Tag Archive for 'urban'

Walking Pioneer Square

This exploration of Pioneer Square takes you through one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city, full of character and history.

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Pioneer Square is ranked by WalkScore as the most walkable neighborhood in Seattle. This route meanders a bit to get around to the most interesting parts of the area. Street parking may be difficult, but the area is well served by buses and light rail.

Pioneer Square can get rowdy at night and is also a hub for social services, so this route will probably be most enjoyable to walk during daylight hours. The narrow vehicle lanes and rows of trees make Pioneer Square good for walking. You’ll pass by a few bars and some interesting shops in these historic buildings.

Start at 1st and James, near the historic pergola at Pioneer Place Park. The pergola was destroyed by a delivery truck in 2001. This was actually potentially a good thing, as the trucker’s insurance covered the repair, and the Nisqually Earthquake, which hit shortly afterward and would’ve surely destroyed the uninsured pergola.

Go south across Yesler Way along 1st Ave as it changes names to 1st Ave S. The traffic signals in Pioneer Square are interesting as there are no separate pedestrian signals. I’m not sure if the lack of pedestrian signals is a good thing because it treats people and traffic equally, or if it endangers pedestrians because the traffic lights change more quickly than pedestrian signals, leaving people in the intersection on a red light.

This section of 1st Ave S has old buildings like other parts of Pioneer Square, but the few tourist-oriented chain stores and fast food places give this section of Pioneer Square a different feel. As you walk along, note the old signs, including the neon “Rooms 75¢” sign – an interesting leftover from the past.

At Main St, you’ll pass the former location of the Elliot Bay Bookstore, which had been a great anchor for the neighborhood. After passing Jackson Street, the area seems a little quieter. Turn left at King St and pass by the largest surface parking lot downtown on you right – covering four full blocks – as well as a couple bars on your left.

Turn left on 2nd Street, passing the Kingdome Deli, named after the Kingdome, which would have stood in this area until 2000. Now turn around and have a good look at Qwest field, which was made from a lot of recycled concrete from the Kingdome.

After crossing back over Jackson Street, the streetscape picks up again with more mixed-use space and retail. Just after crossing the intersection, you’ll pass by the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, a no-entrance-fee National Historical Park dedicated to the gold rush that was one of the major milestones in Seattle’s growth as a city.

Continue across S Main St and turn left. On your right is the Waterfall Garden on the site of the United Parcel Service’s first office. The garden is well shaded and has several chairs for relaxing in this urban oasis, but it’s only open during limited hours during the middle of the day.

Continuing along Main St and look to your right to take note of the old advertisement for the Washington State Ferries to “Have Lunch Over Seas”. From here you can also see two buildings in Seattle that were once the tallest buildings on the west coast – Smith Tower, which at a height ranging from 462 feet to 522 feet (depending on where you look on the internet) and built in 1914 was the tallest until the Space Needle was built in 1962, and the Columbia Center, built to 943 feet, which was the tallest until 1989.

Turn right into Occidental Square, one of the best open spaces downtown. You’ll pass by the Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial, dedicated in 1998. On your left is the Squire Latimer Building, built in 1890 and beautifully covered with green vines.

Turn left at S Washington St and cross 1st Ave S and Washington St to continue westward along the north side of Washington St. This block of Pioneer Square is a little quieter, but still has the old architecture and tree-lined sidewalks that help define the area.

Turn right at the end of the block. You will have to walk for a block through a parking lot near the dated Alaskan Way Viaduct. Turn right again at the next street (Yesler Way). You’ll pass by some bars and restaurants, as well as some more plant-covered buildings down Western Ave and Post Ave to your left. Also, take note of the mural on Post Ave called Friends of Post Alley.

At 1st Ave, turn right to walk back down Pioneer Square’s main street. Based on the number of bars you’ll see, it’s understandable how it can get a little rambunctious in the evenings.

Turn left at S Jackson St and then turn left again at Occidental. The Occidental Mall here has several art galleries and cafes and leads back to Occidental Park. Continue north back to Yesler Way and turn left on Yesler. You’ll pass by Mercants Cafe on your left, which is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Seattle, established when the building was constructed in 1890.

Look back to your right at the Sinking Ship parking garage, which was built after the destruction of a grand hotel and helped to galvanize support for historic preservation in the city.

