ICFP 2023
Mon 4 - Sat 9 September 2023 Seattle, Washington, United States

Practical information

With more than 700,000 inhabitants in the city proper and more than 4 million in its urban area, Seattle is the seat of King County and the largest city of Washington State, the most northwestern of the 48 contiguous states of the United States of America (not counting Alaska and Hawai`i.)

Information on the airport (and other ways to reach Seattle) can be found on the Travel information page.

Hours: Most shops are open from 9am to 7pm; depending on the place, on Saturdays and Sundays the opening hours may be shorter. At the very worst, you can get basic supplies at petrol stations, which are open 24h. Restaurants are generally open until 10pm but you should check ahead of time.

Restaurants: Downtown Seattle is more of an office area, so more restaurants can be found a bit farther, either in Pike Place Market (a very touristy place, west of 1st Avenue), or a few blocks northwest into Belltown (north of Virginia Street and west of 3rd Avenue), or a few more blocks northeast into First Hill and Capitol Hill (across I-5.)

Safety: While Seattle is overall safe, as in many large cities, you should stay alert and take care of yourself and your possessions. Especially, a few areas in Downtown Seattle may have some issues (especially 3rd Avenue, and the unmarked backstreets between avenues.)

Tipping: Unless explicitly directed, tipping is customary in Seattle, like in the rest of the United States. It is customary to tip 15-25% at restaurants, and 20-30% in taxis.

Local transportation

Walk and bike

Downtown Seattle, where the Westin hotel is located, is pretty much walkable. However, a few blocks west, towards Elliott Bay, streets can be pretty steep, as well as on the other side, east across I-5 towards Capitol Hill.

Streets in Downtown Seattle (especially 2nd Avenue) and the surrounding neighborhoods may have reasonably wide bike lanes.

There are numerous undocked electric scooters and electric bikes for rent & ride. However, please note that it is forbidden to ride them on the sidewalks, which are reserved for pedestrians.

Buses and light rail

The Seattle urban area is served by two public transit systems:

Both systems share the same fare collection system, see below for details.

Paying for public transportation

There are three main ways of paying for public transportation in the Seattle metro area: one-use tickets, the ORCA card, and the Transit GO app. The fares are stated here.

You can buy one-use tickets or an ORCA card at any Link Light Rail station, including the airport one and all the ones mentioned above. The ORCA website also purports the existence of a vending machine in the Pier 50 terminal (King County Water Taxi terminal). Ticket machines accept credit/debit cards and cash. Some stations also have clerks from which you can buy the tickets or card.

If you use an ORCA card, you must first add some value into it. This can be done on a vending machine or clerk desk (e.g. when first buying the card), or online. Please note the online option can have some delay (~1 hour). To use the ORCA card, you must tap it on the scanner when boarding a bus or when entering a Light Rail station. For the Light Rail, you must also tap the card when exiting the station to be charged the correct amount (this is not the case for buses).

If you use the TransitGO app, you should first obtain tickets and load them into the app, using online payment. This can be done ahead of time. When you want to board a bus or train, you should activate a ticket. In the case of buses, you must display the activated ticket to the bus driver and tap on the screen (this makes it change color so the driver knows it’s not a screenshot). For trains, there is no need to do anything except boarding, but be ready to show the ticket should a fare officer ask for it. See this video for more information. Please note that while you can obtain the TransitGO tickets ahead of time, your phone needs to have been online shortly before you intend to activate it, so the app can confirm it has not been already used. If you won’t have mobile internet access in the USA, you should make sure to connect to some Wi-Fi network and open the app to refresh it before heading out to take the bus or train.

See https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/how-to-pay for more information.


Here is a list of sightseeing places reachable on foot from the hotel, and for which Seattle is famous (ACM, SIGPLAN and the ICFP organization committee do not endorse, nor are sponsored by, any of these places:)

To the west

Walk Stewart Street towards lower-numbered avenues, until its end, to reach:

  • Pike Place Market
  • Post Alley and its Gum Wall
  • The Seattle Waterfront
  • The Seattle Aquarium
  • The Seattle Great Wheel

(Note: beyond Pike Place Market, towards the Seattle Waterfront, streets may be steep. Pine Street and Post Alley are steep, cobblestone streets that might not be suitable to wheelchairs. Instead, there is an elevator within Pike Place Market which goes down to Western Avenue; then, there is another elevator a few yards south which goes down from Western Avenue to Alaskan Way and the Seattle Waterfront.)

To the north: The Seattle Center

Walk 5th Avenue to the north, along the monorail (or walk 5th Avenue one block south to board the monorail on 5th Avenue and Pine Street, above the Nordstrom Rack retail store), to go to the Seattle Center, which is a park including:

  • The Space Needle
  • The Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • The Pacific Science Center
  • The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)