Last updated on February 12, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, travelling and making photos for 20 years. Read more Where To Stay

Where to stay in Seattle without a car – 6 BEST AREAS

Discovering where to stay in Seattle without a car has never been easier!

We’ve curated the ultimate guide for car-free explorers to experience the best areas to stay in Seattle without a car.

Seattle’s top-notch public transportation makes getting around a breeze, connecting you to a world of urban delights. From the electric atmosphere of downtown to the indie boutiques and nightlife of Capitol Hill, we’ve got the inside scoop.

But let’s jump straight to a map and quick and easy comparison table.

Where to stay in Seattle – In a nutshell

Map of Where to stay in Seattle
Map of where to stay in Seattle without a car – Check my shared map with all the sites I have mentioned in this post

The table below compares the best 6 areas to stay in Seattle without a car based on different factors. Click on the area name to check a full description of the neighborhood.

Swift left or right on the mobile to see all the columns

AreaProsConsHotelAccessibilityAttractionsRestaurantsNightlifeCharacter
Downtown SeattleCentral locationVery busycitizenM Pioneer SquareExcellentPike Place Market, Art Museum, The Great Wheel, Sky View GreatGoodVibrant
BelltownCoastal viewsLimited parkingThe Sound HotelGoodOlympic Sculpture Park, Crocodile (live music)ExcellentExcellentUrban
Capitol HillCultural hubNoisy at nightCecil Bacon ManorGoodVolunteer ParkGreatExcellentHip
Queen AnneScenicExpensiveMediterranean InnGoodKerry Park, Seattle CenterGoodModerateQuiet
South Lake UnionModernConstructioncitizenM South Lake UnionExcellentMOHAI, Lake Union ParkGoodModerateDeveloping
Pike/Pine CorridorEclecticLimited parkingSonder The BoylstonGoodElliott Bay Book Company, Melrose MarketGreatExcellentIndie
Where to stay in Seattle without a car – Summary table

I have expanded in a dedicated heading below on how to get around Seattle without a car. Here below is a quick summary table with specific information about the covered areas and the cost range of the tickets.

TransportationDescriptionCost Range (*)
Link Light RailConnects downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport, Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington$2.25 – $3.25 per ride
BusesExtensive network covering most areas of Seattle$2.25 – $3.25 per ride
Seattle StreetcarTwo streetcar lines connecting downtown, South Lake Union, and First Hill neighborhoods$2.50 per ride
FerriesConnect downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, and West Seattle$4.25 – $8.75 per ride
MonorailConnects downtown Seattle to the Seattle Center$3.00 per ride
ORCA CardReloadable smart card for use on most public transit systemsVaries by usage
ORCA Regional Day PassUnlimited rides on most transit systems for a full day$8 for adults, $4 for youth
how to get around Seattle – A summary table

(*)The cost of the ticket may vary. Check the transportation provider for the latest info.

And now let’s start with the most central and practical area to stay in Seattle without a car, Downtown

Seattle cityscape and coastline at dusk
Seattle cityscape and coastline at dusk

Downtown Seattle: Best for first-time visitors

  • Pros: Unbeatable location, pedestrian-friendly, diverse accommodations including a few on a budget
  • Cons: Tourist hotspots, occasional noise
  • Accessibility: Exceptional
  • Attractions: Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, The Seattle Great Wheel, Sky View Observatory

Looking for the perfect spot to stay in Seattle without a car? One of the best places to book your accommodation in Seattle is Downtown, the city’s vibrant core that’ll have you buzzing with excitement!

Picture this: You step out of your hotel, and there’s a whole world of shopping, dining, and iconic sights just waiting to be explored – all within walking distance or a quick public transit ride away.

The streets of downtown are full of shops, theaters, and restaurants, so lively. From upscale boutiques to quirky souvenir shops, there’s something for everyone in this bustling urban landscape.

The downside of staying in downtown Seattle is that it can feel a bit touristy.

Additionally, being so lively make sure to book your room on a higher level of your hotel because street noise can be an issue.

In saying that, the energetic vibe of Downtown will make you forget these drawbacks.

What sets downtown Seattle apart from other neighborhoods is its fantastic accessibility.

