Public transportation is always intimidating in a new city, and it’s nearly always easier (and far more expensive) to get a ride share with a few taps on my phone. But there’s a special satisfaction that comes with successfully navigating a city by bus or train, and Seattle made it relatively easy with its light rail and monorail systems.
The most convenient form of transportation is the Light Link Rail, a single line that starts at the Seattle-Tacoma airport (SEATAC), and extends north past the University of Washington. Within 30 minutes of getting on the Light Link at the airport we were at the Hilton Motif on Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle.
Seattle Center Monorail
Getting to Seattle Center
We stayed in downtown Seattle, a few blocks east of Pike Place Market. When it was raining we used the monorail system, a line with only two stops, for less than $5/each round trip to get between downtown and Seattle Center.
Museums & Space Needle
The Chihuly Garden and Museum, the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Pacific Science Museum were all conveniently located in the Park. Even without visiting the attractions, visitors explored the outdoor gardens, shopped at pop-up kiosks, and ate in the Seattle Center Armory, a food hall that connected directly to the monorail stop.
Capitol Hill Neighborhood
Dining options included international fare, old school 50’s-style diners, drag clubs, coffee shops and bars. We enjoyed both coffee and wine from Post Pike Bar & Cafe. We spent Easter Sunday in Capitol Hill, which was was still buzzing with activity that morning despite the holiday. The Sunday Farmers Market commenced at 11am and many families were enjoying a break in the rain at the nearby Cal Anderson Park. As a party of three vegetarians, we were in heaven with brunch from the vegan restaurant Plum Bistro.
Capitol Hill was recommended as a good place to experience the local Seattle culture, and it turned out to also be a cozy place to spend the rainy pacific northwest days. We shopped in the Twice Told Tales bookstore, home to resident cats and a variety of books that would take years to fully explore. We also spent a lot of time in a more mainstream (but still local, so not too mainstream) bookstore, The Elliot Bay Book Company.
Visit the Waterfront
Pier 62 Public Park
Pier 62 is located on the waterfront near Pike Place Market. The public park has seating, food trucks and sports equipment. We also stopped for 10 minutes to take some photos on the park’s floating dock, and then laughed for the next 1/2 hour when had to stop and wait for the solid ground to stop feeling like it was swaying.
Families can easily access the waterfront just a few blocks from the Light Link Westlake station. I’m an unapologetic fan of tourist traps, and Miner’s Landing at Pier 57 was a good one. The space was filled with large wooden carvings, waterfront restaurants, kiosks, and arcade games. Visitors could also purchase tickets for the sound front ferris wheel or a Pacific Northwest themed ride similar to Epcot’s Soarin’.
Walking in Chinatown
We used the Light Link to go to Chinatown, where we took refuge from the rain for a bit in Hing Hay Park. This stop also exited in walking distance to the two major sports venues, making it convenient to stay in Seattle near a Link ride to a Seahawks or Mariners game. On a sunnier and warmer day, we would have spent more time shopping and dining in this part of the city. We did find the murals and ornamentation worth the visit as a short commute from downtown.
Dining in Chinatown
We had visited most of our major museum and sightseeing destinations in the first day in a half, so that left us with time to see some of the other neighborhoods in the city. We had planned to get a small meal in Chinatown, but the number of restaurants that came up in a search while we were in Chinatown was almost too overwhelming. With a better planned stop, we would have looked in advance for the most vegetarian-friendly options.