Seattle's street designations make sense once you understand them, but unless you do understand them, you can end up many miles away from your destination. All North-South streets are labeled "Avenues" while East-West streets are labeled "Streets". The city is roughly divided into a 3 by 3 grid with nine directional sectors (i.e. N, S, NE, NW, etc) Street addresses in each sector are written with the area name BEFORE the street's number, e.g. NE 45th Street or NE 45th. Avenue addresses in each sector are written with the area AFTER the avenue number, e.g. 45th Avenue NE or 45th NE.
There are four major exceptions:
• Downtown streets and avenues have no directional designation.
• There is no SE section. Instead, the S section is extra wide.
• East of downtown, avenues have no directional designation (streets are preceded by 'E').
• North of downtown (between Denny Way and the ship canal), streets have no directional designation, but avenues are followed by 'N'.
All in all, it's probably worth a few dollars to buy and carry a map when you're trying to find an address.
Metro Transit (electric or diesel city buses) actually works pretty well. The web trip planner is straightforward and accurate, as long as your bus is on time. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can buy an All-Day Pass for $2.50 from the bus driver. On weekdays, a $5 Visitor Pass can be purchased at various retail locations. Buses in downtown Seattle are free between 6am and 7pm in the downtown core of Seattle. Just get on and get off. To read the details refer to Metro Free Bus info . Sound Transit (diesel and hybrid buses, trains) is more expensive, but has many convenient express routes that travel South (to Tacoma), East (Redmond, Bellevue), and North (Bothell, Lynnwood). If presented with multiple routes to get to the same destination, try and ascertain which routes use Hybrid Flyer buses, recognizable by the yellow rather than green route indicators. They have air conditioning unlike every other model Metro uses, which during Seattle's warm season will be quite useful. Generally the Hybrids are used on routes which go downtown, through the now out-of-service bus tunnel.
On weekends, you can often rent cars at locations throughout the city for well under $20/day. Flexcar has cars in many parts of the city, waiting for someone to pick them up, drive them around, and drop them back off. It's a cool idea, but it won't do you much good as a tourist, and rental cars are cheaper. Sorry!
Beware! The parking enforcement in Seattle is a racket whose purpose is more to generate revenue than ensure safety. Be mindful of where you park, and read the signs carefully as the meter maids lie in waiting like snakes for you to make a single mistake, and the fines can be hefty! Near the end of a quota period a parking ticket can be in excess of $60 for simply going overtime in a 2-hour zone.
Bicycling is better than in most cities, except for the damp roads and frequent rain. It's hilly too. Buy yourself some Gore-Tex raingear at REI 's Flagship Store (222 Yale Ave). Many major roads in Seattle have properly maintained bicycle lanes, and drivers don't actively try to kill you as in some other major cities. Bicycle transportation in the greater part of Seattle is facilitated further by the Burke-Gilman Trail . This is a paved walking/jogging/cycling trail that winds its way from the north end of Lake Washington, down around the University of Washington, then west towards Ballard. The trail is on an old railroad right-of-way, so it maintains a very consistent elevation and is excellent for commuting or a casual day's touring. Myrtle Edwards path is located on the sound starting at the north end of downtown and continuing for the most part all of the way to the Ship Canal Locks. It is much more scenic than the Burke. All Metro buses are equipped to carry two bicycles on racks on the front, at no extra charge. Metro doesn't allow riders to load or remove a bicycle in the downtown Ride Free Area between 6am-7pm, although it doesn't hurt to ask if you've goofed.