12 Best Hotels in Seattle, United States - Jan 2019
Your Travel Guide to Seattle
Seattle was originally settled by American entrepreneurs in 1851. The names of some of the settlers--Arthur Denny, David “Doc” Maynard, and Henry Yesler--are immortalized in many Seattle landmarks. The city itself is named after the Native American Chief Si’ahl, whose tribes inhabited the area. The city went from being a lumber producer, to a gold prospecting town, to a place known for manufacturing and industry--up to present times, with corporate giants such as Microsoft and Amazon originating here.
But that’s not all there is to Seattle. It is located on Elliott Bay and Puget Sound, and allows you many water activities, as well as cruises and breathtaking views of the Pacific Northwest. There is also majestic Mount Rainier nearby, providing an amazing backdrop.
What are the Must-Do-s and See-s in Seattle?
Since you probably want to take in a lot of attractions during a stay in Seattle, there is a CityPASS that allows you a 50% discount when you visit up to five Seattle attractions, such as the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, the Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, the Woodland Park Zoo, and more.
Queen Anne Hill Attractions
Seattle is built on seven hills, of which Queen Anne Hill, in Seattle’s downtown area, is the highest, at 456 feet. The sections of the greatest interest are West Queen Anne, with the Northwest Queen Anne Greenbelt and Kinnear Parks, and Lower Queen Anne, with a wealth of landmarks and museums. Due to the area’s height, it’s fitting that the landmarks that provide the most panoramic view are located here!
Seattle Center and the Space Needle
The Seattle Center is a campus in Queen Anne that includes gardens, theaters, museums and more. One of the most famous attractions in Seattle Center is the Space Needle--an iconic landmark of Seattle. It is a 605-foot tall observation tower that was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair. Its futuristic design is a reflection of the time it was constructed at the beginning of the Space Age. the 520-foot diameter top floor gives you a panoramic view of Seattle’s Downtown, Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic mountains, and Mount Rainier. The lower level has a rotating all-glass floor called “The Loupe”, and the upper level has a glass floor and ceiling! You also have a virtual reality bungee jump from the top of the Needle!
Pacific Science Center
But the Space Needle is just one of a number of attractions, in For example, there is the Pacific Science Center, with 5 separate buildings with interactive science exhibits, teaching kids about astronomy, dinosaurs, weather, insects, and more. They have two IMAX theaters with breathtaking footage of nature.
Seattle Children’s Museum
If you are visiting Seattle with children, consider dropping into the Seattle Children’s Museum. They even have exhibits designed for kids under age 3, offering them opportunities to learn through touching, moving, and testing. Other exhibits include the Bijou Theatre, where kids learn about all the steps involved in preparing a theater performance, Sound Transit, about public transportation, and COG City, which teaches about physics concepts simplified for children.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Another museum in the Seattle Center complex is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, an art museum displaying the glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly. The Hyatt House Seattle/Downtown is an excellent hotel in the area.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
Bill Gates is undoubtedly one of Seattle’s most famous personalities for his wealth, as well as for his philanthropy. The Discovery Center is a place for you to learn about various challenges in the world, such as disease or food shortages, and the measures that have been taken to address these problems.
Pike Place Market and Downtown
Columbia Center and Sky View Observatory
Seattle’s downtown area also has a number of landmarks worth visiting. A stop at the Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center Tower will allow you to access the highest observatory of its kind in Washington state.
Near the Columbia Center, in the Pioneer Square district, you’ll find Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour--a 75-minute guided walking tour of underground Seattle, giving you a glimpse of what life was like before the devastating fire of 1889 that destroyed Seattle’s commercial district at the time. (On the lighter side of things, he also offers a paranormal tour of the area at nights.) A short walk away, you’ll see the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, an exhibit devoted to what rejuvenated the city--the prospectors who arrived in Seattle in a search for gold in the Yukon.
Along the coast, a little north of the downtown area, you’ll find the Pike Place Market, a Farmer’s Market that has been operating since 1907! It receives millions of visitors per year, and is surprisingly popular among Seattle tourist attractions. Besides offering opportunities to purchase fresh fish, arts and crafts, there are also street performers that give the market its unique atmosphere.
In the Pike Place Market neighborhood, there is also the Seattle Aquarium, with a rich collection of Puget Sound fish, marine mammals such as seals, otters, orcas, and more, and a vivid display of birds as well. There is also an Underwater Dome, allowing you to get an up-close glimpse of the life in the waters of Puget Sound themselves! The Sheraton Seattle Hotel is located a few blocks away from this area, as well as the Hilton Seattle.
Seattle Great Wheel
Near the Seattle Aquarium, there is also the Waterfront Park, including the distinctive Seattle Great Wheel, a 175-foot tall Ferris Wheel, that had the distinction of being the tallest on the West Coast. A ride on the Great Wheel will give you three revolutions, as well as a great view of the seaside!
Seattle has lots of opportunities to take cruises through Elliott Bay and Puget Sound--and it’s highly recommended to capitalize on it! One such cruise is Argosy Cruises which combines bus and ferry rides to take in all of Seattle in a short 2-hour cruise. There are also cruises across Puget Sound, to the nearby islands in the area.
Getting around in Seattle
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
The main airport to the Seattle area is the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (“Sea-Tac Airport”, for short), located in a suburb of Seattle, 13 miles south of downtown Seattle. There is a selection of hotels near the airport, such as the Sea-Tac Ramada Inn or the Red Roof Inn. There are a number of ways of getting to the city center from the airport:
- Light rail: There is a Central Link Light Rail that can take you quickly into downtown Seattle for only $3.00.
- Bus service: There is also the Metro or Sound Transit Bus Service, which stops at the the southern end of the terminal.
- Flat-rate taxis: Renting a car is not recommended in Seattle, as the heavy traffic can be frustrating. It is preferable to take one of the taxis that take you from the airport to downtown for a flat rate. There is also Uber pool, a service where you order an Uber driver, who can pick up other passengers along the way while driving you to your destination.
- Shuttle service: There is a service called Speedi Shuttle which is a series of vans that go back and forth from the airport to the major hotels in the Downtown area. (You have to see if the shuttle goes to the hotel that you have booked, however. If you’re going with a group, you can split the fare among yourselves.
Seattle Center Monorail
For traveling within the city center, you can take the Seattle Center Monorail. It is more than an elevated train--it itself has been promoted to landmark status. Like the Space Needle, it was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair. It takes passengers from Seattle Center, to the Westlake Center. Another monorail departs every 10 minutes, and covers a mile-long trip in 2 minutes.
If you’re not carrying luggage, Seattle has an OFO bike service, which is probably one of the best ways to get around town--it’ll allow you to maneuver around any traffic jams and save you the effort of having to find parking. You use a smartphone app to unlock an OFO bike from its dock. You pay a flat fee for every 30 minutes of use. When you reach your destination, you can park the OFO bike in the dock.