Where to stay in Seattle for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Seattle as a first-time visitor can be a headache. That’s why, in today’s article, I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Seattle (including a map + areas to avoid), where I stayed in Seattle, and the best hotels in Seattle for all budgets.

Seattle is a major city located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is the largest city in Washington state and serves as its economic, cultural, and transportation hub. 

Seattle is a major economic center with a strong presence in technology, healthcare, aerospace, and other industries. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and Starbucks have headquarters or significant operations in the area. 

The city is often referred to as the Emerald City due to its lush greenery and its association with the fictional city in The Wizard of Oz.

Some of the must-see attractions in Seattle include Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Seattle Waterfront, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Seattle Art Museum.

The city is surrounded by water, so you can take a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island or the San Juan Islands, which is a great way to enjoy the scenic views of Puget Sound and the nearby islands.

If you’re a sports fan, check if there’s a game happening at CenturyLink Field (home to the Seahawks) or T-Mobile Park (home to the Mariners).

Seattle is famous for its coffee culture. Don’t miss the chance to visit the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market or explore some of the city’s local coffee shops.

Is Seattle safe to visit?

Yes, Seattle is generally safe place to visit, but like any urban area, it’s important to exercise caution. The city also faces issues like homelessness, which can affect the perception of safety. 

Most tourist areas like Pike Place Market, Space Needle, and downtown are safe during the day. However, to ensure a safe experience, it’s advisable to be aware of your surroundings, avoid displaying valuables, and stay in well-lit areas at night. 

Where to stay in Seattle for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Seattle for first-time tourists are Belltown, Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center, South Lake Union, Pike Place Market (Downtown), and Capitol Hill. However, safety can vary even within neighborhoods, so it’s always essential to stay alert no matter where you stay. 

If you prefer a central location and easy access to tourist spots, Pike Place Market or Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center may be your best bet. 

Belltown and South Lake Union offer a mix of convenience and accessibility. If you’re looking for a more local and lively atmosphere with nightlife, Capitol Hill could be a great choice. 

Ballard and Fremont are also safe but more residential neighborhoods, but I wouldn’t recommend it for first-time visitors because it is quite distant from the city’s major attractions, so maybe consider a visit or stay in your next visit.

Fremont is a quirky neighborhood known for its artistic community and the Fremont Troll sculpture. Ballard is where you can find a nice beach, Ballard Locks, and Nordic Heritage Museum.

It is recommended to avoid or exercise caution when visiting Pioneer Square, International District (Chinatown), and SoDo (South of Downtown). 

While Pioneer Square has some historic charm and interesting architecture, it can have a higher concentration of homeless individuals and occasional safety concerns, especially at night. 

During my first time in Seattle, I stayed in the area around Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle at the Mayflower Park Hotel. The hotel has a very central location, a short walk to the popular Belltown, and easy access to public transportation. Great base for travelers without a car like me.

Below is a map of the most popular areas in Seattle for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best and safest areas to stay in Seattle first time
Map of the best and safest areas to stay in Seattle first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Seattle, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Seattle have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Best areas to stay in Seattle for first-timers & tourists:

1. Belltown

Belltown is a popular neighborhood for tourists to stay in when visiting Seattle for the first time. It’s known for its central location, vibrant atmosphere, and proximity to many attractions and amenities. 

Belltown is situated right next to downtown Seattle and Queen Ann, making it easy to access many of the city’s top attractions, including Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Olympic Sculpture Park, and the waterfront.

Belltown is a highly walkable neighborhood, and you can explore much of the city on foot from here. It’s also well-connected to public transportation, so you can easily get around the city.

Belltown boasts a diverse range of restaurants, bars, and nightlife options. You’ll find everything from trendy cocktail lounges to casual eateries serving a variety of cuisines.

The neighborhood is home to numerous art galleries, making it a great place for art enthusiasts to explore. There are plenty of boutique shops and stores, allowing you to indulge in some retail therapy.

Consideration: The central location means that Belltown can get quite noisy, especially on weekends and during the evenings, due to its vibrant nightlife scene. If you prefer a quieter stay, you might want to consider other neighborhoods.

Parking can be expensive and limited in Belltown, so if you have a car, you’ll need to plan for parking costs and availability.

Best places to stay in Seattle in Belltown for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Pan Pacific Seattle, this 5-star hotel, located within walking distance from Belltown, the Space Needle, and Pike Street. Also close to lots of nice restaurants, entertainment options and nightlife.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Edgewater, a Noble House Hotel, 4-star hotel, located on Seattle’s waterfront at Pier 67, offering shuttle service within downtown Seattle for guests. Easy access to the famous Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and Seattle Ferry Terminal for the Victoria Clipper.
  • Budget ($): Staypineapple, Hotel FIVE, Downtown Seattle, great 3-star eco-friendly hotel, centrally located, ideal for first-timers. Short distance from Pike Place Market and Seattle Waterfront.

2. Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center

Lower Queen Anne, also known as Uptown, is a safe and fantastic neighborhood for first-time tourists to stay in when visiting Seattle. This area is particularly known for its proximity to iconic attractions and its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.  

This neighborhood is right next to the Seattle Center, home to famous landmarks like the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture). You can easily walk to these attractions, making it very convenient for sightseeing.

In addition to the major attractions, this area is close to many theaters, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the historic Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, making it a great choice for culture enthusiasts.

The Space Needle and some of the higher points in Queen Anne offer beautiful views of the city skyline and Puget Sound. It’s a great area for photography and taking in the scenic beauty of Seattle.

Lower Queen Anne has a range of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from, so you’ll have plenty of dining and entertainment options within walking distance.

