Cars / Taxis / Motorhomes, Seattle

32 Reviews

Know about this? Rate It!

hide
  • transportation
    transportation
    by dustmon
  • Harbor View
    Harbor View
    by yooperprof
  • Commuters
    Commuters
    by yooperprof
  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Parking in Seattle can be a Pain

    by glabah Updated Nov 24, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    parking receipt machine with flag indicating time
    4 more images

    Attempting to find a place to park in downtown Seattle can be painful and expensive, and public transit being reasonably frequent in most areas a tourist would want to visit. Therefore, for the most part I suggest using transit especially in the downtown area. This is even the case when considering places somewhat far outside downtown, such as Ballard or Fremont. These are places that are very popular to visit and have no limit on most parking places. Thus, parking in those free areas can be just as painful as in pay to park areas.

    However, there are a few things to think about if you do try to park on a street in Seattle:

    + Carefully read the signs. There are some really complicated parking regulations in some parking spaces, such as no parking in a certain spot unless you have a specific permit or unless it is between certain hours. See photo 5 for an example. You have to read through the entire sign to know what is going on here: No Parking East of Here is obvious (so you should know what direction east is before parking near the sign). Then, realize that you can park here for 2 hours from 7 am to 8 pm, unless you have a zone 27 permit and then you can park as long as you want to. However, from 8 pm to 12 am you can not park here at all, unless you have a zone 27 permit (see bottom sign). So, to use some parking places you need to know the time you will be there, the directions of the compass, and keep in mind that the regulations change from one time of day to the other.

    + Almost all streetside parking as well as some surface lots have electronic pay systems where you purchase a parking slip from a machine that can take credit cards, and then you put the slip in your car to prove you paid. Many locations allow you to pay for your parking spot by mobile phone, so that if you need more time on the meter you can simply run the process on your mobile phone. However, paying for parking this way adds a $0.35 transaction fee. This is also available in a number of private parking lots and garages.

    + Flags in certain areas indicate how many hours maximum it is allowed to have a car parked in a particular location. The more popular the location, the shorter the time allowed, in general.

    + There are some parking areas along the waterfront that are accessed from Alaskan Way. Some of these seem to be somewhat slow in filling up, but some of the more open ones are subject to debris falling from bridges above (including bird defecation and road dirt). Of these, the parking area near Pike's Place Market seems to fill up the fastest, of course. There are also private parking garages here. These areas are your most likely prospects for finding parking along the waterfront.

    + On Sundays, parking is free in many locations, but there is also usually a time limit associated with this. You have to read the signs.

    + Parking is not allowed in some areas during peak travel times.

    + There are several parking garages in the downtown area. These are a bit expensive but if you have to park downtown and are unable to find a spot along Alaskan Way this is your best option. A map of the private parking lots and garages in downtown Seattle is available on the Downtown Seattle web site:
    http://downtownseattle.com/parking/

    Photo 1: shows a typical parking receipt machine with a flag attached to it that indicates the maximum amount of time allowed at this location. In this particular example, the maximum time allowed is 10 hours.

    Photo 2: shows a detail of the display and workings of one of these machines. From the top you see a solar panel that provides power to the machine, basic information on the parking spot (how long you are allowed to leave a car here, days that free parking is allowed and other information about this location), then there are instructions on how to use the machine and the various buttons and displays required to use the machine.

    Photo 3: shows the detailed instructions on how to use Seattle's parking system, a few parking regulations, and other such information. These are posted on the side of the new parking machines.

    Photo 4: parking meters in some parts of Seattle only take coins. These are the older, traditional style parking meters, and may be replaced by the time you read this. They are being replaced by the newer machines as time goes on.

    Photo 5: you already know about this one. This shows that parking can be interesting in the Seattle area, even in places well outside the downtown area.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo

    Water Taxi from Downtown to Alki Beach

    by yooperprof Written Aug 29, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Water taxi (bus)
    2 more images

    A great way to see downtown Seattle from the Harbor - and also visit an interesting coastal Seat tle neighborhood in the process - is to take the Water Taxi (really, it's more like a Water Bus) from downtown to the West Seattle neighborhood. It departs from Pier 51 - roughly every twenty minutes during the workday, with diminished frequency in the evening. $4.00 for a one way ticket, the "crossing" takes just 11 minutes. Also - there is free shuttle bus service from the landing dock to the main commercial district of West Seattle. You could walk along the coastline - it's a very pleasant walk - but it's good to know that there is a free bus as well.

    Was this review helpful?