With an impressive public transportation system that includes buses, the Link light rail, and the Seattle Streetcar, you’ll be zipping around town like a local in no time!

It’s no wonder this area is perfect for travelers who prefer to leave their cars behind.

True, downtown is well connected to everywhere else in Seattle, but honestly there is so much to see and experience in this area that you will hardly have time to venture to another neighborhood anyway.

For example, Pike Place Market is an absolute must, where you can witness fishmongers tossing salmon through the air and get a taste of the freshest produce in town.

Of course, don’t forget to stop by the original Starbucks for a coffee fix.

Feeling on top of the world? You will be when you take a trip up the iconic Space Needle in Uptown. Soak in the breathtaking views of the city and catch a glimpse of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.

Are you more of an arty person? Head to the Seattle Art Museum, famous for its contemporary and traditional art collection.

Feeling adventurous? Hop aboard The Seattle Great Wheel, one of the largest Ferris wheels in the United States. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, Elliott Bay, and even Mt. Rainier on a clear day.

In addition to these attractions, downtown Seattle offers a variety of eateries to satisfy literally everyone, doesn’t matter the age or the type of cuisine you are after.

As night falls, downtown Seattle comes to life with endless nightlife options. Fancy sipping on craft cocktails at a trendy rooftop bar or dancing the night away at a high-energy club? Whatever your vibe, there’s something for you when the stars come out.

In conclusion, downtown Seattle is a haven for young travelers who crave excitement and unforgettable experiences. With its prime location, walkable streets, and countless attractions, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips – no car required!

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Downtown Seattle:

Mayflower Park Hotel ($$$$): boutique style, located next to the Westlake Center Monorail station

citizenM Seattle Pioneer Square ($$$): cozy and stylish but small rooms

Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle ($$): perfect if you are on a budget, clean and essential

The Great Wheel in Downtown Seattle
The Great Wheel in Downtown Seattle

Belltown: Best for a trendy stay

  • Pros: Vibrant nightlife, trendy dining, and shopping options, waterfront access
  • Cons: Street noise, limited parking
  • Accessibility: Excellent
  • Attractions: Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Glassblowing Studio, Waterfront Park, Belltown bars and restaurants

Nestled between downtown Seattle and the picturesque waterfront, Belltown offers the best of both worlds for travelers who want to experience urban living and coastal beauty.

Known for its stylish boutiques, trendy restaurants, and thriving nightlife, Belltown is the perfect spot for young adventurers seeking a hip, vibrant atmosphere.

The neighborhood’s streets are bustling with activity day and night. For this reason, I suggest Belltown to young travelers that want to explore Seattle during the day and have some fun at night.

Belltown offers also a wide choice of culinary options, with everything from pub food to upscale sushi bars. There is definitely a great choice of restaurants

For those looking to indulge in retail therapy, Belltown’s boutiques and shops offer unique fashion finds and one-of-a-kind gifts.

And if you are an arty kind of person, then be sure you will be in heaven here, with the many small art galleries, mostly with contemporary and local art exhibitions.

Of course, no visit to Belltown would be complete without spending some time by the water.

Enjoy the amazing views of Puget Sound at the Olympic Sculpture Park, a gigantic green space where you will be surprised by the few large-scale sculptures.

This is also a great space to have a walk, chill out, and forget about the busy city.

For an unforgettable experience, visit the Seattle Glassblowing Studio, where you can watch skilled artists craft intricate glass pieces or even try your hand at creating your own masterpiece.

Though Belltown’s energetic atmosphere is one of its main draws, it can also be one of its drawbacks.

The area is known for its busy nightlife, which can result in street noise late at night.

Additionally, parking can be a challenge in this popular neighborhood. And honestly, you don’t really need a car in this area or when visiting any of the neighborhoods in this guide.

Belltown’s accessibility is second to none, with numerous bus lines and the Seattle Streetcar passing through the neighborhood. Belltown is also within walking distance of downtown.

And after sunset, Belltown’s nightlife scene comes alive. Restaurants, bars, live music, and clubs are pretty much everywhere.

