6.1 out of 10

Westlake

Ranked 54th best neighborhood in Seattle
47.6319807765484 -122.342142940085
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Clean & Green
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Safe & Sound
  • Neighborly Spirit
Not great for
  • Pest Free
  • Childcare
  • Medical Facilities
  • Schools
  • Resale or Rental Value
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Apr 28, 2016

"A convenient but poorly planned neighborhood"

When I was searching to buy a home, I was interested in Westlake because it had (and still has, I believe) a good selection of condos on the market. There is a series of very large residential buildings that line the east edge of Aurora. I was initially intrigued because I could walk to work in South Lake Union, which would be extremely convenient.

But I decided against it because this neighborhood does not have a sense of community, compared to most of Seattle neighborhoods. Sure, there are a few small parks and a handful of restaurants, but its nothing like Fremont or Wallingford, where you have a quaint downtown street lined with amenities and bustling with activity. Westlake feels more like a coincidental grouping of large residential buildingsit feels as though there was little thought or planning put into the neighborhood.

Likewise, when I toured a few places, I got the sense that those who own the buildings are not invested in the community, and simply are in it for the profit. That wouldnt bother many people, but I find that quite unappealing for a place I plan to live for many years.

It would appeal mostly to those who highly prioritize convenience, and prefer a more quiet home.
Pros
  • Close proximity to downtown
Cons
  • No community atmosphere
  • Overpriced housing
Recommended for
  • Professionals
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Mar 23, 2016

"Mostly just big apartments"

Westlake is kinda weird for Seattle in that it’s not really a neighborhood and doesn’t have a downtown. Pretty much all the neighborhoods here have at least some central area, but not Westlake. It’s this narrow piece of land between Aurora and Lake Union, and it’s mostly apartments. Because Amazon has been growing, the apartments are totally taking advantage of that and overcharging by a ton. I have a couple friends who got apartments here when they moved to Seattle recently and they can’t wait for their lease to end so they can move.

But there are some new restaurants opening up in the south part of the neighborhood, practically in South Lake Union. I’ve been to a few and these are the ones I liked:

--Pho Cyclo Café: your typical Vietnames noodle soup place. Tastes like Pho. Lol.
--Pagliacci Pizza: this is another chain restaurant that does pizza by the slice. It’s convenient, and their pizza is good but not amazing.
--Cask & Trotter: This place is a little uptight for me, but the food’s not bad and they have good beer.
--Art Marble 21: This is my favorite place. The name is misleading—it’s not some fancy craft cocktail place. It’s a huge sports bar with tons of games. And when I say games I don’t mean just pool. They also have ping pong, Bocce ball, air hockey, arcade games and a bunch more. Plus they play all my favorite sports games.
Cons
  • Overpriced housing
Recommended for
  • Professionals
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Jan 03, 2016

"Overpriced apartments, but stunning views"

Westlake is the neighborhood on the western shore of Lake Union. Just east of Queen Anne Hill and highway 99, it’s south of Fremont, and north of South Lake Union. The Seattle Center is also close by, southwest of the neighborhood.

Housing:
A large percentage of the housing in the neighborhood is found in the string of huge apartment buildings along highway 99. Some are new, and some are older and remodeled. But they all have one thing in common: they are unabashedly overpriced.

In part due to the proximity of the Amazon campus, which has been growing rapidly, and in part because Washington State has no rent control and weak landlord-tenant law enforcement, the companies that own these buildings have gotten away with unbelievable rent increases and poor treatment of their tenants. I know this because I lived in one of these mega-buildings. Luckily, it was only for 6 months, at which point my lease was due for renewal, and they bumped the rent up $400. $400 increase After 6 months! I won’t even get in to the unethical behavior they had of hidden fees, unannounced water shutoffs (!!) and a 70-page lease. To sum it up, everyone I knew had moved out by the time I also left the building.

After searching for other housing in buildings nearby, I quickly realized this was a trend for most (but not all) of the largest apartment structures. So, please, do your due diligence before renting. Ask the hard questions. And if they have lots of bad reviews, or no reviews online, avoid them. It's just not worth it.

Fortunately, I don’t believe this is the case with the smattering of smaller apartment buildings and condos that run along Dexter, because those tend to be owned privately. There are also a few single-family homes left, though not many. Then, of course, there are the iconic houseboats. But they’re really their own little community, tucked away on the lake.

