When it comes to conversations about Seattle, history buffs might talk about the Native American chief from which the city takes its name. Sports fans will likely shout about the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders.
Those focused on the weather will bemoan the dreary days, while nature lovers note the majestic figure of Mount Rainier looming on the horizon. And coffee aficionados, buzzing from their latest cup, will rave about the city’s thriving coffee culture.
There’s so many things to do in Seattle you’ll be planning your return trip even before you get home! But here’s a short list to get you started, especially if it is your first visit.
18 Things to Do in Seattle Washington to Explore The Area
Regardless of their shtick, though, almost everyone will proclaim their love of the Emerald City. Nestled alongside Puget Sound, this beautiful, cultural powerhouse in the Pacific Northwest bursts at the seams with reasons to visit! Small wonder it attracts over 21 million visitors a year.
A dreamy travel destination, we want to help you experience the very best of it. Read on to discover 18 incredible things to do in Seattle.
1. Explore Pioneer Square
Looking for things to do in Seattle for history buffs? Head straight to Pioneer Square. Seattle’s “first neighborhood”, this charming part of town is where the first settlers set up shop.
It’s full of Renaissance Revival architecture, cafes, museums, galleries, and bookshops – as well as a much-vaunted underground tour (more on this later) and the iconic Smith Tower (once famous for being the tallest building on the West Coast), which offers fantastic views over the city.
2. Go on Seattle’s Great Wheel
On the subject of awesome views, you should take the time to visit Pier 57. Among the slew of eateries and attractions here, you’ll find a huge Ferris wheel that climbs 175ft into the air!
The Seattle Great Wheel opened in 2012 and quickly became a family favorite. Its enclosed gondolas are suitable for all weather conditions and the views from the top are hard to beat.
3. Check Out Pike Place Market
No list of the best things to do in Seattle would be complete without Pike Place Market. The city’s original farmers market, it’s one of the oldest continually running markets in the US and an absolute must for foodies.
This place fizzes with activity at all times, with people enjoying the many restaurants, eateries, craft stores, and specialty food stores that reside here. Don’t miss it!
If you’re a Starbucks fan, make sure you visit the first ever Starbucks store in the world. It’s also located in Pike’s Place Market, and while the line is very long, its worth it. Make sure to grab a mug for major bragging rights.
4. Ascend the Space Needle
While it might sound like some kind of cosmic surgical device, The Space Needle is actually the most famous landmark in the city and on any list of things to do in Seattle for a reason.
An iconic tower that climbs 184m into the air, it offers spectacular 360-degree views from the top. Pay it a visit to see for yourself! The tilting walls and revolving glass floor make for a memorable visit.
5. Travel on the Seattle Center Monorail
Just like the Space Needle, the Seattle Center Monorail was first built for the 1962 World’s Fair.
Situated 30ft above the ground and weaving between buildings at up to 45mph, it offers a memorable way to get from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center. The monorail costs $3.50 per adult, one-way.
6. Watch a Ballet Performance
As you can probably tell, the Seattle Center’s a hub of activity in the Emerald City.
If you can’t get enough of it – and love dance – then we highly recommend you stick around to see some ballet. The esteemed Pacific Northwest Ballet performs out of McCaw Hall here, offering both modern and classical shows of the highest standard.
7. Visit Chihuly Garden and Glass
Number 1 on TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in Seattle, Chihuly Garden and Glass is a popular museum/gallery that celebrates (and displays) the works of Dale Chihuly – an artist made famous by his unique glass sculptures, like his iconic flower creations.
There’s a lot to see here, with countless installations and a wonderful garden that’s a delight to walk around. It’s hard to say when’s the best time to go, but seeing them all lite up night was a once in a lifetime experience.
8. Go to the Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is the perfect place to experience Seattle’s vibrant art scene for yourself.
Describing itself as “the center for world-class visual arts in the Pacific Northwest”, you’ll find a wide array of exhibitions here to suit all artistic tastes. Better still, you’re only a mile from the Olympic Sculpture Park – an extension of the museum that’s a) based outside and b) costs nothing to enter.
Top tip: Visit SAM on the first Thursday of each month for free entry!