In conclusion, Belltown is an ideal destination for young travelers who want to experience a lively urban atmosphere with easy access to Seattle’s stunning waterfront. With trendy dining options, bustling nightlife, and excellent accessibility, you’ll have everything you need for an unforgettable stay in Emerald City, all without the need for a car.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Belltown:

The Sound Hotel Seattle($$$$): boutique style, lovely interior design, trendy

Ace Hotel ($$$): cozy located next to bars and restaurants, still very quiet

Belltown Inn ($$$): well positioned, great roof terrace, free bikes

Pier 66 in Belltown
Pier 66 in Belltown

Capitol Hill: Best for young travellers

  • Pros: Trendy eateries, eclectic shopping, LGBTQ+-friendly, live music venues
  • Cons: Busy and crowded, can be noisy
  • Accessibility: Outstanding
  • Attractions: Volunteer Park, Jimi Hendrix Statue, Elliott Bay Book Company, Cal Anderson Park, Pike/Pine nightlife scene

Get ready to immerse yourself in Seattle’s dynamic culture and nightlife when you stay in Capitol Hill.

This vibrant neighborhood is known for its trendy restaurants, unique shopping, and inclusive atmosphere.

As a hub of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, Capitol Hill boasts a welcoming, diverse environment perfect for young travelers seeking new experiences.

Foodies will be in heaven, as the area offers a wide array of dining options, ranging from authentic international cuisine to mouthwatering vegan dishes.

Capitol Hill is also home to some of Seattle’s best coffee shops, perfect for fueling up before exploring the neighborhood’s many attractions.

When it comes to shopping, Capitol Hill is a treasure trove of eclectic finds.

Browse the shelves at the iconic Elliott Bay Book Company, where you can get lost in a world of literature or attend a reading from one of your favorite authors.

For fashion lovers, the neighborhood is busy with stylish boutiques and vintage shops, offering something for every taste.

Culture enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by the wealth of attractions that Capitol Hill has to offer.

Pay a visit to Volunteer Park, a sprawling green space that houses the beautiful Volunteer Park Conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Another must is a photo with the Jimi Hendrix Statue, the legendary musician who once called Seattle home.

You may already know that Capitol Hill is famous for its exciting music scene, with local venues hosting new and established bands.

Capitol Hill’s lively atmosphere comes with a few trade-offs, such as the potential for noise and crowds in the bars.

However, if you’re seeking a neighborhood with contagious energy, these minor inconveniences won’t dampen your experience.

One of Capitol Hill’s biggest advantages is its outstanding accessibility.

The neighborhood is well connected to the rest of the city with multiple bus lines and the Link light rail.

You can easily explore Seattle’s top attractions without the need for a car.

In conclusion, Capitol Hill is a fantastic choice for young travelers looking to dive headfirst into Seattle’s thriving culture and nightlife. This is probably the best area in Seattle for live music with of course cafes and restaurants all around. A great vibe that you will remember for a long time.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Capitol Hill:

Gaslight Inn ($$$$): boutique style, with a pool and a great breakfast

Cecil Bacon Manor ($$$): bed & breakfast, cozy, with a fantastic host

Sonder at Pivot ($$$): great location next to downtown, perfect for a long stay

The Space Needle and downtown Seattle
The Space Needle and downtown Seattle

Queen Anne: Best for families

  • Pros: Captivating vistas, ideal for families, delightful architecture, tranquil ambiance
  • Cons: Steep hills, modest nightlife options
  • Accessibility: Excellent
  • Attractions: Kerry Park, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Space Needle, Seattle Center, Museum of Pop Culture

Craving a soothing escape just a stone’s throw from Seattle’s dynamic downtown?

Discover the idyllic neighborhood of Queen Anne, an area that exudes a sense of calm and boasts awe-inspiring views, along with a myriad of attractions to enhance your visit.

Queen Anne is celebrated for its exquisite architecture, featuring meticulously maintained Victorian homes and charming, tree-canopied streets.

Immerse yourself in the neighborhood’s allure by meandering through its lanes and marveling at the impressive city panoramas from numerous picturesque vantage points.

Be sure to visit the emblematic Kerry Park, beloved by both residents and tourists for its unparalleled views of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Mount Rainier.

Families will appreciate the diverse range of attractions within and around Queen Anne.

Explore the Seattle Center, a vibrant cultural epicenter that caters to everyone, starting from the engaging Museum of Pop Culture. The famed Space Needle is also within arm’s reach, offering sweeping city views that will leave you breathless.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is another attraction that will leave you in awe, with its stunning glass sculptures that seem to defy gravity.

