Students talk under the Chinatown gate in Seattle

Seattle Pacific students Heidi Speck (left), Hugo Lam, and Grace Meyer talk under the Chinatown gate in Seattle.

We get it — you’re in college. You have classes, exams, dorm life, and more on your plate. But Seattle Pacific University's location in one of the best cities in the country has its perks, including some epic spots to explore.

For one thing, SPU’s campus is only a 15-minute Uber ride away from Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, a neighborhood staple if you’re looking for fresh flavors and distinctive shops. A while ago, we sent students Heidi Speck, Hugo Lam, and Grace Meyer to explore the area. 

Here are 10 things to do in the neighborhood that will give you serious FOMO:

1. King Street Station

SPU students stand outside the King Street station in the International District of Seattle

Think of this as the gateway to Seattle. Nearly 3 million passengers pass through this station each year on their way to other parts of the city or to get out of town. Built in 1906, the three-story structure features a clock tower modeled after the San Marco bell tower in Venice, Italy. The interior is a great place for people watching and gathering with friends.

2. Historic Chinatown gate

SPU students stand by the Chinatown gate - photo by Lindsey Wasson

Located on the east end of the neighborhood, the gate is a great place to get some pics for the ‘gram. The gate, made from 8,000 ceramic tiles, mimics the intricate gates marking the entrances to many Chinese towns and foreshadows the Asian flavors and flair you’re about to encounter.

3. Harbor City Restaurant

An SPU student pulls apart a dumpling - photo by Lindsey Wasson

Harbor City Restaurant might have a classic hole-in-the-wall location on South King Street, but it’s consistently rated one of the best restaurants for dim sum in the city. You’ll feast upon traditional steamed dumplings, spring rolls,egg tarts, and other tasty Chinese dishes. The food is affordable, and the restaurant also offers takeout options for on-the-go convenience.

4. Hing Hay Park

SPU students walk down the sidewalk in Seattle's Chinatown-International District - photo by Lindsey Wasson

It literally means the “Celebrate Happiness Public Park,” and it lives up to its name. It’s the gathering spot for neighbors practicing martial arts or meditation, and it features a temple-like structure made in Taiwan. The park is a great spot for an outdoor meal and a casual game of ping pong, or a quick workout on its outdoor fitness equipment.

5. Seattle Pinball Museum

SPU students play a pinball game at Seattle's Pinball Museum - photo by Lindsey Wasson

For $23, visitors can play on a massive collection of pinball machines from as early as the 1930s.

6. Wing Luke Museum

Wing Luke museum room with chairs and wood boat carving on the wall

A trip to the International District would not be complete without a visit to the Wing Luke Museum, dedicated to the art and history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Visitors might learn about the history of Asian displacement when the I-5 freeway was built through the Chinatown International District in the ’60s. The museum has also featured an exhibit on Bruce Lee as well as a photography exhibit on the killing fields of Cambodia. 

7. Jose Rizal Park

Two SPU students take a selfie with the Seattle skyline in the background - photo by Lindsey Wasson

It’s picnic perfect and picture perfect. The 10-acre park, named after the national hero of the Philippines, provides spectacular views of Seattle’s skyline from its location on a hill.

8. New Century Tea Gallery

tea pots and cups on a table at the New Century Tea Gallery

Who doesn’t love free samples? The tea gallery has free tea samples of its loose leaf tea for visitors browsing its many shelves of tea.

9. Uwajimaya

Outside store image of Uwajimaya

This Asian grocery store has been around for 93 years, and it’s fun to explore not only their unique offerings of Asian food products, you can also grab lunch at their food hall or purchase Royce’ Chocolate, the world-class confections from Hokkaido, Japan.

10. KOBO

If you’re feeling artsy, take a stroll through KOBO, an art gallery featuring jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and other works made by Japanese and Northwest-based artists.

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SPU students walk down the street with the Seattle skyline in the background - photo by Lindsey Wasson



Two SPU students stand on the balcony in the Union Street train station in Seattle - photo by Lindsey Wasson



An SPU student stands by a wall with a dragon mural - photo by Lindsey Wasson



SPU students sit on red steps in the park at Seattle's Chinatown-International District- photo by Lindsey Wasson



SPU students sit under a red sculpture in Seattle's Chinatown-International District - photo by Lindsey Wasson




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