Visiting Seattle: No Car? No Problem!

You’ve likely seen the news about national shortages of rental cars pushing rates up and availabilities down. Luckily for you, if you are flying in to visit Seattle, you can easily go car free, save money and stress, and not miss out on anything!

Link light rail Oran Viriyincy

Flying in to SEA airport? We’ve got great news for you. The Link light rail system connects the airport to Seattle’s downtown. Running every 6-10 minutes most of the day, the train will connect you from the SeaTac/Airport Station on the fourth floor of the airport parking garage to Westlake Station, located in the heart of downtown at 5th & Pine. The trip is about 40 minutes and fares are less than $4 per person.

From Westlake Station, you are within a short walk to thousands of hotel rooms in Seattle. This map will help you locate nearby lodging. The green dotted line is the underground light rail route. Draw a line up with your finger from Pike Place Market about 4 blocks to find Westlake Station.

Seattle/Bainbridge Ferry Joenevill via Flickr Creative Commons

Many Seattle attractions are within a 1-mile walking radius in downtown, including Pike Place Market, the flagship Nordstrom store, Seattle Art Museum, the Central Library and the Seattle waterfront including the Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises and Washington State Ferries. From the top floor of the Westlake Center shopping center above the Westlake light rail station, a 2-minute ride on Seattle’s iconic 1962 monorail brings you to Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, MoPOP, Climate Pledge Arena (opening in fall 2021), KEXP, and more. Starting from Westlake Center again, it’s a 1.3-mile walk or quick ride back south on the light rail to Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District, Lumen Field, and T-Mobile Park.

Downtown Seattle also has numerous performing arts and music venues: Benaroya Hall, The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Paramount Theatre, Jazz Alley, The Triple Door, The Showbox, Unexpected Productions, and The Moore Theatre are all walkable from many hotels and are open—or reopening soon—with active schedules.

A relatively flat 1.2-mile walk heading north from Westlake Center will bring you to the south shore of Lake Union where you can visit the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), The Center for Wooden Boats, and find various ways to get out on the water in kayaks, vintage vessels, sailboats, electric boats or even hot tub boats. If you’d rather ride than walk, you can add the Seattle Streetcar to the mix and take the South Lake Union line from the Westlake hub at McGraw Park to South Lake Union Park next to MOHAI.

Alki Kayak Tours

Numerous tour companies will take you out and about from downtown hotels to Seattle’s further flung destinations, from Mt. Rainier to a tour of the Boeing Factory.

But, you say, you really wanted to get out hiking on your own? Well, then perhaps Trailhead Direct is for you!  Ride Link light rail to either the Capitol Hill Station or the Mount Baker Station, and let King County Metro take you from there to several popular trailheads in the region. Make sure you’re prepared in advance with supplies and schedules. Or have Daypacked provide your gear and guide your adventure.

Looking to escape to the islands for a day or two? Charter a seaplane to fly to Lopez, Orcas, or San Juan Island. Or hop on the West Seattle Water Taxi from Pier 50 on the downtown waterfront to the shores of Alki Beach, where you can rent a kayak from Alki Kayak Tours to explore Elliott Bay.

JUMP bikes Courtesy @pinay_shortie

And of course, Seattle has a number of rideshare and taxi services too, as well as bike and scooter share. Here’s a guide to get you started: visitseattle.org/visitor-information/getting-around.

This recent Lonely Planet article has great advice, too!

Still have questions? Find lots more answers here, and we’ll see you soon in Seattle!

About the Author

Tracey Wickersham

Tracey Wickersham is the Senior Director of Cultural Tourism at Visit Seattle. A volunteer dj & host of a long running music program on KBCS 91.3 FM, she spent 6 years on the board of 4Culture, supporting arts, heritage, public art and historic preservation in King County. You’ll often find her at the Tractor Tavern enjoying great bands, exploring one of the region’s beautiful parks, or in one of Seattle’s many live theater venues.

More Posts By Tracey Wickersham

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