Seattle, the Emerald City is famous for Gray Skies and drizzling rain. But is that it. Ahh No. There is much more fun and adventures to go on. Looking at the geography of Seattle, it is located between the saltwater Puget Sound (an arm of the Pacific Ocean) to the west and Lake Washington to the east and just 100 miles away from Canada. It is popular with tourists and much loved by its locals. Seattle the Washington State’s largest city is home to a large tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in its metropolitan area.
If you’re coming to Seattle for weekend trip or a vacation, you need to understand first that you have an array of places to choose from in terms of things to do. You will need some ideas or guide to plan your trip and make it memorable.
The rich landscape of mountains, sea, rivers, forests, lakes and fields surrounding Seattle makes it rich enough to lend itself to numerous outdoor activities like Camping, Hiking, Sailing, Skiing and Bicycling.
Here are 30 things to do in Seattle. This is just a brief list of the many Places and activities, but it gives you a good feel for what gems Seattle has to offer. Whatever activities you decide on, you’ll have a blast in Seattle no matter what time of year you are here! Seattle has thousand of famous Instagram hot spots.
But Remember City is famous for gray skies and rain. To Enjoy uninterrupted pleasure of tour, I will recommend to carry Light Weight Water Proof Rain Jacket or Stylish Trench Coat. You won’t like to spoil your photos in wet or boring rain coats. I always carry my bright red light weighted rain jacket in my back pack. Let’s explore the best things to do in Seattle
1. Seattle Waterfront
The Central Waterfront of Seattle is multifaceted harbors in the world. It runs from the Pioneer Square shore to past Downtown Seattle, Bell town and end at Broad Street site of the Olympic Sculpture Park. The waterfront is well designed to provide the opportunity to reveal Seattle’s man-made seaport charm and natural beauty of Puget Sound’s water. The Waterfront part is mostly urbanized portion and great sightseeing place for tourist on foot. There are lots of things to do, many sights to see and hundred places to stop for food.
Seattle WaterFront Shuttle – Free to hop
If you are in no mood to walk or tired, then ride Seattle’s Free Shuttle and hop on or off at any of the 15 stops near downtown attractions along Seattle’s historic Waterfront. Tourists visiting downtown Seattle can hop on any of the three lines free shuttle – North loop, East loop and South loop covering the major attractions from Pioneer Square to the Seattle Center.
The shuttles are an easy option for tourists on foot or tourist opting for park and ride. The Free Shuttle route is well designed to connect to light rail and Amtrak arriving passengers
Address – Waterfront Park, 1401 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA, USA
2. Space Needle
The Space Needle – a landmark of the Pacific Northwest and an icon of Seattle is standing at height of 605 feet. The observation deck at height of 520 feet offers panoramic view of surrounding areas, nearby Piers and distant view of the Mount Rainier on clear sunny day. Visitors can enjoy the view of Space Needle from ground or can buy the ticket and can reach the top of the Space Needle Observation deck by elevator for splendid views of the Seattle area. You can even eat at the rotating restaurant, SkyCity at the Needle.
Address – 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109
3. Seattle Festivals – Check Calendar for Festivals at Seattle Center
Seattle has many festivals throughout the year. After visiting Space Needle, We happen to run in to Live Aloha Hawaiian Cultural Festival Hawaiian festival that has musical songs, dance performances, food, and vendors of traditional arts and crafts at Seattle Center. There are lot of things to do in and around the Space Needle (Seattle Center), so budget extra time here when you see it.
Make sure to check the calendar to see what’s going on when you come for your trip to Seattle. Festivals – NorthWest Folklife, Seafair, Capitol Hill Block Party, Fremont Oktoberfest and much more.
Address – Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA, USA
4. Fun Exhibits at Pacific Science Center
The Pacific Science Center has many exhibits – Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time, Tropical Butterfly House, Insect Village, Puget Sound Model and Saltwater Tide Pool, Kids Works, Animal Exhibits, Adventures in 3Dimensions, Science Playground and many more. You need to get ticket for this. If you planning to visit IMAX theater or planetarium show, then you many need longer time.
5. Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit
Opened in 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibit in the Seattle Center showcasing the studio glass of Dale Chihuly, a well-respected glass sculpture and artist hailing from Tacoma, Washington. The exhibit features some of Chihuly’s marvellous pieces, including a 100-foot long sculpture.
6. Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium situated on Pier 59, appropriately right on the Elliott Bay, is best place to explore the wonders of the underwater world. The Aquarium exhibit is famous for playful sea otters, octopuses, luminous moon jellies. Visitors get to touch live Sea Star fish, Urchins and more creatures in Tide pool exhibit. The Underwater Dome’s 360 view gives magnificent touch of Washington ‘s wild coast and inland seas. The Daily diver shows, and animal feedings are very popular among tourists with family and children.
Visitor can enjoy a fresh-baked treat, espresso drink, sit-down lunch, local microbrew or glass of Washington wine—the view from Seattle Aquarium deck at Café.
Address – 1483 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101
7. Seattle’s Great wheel
Check Out Downtown Views on the Great Wheel
Seattle’s Great wheel is 175-foot-tall giant ferris wheel which provides a spectacular view of Elliot Bay, Down town and much more. A ride in fully enclosed glass gondolas on the Seattle Ferris wheel gives an unobstructed view of surrounding from above, lasts about 25 minutes and consists of three revolutions. At one point during the ride, you will find your gondola over the water. It is perfect romantic spot for mid air marriage proposal. But beware if you are afraid of height, then you can avoid this ride.
8. Cruise Terminal at Bell Street Pier 66
The Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal is home to Norwegian Cruise Line and Oceania Cruises which offers sailing trip and vacation packages to Alaska. This place is free to walk in and watch the huge luxurious Cruises. Pier 66 is an easy walk to the famous Pike Place Market, Seattle Aquarium and the Great Wheel.
9. Watch Seattle Sounders, Seahawks and Mariners at Safeco and Century Link field.
For sports fans, this is the much happening place to be. The two sports arenas where the team plays are located right next to each other and are surrounded by many bars and restaurants.
10. Check out the Gum Wall
This famous gum wall is located just under Pike Place Market next to the Market Theater. I know some of you may find this gross, even am not liking this. But this is famous place among tourist and is free to walk in. You can skip this if you don’t like.
The city has cleaned it twice and it just keeps filling up, now they accept it as a tourist attraction and embrace its popularity.
11. Olympic Sculpture Park
The Sculpture park is free to wander in and contains dozens of interesting sculptures along with great views of Elliot Bay. The Sculpture of 46-foot-tall face of a girl is installed by Seattle Art’s Museum at Olympic Sculpture Park. The Sculpture is after a girl named “Echo,” a nymph from Greek mythology who was deprived of speech, except to repeat the last words of another. It looks as she is welcoming the tourists arriving from the ferries and Cruise.
12. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of Seattle’s most iconic and famous farmers market in America. This century-old public market houses dozens of stalls and shops for farmers with fresh produce, artisan goods, locally made cheese and many more things that you can find as per your interest , all overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront.
Address – Pike Place Market, 85 Pike St #500, Seattle, WA, USA
Don’t miss these tasty shop stops when at Pike Place.
Beecher’s Cheese Shop – Here you can sample the famous delicious handmade cheese or any other dairy related things. Try this place for lunch as they serve hot paninis. This stop is having apparently one of the world’s best Mac ‘N’ Cheese that Oprah loves.
If you’re lucky you might even be able to watch them making the cheese through the window out front. Find this at the corner of Pine Street and Pike Place
Le Panier – Le Panier is a French-style bakery in Pike Place Market. It is famous for fresh baked bread, pastries, sandwiches and traditional French recipes. This is good stop for Breakfast, brunch and lunch.
Pike Place Chowder – Must visit place for Seafood lovers. Pike Place Chowder is Seafood Restaurant famous for Clam Chowder, Smoked Salmon Chowder and many other seafood options. This is not place for Vegetarian people like me.
