Seattle is the biggest city in Washington and a popular tourist destination with millions of visitors every year. Explore what makes the city so unique and a favorite place to visit while traveling the Pacific Northwest.
Anytime you get to visit the “Emerald City,” you should take advantage. You’ll be surprised how many attractions you can fit in just 24-hours, but the more time, the better.
Well, check out the best things to do in Seattle to fill up your itinerary. You’ll never have a dull moment in such an exciting place to discover!
The Space Needle is by far the most iconic building in Seattle. You’ll almost always see it when viewing the skyline, so why not visit the landmark attraction.
Built during the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, the Space Needle has remained one of the most visited landmarks. It reaches a height of 605-ft, making it one of the tallest buildings in Seattle, and has the highest observation deck.
Take the fast elevator to the top, and you’ll be greeted with the best view of Seattle once the doors open. If you’re brave, stand on the glass floor to see to the ground. There is also a rotating restaurant at the top for a panoramic view of the city while you eat.
Seattle Art Museum
The incredible works of art housed in the Seattle Art Museum make it one of the premier art museums in the Pacific Northeast. With a collection of over 25,000 artworks, there’s something to see for everybody.
As soon as you walk into the modern facility, you’ll see art. It features galleries across three floors showing works collected internationally – African art, Australian Aboriginal, European masters, and more. It’s hosted temporary installations dedicated to Jacob Lawrence, Van Gogh, and several other world-famous names.
From the world-class paintings to the monumental sculptures, the Seattle Art Museum is a place that connects to global culture.
Pike Place Market
Come hungry to Pike Place Market because there is plenty of delicious food to try. Opened in 1907, it’s one of the oldest markets in the US and among the top things to do in Seattle. You’ll immediately recognize it by the “Public Market” sign, which is a historical landmark.
Pike Place Market is open daily where locals and tourists shop and sightsee. Vendors sell everything from seafood, produce, fresh flowers, local art, and more. The open-air fish market is exciting, with fishmongers tossing fish back and forth, so watch your head.
Grab some ready-to-eat foods and grab a spot on the waterfront to enjoy the scenic views and market ambiance.
Boeing Future of Flight Tour
Just a short drive outside of Seattle, you’ll reach Boeing’s largest facility, where many of its signature planes are produced. The factory is open for visitors to take the Boeing Future of Flight Tour to see behind the scenes of the aircraft.
If you arrived by plane in Seattle, there’s a good chance you flew on a Boeing aircraft. Now, you get to see how it’s made. The 90-minute tour takes you on a walk through the working assembly line to see its’ popular aircraft line from the 747 to 787.
Seattle Great Wheel
Take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, one of the most famous attractions on the waterfront. It’s one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country, with a height of 175-ft. It earns a spot as one of the most fun things to do in Seattle in the daytime or evening.
The pier has plenty of fun activities like shops and an arcade, but the Ferris wheel is the highlight. Hop inside a pod and go for multiple rotations. You’ll have an incredible view at the top of the Puget Sound harbor and the cityscape.
The sunset is a popular time to visit the Ferris wheel and wait for the light show at night.
Olympic Sculpture Park
The award-winning Olympic Sculpture Park is a must-visit while exploring Downtown Seattle. The urban park is managed by the Seattle Art Museum that features large-scale sculptures right on the waterfront.
Olympic Sculpture Park covers nine acres and is filled with several works of art. You’ll get to see notable pieces like “Eagle” by Alexander Calder and the “Father and Son” fountain by Louise Bourgeois.
The park is a free space for the public to walk around and appreciate art. There are paved walkways to see the various pieces and benches to sit down and enjoy a moment with your favorite piece.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Get ready to see incredible artwork from famed American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. The Chihuly Garden and Glass is a museum dedicated to showcasing the best of the artist’s works. It’s located in Seattle Center at the foot of the Space Needle that offers deals on visiting the two attractions.
Walkthrough the Exhibition Hall and Glasshouse to see large glass sculptures – don’t forget to look up to see suspended works. You’ll learn all about his inspiration behind the colorful glass pieces beautifully displayed.
The museum also hosts live glass blowing events and has an outdoor garden to walk around with fantastic views of the Space Needle.
Seattle has a beautiful skyline that you’ll get to truly appreciate when visiting Kerry Park. Although a small park, it’s one of the top places to visit in Seattle for the best views. Not only do you get to see all of downtown, but on a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier in the background.
Kerry Park is situated on Queen Anne Hill. Visitors can relax on the manicured lawns for a scenic picnic. It’s also pet-friendly, so you’ll see a lot of people hanging out. It’s a great date spot or photography spot. The best time to visit is right before the sunset to watch it set over the city.
Museum of Pop Culture
Immerse yourself in the best of modern-day pop culture at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Founded in 2000, it highlights everything about contemporary pop culture expanding across genres such as music, movies, and video games.
You never know what you’ll encounter when walking through the MoPOP, but you’ll surely be able to relate to a lot of it. The music exhibitions are one of the first established showcasing costumes and guitars from Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana. Other displays highlight famous movies like Alien vs. Predator and the popular Minecraft video game.
There are tons of interactive activities to make it a fun visit for all ages.
Go for a leisure stroll through the Kubota Garden, one of Seattle’s hidden gems. It’s one of the best things to do in Seattle for free! The tranquil setting is great for escaping the busy city life or taking incredible photos.