Marvel at the vibrant and whimsical creations of Dale Chihuly as you explore this unique exhibit.

The Seattle Children’s Museum is also a must-visit if you are traveling with kids 10 years old or younger.

Though Queen Anne might not top the list for nightlife aficionados, it does feature a cozy selection of bars and restaurants catering to a more relaxed audience.

You’ll encounter everything from trendy cafes to welcoming family-oriented dining options, ensuring a delightful gastronomic adventure for all palates.

It’s important to note that Queen Anne’s sloping landscape can pose a challenge to some, particularly when traversing the neighborhood on foot or with a pram.

However, the incredible vistas and peaceful atmosphere make the effort entirely worthwhile.

If you are traveling with little ones, I personally suggest staying close to the Seattle Center, in the Uptown area, next to the Monorail Station and all the attractions. This side of Queen Anne is also pretty flat and much easier to walk around

Furthermore, the area is well-serviced by public transportation, with numerous bus routes granting effortless access to downtown Seattle and beyond.

In conclusion, Queen Anne is an excellent choice for travelers seeking a serene, visually stunning haven within close proximity to the city’s premier attractions. Its enchanting ambiance, family-friendly offerings, and handy public transportation make it a prime destination for those looking to explore Seattle without relying on a car.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in the Uptown areas of Queen Anne:

The Mediterranean Inn ($$$): great location, free coffee, and fantastic rooftop

Homewood Suites ($$$-$$$$): 1BR and 2BR with included breakfast

Furnished Apartments ($$$): studios, clean and spacious. Noisy streets around.

Walking at the Seattle Center overlooking the Space Needle, Belltown and the Downtown area
Walking at the Seattle Center overlooking the Space Needle, Belltown, and the Downtown area

South Lake Union: Best for A Modern stay

  • Pros: Modern amenities, thriving tech scene, waterfront access, excellent public transportation
  • Cons: Expensive, lacks historic charm
  • Accessibility: Excellent
  • Attractions: Lake Union Park, Museum of History and Industry, Center for Wooden Boats, Amazon Spheres

South Lake Union is a fashionable, emerging neighborhood that presents a distinctive fusion of city life and waterfront leisure.

One of the primary attractions of South Lake Union is its lakeside setting with Lake Union Park, a sprawling 12-acre green oasis, offering activities such as kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.

This park is often used for local events, especially in the summer months, with open-air cinemas and street food. It definitely pays off to check out what’s on once you are there.

For maritime history enthusiasts, the neighboring Center for Wooden Boats and the Museum of History and Industry reveal captivating stories about Seattle’s nautical heritage.

South Lake Union is also the site of Amazon’s headquarters, lending the area a modern, tech-centric vibe.

This atmosphere is reflected in the neighborhood’s numerous co-working spaces, inventive dining options, and the Amazon Spheres, an architectural marvel that encompasses a verdant indoor garden and an array of exotic flora.

Although South Lake Union may not exude the historical allure of some of Seattle’s older neighborhoods, it compensates with its extensive selection of contemporary amenities.

It is easy to find open cafes and restaurants around during the weekdays, busy mostly with people working in the area. The weekend may be more challenging with a few restaurants closing on Sundays.

Public transportation in South Lake Union is exceptional, making it a prime option for travelers without access to a car. Bus routes service the area, along with the South Lake Union Streetcar (light rail), and downtown Seattle is within walking distance.

Additionally, the neighborhood’s pedestrian-oriented layout and comprehensive bike lane network make it easy to explore by foot or bicycle.

In conclusion, South Lake Union is an excellent choice for visitors seeking a cutting-edge, commuter-friendly neighborhood with waterfront parks and an abundance of amenities. Its dynamic tech atmosphere, outstanding public transit, and an array of attractions make it a premier destination for those looking to discover Seattle car-free. It’s probably not my favorite neighborhood in Seattle but its location is unbeatable.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in South Lake Union:

MOXY ($$$$): modern and stylish, game room and fantastic cocktail bar

citizenM South Lake Union ($$$): boutique vibe, lovely interior design, small rooms

Astra Hotel ($$$$): luxury feel, amazing views, great roof terrace

South Lake Union
South Lake Union

Pike/Pine Corridor: Best for an eclectic stay

  • Pros: Eclectic shopping, vibrant nightlife, diverse dining options, walkability
  • Cons: Limited parking, can be noisy at night
  • Accessibility: Good
  • Attractions: Elliott Bay Book Company, Melrose Market, Neumos, Cal Anderson Park, Neighbours Nightclub

Tucked between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle, the Pike/Pine Corridor exudes a vivacious spirit with a hint of indie flair.

