Quick Seattle Visit-Car or Uber/Taxi?

Old May 1st, 2021, 10:58 AM
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Quick Seattle Visit-Car or Uber/Taxi?

I will be in Seattle with my son for a college tour in June. We fly in mid morning on a Sunday and are staying downtown. We plan on walking around Downtown/the touristy stuff on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning we will go to Seattle University and that afternoon to University of Washington. Tuesday, we have to be at the airport by 8:30ish am. Do I need a car for this? Will it make it easier or more of a hindrance--parking, etc. Does it cost an arm and a leg to go those distances by Uber/taxi? Thanks for any advice.
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Old May 1st, 2021, 04:44 PM
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I know nothing about Seattle (nor do I want to) but the car rental situation has become a little cray-cray both in pricing and even availablility. Of course with Alaska Crusing shut down for the season it may not be so bad in Seattle.

My first steps would be to do a test reservation, then try Google Maps using either the ride-share or public transportation icons. I'm sure your son can help with that.
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Old May 1st, 2021, 07:11 PM
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I live in Seattle and can help. Just depends how you want to do this.

To get to a downtown hotel you can take a taxi, towncar, uber/lyft, or LightRail public transportation. Depending exactly what part of downtown you are in (if you wouldn't mind saying) you might be able walk up to Seattle University or catch a Metro bus. Getting up to the UW will be trickier, for that a car would be handy, or use uber/lyft. I can't imagine it's outrageous $$ as it's less than 5 miles between Seattle U and the UW.

Long answer shorter, yes a rental car would make it easier. Yes it will be expensive and parking will cost $$$.

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Old May 2nd, 2021, 06:33 AM
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"Does it cost an arm and a leg to go those distances by Uber/taxi? "
It may cost an arm and a leg to rent a car. Have you checked prices? There's a nationwide rental car shortage. The rental car price may make the decision for you.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 06:59 AM
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If you both are good walkers then you can get from the airport to downtown and the U district by light rail. I mention that walking because it is a bit of a trek at the airport to the light rail station and the station at the University is at the south end of campus near the stadium and the health sciences complex, so a bit of a walk to where you will probably be meeting the tour. But it would definitely be the easiest to get between the airport, downtown and the U district. Here is a link:

https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transpo...ions/rail.aspx

https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-wi...9913%2C1_99604

And be forewarned about the fact that the rental car shortage is also having an effect on uber and lyft. We live in Seattle but are in Palm Springs at the moment and the lyft driver the other day said there it typically an hour wait with surge pricing at most times of the day at the moment.

I hope you have a wonderful visit. My husband and I are both UW graduates and have fond memories of visiting the campus on my own visit with my parents way back when on my own first visit to Seattle!
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 08:09 AM
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I just did some very back-of-the-envelope calculations along with consulting Expedia. My guess (and it's a rough one at that) would be that a rental car would cost around $280 for the two days, plus around $50 per night for parking at the hotel. Using a limo service from the airport to your hotel and back would come to around $100 - $120, and assuming surge pricing on a Monday, the various Uber/Lyft charges would also probably come to $100 - $120 (and I could be way off on that but it's a guess.) So all in, the car would probably come to around a hundred bucks more than the alternatives.

I also checked on availability for one day rentals in downtown Seattle, where you'd pick up a car downtown and use it for your touring day, then drop it that night. Not knowing the precise dates I couldn't be certain, but it looks like availability at any of the downtown rental car offices is going to be very limited to nonexistent for those days. But that might be an alternative to consider.

A third option might be to choose a hotel not right in the downtown area but which would give you discounted parking and possibly a lower rate. There are various bundles that include room and parking; for example, I checked the Silver Cloud Inn on Lake Union, right across the street from Lake Union with its restaurants and float planes, and the rate including parking for two nights in mid-June was $159 per night ($139 without parking.) This is an excellent deal at a good regional hotel chain, and one advantage is that it's a short walk from the Lake Union streetcar that will take you to the middle of the action downtown.

