Ultimate List of Best Things to do in Seattle + Where to stay in Seattle

By Tim Kroeger February 13, 2020 Seattle, Best Things To Do In, North America, United States

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Clueless about what to do in Seattle? Here is a list of all the fun things to do in Seattle during your stay at the so-called Emerald City.

You will never run out of places to visit in Seattle.

While most of the tourist attractions have been in the scene since time immemorial, there are also new additions to the cityscape that make a visit to the Emerald City even more rewarding.

What to do in Seattle?

Ultimate List of Best Things to do in Seattle3

Table of Contents

1. Sky View Observatory in Columbia Center

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Columbia Center top things to do in seattle
Sky View Observatory in Columbia Center

The Sky View Observatory at the Columbia Center offers an interesting and unique experience for tourists of all ages visiting Seattle.

As the tallest building in Seattle, the Columbia Center gives visitors a 360 degree bird’s eye view of the Emerald City.

You can view the Seahawks and Mariners stadiums, Pike Place Market, and of course the world famous Seattle Space Needle

The Sky View Observatory is located right in downtown Seattle close to Seattle’s famous public library.

You’ll go in the base of the Columbia Center, ride an elevator 73 floors up, and emerge with a view that is unparalleled in the whole Pacific Northwest.

Tip: Buy your ticket online and save up to 52%.

Seriously, this is the tallest observatory in the ENTIRE Pacific Northwest. You can even catch a glimpse of Canada from the top!

The best part about visiting the Sky View Observatory is getting a new perspective on Seattle and see all of the amazing sights from above.

If possible, it is best to visit the Sky View Observatory as either the first or last stop on your journey.

If it is the first, you can point out all of the fun things you have planned for the coming days. If it is the last, you can reflect on all of the awesome experiences you’ve had in this beautiful city.

Either way, make time to visit the Sky View Observatory at the Columbia Center. You will be glad you did!

2. Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Ferris Wheel is the brainchild of businessman Hal Griffith. It has been his long-term dream to see a ferris wheel towering above the Seattle skyline, and so he put this vision into action in 2012.

It is designed to operate in all four seasons – just imagine riding the Great Wheel in snow!

The Seattle Ferris Wheel has since been one of the top Seattle destinations. It offers the best views of the city 60 meters from the ground.

The 42 gondolas are able to serve up to 300 visitors at a time. Take it up a notch and book the only private cabin with glass bottom, leather seats and a stereo system. 

Adults aged twelve and above can ride the Great Wheel for $15. Seniors and kids get ticket discounts while children ages two and below ride for free. 

3. What to do in Seattle – Ride The Ducks Seattle

dsc_0843Ride-The-Duck-Tour-Seattle

During my trip to Seattle a few years back, I was given an opportunity to explore the city by “riding the ducks”. For a good 90 minutes, I was treated to the top tourist attractions in Seattle WA. 

The Ducks, originally called DUKW, are actually amphibious landing crafts used by the US army during World War II. They were designed to transport cargo from ships at sea to the mainland.

Today, they are used to bring visitors to the top sites in Seattle which include the famous Space Needle in Seattle Center and the historic district of Pioneer Square.

What makes this tour stand out – aside from the awesome city views along the way – is how our guide facilitated the whole Ride the Ducks tour.

He was cracking jokes throughout the whole tour, playing music clips and encouraging us to sing, dance and wave at pedestrians.

A Ride the Ducks experience costs $38 for adults, with discounted rates for military personnel, seniors, kids and infants. 

Read full article: RIDE THE DUCKS SEATTLE SIGHTSEEING TOUR

4. Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park to your notes. Spanning a total of nine acres, this park is filled with outdoor sculptures and a quiet waterfront. The property is under the management and ownership of the Seattle Art Museum.

Join a public tour at the Olympic Structure Park, one of the fun free things to do in Seattle while you are there.

For one full hour, your guide will show you the stunning landscape design, notable structures and interesting stories that make up this award-winning park.

One of the great sculptures you can see in this green art space is a recent addition named Echo, a larger-than-life female head computer modeled by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa.

5. Puget Sound Ferry Ride Seattle

Recommended by Derek from Robe Trotting

Seattle Puget Sound Ferry to do in seattle
Seattle Puget Sound Ferry

While the city has so much to offer, part of what makes Seattle so amazing is how easy it is to escape into its surrounding natural beauty and slower pace of life.

One way to do this is to take “the boat” for a day trip to Bainbridge Island. The ferry ride from Seattle takes about 45 minutes and gives spectacular views of the Seattle Waterfront and the imposing Cascade Mountains in the distance.

While the views are enough to justify the trip, the island itself has plenty to offer. If you only came on foot, walk up the hill to Winslow and wander around the small town.

Beer drinkers will enjoy Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse, while wine fans will enjoy Fletcher Bay Winery – both are good on their own, or as an excuse to have one more drink before the ferry arrives.

Those with a car will be able to adventure further for some of Bainbridge Island’s natural beauty.

On the north of the island is the Bloedel Reserve, a botanical garden filled with 14 different landscapes – several hours here will take you to a pleasant and tranquil place.

On the south of the island Fort Ward Park, a former military base turned into a marine park that includes a pleasant hiking trail and offers an underwater park for scuba divers.

6. Best Things to do in Seattle – Ballard Locks

The Ballard Locks, officially named the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, acts as a form of linkage between Puget Sound and Lake Union.

This water passage which is located within the Lake Washington Ship Canal allows small and big boats to pass from one point to the other while still efficiently obstructing the flow of saltwater from seawater.

Aside from boats, fish use the locks to cross the waters, too. A fish ladder is made in order for salmon and other fish species to go to the other side during migration.

There is an underwater viewing dock for those who would wish to see the fish coming to and fro.

Within the area, you can also find the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden. A visit to this garden is one of the top things to do in Seattle for free.

Outdoor concerts and other social events happen here during summer.

