Sure, like other major American cities, Seattle has undergone a glossy, gentrified, corporate-y makeover in recent years. Yet its distinctly cool, indie aura lives on. Plan to sample plenty of that fresh-caught seafood, craft beer and coffee that you’ve heard about, and spend as much time as possible checking out the lively music and arts scene.
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WHEN TO GO
If you’re gearing up for an outdoorsy trip (hiking, biking, exploring the city’s parks), the summer months — June through August — are best because they’re the warmest and driest of the year. Of course, this is also peak tourist season. Early fall (September to October) is lovely, with crisp temperatures and changing foliage (and, not to mention, fewer crowds).
NEED TO KNOW
Visas: Travelers from outside the United States will need a valid passport, as well as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) eligibility or a full visa.
Money: Currency is in U.S. dollars. ATMs are widely available. Tipping anywhere between 15 to 20 percent is standard for satisfactory customer service.
Travel Health: Travelers (including U.S. citizens) should check for vaccination, proof of negative COVID-19 test and face mask requirements, as well as any travel restrictions, before planning their trip. Refer to the Washington State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for up-to-date information and guidance. Before traveling, research and prepare for what to do if you get sick while away.
Getting Here: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located 14 miles south of downtown. Use a bus, rideshare service, car, taxi, light rail or a shuttle van to get from the airport to your final destination.
Getting Around: The best way to navigate Seattle is by car, but if you want to avoid sitting in traffic, you could rely on public transportation to get around. Consider getting an ORCA card, which allows for unlimited rides on most forms of public transit.
Local Lingo: English is the primary language spoken in Seattle. Like New York City or San Francisco, Seattle is a city of neighborhoods. Expect to hear people refer to specific neighborhoods (Capitol Hill, Ballard, etc.) when giving directions or telling you where they live.
Must-Have Apps: Uber; Lyft; OneBusAway; Seattle Tree Walks; WTA’s Trailblazer
Insider Tip: Linger over a cortado and a new hardcover at Little Oddfellows, the café inside the Elliott Bay Book Company — this beloved indie bookstore is a Seattle landmark.