Kubota Garden is designed as a Japanese garden that features lots of native plants from the Northwest region. Paved trails wind throughout the garden’s 20-acres to give you picturesque scenery. It has many decorative features like bridges, statues, ponds, and waterfalls.
The spring and fall are the best times to visit to see the fresh flower bloom or the colorful fall foliage.
Almost everybody loves Starbucks. Since you’ll probably make a stop at the cafe at some point during your trip, you may as well visit the original Starbucks. It’s located near Pike Place Market, so you can easily drop by for a delicious cup of coffee.
We don’t have to sell you on the idea that the coffee is great. There are many unique features of the store that make it a tourist attraction as much as it is a daily stop for locals. The store opened in 1971 and features the original logo and special drinks.
It’s perfectly fine if you just come in to take photos and grab souvenirs to commemorate your visit.
PS: If you’re a huge Starbucks fan, don’t forget to check out the nearby Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Pike for a refreshing take on the Starbucks experience (and wine).
Museum of Flight
Seattle is a destination synonymous with air travel. While the Boeing Factory Tour gives a look at the current aircraft, visit the Museum of Flight to explore its history. The museum holds one of the best aircraft and spacecraft collections in the US, with more than 175 vehicles on display.
The Museum of Flight has several exhibits dedicated to aircraft used during the World Wars, spacecraft from various missions, and other artifacts. You can even explore inside of some of the aircraft.
With Seattle located along the waterfront, you can’t help but be curious about the marine life lurking in the waters nearby. We’ll, now you have a chance by visiting the Seattle Aquarium. It features lots of local marine animals and has interactive exhibitions to make it one of the fun things to do in Seattle to spend the day.
The Seattle Aquarium is situated on Pier 59 at Elliot Bay. Many of the animals are found in the Puget Sound and Pacific Northwest region. Some of the favorite animals to see include sharks, stingrays, sea lions, octopuses, and seals.
One of the trendiest places to visit in Seattle is actually the oldest. Pioneer Square is considered the city’s first neighborhood that remains just as popular as it did back when it was established. It’s one of those places to visit in Seattle to enjoy sightseeing, dining, and entertainment all in one location.
Pioneer Square was established in 1853. Take a walk around the district to discover incredible architectural works of a Renaissance Revival style.
There are several restaurants to get a delicious meal or take the famous underground tour. It’s a cultural hub during the day with lots of art galleries and boutique shops. By night, it becomes one of the best areas in Seattle for nightlife.
The Gum Wall is a fine line between art and something utterly disgusting (depending on who you ask). But for some reason, tourists continue to walk through the alley as one of the unique things to do in Seattle.
The Gum Wall started with a sole piece left behind by someone waiting in line to see a show at the Market Theater. Little did they know, it would spark a trend that continues to this day.
There are over one million pieces of gum left behind on the walls of the alley. Feel free to leave your mark on the wall as you pass by it!
Seattle Underground Tour
Did you know that there is an underground city hidden beneath Seattle? Take an underground tour to discover the forgotten city that once reigned in present-day Seattle.
The original city was destroyed in 1889. The modern city was developed directly above it. Today, several tour providers offer tours to explore the underground ruins.
Visit Pioneer Square to descend to the underground city. You go through stores, alleyways, streets, and more. It’s hard to imagine that everything you see was once considered the ground level. The tours give excellent details about the former city’s history.
Sometimes you need a break from the big city atmosphere of Seattle. Bainbridge Island is among the popular places to visit in Seattle for a day trip. It’s just a short ferry ride away that’s known for its nature preserve and museums.
The ride to Bainbridge Island is only approximately 30-minutes, but you’ll feel like you’re in a completely new place. Be sure to look back at the spectacular skyline view before you arrive.
There are local attractions on the island, including the Bloedel Reserve, museums, shops, and parks.
Pacific Science Center
Become a scientist for the day when you visit the Pacific Science Center. It’s a popular museum designed for fun and education. Put your brain to work as you explore creative scientific ideas and conduct your own hands-on experiments.
Pacific Science Center is a place for all ages. It has various exhibitions that display everything from dinosaurs to lots of butterflies. Some of the facilities include a planetarium, IMAX theaters, and virtual reality.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re in for a treat when you visit Seattle. Seattle is home to the MLB’s Mariners and the NFL’s Seahawks. Try to get tickets to see a game, but if they’re not in town when you visit, you can still take a tour of their respective stadiums.
The Mariners play at T-Mobile Park, and the Seahawks play at CenturyLink Field. Both fields offer tours for fans. You’ll go on a guided tour of the stadiums to learn about the teams’ history and see behind the scenes at the operation. You’ll also get to peep into the locker rooms and see the fields from the player’s perspective.
With over 1.5-million visitors coming to the attraction every year, the Ballard Locks is one of the best things to do in Seattle. The locks regulate the Lake Washington Ship Canal, where you’ll get to see ships passing through the locks in real-time.
The Ballard Locks aids ships passing through Salmon Bay between Lake Union and the Puget Sound. It mainly hosts smaller recreational boats, but you’ll occasionally see large commercial vessels.
Watch the locks in action as the ships get raised or lowered before continuing their journey.
Seattle isn’t only known for rainy days and dreary weather. It’s a fun destination to explore the outdoor attractions on sunny days and plenty of indoor venues if you visit on a cloudy day. Any time is a great time to experience some of the best things to do in Seattle, and you’ll be glad you visited.