Downtown Seattle can be defined a few different ways. While many will lump in nearby neighborhoods, the core of central downtown extends from the Waterfront to Interstate 5, with Pioneer Square, Belltown, the International District and Seattle Center neighborhoods bordering it.
This means that downtown includes some of the city’s key attractions, namely Pike Place Market, the massive open-air bazaar with hundreds of stores and vendors selling fresh fish, handmade cheeses, souvenirs and much more. No trip to Seattle is complete without a trip to Pike Place to take in the food, flowers, buskers and assorted vendors. From the market, visitors can descend the Harbor Steps to explore the waterfront, with its shops, seafood-inspired menus and the Seattle Aquarium.
Other notable downtown attractions include the Seattle Art Museum,
which holds a fascinating permanent collection and brings in notable exhibitions from all over the world; the architecturally stunning Seattle Public Library
; the Seattle Center Monorail, which zips passengers to nearby Seattle Center; and the Westlake Plaza and Robert Maki-designed water features at 4th
Avenue and Pine Street.
Downtown Seattle’s geographic center – the blocks just east of the Pike Place Market and west of the Washington State Convention Center – is commonly referred to as the retail and entertainment district.Here, major shoppers will find endless distractions ranging from the Nordstrom
flagship store to independent boutiques to shopping centers such as Westlake Center
, City Centre and Pacific Place
. Numerous brand and boutique hotels, as well as some of the city’s most notable restaurants, make this an excellent area for visitors to stay, play and dine.
The financial district lies at the southern end of downtown Seattle, roughly from University Street to the International District and Pioneer Square. Many of the cities tallest highrises are here, including the Columbia Center, which opened in 1989 and is the tallest building west of the Mississippi (measured by number of floors – 76). In its shadow, the historic Smith Tower, at 42 floors, held the same distinction for some 50 years after it opened in 1914.