7. Check out Fremont – One of the Best Things to do in Seattle

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Check out Fremont

If you want to see a different side to Seattle, head to Fremont. This Seattle neighborhood is pretty much the definition of hipster – where Google HQ sits next to vintage boutiques and craft breweries.

Start your day at Fremont Coffee Company, a local favorite. Established in an old house, there’s plenty of outdoor seating here for expert people watching.

Once caffeinated, head to see the infamous Fremont Troll; sitting pretty under the George Washington Memorial Bridge. The troll, which is crushing an actual VW Beetle, was sculpted by four local artists who won an arts competition in 1990.

There are a lot more interesting public artworks to check out in Fremont as well, such as Waiting for the Interurban (look at the dog’s face), the Fremont Rocket, and the Statue of Lenin.

Another one of the best things to do in Fremont is visiting the Fremont Sunday Market. There are over 150 vendors selling food, second hand wares and handmade jewelry.

Around the corner from the market you’ll find Theo Chocolate, a local company that sources organic and fair-trade ingredients whenever and wherever possible.

Drop into their flagship store in Fremont to sample some of their delicious chocolate or take a factory tour. You can’t visit Fremont and not make a pitstop at Fremont Brewing Company either.

The family-owned craft brewery opened in 2009 and focuses on small-batch artisan beers. I hope you get to visit Fremont on your next visit to Seattle – it’s definitely a unique place.

8. Seattle Art Museum

One of the ultimate things to do in Seattle is to pay a visit to the prestigious Seattle Art Museum or SAM.

It was founded in 1930 and has three main locations: the Olympic Sculpture Park, the downtown Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

The museum calendar is always filled with superb temporary exhibits, important lectures and artistic performances. 

Seattle’s best museums. In its installations and in the different events that it holds, you will find a mix of Asian, African, and modern American influences.

One of the most renowned art exhibits that got featured at the Seattle Art Museum was Yayoi Kusama’s highly-acclaimed infinity mirrors.

In 2017, the city museum became home to the illusion of infinite space perfected by Kusama over the years.

The Seattle Art Museum has recently reopened last February 8, 2020 after two years of restoration and reinstallation processes. They gave away free reopening passes to 10,000 art enthusiasts.

9. Watch a game of the Seattle Sounders

Recommended by Chris from Toone’s Travel

Watch a game of the Seattle Sounders3 top seattle destinations
Watch a Game of the Seattle Sounders

There aren’t many cities in the United States that can fill an NFL stadium for a Major League Soccer match on a regular basis, but Seattle is one of them.

That makes it the perfect place to grab a drink, chow down on a Seattle Dog, and cheer on the Sounders with 40,000 of your closest friends!

These dedicated Sounders fans treat every game as do-or-die, making for an unbeatable atmosphere inside of CenturyLink Field.

The drum beats echo around the stadium throughout the entire match as chants from the Sounders Army ring out and urge the players to keep pressing.

Don’t be surprised if you become a lifetime fan right there on the spot.

Watch a game of the Seattle Sounders2 fun indoor activities in seattle

If your schedule permits, make your way to Occidental Park in Pioneer Square about 90 minutes before kick-off to get the full supporters club experience.

This is where you’ll find a pep rally with performances by the Sound Wave, the official band of Seattle Sounders FC, as well as giveaways, games and more.

It’s a family friendly environment and gives you a feel of just how expansive yet tight knit Seattle Sounders community is.

Watch a game of the Seattle Sounders1 best places to visit in seattle in fall

Be sure to make a quick visit to The Ninety (located at 406 S Occidental Ave.) to learn about the club’s storied past and check out their trophies (most recently the 2019 MLS Championship) before marching to the stadium alongside of hundreds of other supporters, chanting and singing the entire way.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and their sworn enemy, the Portland Timbers, will be in town!

10. Fun Things to do in Seattle -Pioneer Square

The Pioneer Square is one of the places to go in Seattle if you are looking for an area that has a little of all the city’s best. It regards itself as Seattle’s first neighborhood, its inception dating back to as early as 1852.

There is a First Thursday Art Walk happening at the Pioneer Square every week. This tour is self-guided and is a great way to meet fellow art enthusiasts in Seattle. 

While you are there, be sure to spot the bust of Chief Seattle. It was made by an artist named James A. Wehn in 1909. A version of the Chief of the Suquamish can also be found inside Seattle University.

Pay a visit to the Occidental Park on a Thursday and enjoy a wide array of food stalls and other local products.

One of the must-try stalls in the area includes the Grand Central Bakery.

Buy some of their rustic breads and seasonal items in order to have a taste of why this bakery has such a strong following.

11. Hop On/ Off Trolley Tour Seattle

Recommended by Margie from DQ Family Travel

Hop On: Off Trolley Tour Seattle places to go in seattle
Hop On – Hop Off Trolley Tour Seattle

Seattle is a large metropolitan city located in the Pacific Northwest filled with plenty to do for people of all ages. One of the best ways to learn about a city when you first visit is to take some type of city tour.

I recommend taking a hop on/off trolley tour when visiting Seattle because of the flexibility it provides, its’ open-air design, and the ability to cram the highlights of the city in one day. 

When our family first visited during our San Francisco to Seattle drive, we wanted something that would let us learn about the city’s history and culture as well as the flexibility to get off at any of the stops if it interested us.

Parking is also difficult in Seattle, so the trolley provided the perfect way for us to get around the city for one price.

We visited popular sites like the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit, the Seattle Center, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market during our day in Seattle.

If you are visiting the city for the first time or are looking for an easy way to get around to the major attractions in Seattle, the trolley tour is the way to go.

12. Places to visit in Seattle – Museum of Flight

If you are looking for cool experiences in Seattle, I just might know where you should go. Head over to the Museum of Flight, a non-profit museum dedicated to air and space. 

Go on a pilot experience at the Aviation Learning Center and fulfill your flying dreams even just for a while.