13. The Original Starbucks
This is one of the most popular tourists stops for Starbucks fans and lovers. To grab your favorite specialty coffee be ready to stand in a line that moves around the block. If you are not diehard fan of Starbucks, then you can glance inside the Original shop to see if the line is too long then you can venture out too many other Seattle’s amazing coffee shops near by the place.
Address -102 Pike St., Seattle, Washington 98101.
14. Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room
Again, if you’re a fan of Starbucks or not put a visit to their tasting room on your Seattle Itinerary. The facility gives you a behind the scenes look at how Starbucks operates. It has gorgeous copper roasting basins and some of the best baristas in the city and it not only serves up specialty, small-batch coffee, but a stop here is an experience in itself.
15. Rachel Ginger Beer
This stop is must try for Ginger Beer lovers who loves cocktails with bright lemons, sparkling water, fruit purees, juices and tea. Ginger beer is similar to Root beer with no alcohol in it. They also do growlers and to-go cups if you don’t have a long time to stop.
16. Post Alley
This place is just next to the Pike Place Market and has a many eatery. At lunch time it is most crowded place.
17. Smith Tower
Smith Tower is a century old skyscraper in Pioneer Square in Seattle. Smith Tower offers visitor an experience to an Observatory with an open-air observation deck, 360-degree views of Seattle with featured tickets and tour options. Tourist gets the world class experience of historic Otis elevators that takes up to thirty-fifth floor Observatory.
Address – Smith Tower, 506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA, USA
18. Visit the Strangest Park – Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is the strangest park in Seattle and is among one of the Strange Public parks in the world. This historic park is the former Seattle Gas Light Company plant located on north shore of Lake Union and is one of the most unique free things to see in Seattle. People come here to relax and hangout while enjoying the view of Lake Union, Water homes, distant view of Space Needle, sailors and kayaks. Children enjoy flying kites from Kite Hill in the park.
Address: 2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103
19. Fremont Troll
The Troll is a colossal statue located under Aurora Bridge. Visitor can notice Troll is tightly clutching a Volkswagen Beetle in its hand. I will suggest stopping at Fremont Troll for few Instagram photos on the way to Gasworks Park. Only few parking spots available so better walk from nearby place. It is 15 minutes’ walk from Gas Works Park to Fremont troll. This is an interesting place to visit in free and am sure Kids would love it.
Address: N 36th St, Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
20. Ride the Ducks of Seattle – Ride an Amphibious Vehicle
Take a tour of Seattle riding a World War II amphibious vehicle which are much updated and upgraded to carry passengers. The tour last about 90 minutes with driving through all of the city’s hotspots in 60 minutes and then drive straight into Lake Union for a splash in water for 30 minutes. There are daily duck boat tours.
Address: 516 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109
21. The Seattle Center Water Fountain
Little Spray park for kids to enjoy in Summer and free too.
22. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visitors center
Free admission, and a short trek across the street from the center.
23. Fyre Art Musuem is always free.
Address – 704 Terry Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104
24. Golden Gardens Park
A waterfront park in Ballard, Golden Gardens Park has wetlands, beaches, hiking trails, picnic and playground areas. If Seattle is enjoying a beautiful Sunny day, head to Golden Gardens Park and enjoy relaxing on beach sand and soaking in sun with views of sailors sailing in blue water of Puget sound and Olympic Mountain range in the background.
25. Enjoy the Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island
Take the Washington State Ferry across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island. CNN named it as the second-best place to live in the United States. The old fashioned but modern living and thinking town has dense forests, parks, gardens, reserves, wildlife and hills making it a favorite for outdoor lovers.
26. Snoqualmie Waterfall
The Waterfall famous for opening credits of David Lynch’s television series Twin Peaks (1990-1991) is real. The Snoqualmie Falls are 268 feet high, nearly 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls.
Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington State’s most popular scenic attractions that can be reach in 40 minutes from downtown Seattle. More than 1.5 million visitors come to the see and feel the Falls every year. The historic Salish Lodge has plenty of lunch options and offers a breathtaking view of the falls due to prominent location next to the very fall.