View:
There’s got to be a reason people move here, though, right? Well, of course it’s super convenient for Amazon employees. And I think a lot of people like the neighborhood because of the status—most apartments are new or remodeled, it’s close to downtown, etc.

But there’s also the view. As much as I despised how our building was run, I LOVED the view. We had a little patio facing east (which they all do, if you face west, you just stare at Queen Anne Hill and Highway 99). It had a stunning vista of Lake Union and the Cascade Mountains rising behind the lake. The best part? On clear days, we could see the sun rise, which filled our apartment with pink light. *Sigh*. I miss it. If you do move here, definitely look for a building with patios. Ours also had a community patio with a couple of BBQs and a firepit, and we had a few get-togethers with friends, watching dusk settle around the lake. Gotta give them a few points for that.

Commuting:
One perk to the neighborhood is the bike lane that goes straight downtown. In the summers, there’s a line of bike commuters coming from north Seattle. There’s also a walking path near Lake Union, but in most of Westlake, it’s next to storefronts, rather than directly next to the water, since the shore is dominated by marinas, shops, and houseboats. If you’re not a bike commuter or walker, you can catch several bus lines that all run straight downtown, either on Aurora or on Dexter.

Amenities:
To be honest, there isn’t too much in the way of food or grocery stores. A few upscale restaurants dot the waterfront, but nothing you’d want to go to regularly. You’re better off heading north to Fremont or South to South Lake Union. There also aren’t any convenient gyms. Again, you’ll have to head to other neighborhoods.

In conclusion, I think the only real benefits of living here are the convenience of being near South Lake Union, and the stunning east-facing view. For me, it didn’t make up for the overpriced housing and the lack of amenities. Probably not a fit for families, especially since there are no schools in Westlake. But hey, if the convenience is worth it for you, best of luck!
Pros
  • Beautiful city and water vistas
  • Close proximity to downtown
Cons
  • Overpriced housing
  • Short supply of single family homes
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Shoreside Community to its Fullest"

Named for its position on the shores of Lake Union, Westlake is defined by its crowding condos and some of the most fashionable boutiques in Seattle. It truly is a shoreline community, where houseboats and seaplanes are common enough and the Lake’s central focus also makes it a marketable point for Seafood restaurants. The seaplanes make their takeoff from Kenmore Air Seaplane Terminal, so if you’re seeking out this uncommon site, you’ll know where to find it. There’s some utility here, too, because getting to the San Juan Islands or the Olympic Peninsula is easy if you’re going by air.

The main roads in Westlake fill up during drive time because they lead to the popular areas for work and play. No matter if you’re trying to get to Seattle Center, downtown, or Pike Place Market, Dexter Avenue and Westlake Avenue are starting points. Of course, the accessibility also means that this neighborhood is on several major public transportation routes, though the pricey offerings tend to attract people who prefer their own transportation (which is somewhat ill-advised because parking can be pretty terrible in this area).

I sort of hate to mention it because there’s so much more to the neighborhood than movie appearances, but this is the neighborhood in which Tom Hanks’ character was said to reside in Sleepless In Seattle. There, I said it, it’s done, now let’s just move on.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+

"Trendy neighborhood on the western shore of Lake Union"

Westlake is named for its location on the western shores of Seattle's Lake Union. Bounded by Aurora Avenue on its western edge, this shoreline community is known for trendy high-rise condos and some of the best shopping and dining opportunities in Seattle. Some of the many attractions packed into the small neighborhood of Westlake include the pool hall Jillian's and an Outback Steakhouse.

Not to be confused with Westlake Center, located in the downtown retail core, Westlake is a waterfront community where you are likely to spot houseboats and seaplanes. Many of the activities happening in Westlake are centered on the water, from the seafood restaurant McCormick and Schmick's to large fisheries and piers jutting into Lake Union. Watch the seaplanes taking off from the Kenmore Air seaplane terminal, or the local fishermen on the piers. In the movie "Sleepless in Seattle," the character played by Tom Hanks lived in one of these houseboats.