  • dustmon's Profile Photo

    Fox Car Rental

    by dustmon Written May 17, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    transportation

    Shopping for car rental rates online and with help from a few VTers, we decided to go with Fox, who was a whopping $300 cheaper than the big boys. We got a suzuki automatic 4 door and had absolutely no problems. It was scratched all to hell, but they noted them all before we paid and the turn in at San Fransisco was easy as well. Both places are off-site from the airport but shuttles are often and clean. I would use these guys again.
    8 day rental from Seattle to San Fran totaled $415.21 including a fillup at the end.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • iam1wthee's Profile Photo

    Getting a taxi

    by iam1wthee Written May 1, 2012

    Flagging a taxi is not the norm out here. Now certain places will have them lined up like near Amtrak station otherwise you are going to have to call. I find that the orange cabs and the blue/yellow cabs are best because they normally charge a flat fee.

    Was this review helpful?

  • iam1wthee's Profile Photo

    Getting a taxi

    by iam1wthee Written May 1, 2012

    Flagging a taxi is not the norm out here. Now certain places will have them lined up like near Amtrak station otherwise you are going to have to call. I find that the orange cabs and the blue/yellow cabs are best because they normally charge a flat fee.

    Was this review helpful?

  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Traffic in Seattle can be a Royal Pain

    by glabah Updated Feb 13, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    traffic heads into Seattle at 10 AM, May 28, 2009
    4 more images

    If you are considering driving through or to Seattle, I highly recommend something else. Find an alternate route, or maybe plan your schedule to avoid Seattle at all peak periods, is one possible solution to avoiding the traffic.

    Seattle is crammed onto a narrow strip of land between Lake Washington and Puget Sound. This means there is limited room for huge highways, and all the support structure they require.

    The result is that traffic in and around Seattle can be quite terrible at times, and even during non-peak periods you can get stuck in traffic for very long periods.

    Traffic patterns here have some other eccentric features. Some of the carpool and HOW lanes change direction based on the time of day, and therefore some of the freeway entrances may go one direction during part of the day, and the other direction during the other part of the day (see photo 2 for one such entrance that comes out of the side of a building in the middle of downtown Seattle). Check the signs to make sure that you are not headed for an entrance ramp you thought was there, but has turned the other direction!

    Another oddity: on a number of highways the traffic congestion is so bizarre that different lanes of traffic can wind up with different speed limits, and there are actually signs in various places on the highways and freeways that are changed with various traffic conditions. Therefore, one day at one hour of the day the speed limit on Interstate 5 coming into Seattle from the south may be 60 mph, but if conditions are bad the next day it may only be 45 mph. You can't always depend on speed limits being constant.

    If you are traveling with others, keep in mind that the carpool lane may be used if you have other people in the car with you.

    If you are just visiting downtown Seattle, keep in mind that a number of the hotels have charges, in some cases $40 or more a night, for keeping your vehicle in the parking area.

    Interstate 405 goes far to the east of Seattle, but can be quite congested even on Saturdays. It may, however, be a good alternative to Interstate 5.

    There is an ongoing traffic mess on the south side of Seattle, as highway 99, which used to use the Alaska Way viaduct, is being converted to use a tunnel under Alaska Way. This can create some severe traffic tangles.

    Pay close attention to what the radio stations are saying, and consider your alternatives:

    + Amtrak service goes right to downtown Seattle
    + Washington State Ferries go right to downtown Seattle from Bremerton and Bainbridge Island
    + There is free transit service on most King County Metro buses (but not SoundTransit or the several other transit agencies) in the core of downtown Seattle, meaning that if you want to visit only the downtown area of Seattle you may be better off leaving the car at home.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Motorcycle

    Was this review helpful?

  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    I-5

    by grandmaR Updated Jun 11, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I-5 in 1994
    4 more images

    Interstate 5 is apparently the main traffic artery for Seattle.

    When I was up in the Space Needle I could see the commuter's traffic jam on I-5 and the TV reporter in the helicopter reporting on it.

    We did have some folks in the course in 1994 who were commuting from the Olympic penninsula by car.

    In 2011, when we drove back to the airport, the driver did not use I-5

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • kbl's Profile Photo

    Town car services

    by kbl Updated Apr 4, 2011

    When driving from one of the surrounding areas to Seattle (from Bellevue of Redmond for example) you can use different Limo services. It's traveling in style. (Cost about 30US$ from Bellevue to Seattle)

    Related to:
    • Business Travel
    • Luxury Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Street Name Changes, Complex Street Signs

    by glabah Updated Aug 31, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Complex street signs result from development ways
    4 more images

    No matter if you are walking, biking, driving, or taking the bus, you need to have street names in order to get around.