At 1st Ave, turn right to cross back to our starting point.

If you’d like a more entertaining historical narration of your time in Pioneer Square, take Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour to see what’s below the streets.

Also, Seattle Architecture: A Walking Guide to Downtown by Maureen R. Elenga has a lot more information on the architectural history of this area.

highlights: history, architecture, tree covering, many bars and art galleries, art, public space
lowlights: other folks around may not be the kind of people you like to hang out with


New green street: Terry Avenue

SDOT is transforming a one-block-long section of Terry Avenue in the Denny Triangle into a green street.

SDOT will narrow the roadway and remove 35 on-street parking spaces, replacing them with landscaping (including 13 trees) and wider sidewalks. Three granite slab benches will be added. The total cost is approximately $500,000, funded primarily by a Federal Transit Administration grant with additional money from local grants.

The street has not been very heavily used by pedestrians or by vehicle traffic. It’s not a particularly enjoyable street to walk along, though this project won’t do anything about the poor streetscape created by the buildings on this block. Still, it’s nice to see another street made more pleasant for walking on.


Walking Lower Queen Anne

Packed with restaurants, bars, and retail, Lower Queen Anne is a fun urban area for a walk.

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Start at Roy St & 5th Ave. There is plenty of parking around Seattle Center as well as several bus routes that will take you close to our starting point, including the 3, 4, 16, and 30. Several other buses will take you to other points along our walking route: the 1, 2, 8, 13, 15, and 18.

Many of the streets we’ll be walking along are fairly busy with vehicle traffic, but are comfortable to walk along thanks to wide sidewalks that are insulated from traffic by trees and street parking.

On the northwest corner of this intersection is Silver Platters records, one of the music stores in the area. Walk westward along the north side or Roy St. The left side of the street is well shaded, but passes alongside a large parking garage and a parking lot. On the north side of the street are several restaurants, including a few Asian eateries.

Continue past 1st Ave N and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1940. On your right is Counterbalance Park, which has several places to sit. At night, the park’s walls are colorfully lit.

Counterbalance Park

Counterbalance Park, opened in 2008

Turn left across Roy St along Queen Anne Ave N. You’ll pass the MarQueen Hotel, built in 1918. On the opposite side of the street is Monkey Love Rubber Stamps, a local business with paper, envelopes, and, of course, stamps.

Continue south along Queen Anne Ave N for 5 blocks. You’ll pass local music store Underdawg Records on your left along with a few eateries and bars. After passing Republican St, storefronts and restaurants are replaced with offices and apartment windows in a variety of building types.

Uptown Theater

Uptown Theater

Turn left on Thomas St. Walk for a block along Thomas St and turn left on 1st Ave N. Continue walking north along 1st Ave N, passing KeyArena and Seattle Center on your right. The former home to the Seattle Supersonics, KeyArena is still the home to the Seattle Storm WNBA team.

Continue north for a few blocks and cross Mercer St and turn left along Mercer. You’ll pass Easy Street Records, which has a good collection of vinyl records.

Continue west along Mercer St, past several more eateries and bars, and turn left at 2nd Ave W (not to be confused with 2nd Ave N, five blocks east). The KFC/Taco Bell on this corner is perhaps the only national chain restaurant in this neighborhood (other than Taco Del Mar, which is based in Seattle).

Continue south for a block and turn left at W Republican St. This area is much quieter than the retail-intensive streets we’ve been on. You’ll pass Safeway at the next block, one of several large supermarkets in the neighborhood.

At the next block, Queen Anne Ave N, turn left and pass by the AMC Loews Uptown 3 theater. Turn right at Mercer St and continue for several blocks. After crossing 1st Ave N, the streetscape will quiet down and vehicle traffic will speed up. Soon you’ll be walking by Seattle Center, including McCaw Hall and SIFF Cinema. Mercer St sees a lot of traffic, but the sidewalk here is wide and comfortable, though the streetscape of building in Seattle Center is somewhat lacking. On the left side of the street is Teatro Zinzanni, which has been described as “the Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil,” with food cooked by local celebrity chef Tom Douglas. Turn left and cross Mercer at 5th Ave N to return to our starting point at 5th Ave N and Roy St.

highlights: restaurants, bars, retail, diversity of building types and ages
lowlights: heavy vehicle traffic, not much green space, can be crowded especially if there is an event at Seattle Center


Walking Downtown Fremont

Enjoy the quirky local landmarks along this stimulating urban walk.

