Seattle is a city that is full of culture and history. There are so many things to do in this city, it can be hard to decide what to do first! From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, Seattle has something for everyone. In this Seattle travel guide, we will discuss some of the most memorable things to do in Seattle, ideal for your first visit to the city.
For more hidden gems in the city, don’t miss out on a lot of unique museums, attractions, and guided tours. Seattle has so much to offer that the only issue you might face on your trip is prioritizing what to do first!
Lucky for you, if you’re staying in one of our conveniently located vacation rental homes, you’ll be able to squeeze in more things to do on your trip or really take the time to soak up one of two that really draw your attention.
Without further ado, here are the most memorable things to do in Seattle.
1. Check Out the Space Needle
No visit to Seattle is complete without a trip to the Space Needle! This towering observation deck provides breathtaking views of the city and beyond. You can also learn about the history of the Space Needle and see some cool exhibits.
The Loupe Lounge is a great place to grab a drink or a bite to eat while enjoying the views. It’s best to visit the Space Needle on a sunny day for the best chance to see Mt. Rainier in all of its glory.
Keep in mind that the Space Needle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle, so it can get pretty crowded. Be sure to arrive early to avoid crowds.
Pro tip: If you’re not worried about how you get your view of the city, bypass the crowds at the Space Needle and visit the neighboring Smith Tower instead!
2. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a must-visit for any Seattleite. As one of the top Seattle attractions, it’s as synonymous with this city as good coffee and rainy days. This historic market is home to fresh produce, unique shops, and delicious food. There are more than 200 stalls housing everything from flowers to fish.
Pike Place Market is also a great place to people watch. You never know who you’ll see or what you’ll find. It’s a perfect place to get into a conversation with a local.
If you’re looking for a souvenir, Pike Place Market is the place to find it. You can find everything from hand-crafted jewelry to locally made coffee mugs. Unfortunately, some of the goods sold here are mass-produced tourist stuff but if you’re willing to roam, you’ll find some one-of-a-kind treasures here, too.
Pike Place Market is open every day of the week, so be sure to add it to your itinerary when visiting Seattle.
3. Visit the Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is one of the top tourist attractions in the city and for good reason. This aquarium is home to a variety of sea life, including sharks, octopuses, and seals. You can also learn about the local environment and the efforts to protect it.
The Seattle Aquarium is a great place for families and kids of all ages. There are plenty of interactive exhibits and educational programs.
Since rainy days are common in Seattle, the aquarium is a great place to visit on a day when the weather isn’t cooperating.
The Seattle Aquarium is open every day from nine in the morning until five in the evening. Be sure to check out their website for ticket prices and special events.
4. Visit the Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture is a must-visit for any music or music or film lover. This museum has tons of interactive exhibits, plus a massive collection of memorabilia from your favorite films and musicians. Since Seattle has played such a pivotal role in American music, this museum does a great job of playing homage to the stars that made Seattle shine.
If you want to see live music while you’re in Seattle, the Museum of Pop Culture has a venue that hosts a variety of concerts. You can also keep an eye out for workshops, film screenings, and other events.
No matter what your interests are, you’re sure to find something at the Museum of Pop Culture that piques your interest.
5. Spend a Day Walking Around the Seattle Center
The Seattle Center is a great choice for an action-packed day of fun when visiting the city of Seattle, Washington. Memorialized as being constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, it has since evolved to provide arts, education, tourism, and entertainment within its 74 acres.
Take yourself on a self-guided walking tour and enjoy all the Seattle Center has to offer. The Space Needle is actually located within the Seattle Center, along with Chihuly Gardens. There’s plenty of green space between the attractions so strolling from one to another is really nice on a sunny day.
The Seattle Center has a little bit of everything! The Discovery Center, sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates is perfect for kids. Don’t forget to check out the International Fountain while you’re here.
If you’re looking for entertainment, catch a show at the Center House or ride on one of the amusement park rides. And if you get hungry, don’t worry – there are plenty of food stalls and drink options available on the premises.
6. Ride the Famous Seattle Great Wheel
This Ferris wheel dates back to the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 and has become an iconic symbol of the city. The best part? You can actually ride it!
The views from the top of the wheel are absolutely breathtaking. You can see for miles in every direction. On a clear day, you might even be able to see Mount Rainier.
Riding the Seattle Great Wheel is an experience you won’t want to miss. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the ticket booth.
7. Eat Coastal Delicacies at the Crab Pot
If you’ve come to Seattle to try some fresh seafood, you need to eat at the Crab Pot. This restaurant is famous for its crab pots, which are loaded with delicious crab, shrimp, and veggies.
But the Crab Pot isn’t just about crab pots. They also have a variety of other seafood items on their menu, including fish and chips, clam chowder, and oysters.
No matter what you order, you’re sure to have a delicious meal at the Crab Pot. Just be sure to come hungry!