At Snoqualmie Falls, Tourist and visitors can explore a view of waterfall from above and lower Observation deck. A small trail takes to the river and lower observation deck to get the view of waterfall from lower point on ground.
27. Northwest Railway Museum
Take a ride in Antique Train at Snoqualmie Valley Rail Road at Northwest Railway Museum.
The Northwest Railway Museum is a railroad museum in Scenic Snoqualmie. It has a small historical center with some hands-on activities for little ones. There are a few cars and engines to explore in free outside the museum. Big and small kids enjoy the proximity to the Engines, train car and the equipment.
28. Skiing, Snow Boarding, Snow Tubing near Seattle
There are many Skiing, Snow Boarding options and resorts near Seattle that offer fantastic skiing at distance of 1- 2 hours drive from downtown.
- Stevens Pass Ski Resort – 90 minutes away
- The Summit at Snoqualmie – 60 minutes away
This place is just off the highway and is closest to Seattle. Apart from Skiing, this place offers Snow Tubing. When the Skiing season is off or not yet started, this place is popular among locals for Snow boarding, Snow Tubing and playing in snow.
- Crystal Mountain Ski Resort – 2 hours away.
Crystal is the largest Ski Resort in Washington state. This is more upscale than other two resorts.
29. Hiking near Seattle
If you want to escape the city and explore the nature, then Seattle offers tons of hiking adventures destinations. Seattle is surrounded by mountains, water, lush evergreen forests and blessed with thousand acres of park land making it perfect destination to explore the wilderness of Pacific North West.
Rattlesnake Ledge – This is a 4-mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of 1160 foot and offers spectacular view of Snoqualmie Valley, Rattlesnake lake below and distant view of the Mount Si. This hike could be easily done in half day. There are no Rattlesnake at this place, just the name.
Franklin Falls – This is an easy hike of less than 2 miles round trip with view of water falls.
Explore thousands of hiking trails and find the current trail conditions on the Washington Trail Association website.
30. Mount Rainier National Park
Enjoy a Day trip to Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is an active, stratovolcano at altitude of 14410 feet, the tallest in Cascade volcanic arch. Mount Rainier National Park is a treasure chest in Pacific North West with many trails, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, panoramic view of valleys and mountain and the Epic view of Snow-covered glaciated Mount Rainier. As I said in my other blog post, your trip to Seattle will be meaningless without seeing Mount Rainier National Park. Do read on “Must Visit Places at Mount Rainier National Park”. Mount Rainier makes for an amazing day trip to explore the great outdoors.
Save Time and Save Money with CityPASS
If you want to see and enjoy all the iconic things in Seattle like the Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Seattle Aquarium, Space Needle, Woodland Park Zoo, Argosy Cruises, the Museum of Flight and Pacific Science Center, you might want to look into getting the Seattle CityPASS. There are many options of places to visit. You can buy it online.
Where to Stay in Seattle
Seattle is a great place to fly to. The Sea-Tac is a nice airport with new lounges and inter-terminal trains. The light rail connects the airport to downtown, Capitol Hill, and the University of Washington with trains every 10-20 minutes. If you are flying to Seattle, then keep an eye on the air plane window during last few minutes of your journey before descend. You don’t want to miss this mesmerizing view of Mount Rainier from your air plane.
If you’re planning of exploring downtown, you can easily take the light rail from the airport to anywhere in downtown, and you won’t need a car. But if you are planning to get out of the downtown area you might need a drive.
Here are few recommended Seattle hotels. You can read the reviews and book hotels for your stay.
High-End/Luxury Hotel – The West Inn Seattle. The best Seattle has to offer. Perfect for the business traveler or a weekend splurge.
Mid-Range/Couple Stay: Mildred’s Bed & Breakfast -Lovely B&B in a great location
Budget/Social Hotel: – Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle. Little away from Pike Place Market, this hostel has a social atmosphere and a good breakfast.
If you have visited to Seattle and you think I can add more places here, please feel free to comment below. I would love to visit them and add to my list.
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