Capitol Hill (so named by a developer with political aspirations) is the counter culture heart of the Northwest. It's also the most densely populated neighborhood. The streets are lined with midrise condos and appartments, or old brick classics filled with young singles and gay couples.
The gay center is split between Broadway and the Pike/Pine Streets corridor. I choose the latter. Broadway is good for a stroll and window shopping, but things have deteriorated of late. Pike/Pine has excellent restaurants, and clubs.
Now listen up - Capitol Hill is NOT the Castro or West Hollywood. Gay life in Seattle isn't nearly so agressive. Our gay community is relaxed, out, and very well integrated into the daily and political life of the city. Gay people live in every neighborhood. Capitol Hill is not a gay ghetto. It just has a larger concentration of gays and lesbians than most neighborhood.
Capitol Hill is the place to be for clubs & bars. I like the Timberline at Denny and Stewart, R-Place on Pine, and Thumpers on Madison & 15th. If you are young, like I USED to be - try Manray on Pine, or Vogue on 11th.
I especially recommend a stroll through Volunteer Park (including the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Conservatory. Consider a break at Coffee Messiah on Olive or Bauhaus Coffee on Pine. You'll get an eyeful and a good example of the universal Seattle addiction - caffeine.
Capitoll Hill, overlooking downtown Seatlle, is one of the most special, colourful, alternative, youthful and interesting neighbourhoods of the city.
From day to late night, Capitoll Hill is a happening place, with a very distinctive identity of its own.
You can feel that local people feel proud of being part of the Capitol Hill culture.
Apart from the shops, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, its worth walking up to Volunteer park and take a nap on the grass, or visit the Asian Art Museum.
Normally when I tour Seattle, I've gone with my family. It's fun and all and I enjoy it, but we see the same touristy downtown neighbourhood (ie: Pike Market, Pier 57), over and over again to the point where I wouldn't even want to go all the way to Seattle if that's all I was going to see. While these areas are unique to Seattle, there is so much more to Seattle than these touristy areas... and I knew it! But I just didn't know where else to go.
Luckily, in early 2004 I was introduced to Capitol Hill by some friends. We went to Broadway and looked at the vintage clothing stores like Red Light. We had coffees at the little espresso hut across the street. We wandered up and down Broadway and realized that this was the Seattle I knew that existed - a real, cool, funky neighbourhood with great little restaurants and shops, where the locals would come to hang out.
In September 2004 I was able to show my Montreal friends this neighbourhood which was definitely more down our alley. We shared some desserts and excellent coffees at the Cafe Septieme, where we sat on the patio and relaxed into the late evening.
Head toward Broadway avenue and find a good spot to "people watch". This is Seattle's most diverse neighborhood and you are likely to see a protest or some type of debauchery of the kind that isn't common in most of the nation.
Buried side by side, Bruce Lee (1973) and his son Brandon (1993) have beautifully simple graves that are quite moving. Bruce Lee's tombstone is very angular and done in brilliant red with gold lettering in English and Chinese. A black-and-white photo of him graces the top while an open book rests at the bottom. The English inscription carved into the book reads: "Your inspiration continues to guide us toward our personal liberation." Beside it is Brandon Lee's tombstone, an impressive, fluid form with his name also carved in gold. Behind both tombstones is a stone bench with the inscription: "Husband and father, son and brother, you are always with us." Both of these tombstones are inspiring and definitely worth admiring.
Go to Broadway in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood.
Capitol Hill is one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Seattle (the movie Singles was set in Capitol Hill). This is a youthful area, a lot of 20-30 year old singles. Don't be surprised if you see people with tattoos, nose rings or purple hair. Lots of cafes, bars and places to buy knick-knacks.