Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, having some of the best cuisines, people, and recreational activities. However, despite its rainy reputation, there is no shortage of things to do in Seattle!
Did you know? It is popularly known as the Emerald City because of its prominent lush greenery.
Situated on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington. It is one of the northernmost major city in the United States, located approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canadian frontier. Entirely bound by water, cliffs, and evergreen forests, Seattle encompasses hundreds of hectares of parkland.
Without further ado, let’s hop on to the ultimate list of things to do in Seattle that we have curated for your convenience.
What are the Top Things to do in Seattle?
1. Chihuly Garden and Glass-
Chihuly Garden and Glass, established at the Seattle Center in 2012, is a sparkling museum devoted to the work of the visionary glass artist Dale Chihuly. The museum contains eight galleries, a beautiful greenhouse, and the Glasshouse, which is the core attraction.
His work is known for its ability to use glass as a particular art form to produce sculptures that enthrall viewers. The sculptures vary from simple to lavish, especially in the garden where plants and pieces of glass weave in a flame of colors. What’s more, twice a month, the guests are also invited to an event hosted by the gallery called “Yoga Under the Glass.” To know more about this beautiful place in Downtown Seattle, visit their official website.
2. Seattle Great Wheel
One of the most mainstream things to do in Seattle is to visit the enormous Ferris Wheel at Pier 57. Standing at around 175 ft., it is the tallest on the West Coast. The ride is slow, seamless, and lasts about 15-20 minutes, depending on the crowd size and the number of people boarding. The seat boxes, holding up to 8 people, are comfortable and entirely enclosed. You can either buy tickets on-the-spot or online.
3. Elliot Bay Water Taxi
When you’re in Seattle, you will find plenty of ways to get out on the water. You can go for a day cruise, or you can opt for kayaking. But if you don’t want to pay for a day trip, you can take the quick ride to West Seattle and Alki Beach via Puget Sound on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi. It is a 15-minute ride from Pier 50 to Seacrest Dock (you can check more details here).
This is the best possible bargain in town. It’s a simple process, and the views of the Seattle Skyline are incredibly gorgeous. The Alki beach faces the gigantic Olympic Mountains, and there are numerous eateries all along the beach. Moreover, once you reach West Seattle, you can go for a free shuttle ride that will further take you shopping.
4. Pike Place Market
If there is anything that truly delineates Seattle, it is this century-old public market. It is the most visited landmark of, and one of the best things to do in Seattle. For food, there’s plenty of places to choose from. You can either go to one of the 80 local eateries and bakeries or pick up treats from one of the specialty grocery stores. It also has around four fish markets and quite a few restaurants.
Apart from these, this place also has a range of other shops to buy antiques and souvenirs from. Outside the market, you will also find the first-ever Starbucks in the world. There are also several tours guided by locals for the convenience of the tourists. You can check one of these here. To know more about Pike Place Market, you might also want to check out their official website.
5. Pioneer Square
One of the oldest neighborhoods of Seattle, Pioneer Square, houses a multiplicity of restaurants, book shops, and art galleries. It is one of the best places to experience Seattle’s spell-binding history. Among the Victorian-era structures, the Smith Tower stands out for its impressive height (42 stories). You can also visit the observation deck on the 35th floor for sightseeing.
It was the city’s first skyscraper and was constructed a century ago. To the east of Pioneer Square is the beauteous International District. This is where you’ll find Japanese and Chinese shops and eateries in abundance. Among the top things to do in Seattle is to visit the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. The synergy between the cultures is quite an interesting sight!
6. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Among all the walking tours provided in this city, this one is probably the most special. In 1889, in one of the most gigantic fires, a lot of the city of Seattle (around 31 blocs) was set ablaze. The new city was eventually rebuilt 22ft above the rubble. If you want to explore the forgotten city, this is your best bet.
This underground tour starts in the heart of Pioneer Square and lasts for about 75 minutes. Given the perennial rainy reputation of the city, this tour is probably the best idea and is considered to be one of the most sought things to do in Seattle. To buy tickets in advance and to know more visit the official website.
7. Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is one of Washington’s foremost art galleries, showcasing a diverse variety of pieces ranging in genre and timeline. Only a block away from Pike Place Market, SAM is the largest museum in Seattle. The collection in this branch consists of everything from Egyptian to Native American.
SAM also has other branches in two different locations. The Olympic Sculpture Park protected by SAM lies just downhill from the Seattle Center. More of an open-air gallery than a park, it hosts a wide selection of recent works by contemporary visual artists. It is accessible every day, throughout the year, from early morning to late in the evening. The other branch, Seattle Asian Art Museum, is situated in Volunteer Park, near Capitol Hill. You can visit the official website for more details.