    In many cities here in the northwest, this can be quite complicated because streets change names and intersect at strange angles. This is caused by a combination of topography, rapid groth that has forced streets to widen to the point where intersections are intermixed, and old roads that followed traffic patters that no longer exist.

    Seattle has done a much better job of trying to deal with the situation, and you will find that many intersections have signs that indicate street name changes. The street signs may look very complex at certain intersections, but at least they are marked in a fairly clear fashion. This is a lot better than the alternatives.

    You will want to pay close attention to these as you move about the city and look for your destination.

    Related to:
    • Cycling
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • joiwatani's Profile Photo

    Ride Share

    by joiwatani Written Aug 16, 2009

    There's an online Share the Ride in Seattle. It's a program through the King County Metro.

    Call 1-800-427-8249.

    Or you can go to RideshareOnline.com. These features include:

    Visual mapping, direct e-mail messaging, up-to-date match lists, work schedule options and choose to ride or drive.

    Within a simple click, you get instant 24-hour access to Trip Plannes, Pass Sales, Time Tables, Employer Services, Rider Information, etc.

    Also, call 206-553-3000.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Need a Car for Part of Visit

    by sgoulding Written Jul 18, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Many Seattle attractions are easily accessible by public transportation or walking, depending on where you are staying. Yet other attractions/destinations are best reached by car. To avoid high valet and overnight parking fees at many hotels, think about joining zipcar (used to be Flexcar), a sort of car-on-demand service. That way you could have access to an automobile when you need it, but not be saddled with it when you don't. See www.zipcar.com

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • iclee's Profile Photo

    Best deal last June08

    by iclee Updated Jan 15, 2009
    Quiky mobile

    We took a rental from Seattle Tacoma airport to Portland, Oregon and back. The route was very scenic - full of large rivers, lakes and green foliage. Reminded me of the movie Twilight which I think was shot near that area.

    Thrifty's garage is outside SeaTac so you need to take the 24/7 shuttle. Not very reasonable for the elderly or sick since WA's temp is freezing the time we were there. The shuttle drivers were very accomodating and would assists load and unload those huge luggage. But considering we (husband & I) were able bodied, we thought Thrifty's lower than others rate is worth the bother of going outside SeaTac to retrieve the car. The rate we got was around $50 all in/day. I was a bit disappointed because they issued a Cruizer (translation: funny looking vintage ambulance) with a below average mpg. I think we spent additional US$40 to return a full tank car. Not bad for a quirky looking car.

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Budget Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

    Was this review helpful?

  • rmdw's Profile Photo

    Parking in Downtown Seattle

    by rmdw Written Mar 26, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I have a big problem paying exorbitant $$$ for downtown parking so what I frequently do is book a hotel at a great rate on Hotwire.com, drop off my luggage at the hotel, and then park the car in the Queen Anne area where there is enough free unlimited parking to accommodate.

    One can then take a taxi or bus ride back downtown, though I always walk back to Seattle Center and catch the Monorail because, with my camera in hand, nothing is more enjoyable.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Interstate-5

    by Ewingjr98 Written Sep 24, 2007

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Don't smoke while driving your camper down I-5

    Interstate 5, passes through downtown Seattle, connecting it to other major West Coast cities including Vancouver, Portland, Sacramento, LA, and San Diego. This 1,381 mile interstate that is the primary West Coast north-south route, is also the only US interstate that connects to the borders of both Mexico and Canada.

    Built primarily in the 1960s, I-5 stretches across 276 mile of Washington state, and it follows much of the route of the original US 99.

    The first segment of I-5 formally opened in Tacoma on December 21, 1960. The last temporary stop light was removed north of Everett in May 1969, marking the completion of I-5.

    Was this review helpful?

  • AgentJX's Profile Photo

    Rush hours from hell

    by AgentJX Written Aug 29, 2007

    Water and hills everywhere make for a beautiful city, but they limit the routes people can take to get to and from work. Add to this the fact that big employers like Microsoft are set up in some areas causing reverse traffic flows (away from the city in the morning and toward the city in the evening) and you get a nightmare on wheels. Traffic can hit any time of day (or night) and seemingly in any direction. Add to it the construction efforts that will eventually improve the situation and you get Seattle traffic. Outside of traditional morning and evening rush hours there seems to be no reason behind the myriad of other traffic hold ups you are likely to experience. Sadly there is not much you can do to avoid these messes, just do your best to get through them and know that something wonderful is waiting at the other end of the road.

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Seattle

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

61 travelers online now

Comments

View all Seattle hotels