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Discover the Best Things to Do in Seattle, Washington: A Local’s Guide

Photo things to do in washington seattle

Seattle, Washington is a vibrant and dynamic city that has captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike. With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and world-class cuisine, it’s no wonder that Seattle has become a popular tourist destination. As a local, I have had the privilege of experiencing all that this city has to offer and I am excited to share my insights with you.

Seattle was founded in 1851 and quickly grew into a bustling port city due to its strategic location on the Puget Sound. The city played a significant role in the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century and became a major hub for trade and commerce. Today, Seattle is known for its booming tech industry, with companies like Microsoft and Amazon calling the city home.

One of the main reasons why Seattle attracts so many visitors is its stunning natural beauty. The city is surrounded by water, mountains, and lush green forests, providing endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. From hiking in the nearby mountains to kayaking on Lake Union, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Key Takeaways

  • Seattle is a vibrant city with a thriving food and drink scene, rich art and culture, and plenty of outdoor adventures.
  • Iconic landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market are must-see attractions for visitors.
  • Foodies will love exploring Seattle’s diverse culinary offerings, from fresh seafood to craft beer and coffee.
  • Art lovers can discover local galleries and museums, including the Seattle Art Museum and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bike, and kayak in the city’s many parks and waterways, while families can enjoy attractions like the Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo.

Exploring the City’s Iconic Landmarks and Attractions

No visit to Seattle would be complete without a trip to the iconic Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this towering structure offers breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Take a ride up to the observation deck and marvel at the panoramic vistas of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, and the surrounding mountains.

Another must-visit attraction is Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operated public markets in the United States. Here you can wander through the bustling stalls filled with fresh produce, seafood, flowers, and artisanal crafts. Be sure to catch the famous fishmongers throwing fish at Pike Place Fish Market and grab a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks.

For those seeking a thrill, a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel is a must. Located on the waterfront, this Ferris wheel offers stunning views of Elliott Bay and the city skyline. Take a spin on one of the climate-controlled gondolas and enjoy the breathtaking sights from above.

If you’re interested in marine life, a visit to the Seattle Aquarium is a must. This world-class facility is home to a wide variety of marine animals, including otters, seals, and sharks. Explore the exhibits and learn about the diverse ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.

Art enthusiasts will not want to miss the Seattle Art Museum, which houses an impressive collection of contemporary and traditional art from around the world. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern masterpieces, there is something for every art lover to enjoy.

Discovering Seattle’s Thriving Food and Drink Scene

Seattle is known for its thriving food and drink scene, with an abundance of coffee shops, craft breweries, seafood restaurants, food trucks, and local markets to explore.

Coffee lovers will feel right at home in Seattle, as the city is famous for its coffee culture. From the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market to local favorites like Caffe Vita and Victrola Coffee Roasters, there are plenty of options to satisfy your caffeine cravings.

Craft beer enthusiasts will also find plenty to love in Seattle. The city is home to numerous breweries, offering a wide variety of styles and flavors. Take a brewery tour and sample some of the best beers that Seattle has to offer.

When it comes to seafood, Seattle is in a league of its own. From fresh oysters to succulent salmon, there are plenty of seafood restaurants to choose from. Head to Elliott’s Oyster House for some of the best seafood in town or try Ivar’s Acres of Clams for a classic fish and chips experience.

For a more casual dining experience, check out the city’s food truck scene. From gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to mouthwatering tacos, there is something to satisfy every craving. Follow your favorite food trucks on social media to find out where they will be parked each day.

If you’re looking to cook your own meals, be sure to visit one of Seattle’s local markets. The Ballard Farmers Market and the University District Farmers Market are both popular options, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods.

Uncovering the City’s Art and Culture Scene

Category Metric
Art Museums Number of Exhibitions per Year
Public Art Number of Installations
Performing Arts Number of Productions per Year
Cultural Festivals Number of Attendees
Art Galleries Number of Artists Represented

Seattle is a city that celebrates art and culture in all its forms. From world-class symphonies to cutting-edge contemporary art, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Seattle Symphony is one of the city’s cultural gems, offering a diverse range of performances throughout the year. From classical masterpieces to pops concerts and family-friendly events, there is something for every music lover to enjoy.

Art enthusiasts will not want to miss a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. This stunning museum showcases the work of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, with a collection of his most iconic pieces displayed in a beautiful garden setting.

