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Explore Seattle Underground on a guided walking tour

Enjoy an hour-long guided tour to the Seattle Underground

· 3 min read

Seattle, a city known for its stunning waterfront, bustling markets, and iconic Space Needle, hides a fascinating secret beneath its streets. The Seattle Underground Walking Tour offers a unique glimpse into the city’s past, revealing a network of subterranean pathways and rooms that tell the story of a city rebuilt after disaster.

Source: By Postdlf, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=519854

The Origins of Seattle Underground

The story begins in the mid-19th century when Seattle was a burgeoning town built on the low, swampy tideflats of Elliott Bay. Early construction faced constant challenges with flooding and sewage issues. In 1889, a catastrophic event, the Great Seattle Fire, devastated 25 city blocks. While this was a tragedy, it also presented an opportunity to address the city’s infrastructural problems.

Seattle’s founders decided to rebuild the city, but this time on higher ground. They elevated the streets, leaving the original ground floors and basements of many buildings below the new street level. These underground spaces were eventually abandoned and forgotten, until they were rediscovered and repurposed as a tourist attraction in the 1960s. Only a small portion of the underground has been restored, and it can only be accessed on a guided tour.

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Source: GetYourGuide

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour vs Beneath the Streets

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is probably the tour that comes to mind when people search for guided tours to Seattle Underground. However, there are actually two different underground tours in Seattle - the other being Beneath the Streets.

While both options bring you on a tour to the Seattle’s underground, there are some slight differences in what you can expect from both tours. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is known to be more entertaining with funny jokes and storytelling along the way. On the other hand, Beneath the Streets, while also entertaining, is known to be more factual and informative, which might make it more interesting for those who want to learn more about the city.

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Source: GetYourGuide

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is also slightly cheaper at $22; while the prices for Beneath the Streets are at $29.99. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour lasts 75 minutes and Beneath the Streets’ tours are 60 minutes.

Both Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour and Beneath the Streets also have an adult-only tour, suitable for visitors aged 21 and above. These after-hour, adult-only tours will explore more about the red light district, and you can be sure to hear much more unfiltered jokes and stories!

Is the Underground Tour worth it?

Well, it really depends what you are looking for.

Most people who have been on the tour enjoyed it because of the witty and entertaining narratives; but there isn’t much to see.

So, if you were looking for something fun, perhaps you would enjoy the tour. But, on the other hand, if you were hoping that there was more that you could actually see and experience, you might be disappointed.

Things to note about the Underground Tour

  1. Children are welcome on the tour, but they might not be able to fully appreciate and enjoy the tour. The underground terrain is also uneven so it might be a bit difficult for them at some parts.
  2. The underground terrain is uneven, lighting is not always great, and there are flights of stairs that you might need to climb. Wear shoes that are comfortable.
  3. Tickets are available on-site, subject to availability. To secure your slots, it is recommended to purchase your tickets in advance. You can get tickets for Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour from their official ticketing website; and for Beneath the Streets, you can either get your tickets from the official website, or from OTAs like Viator or GetYourGuide. Note that for Beneath the Streets, tour prices on Viator or GetYourGuide could be slightly cheaper than if you were to get it from the official site, and it provides you with more flexibility with free cancellation options - though you wouldn’t be able to book the special tours through these platforms.
  4. It isn't uncommon to see rats during the tour - huge ones. You can't do much about that, but just be mentally prepared that you might see a few of them running around.