Once home to not much more than an overcrowded grocery store and a handful of locally-owned specialty shops, University Village has gone from sleepy strip mall to one of the top luxury shopping destinations in the Pacific Northwest. Ideally located on the eastern side of the University of Washington, just south of the Ravenna neighborhood and adjacent to Husky Stadium, “U Village” (as it’s known by locals) underwent a massive expansion starting in the early 1990s, when a local entrepreneur bought the shopping mall. Many of the old tenants moved out, making way for major national chains such as Barnes and Noble and The Gap, but a large number of businesses in the mall are still locally owned, setting it apart from other shopping malls and giving it a distinctive Seattle flair.
University Village is the premier upscale, outdoor mall in the Seattle area. Exterior storefronts and perfectly manicured potted plants give shoppers the sense they’re strolling down Main Street, but covered sidewalks and an abundance of free parking make it more convenient than shopping downtown. University Village set a trend in the Seattle region—several traditional suburban malls added outdoor wings after the model proved successful—and it continues to expand and add new stores and restaurants. A multi-story parking garage was recently constructed to keep up with demand.
Luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co., Coach, Cole Haan, and Juicy Couture certainly give University Village an upscale feel, but there are also plenty of mall regulars like The Gap, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Victoria’s Secret. And shoppers will find more than just clothing stores to browse in. University Village has stores that sell furniture, stationary, electronics, and office supplies. Locally owned shops of note include Glassy Baby, manufacturer of hand-blown glass votive holders in dozens of colors, and Fireworks, which sells jewelry and home accessories created by Northwest artists. Bargain hunters will enjoy browsing at H&M, the international chain with only three locations in the Pacific Northwest.
Hungry shoppers have several dining choices. Sit-down restaurants range from Blue C Sushi, where diners pick Japanese specialties off a conveyor belt, to the sports-themed Ram Restaurant and Brewery. For dessert, visitors can try a snickerdoodle cupcake at Trophy Cupcakes, a licorice whip at The Confectionary, a salted caramel truffle from Fran’s Chocolates, or a cup of chocolate chip frozen yogurt at Red Mango.
University Village is surrounded by parking lots, but parking can still be hard to find on weekends. The free parking garage, located next to Crate and Barrel at the north end of the mall, remains relatively undiscovered and is a good option when the outdoor lots fill up.
- Monday through Saturday: 9:30am to 9pm
- Sunday: 11am to 6pm
- Location: 2623 NE University Village Street, Seattle, WA
- Phone: 206-523-0622
- Website: www.uvillage.com