Compiled by Jerry Kaufman 11/99, re-edited and updated by Ellen Eades 12/09
Welcome to Seattle! If you are coming here from other parts of the world for the first time, you may be surprised by what Seattle has to offer. The city is a mecca for art, music, and theater, as well as being surrounded by natural beauty in the form of rivers, lakes, mountains, and the Puget Sound. Below, you'll find a (necessarily limited) list of Northwest places of interest, as well as general information about the area.
Seattle is located on a north-south finger of land, bordered to the east by Lake Washington, and to the west by Puget Sound (and, further west, the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic Mountains; despite its reputation as a Pacific port, you cannot see the ocean from Seattle). In the middle of Seattle, Lake Union punctuates the Ship Canal, which was completed in 1934 and extends from the salt water of the Puget Sound eastward to the fresh water of Lake Washington. The Ship Canal is home to the Ballard Locks, with its fish ladder for salmon and the beautiful Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden.
Seattle is famous for rain, but what it should actually be famous for is cloud cover; it actually receives less annual rain (36 inches) than New York City. While weeks or months may pass without a clear day, it rarely pours rain during the spring; drizzle, however, is endemic. Make sure to bring a water-resistant outer layer! You can check current weather conditions here.Google map of Seattle
If you are arriving by car, the Deca Hotel can be reached by taking exit 169 (45th Street) on either I-5 North or South. Drive east on 45th Street 5 blocks to Brooklyn Ave., then turn left to the hotel entrance.
If you are arriving by air and need a hotel courtesy vehicle, a car rental, a taxi, or bus transit, click these links for more information. At the airport, ground transportation is located outside the lower level baggage claim, which connects to the third floor of the parking garage. Light rail is also available linking the airport directly with downtown Seattle.
100% of Seattle buses are wheelchair accessible. If your disability prevents you from riding regular accessible buses, you can apply for the ADA Paratransit Program for curb-to-curb transportation. Apply in advance of arriving to establish your visitor status by calling 206-263-3113 (or toll-free 1-866-205-5001) during regular business hours, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hotel Deca is located in Seattle's University District, less than a half mile from the University of Washington. Nearby places of interest include the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum, and the Waterfront Activities Center. A five block walk north from the Deca to 50th Street will bring you to the U-District Farmers' Market on Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm, featuring fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cheese, fresh flowers, and nursery stock, as well as live music, cooking demos and other special events. Two miles to the south across the Montlake Cut brings you to the Washington Park Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, and then to the lively Capitol Hill neighborhood.
A mile due west of the Hotel Deca is the new location of Archie McPhee, supplier of the oddest, weirdest gifts, candy, toys and party supplies ever. In the same area, a little further south and directly under the Aurora Bridge, lurks the Fremont Troll, one of the most popular and populist art pieces in the U.S. Be warned, the Troll has been known to eat Volkswagens!
Seattle's downtown lies about three miles south of the Deca Hotel, and is easily accessible by car (take I-5 southbound) or bus (see below for public transit links). Downtown is home to the Pike Place Market, the Seattle Underground Tour, the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Art Museum, the new Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Seattle Waterfront and Elliott Bay (however, Seattle's famous Elliott Bay Bookstore, a highlight of the Pioneer Square area, will be closed during Potlatch due to a move to its new location on Capitol Hill).
Less than a mile northwest of downtown is the Space Needle, internationally recognized symbol of Seattle. The Space Needle anchors the Seattle Center, which was the location of the 1962 World's Fair. Seattle Center is also home to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, several independent live theatre companies, the Pacific Science Center, and the Fun Forest Amusement Park. Most recently, it has become home to the Experience Music Project(EMP)/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, a natural destination for any Potlatch member with the impulse to explore.
Farther afield, travelers with cars may wish to explore Mt. Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, and other areas close to Seattle. If you have the time, a ride on one of the Washington State Ferries, either Seattle to Bainbridge Island (a half-day round trip leaving from the West Seattle ferry terminal) or Anacortes to the San Juan Islands (a two hour drive north of Seattle to the ferry terminal, walk on and a two hour ferry ride) is highly recommended.
Other Seattle Links
The Citysearch link for Seattle provides extensive information about restaurants, shopping, movies and events in the city. If you click any of the main blue tabs at the top of the page and specify "University District (Seattle, WA)" in the Near text box, you can find information near the Hotel Deca.
You can check out seattle.gov for a weekend event calendar, a "Seattle 101" guide, and a seasonal calendar, as well as links to other points of interest. The Seattle Convention and Visitor's Bureau has extensive visitor guides as well, including a link to LGBT travel interests.
Seattle's hometown newspapers are the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Seattle Insider is a general guide sponsored by the KIRO TV station. Our mildly alternative newspaper, the Seattle Weekly, is usually eclipsed, at least in drama, by our more alternative weekly, The Stranger.
And, finally, should you wish to attempt to sound like a native Northwesterner, check out the Seattle Lexicon for hints!