For fans of popular culture, the Museum of Pop Culture is a must-visit. This interactive museum explores the history of music, film, and pop culture through a variety of exhibits and installations. From Jimi Hendrix to Star Wars, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Seattle Repertory Theatre is another cultural institution that should not be missed. This Tony Award-winning theater company produces a wide range of plays and musicals throughout the year, showcasing both classic works and new productions.

Opera lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in Seattle. The Seattle Opera is known for its world-class productions and talented performers. From classic operas like Carmen and La Bohème to contemporary works, there is something for every opera enthusiast to enjoy.

Outdoor Adventures in Seattle: Hiking, Biking, and More

Seattle is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with its stunning natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply enjoying a leisurely stroll through a park, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the most popular outdoor destinations near Seattle is Mount Rainier National Park. This iconic mountain offers a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels, ranging from easy walks to challenging summit climbs. Be sure to check the park’s website for trail conditions and safety information before heading out.

For a more leisurely outdoor experience, head to Discovery Park. Located in the Magnolia neighborhood, this expansive park offers stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Take a walk along the beach, explore the forested trails, or simply relax and enjoy a picnic in one of the park’s many open spaces.

If you’re looking for a beach experience, Alki Beach is the place to go. Located in West Seattle, this sandy beach offers stunning views of downtown Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. Take a walk along the promenade, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or simply relax and soak up the sun.

Green Lake Park is another popular outdoor destination in Seattle. This urban oasis offers a 2.8-mile loop trail around the lake, perfect for walking, jogging, or biking. The park also features sports fields, picnic areas, and a swimming beach.

For avid cyclists, the Burke-Gilman Trail is a must-visit. This 27-mile trail stretches from Ballard to Bothell and offers stunning views of Lake Washington and the surrounding area. Rent a bike and explore this scenic trail at your own pace.

Family-Friendly Activities in Seattle: Fun for All Ages

Seattle is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities that are fun for all ages. Whether you’re visiting with young children or teenagers, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Woodland Park Zoo is a popular attraction for families, with its wide variety of animals and interactive exhibits. From elephants and giraffes to penguins and gorillas, there is something to captivate the imagination of every animal lover.

The Pacific Science Center is another family-friendly destination that offers a wide range of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. From exploring the wonders of outer space in the planetarium to learning about the human body in the health and wellness exhibit, there is plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained.

For younger children, the Seattle Children’s Museum is a must-visit. This interactive museum offers a variety of exhibits and play areas designed to stimulate the imagination and encourage creative play. From a pretend grocery store to a construction zone, there is something for every little explorer to enjoy.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, be sure to check out the Seattle Center Fountain. This interactive water feature is a favorite among children, who can splash and play in the water while enjoying stunning views of the Space Needle.

For older children and teenagers, a visit to the Seattle Pinball Museum is a must. This unique museum features over 50 vintage pinball machines that visitors can play to their heart’s content. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and relive some nostalgic memories.

Shopping in Seattle: Unique Boutiques and Local Markets

Seattle is a shopper’s paradise, with its wide variety of unique boutiques, local markets, and shopping districts. Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion, handmade crafts, or vintage treasures, there is something for everyone to discover.

One of the best places to shop in Seattle is the Fremont Sunday Market. This vibrant market features over 150 vendors selling everything from antiques and vintage clothing to handmade crafts and artisanal food. It’s a great place to find unique souvenirs and support local businesses.

For a more upscale shopping experience, head to University Village. This outdoor shopping center features a wide variety of high-end fashion boutiques, specialty stores, and restaurants. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon browsing the latest trends and enjoying a leisurely meal.

Pioneer Square is another popular shopping destination in Seattle. This historic neighborhood is home to a variety of unique boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops. Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets and discover hidden gems at every turn.

Capitol Hill is another neighborhood that offers a wide variety of shopping options. From trendy clothing boutiques to vintage record stores, there is something for every style and taste. Be sure to check out the Melrose Market, which features a variety of local food vendors and specialty shops.

If you’re looking for a more traditional shopping experience, head to Westlake Center. This downtown shopping mall features a wide variety of stores, ranging from high-end fashion brands to popular chain retailers. It’s a great place to find everything you need in one convenient location.

Nightlife in Seattle: Bars, Clubs, and Live Music Venues

Seattle has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from. Whether you’re into live music, dancing, or simply enjoying a drink with friends, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Crocodile is one of Seattle’s most iconic music venues, known for hosting up-and-coming bands as well as established acts. From indie rock to hip-hop, there is always something exciting happening at this legendary venue.

