I hear it rains all the time. What should I bring to wear?
It doesn't rain as much as you might think, and when it does, its usually a misty spitting as opposed to a downpour. I would bring one of those small, compact umbrellas that fits in a bag/purse. You might also consider a light weight rain jacket with a hood.
Most Seattleites merely pull up their jacket hood and bear the rain. They say you can spot a tourist by who uses an umbrella. :) Rain boots generally are not necessary, but you could consider spray waterproofing your shoes to be safe.
What is the best public transportation?
First of all, good call using public transportation. Traffic in Seattle can be brutal, and parking can be even worse. If at all possible, just walk to your destination. Seattle is extremely walkable, and you can set Google Maps to give you "walking directions" that will guide you through pedestrian friendly areas.
For something easy, convenient, and cheap, I would use either Uber or Lyft. These are both taxi services that allow you to schedule and pay for rides using your smart phone. Just download the apps from either the Android or iTunes app store. I personally use Uber because I've never had any problems with it, but Lyft works pretty much the same. Both services cover all of metro Seattle.
If you go with Uber, use my "invite code" (melissad1975ue) to get your first ride free! Plus, when you do this, I get $20 off my next ride. Win-win!
For something fun but not practical you could take the monorail to and from Seattle Center. For something clean and unique, you could also ride the Electric Street Car. If you're in the mood for a workout, you could also rent a bike at any of the Pronto Bike-Share stations.
Are there any areas of the city to avoid for safety?
As anyone would recommend, walk with a buddy, do not leave valuables in a parked car, be aware of your surroundings, and hold your purse or bag close to your body. Areas that I tend to avoid are 3rd Ave, Pike Street, Pine Street, and Bell Street after dark. Here is a link to an updated Seattle crime map.
Where should I go if I need wifi and a break from the conference crowd?
If you need to escape the conference for some alone time, there is a nice place nearby called Via 6 (2121 6th Ave). It is an apartment complex, but the street level is open to the public. There is food, coffee, shopping, and open seating. There are free pool tables and TV rooms with couches.
What are the best neighborhoods to explore?
Metro Seattle has a few different neighborhoods, each with a different personality:
First of all, being in the Westin hotel, you are surrounded by incredible food. In your lobby you'll see Relish Burger Bistro, which is pretty tasty and offers a panoramic view of the city streets. For breakfast treats check out Anar (2040 6th Ave) or Top Pot (2124 5th Ave). If you're looking for a grocery, Whole Foods is right up the street, and it has a make-your-own trail mix station, burrito bar, and extensive buffet.
There is so so so much to do in Seattle and most of it is in walking distance from your hotel. Here are some of my favorite things: