Things to Do in Seattle

Written By Sammi  |  USA  |  0 Comments

Seattle is a city that will always have a dear place in our hearts. Situated between the Puget Sound and overlooking Elliot Bay, you have bustling city, mountain and water views all at once. Nicknamed the Emerald City, this evergreen tree covered city boasts a vibrant and diverse cultural scene and is home to some of the most famous companies in the world.

If you’re visiting the Emerald City, here is our list of awesome things to do in Seattle, starting with downtown Seattle first. Whatever activities you decide on, you’ll have a blast in Seattle no matter what time of year you are here!

Where to Stay in Seattle

If you have 1-3 days in Seattle, you want to be downtown where all the action is. Here are some recommended hotels. Seattle is not a cheap city so be prepared to pay a couple to few hundreds dollars a night if staying right in downtown.

  • The Maxwell Hotel - A Staypineapple Hotel: Nice hotel near the Space Needle with pineapple cookies, and other amenities. Dog friendly, clean, comfortable rooms. They have two other properties in University District at UW (University Inn and Watertown) that we also enjoyed.
  • Mayflower Park Hotel: Just a few blocks away from Pike Place Market is this cute historic hotel with polished rooms and suites. Clean, comfortable, very nice staff.
  • Ace Hotel Seattle: Trendy hotel with shared and private rooms a few blocks away from Pike Place Market.

How to Get Around Seattle

For just 1-3 days, you don't necessarily have to rent a car in Seattle. If you're staying in downtown, you can perfectly walk to the downtown attractions. Uber and Lyft are readily available if you want to venture outside. There is also the local city bus that goes to other neighborhoods like Fremont, U District, Wallingford, etc. However, if you are staying longer and want to see other places besides downtown Seattle, then we recommend you to rent a car. 

Go up the Space Needle

As the most iconic building in Seattle, this is number one on the list. The Space Needle is an integral component of what makes Seattle, Seattle and this funky shaped building is one not to miss.

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Space Needle view

We highly recommend going up the Space Needle to get great views of the city. It’s one of the best ways to see Seattle in all its glory and a classic tourist that shouldn't be missed.

They offer passes with two visits included: day time and night time. During the summer, you can see the sunset. $61 USD per adult. You can also visit the Space Needle as part of the Seattle CityPass.

For a more immersive experience with impressive views, visit the the Loupe Lounge (21+, closed summer). It has a revolving glass floor on the 500 foot level of the Space Needle!

They also offer passes that include the Space Needle and Chihualy Glass Museum but you can purchase Chichualy tickets separately or as part of the Seattle CityPass.

Visit Chihuly Glass Museum

Dedicated to showcasing Tacoma local glass artist Dale Chihuly, see magnificent works of art in the garden and glass museum. It’s in the Seattle Center so you can visit right after or before the Space Needle.

things to do in seattle chihuly glass museum

Brighten up a dark winter day or add more color to the long summer days with a visit to the spectacular Chihuly Garden and Glass. This museum is dedicated to the famous Washingtonian glass artist, Dave Chihuly, displaying eight galleries and a spectacular 40 foot tall glasshouse. This is a must see in Seattle, especially if you love art.

General admission is $30-35 or you can add it as part of your Seattle CityPass or the Space Needle pass. Open daily 9 AM to 8 PM.

After your visit, head over to the next spot on our list of things to do in Seattle, just a short walk away.

Be a Rockstar at the Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture is dedicated to music, science fiction and arts. Visitors can rock out on drums, make their own concert video and see the guitars of famous rock musicians.

things to do in seattle museum of pop culture

The Museum rotates their special exhibits so it's different every few months. Sometimes they'll highlight a certain music group, holiday, special event, etc.

This museum is definitely a must visit for adults to channel their inner musician. Ever dreamed of being a rock star? Let it out in their Sound Lab and record your own concert!

You can purchase tickets as part of the Seattle CityPass or separately for around $28. Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM.

Geek Out at the Pacific Science Center

Families cannot miss the Pacific Science Center to let their kids embrace their inner scientist. With a Planetarium, butterfly house, water exhibits, dinosaur exhibits, little kids area, space exhibits and so much more, kids of all ages will be entertained for hours at the Science Center. They also have an IMAX theater with documentaries.

I personally have the fondest memories of the Pacific Science Center as a kid. My love of science and wildlife definitely came from there!

Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM.

Visit Pike Place Market

This is the second most iconic place in Seattle: the Pike Place Market. The historic Pike Place Market is full of local treasures and is so much fun to browse. If you really want to dig deeper into the market’s history and food, you can take a market tour. We did one with Seattle Food Tours which was fantastic.

things to do in seattle pike place market

 Dedicate a few hours to Pike Place Market so you can take your time to try different food stands, restaurants and coffee shops and go shopping. We also recommend to visit the Urban Garden on the rooftop for some peace and quiet and nice views.

Our recommendations: Prioshky Prioshky, the first Starbucks, Pike Place Chowder, Delaurenti Food and Wine, Cinnamon Works, Los Agaves, The Crumpet Shop, Pike Place Fish Market and don't forget a stop at the gross Gum Wall!

Stick a Piece of Gum on the Gum Wall

It looks gross because it is. It’s basically a big wall of gum in Pike Place Market but for some reasons it’s turned into a funny tourist attraction. So don’t forget to leave your mark and stick your own piece of gum on there! The city even tried to clean the wall but no surprise, gum appeared on the wall again in no time.

After you're done with Pike Place Market, you can head down to the water to visit the next place on our list, the Seattle Aquarium.

Pet a Sea Star at Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is dedicated to the education and conservation of native species of the Puget Sound so visitors can learn about this unique region of the Pacific Northwest. Get up close and personal with the special creatures of the PNW.

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Though small, the aquarium is an excellent place for families and anyone who loves wildlife. They have many exhibits such as the Puget Sound Fish, marine mammals, birds and shores, the Great Pacific Octupus, salmon, tropical pacific, windows on Washington waters and the underwater dome. Volunteers are stationed throughout the aquarium to answer questions and there are daily presentations about the animals.

Open everyday 930 AM to 6 PM. Part of the Seattle CityPass or you can purchase tickets online/at the door for ~$36 USD per adult. Plan at least 2-3 hours at the aquarium.

When you finish your Seattle Aquarium visit, walk over to Pier 57 for the next recommended thing to do in Seattle on our list.

Check Out Downtown Views on the Great Wheel

For more views of downtown Seattle, take a ride on the Great Wheel on the Pier. It’s a fun way to see Seattle from 175 feet high up in the sky!

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The Seattle Great Wheel classic ride is $16 per adult. They also offer a VIP gondola with a glass bottom, includes leather seats, stereo and is a private gondola. Tickets have to be purchased at the office or online, first come first serve – $50 per person.

If you don’t want to ride, watch the light show from the pier every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at night.

There are many ways to see Seattle and going on a harbor cruise is one of them. You can see all of downtown and the port from the water on a one hour guided Seattle Harbor Tour.

If you’re more a water person, then we highly recommend the next activity on our list!

Take a Cruise Around the Harbor

There are many ways to see Seattle and going on a harbor cruise is one of them. You can see all of downtown and the port from the water on a one hour guided Seattle Harbor Tour with Argosy Cruises.

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Cruising around in winter

This 1 hour narrated cruise sails peacefully around the harbor for stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline. We went in January so it was cold but luckily it didn’t rain. We actually got some fantastic photos of the clouds hovering low over the city.

The Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour is part of the Seattle CityPass or you can take a longer 120 minute cruise on their Locks Cruise. You’ll see 3 Seattle neighborhoods on this narrated experience and go through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. $35 for Harbor Cruise, $59 Locks cruise with one way transportation or $49 without transportation. I highly recommend the Locks Cruise if you want to see more of Seattle beyond downtown.

Relax at Gasworks Park

On a sunny day, Gasworks Park is just spectacular. It used to be the former Seattle Gas Light company plant and was converted into a public park. Nowadays, visitors come to walk, run, relax, fly kites and enjoy all the beautiful city views.

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It’s an incredibly popular place on July 4th to see fireworks, make sure to get there in the morning to save a spot.

See Seattle at Night from Kerry Park

Kerry Park is a really small park in Queen Anne Hill with one of the best views of Seattle.

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View of Space Needle from Kerry Park at night

Many photographers, locals and tourists go up here to see the city since it offers one of the best lookout spots around. Capture the perfect “postcard” shot of the Emerald City here. It gets pretty crowded at sunset so go early if you want to get that photo of Seattle.

Visit International District and Eat a lot!

Seattle’s international district for having some of the best Asian food around. You can find delicious Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants, cafes, and bakeries in the International District.

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Samurai Noodle Ramen

Shop at Uwajimaya to stock up on all your Asian goodies and get your fill of dim sum, ramen, dumplings, barbecue and more. We love Jade Garden, Honey Court, Henry’s Taiwan Kitchen, Mike's Noodle House, Oasis Tea Zone, Hong Kong Bistro, Purple Dot, Boiling Point, and Samurai Noodle but there are so many places to enjoy.

Learn About the History of Seattle

Seattle has a fascinating history and you can take an underground tour to learn all about it (and find out why it’s underground!). It’s a highly interesting and educational tour that doesn’t feel like a history lesson at all.

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Underground tour

Discover the original Seattle, learn about its beginnings and how it became the beloved city it is today. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is on 614 1st Ave in downtown and is about a 2 hour tour. They also have an adult only Underworld Tour and Paranormal tour.

See Seattle From the Air

Seattle is a beautiful city surrounded by water, mountains and a volcano not too far away. To see all of that from above is a special treat in the summer. We took a 20 sightseeing ride on a seaplane from Lake Union with Kenmore Air and got amazing views.

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View from the seaplane

If you want to do something special for your loved ones birthday, anniversary or just cause, a seaplane ride is a wonderful gift. Kenmore Air offers scenic flights in downtown Seattle, San Juan Islands, Lake Washington and Mt Rainier/Mt St Helens. Scenic flights start at $130 per person.

See the Cherry Blossoms at UW

This only happens once a year so you need to be here during the right time. The cherry blossoms at UW quad are one of the most anticipated events, especially as tired-of-winter Washingtonians anxiously await the start of spring. Usually blooming at the end of March/beginning of April, the cherry blossoms lining the quad are a spectacular sight to see.

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Cherry Blossoms at UW Quad

Thousands of tourists come to the quad to see the cherry blossoms so come early!

Spend a Day with Animals at the Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo aims to educate the public about conservation and provide quality care to their animals. It’s a great place to take kids and take a look at the various plants, insects, mammals and marine animals.

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Monkeys

The zoo has many exhibits and visitors can also book private tours for an exclusive experience.

Open daily except Christmas. Tickets are part of the Seattle CityPass or you can purchase separately for $26 per adult.

Go to a Concert at the Showbox

The Showbox has been around since 1939 and has hosted a huge number of artists that have gone on to make it big. Not only that but Seattle is the birthplace of grunge so you’re sure to find some new favorites.

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Showbox sodo concert

You can check The Showbox’s website for upcoming events and buy tickets.

Watch a Seahawks, Sounders, Storm or Mariners Game

Seattle hasn’t always been known for having a great sports team but we did finally win the Superbowl in 2014!

things to do in seattle mariners game

Mariners Game at the now T-Mobile Park (Used to be Safeco)

Though there is no basketball team (RIP Sonics), we still have our Mariners, Sounders, Storm, Kraken and our beloved Seahawks.

Have a Picnic at Lake Union

Lake Union is best enjoyed on a hot summer day where you can go swimming, kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddling boarding. From the lake you can see I-5, Gasworks Parks and other Seattle neighborhoods.

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Lake Union during summer

There are several waterfront restaurants or you can grab some food to go and eat it there. We highly recommend 20 OZ Tea for bubble tea!

Take the Ferry to Bainbridge Island

Take the Washington State Ferry across the Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island, named the second best place to live in the United States by CNN. It’s a quaint seaside town with a rural essence but modern city thinking, surrounded by dense forests, parks, gardens, reserves, wildlife and hills

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Ferry

If you can, we highly recommend to spend a full day on the island or even stay a couple nights in the summer. You can camp or book a cute cabin/lodge/hotel to enjoy the island’s nature.

The Bainbridge Island ferry from Seattle goes across the Puget Sound and takes about 35 minutes. There is a fee for Seattle – Bainbridge Island for foot passengers and vehicles and free from Bainbridge Island – Seattle for foot passengers (only vehicles have a fee).

