Seattle City Travel Guide

Last updated at July 17, 2022

A gemstone of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is everything that defines this niche region of the United States. The beautiful parks and trails that encompass the city offers some epic sceneries, making this a must-visit for hiking enthusiasts who seek to explore uniqueness of temperate rainforests in America. The city also has some amazing cuisine options and several of the best coffee shops in the US. There are also some amazing Asian-American communities that are definitely worth exploring if you have the free time.

Getting Around

Public Transportation

Seattle's public transportation system made it incredibly easy to get around the city. It was similar to San Francisco's system, but with less congestion and much better traffic. The buses were reliable and came every 10 minutes, and often you didn't have to transfer to different buses to reach my destination. The bus drivers were also very helpful and professional, going above and beyond to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers.

Johnny Vu headshot
Jessie Lan headshot
Portrait shots on the Metro Transit 47 Bus

The Link stations were clean and conveniently located, and they operated on an honor system where passengers don't have to scan their cards. Having checks administered randomly by fare enforcement officers definitely improves the foot traffic and subway congestion at the ticket gates, allowing for fast travel even during peak rush hour.

For tourists, I highly recommend getting an ORCA card and using the ORCA app to refill it and access bus and Link passes.

GIG Car Share

For camping and hiking enthusiasts, I highly recommend using the GIG car sharing services. The car can be driven for up to 250 miles before an incurring charge, more than enough to visit parks and trails like Olympic National Park and Rattlesnake Ridge. A hybrid car could be rented for 120$ for up to 24 hours, but GIG offers several promotions including pre-booking in advance or linking your AAA membership. Gas/electric charging is also fully reimbursed, so you will never have to worry about those hiking gas prices!

GIG Car Share Rates screenshot
GIG Car Share Rates on their website (tax and discounts not included)

Although Turo's cheap services might seem appealing, GIG overlooks the dreaded young-driver penalty which can incur an additional cost of up to 30-50$. The majority of Turo rentals also require drivers to be responsible for capping out the gas in their car prior to returning, adding another hidden fee to what may seem like a enticing alternative.

Best Views

Gas Works Park (at Night!)

An iconic part of Seattle and its culture, this park has plenty of walking trails and space perfect for family ventures, picnics, sports and games. The beautiful open view of Seattle skyline over Lake Union is spoiled by the misplaced copper-stained factory remnants, creating an apocalyptical ambience that is unique in many parks.

Overlooking Lake Union
Overlooking Lake Union

Instead of visiting during conventional hours, our group explored Gas Works Park at night during the July 4th Fireworks festival. The night spectacle was truly special in its own way seeing the city lights worked unanimously with the illuminating bursts or color against the black canvas sky.

Gas works park july 4th celebration
Gas works park during July 4th

Kerry Park

Another perfect location for the renowned skyline view of Seattle is Kerry Park. Getting your picture taken here perfectly encapsulates Seattle's identity: the Space Needle, Lake Union, and Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Kerry Park City View
City view at Kerry Park

I highly recommend that you plan accordingly when you visit! It can be very busy during peak hours (late afternoon and evenings, especially around sunset.)

For Nature Lovers

I believe the biggest part of Seattle's identity is it's devotion to nature. With so many parks within and surrounding the city, it would be a gigantic missed opportunity to experience the beauty of the pacific northwest.

Japanese Garden

Located just south of the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle's Japanese Garden is worth a visit. Be at peace with the soothing sounds of flowing water, meticulously arranged flower blossoms, and the swaying green foliage of the garden. With smaller crowds and plenty of private spaces, this place is perfect for introverts and couples.

Japanese Garden 1
Japanese Garden 2
Japanese Garden near Washington Park Arboretum

The pricing for the garden visit was very reasonably priced at 8$, and you can spend an hour or two easily here.

Rattlesnake Ridge

This nice 4-mile hike is known for the infamous Rattlesnake Ledge. The trail surrounds you in dense, giant red cedars and pulls you up several switchbacks until you reach the vertigo-inducing ledge. The view at the top overlooks the giant Rattlesnake lake with mountaintops stretching into the horizons.

Rattlesnake Ridge Cliff
Rattlesnake Ridge Trail Image
The Rattlesnake Ridge Trail Hike and View

Rattlesnake ridge is a very quick 40 minute drive from the city if you are looking to do a family-friendly hike that is quick, simple and rewarding; ideal for those who want that instant gratification of capturing your Instagram-worthy picture for as little effort as possible.