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Start at N 34th St and Fremont Ave just on the north side of the Fremont Bridge. The area is well served by several bus routes, including the 26, 28, 30, 31, 17, and 46 (weekdays only). If you’re driving, there is some garage and street parking in the area – click for driving directions.

We start by Waiting for the Interurban, a piece of public art that’s always changing based on the clothes that residents put on it. This aluminum sculpture was created in 1979 and is named after the Seattle-Everett Interurban railway that ran along Fremont Ave. The sculpture is on a large concrete median that separates the eastbound bicycle lane and westbound car traffic from eastbound car traffic coming from Fremont Ave N.

Walk south along Fremont Ave N toward the Fremont Bridge. The Fremont Bridge opened in 1917, the same year as the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The bridge does not open for boat traffic during rush hour, but otherwise is raised 35 times per day on average. The blue and orange colors for the bridge were chosen as a result of a poll taken in 1985. Continue across the bridge and enjoy the view to the left toward Lake Union and the George Washington bridge.

Once you reach the intersection, notice the 1930s transit stop at the SE corner of the intersection at Westlake Ave and Dexter. Cross Fremont Ave N (you’ll have to cross two separate roadways).

Head back north along the west side of Fremont Ave N. From this side of the bridge, you can look west along the tree-lined ship canal. There are trails for walking and biking on both sides. After crossing the canal, look for the stairs on your left that will take you down to the popular Burke-Gilman Trail.

Burke-Gilman Trail

Head west along the trail and be careful to keep to the right so that bikers can pass. While you could take this trail all the way to the Ballard Locks, stay on it for only two blocks before turning right on Phinney Ave N. The cross streets aren’t easy to identify from the trail, so just pay attention to the parking lot that the trail goes beside – the parking lot will curve toward Phinney Ave, which is where you want to turn.

At the intersection with N 35th St is the Theo Chocolate factory, which is the “only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States.” The factory offers public tours 7 days a week.

On the opposite side of Phinney Ave is a large wall painted with the likeness of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, stars of the classic film Casablanca.
This is the Fremont Outdoor Cinema, which shows outdoor film screenings in summer.

Continue for another block and turn right at N 36th St. This is a busy arterial street, but has street parking and buildings along the sidewalk that make this a comfortable place to walk. It’s also a long block, so there won’t be any motor vehicles crossing your path for a little while. The houses to your right were built in the early 1900s and have been converted to commercial use. You’ll pass the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, whose office was built in 1901. Many of the more industrial looking buildings were built in the 1920s. Continue walking on this side of the street – you’ll see some coffee shops and places to eat on the opposite side of the street as well.

At the next intersection you’ll see the Statue of Lenin. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, this statue was almost melted for its bronze. However, a resident from the Seattle area who was teaching English nearby managed to have it shipped back to the US. The statue is for sale, but has been displayed in Fremont since 1995 and has become a local landmark.

Statue of Lenin

Communist Vladimir Lenin towers over this intersection in Fremont

Continue along the main road, which changes names to Fremont Pl N. There are many places to eat around here. You’ll see the Fremont directional sign to your left as you cross 35th St.

Directional sign


Continue on to 34th St. Turn left and cross Fremont Ave N along 34th St. Then reverse direction and head north along Fremont Ave N.

There are more places to eat and shop as you head up the hill. At N 36th St, turn right. This section of Fremont is mostly residential, though you’ll pass Fremont Baptist Church, which was built in 1924. Troll Ave N is at the next block, and to your left is the famous Fremont Troll, which was built in 1990 to help clean up the area under the bridge, as it had become used for illicit activities.

Turn right and head downhill along Troll Ave N, which runs under the Aurora Bridge. Cross N 35th St when you can and turn right toward the west. On your left will be the Fremont Public Library, which was one of several Carnegie Libraries in Seattle and opened in 1921. Just past the library is A. B. Ernst Park, which opened in 2004. Go through the park and stroll back down to N 34th St.

