Chinatown (International District)
West side of 5th Avenue between King & Weller
The Union Station Plaza is an open air public space, not a park, but if you enjoy fountains it makes for a nice spot to relax for a while or take a brief rest while on a walking tour of the area. The plaza isn’t technically in Chinatown. It’s on the west side of 5th Avenue and Chinatown starts on the east side of the street, but close enough!
The plaza is a pleasant open space in front of the Union Station office buildings and on the south side of the International District Transit Station. The location makes it a good place to kill some time if you’re waiting for a train or on your way to or from a ballgame.
The Union Station Plaza incorporates rocks and small trees into its design, but it’s far from a naturalistic setting. It’s a sleek, modern urban space.
The central feature is a fountain surrounded by stone benches and small planting beds. While this isn’t a spot I’d go to seek out wildlife, a white-crowned sparrow serenaded me for a bit from one of the trees while I was there, which added a nice touch.
Three coffee shops are located in the ground floors of the office buildings and there are usually some tables and chairs outside in front if you prefer those to benches. A good spot to check your email or work on your novel.
Nearby attractions include the restored Union Station on Jackson Street (open to the public during regular business hours), Uwajimaya Village across 5th Avenue on Weller, and the Chinese Gate around the corner on King.
Unless you have a pet project of visiting all the fountains in Seattle, or this looks like a place you’d like to play with your camera, Union Station Plaza isn’t a location you’d want to make a special trip to see. But if you’re already in the Pioneer Square or International District areas you might want to stop by to rest from your wanderings or to enjoy a tea or coffee in a lovely and fairly peaceful urban setting.
Things to Know
None posted that I saw.
Cafe tables and chairs.
I didn’t go looking, but I assume the coffee shops and Uwajimaya Village have restrooms. Union Station has public restrooms during business hours. I don’t know if restrooms are available down one level at the transit station.
There is metered street parking on the east side of 5th, and also on King and Weller. On Sundays and evenings street parking is free. Uwajimaya Village has free parking if you spend money there (1 hour for $10 in purchases, 2 hours for $20) and there is a pay lot on King Street just east of the Chinese Gate.
I had no trouble getting a spot directly across the street on a Sunday morning, but much of the time street parking can be difficult to come by in this area.
Union Station Plaza is used by a wide variety of people, including those who live or work nearby, transit passengers, Seattleites on a day outing to the area, and tourists.
I was there at 10:30 on a quiet Sunday morning in May. A scattering of people were sitting around the plaza and others wandered through. I’d guess traffic picks up a bit later in the day on nice weekends, and I’d imagine it gets busy at times during weekdays or if there are ballgames at Safeco Field or the Clink.
Fountain, people, buildings, rocks.
Best light: morning.