Money aside, if it was me I'd go for the car, because of the opportunity it would give you to explore more of the city than you could accomplish on foot or in the back of a Prius. On Monday, you could visit Seattle U, then explore the Capitol Hill and Madison Park neighborhoods, maybe drive along Lake Washington or see Volunteer Park, then have lunch someplace near the UW before that tour, followed by exploring the "U District," maybe the Wallingford, North Lake Union, or Fremont districts, or maybe Green Lake or the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Ballard Locks or Fishermen's Terminal... in short you could see a lot of the city in a short time, which might be useful in getting a wider view of our city than just glimpses from an Uber window.

Is that worth a hundred bucks? Only you can decide.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 09:10 AM
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If you do get a car Silver Cloud Lake Union is an excellent suggestion and puts you pretty much right in the middle between downtown Seattle, Seattle U, and UW.

If you are going to U-District on public transportation, Metro bus is a better option, and gets you right to the campus. Light Rail does not (as mentioned above).
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 10:09 AM
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These are all great thoughts--thanks!! I do have a car reserved. Just not sure if it is worth it and should cancel it. We are staying between Pikes Place and Pioneer Square. It's a mile walk to Seattle U--straight uphill On one hand, I want to take public transportation so my son can see how easy/difficult it is to get around. On the other, we could see more of the city if we drove. But that's not what his experience will be if he goes to school there--it will be mass transit all the way. We will definitely have to walk around the campus and surrounding neighborhoods--e.g. where would he live if he didn't live in campus housing. We are both in good shape so it's not an issue--and he needs to get a feel for how far he will have to walk, etc. around each campus we see. I guess I should have asked--rent a car or take public transit I appreciate the insight re. Lyft/Uber surges.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 10:42 AM
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There's no "s" in Pike Place, and sure, using public transit will be his predominant mode once he's here. But this is a big city with a lot of diversity and variety, so getting something of a "bird's eye view" might be useful so that when and if he's here he'll know where the food markets are, or where to go hiking or to movies or music venues. Knowing how to travel between a downtown hotel and the campus isn't likely to be all that important, I'd imagine.

It's really pretty easy to access either campus from downtown. Use the First Hill streetcar service to Seattle U - First Hill Line - Transportation | seattle.gov and the light rail to the UW (the current University station is at the football field, the new "U District" station opening in the fall is a couple of blocks west of the UW) is also very easy - Homepage | Sound Transit
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 01:22 PM
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I second gardyloo's ideas on taking mass transit. When I moved to Seattle many decades ago to attend UW, I loved taking the buses from downtown to the U district. Back in the day buses were free within the entire downtown corridor, but of course, those days are long gone. As mentioned, there are multiple types of mass transit in Seattle, light rail, streetcars and "normal" buses. Google maps can give you the closet easiest routes or you can use the transit sites too of course.

Also, if you don't already know this, Seattle University is located adjacent to Capital Hill, which is one of the kind of arty counterculture neighborhoods in Seattle. It is also an area with lots of good food

If you are staying between Pike Place and downtown, you should see take a look at the downtown Seattle Library. I think the building is still closed due to covid but the architecture even on the exterior is pretty extraordinary. It was designed by Rem Koolhaus and well worth a walk by:


Rem Koolhaas Downtown Seattle Public Library

Here's an article with some nice interior photos as well,

https://www.architectmagazine.com/de...l-in-seattle_o

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Old May 2nd, 2021, 02:44 PM
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I would keep the rental car. I remember those college visits and it is really nice to be able to just get in the car and go when you are done and not having to wait on an Uber/Bus etc.

