About Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Address: 3150 S 160th St Ste 509, Suite 509, Seatac, 98188 , Wa, Wa
Seattle—Tacoma International Airport (SEA), commonly called Sea—Tac, is the primary air travel gateway to the Seattle metropolitan area, located 14 miles (23 km) south of downtown Seattle. Airport car rental agencies including Avis, Sixt, National, Enterprise, Thrifty and Budget are operating from a separate car rental center, accessed by 24-hour shuttle bus service.
Locals will tell you that a car is a liability in downtown Seattle — also known as City Center — but otherwise, a tremendous asset in the SeaTac region. Seattle proper is locked into a grid system with avenues running north-south and streets running east-west. Road designations follow a peculiar and convoluted compass point sector system indicated by N, S, E, W, NE, NW, and SW, but no address indicator for SE. Rent a car with GPS and skip the hassle.
Interstate 5 is the main artery serving the city and destinations afar, and the route between Seattle and Tacoma (33 mi / 53 km) is one of most consistently congested stretches of highway on the West Coast. Rush hour is every hour on I-5. The number of bridges and waterways only adds to the gridlock. Interstate 405 on the opposite side of Lake Washington is a convenient alternative route around the City Center. Bounded by water on both sides, traffic orientation is biased toward north-south navigation.
I-90 is the primary eastern entry and exit route for Seattle and the main route Spokane (279 mi / 449 km) and Eastern Washington.
Choosing your car
With an outstanding selection of Sea-Tac car hire options at your fingertips, choosing your car may be the least complicated aspect of your travel plans. Kia compact cars were made for the tight conditions of inner city driving. Toyota economy cars are ideal for all-purpose navigation. With a couple of passengers and modest baggage in tow, Mercedes-Benz fullsize sedans have an impeccable reputation for reliability. Outdoor activities on the agenda? Hyundai and GMC SUVs were designed to get off the beaten path with all your gear intact. And Chrysler 7-9 seater minivans are the most popular people and cargo carriers available today.
Tips and advice
Locals give directions by intersections as opposed to street addresses. For example, the Seattle Art Museum will be described “at University and 1st” instead of 100 University Street.
Downtown Seattle is riddled with one-way streets. Meanwhile, the areas of Capitol Hill and Queen Anne are surprisingly hilly.
Street parking in Seattle can be done, particularly on the outskirts of town, but for the money you pump into a meter — while running the risk of an expiring time limit — you could park in a covered, secure lot for just a bit more money.
Look for express lanes on I-5 between downtown and Shoreline, in addition to I-90 to Bellevue.
Sea-Tac is the main hub for visitors to Mount Rainier (55 mi / 88 km) and Olympic National Park (93 mi / 148 km). Route planning is key to reaching these popular destinations.
Be aware of Seattle’s extensive bike lane system, and be prepared to share the roads with cyclists.