Cherry blossoms in bloom, University of Washington campus, Seattle, WA.; Shutterstock ID 104680496; Your name (First / Last): Alexander Howard; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: Western USA neighborhood POI highlights

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University of Washington


Founded in 1861, Seattle's university is almost as old as the city itself and is highly ranked worldwide (the prestigious Times Higher Education magazine listed it 32nd in the world in 2016). The college was originally located in downtown on a 10-acre site now occupied by the Fifth Avenue Theater (the university still owns the land), but with both university and city outgrowing their initial confines, a new site was sought in 1895.

The present-day 700-acre campus that sits at the edge of Lake Union about 3 miles northeast of downtown is flecked with stately trees and beautiful architecture, and affords wondrous views of Mt Rainier framed by fountains and foliage. Roughly 47,000 students and 22,000 staff enjoy the noble setting, making 'U Dub' easily the largest university in the state. The core of the campus is Central Plaza. Close by you can pick up information and a campus map at the visitor center.

The university is ideal for gentle strolls, people-watching and lung-stretching exercise on the Burke-Gilman Trail. The campus also hosts two decent museums, fine sports facilities, a theater, a library, and a student-union building where leaflet-filled noticeboards advertise the kinds of outré, spontaneous events that typically color student life.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Seattle attractions

1. Rainier Vista

0.03 MILES

What other US university campus has a perfectly framed view of a glacier-drizzled, 14,410ft stratovolcano? This beautiful green corridor of lawns and…

2. Central Plaza (Red Square)

0.03 MILES

The center of campus is more commonly referred to as Red Sq (because of its base of red brick rather than any Bolshevik inclinations). It’s not the…

3. Suzzallo Library

0.05 MILES

The architecturally minded will be interested in the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library. Designed by Carl Gould in 1926, this bibliophile’s dream…

4. Quad

0.11 MILES

The lovely Quad is home to some of the original campus buildings, many of them built in a Collegiate Gothic style reminiscent of New England. On sunny…

5. Henry Art Gallery

0.12 MILES

Approaching 90 years of age, the Henry is Seattle's modern-art masterpiece. Set in a sophisticated space on the University of Washington campus, it…

6. Drumheller Fountain

0.14 MILES

Drumheller Fountain sits inside what was originally known as Geyser Basin (now ‘Frosh Pond’), one of the few remaining pieces left over from the 1909 expo…

7. Burke Museum

0.37 MILES

An interesting hybrid museum covering both natural history and indigenous cultures of the Pacific Rim. Inside you'll find, arguably, Washington's best…

8. Ravenna Park

0.94 MILES

Just north of the U District is Ravenna, a residential neighborhood that’s home to a lot of professors and university staff. At its heart is Ravenna Park,…