Guides

top-things-to-do-in-seattle-1

With a huge variety of cultural, historic and recreational opportunities, there are plenty of things to do during a visit to Seattle. Whether you want to shop in the most exquisite boutiques or hike a trail with breathtaking views, the Emerald City has something for everyone. While best known for its impeccable coffee, towering Space Needle and grunge explosion of the 90’s, the Seattle of today offers practically limitless options.

Find more things to do with the Seattle.com Attractions Directory and Events Calendar.

[Photo courtesy of Pike Place Market]

  • Space Needle / Seattle Center

    305 Harrison Street

    Plan to spend at least one full day at the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle, Experience Music Project, Key Arena, Seattle Center monorail, Pacific Science Center, Memorial Stadium and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The site was home to the 1962 World’s Fair called the Century 21 Exposition. Interestingly, the Space Needle was the combination of what the architect imagined all buildings would look like in the year 2000 and a flying saucer. The city’s most famous icon has a rotating restaurant called SkyCity, an observation deck and a gift shop. Throughout the year, the Center hosts an array of sporting events, music festivals and conferences.

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  • Pike Place Market

    1st & Pike Street

    Pike Place Market is the city’s public market overlooking Elliott Bay in the waterfront section of downtown. As one of the oldest continually operating Farmer’s Markets in the country, it offers locally sourced and artisan foods. It’s built on a steep hill and consists of numerous levels located below the Pike Street. Each features an assortment of shops containing antiques, comic books, collectibles and unique souvenirs. As one of the most popular tourist attractions, the market offers the chance to sample some of the areas specialty foods as well as experience some local culture.

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  • EMP Museum

    400 Broad St.

    Formally known as The Experience Music Project, the EMP Museum is a nonprofit museum dedicated to pop culture. The building houses rock ’n’ roll artifacts hosts live performances, interactive exhibits and an annual Pop Conference. The 140,000 square foot building was designed by Frank Gehry, and is distinctive in its bold colors, shapes and curves. The Northwest section contains memorabilia of local rock artists tracing back to the genre’s earliest days. The Sky Church hosts live music on a stage backed by an enormous LED screen, offering attendees an unforgettable audio and visual experience. The largest collection of relics from Seattle luminaries Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana are contained within its walls.

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  • Take a Guided Tour

    Various Locations

    A guided ground tour of Seattle is an easy way to see numerous attractions in a short amount of time. One of the most popular tours in town, Ride the Ducks utilizes World War II-era aquatic vehicles to transport guests around the city. Your driver and guide cruises the downtown area before plunging into Lake Union near Gasworks Park. Seattle in One Day is a six-hour tour that includes admission to the Space Needle. Riders are dropped at Pike Place Market for two hours in order to explore, shop and sight-see. For lovers of culinary delights, try the Gourmet Seattle Walking Tour. You’ll taste a variety of food at a leisurely pace while learning the history of the restaurants and meeting the chefs. If you prefer to go at your own pace, pick up the Seattle City Pass, which includes admission to the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Experience Music Project and the Argosy Harbor Cruise.

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  • CenturyLink Field

    800 Occidental Ave.

    Situated just south of downtown, CenturyLink Field is home to the championship Seattle Seahawks as well the increasingly popular professional soccer team, Seattle Sounders FC. The complex includes an event theater that hosts live performances as well as an inviting public plaza.

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  • Alki Beach

    West Seattle

    Alki was the landing location of the founders of Seattle. Located across the sound from downtown in the West Seattle neighborhood, Alki offers visitors panoramic views of the city’s skyline. Consider the area Washington state’s Venice Beach—you’ll find bicyclists, rollerbladers, skateboarders and pedestrians cruising the sidewalk along more than a half mile of beach. Stop in for a cool beverage at one of the local taverns or sample the city’s best fish and chips while enjoying the fabulous vistas.

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  • Kerry Park

    211 W Highland Dr.

    Located near the top of Queen Anne Hill, the park was a gift to the city from Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sperry Kerry. Kerry Park offers one of the best observation points in the city. Facing south, there are views of the Space Needle and the city’s skyscrapers. On rare clear days, Mt. Rainier is visible off in the distance. At sunset, visitors pack the park to snap postcard-quality photos of the city and Elliott Bay. After sundown, head over to one of the fine dining destinations on Queen Anne Avenue.

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  • Seattle by Boat

    Downtown Waterfront

    Arguably the best way to see downtown Seattle, several companies offer boat cruises. Argosy day cruises run year round and depart from the downtown waterfront. The ships offer guided tours of Elliot Bay, up through the Ballard Locks and into Lake Union. All have live narration from a knowledgeable guide and feature Seattle attractions and unforgettable views. Wonderful whale watching tours depart daily from Friday harbor, taking passengers through the Orcas Islands, home to many killer whales. The Seattle Harbor Cruise sticks to Elliott Bay, but offers sweeping panoramic views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.

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  • Seattle Art Museum

    1300 1st Ave

    Located in the heart of downtown, the Seattle Art Museum (or “SAM” as locals refer to it) sprawls out over 300,000 feet and includes 25,000 pieces in its permanent collection. The other two main facilities are the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Capitol Hill and the outdoor Olympic Sculpture Park. Admission is always free for the sculpture park and normal admission at the museum is suggested, but not required.

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  • Westlake Center

    400 Pine St.

    If you’re looking to shop, browse or just hang out and people watch, the Westlake Center is a great stop for the day. An enormous four-story mall houses hundreds of specialty shops. The mall is the southern terminus of the Seattle Center Monorail. The sprawling complex also includes a public plaza that serves as Seattle’s unofficial “town square.” Visiting dignitaries and celebrities make appearances or speeches from the building’s balcony. The surrounding area includes many other department stores, such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.

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  • Visit Pioneer Square

    Southwest of Downtown

    Pioneer Square was Seattle’s first downtown and is a must-see for history enthusiasts. The mostly brick and stone buildings built in the late 19th century characterize the neighborhood and give it a historically appealing allure. You won’t want to miss Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Visitors are guided on a walk through subterranean passages that were once the main roadways and storefronts of downtown Seattle. The guides will offer amusing insight into the seedy history of Seattle’s past.

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  • Woodland Park

    5500 Phinney Ave.

    At nearly 100 acres, Woodland Park offers a pleasant natural setting just north of downtown. The eastern portion connects to Green Lake Park while the western side is home to the Woodland Park Zoo. A number of recreational opportunities are available including lawn bowling, miniature golf, picnicking and baseball. The Zoo requires a full day with over 1,000 species, a carousel for the kids and a park that hosts live music during the summer. The rain forest, orangutan and recently opened penguin exhibits are not to be missed.

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