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Alki Beach Park | © Seattle Parks / Flickr
Alki Beach Park | © Seattle Parks / Flickr
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The Coolest Neighborhoods in Seattle

Picture of Jacklyn Grambush
Updated: 21 August 2017
With a rich and diverse history such as Seattle’s, it is difficult to pare down the list of top neighborhoods. Even though some community lines overlap or move depending on the source, each area is impressively distinct in culture, vibe, and purpose. There’s just about something for everyone.
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Ballard

Known for its Scandinavian and maritime roots, Ballard has quickly developed into one of the hottest, blossoming neighborhoods in Seattle. Attractions include the Nordic Heritage Museum, Golden Gardens Park, and the Ballard Locks. Meander along Ballard Avenue for hip, new bars, restaurants, and shops, or wait until 10 am on Sunday for the year-round Ballard Farmers Market.

Ballard, Seattle, WA, USA

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Belltown

Though this neighborhood was originally a hill, the Denny Regrade Project flattened the land on which Belltown eventually rose. Known for its nightlife, this hip, trendy, and more gritty part of the city was named the “barhopping hub to watch in 2017” by the Seattle Times. Don’t miss The Crocodile (with a history of performances by Nirvana, Cheap Trick, and R.E.M.) and the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Belltown, Seattle, WA, USA

🌳#olympicsculpturepark

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Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill, the LGBTQ center of Seattle, encourages community as well as individuality. Points of interest include Volunteer Park (comprising the Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Bruce Lee’s grave site), Neumos, the Elliott Bay Book Company, the Jimi Hendrix Statue, and the Capitol Hill Block Party. To stay up to date with this neighborhood, check out the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog: Community News for All the Hill.

Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA, USA

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Downtown

The real heart of Seattle, Downtown provides that hustle-and-bustle, city feel. Boasting famous spots, such as Pike Place Market and the Nordstrom Seattle flagship store, the performing arts and live music are also well represented in this neighborhood with the 5th Avenue Theatre, Paramount Theatre, The Showbox, The Triple Door, and Benaroya Hall. Visual and literary arts also make a scene in the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Central Public Library.

Downtown, Seattle, WA, USA

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Fremont

As the self-proclaimed (and officially named) Center of the Universe, Fremont is known for its quirky, counterculture, granola vibe. Today, the neighborhood also hosts headquarters for big-name companies, such as Google and Adobe Systems, and high-end boutiques. Head on over to visit the Fremont Sunday Market, Oktoberfest (in September), and the Summer Solstice Parade, or grab a cup to go at the Fremont Coffee Company on your way to see the famed Fremont Troll.

Fremont, Seattle, WA, USA

Hi there….im naked on a bicycle. #travelingman #photographer #fremontsummersolstice

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Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square holds claim to a handful of Seattle’s firsts, such as Seattle’s first neighborhood, settled by the—you guessed it—pioneers back in 1852. It also has the First Thursday Art Walk, which was the first art walk in the nation. A less pristine neighborhood for the city, Pioneer Square is a mix of old and new. To learn about Seattle’s history, head here for Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, Central Saloon (Seattle’s oldest bar), the Iron Pergola & Tlingit Indian Totem, the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and the Smith Tower (Seattle’s first skyscraper) with its observation deck for incredible views. For a peek into the future, visit Milepost 31. Top spots for food and relaxation include Il Terrazzo Carmine, Tat’s Delicatessen, and the Waterfall Garden Park.

Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA, USA

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Queen Anne

Named after the style of the majority of houses built on the hill, Queen Anne is such a large neighborhood that it could easily be sub-divided into four others (East, West, North, and Lower Queen Anne—as in literally lower down the hill). Lower Queen Anne includes the Seattle Center (Pacific Science Center, Museum of Pop Culture, Space Needle, and Chihuly Garden & Glass). Musical and performing arts shows are put on by the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Opera at the McCaw Hall, and professional sports teams display their skills at the Key Arena, home of the Seattle Storm, and at Memorial Stadium, home of the Seattle Reign. In general, the environment tends to get fancier the higher up the hill you travel. Points of interest include Kerry Park and Seattle Pacific University. Don’t miss El Diablo, Peso’s, and How to Cook a Wolf for food and drink.

Queen Anne, Seattle, WA, USA

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SoDo

SoDo was originally an abbreviation for “South of the Dome,” as in the Kingdome, the former sports venue for the Seattle Mariners, which no longer exists. Now, SoDo is often said to stand for “South of Downtown,” which is also accurate. This rather industrial neighborhood—it was the site of the first Costco—is best known for its sports, namely CenturyLink Field, home of the Seahawks and Sounders, and Safeco Field, home of the Mariners. The increasing nightlife is arguably led by Showbox SoDo.

SoDo, Seattle, WA, USA

One of those nights.

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University District

So named because of the University of Washington, which dominates the area, the U. District is an understandably more youthful neighborhood. With gathering places such as the University Village and The Ave, you won’t want to miss out on the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum, the University District Street Fair, or the University District Farmer’s Market.

University District, Seattle, WA, USA

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Waterfront

This area along Elliott Bay, perfect for taking a stroll, aims to entertain with sites such as the Seattle Great Wheel, the Seattle Aquarium, and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Alternatively, you can start your journey here with the Washington State Ferries to explore the nearby islands or snap a spectacular view of the city from the water. Of course, the shore is home to incredible seafood restaurants, including Ivar’s Pier 54 Fish Bar.

Waterfront, Seattle, WA, USA

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West Seattle

With a more laid-back, intimate, beach-town vibe, West Seattle tends to offer more unique boutiques than chain companies. Check out Alki Beach Park, the West Seattle Brewing Company, and West Seattle Junction.

West Seattle, Seattle, WA, USA