If seafood isn’t necessarily your thing, don’t worry, there are plenty of other great restaurants in Seattle for you to choose from.
8. Shop Around in the Ballard Neighborhood
Ballard is one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods, and it’s easy to see why. This neighborhood is full of boutique shops, antique stores, and local businesses.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Ballard. If you love to shop, this is the place for you!
In addition to shops, there is also a popular farmers’ market in Ballard. This is the perfect place to find fresh produce, flowers, and other local goods.
9. Check Out Seattle’s Chinatown
Chinatown is a must-visit when you’re in Seattle. This vibrant neighborhood is full of delicious restaurants, interesting shops, and historic landmarks.
Be sure to check out the Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Association for a map of the area. This will help you make the most of your time in Chinatown.
And don’t forget to try some of the delicious food! Chinatown is home to some of the best Chinese restaurants in Seattle so, make your taste buds happy and take yourself on a mini food tour while you’re there.
If you happen to be in town for the Mid-Autumn Festival you’re really in for a treat. This festival features a night market that allows you to taste a variety of different foods from different vendors.
10. Snap a Selfie in Front of the Famous Gum Wall
You can’t come to Seattle and not take a picture in front of the gum wall! This unique wall is covered in chewing gum and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
The gum wall is located in Post Alley, which is also home to Pike Place Market. Be sure to walk around and explore this area while you’re nearby. While it may seem like a gross tourist trap, the gum wall is actually a pretty cool place to visit and is a common Seattle bucket list item.
11. Take Your Children to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
Also located in the Seattle Center, this is a beautiful place that will take your breath away if you’re an art and nature lover, and it’s also a great choice for those looking for family-friendly activities. Chihuly Garden and Glass feature the work of world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The museum features a variety of different exhibits, including the Glasshouse, which is home to a 100-foot sculpture made entirely of glass. The outdoor garden is equally as impressive as the indoor exhibits and is a great place to take a stroll.
Glassblowers occasionally give demonstrations, so you can watch them create masterpieces right before your eyes.
12. Sip on Some Coffee at the Original Starbucks
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the original Starbucks. This coffee shop is located in Pike Place Market and is one of the most popular tourist destinations.
This location opened in 1971, and it’s still serving up delicious coffee to this day. If you want to avoid the long lines, be sure to come early in the morning or later in the evening.
While most people visiting the city have this high on their list of things to do in Seattle, if the long line deters you, don’t worry. Seattle isn’t just the home of Starbucks, its the home of excellent coffee in general. Choose a local mom and pop café to ease your caffeine deficit instead!
13. Take a Day Trip to Lake Washington
Within the city limits but outside of the typical tourist area, head out to Lake Washington. This large lake is just a short drive from the city and is a great place to enjoy some time outdoors.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, including fishing, boating, and hiking. Or you can simply relax in one of the many recreational areas. Along the shores is the Washington Park Arboretum. It has a great Japanese botanical garden that makes for a great day with plenty of fresh air.
Consider packing a lunch and making a day of it. Lake Washington is the perfect place to enjoy some time in nature without traveling too far from the city.
14. See the Puget Sound
A sound is a narrow sea inlet that is located along the coast. The Puget Sound is a large body of water that extends from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Strait of Georgia.
The Puget Sound is home to a variety of different marine life, including orcas, seals, and dolphins. You can also find a variety of different birds in the area. If you’re looking for a unique way to see Puget Sound, consider taking a ferry ride. This is a great way to get out on the water and enjoy the scenery. This will give you a unique view of the city, too.
If you’re interested in a quick day trip from Seattle, take the ferry to nearby Bainbridge Island.
15. Visit the Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is one of the largest aviation museums in the world and is a must-see for anyone interested in airplanes. The museum is located just outside of Seattle and is home to a variety of different exhibits.
You can see over 175 different aircraft, including the first jetliner, the Concorde, and a handful of boeings. The Museum of Flight is also home to the Space Shuttle Trainer, which was used to prepare astronauts for their missions.
There are a variety of different tours and activities available, so you can spend as much or as little time at the museum as you like.
16. Spend a Day at the Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country and is a great choice for those looking for family-friendly activities. The zoo is home to over 300 different animals, including lions, tigers, and bears.
You can also find a variety of different birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The Woodland Park Zoo is a great place to learn about the animal kingdom and spend some time outdoors.
17. Visit the Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The museum is home to a variety of different exhibits, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It’s also associated with the Asian Art Museum, which is located in the same building. The Olympic Sculpture Park is also operated by the Seattle Art Museum.
You can find a variety of different events and programs taking place at the museum. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon if you’re interested in art and culture.
Grab a souvenir at one of the many gift shops before you leave if you want to find one-of-a-kind items for your loved ones.
18. Take in the Views at Kerry Park
This small but special park is located on Queen Anne Hill and features breathtaking views of the downtown Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay, and the Space Needle. On a clear day, you can also see the majestic peak of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Kerry Park is the perfect place to come for a picnic lunch or to watch the sunset.