The main roads through the area are Dexter Avenue and Westlake Avenue; both tend to carry heavy traffic during rush hour, but are relatively open at other times of the day. From the Westlake neighborhood, it's a short bus trip to downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, and many other attractions.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
2yrs+

"Great Eats and Seaplanes"

A friend of mine asked me to meet him at his office near Westlake Avenue. It was the lunch hour and parking was difficult. Finally, after about thirty minutes of quick calls and text messages, we rendezvoused. The hassle was worth it, as we had a tasty lunch at Pasta Freska across the street. Note, they are only open for lunch on Wednesdays.

Westlake is predominantly businesses, restaurants and marine-related industry. There is very little residential housing, except for the houseboats (similar to the one in Sleepless in Seattle). The house Tom Hanks lived in during the movie is a bit north of the Westlake area and may actually fall in the East Queen Anne neighborhood. Anyway, a few months back my son and I ventured out to find this house and eventually discovered it after having to ask a guy cleaning boats.

One of our (my wife and I) favorite seafood places is McCormick and Schmick's, just north of Kenmore Air. The entrees are a deep stab to the wallet, but the taste makes up for it. Fish are flown in fresh several times per week. The best time to dine here is about an hour before sunset, then you can observe the change in light on the lake and surrounding structures. If seafood is not your gig, then try the China Harbor Restaurant further north that features delicacies from well-known Chinese provinces.

If you want to live close to your north downtown office and still see water, this will be your spot. It may be difficult to ever own a home, since selection is slim and houseboats can be pricey. One dimension of the neighborhood that can be frustrating is the Highway 99 corridor - limiting access to the West except on a couple of streets. We stumbled on this reality July 4, 2008 by seeking to navigate a group of fifteen people from the Hampton Inn in Lower Queen Anne to a spot further north on Lake Union. We continually hit dead ends until finally walking under Aurora on Mercer Street.

With a Kenmore Air seaplane terminal in your backyard, it makes hopping to the Olympic Peninsula or San Juan Islands a snap. There is something about the thrill of watching planes landing and taking off from the lake.

Westlake and Dexter Avenues give simple arterial passage to the north and to the south. A friend of mine even mentioned today how he enjoys riding his bike via Dexter for morning commutes.

The Mariott Courtyard has settled here, making for a great location for out-of-town guests wishing to be close to it all.

This community is robust with food, fisheries and flying. Whether you grab lunch on your way to see other sites, dine on the water, or have an office on the pier, Westlake can satisfy.
Pros
  • Close to waterfront activities and tourist attractions
  • Close proximity to downtown
  • Beautiful city and water vistas
Cons
  • Short supply of single family homes
  • Limited parking
  • Landlocked on west side by highway
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
2yrs+

"Great views of New Years fireworks over Lake Union"

There really aren't many homes in the Westlake area of Lake Union/Queen Anne, but those that are there enjoy some giant trees enveloping them against the traffic on Westlake Ave to the east and Aurora Ave to the west. Mostly, the area is filled with nautical and marine businesses, some great restaurants on the lake and one of Seattle's longest running pool halls - Jillian's. Westlake Ave doesn't really see much traffic and most people don't even know there are homes up in all of those trees, offering a degree of privacy to the residents. Public transportation is good in the area, offering a cheap, quick trip into the city. There is no beach on Lake Union, but there are some pretty great spots to watch the fireworks shows over the lake during the 4th of July and New Years.
4/5
2yrs+

"Scenes from Sleepless in Seattle"

The neighborhood of Westlake Seattle is a narrow strip of land along the western edge of Lake Union. The Westlake community is largely commercial with a little bit of residential running through it. It is home to many large companies, and nicer chain style restaurants such as McCormick’s and Outback.

Living in Westlake gives you very quick access to South Lake Union, Uptown, Denny Triangle, and Fremont.

This is also the neighborhood in which Tom Hanks’ character in Sleepless in Seattle had a houseboat. Of course, when in the area, seeing the houseboat is a must. I have only been in this area once, saw the houseboat and ate at McCormick’s, then it was off to shop at Pike Market.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees

Best Neighborhoods to Live In

Best Cities to Live In

Tell everyone what you love about your neighborhood!

Leave a Review

Have a question?

How are schools? Is the area safe? What about public transit options?" Why not ask our community of locals!

Ask Now

Selling or Renting Your Home?

Maximize the selling price of your home by sharing what you love about your suburb to increase its appeal...

Leave a Review

Corporate Relocation Manager?

Enable your employees to share local knowledge in a private, trusted environment with those relocating... while building community.

Learn More