Neumos is another popular music venue that showcases a wide variety of genres, from rock and punk to electronic and hip-hop. With its intimate setting and state-of-the-art sound system, it’s a great place to catch a live show.

The Showbox is another must-visit venue for music lovers. This historic theater has hosted some of the biggest names in music, from Nirvana to Macklemore. Check their website for upcoming shows and be prepared for an unforgettable night of live music.

For a more intimate and sophisticated experience, head to The Triple Door. This dinner theater offers a unique combination of live music, delicious food, and craft cocktails. Enjoy a meal while listening to some of the best jazz, blues, and world music acts in the city.

If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, The Sunset Tavern is the place to go. This neighborhood bar features live music performances as well as a wide selection of craft beers and cocktails. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy some local talent.

Day Trips from Seattle: Exploring the Surrounding Area

While there is plenty to see and do in Seattle itself, the surrounding area offers even more opportunities for exploration and adventure. From national parks to charming islands, there is something for everyone to discover.

One of the most popular day trips from Seattle is Olympic National Park. Located just a few hours west of the city, this stunning national park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. Be sure to visit Hurricane Ridge for breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains.

The San Juan Islands are another popular destination for day trips from Seattle. This archipelago is known for its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Take a ferry from downtown Seattle and spend the day exploring the islands, hiking through forests, or kayaking along the coast.

For those interested in geology and natural history, a visit to Mount St. Helens is a must. This active volcano famously erupted in 1980, causing widespread destruction and leaving behind a unique landscape. Take a guided tour or hike one of the many trails to learn about the volcano’s history and witness its power firsthand.

If you’re looking for a taste of Bavaria in the Pacific Northwest, a visit to Leavenworth is a must. This charming town is known for its Bavarian-style architecture, delicious German food, and festive atmosphere. Explore the shops, enjoy a traditional meal, and soak up the small-town charm.

Whidbey Island is another popular day trip destination from Seattle. This picturesque island is known for its stunning beaches, charming towns, and beautiful scenery. Take a ferry from Mukilteo and spend the day exploring the island’s many attractions, including Deception Pass State Park and the charming town of Langley.

Insider Tips for Making the Most of Your Seattle Experience

To make the most of your Seattle experience, here are some insider tips to keep in mind:

– The best time to visit Seattle is during the summer months, when the weather is mild and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. However, be prepared for occasional rain showers, as Seattle is known for its unpredictable weather.

– The easiest way to get around the city is by using public transportation. Seattle has an extensive bus system and a light rail line that connects downtown with the airport and other neighborhoods. Consider purchasing an ORCA card for easy and convenient travel.

– For the best views of Seattle, head to Kerry Park or Gas Works Park. Both offer stunning panoramic vistas of the city skyline and are popular spots for photographers.

– To save money on attractions and activities, consider purchasing a CityPASS or a Seattle CityPASS. These passes offer discounted admission to popular attractions and can save you a significant amount of money. With a CityPASS or Seattle CityPASS, you can gain access to top attractions such as the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and the Museum of Pop Culture at a reduced price. Additionally, these passes often include perks such as skip-the-line privileges, allowing you to make the most of your time in Seattle without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a local looking to explore your city or a tourist visiting for the first time, investing in a CityPASS or Seattle CityPASS is a smart way to maximize your entertainment budget.


What are some popular tourist attractions in Seattle?

Some popular tourist attractions in Seattle include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

What outdoor activities can I do in Seattle?

Seattle offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking in the nearby mountains, kayaking on Lake Union, and visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park.

What are some family-friendly activities in Seattle?

Seattle has many family-friendly activities such as visiting the Woodland Park Zoo, the Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Aquarium.

What is the best time of year to visit Seattle?

The best time to visit Seattle is during the summer months (June-August) when the weather is mild and there are many outdoor events and festivals.

What is the food scene like in Seattle?

Seattle has a diverse food scene with a focus on fresh seafood and local ingredients. Some popular dishes include clam chowder, salmon, and Dungeness crab.

What is the transportation system like in Seattle?

Seattle has a variety of transportation options including buses, light rail, and ferries. The city also has a bike share program and many bike lanes for cyclists.

What are some free things to do in Seattle?

Some free things to do in Seattle include visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park, exploring the Seattle Central Library, and taking a stroll through the Ballard Locks.