by NE 45th Street and on the east by 35th Avenue NE. This extension consists mainly of the “east campus” and extensive parking lots of the University. Its main commercial street, University Avenue NE, otherwise known as “The Ave”, brings the heart of business and social establishments.
There is easy access to downtown via the University Bridge. The Montlake Bridge heads towards Highway 520 or Capitol Hill, and 45th and 50th Streets can access Interstate 5. Another arterial route is 15th Avenue, which runs north-south.
The University Village Shopping Center is on the northeast side of campus, with attractive “open-air” stores. The streets directly north of the university are lined with fraternities and residential housing, filled mainly with students and faculty. More housing lies to the northwest.
Ravenna Park, or half of it, lies in the U-District to the north. It is a 50 acre park with a wooded ravine and several amenities, including a play area, tennis court, wading pool, paths, and sporting fields. Another “park” lies on the west side, next to the interstate. The University Playfield, as it’s called, is around three acres and features a play area, tennis court, and sporting fields.
Some events that mark the neighborhood’s uniqueness are the street fair in May and farmer’s market. This was the first market to hit Seattle, which continues to be the largest local farmers’ event.
Even though the University District predominantly contains students, many in the Seattle community flock here for its diverse options in restaurants, music venues, and small businesses.