After a year on the road, Shawn and I finally made it back to Seattle in 2019, a place we called home for 5 years before moving to North Carolina. Seattle has so many great things going for it including great food, tons of outdoor activities, and plenty of fun breweries to check out. On top of all this, it is super van life friendly. Currently living in your vehicle is legal in Seattle and therefore you don’t have to worry about getting a knock on your door at 2 am as long as you are parked legally. Being back in Seattle AND living in a van was MUCH more enjoyable than I imagined it would be especially for a busy city. I highly recommend giving it a visit whether you are in a van, RV, car or you arrived by plane! Check out this guide giving you all the details for vanlife in Seattle!

Top Places to Overnight Park in Seattle

The great thing about Vanlife in Seattle is that it is legal to live in your car. That means, as long as you are legally parked then you know you shouldn’t get a knock on your window. That being said, you do need to be aware of where you are parking. Seattle has many areas that are for residents only (you would need a sticker) or say no overnight parking. However, we didn’t find this to be the case in many locations and never got knocked on. As always be smart where you park, clean up after yourself and remember you are in a city, you might have to stealth a little!

Warning: Seattle is a big city, there are tons of people that live in their vans, cars, RVs full-time in Seattle. Some of these people are fantastic people, others are not so much, often on hard drugs. Just watch out for yourself and stay safe!

  • Overnight Parking in the Ballard Neighborhood. Ballard is our home neighborhood and so we knew it quite well. Although spots can be hard to find at certain times of the day, for the most part, you can find level parking in Ballard. You can find parking South of Market street closer to the breweries but I personally would stay away from that area as it is known as a more sketchy area at night. If you can try parking closer to Golden Gardens (try the street parking not the actual lot).
  • Overnight Parking in the Greenlake neighborhood. Greenlake is another area that we loved to hang in during the day. We would put up a hammock and relax while we worked by the lake. Then when the dogs got restless we took them around the lake for a work break! It was so perfect in the summertime and I highly recommend checking it out. As for parking, you cannot park in the Greenlake parking lots. So check out the side streets and look for areas that allow unlimited parking after 6 pm.

Don’t forget to check out IOverlander and Campendium for more great spots in Seattle as well as Spot Angels for a cumulative guide to parking in Seattle!

Laws and parking areas are constantly changing. If you see an error on this page please let me know! 

The Best Hotels in Seattle, Washington

In case you are more inclined to stay at a hotel when you are visiting a big city instead of sleeping in your vehicle, I’ve listed a few hotels in downtown Seattle that I personally would stay at if we needed a hotel break! The great thing about these hotels is they are all downtown and a quick walk or uber ride to wherever you want to visit in Seattle!

If you are staying in a hotel and have a large van or RV you will need to consider where you will park. Most of the hotels have garage parking and it is usually under 9 foot to enter. Best bet is to call the hotel and see if they have any recommendations 😉.

The Edgewater

Hotel Andra

The Maxwell Hotel

Top Places to Shower in Seattle, Washington

  • Planet Fitness locations in Seattle– There are two Planet Fitness locations in the Seattle city limits but they do have limited hours. Neither is in the best area of town so I recommend going during daylight hours and get in-get out.
  • 24 Hour Fitness location in Seattle– Lucky for you there is a 24-hour Fitness in Seattle that you can use to shower if you are a member.
  • Public Showers at Seattle Pools– Seattle has neighborhood pools that have public showers you can utilize. There are four locations that offer FREE showers and the remaining have drop-in fees associated with them. To view the available pools/showers in your area check out their resource center. NOTE: I have NOT been to any of these locations and cannot attest to their cleanliness or safety.

Our Favorite Sights in Seattle

When we came back to Seattle in August we knew this was our chance to visit all our favorite old spots and to see new ones. There are so many great things to do. in Seattle and every time we venture out, we find a new sight to see! Van life in Seattle would not be complete if you did not see some of the best sights in the city!

  • The Fremont Troll– A top place we always took visiting friends and families was the Fremont Troll. The Troll was build in 1989 and has been a classic icon seen in many movies. It’s a quick stop you won’t regret!
  • The Ballard Locks – Nearby Fremont, is the Ballard Locks a part of Lake Washington Fishing Canal where boats come from the Puget Sound into the Fremont Canal and Lake Washington. You are able to witness the boats moving from one body of water to another as well as see the famous Salmon moving up the ladder from saltwater to freshwater! It’s all free to enter and a great spot to have a picnic!
  • Golden Gardens – A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without heading a bit further down from the Locks to the Golden Gardens beach. It’s a beautiful spot to witness the sun go down on the Olympic mountain range.
  • Kerry Park– A famous park known for its gorgeous views of the Seattle skyline as well as Mount Rainier on clear days is a must-see for first-time visitors to Seattle.
  • West Seattle– Another great spot to take in all that the Seattle skyline has to offer is one of the waterside parks in West Seattle. You can hear the waves crash against the sidewall and if you’re lucky you can listen to the sea otters nearby.

The Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle

Being in a bigger city like Seattle you know that there will be so many more options for vegans than in most other places. When we lived in Seattle we were not plant-based so coming back was a new experience as a vegan! Most places have at least one or two vegan options or are willing to accommodate your diet. Below are my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants in Seattle that I recommend you try out!

Wayward Cafe Vegan Food

The Wayward Cafe is a top Seattle Vegan restaurant being recognized with many awards. The restaurant is all plant-based which means you get to have ANYTHING ON THE MENU. My favorite kind of place. I personally would try the fried chicken and waffles but from the pictures, it seems you cannot go wrong!

No Bones Cafe Vegan Food

The No Bones Beach Club opened up in the neighborhood of Ballard in 2014, it is another all plant-based menu with more Northwest centric items. It has a fun tropical vibe with fruity cocktails and a variation of items on their menu. We shared the nachos with jackfruit which easily filled both of us. Next time I would check out the crab cakes!

Serious Pie











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Serious Pie was one of the last places we tried before leaving Seattle in 2017. It is owned by Famous chef Tom Douglas and is so popular for a reason. If you haven’t had Seattle Pizza then you are missing out on some of the best pizza in the country. it is wood-fired and they offer so many different types of pizza that you can walk away knowing you had a pizza you could not have had elsewhere.

Jai Thai Vegan Options











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Asian food is all over Seattle and it’s some of the best I’ve ever had. Thai food is no exception. My favorite Thai food is called Jai Thai and lives in the Fremont neighborhood. I always got the basil fried rice with tofu and vegetables. Simply ask for no egg and no fish sauce and you’ll be good to go! They also offer plenty of other options available on the menu.

The Best Coffee Shops for Working in Seattle, Washington

You can’t have Seattle without coffee, it simply doesn’t work so Vanlife in Seattle should be exactly the same way! There are so many coffee shops in the city of Seattle that I myself didn’t get to visit. However, if you are trying to find a good place to get some work done while your pup gets to join you then check out my list of the best coffee shops in Seattle. As with most of my guide, these spots are also dog-friendly!

Bauhaus Coffee shop











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In the neighborhood of Ballard, Bauhaus was always my favorite coffee shop. It is a large coffee shop with some of my favorite coffee (lighthouse made in Fremont) with a very relaxed but quiet vibe. There is. a TON of seating with great wifi and often several other remote workers nearby getting work done alongside you!

Ballard Coffee Works











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Another great choice right nearby Bauhaus is Ballard Coffee works. They have a more eccentric vibe and offer comfy armchairs and couches where you and your pouch can hang out while sipping on a cup of joe or even some beer from their tap! They had great wifi and an open space that is great for getting work done!

The Wick











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The Wick, a coffee shop in Queen Anne not only serves coffee but is a motorcycle shop and serves beer! There is plenty of outdoor space to hang out with your pup and get some work done.

The Best Breweries in Seattle

A lot of vanlifers I know LOVE going to breweries. You get to try local beers, you can get remote work done AND chances are they allow dogs in! In Seattle for the most part breweries are naturally dog-friendly. in fact, Seattle, in general, is super dog-friendly. We even have restaurants that let you bring your pup inside! There are a few however that serve food or simply ban dogs for their own reasons, so, I am only putting the best breweries in Seattle that I have been to personally and that allow you to bring your dogs.

To top it all off a lot of breweries have food trucks right outside of them! To find out which food truck will be at your brewery of choice check out Seattle Food Truck. Vanlife in Seattle wouldn’t be complete without a brewery tour!

Stoup Brewing











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The Stoup Brewery in Ballard is a great location right off of 14th avenue that allows you to enjoy your beer beside your best pup. It is a pretty popular brewery that can get crowded on a weekend or holiday. They have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating plus they usually have a food truck so you can eat too! They usually allow dogs although on a busy day they might ask you to bring your dog outside.

Reubens Brewing

Right around the corner, you will find Reubens Brewing, another Ballard brewery that allows dogs. It’s a great space with indoor and outdoor seating. You could relax or get work done on your laptop.

Lagunitas Brewing











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Lagunitas has my favorite beer in Ballard and they have an outdoor space with games and music. Often they will have a live band inside their large indoor space or you can head outside to see which food truck is there for the day. They also have peanuts for free, which might be why I love it there so much. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are going to work but rather it’s a great spot to relax and have a great beer! Dogs are allowed inside and outside from what I have experienced!