This neighborhood is well-served by public transportation, including the monorail that connects to downtown Seattle, making it easy to explore other parts of the city.

Best places to stay in Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): Staypineapple, The Maxwell Hotel, Seattle Center Seattle, 3-star accommodation, conveniently located within walking distance from Space Needle and  Seattle Center Monorail.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hyatt House Seattle Downtown, this 3-star accommodation, located right across the street from Space Needle, offering paid airport shuttle services, free shuttle in 1.6 km radius from the hotel, a short walk from the Museum of Pop Culture and Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • Mid-range ($$): The Mediterranean Inn, a very popular 3-star hotel, in Queen Ann, a few mins walk from Space Needle and KeyArena, offering views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and Elliot Bay.  

3. South Lake Union

South Lake Union is a neighborhood in Seattle that has seen significant growth and development in recent years, making it an increasingly popular choice for tourists. 

South Lake Union is home to Amazon’s headquarters and numerous other tech companies. If you’re visiting Seattle for business or to explore the tech scene, this is a convenient neighborhood to stay in.

The neighborhood is located along the shores of Lake Union, offering opportunities for scenic walks, boat tours, kayaking, and other water activities. You can even rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the lake.

South Lake Union has a growing culinary scene with a variety of restaurants and cafes, ranging from casual eateries to upscale dining establishments. It’s a great place to explore different cuisines.

While South Lake Union has its own unique vibe, it’s also within walking distance or a short drive from downtown Seattle and its many attractions, including Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.

The neighborhood is home to the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), which offers insights into Seattle’s history and culture.

Overall, South Lake Union is a good option for both business travelers and leisure tourists who want a mix of tech innovation, waterfront views, and a quieter atmosphere.

Best places to stay in Seattle in South Lake Union for first-timers:


4. Pike Place Market Area (Downtown Seattle)

The Pike Place Market area in downtown Seattle is an excellent choice for first-time tourists who want to be at the heart of the action, experience Seattle’s vibrant food scene, and explore iconic attractions.

You’ll be steps away from one of Seattle’s most iconic and beloved attractions, Pike Place Market. This historic market is home to fresh produce, artisan foods, unique shops, and the famous flying fishmongers.

The Pike Place Market area is close to the Seattle waterfront, where you can take scenic walks along the piers, visit the Seattle Aquarium, and enjoy stunning views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains.

There are numerous restaurants, cafes, and eateries in the area, offering a wide range of cuisines, from seafood to international dishes. You can savor fresh seafood, explore food stalls in the market, or enjoy fine dining experiences.

You’ll find cultural attractions such as the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Public Library nearby, making it easy to explore the city’s art and culture.

Staying in the Pike Place Market area means you’re within walking distance of many downtown attractions, including the Space Needle, Pioneer Square, and the Seattle Waterfront.

Best places to stay in Seattle in Pike Place Market  area for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Grand Hyatt Seattle, 5-star hotel, centrally located in Downtown Seattle, a short walk from Pike Place Market, comfortable rooms, close to popular attractions. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Mayflower Park Hotel, 4-star historic hotel in Downtown Seattle, easy access to the monorail for trains to go to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center.
  • Budget ($): Palihotel Seattle, popular 3-star hotel near Pike Place Market, conveniently located close to  Space Needle, CenturyLink Field and Seattle Great Wheel. 

5. Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood in Seattle known for its diverse culture, nightlife, and artistic community. Staying in Capitol Hill can provide a unique and local experience for first-time tourists.  

Capitol Hill is often considered the heart of Seattle’s counterculture and creative scene. It’s known for its artistic expression, LGBTQ+ community, and independent businesses, giving you a taste of Seattle’s local culture.

This neighborhood boasts a lively nightlife scene with numerous bars, clubs, live music venues, and theaters. It’s an excellent choice if you enjoy going out in the evenings.

Capitol Hill is home to a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and eateries, offering everything from trendy brunch spots to international cuisine. Food enthusiasts will find plenty of options to explore.

The neighborhood features a mix of boutiques, vintage shops, and specialty stores, making it a great place for shopping and discovering unique items.

Capitol Hill is surrounded by parks like Volunteer Park, which houses the Seattle Asian Art Museum and offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

It’s well-connected to public transportation, allowing you to easily access other parts of the city, including downtown Seattle.

Due to its lively nightlife and urban environment, Capitol Hill can be noisy, especially on weekends and during events. If you’re sensitive to noise, consider accommodations away from the busiest streets.

Overall, Capitol Hill is an ideal neighborhood for tourists who want to experience Seattle’s vibrant arts and culture scene, enjoy a lively nightlife, and explore unique dining and shopping options. Just be prepared for potential noise and the hilly terrain.

Best places to stay in Seattle in Capitol Hill for first-timers:

  • Mid-range ($$): Silver Cloud Hotel – Seattle Broadway, 4-star hotel located in Capitol Hill, right across the street from Seattle University, featuring an onsite Jimmy’s on Broadway restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Sonder The Boylston, this accommodation is centrally located in Capitol Hill district, close to Westlake Center, Seattle Center Monorail and Columbia Center.
  • Budget ($): Seattle Gaslight Inn, 3-star good value for money accommodation, situated in a safe central location, close to everything.

In conclusion, Belltown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne/Seattle Center, Pike Place Market (Downtown), and Capitol Hill are the best places to stay in Seattle for first-timers. These are safe central areas that offer plenty of things to do and see within walking distance or a short ride away.

You can continue reading about Seattle in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Seattle. I hope you found my article helpful and enjoy your holiday!

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. This means that, at absolutely no additional cost to you, I'll earn a small commission if you click through and purchase something I've recommended. I only recommend products that I use myself or firmly believe in. Thank you!

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