Learn About the Evolution of Flight

When people think of airplanes, they usually think of Boeing which is in Seattle. But for the best experience, visit the Museum of Flight to learn more about the evolution and importance of air travel and airplanes.

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Museum of Flight

The Museum has a ton of fascinating exhibits all about the history of aviation and space travel. In fact, it’s the biggest one in the world! It’s located in South Seattle, 9 miles south of downtown Seattle, so you’ll need to drive or Uber there.

Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. Adults $25.

Walk Around Green Lake Park

A beloved park in Seattle, Green Lake is full of locals out enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest sunshine. The 2.8 mile path goes all the way around for people to walk, run, bike, roller blade, roller skate or walk their dog.

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Green Lake

After walking around the lake, you can fill up at Beth’s Cafe on Aurora Ave. They’re famous for their 12 egg omelets! Adam from Man VS Food visited once and he was SO close to finishing. This is a fun, funky cafe that's best to go with friends for big classic American breakfasts.

Visit Fremont Troll

A quirky statue in Fremont, the troll under the bridge has become a popular place for Seattlelites and tourists to visit. It was created by four local artists who won the Fremont Arts Council with the goal to clean up the area under the bridge.

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Fremont troll

The Fremont Troll is on N 36th ST in the Fremont neighborhood. There’s also a park with interesting sculptures nearby, the Moss Turtle Public Sculpture.

Watch a Sunset at Alki Beach Park

It’s hard to imagine that Seattle has beaches but Alki is one of the few and the best. Encompassing Elliot Bay beach in West Seattle, Alki is a popular place to walk along the beach, play volleyball, eat good seafood or hangout during the long days of summer.

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Alki beach sunset

Parking can be very limited and tight in the summer so go early to enjoy the whole day there. Enjoy yummy seafood from Duke’s Seafood or Alki Beach Cafe.

Go to One of the Festivals/Fairs

There are a good handful of festivals, fairs and events going on Seattle all throughout the year but mostly in the summer. My favorite one is Bite of Seattle because it’s centered around food which is awesome. This always happens at the end of July.

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Bite of Seattle

There is also Bumbershoot, an international music and arts festival which is always on Labor Day weekend. Seattle Seafair is always in July. Capitl Hill Block Party is held every July with music and food.

Take a Day Trip to Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier is one of the most famous natural landmarks in Washington. With many trails, waterfalls and rivers to discover, Mount Rainier makes for an amazing day trip to explore the great outdoors.

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Mount Rainier National Park

There are companies that offer day trips such as Tours Northwest or if you rent a car, you can drive down on your own and enjoy the magnificent great outdoors. It is about a 1.5 hour drive from Seattle to Mount Rainier. The best place to go is the Paradise, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. It has ample parking and easy trails from there such as the Nisqually Vista Trail.

If you visit in the summer months like July and August, roads will be no problem. If you’re visiting May/June, roads may not be open yet as there will still be snow. Make sure to check the Mount Rainier National Park Facebook page for official updates.

For the outdoor and mountain lover, we highly recommend staying a couple nights. You can stay at Paradise Inn or at the many small B&B’s or Airbnbs in the area. With more time, you can visit more places or do some great hikes to see waterfalls and beautiful viewpoints.

Go for a Day Hike

Thanks to all the protected forests, national parks and reserves around, there are some truly epic hikes in Seattle. If you have a car, we highly recommend to strap on your hiking shoes and get outside! You don’t have to drive too far for some amazing hikes. Rattlesnake Ledge is only a 45 minute drive from downtown and is one of the easiest trails.

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Rattlesnake Ledge

Issaquah and Snoqualmie are home to incredible hikes in Washington state like Mount Si, Dirty Harry’s Balcony and Mailbox Peak. Do not miss out on a hike during the summertime to see why Seattle is world famous for the great outdoors.

Go Snowboarding/Skiing

With that being said, Washington state also has excellent snow sports. With several places just a 45 minute drive away, you can be sliding down mountains in no time.

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There are places 45 minutes away from Seattle. Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie are just to name a few.

Map of Things to Do in Seattle

This is a small sampling of all the fun things to do in Seattle but it should give you some great ideas to jot down for your next trip. Rain or shine, there’s no denying that Seattle is a fun city with plenty to see, eat, drink and do.

You can click here to go to a map of the things to do in Seattle we mentioned in this post.