|West Coast Party Information||
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|Seattle has a world-class ferry system, too!|
However, if you've never been to the Northwest before, and are intending to spend a day or two sightseeing beyond the city's limits, a car is almost mandatory. Some of the islands, like Bainbridge or Vashon, can be reached by ferry, but once you're there, public transportation is sparse. More remote places like Snoqualmie Falls or Canada definitely require a car.
Bus rides to most areas around Seattle cost $1.25 each way ($1.50 during peak hours on weekdays). Rides within the downtown area (part of it, at least) are free at all times. Bus schedules can be found online at the King County Metro Online web site, at http://transit.metrokc.gov/. If you need help finding the stop nearest your hotel, or going somewhere else by bus, you can also call the Metro Rider Information System at 206-553-3000. If you call between 5am and midnight on weekdays, or between 10am and 6:30pm on weekends, you can press zero to talk to an individual who will help you locate bus stops and determine the best routes. (Unfortunately, the call center is closed on major holidays, so if you're planning to take a bus to the barbeque, you should call them the night before.)
When arriving at Sea-Tac Airport, you can take Route 174 bus into downtown (pick it up at Bay 1, all the way past the baggage claim areas). If you prefer to travel without having your bags tucked in between your legs the whole time, you can take the Gray Line Airport Express, departing every 30 minutes from doors 8 and 24 outside baggage claim (look for the signs). The cost is $8.50 per person one-way, or $14 for round-trip tickets, good for a week. For schedules and a list of hotel drop-off points, see their web page at http://www.graylineofseattle.com/airport.cfm. By way of comparison, a shuttle van like Shuttle Express costs about $20, and a taxi to downtown costs about $30-35.
If you're staying in the downtown area, you can most likely take the Gray Line shuttle, then cab, bus, or walk to your hotel if it doesn't stop where you're staying. Some hotels also have their own free airport shuttle service to downtown, so be sure to check with them when you make your reservation.