The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Seattle

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to Seattle. The city is filled with diverse neighborhoods, each with a unique character or flavor.

Although HotPads is based in San Francisco, the Emerald City has a special place in our heart as home to Zillow HQ. We spend a lot of time in Seattle and know that finding your way through each of the neighborhoods can be overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with the territory. Stress no more, here’s a guide to 10 top Seattle neighborhoods guaranteed to appeal to a wide range of tastes and lifestyles. Chances are you’ll find one that calls to you.

1. Ballard

A waterfront neighborhood in northwest Seattle, Ballard is cool in a welcoming way—not cool as in “we’re all better than you,” but cool as in “we’re good with you, whatever your style.” Hipsters, young professionals, creatives, you name it—all are welcome and will find plenty to keep them happy, from shops and restaurants to parks and a lovely waterfront promenade.

2. Beacon Hill

If kid-friendly is one of your priorities, you can’t go wrong with Beacon Hill. With the largest population of families, good schools and plenty of parks and playgrounds, it’s a great place to raise (or start) a family. It’s also culturally diverse and has an off-leash play area for the furry members of your household.

3. Capitol Hill

Foodies, this is the place for you. Whether you’re in the mood for a five-star entrée, gourmet coffee or homemade ice cream, you’ll find it all in Capitol Hill. With so much great food and drinks in walking distance, you’ll never have to cook for yourself again.

And when you’re not partaking of the deliciousness? Check out the farmer’s market, park, or quirky theater scene… then come home to one of the neighborhood’s stately historical houses.

On the waterfront, looking east toward downtown Seattle. | Image courtesy Flickr / Nicola

4. Belltown

Right in the heart of downtown Seattle. Belltown has everything you need to stay entertained. Home to music venues, theaters, sports bars and night clubs, you’ll always feel at the center of the action, whether you’re in the mood to dance the night away or have a beer and watch the game.

12806187943_03c70d557e_zBelltown is home to countless rrestaurants bars, and music clubs. | Photo courtesy of Rob Gross

5. Lower Queen Anne

Renters will love Lower Queen Anne, which has all the attractions of being right downtown but more of a residential feel. A stone’s throw from the Space Needle, Lower Queen Anne’s young, creative community lives in apartments, studios and condos surrounded by plenty of restaurants and bars. It’s also conveniently located to public transit (both bus and Monorail).

6. University District

For a young, laid-back vibe, you can’t get any better than a college town — or, in this case, a college neighborhood aka University District. This area around the University of Washington is full of students and the kinds of establishments that cater to students, from indie restaurants to eclectic shops. It’s also a gorgeous place, with lots of expansive green space, historic buildings and, in the spring, a burst of blossoms from the many cherry trees.

Image courtesy Flickr / Bjorn Giesenbauer

7. First Hill

Artists and creative types will feel right at home in First Hill. Once the home of wealthy Seattle residents who wanted to be close to downtown but removed from the bustle, it’s now a hip and happening neighborhood with affordable apartments, quiet streets and plenty of green space. (Dog lovers will be happy to note it also has a decent amount of dog-friendly rental units.)

8. West Seattle

West Seattle is a great neighborhood for city-dwellers who’d rather be outdoors. It has great mountain views and boasts a park with heated saltwater pools, hiking and running trails, and a beach that everyone will in Seattle flocks to come summer. It’s also got a great stretch of restaurants and cafes along the intersection known as “The Junction.”

9. Fremont

7988705428_9d6053b924_zThe (in)famous Fremont Troll lurks under the bridge. | Photo courtesy of Kenneth Dellaquila

If you use any of these terms to describe yourself, you’ll love Fremont: bohemian, free-spirited, counterculture, alternative, unique, offbeat… you get the picture. Fremont residents pride themselves on quirkiness and eccentricity, and you’ll find plenty of chances to meet and mingle with your fellow individuals at the many events the neighborhood has to offer, from the Fremont Sunday market to its annual parades. (Bonus: We featured Fremont in our 10 Best Neighborhoods in the US series back in October.)

10. Georgetown

Formerly an up-and-coming neighborhood five miles from the center of downtown Seattle, Georgetown was once a separate town altogether but is now one of the city’s oldest residential areas. It has an industrial feel with a chic vibe, which has made it highly attractive to the hip young crowd that’s been renovating it since the ‘90s. It’s now a great place to find converted lofts and studios, funky coffeehouses and trendy eateries.


Cover photo courtesy of Howard Ignatius.