The kids, on the other hand, can go on a Shuttle Trainer Tour to see how a home of a space shuttle crew looks like.

If you want the ultimate space immersion, go ahead and try the Spacequest VR, an advanced technology which allows you to have an interactive experience on the Moon.

A general admission ticket to the Museum of Flight costs $25 for adults. Seniors and the youth enjoy discounted rates of $21 and $17 respectively.

Kids ages four and below can enter the premises for free.

Should you wish to have your entrance fee waived, go during the first Thursday of the month when they offer free admission to visitors of the museum.

13. Chihuly Garden and Glass

Recommended by Lizzie from Lizzie Lau Travels

Chihuly Garden and Glass Seattle what to do in seattle1
Chihuly Garden and Glass Seattle

Anyone who has seen world renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly’s work will agree that it is otherworldly and unforgettable.

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.” Dale Chihuly – He delivers on this promise!

I first saw his work exhibited at the Dallas Arboretum several years ago, and was blown away by the size and scope of it.  When I heard that the PNW native had an eight gallery exhibition in Seattle I had to check it out.

Located at the base of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle in Seattle Center, which is a hub for many of the city’s family friendly attractions. Best seen on a sunny day, because the glass sculptures are both indoors and out.  

The indoor exhibits are expertly lit up against black backdrops in otherwise dark rooms, and the colors barely seem possible.  

The 40’ tall, 4500 square foot Glasshouse is like an enormous greenhouse filled with a 100 foot long sculpture of red, orange and yellow flowers suspended from the ceiling.  

Chihuly Garden and Glass Seattle 2fun things to do in seattle

The Glasshouse is surrounded on three sides by the outdoor garden, which is an Alice in Wonderland / fantastical acid trip version of hundreds of plants and flowers, some too big to easily photograph. It is well worth the price of admission.

You can see the whole exhibit in under two hours.  Tickets are $24, or you can buy a package deal to do the Space Needle as well.  

If you’re looking for food nearby, I highly recommend the Korean street tacos at the H Bar at Hyatt House across the street.

14. Washington Park Arboretum

Enjoy 230 acres of lush environment as you stroll along the Washington Park Arboretum. This botanical garden is home to various trails that showcase nature’s colors as seasons change.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Seattle today, a trip to the Arboretum is definitely worth your time.

Check out the seasonal tour maps at the Arboretum’s website to know which tree species are in full bloom during your visit.

The calendar of events also lists down interesting nature classes that you can take part of for a minimal fee. 

Head south and visit the Japanese Garden, conceptualized by landscape artist Juki Iida.

It occupies 3.5 acres of the Arboretum, featuring well-curated landscapes following the principle of “shizensa” or the essence of nature.

To enjoy this visual garden for free, visit during the first Thursday of the month when the park is open to everyone at no cost from 1 PM onwards.

15. Pike Place Market Seattle

Recommended by Christine from Don’t Forget To Move 

pike place seattle top 10 things to do in seattle
Pike Place Market Seattle

Seattle has an unbelievable amount of things to see and do, but one ‘can’t miss’ activity in Seattle is Pike Place Market. More than just a fantastic place to pick up lunch (thought it’s great for that!), Pike Place is a whole experience.

One of the oldest continuously running farmer’s markets in the US, this market is a true piece of Seattle history. We recommend starting your day off with a visit to Rachel, the famous Pike Place Pig.

A must-see photo opp, this bronze statue is a giant piggy bank that has raised over $200,000 for various causes since 1986. 

Next up, check out the fish stand straight across from Rachel to see the famous fish tossing.

When someone orders a fish, you’ll hear the workers start to holler. They’ll take the fish and throw it back and forth from the ice to the counter. It’s silly, but you probably won’t see grown men throwing giant fish around anywhere else!

When you’ve had your fill of fish smells, head downstairs to the gum wall. This little alley is literally covered in thousands of pieces of gum that visitors have stuck on the walls. Stop by and add your own mark to the wall! 

Besides these notable attractions, it’s worth spending an afternoon just wandering around the market.

There are different stalls in different areas, including fresh flowers, produce like delicious fruits and veggies, cheeses, meats and, of course, fish!

If it’s a warm day you can pack a picnic and eat in the adjacent park looking over the water.

We also recommend visiting the craft area of the market where local artisans sell their handmade pieces perfect for souvenirs!

Tip: Discover the hidden gems of the Pike Place Market that only locals know.

16. Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture or MoPOP is three levels of pure pop bliss. It is the brainchild of the visionary architect Frank O.

Gehry who desired to make a space that fosters creative expression. Some of the ongoing art exhibits at the museum are dedicated to Minecraft, Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

Allot at least half a day to fully grasp what the MoPOP is about and why it is regarded as one of the cool museums in Seattle.

If you go hungry from all the exploration, you can head over to Wolfgang Puck’s Culture Kitchen and savor a spoonful of the Chef’s Special together with expertly crafted coffee.

Check out the MoPOP Shop and see a large display of memorabilia in line with the current exhibits at the museum. Shop for a souvenir or two or start a pop collection of your own.  

The ticket price to the Museum of Pop Culture starts at $28, with discounts offered to military personnel, seniors and children.

You can also become a member and enjoy exclusive perks and further discounts.

17. Snoqualmie Falls Seattle

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stuff to do in seattle _ Snoqualmie Falls (1)
Snoqualmie Falls Seattle

While Seattle offers many amazing activities within the city, sometimes a trip to the beautiful landscape outside the hustle and bustle is the perfect addition to your itinerary.

Snoqualmie Falls is located about a half hour from downtown and is one of the best things to do in Seattle.

Renting a car is the easiest way to visit these beautiful cascades, but tours are available as well.

Just hop on Highway 90 East and the scenery will start to take your breath away as you head into the mountains and everything around you becomes a vibrant shade of green.

You will soon arrive at one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Washington.

what to do in seattle washington_ Snoqualmie Falls (2)

Snoqualmie Falls offers a paid parking area right next to the viewpoint ($7) or a free lot across the street with a pedestrian bridge.

Entrance to the falls is free. There are four viewing spots to see the rushing water from different vantage points.

The path between them is paved and easy to stroll. The Salish Lodge sits at the top of the falls which just adds to the charm of this place.

If you wish to see the waterfall from the bottom near the river, you can either hike down the well-marked gravel path for about a half mile or you can drive to the lower parking lot.

Either way, once you reach the bottom, a picturesque wooden boardwalk allows you to walk along the river up to the closest vantage point and perfect photo area.

Pack a picnic and stay awhile!

The waterfall is both peaceful and powerful and a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Seattle.

18. Seattle Center

The Seattle Center is a 30-hectare venue which was originally made to service the World’s Fair back in 1962.

Today, it hosts different events related to the arts, tourism, and entertainment in general, attracting tens of millions of visitors annually.

A visit to this massive campus has proven to be one of the fun family activities in Seattle WA. 

Go from one interesting point to another via the Seattle Center Monorail. It passes right above the city streets, covering about one mile of route traversing the most significant skyscrapers of the area.

The main highlight of the Seattle Center is the Space Needle. It has recently been renovated, giving a heightened viewing experience for everyone with its breathtaking glass floors and open air decks.   

Catch the Seattle Center fountain times and enjoy a 12-minute show of 9,000 gallons of water shooting up in the air. 

19. Crocodile Bar Seattle

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crocodile-bar seattle things to see in seattle
Crocodile Bar Seattle

Seattle is the home of grunge and has loads of cool bars, pubs and clubs. One of the most notorious is the Crocodile Bar (locally known as “The Croc”). 

It is one of the last bastions of amazing music and drips with history. 

The place has been completely renovated since great Seattle bands like Mudhoney, Nirvana and Soundgarden performed on their stage and created history, but it is still a nostalgic must for any music fans. 

crocodile-barseattle must do in seattle

The club is owned by Alice in Chains’ drummer Sean Kinney. It’s celebrated history is on display with a great collection of photography from it’s grunge days.

Today the club features hip-hop, rock, electronic, folk, singer/songwriters, metal, punk, and avant-garde.

They also host a “Battle of the Bands” contest and other musical events as well as continuing to book some of Seattle’s best local bands.

Rolling Stone named The Crocodile as one of the best clubs in America (ranked at No. 7) and The Guardian included the club in its list of the “Top 10 live music venues in Seattle.

Crocodile bar is located at 2200 2nd Ave in Belltown neighborhood and open daily from 4pm – 2am.

20. Space Needle

Visiting the Space Needle in Seattle WA is undeniably one of the top 10 things to do in Seattle, if ever you need to trim down the list to a maximum ten.

The tourist attraction underwent a much-needed multi-million dollar renovation, now featuring a rotating glass floor, tilting glass walls and open air decks.

If you are coming from downtown Seattle, ride the Seattle Center Monorail which connects you directly to the Space Needle.

A visit to this tourist destination is highly recommended especially if you are planning to celebrate something special with your loved one.

There is a special sunset wine experience offered at the Space Needle to make your time there completely remarkable.

A general admission ticket cost starts at $32.50. Seniors and the youth are given discounted rates.

If you want to see the differing beauty of Seattle between night and day, book a two-time pass, start and end your Seattle itinerary at the best place possible. 

21. Seattle Ice Cream Cruise

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SEATTLE ICE CREAM CRUISE2 what to see in seattle
Seattle Ice Cream Cruise

Did you know Seattle has an ice cream cruise? It runs year-round on Sundays and it’s a
fun (and super affordable) way to cruise around Lake Union.

On board the Seattle Ice Cream Cruise, the captain talks about the history of Seattle. You’ll see the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle, Gasworks Park, the University of Washington, the Ballard Locks, and more.

When he’s not talking, you’ll jam out to oldies music!

It’s a short, 45-50 minute boat ride on a small boat perfect for exploring Seattle with kids or if you are looking for an easy thing to do in Seattle that won’t take up your entire day!

Don’t worry if it’s raining. There’s an indoor space inside this Lake Union cruise that is set up with chessboards, checkers, and other fun games.

You can still enjoy your ice cream treat and look out the window. Or put on a rain poncho and head out on the deck.

SEATTLE ICE CREAM CRUISE1 seattle wa

After your cruise, spend time at Lake Union Park. It’s an awesome place to hang out with your family.

There’s a little beach where you can play in the water. Plus, lots of grassy area to run around! And you’ll probably see tons of seaplanes taking off and landing.

For extra fun, check out the Museum of History & Industry (way cooler than it sounds) or rent a toy boat to push in the pond.

The Seattle Ice Cream Cruise is one of the coolest Seattle activities not to be missed!

22. Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center or PaSci is a 7.1-acre property dedicated to bringing science at your fingertips through various exhibits and shows.

This nonprofit science centrum started during the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and has since grown into being the main hub for science enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

One of the permanent exhibits at the Pacific Science Center is the Tropical Butterfly House.

Different types of butterflies enjoy a vast playground that measures 4000 square feet, allowing them to roam freely and share the environment with various plant species.

The Discovery Corps Pacific Science Center, on the other hand, gives the youth a unique opportunity to immerse deeply in the world of science through training sessions and hands-on activities.

He or she will then volunteer at PaSci, putting everything he or she has learned into play and garnering a possibility to become a full-time employee at the Center.

23. Seaplane ride over the city

Recommended by Taylor from Travel Outlandish

It’s all about perspective. And seeing a city from high above is certainly one way to gain a new one.

Seattle has some known icons (mostly from people who watched Frasier) but there’s a lot more to see of Seattle when you fly over. The jagged skyline is marked by the Seattle Great Wheel and the iconic Space Needle.

More distinct bodies of water than you would really expect, with Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Elliot Bay in view, all interconnected by narrow channels that flow through the city.

