Pono’s Guide to Seattle
First things first, let’s talk about venue. Located in the heart of the SoDo (South of Downtown) or Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle, CenturyLink Field & Event center is going to be one hell of a time. Around the venue you’ll find bars and restaurants that mostly cater to the stadium events. Nothing too notable, but a couple good spots to dip out and grab a drink. A little bit further of a walk will land you in the fun area of Pioneer Square.
Arriving at SeaTac is pretty straightforward – there is a designated rideshare pickup (Lyft/Uber/Etc.) on Floor 3 of the garage. If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the light rail and have the time, the Link Lightrail is located on the far left of the garage.
Warning #1: SeaTac security lines are HIGHLY variable. Some airlines even go so far as to warn their passengers to allow extra time at Seattle. Please allow adequate times for flight departure. I personally empathize with this onion article and leave at least 2 hours if I’m checking bags.
Warning #2: Airports are federal. Therefore, you shouldn’t be taking or consuming things that might be legal at a state level in the vicinity. Or transporting such things. Hint hint, nudge nudge.
Besides my warnings, everything is straightforward. Typical airport experience.
Lodging & Neighborhoods
Just so we’re all referencing the same neighborhood boundaries, here’s a handy neighborhood reference. Best to zoom in a bit to get rid of the surrounding areas. CenturyLink is featured prominently on the map near the Pioneer Square and Industrial District (SoDo) blocks.
For each neighborhood I’ll give some pros, cons, and best transportation for that area. Check AirBNB for some cool listings! Listed in personal recommendation order:
1. Capitol Hill
Pros: Along the Link Lightrail, food and nightlife hub, artsy, filled with little gems.
Cons: Can be overly eccentric, $$, busy nightlife.
Along the Link Lightrail, so getting to the venue will be a breeze. Walking distance to cool parks like Volunteer Park, Downtown area, and about 1,000 restaurants and bars. My personal favorite.
2. Downtown / Pioneer Square
Pros: HCS sponsored hotels, walking distance to venue, proximity to tourist attractions and downtown, along the Link Lightrail.
Cons: Concrete jungle, busy, touristy.
To be honest, I hardly go Downtown unless I’m going shopping for new clothes. I’m not much a concrete and skyscraper kind of guy, so if you aren’t either, stay away. Still coming in at number 2 for sheer amount of things to do and proximity.
3. Belltown / Lower Queen Anne
Pros: Restaurants & bars, museums, walk to Downtown.
Cons: NOT along direct Link Lightrail line.
An underrated area located northwest of downtown, you’ll be within walking distance of most tourist attractions like Chihuly and the Needle. See CityPASS in the Things to Do section below. Lots of great restaurants and bars here.
4. Fremont / Wallingford / Ballard
Pros: Seattle locals, bike and walking path, restaurants and bars, beautiful Greenlake park.
Cons: NOT along any direct transport line.
I can’t not mention my other favorite Seattle neighborhood. Unfortunately, a little inconvenient for the event, it still has a lot to offer. From local favorites, to beautiful parks such as Gas Works and Greenlake, to a long walking and biking path, This area is a lot more residential with hotspot streets and locations.
Things to Do
One of the few tourist attractions that TRULY lives up to the hype. It’ll be bustling. It’ll be interesting. You’ll see fish get tossed. Go underneath the market to see a wall plastered with gum and to add your own piece! Honestly, only the main level is worth touring. The lower you go, the weirder the stores get. Check out Tillamook’s store for delicious cheese next door as well.
Everyone will push you to go to the “original” Starbucks, but it’s just like any other Starbucks and the Reserve Roastery is more fun of experience. You can do tasting flights of coffee, learn about the roasting process, or pick up some gifts for family that you can only find at this location!
Controversial opinion – but the Space Needle really isn’t worth it. Smith Tower provides a better view for literally half of the price.
Local Farmers’ Markets
Every neighborhood in Seattle holds their own farmers market that’s filled with delicious foods, trinkets, and fun. Rain or shine! Grab a coffee and stroll the rows of tents with plenty of samples for free. My personal favorite is Ballard’s market.
Ballard Brewery Tour
The Ballard area has over 10 breweries within a reasonable walking distance. Stoup Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Lagunitas, Peddler Brewing, and more! Here’s a good (while slightly outdated) blog post. You can definitely make a full day out of this.
A wildcard activity that every visitor I’ve had has loved. Challenge your mind and your body by ascending some 10 ft bouldering walls. Grab a beer in the warehouse basement afterwards.
Happy to give some hiking recommendations if people have questions!
So, you decided not to listen to my personal recommendations and want to do more of the “Seattle Checklist”. Fair enough, I’ve done it plenty of times myself. Then I’ll recommend the CityPASS.
CityPASS gives you admission to 5 different Seattle tourist classics, all for $79. My personal recommendations on this list would be the Needle, Harbor Tour, MoPOP, and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Seattle has an amazing, colorful food scene. These are just my personal favorites! Prices are a little bit higher across the board, so factor in a little more budget for this. I don’t know what the event is planning on bringing in, so I thought I’d just highlight some places outside of the Pioneer Square / SoDo neighborhood.
$$$ - pricey, sitdown, reservations recommended.
$$ - Casual sit-down spots.
$ - To go spots, desserts, doughnuts, etc.
I know what you’re thinking, “Pono, did you seriously include a section on coffee? Isn’t that a little pretentious? What are you, a hipster?”. Yes, a little, and maybe. Be one with the bean water. I love coffee and thought fellow Beyonders might too!
I can’t predict the future, but the average temperatures in Seattle are 59F/43F and probable rain. Yes, it does rain here a lot. No, it is not typical rain. Think more like a lot of overcast and drizzle. You’ll be fine with a single, mildly warm, waterproof layer. People love the down water-resistant jackets here.
Ask them in replies and I'll be happy to give specific advice or update the overall guide!