The University of Washington (www.washington.edu ) is the largest and best-known institute of higher education in the state and home to tens of thousands of students, staff, and faculty members.
University of Washington began on a 10-acre downtown site in 1861, when Seattle  was little more than a cow town, closing several times before it was firmly established. After statehood in 1889, the school began to grow rapidly, and the campus was relocated to the present site. (The original location on University Street downtown is still university property.) The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909 was held on the UW campus; in exchange for use of the campus, the fair’s promoters constructed several permanent buildings and landscaped the grounds, making UW one of the nation’s prettiest campuses.
The campus is an attractive place, with tall brick buildings, springtime cherry blossoms, fountains, views of Lake Washington, and shady, landscaped grounds. For a taste of the good life, head to Red Square on a sunny spring day and join the throngs of sunseekers, skateboarders, Frisbee players, musicians, and brown-baggers as they check out Mount Rainier from this prime vantage point. Also of interest is Denny Hall, the oldest building on campus; it was completed in 1895. The center of campus activity is the Husky Union Building (the HUB) with a bookstore, newsstand, food and coffee, bowling lanes, pool tables, and more.
The UW Visitors Information Center (4014 University Way NE, 206/543-9198, www.depts.washington.edu/visitors , 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri.). Stop here for school information, campus bus schedules, maps, upcoming sporting events, and other activities. Ninety-minute campus tours depart the visitors center at 10:30 a.m. Monday–Friday. Potential students and their families may be more interested in separate tours that leave from the admissions office (Room 320 in Schmitz Hall, 1410 N.E. Campus Parkway, at 2:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri.). Both of these tours are free and led by students. You can also pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure at the visitors center if you want to head out on your own.