Plenty of mountain peaks in the distance, with views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker if you take to the skies on a clear day. Urban parks like Gasworks and the Ballard Locks.

Kenmore Air offers a 20-minute Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour and it’s totally worth the $99 investment.

Everyone gets a window seat, so you won’t even have to throw elbows for some of the best views of the city.

24. Seattle Central Library

One of the best things to do in Seattle is to let the day go by as you lose yourself inside the wonderful world of books.

Take a trip to the Seattle Central Library and enjoy an afternoon of me-time surrounded by millions of books neatly scattered within the 11-floor building.

See the Books Spiral for yourself, spanning four floors of nonfiction books which also houses an indoor auditorium that can sit up to 275 people.

The floors are designed to flow continuously, incorporating the Dewey Decimal System onto floors or sections.

You might just not see that you went a floor higher with the way the place has been efficiently designed!

From the outside, the Seattle Central Library is a true sight to behold. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, together with local architects, created an iconic building that redefines what a library should look and feel like. 

25. Starbucks Reserve

Recommended by Samah from God & Wanderlust

Starbucks Reserve Seattle seattle to do
Starbucks Reserve

Seattle, land of coffee chains and home of  the most popular of them all – Starbucks.

Yet the Starbucks Reserve on Pike Street offers a little more – a touch of humanness, a hint of elegance and perhaps even an inkling of luxury. The Reserve provides an atmosphere that, at last, justifies a seven dollar latte. 

Upon entrance, you are immersed into warmth and coziness. Brown leather sofas line the perimeter to the right.

Huge windows are great for sipping coffee and people watching. To the left is Starbucks branded apparel and drinkware. Beyond that a corner cafe selling alcohol and food.

What really catches one’s gaze is the long line up around the large oval counter where people, eager to taste this posh-looking coffee, scan the black and white menu with fancy lettering and order their caffeine fix with some edible bites.

If you’re wondering, the coffee and food options are a bit different from what one would find in a regular Starbucks.  

Down a brief staircase lies the backbone of it all. Men dressed in light wash denim button ups, brown aprons and conductor hats roasting coffee beans and grinding them into a fine, chocolate brown powder. The process is mesmerizing. 

Seattle’s Starbucks Reserve offers a unique experience for coffee drinkers – not too far is the original Starbucks and it’s pleasant to see the coffee chain’s growth over it’s lifespan. 

26. Smith Tower

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle WA is the Smith Tower. This world-famous observatory offers unparalleled views of the Seattle skyline.

Complete your experience with a trip to the Observatory Bar. This is one of the many things to do in Seattle if you wish to enjoy some local bites and refreshing drinks while with good company.

If you are looking for something even more special, ask for the barrel-aged cocktail specials.

During summer, The Lookout is a popular hangout venue. Imagine being at the Smith Tower rooftop, marvelling at the outstanding scenery with your drink of choice, be it beer or wine.

Break the ice and partake on a game of oversized Jenga with the other visiting folks.

Book The Legends of Smith Tower Observatory Experience and go on a self-guided tour that runs through the history, architecture and significance of one of the prized treasures of Seattle WA.

27. Washington State Ferries

One of the fun things to do in Seattle is to ride the Washington State Ferries. They are under the Washington State Department of Transportation and is one of the biggest ferry systems in the whole world.

Walk through or bring your own vehicle as you travel to your Seattle destination the most scenic way possible. 

There are four main docks for the Washington State Ferries: Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Shaw.

Via ferry, you have several trip options that will bring you to nearby towns. You will be spoiled with the day trip options which you can take from Seattle.

One of the best ferry Seattle destinations serviced by Washington State Ferries is Bremerton.

It is a pleasantly walkable town. While you are there, pay a visit to the Puget Sound Navy Museum and explore the massive USS Turner Joy.

Major construction is being done in the Seattle dock and is expected to finish by the year 2023.

28. Alki Beach Seattle

If you are thinking of what to do in Seattle that involves the whole family, spending a day under the sun at Alki Beach is a fun idea to consider.

The park has everything you need for a good beach getaway: comfortable swimming temperatures, vast sandy playground and notable landmarks. Food – great seafood – can also be found here!

Some of the activities that you can do at Alki Beach in West Seattle include swimming, beach volleyball, kite flying and in-line skating. 

Check out the Alki Point lighthouse which dates back to 1887. It stands 37 feet from the ground, with quarters made for the lighthouse keepers. Alki Point is fully operational and is under the US Coast Guard. 

Once the whole family goes hungry, you can Visit Duke’s Seafood for a heartwarming bowl of their New England-style clam chowder and, of course, a prescribed plate of fish and chips right after.

29. Seattle Underground

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Seattle Underground

Under the streets of downtown Seattle, another city is hiding. 

During the mid-1800s the city was built just like any other city of the era, at ground level and made of wood.

A few decades later the Great Seattle Fire burned 31 blocks of downtown Seattle to the ground.

When the buildings were rebuilt, insurance companies and the city required them to be made of brick or stone so they wouldn’t burn as easily.

The city also made the decision to raise the entire ground level by about 12 feet since that area was built on a flood plain, flooding was not an uncommon occurrence.   

Following the regrade of the city, pedestrians would have to use a series of ladders to access the various shops of Pioneer Square while businesses were still on the original ground floors of their building.

Once businesses were given the go-ahead to move their main floor up to the new street level, the city closed off the underground with a type of walk-on skylight of clear glass. The clear glass later turned a rich amethyst color. 

In the early 1900s, even though many of the businesses had moved to the upper level, many pedestrians would still use the underground walkways.

In 1907, the city condemned the underground and closed off access for fear of the bubonic plague. 

Now, the underground is largely forgotten. However, you can book tours and wander through the forgotten passageways and shop entrances.

Your guide will give you the incredible history of Pioneer Square all while keeping it family-friendly.

He’ll tell you tales of the city’s founders, the merchants, and some of the crime that took place below the streets of Seattle.

