Car Hire in Seattle
This information is correct as of August 2015.
The Seattle area is so scenic that it is actually worth considering driving out of the city without any destination in mind yet. You can simply enjoy the ride and the views, and with the flexibility provided by self-drive you can stop anywhere along the way. If at some point you realize you want to go back, you can do this without much hassle as well. Use Skyscanner to find out which car rental providers operate at Seattle.
Where to hire a car in Seattle
Seattle is served by the following major car rental operators: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Avis Car Rental, Budget Car Rental, Alamo Rent A Car, National Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental, Dollar Rent A Car, and Sixt. Other providers are Seattle Car Rentals, Zipcar Seattle, A & S Rent-A-Car, Fox Rent A Car Seattle, E-Z Rent-A-Car, Firefly Car Rental, and Payless Car Rental. You can transact with them beforehand to get information about the type of car you want to rent, whether it is a compact car or a luxurious SUV.
In order to rent a car in Washington State, the minimum age requirement is usually 25 years old. You can drive with a current and valid licence from your home country, with instances requiring an International Driving Permit, depending on the provider you choose. In addition, credit card is the usual mode of payment accepted here, even with advanced reservations. You should have insurance as well, which can give you enough coverage for untoward incidents on the road.
What to expect when hiring a car from Seattle
Getting around Seattle is done primarily by automobile. Most of the city uses a single street grid oriented on true north, and heavy congestion in the downtown area should be expected. The roads running north-south are labelled 'avenues', while the roads running east to west are called 'streets'. Seattle is also divided into a semi 3 x 3 grid, with sectors NW, N, NE, E, W, SE, and S. The respective sector is usually included before the street number, such as NE 45th Street.
In the central business district, twelve streets are named as six-first letter pairs. From south to north these are Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine. To make them easier to remember, the mnemonic "Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest." is used.
Be aware of the lanes specifically designated for local buses, bicycles or HOV or High Occupancy Vehicles.
Paid street parking is available. Cycling lanes should also be respected to minimise the hassle and chance of accidents.
Getting to your destination
The Bavarian-style resort town Leavenworth is located in the North Cascade region, surrounded by the Cascade mountains. It features buildings in traditional Bavarian architecture, and German-style restaurants and shops. Leavenworth holds many annual festivals, like the Autumn Leaf Fest, Maifest, Christmas Lighting Feestival, and the German beer festival Oktoberfest. From Seattle, you can either take US-2 or I-90 E and US-97 N to get to this area.
Tacoma is the second largest city in the Puget Sound area. It is not known for having many tourist amenities, but the city features a dynamic art scene. Points of interest include the Point Defiance Park, the second largest city park in the country. The park contains a playground, hiking trails, the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Owen Beach, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and a few other interesting attractions. Other museums in Tacoma are the Washington State History Museum, Museum of Glass, Children's Museum of Tacoma, and the Job Carr Cabin Museum. Tacoma is accessible via I-5 S, making it relatively manageable to get here.
Olympia is the capital of Washington. Its downtown core is a National Historic District, and it has an unusually large arts and music scene. Attractions in Olympia include Bigelow House Museum, Washington Centre for the Performing Arts, Hands On Children's Museum, and Capitol Theatre. This part of Washington is accessible via WA-167 and I-5 S.