9. Visit the Pacific Science Center
Most of a scientist than an artist? Looking for things to do in Seattle on a rainy day? Check out the Pacific Science Center – or PacSci for short. If you have a science membership to a museum in your hometown check its reciprocal benefits to see if admission here is part of your membership.
A family-friendly museum with myriad exhibits and hands-on experiences (including a planetarium and IMAX movie theater!), this amazing place has been welcoming visitors for over 60 years. Oh, and it’s next door to the Space Needle too, enabling you to kill 2 birds on your Seattle Bucket list with 1 stone!
10. Check Out Bainbridge Island
Want to escape the hustle and bustle? Head to Bainbridge Island. A scenic 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, this rustic place has character, charm, history, and natural beauty in abundance.
An antidote to the big city, there’s a stunning 150-acre public reserve, the aptly-named Grand Forest, a 17-acre marine park, and a wonderful beach. Main Street offers bakeries, ice cream parlors, local cafes, and other such amenities that ensure you’re well looked after on your visit.
11. Head to Seward Park
If you like the idea of Bainbridge Island but want to go somewhere that’s closer and accessible by road, head to Seward Park.
Covering the whole of Bailey Peninsula, this exquisite 300-acre municipal park is about 20 minutes in the car from downtown Seattle. Ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, get ready for the magnificent old-growth forest, walking trails, beaches, tennis courts, fishing opportunities, and much more.
12. Visit the Public Library
We know what you’re thinking. Going to the library? On your vacation? Really?
Yes, really! Trust us, the Seattle Public Library’s worth visiting – if only to see its distinctive architecture from the outside. 11-stories tall and with strange angles and glass-covered sides, it’s a real sight to behold. Oh, and the Wi-Fi’s free too…
13. Explore the Museum of Flight
Attention all Top Gun fans! You won’t want to miss Seattle’s Museum of Flight. One of the biggest museums devoted to air and space in the world, it has over 175 air and spacecraft to see, plus many thousands of related artifacts.
Overall, it’s an epic venue for anyone with a passion for aviation that offers free entry on the first Thursday of every month. Otherwise, it’s $26 for adults.
14. Visit the Seattle Aquarium
Located on Pier 59 down at the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium makes for a great one of the things to do in Seattle with kids– especially if the weather’s staying true to Seattle’s reputation as “Rain City”.
The huge variety of sea life (including otters, seals, and octopus), an underwater dome where you can watch fish swimming overhead, and live marine mammal feeding sessions help create a memorable day out.
15. Walk around Discovery Park
Anyone who wants to escape the concrete jungle and stretch their legs in nature should head west to Discovery Park.
At over 530 acres, it’s officially the largest park in Seattle and has more hiking trails (and breathtaking views) than you can shake a stick at. The beach is spectacular too and – with the Olympic Mountains in the distance and an occasional sea lion shore – provides an amazing place to watch the sun go down.
16. Cruise along Puget Sound
If you want a fresh vantage point to take in the Seattle cityscape, book yourself onto an Argosy Cruise.
Operating from the waterfront, this popular tour company offers various cruises along Puget Sound that provide epic views and fascinating insights into the area – not to mention a fully stocked bar serving drinks and snacks!
17. Go Underground
Remember the underground tour at Pioneer Square that we mentioned earlier?
Well, its full name is Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour and it offers a fascinating look at part of the city’s history: the long-buried, centuries-old streets that hark back to the Great Fire of 1889. Memorable, entertaining, and it’s unlike any other one of these things to do in Seattle.
18. Go Hiking
With national parks and mountains scattered near and far, people who visit Seattle are spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking.
No matter your age or level of experience, you can guarantee there’ll be a suitable trail nearby! Rattlesnake Ledge, Fremont Lookout, and Franklin Falls are a few favorites to help get you started.
Which One of These Things to Do In Seattle Will You Try?
As you can tell, finding things to do in Seattle isn’t tricky! The city’s saturated with sights and attractions no matter who you are or what you like doing. In fact, with so many options available, the hardest part’s often picking a select few activities to include on your Seattle itinerary.
That’s where it helps to have a few recommendations to call upon. With any luck, the ideas in this list will make it easier to decide how to spend your time there. From exploring museums and markets to visiting a few of the natural wonders in the area, you’re sure to have a fun-filled, memorable time.
Think this list of Things to Do in Seattle needs an addition? Leave a comment
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.