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Going local in Seattle

Though many of Seattle’s draws, including the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, can be found within the same central vicinity, don’t limit your wanderings to Downtown. Seattle’s characterful, colourful and diverse neighbourhoods are at the heart of the city’s quirky identity, and each has its own personality. From the hipsters along the Pike-Pine Corridor to the free spirits in Fremont, head across town to discover all different sides of the Emerald City.

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The Pike-Pine Corridor

Like Rome, Istanbul, and Athens, Seattle is a city built upon seven hills. All are worth seeing, but be sure to prioritise Capitol Hill in your explorations. Why? Because that’s where you’ll find the Pike-Pine Corridor. Just one mile from downtown, this stretch is the epicentre of hip Seattle. Come here for trendy boutiques, the best nightlife venues, and the most hyped restaurants in town. Inclusive Pike-Pine is also home to the city’s largest LGBT community.

A neighbourhood guide to Seattle's Pike-Pine Corridor

Pioneer Square

Seattle’s original downtown, Pioneer Square may have had unlucky beginnings — it was virtually burned to the ground during the Great Seattle Fire of 1897 — but these days, things are certainly looking up. A National Historic District since 1970, Pioneer Square is today renowned for its beautiful Romanesque Revival architecture. It also draws crowds for its First Thursday Art Walk, when small galleries welcome strolling art lovers late into the evening hours.

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Once a community of seafaring Scandinavian immigrants, waterfront Ballard has since evolved into a bona fide hipster enclave. Today, the nabe is home to organic espresso slingers Caffe Fiore, trendy bars like the Ballard Annex Oyster House, and white-hot restaurants like Brimmer & Heeltap. But don’t forget about Ballard’s outdoorsy cred, too: wend your way along the Burke-Gilman Trail and take in views of the Ballard Locks.

The best things to do in Ballard


There are two things you need to know about Fremont. The first is that locals proudly call it “The Center of the Universe”; the second is that its most famous resident happens to be a gigantic sculpted troll underneath the Aurora Bridge. You guessed it: Fremont is Seattle at its very quirkiest. Visit the Fremont Sunday Market to browse the fresh produce and arts & crafts, and swing by the off-kilter shops, cafes, and craft beer bars that populate this happening hood.

The best places to experience waterfront culture in Seattle

University District

Don’t think that you need to be an undergrad in order to take advantage of the eclectic University District, or U District, as it’s known to locals. Though the area is home to the 46,000-student University of Washington campus, this funky slice of town is open to all. Wander ‘The Ave’ (University Way, the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfare), swing by cult favourite eateries like Thai Tom and Xi’an Noodles, and, in spring, admire the blossoming cherry trees that line the campus.

Image credits: Ballard © Visit Seattle, Pike Pine © Crai S. Bower, Pioneer Square © Tim Thompson - Visit Seattle