People regularly have weddings and other special events at Kerry Park because of its stunning views.
The park is open year-round and is free to enter as long as there isn’t a special event. Be sure to bring your camera – you’ll want to remember this view forever!
19. Sip on Specialty Coffee at Sound Fog
This local coffee shop is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and is known for its unique drinks and relaxed atmosphere. The coffee shop has a vintage feel with its mismatched furniture and exposed brick walls.
Sound Fog also has a wide selection of tea if you’re not a coffee drinker. And there are plenty of pastries and sandwiches available if you get hungry.
The coffee shop is open daily and has a relaxed dress code, so you can come as you are. Make sure to explore the Capitol Hill neighborhood when you’re done – there are plenty of great shops and restaurants to check out.
20. Explore the Fremont Neighborhood
Fremont is one of Seattle’s most unique neighborhoods and is known for its funky public art and lively atmosphere. The neighborhood is home to a variety of different shops and restaurants including El Camino, a Mexican-inspired eatery, and the Fremont Brewing Beer Garden.
You can also find a number of different art galleries and museums in Fremont. The neighborhood is also home to the world’s largest troll sculpture!
Make sure to check out the Fremont Sunday Market when you’re in the area – it’s a great place to find local
21. Explore the Burke-Gilman Trail
This popular trail is located in the north part of Seattle and is perfect for those looking to get some exercise. The trail is over 27 miles long and features a number of different scenic views.
You can also find a variety of different businesses and restaurants along the trail. The Burke-Gilman Trail is a great place to come for a run or to go on a leisurely walk. And if you’re just visiting, rent a bike so you can cover plenty of ground.
22. Check Out Lake Union
Located in the heart of Seattle, Lake Union is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. The lake is surrounded by a number of different parks and is a great place for renting a kayak or electric boat.
There are a couple of restaurants along the lake and some have a beautiful view of the lake, so try to make reservations near sunset for an unforgettable romantic evening.
You’ll see a variety of boats including yachts, sailboats, fire boats, and more. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a seaplane taking off or landing.
23. Take a Trek to the Olympic National Park
Located just a few hours from Seattle, the Olympic National Park is a must-visit for any nature lover. The park is home to a variety of different landscapes including mountains, forests, and beaches.
There are also a number of different trails you can hike or bike depending on your level of interest and expertise. And if you want to explore the park but don’t have a lot of time, you can take a scenic drive.
Make sure to bring your camera – there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the park!
24. Try One of the Nearby Washington Wineries
Washington state is home to a number of different wineries and many of them are located just a short 30-minute drive from Seattle. Woodinville is the most popular wine region and is home to over 100 different wineries.
There are also a number of different vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley, Yakima Valley, and Columbia Gorge region. And if you’re looking for a unique experience, try one of the many urban wineries located in Seattle.
Some of the main varietals grown in Washington state include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling. So whether you’re a red or white wine drinker, you’ll be sure to find something you like.
For great drinks within the city limits, visit one of Seattle’s best breweries instead.
25. Take an Underground Tour
Seattle is home to a number of different underground tours that explore the city’s history. The most popular tour is the Bill Speidel Underground Tour, which takes you through a portion of the city that was once underground. Many tunnels and passageways were created when the city was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1889.
The tour covers about a mile and a half and takes you through a variety of different areas including an old bus station, hotel, and theater. You’ll also get to see some of the original street signs that were used when the city was first built
The tour is a great way to learn about the city’s history and get a different perspective of Seattle.
26. Visit Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is one of the most popular parks in Seattle and is located on the north side of Lake Union. The park is home to a number of different attractions including a playground, picnic areas, and a gasworks plant.
The plant was built in 1906 and operated until 1956. It’s now a National Historic Landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
The park also has a number of different trails that offer stunning views of the city, so it’s a great place to come for a walk or run.
27. Take a Trip to Ballard Locks
Ballard Locks is a set of locks that connects the freshwater of Lake Union to the salt water of Puget Sound. The locks were built in 1917 and are now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle.
Visitors can watch boats pass through the locks from an observation deck, and there’s also a fish ladder where you can see salmon swimming upstream.
The locks are located in the Ballard neighborhood, which is a great place to explore with its shops, restaurants, and cafes.
28. Learn at the Pacific Science Center
The Pacific Science Center is a museum that’s perfect for both kids and adults. The museum has a number of different exhibits on topics like space, the environment, and animals.
There’s also a planetarium and an IMAX theater where you can catch a movie. The center is located in Seattle Center, which is also home to the Space Needle and the Museum of Pop Culture.
The Bottom Line
The Pacific Northwest is a great place to visit, and Seattle is one of the most popular cities in the region. There are a number of different things to see and do in the city, from exploring parks and museums to taking underground tours and visiting wineries.
So whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, Seattle is sure to have something for you.