Also, our daughter just flew home to SEA a little bit ago. They were going to just take Uber back to their place but it was super expensive and a long wait, so they were going to do the Link but it wasn't running to their stop, so they are on a bus right now. You don't want to take a chance like this and miss any appointments you may have.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 03:18 PM
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There is a general shortage of Uber/Lyft drivers, although I don't know the impact of this in Seattle, and there have been reports of long waits for rides, higher charges to riders...
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 05:16 PM
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Fortunately/unfortunately right now there are no appointments. Colleges are not doing in person tours. You can do a self guided tour. And that is what I think we will be doing. Gives us more freedom. Things might change after the spring semester ends. We shall see. I do want to focus on the neighborhoods right around the campuses. I went to college outside of Philadelphia and didn't get there much. With studying, sports, work, and friends on campus, I basically stayed within a mile radius. I went to USC for grad school and did get around a little more but I had to live 20 some odd minutes away from campus because the immediate neighborhood was so bad. So I definitely want to walk around the outskirts of both Seattle campuses.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Monday, you could visit Seattle U, then explore the Capitol Hill and Madison Park neighborhoods, maybe drive along Lake Washington or see Volunteer Park, then have lunch someplace near the UW before that tour, followed by exploring the "U District," maybe the Wallingford, North Lake Union, or Fremont districts, or maybe Green Lake or the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Ballard Locks or Fishermen's Terminal... in short you could see a lot of the city in a short time, which might be useful in getting a wider view of our city than just glimpses from an Uber window.

Is that worth a hundred bucks? Only you can decide.
I agree.

If you have a car reserved and it's a reasonable rate, I'd keep it. If you have time to explore, fabulous. Definitely try to fit in the Ballard Locks if you can.
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 07:12 PM
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To elaborate on my earlier post, our daughter came over for dinner and shared more information. Normally she pays about $35 for an Uber to her place. Today they were charging $75 and it was an hour wait. That was this afternoon, so the most up to date information possible.

She also commented that the airport was crazy busy, as if no pandemic. My husband said the same thing as he had a one day business trip on Friday. He took a photo of the concourse at 9 pm and tons of people, not an extra square inch.

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Old May 2nd, 2021, 10:36 PM
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Keep the car!!! It will make your trip so much easier and you can see so much more of the city. Your son will have plenty of time to get to know public transportation if he moves here -haha.
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 06:30 AM
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Thanks mms--that is good info to have!!
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:31 AM
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Yes-I agree with keeping the car, especially now that I realize that you won't be doing a group tour. I attended both UW and Seattle University (1 year grad program) and I think you will find the atmosphere and "vibe" of the two schools quite different. Besides the obvious differences (1 large public school and the other smaller private school), the campus of UW seems much more like you might imagine a quintessential college campus to look and feel like-more self contained with open quads, etc. Here is photo from the UW Daily of the quad in bloom in the spring which is just amazing:


UW Quad Cherry Trees


And the view of Mount Rainier are spectacular on a clear day as well. I remember how impressed I was seeing these two things the first time as a student.


Mt. Rainier from Red Square

Seattle U feels more like a campus interwoven in a more busy urban area. Most UW students who aren't living in dorms or fraternity or sorority houses live mostly in the U district itself or in the nearby popular neighborhoods of Green Lake or Wallingford (both neighborhoods are really nice worth checking out while you are there-along with Fremont and Capital Hill). I am guessing that most of the Seattle U students live near campus in what is called the central district and/or now the southern part of Capital Hill.

I hope you have a wonderful visit in spite of some the challenges of visiting this year!
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:38 AM
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Wow mms that is crazy about the Uber. When I was flying home from Houston a little over a week ago, there were huge lines to pickup rental cars at the IAH Car Rental Center. I guess you can wait for an hour either way. The 5-minute Lyft ride home was the normal price but I think I waited maybe 20-30 minutes instead of the usual 5 minutes. Long Beach is a small airport, thankfully. I could have walked home if necessary.

How is public transportation doing?
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:58 AM
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mlbg--I have not been on public transportation in over a year. Our daughter takes it on the rare occasion, and yesterday when they had to get off the link, they were instructed to take the shuttle. At that point they just got on the DLine. Normally that route is quite nice, but she said yesterday it was not. Plus most were not wearing masks and way too many people, so they only lasted a couple of blocks and got off and walked.

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