Cloud Burst Brewery











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The Cloud Burst Brewery is downtown closer to Bell town but is worth the trek. With tasty IPA’s and flavorful Ale’s, it is one not to miss. The brewery is small but funky and gives that Seattle vibe that most breweries are lacking. Since it is small I recommend avoiding it on weekends where there are soccer, football, or baseball games. When we went there was a large line and you had to wait for seating.

The Barking Dog Alehouse











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The Barking Dog Alehouse is where I had my first sip of Unita Rise and Pine Beer. I feel in love and it’s been my favorite beer since. They offer food, beer, cocktails, AND allow dogs. It’s closer to 70th street in Ballard area but if you want to hit up a quintessential local Seattle joint, I’d check it out.

Norms Eatery and Alehouse











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Norm’s was the first experience Shawn and I had where we could take our dogs in to eat. It’s a full restaurant and bar that allows pups to dine with you. They have great food, not limited to just bar food and they also usually have a decent selection of beer. Every time we visit Seattle we find ourselves there, it feels like home to us, everyone is friendly and the dog can join. You can’t beat that.

The best off-leash dog parks in Seattle and Washington

There are so many off-leash and on-leash parks in Seattle to choose from as the city is such a dog-friendly location with some restaurants even allowing dogs INSIDE. These parks are not all inside Seattle but are in the general area and places that I would recommend so that your dog can get some off-leash time!

Magnuson Off-Leash Dog Park

Magnuson off-leash dog-park is the best dog park in Seattle in my opinion. You get 8.6 acres of land to let your dog run free on and it is the only place that dogs can swim off-leash! There is a small section at the bottom of the park, about a half of a mile into the park where your dog can get some swim time in. No worries if you don’t want your dog to get wet this time, the lake is sectioned off by a gate. When we lived in Seattle we took the dogs here whenever we could to get a break from the summer heat!

Magnuson off-leash dog park hours: 4 AM to 11:30 PM

Double Bluff Dog Park










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Magnuson off-leash dog-park is the best dog park in Seattle in my opinion. You get 8.6 acres of land to let your dog run free on and it is the only place that dogs can swim off-leash! There is a small section at the bottom of the park, about a half of a mile into the park where your dog can get some swim time in. No worries if you don’t want your dog to get wet this time, the lake is sectioned off by a gate. When we lived in Seattle we took the dogs here whenever we could to get a break from the summer heat!

Magnuson off-leash dog park hours: 4 AM to 11:30 PM


Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park











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Marymoor off-leash dog park feels more like a large trail area compared to a regular dog park. There are parts of the park where you can’t see the fences or the parking lot. It also has the Five river running through the middle of it where dogs can swim. It feels more like a fun trail hike than a dog park and it’s a great escape from the city! You do have to pay to park which is $1.00.

Marymoor off-leash dog park hours 8 AM to 8 PM


Edmonds Off-leash dog beach











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Edmonds is just north of Seattle and offers an off-leash dog beach right on the Puget Sound. The views are incredible and the water is ice cold. It is a nice beach where the dogs can enjoy the water and you can enjoy the Puget Sound views.

Edmonds off-leash dog park hours 6 AM to 9 PM


Double Bluff Dog-Park











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There was nothing better than seeing our boxer sprint up and down the beaches of Double Bluff Dog-park. Double Bluff is on Whidbey Island, which takes about an hour to get to from Seattle and requires a ferry ride unless you want to go the long way which takes two hours. For us, during those long winter months, it was completely worth it to let the dogs go crazy. Double Bluff is a 2-mile long beach that allows dogs off-leash year-round. My recommendation is to take the ferry, head to the beach and then make your way over to Deceptions Pass, a Washington viewpoint you don’t want to miss.

Double Bluff Dog Park Hours 6 AM to 10 PM

The Best Hikes near Seattle, Washington

The best part of Seattle, isn’t the food, the beer, or the views, to me, the best part of Seattle is how active you can be inside the city. There are so many incredible hikes inside the city that will keep you outdoors. It isn’t hard to get outside when everything is so green, lush, and welcoming!  As with most of my guide, these hikes are dog-friendly!

Hiking at Discovery Park

Discovery Park is probably my favorite hike inside of Seattle. It was the first hike we went on when we arrived in Seattle in 2012 and we got to experience the beauty of the Northwest for the first time. Discovery Park is an old Military Fort and still has the original housing there. It became so popular that many of the houses were updated and sold! Oh to live full-time at the park! There are several entrances to get to the main trail at discovery but we always preferred the side entrance as you get to see the base houses at the top of the park with an incredible view. The downside of the trail at Discovery Park is there are a TON of stairs. It takes you from the top of the park all the way down to the beach and then eventually you have to head back up. It’s only two miles roundtrip and a perfect one to two-hour adventure to get your blood pumping! Dogs are allowed but only on-leash. There are many runners on the trail and I recommend following the leash rule.