Asian-American Culture

The Seattle experience made me feel more connected to my Asian heritage more than any other city I've been to in the United States. The Wing Luke museum in Chinatown was a wonderful and insightful experience to learn more about the heritage of myself and my asian friends, and to relate to many asian youths in America born from first generation immigrants. Another inspiring area was Little Saigon of Seattle, an enriching experience into Vietnamese-American culture in the US.

Wing Luke Museum

The Wing Luke Museum may be appealing to many young and older adults who seek to learn more about Asian-American culture. Posters densely filled with art, images and textual information plaster the walls of this museum. Exhibits here range from a variety of topics, including Asian representation in the entertainment business like Bruce Lee's famous Way of Life showcase, to the historical triggers of immigration from war and horror. Be prepared to feel saddened, inspired, horrified, and grateful; each room is filled with different emotions, making it impossible to have a mundane experience.

Wish Tiles
Bruce Lee Mural
Wing Luke Museum Wish Tiles and Bruce Lee Mural

Guests here can estimate to spend 1-2 hours at the museum depending on how much you want to read. For the full experience, I highly recommend taking your time through each exhibit as the ideas shared were extremely thought provoking and definitely worth the time exploring.

Little Saigon

This is a must-visit place for Vietnamese people, pho and banh mi lovers, and coffee fanatics. The food and coffee were authentic and delicious, and the historical touch and Vietnamese influence in the neighborhood is definitely something else to take notice of.
Hello Em is a beautifully decorated coffee shop with the history of Seattle's Vietnamese community on full display. I was able to order a delicious coffee "Ca Phe Trung Da" and pressed banh mi pate. Afterwards, you can recline on the petite straw-made chairs and tables and take in the beautiful decorations as Vietnamese Pop music played overhead. There were pamphlets and books to read more about the creation of Little Saigon. There was also community learning center in the backroom of the shop with a wall covered in drawings of Vietnamese food and people, the perfect opportunity for you to stroll through as you sip on your delicious ca phe.

Ca Phe Em
Ca Phe Trung Da and Ca Phe Dua from Hello Em

Pho Bac Sup Shop is a must-visit to get one of the best Pho in North America. I ordered the "Pho Bo Suon" here which came with gigantic beef bone ribs. Johnsun and I were feeling a bit gutsy and decided to go for the questionable #khoawazhere cocktail, which was a shot of Jameson with hot pho broth to chase it down.

Pho Bac
#khoawazhere with Pho Bo Suon at Pho Dac Sup Shop

Phin is another coffee shop in the neighborhood that serves the deliciously famous "Ca Phe Sua Da" offering complimentary books for you to read. Their collection includes many Vietnamese-American authors and Vietnamese Folklore and Children books, both in English and Viet.

Phin Coffee
Phin Coffee Shop - cozy and comfy!

Pike Place

Pike Place Market is Seattle's most popular neighborhood and the go-to place for tourists around the world when visiting the city.

Starbucks Reserve

Located several blocks down from the original Starbucks on Pike Place, this Starbuck Reserve boasts a gigantic coffee roastery inside accompanied by high quality pastries and baked goods. Visitors can visit to see how coffee is made at scale at the reserve through live demonstrations and to also receive expert recommendations on the variety of seasonal coffee beans that are sold here.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Interior
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Interior - Great Coffee Smell ☕

The reserve also has plenty of merch and gift options for Starbucks-crazed enthusiasts. If you plan on visiting, be aware that it can get very crowded here and expect long queue lines and wait times.


Haidilao Seattle deserves a special shout-out as being one of the most enjoyable meals I have ever went to. This hot pot extravaganza boasts futuristic customer service, amenities rivaling 5-star hotels, and Vegas caliber entertainment.

Haidilao Hot Pot with Johnny and Kevin
Haidilao Hot Pot with Johnny and Kevin

This was unlike any hotpot restaurant I have ever went to, but it comes at the expense of your wallet. Expect to spend somewhere between 40-70$ a person here!

Public Market

And of course, we arrive at Seattle's Public Market. Lying on the edge of Elliot Bay, you can find hundreds of small business owners selling all sorts of goods. The farmers market here definitely had some interesting vendors that are worth checking out.

Pike Place Public Market
Seattle aquarium and ferris wheel from public market
Some views at Pike Place Public Market