At 34th St, just across the street is the J.P. Patches statue, dedicated to popular local clown J. P. Patches. Turn right at N 34th St to head back to our starting point at Fremont Ave N. Or, if you’d prefer, from here you can start our Fremont Walk along the Burke Gilman Trail.

highlights: quirky local landmarks; places to stop to eat, drink, and shop; historic architecture; Burke-Gilman Trail; public art; not many interactions with vehicles; vibrant urban environment

lowlights: sidewalk can get crowded; some backtracking; crossing busy street along Troll Ave N


Walking NW Market St in Ballard

NW Market St passes through the heart of Ballard and is an enjoyable street for a stroll on your way to the popular Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

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Start at 17th Ave NW and NW Market St. There are several buses that serve Ballard, and the 44 and 46 take you right to our starting point. There is street parking in the area, and you can click here for driving directions.

Head west along NW Market St along the north side of the street. You’ll pass by several retail storefronts, including the Ballard Sip & Ship, which sells coffee and provides mail services.

Soon you’ll pass by the Ballard Carnegie Library, which opened in 1904 and operated as a library until 1963.

You’ll then pass by the Majestic Bay theatre which first opened in 1915 showing vaudeville stage shows and silent films and was converted to a three-screen theater in 2000.

After crossing 22nd Ave NW, you’ll walk by the old Ballard Building in the heart of Ballard.

At 24nd Ave NW, cross NW Market St and continue west.

After another couple blocks, the sidewalk will veer left along 54th St toward the locks. Pass the Lockspot Cafe and the red telephone booth and turn left toward the fence and entrance for the Hiram M Chittenden Locks.

As you walk along the main path toward the locks, there will be a garden on your right and a rather interesting museum & gift shop on your left. Keep going toward the locks and spend some time enjoying the grounds before heading back.

The return trip through Ballard will be the same, except for variation I’d suggest staying on the south side of Market St until you get to 22nd Ave NW, at which time I’d cross back over to the north side of Market St.

Ballard Building

Ballard Building on Market St

Our walk ends where it started, at 17th Ave NW and NW Market St.

highlights: historic buildings, street-level retail and dining, Locks, garden and museum on locks grounds, wide sidwalks through heart of Ballard, longer blocks allow for less interruption from cross traffic

lowlights: intersection of Market St, 22nd Ave, and Leary Way can take some time to cross; opposite side of Market St not as enjoyable to walk along in some places, narrow sidewalk in some areas


Walking The Ave

University Way, known as “The Ave” is a busy pedestrian street with many shops and many more restaurants. It’s a good walk if you want to take in an active streetscape and find somewhere new to eat along the way.

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The Ave was originally called Columbus Avenue and then 14th Avenue, before being changed to University Way in 1919. The street doesn’t have a lot of fast-moving traffic, being only two lanes, and the road is separated from the sidewalk by parking and bike racks, which helps the walking experience. The groups of students and panhandlers can slow you down sometimes, so be patient or go early in the day. The blocks are long but there are several mid-block crosswalks.

Start at University Way NE and NE 41st St. There are many buses that will get you there, or you can click here for directions (finding parking is another matter).

Head north, up the slight incline. We’ll start on the left side of the street and then turn around and walk back on the other side of the street.

The first part of the walk is a little quieter than the rest of the street. You’ll walk past a parking lot before passing the first of many places to eat.

As you approach NE 42nd St, you’ll begin to see more restaurants. You can find many different types of food to eat – including Indian, Mediterranean, and all types of Asian. Feel free to stop to eat anywhere that looks appealing and you’ll likely pay less than $10 for your meal. You’ll also pass coffee shops, bookstores, clothing stores, and various other retail establishments. There are also some establishments along some of the cross streets, like 42nd, 43rd, and especially 45th, so feel free to explore before continuing north on University Way.

Between 43rd and 45th Streets, you’ll pass the Varsity Theatre, which has been operating as a movie theater since 1940 and added two upstairs screens in 1985.

As you walk, look up at the streetlamps. There are ornaments provided for some of the local establishments (for example, a tub of popcorn for the Varsity Theatre).

Looking north along University Way NE

Looking north along University Way NE

Continue on to 50th St. If it’s a Saturday, feel free to continue to the University District Farmers Market. Otherwise, cross University Way and head south. Even though we’re backtracking, you’ll see a lot of new things that you didn’t see on the first leg of the walk.