30. T-Mobile Park Seattle

The T-Mobile Park in Seattle is one of the top places to go in Seattle. It is the home of the Seattle Mariners playing at the Major League Baseball.

The baseball park was once called Safeco Field as a 20-year deal with the Seattle company of the same name.

After securing a partnership with T-Mobile, it was renamed accordingly and will stay on until the 25-year agreement ends in the year 2043.

The T-Mobile Park is nine acres wide and is more than just a baseball park. In the same vicinity, you will find attractions such as the Pinball Museum and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

When it comes to food, you will never run out of well-loved and adventurous choices. 

It is best to take the Link Light Rail and the bus instead of bringing your own vehicle, as locals point out how challenging parking can be around the area.

If you’re biking to the T-Mobile Park, there is a secure place to store your bike inside the garage on the south side of the field.

31. Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium was opened to the public in 1977. There are six exhibits which can be found inside the ninth largest aquarium in all of the United States:

  • Window on Washington Waters
  • Life on the Edge
  • Pacific Coral Reef
  • Birds & Shores
  • Underwater Dome
  • Marine Mammals

A visit to the Seattle Aquarium is one of the ultimate things to do in Seattle. It is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.

An adult ticket costs about $33 while kids ages four to twelve enjoy a discounted rate of $23. Children ages three years old and below get to come in for free.

Allot two hours in order for you to see every highlight of the Aquarium. Should you feel the want to come back later on the same day, your ticket is still valid for entry and can warrant you another pass to the Seattle Aquarium.

32. Seattle Japanese Garden

There is a gem tucked in the south side of the Washington Park Arboretum. It is called the Japanese Garden, conceptualized by landscape artist Juki Iida.

It occupies 3.5 acres of the Arboretum, featuring well-curated landscapes following the principle of “shizensa” or the essence of nature. 

Enjoy an authentic tea ceremony in the Shoseian Tea house at the Seattle Japanese Garden.

For 40 minutes, you get to experience a traditional Japanese experience that would make you feel as if you are miles away from the bustling city.  

Admission for adults costs $8 while residents enjoy a discounted rate of $6. Seniors, youth and persons with disability pay half the regular price while children below five years old enter for free.

Plan your visit ahead of time in order to enjoy this visual garden for free. Come during the first Thursday of the month when the park is open to everyone at no cost from 1 PM onwards.

33. Kerry Park Seattle

Also called the Franklin Palace, the Kerry Park Seattle WA United States is one of the best places in Seattle for photography.

The views from the park is truly iconic, driving shutter bugs to the park for the exceptional skyline of Seattle and stunning sunsets at Elliott Bay.

The Kerry Park got its name from the past vice president of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition named Albert Kerry.

He gave a substantial amount to the purchasing of lots in order for the park to have unbeatable views of the city. 

Aside from its photogenic spots, Kerry Park is also a great place to take your loved one out on a romantic date.

Some groups also make use of the park’s great views for wedding parties and other celebrations. 

After enjoying the park to the fullest, explore the outskirts of the Queen Anne neighborhood and discover sweet spots for food and shopping.

34. Walk Around Green Lake

Recommended by Gina from Evergreen and Salt

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Walk Around Green Lake

Green Lake is one of the hip and happening neighborhoods of Seattle, located just six miles north of the city’s downtown area.

In Green Lake, you’ll find charming craftsman-style houses and trendy eateries, but the main appeal of this area of Seattle is the lake it’s named after.

Green Lake is centrally located in the neighborhood and has a paved walking path that goes all the way around the lake.

The path is 2.8 miles long and makes for a leisurely place to walk or to get in a scenic jog. It also has a bike path next to the walking path so you don’t have to worry about directly sharing the path with cyclists.

If you’re visiting Seattle for fun, a slow amble around the lake to soak in the pretty scenery is best, followed by a visit to a nearby eatery for lunch or dinner.

There is also a playground next to the Green Lake Community Center, which is a bonus for families traveling with young children. The community center is also likely where you’ll start your walk.

There is a parking lot right next to it. This lot can fill up fast, especially on the weekends, so be aware there is lots of free (though usually only for a limited time) and metered street parking located on the side streets jutting off from the main road surrounding the lake.

The easiest way to get to Green Lake is by car, but if you’re not traveling around Washington with a vehicle, then you can also take the local bus there from other locations around Seattle. 

35. Museum of History and Industry

The Museum of History and Industry or MOHAI is one of the top museums in Seattle. It is a great way to learn about the rich history of the city in an interactive way.

There are two permanent exhibits that can be found in MOHAI, entitled True Northwest: The Seattle Journey and the Bezos Center for Innovation.

Lounge for a while at the MOHAI Cafe. Grab a quick bite and sip a good cup of coffee as you enjoy the great views in the area.

Afterwards, head to the MOHAI Mercantile and go on a shopping splurge among the creative items and local finds on display.

The MOHAI is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. On first Thursdays and on select days of some months, they extend operations until 8 PM.

Adult admission is priced at about $22. Senior, students and military personnel enjoy discounted rates. Youth ages 14 years old and below are not charged at all.

36. Benaroya Hall Seattle

The Benaroya Hall is an auditorium in Seattle which can sit up to 2,500 spectators. The architecture of the hall is a tourist destination in itself, incorporating classy designs into the gorgeous interior.

The Benaroya Hall is a 189,750 square feet complex that acts as a home to the beloved Seattle Symphony.

What’s in a name? The Benaroya Hall in Seattle was named after Jack Benaroya. He gave the hall as a gift to the city of Seattle, his preliminary contribution amounting to 15 million dollars.

He then gave another 800,000 dollars to the auditorium to cover for whatever operational loss they may incur. 

The conceptualization and construction of the Benaroya Hall was put in effect because performers and society alike saw the need for a proper venue that is designed to enhance symphonic music, among others.

To date, two performance halls can be found within the massive events place. These are the Taper Auditorium and the Nordstrom Recital Hall. Both venues are world-class, offering topnotch venues to various performances.