The Pike/Pine Corridor is technically part of the larger Capitol Hill, however, in my opinion, it serves a section on its own.

Renowned for its distinctive shopping experiences, buzzing nightlife, and varied dining options, this small neighborhood is perfect for those who wish to immerse themselves in Seattle’s city life without the need for a car.

A standout feature of the Pike/Pine Corridor is its exceptional shopping opportunities. The area hosts a plethora of indie boutiques, vintage stores, and record shops, creating a sanctuary for those in search of unique treasures.

Be sure to visit Elliott Bay Book Company, a cherished local bookstore, and Melrose Market, an indoor marketplace offering artisanal food vendors and specialty retailers.

Beyond shopping, the Pike/Pine Corridor is celebrated for its spirited nightlife. A variety of bars, clubs, and music venues populate the area, guaranteeing lively entertainment after nightfall. Music aficionados should not miss Neumos, a popular live music venue showcasing an eclectic mix of local and touring performers.

Culinary enthusiasts will delight in the Pike/Pine Corridor’s dining scene. The neighborhood presents an array of food options, ranging from fashionable food trucks and vegan cafes to upscale restaurants and expertly crafted coffee shops. Regardless of your preferences or budget, your taste buds will undoubtedly be satisfied.

Amidst the energetic ambiance, the Pike/Pine Corridor also offers moments of leisure and outdoor enjoyment. Cal Anderson Park, situated in the neighborhood’s core, provides greenery, sports facilities, and a charming reflecting pool.

Boasting a highly walkable layout, the Pike/Pine Corridor is an excellent choice for visitors exploring Seattle without a vehicle. The area benefits from comprehensive public transit options, including numerous bus routes and the nearby Capitol Hill Light Rail Station, granting easy access to other city districts.

In conclusion, the Pike/Pine Corridor delivers a spirited, eclectic ambiance for travelers seeking to experience Seattle’s urban essence. Its unparalleled shopping options, diverse dining venues, and animated nightlife make it a top choice for visitors staying in Seattle without a car.

Here are 3 of the best accommodations in Pike/Pine Corridor:

Sonder The Boylston ($$$): competitive price, clean and spacious, quiet

Sonder at Solis ($$$): 1BR for up to 4 people, modern design and well equipped

Silver Cloud Hotel ($$$-$$$$): possibly overpriced but if there is nothing around then it is a good option

Seattle - The Gum Wall in Post Alley
Seattle – The Gum Wall in Post Alley

How to get around Seattle without a car

Seattle boasts an array of public transportation choices, enabling effortless exploration of the city without a car.

Light Rail: the Link Light Rail system, connects downtown Seattle to the University of Washington, Sea-Tac Airport, and several neighborhoods in between. It is a very handy and efficient way to travel in Seattle, especially considering the affordable price of the tickets.

Buses: King County Metro manages Seattle’s extensive bus network, offering comprehensive service throughout the city and its surrounding regions. Buses provide an economical and adaptable means to discover Seattle, with numerous routes operating around the clock.

Streetcar: Seattle’s streetcar network currently features two lines: the South Lake Union line and the First Hill line. These streetcars link vital neighborhoods and attractions, delivering a picturesque and enjoyable journey between destinations.

Ferries: you will not need them for the city itself, however, on a sunny day you can definitely plan a day out with a local ferry to Puget Sound, including Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. These ferries present breathtaking views and a distinctive way to experience the area.

Bike-sharing: Seattle hosts several bike-sharing services, enabling short-term bicycle rentals. These options are perfect for uncovering the city’s charm while embracing the outdoors and staying active.

Ride-sharing: If a more tailored transportation solution is preferred, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are readily accessible throughout Seattle.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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