On the way back, you’ll pass a few neat stores, including Gargoyles Statuary and Shiga’s Imports. We’ll end where we started, at NE 41st St and University Way NE.

highlights: many international and inexpensive places to eat, shopping, sidewalks are insulated from the road

lowlights: can be busy with college students and vagrants, sidewalks too narrow for the amount of pedestrian traffic, no open public spaces


Walking First Hill

The tree-lined streets of historic First Hill are great for a pleasant walk, though the steepness of the hill can make walking here a little more difficult for some.

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Start at Boylston Ave and Madison St near Swedish Medical Center. You can find street parking on the weekend or get there by the #2 bus.

Proceed downhill on Madison. Feel free to grab a smoothie from Jamba Juice to have on your walk. Continue past Boren Ave and be sure that you’re on the south side of Madison Ave. At Terry Ave and Madison St you’ll see the historic Sorrento Hotel, which opened in 1909. Turn left on Terry Ave.

Sorrento Hotel on Madison St

Looking along Madison St at retail and Sorrento Hotel

Continue a few blocks. You’ll pass O’Dea High School and Frye Art Museum on your left. The Frye was established in 1952 and is a free-admission museum featuring painting and sculpture from the 19th century to present.

Turn right once you get to James St and continue on James for a block before turning right on 9th Ave.

After a few blocks, you’ll see St James Cathedral on your right. The cathedral was dedicated in 1907 with a domed roof, but in 1916 heavy snowfall caused the dome to collapse and it was not rebuilt.

Turn left on Marion St and head downhill for a block. Turn right at 8th Ave and walk past the M street grocery.

Cross Madison St and walk along shaded streets past a couple old apartment buildings. After crossing Spring St, you’ll see Town Hall Seattle, a community culture center, in the former Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist.

Turn right on Seneca St and walk a block uphill and turn left at 9th Ave. These buildings are part of the Virginia Mason Medical Center.

At the end of 9th Ave is an entrance to Freeway Park, which spans I-5. Feel free to stroll through the park or to continue along University Ave.

Cross Boren St and cross Minor Ave. Feel free to stop and rest at First Hill Park before going SE on Minor Ave. On your left is the Stimson-Green Mansion. This part of First Hill is pretty quiet and residential. Cross Spring St and continue on to Madison St. Turn left on Madison St and return to where we started.

highlights: shade, architecture, old buildings, history
lowlights: not a particularly engaging streetscape, some hospitals break up the streets and the feel of the neighborhood, can be steep in some parts


Walking through Belltown

Belltown is the densest part of the city outside of downtown and makes for a good place to walk. This route goes along the two most active streets in Belltown – 1st and 2nd Aves.

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Start at 1st and Virginia and head Northwest, parallel to Elliott Bay. This part of Belltown has the most shopping and, being close to downtown and Pike Place Market, is an easy starting point. Walking along either side of the street is fine, but the right side has several small parking lots that interrupt the streetscape.

The first parking lot you pass has a wall decorated with one of the larger graffiti-style urban art projects in Seattle (go here for pictures from the Hideous Belltown blog).

As you continue walking, you’ll see lots of historic low-rise buildings and will pass more retail, including an Army/Navy Surplus Store. At Battery St, you’ll pass over highway 99 and will have a view of Elliott Bay. On the other side of the street you’ll see some more old Belltown buildings, including the Austin A Bell bldg from 1890.

Historic buildings in Belltown

Old architecture from 1889-1890

Continue walking a few more blocks and turn right at Vine St. Vine St is a relatively narrow street lined with trees but without much for retail or dining. Vine isn’t a major street, so you won’t have a crosswalk or a traffic light when crossing Belltown’s Avenues, so be careful. Pedestrians can legally cross any intersection, but some drivers may not know that. Unless you’re doing this walk at a busy time of day, you should be able to cross easily during a break in vehicle traffic.

Turn left at 5th Ave and walk a block in parallel with the monorail. You’ll arrive at Tilikum Place, a shaded outdoor plaza with a fountain, surrounded by a few places to stop and eat.