37. Kubota Garden

There are many things to do in Seattle for the complete family. A trip to the 20-acre Kubota Garden is definitely one of these, bringing in the beauty and serenity of Japan to the busy city.

The name is taken from Fujitaro Kubota, a self-taught gardener who established the Kubota Gardening Company after migrating to the United States.

The Kubota Garden history dates back to 1927 when Kubota bought a massive land measuring five acres along Rainier Beach. He passed away in 1973 with the hope of opening the garden to the public someday soon.

This dream of Kubota came to pass in 1981 when it was declared as an official historical landmark of Seattle.

The hills, valleys, waterfalls and streams have now become public sights to behold for anyone who travels to the city. A visit to the Kubota Garden is one of the top things to do in Seattle for free.

Ultimate List of Best Things to do in Seattle3

38. South Lake Union

South Lake Union or SLU is regarded as one of the best neighborhoods to live in in Seattle. It is the home of the  beautiful Lake Union Park, filled with varied activities to discover.

A visit to the park is one of the many things to do in downtown Seattle for free.

South Lake Union is also the location of the Museum of History and Industry or MOHAI, part of the cool places in Seattle Washington.

The MOHAI is proud to display millions of heritage collections including Boeing’s first ever commercial plane.

In September, the South Lake Union is filled with attendees of the annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival. It is the time when the Center of Wooden Boats is at its most festive.

During ordinary days, the center holds great activities that promote maritime heritage appreciation such as toy boat building and public sailing.

39. Volunteer Park Conservatory

The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a greenhouse that welcomes visitors to a day full of exploration.

The botanical garden is ocated north of Volunteer Park, with its Palm House acting as the main point of interest once you arrive at the place. 

The history of the conservatory dates back to 1912, the year when the dream of the Olmsted Brothers was put into construction by New York-based Lord & Burnham.

The whole Volunteer Park Conservatory is 6800 square feet wide comprised of four houses that have distinct displays and environments.

One of the most notable plants inside the botanical garden is the Jade Tree or crassula argentea which joined the Conservatory in 1916, making it 104 years old as of this writing.

A day at the Volunteer Park Conservatory is one of the best things to do in Seattle. Admission rate for adults amounts to $4 while the youth only pay half the price.

Children ages twelve and below and members of the Friends of the Conservatory can enjoy a trip to the garden for free.

40. Day trip to Victoria, BC

Recommended by Ashley from Wild Hearted

victoria-bc-things to do near seattle
Day trip to Victoria, BC

When you’re thinking of the best things to do in Seattle, making a day trip to Victoria, B.C. may not have even crossed your mind but if you have extra time, don’t be so quick to count it out.

While the day will be action-packed and full, making a day trip from Seattle to Victoria is doable and exciting. 

The ferry takes just under three hours and departs from downtown Seattle. There are plenty of ways to spend one day in Victoria, B.C.

Make sure to walk around the inner harbour and check out all the old wooden boats, take a free guided tour of the impressive and beautiful Parliament buildings, have afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress hotel, and stop to smell the flowers at Butchart Gardens. 

Visiting Victoria in one day is a great way to see a bit of British Columbia if you’re short on time. This little slice of Canada definitely has a magical vibe and beautiful views that are worth seeing at least once.

If the above things aren’t your cup of tea or you have more time, visit the oldest Chinatown in Canada, visit the Royal BC Museum, or go on a whale watching tour. 

Don’t forget to take comfortable shoes and your passport!

41. Fremont Troll

The story behind the Fremont Troll is an interesting one. There was a time when the government needed to host an art competition in order to make use of an area in Seattle that is known to have a bad reputation.

It was the Aurora Bridge, and a lot of participants took the challenge.

The winner of the said contest was Steve Badanes and his team. They are the ones who created the Fremont Troll, taking inspiration from the story of Billy Goat’s Gruff – a tale that involved a really ugly troll.

Under the bridge, you will see a character of the same sort crashing a Volkswagen Beetle as it emerges from the ground.

A trip to see the Fremont Troll is often included in a Seattle city tour. If you want to see the main event by yourself, it is going to be an easy task – just head over to the aptly named Troll Avenue and see the monstrous monument in all its glory.

42. Frye Art Museum

A journey to the Frye Art Museum is one of the fun free things to do in Seattle. A  lot of events are held in its vicinity.

A quick look at their calendar will show you upcoming events such as mindfulness meditation, art history lectures and art making classes.

There is a public tour covering the Frye Art Museum from Tuesday to Sunday. If you would like to book a private tour for your group, reservations can be made beforehand. Both tours are offered free of charge.

Do make a quick stop at Cafe Frieda when you are paying a visit to the Frye Art Museum. The shop got its name from Frieda Sondland who was a prominent supporter of the museum.

Together with her husband, she frequented the place daily when she was still living, actively discussing art and enjoying events at the museum.

43. Center for Wooden Boats

The Center for Wooden Boats is located at the South Lake Union, one of the top Seattle destinations to visit.

It hosts several free family activities in Seattle while some are in need of association fees or donations to gain access. 

The conception of the Center for Wooden Boats dates back to 1968 when Dick Wagner and his wife started renting out their growing collection of small boats.

They lovingly called it a living museum as they offered immersive experience to those who visit their place, marvel at their boats and sail in one of their prized beauties.

The annual Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival is the time when the Center of Wooden Boats is at its most festive. This year in September, the theme for the festival is Heritage Wooden Boats.

During ordinary days, the center holds great activities that promote maritime heritage appreciation such as toy boat building and public sailing.

44. Gum Wall

If you are heading to the Pike Place Market, chances are you have seen this quirky installation that is truly colorful from afar – yet a closer look might just cause you to step back.

It might just be one of the dirtiest tourist attractions you have ever been.

The Gum Wall is considered as one of the top sites in Seattle. Located near the entrance of the Market, this wall has been receiving gums from people since the 1990s.

