Capitol Hill Travel Guide
  • Photo: Mat Hayward / Shutterstock

Capitol Hill

The Hill has two faces: on one side, it's young and edgy, full of artists, musicians, and students. Tattoo parlors and coffeehouses abound, as well as thumping music venues and bars. On the other side, it's elegant and upscale, with tree-lined streets, 19th-century mansions, and John Charles Olmsted's Volunteer Park and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Converted warehouses, modern high-rises, colorfully painted two-story homes, and brick mansions all occupy the same neighborhood. There are parks aplenty and cute, quirky shops to browse, including one of the best bookstores in the city.

The Pike–Pine Corridor (Pike and Pine Streets running from Melrose Avenue to 15th Avenue) is the heart of the Hill. Pine Street is a slightly more pleasant walk, but Pike Street has more stores—and unless you're here in the evening (when the area's restaurants come to life), it's the stores and coffee shops that will be the main draw. The architecture along both streets is a mix of older buildings with small storefronts, a few taller buildings that have lofts and office spaces, and garages and warehouses (some converted, some not). Pine skirts Cal Anderson Park—a small, pleasant park with an unusual conic fountain and reflecting pool—a lovely place to take a break after walking and shopping. Depending on weather, the park can be either very quiet or filled with all kinds of activities from softball games to impromptu concerts.

The Hill's other main drag is Broadway East (a north–south avenue that crosses both Pike and Pine). Seattle's youth culture, old money, gay scene, and everything in between all converge on Broadway's lively if somewhat seedy stretch between East Denny Way and East Roy Street. Broadway is undergoing a renaissance, thanks to a few new high-profile condo buildings and a light-rail station. Although it's got a few spots of note (Jerry Traunfeld's excellent restaurant, Poppy, for one), it's still mostly a cluttered stretch of cheap restaurants, even cheaper clothing stores, and a few bars. Many people still find the area compelling because of its human parade. If you really want to see Seattle in all its quirky glory, head to Dick's Drive-In around midnight on a weekend night.

The neighborhood's reputation as one of the city's hippest and most vibrant is bringing some good developments, too—Seattle's beloved Elliott Bay Book Company relocated here in the hopes that the constant street traffic and focus on the arts would revitalize its business. It’s within walking distance of several great pizzerias, ice-cream shops, and coffeehouses.

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