Tilikum Place

The trees offer shade and there are benches to watch the fountain in the summer months

Feel free to stop and rest or continue and walk southwest along Cedar St. At 3rd Ave, you’ll see a large mural on your right on the building of New Horizons Ministries.

Mural at New Horizons Ministries

Colorful mural at 3rd and Cedar

Belltown has a diversity of architecture to enjoy. The buildings on the eastern side, away from the water, tend to be shorter and are less likely to be inhabited by any street-level retail or dining. As you continue towards the water, you’ll see more recent development and high-rise condo buildings. We’ll turn left at 2nd Ave toward downtown.

2nd Ave is a 3 lane street with relatively few traffic lights, so it does have some fast-moving vehicles. However, the parking and trees insulate help to insulate pedestrians from the street, and curb-bulbs at intersections make it feel a little safer to cross the avenue. As you continue southeast, you’ll encounter more bars and restaurants, especially once you get to Battery St.

Feel free to stop at any one of these restaurants or bars for something to eat and drink, or stop for a game of pinball at Shorty’s.

A few blocks more and we’ll end our walk at 2nd Ave & Virginia, just a block away from where we started.

Highlights: continguous urban streetscape, density, restaurants and bars, stop and rest at Tilikum Place, coffee shops, diverse architecture, wide sidewalks

Lowlights: a few parking lots, some dead spots without much to look at, can be rough at night, not much retail outside of 1st Ave, lack of designated crosswalks


Walking the Downtown Retail Core

This is a short and easy walk through the downtown retail core – a great way to see the shopping that downtown has to offer and end up at Pike Place Market.

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Start at 5th Ave and University St downtown near the 5th Avenue Theatre and head northwest. The theatre had a new sign installed on December 3, 2009. The new sign is similar to the sign that was originally on the theatre when it opened in 1926 except the current sign uses energy-efficient LED bulbs.

5th Avenue Theatre

5th Avenue Theatre, built in 1926

Feel free to walk along either side of the street, though if I had to pick, I’d opt for the right side to avoid the Red Lion parking garage entrance and an area in front of the hotel where tourists gather. Though 5th Avenue can be busy with vehicle traffic, it is lined with trees that help insulate you from the street, as well as glass windowed stores that draw you in. This initial section of 5th Avenue has an upscale feel to it, with Gucci and Louis Vitton. When you reach 5th Ave and Pike Street, you’ll see the Banana Republic on the north corner of the intersection.

Banana Republic (formerly Coliseum Theater)

Banan Republic, formerly the Coliseum Theater, built in 1916

Turn right on Pike St. You’ll see the Washington State Convention Center ahead. Turn left on 6th Avenue. There is more shopping on this block and some places to eat. Continue for a block to Pine Street.

At Pine Street, you’ll be in the middle of it all. This part of Seattle makes it feel like a big city. It seems there are always people walking here at any time of day. At this intersection you’ll see Pacific Place mall and the flagship Nordstrom.

Turn left on Pine St. You’ll pass by more retail stores, such as the GAP. There are also several entrances to the underground bus and light rail tunnel around this area. On your right will be Westlake Center. At Westlake Center you can take the Monorail to Seattle Center. The Westlake Center also has an outdoor plaza, which has the 2nd busiest Starbucks in North America. Up ahead you’ll see Macy’s (formerly the Bon Marché).

4th and Pine

Macy's, Starbucks, and Westlake Center

On the South side of the street is Westlake Park, which is often used by skateboarders and homeless. Cut through the park or turn left at 4th Avenue. On any weekend, you’ll likely find people at 4th and Pine holding signs protesting Israel or encouraging you to come to God. And you’ll be lucky to pass through this area without getting approached by someone with a clipboard representing a charity. You’ll also likely pass by a few buskers and shoeshiners,

Turn right on Pike St and you’ll be facing the “Public Market Center” sign of Pike Place Market. As you continue the few blocks to 1st Avenue, you’ll pass a few shops and cafes. Our walking tour ends here in front of the market, but there is plenty more walking you can do there.

Finish at 1st Ave and Pike

Highlights: shopping, things to look at, people, excitement, places to eat at the market, street performers, tree-lined 5th ave, ending at Pike Place Market

Lowlights: intimidating big city feel, loiterers, a few underused areas of the streetscape, can be crowded