The Sound Transit Light Rail in Seattle

The central link of Seattle’s Sound Transit Light Rail system began serving passengers since 2009. Yes, a city notorious for traffic did not offer light rail service until 2009. As of 2018, Sound Transit serves more than 80,000 passengers per day (including the Tacoma link). The good news for tourists is that the central link stops near most of the important tourist attractions as well as SeaTac International Airport and the King Street Amtrak station.

Pike Place Market

Kedai Makan

Shanghai Garden

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour

Museum of Pop Culture

Space Needle

Elliot Bay Book Co.

Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream

Start Your Day at Pike Place Market 

Pike Place Market is situated along Elliot Bay and attracts more than 10 million visitors per year. Ever seen the famous fish toss? Until the Space Needle was built, the market (which dates back to 1907) was THE iconic Seattle landmark.  Although it can be frustratingly crowded at times, it’s also where you can find an array of different crafts, clothes, specialty fare, and souvenirs. There are restaurants as well, many of which provide a breathtaking view of the bay. Get there early as it closes at six, and many vendors start packing up by mid to late afternoon. To really explore the ins and outs of the market, allow at least two hours, especially if you want to eat.

Nearest Light Rail Station: Westlake

Take a Stroll Down Gum Alley

Before you head back to the Westlake light rail station, take a stroll down Post Alley for one of the most eccentric (and repulsive?) art projects in all of Seattle: Gum Wall. Yes, it’s a 15′ high brick wall covered with discarded chewing gum, which continues at least 50′ down Post Alley. Watch out for yellowjackets!

Nearest Light Rail Station: Westlake

Go Underground with Bill Speidel 

The city that gave the world Alice in Chains, Amazon, Heart, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Starbucks had a very rough start. The original business district was destroyed by fire in 1889. In 1907, after a new city was rebuilt on top of the old one, the bubonic plague caused by rats led to massive death. More than 100 years later, you can take an underground tour, which starts at Pioneer Square, which is where the original city was founded. Guests walk down a tight passage, which looks similar to the walkway down to a small basement, but underneath Pioneer Square you’ll find the old city. Under the city, there are still the remnants of the Northern Hotel, a bank, and some general stores. The tour lasts roughly one hour.

Nearest Light Rail Station: Pioneer Square

Eat Hand Shaven Noodles in Chinatown

For lunch, head to Shanghai Garden, which offers dozens of hand shaven noodle dishes as well as dumplings and other traditional Chinese fare. The restaurant is located just one block east of the International District/Chinatown light rail station. If you want to explore the neighborhood more and perhaps shop for traditional Chinese medicine, herbal teas, etc., the Chinese restaurants and shops continue south to Dearborn Street and east to Rainier Ave (on the other side of Interstate 5, which cuts through Chinatown). Jackson Street serves as the northern border.

Seattle’s Chinatown is conveniently located near the King Street Amtrak station, which is convenient if you need to travel on to another town or if you are just passing through and don’t want to rent a car.

Nearest Light Rail Station: International District/Chinatown.

Geek Out at the Museum of Pop Culture (the former Experience Music Project)

In November 2016, the former Experience Music Project rebranded itself as the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). The guitar sculpture is still there. You can still play with an array of instruments on the second floor, but the 140,000 square foot museum now focuses on film as well. There are more than a dozen exhibits at any given time and their gift shop offers an eclectic mix of CDs, DVDs, posters, stickers, etc. The music exhibits still focus on artists from the Pacific Northwest.

Nearest Light Rail Station: Seattle Center Monorail (connection from Westlake)

Enjoy Panoramic Views of Seattle from the Space Needle

You can see the iconic Space Needle from miles away and despite the handful of taller structures that have been built since 1962, it remains the iconic image of Seattle. So why not look down at the city from the 520′ high observation deck? Part of the floor is made of glass so you can look directly down if you have the stomach for it. The rotating glass floor is the world’s first and is known as the loupe. It may look scary, but according to the staff, it’s four times stronger than the rest of the floor in the observation deck.

Nearest Light Rail Station: Seattle Center Monorail (connection from Westlake)

End Your Day with the Locals in Capitol Hill

Just northeast of downtown, Capitol Hill is home to an eclectic mix of bookstores, cafes, greenspace, nightlife, and specialty shops. The neighborhood is situated on a steep hill and bordered by Interstate 5 to the west, Interlaken Park to the north, 23rd Avenue to the east and Pike Street to the south.

The light rail stop is in the southern part of the neighborhood, just north of Cal Anderson Park, which is home to a reflecting pool. The neighborhood may be hilly, but you can use the streetcar, which runs along Broadway, south of the light rail station. There’s a Jimi Hendrix Statue at the intersection of Broadway and Pine, which has the Renton (just outside Seattle) native shredding away on his knees, outside of an arts and crafts store.

Capitol Hill is an ideal place to enjoy a leisurely dinner, away from other tourists. One of the most sought-after tables in Seattle is at Kedia Makan, which is a Malaysian restaurant with a small menu of less than two-dozen items. You can feel like you are in a hipster section of Brooklyn as you approach the red-brick building with no exterior sign on the corner of Howell and Bellvue. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a line outside the door, which often starts hours before they open for dinner. They are not open for lunch.

At Kedai Makan, they make their own sambal and also offer Chinese herbal infusions at the bar, which is where you may end up sitting if you are in any kind of a hurry. The food is worth the wait. Be sure to try a handmade noodle dish and a roti (bread) appetizer. If you’re not familiar with Malaysian food, it’s a mix of Chinese, Indian and ethnic-Malay. Some Malaysian restaurants do not serve pork, but this one does.

The dessert menu is at Kedai Mekan is limited, so if you want dessert, it’s best to head to Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream near the intersection of 10th and Pine (just one block east of the Jimi Hendrix statue). Like Kedai Makan, there’s typically a line outside the door. With multiple locations throughout greater-Seattle, they offer more than a dozen different ice cream flavors, some of which are vegan.

After dessert, walk one block south on 10th Avenue to Elliot Bay Book Company. With more than 150,000 titles they’ve been going strong since 1973. There’s a small cafe in the back corner and they have more than 500 author readings per year. They are open until 11 PM some evenings and the area is replete with nightlife as well. Just one more reason to end your day in Capitol Hill.

Nearest Light Rail Station: Capitol Hill

Pinterest How to Spend a Day Exploring Seattle Along the Sound Transit Light Rail

This post was sponsored by Visit Seattle. All pictures were shot with a Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera with the exception of the Instagram photos.

Have you been to Seattle? Used the Sound Transit Light Rail? What other sights do you recommend? Leave a comment below.