Walking the Burke Gilman

The Burke Gilman trail runs from Golden Gardens Beach all the way to Mathews Beach in Wedgewood. It is a mostly paved trail that will take you through several parts of the city. You get wooded areas and many city areas. It follows the Fremont Canal and offers gorgeous views of the Fremont Bridge and takes you right past the Ballard Locks which I would definitely check out if you have the time.

Walking Greenlake











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Greenlake is a 3.2-mile loop around the lake in the neighborhood of Greenlake. It is a beautiful park with tons of restaurants, activities, and people. If you want to get some exercise but don’t feel like getting out into nature I would check it out for sure. If you are lucky you might see an eagle if you keep your eyes up!

Madrona Park











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When Shawn and I lived in Seattle, we had a bad habit of staying in our own part of town. It’s easy to do in a big city where traffic and parking can deter you from exploring other parts of the city. When we came back in our van for the first time we wanted to knock that habit hard. So we decided to check out the area of Madrona and Leschi. Leschi is known for its boat dock and beautiful homes. Although it isn’t exactly a hike or a long walk, I recommend starting near Daniel’s Broiler in Leschi and start walking. The boats are almost mesmerizing and the area is very calm and peaceful. It had us wanting to buy a boat and live there!

The Best Hikes Outside Seattle

Another great thing about Seattle is the vast amount of mountains only an hour away! You can drive less than an hour and find some incredible dog-friendly hikes with beautiful views!

Rattlesnake Ledge











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Less than an hour east of Seattle is my favorite hike of all time. Rattlesnake Ledge is a 2.5 mile RT trail that takes you to the top of the Snoqualmie mountains with a breathtaking view that is well worth the hike up.

Bridal Veil Falls











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A more difficult hike in the Northern Cascades, Bridal Veil Falls will challenge those who like me aren’t exactly expert hikers. It’s completely doable though, you just need to go slow. Your reward at the end of the hike will have you high on adrenaline. It is dog-friendly but dogs must remain on a leash.

Middle Fork Trails











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Middle Fork is a beautiful romp through the woods right alongside a river. It is classic northwest with ferns and evergreens all around you. It’s a great option if you want an easy to navigate trail that doesn’t require a ton of exertion on your part as it doesn’t really go up in elevation. There are no crazy views but you won’t find yourself cursing my name mid-way up the summit either. Bring a lunch and hang out by the water while enjoying the forest. The hike is dog-friendly but they are supposed to remain on a leash.

In my opinion, Van life in Seattle is about as good as it can get when experiencing a city as a traveler. Tons of great parking, sights to take in, and so much good food to eat. Have you experienced Van life in Seattle? If so what was one of your favorite things to do?



We will be driving through Seattle with a tall campervan in July and wanted to ask if you had any ideas of where we could park in the late afternoon (around 5 pm) with a 19.5 long van and about 9 ft tall.. We would like to go spend a little time at Chihuly – after our morning hike in Rainier (before driving to North Cascades the next day!)…. any thoughts or ideas to help us on our journey??



Hey Jess! Thanks for commenting! That sounds like a pretty exciting plan. As far as parking downtown, it’s really going to depend on what day of the week it is. If it is a weekday then it is possible you could find some street parking near Luna Sandals on 5th avenue or if you go behind Key Arena on Thomas street there is paid street parking. At 5 pm, honestly, you might have some difficulty but those are the areas I would look in! You could also consider parking somewhere and taking a bus in or UBER/LYFT. My fear with that is leaving the van for an extended period of time is also a little scary!

Also just a heads up, Rainier to Seattle is quite an exhausting drive! Especially after a day of hiking. You might consider hanging in Rainier for the evening and then going to Seattle for a full day if at all possible!
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Your webpage is so encouraging. I am returning to my home, the amazing city of Seattle. I have been researching living in a van and you offer the hope for the reality of living in an area with a high cost of living. I have pets and I’m wondering what you do when you go to a store or an appointment where you can’t take your pets. Also, do live in Seattle during the warmer months of summer?
Thank You


Hey Rhonda! We don’t leave our pups in the car when it gets too warm. We try to avoid areas when it gets too hot and go shopping when it is nighttime and cooler outside!


How have things changed since Covid, if you know? I just found myself an internship in downtown Seattle, and it is my first time being pretty stationary in a city (only been here 1 night so far).

Do you know what the shower situation is like now? And water refill/laundry, any recommendations?


Living an RV life is not for everyone. People who want to downsize or love to travel. The way you have described Seattle and its various attractions, would not have been possible, if you were living in a “stationary” dwelling so to say, You see and experience so much while on the move, living, loving and breathing.
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