8. Museum of Pop-Culture
The exhibitions here concentrate on the most symbolic events of mainstream media, from science fiction, punk music, and many more across the pop cultural continuum, bringing it to life through groundbreaking displays and immersive installations. It hosts an incredible variety of activities and events- speakers, Sky Church live concerts, video nights, and game days. Tickets to these are readily available on the website. For movie-buffs and musicians, this is the place to be. It would be insulting not to include it in the list of top things to do in Seattle.
9. Museum of Flight
Seattle is a land of museums. You may wonder why all of these make it to the list of things to do Seattle. However, as you can see, all of these museums have their unique qualities defining them. This one, for example, is popular among both Science and History geeks.
It was founded in 1929 and has developed into one of the most visited educational destinations in Seattle. It is also the largest sovereign air and space museum in the world. An outdoor park in the museum consists of several aircraft, many of which hang from the ceiling. It also houses the first jet plane Air Force One which was used by JFK and Johnson.
10. Space Needle
Initially built for the 1962 World Fair, Space Needle is a characteristic feature of Seattle’s silhouette. Once the tallest tower in the West, the Space Needle is technically only six floors. This is the most iconic tower on the Seattle skyline and a sleek observation point.
It takes less than a minute to reach the Observation deck, which gives you a full 360-degree view of the Seattle skyline. The attraction not only provides spectacular views of the Downtown area but also of Puget Sound, the Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. Adventurists often find themselves go to the Loupe, which incorporates a spinning glass floor for an outstanding experience. You can book your tickets by logging in here.
11. Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium, situated on Pier 59, has become an icon for the region. The array of aquatic life in the aquarium is extensive and exciting, featuring both the Puget Sound’s traditional and rare species, marine animals such as the local harbor seal, shorebirds, and even a few sharks. It is also home to the Giant Pacific Octopus, which is the world’s largest octopus.
The gigantic tank built as a tourist attraction in 2007 hosts dive shows thrice a day (four times on weekends). The prices of the tickets vary from age-to-age, and you can check them out here. It is free for kids under three years of age!
12. Washington State Ferries
The Washington State Ferries are part and parcel of Seattle’s commuting history. Preserving the largest fleet of U.S. ferries, the service runs 12 different routes on what is the world’s fourth-largest ferry system. All ferries are capable of carrying at least 64 cars, and even the smallest tanker can accommodate 750 passengers.
The most renowned trip is probably the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry, which departs from Pier 52 and takes 40-45 minutes to reach. Upon landing on Bainbridge Island, you can visit yet another museum- Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. This museum displays the work of local artists and artisans and is free to enter. Apart from these, there is also a charming café here for warm days accompanied by an enticing outdoor patio.
13. Ballard Locks
Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ballard Locks is the busiest system of Locks in the entirety of the United States. So what exactly is this system? Locks are a system of hydraulic devices that lift a boat from a lower water level to a higher one. This waterway goes via the inland freshwater lakes of Seattle, through Lake Union and Lake Washington.
The locks have altered Seattle forever, reducing the water level on Lake Washington by 2.7 meters, generating several miles of additional land on the waterfront. The locks are also a critical link to spawn for salmon heading upstream. A 21-step fish ladder lets spawning fish jump to the side of the freshwater. You can read more here.
14. Woodland Park Zoo
Having won numerous awards, Woodland Park Zoo is home to more than a thousand species. This is a 92-acre park that includes several endangered and vulnerable animals from across the globe. The animals range from African elephants to snow leopards and grizzly bears.
Visitors can also book an animal experience tour allowing enthusiasts to get close to the most intriguing biodiversity in the zoo, often with the opportunity to feed or make contact with the animals. They have numerous events taking place the entire day like penguin feeding. For animal lovers and nature enthusiasts, this has to top the list of things to do in Seattle. You must visit the official website for more details.
15. Museum of History and Industry
The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is a marvelous asset of Seattle, with a stock of over four million items, of which only 2 percent can be viewed at once. In 2012, it was relocated to the beautiful southern tip of Seattle’s Lake Union. This was done because the larger premises enable the museum to showcase more of its collection. They host multiple events and offer programs like Summer Camps too! You can visit the official website for more information.
Are you traveling to Canada? Check out our article on What do in Victoria BC!
Now, it is essential to know that this list is not exhaustive. There is a multitude of other things to do in Seattle. However, as mentioned earlier, these are only the top fifteen!
Some other great places you can visit are- Discovery Park, Volunteer Park, and Grand Illusion Cinema. Among these, Discovery Park spans 550 acres and is Seattle’s biggest park. Discovery Park covers the coast, woods, and meadows, offering a fun diversion from the city and offering a wildlife habitat. Volunteer Park features a conservatory that was built more than a century ago. It is made of 3426 glass panels and is home to many plants. The Grand Illusion Cinema is specially made for movie-geeks and is the longest continuously running movie theatre in Seattle.
There are still a lot of other places you could visit, but you’ll need to go on a trip too long to cover all of that!
What are the top things to do in Seattle? Which of these have you already done? Let us know in the comment section below.