We love exploring a city on foot, but sometimes we take things too far. On the plus side, this was a great way to get our bearings in Seattle, but if you fancy trying this walk out, then you should know it’s about six miles long, and you should wear comfier shoes than I did. Also, you should wait till things are open in the morning before you leave!
Alright! Let’s walk till our legs drop off!
We were still pretty jet lagged, so we woke up super early. We’d actually planned to spend the day shopping in Capitol Hill, but since nothing was open and I’d seen a sign saying it was only a mile to walk to the Chinatown-International District, we thought we might as well do that.
When things are open, Capitol Hill is a really cool place to hang out.
From Capitol Hill:
- walk south along Broadway
- take a left onto Boren Avenue
- take a right onto 12th Avenue S
- turn onto onto S King Street
- follow S King Street and you’ll know when you hit the CID
The CID is made up of three neighbourhoods, Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon. The area has a really interesting story, which I discovered more about after reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I love reading books about places I’ve been.
It was still pretty early by the time we arrived, so nothing was open and there weren’t very many people around. We wanted to visit the Wing Luke Museum, which focuses on the Asian Pacific American experience, but sadly it was closed on Mondays, so we had to give it a miss. The museum offers some really interesting neighbourhood tours, too, so that’s on the list for our next trip.
As there didn’t seem to be much going on, we had a wander round, before deciding to walk over to Pioneer Square, because it didn’t look very far away.
From Chinatown International District:
- Walk to the west end of S King Street
- take a right onto 5th Ave S
- then take a left onto S Jackson Street
- Stop at King Street Station on your left.
- NB: there might be a better route into the station, but I can’t remember it – if there is, it’ll be pretty obvious.
King Street Station!
A train station, Laura? Isn’t this a walking tour? And don’t you spend your life complaining about trains? Yes, but shhh! This train station is an architectural gem. We’re just here to wander around the concourse.
The station was opened in 1906, and modernised throughout the 20th century. Luckily, it’s now been renovated to take those modernisations away and is looking very smart indeed!
From King St Station:
- Once you’ve got your fill of the train station, step out the north exit
- head up 2nd Ave Ext S, passing Union Station Square
- take a left onto South Washington St, passing Occidental Square on your left and Occidental Ave S on your right
- turn right onto 1st Ave S and you’ll reach Pioneer Square, which isn’t a square, it’s more of a triangle.
Confession time: I did not like this area. It felt shady, and wasn’t somewhere I would have liked to walk alone. When we arrived, it was still fairly early on a Monday, so I imagine most Seattlites were at work, and the other tourists weren’t up yet. I didn’t take any photos of the parks because there were a lot of homeless people in them, and I didn’t want to be disrespectful. I also just didn’t want to stay there any longer than I had to.
I’ve read that the area has seen improvements since we were there (nearly three years ago), so don’t let me put you off. If I was going back to Seattle, I’d want to visit again to see if I liked it more, because it’s very interesting architecturally, and there’s a lot to see and do, including Police and Fire Department museums, as well as Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour.
From Pioneer Square:
- Take your pioneering spirit north along 1st Avenue S for about 15 minutes, till you get to Pike Place Market
- pro tip: it’s on your left
Pike Place Market!
If you’re not up at stupid o’clock, then you’ll be able to enjoy the market in full swing. As we were still pretty early, there weren’t many tourists around. You might consider that a good thing, but there also wasn’t much happening on the fish throwing front either, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
You can walk down through the market to the aquarium, located on pier 59. We decided to leave that for another day (and another blog post) – my feet were hurting in my poorly chosen footwear. Monorail time!
From Pike Place Market:
- Walk north east on Pine Street for about 10 minutes
- turn left onto 5th Ave and you’ll find a lift to the monorail in the Westlake Center
- It’s not super obvious where it is (and our map was rubbish so it took us about 20 minutes to find it).
The monorail was built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, and is an awesome slice of retro fun. It costs $2.25 for a one way journey, and the car tilts on the track when it goes round bends, which was very exciting. I admit I love a bit of unusual transport, but I think you’d struggle to not enjoy this one.
It runs from the Westlake Center to the Seattle Center, taking two minutes to travel 0.96 miles. Aside from pleasing my inner geek, this shaves a mile off of our ridiculous walk.
Chug chug chug chug – monorail it along to the Seattle Center
There are a ton of attractions to see at the Seattle Center, with the main tourist ones probably being the Space Needle, EMP Museum and Chihuly Garden. Since we were exhausted from our unexpected walk, we decided to just stop for a drink at the Armory, with plans to check out the attractions another day.
The Armory is a bit of an odd one. It was built in 1939 to house the 146th Field Artillery and their tanks, and is now a cavernous food court.
It’s the final stretch! You can do it!
- Head south out of the Seattle Center and turn left onto Denny Way.
- Cross over the top of Route 99, admire the elephant car wash,
- cross the I-5, storm on up that hill, turn and admire the view,
- continue storming until you hit Broadway.
- Stop, rest, gather your thoughts and celebrate! You’ve made it!
What’s the most ridiculous walk you’ve done with absolutely no preparation?
Image credits: Walk by Bruce Aldridge (cover photo) / Street scene, Broadway, Seattle by Curtis Cronn (Capitol Hill) / International District, Seattle by Curtis Cronn / SEATTLE: King Street Station by GD Taber / Pioneer Square by Matthias Klappenbach / Pike Place Market by Tormod Ulsberg / All other photos by Ben or me