The area covered with gums reach up to 50 feet long. While some gums were just randomly placed and piled after another, others can be considered as works of art. 

In an effort to sanitize the space and preserve the structure, massive clean up of the Gum Wall was done in 2015. The management was able to get more than 2000 pounds of hardened gum.

Shortly after the good scrub, people started sticking and adding chewed gum to the wall anew. 

45. The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

One of the best places to go in Seattle is the Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center. Take a Boeing Factory Tour which runs for 90 minutes and see the 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliners being assembled right before your eyes.

A Boeing Factory Tour costs $27. Seniors, the youth, military personnel and Boeing employees enjoy discounted tour rates.

If you would like access to the gallery and sky deck only, you may do so for a lower rate of $12. Seniors, the youth, military personnel and Boeing employees also enjoy discounted rates for this option.

Before leaving the facility, take a quick stop at the Paper Plane Cafe and choose from a selection of refreshing shakes and gourmet sandwiches.

For your memorabilia needs, drop by at the Boeing Store and purchase some cool merchandise to bring home.

46. Gas Works Park

The Gas Works Park in Seattle WA is a public park frequented by locals and tourists alike. A visit to this park is one of the free things to do in Seattle. 

The park is named as such because its location previously housed the Seattle Gas Light Company. A lot of its fixtures can still be seen around the Gas Works Park.

Most of them have been transformed into something useful and appropriate for the change in the venue’s function.

Some of the activities which you can readily partake at the Gas Works Park include kite flying, frisbee playing and yoga practicing.

While the Lake Union flows nearby, no swimming or any form of water activity is allowed in the area.

47. Waterfront Park

One of the many fun things to do in Seattle especially with the entire family is to visit the Waterfront Park.

The whole park stretches from Pier 57 to Pier 59, with benches and telescopes that encourage lounging and viewing along the area.

See the Waterfront Fountain and marvel at the 1974 beauty conceptualized by James FitzGerald and Margaret Tomkins.

The design is unique and unconventional, with cubical fixtures acting as water structures that will surely captivate you.

Currently, the whole of Waterfront is undergoing major construction, making the Waterfront Park inaccessible as of this writing.

The whole area will not be open to the public until the year 2024. A detailed update on the construction can be found at the Waterfront Seattle website.

Ultimate List of Best Things to do in Seattle3

Where to stay in Seattle

1. Four Seasons Hotel Seattle

Four Seasons IS luxury. Whichever part of the world you travel to, this five-star hotel chain will never disappoint. The Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle is not an exception.

Enjoy an urban escape in the Pacific Northwest as Four Season brings you in the heart of downtown Seattle.

The Seattle Art Museum is your neighbor while the Elliott Bay peaks nearby. If location is key to your heart, Four Seasons has just won by landslide.

Get the Corner Elliott Bay Suite and enjoy a serene room overlooking the glistening bay waters.

2. The Charter Seattle, Curio Collection by Hilton

The Charter by Hilton in Seattle is part of the Curio Collection of this luxury hotel brand. It enjoys a prime location in downtown Seattle, with the just a mile away from the iconic Space Needle and the goodness of Pioneer Square.

In love with the city view?

There are elegant one and two-bedroom options for you to choose from. Fancy a view of the nearby waters? Book a suite that is fit for the most discerning traveller.

Should you suddenly feel the urge for some authentic South American cuisine experience, head over to the Patagon Restaurant.

3. The State Hotel

One of the best places to stay in Seattle is the State Hotel. Located near Pike Place Market, this upscale accommodation is both iconic and luxurious.

The State Hotel was opened in 2019 after the original building (from 1904) was renovated after sitting largely unoccupied for over 30 years.

Get a Water View Queen Room and enjoy waking up to the pristine scenery that shows you the nearby Waterfront.

The design is both tasteful and functional, mirroring the beauty and essentiality of city living.

When evening calls, head over to Ben Paris and enjoy a night of interesting fun with its well-curated cocktails. Fancy drinking a Gum Wall-inspired drink?

4. Thompson Seattle

If you are thinking of where to stay in Seattle, think no further and choose Thompson.

This luxurious Hyatt property is located near the waterfront of Puget Sound and has been receiving awards for being the best in all of the Pacific Northwest.

Marvel at the floor-to-ceiling windows of your Two Bedroom Thompson Suite and see the best nearby landmarks of the city of Seattle right from your accommodation.

Capture the ending of another day at Thompson’s The Nest. Enjoy unparalleled views of the Olympic Mountain Range and the Elliot Bay with a signature drink in hand. 

Seattle Frequently Asked Questions

1. When is the best time to visit Seattle?

From July to mid-October you will have the best chances for good weather with lots of sun and minimal rain showers. This is the best time to visit Seattle for outdoor activities.

If you want to visit Seattle outside the peak season I recommend you a trip in April or May. From mid-October to February the weather is rather bad with rain, cold temperatures and grey sky.

2. How far is Seattle Airport from downtown?

The distance between Seattle Airport (SEA) and Seattle downtown is around 15 miles or 24 kilometers.

3. How far apart are Vancouver and Seattle?

The distance between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia is 119 miles or 192 kilometers.

Read full article: HOW TO GET FROM SEATTLE TO VANCOUVER

Are you keeping up with my United States Series

You will never run out of places to travel to in the US. Here is our list of the BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN USA.

If you fall in love with American Food check out these recipes to prepare TRADITIONAL AMERICAN FOOD at home.

Is Las Vegas on your travel itinerary? Here are 95 FREE AND CHEAP THINGS TO DO IN LAS VEGAS.

Do you need more inspiration? We also put together lists of best things to do in NEW YORK, BOSTON, SEATTLE and LOS ANGELES.

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UltimateListofBestThingstodoinSeattle

  1. Perth Is Ok February 17, 2020 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Amazing place for travel and all these places that you have mentioned above is world famous. I will plan to visit on this place.

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