March 17, 2021
Located in Central Seattle, Capitol Hill is a lively neighborhood that combines the opulent and the urban. You can ogle at old mansions and explore counter-culture record shops in the same afternoon. Since the 1950s, the neighborhood has been considered the center of gay culture in the city. There are endless things to do on Capitol Hill, from shopping in quirky local stores to gazing out at the water in urban parks. Just a short distance from downtown, Capitol Hill is the best neighborhood in Seattle to wander around and see what you find. Here’s our local guide to exploring Capitol Hill.
Millionaire’s Row is a segment of houses on 14th Avenue East built in the early 20th century. These homes were built for notable members of Seattle at the time, including politicians, tycoons, and more. Today, walking down the street is like walking back in time. Admire the beautifully-preserved historic homes and their immaculate landscaping.
Need an energy boost during your exploration? Pop into a local coffee shop! Check out our guide to Seattle local coffeehouses, which has a whole section dedicated to Capitol Hill coffee spots!
Volunteer Park is a 48-acre park with countless areas to explore. You can climb up the observation deck of the water tower for incredible views of the city. Carve out a few minutes to admire the striking sculpture Black Sun by Isamu Noguchi. The donut-shaped sculpture provides a unique view of the Seattle skyline. Also, the park is home to a conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose to do at Volunteer Park!
If you’re into martial arts, walk over to nearby Lake View Cemetery to see Bruce Lee and his son Brandon’s gravesites. Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle, is also buried here. Interestingly, the cemetery was moved here from the site of Volunteer Park in 1884.
Okay, your stomach is probably grumbling by now. Consider grabbing some takeout for lunch and eating it in one of the parks above. Read more about our favorite Capitol Hill takeout restaurants.
After visiting the cemetery, walk across the street to Louisa Boren Park. The park features great views to the east of the UW stadium, 520 Bridge, Bellevue, and the Cascade Mountain Range. Additionally, locals consider Boren Park to be one of the best green spaces on Capitol Hill due to its untouched greenery and lack of tourists. If you’re looking for landscaped greens, walk over to nearby Streissguth Gardens. Their hillside garden features colorful blossoms and awesome views of Lake Union. Use this map to figure out what blooms you’re seeing!
Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral has an outdoor labyrinth open to the public at any time. The labyrinth is an ancient pattern dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. Labyrinths are used as a form of walking meditation all over the world. Use the labyrinth as a temporary oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city. Read more about the spiritual practice.
Certainly there are tons of fun activities in the Pike/Pine Corridor, but we’ll just focus on a few of our favorite attractions. While you explore, make sure to stop by the Jimi Hendrix Statue outside of Blick Art Materials. The lifelike statue honors the Seattle-born musician and is definitely worth a stop. Moreover, the nearby rainbow crosswalk honoring the city’s gay community is a popular photo spot. In our last post, we recommended dipping into a bookstore if the weather gets stormy. Elliott Bay Book Company is a beautiful, wood-beamed Capitol Hill bookstore worth checking out rain or shine!
Seattle locals say Melrose Market is the less touristy, little sister of Pike Place Market. This market is home to local, award-winning shops and restaurants. You could spend a day exploring the stores and trying tasty foods in Melrose. Take some time to admire the original brick and woodwork of the historic building.
If you’re curious about where to eat for dinner, check out our favorite restaurant recommendations. More in the mood for a drink? We’ve got a Capitol Hill Cocktail Guide and a Capitol Hill Brewery Guide!
If you really want an authentic Capitol Hill experience, you have to stay at Shafer Baillie Mansion. This woman-owned boutique hotel offers a luxury experience in a historic home built in 1914. The Tudor Revival home on Millionaire’s Row is located just one block away from Volunteer Park. You’ll love relaxing in your room filled with modern amenities and gorgeous antique decor. Book your ultimate Capitol Hill vacation today!
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