12 Things to Do in Seattle

Seattle is one of my all-time favorite cities. You can't go wrong with all the green (all that rain really does make the city beautiful), and the amazing views of the surrounding water and mountains. And because it is only a 2 hour flight away from San Francisco, I find myself coming back over and over again - 7 times in 6 years, in fact.

Seattle often gets overlooked because of its reputation as a grey, rainy, and muted city, but I think there is something for everyone to love there. Here are the top 12 things to do in the Emerald City:

1. Eat your way through Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating Farmers' Markets in the United States and is an absolute foodie haven. You can find hundreds of produce stands, butchers, bakeries, seafood markets, flower vendors, craftspeople, and specialty food stores in this 9 acre historical district.

It is also home to the original Starbucks location, as well as 80 restaurants. Bring your stomach - there is so much to feast upon here.

2. Go up the Space Needle
Originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, the iconic Space Needle is considered a symbol of Seattle today. Enjoy sweeping views of the downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, Lake Union, the surrounding islands, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier, looking as majestic as ever.

Pro tip: You can buy a day/night ticket to see the views both in light and dark. I discovered (on accident) that the best time to go, is right before sunset - then you get both daytime and nighttime views, even with general admission.

3. Admire the glass art at Chihuly Garden and Glass
You may recognize Seattle area native Dale Chihuly's renowned glass sculptures - one of his most famous works is in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. At Chihuly Garden and Glass, you can admire Chihuly's works in all its glory. The long-term exhibition at the Seattle Center features a gallery, a garden, and a glasshouse, featuring an incredible 100-foot ceiling sculpture that creates a unique view of the neighboring Space Needle.

4. Spend time on the water
Seattle is surrounded by water, and some of the best ways to see the city are from a boat. You can go about this in several ways. One option is to rent a boat or kayak. Another is to take a ferry to one of the surrounding islands. Bainbridge Island, Vashon, and Bremerton are great options for a day trip to get away from the city, and spend some time on the water. You can also take a water taxi to beachy West Seattle.

There are also several companies offering boat tours around Elliott Bay, for spectacular views of the Seattle waterfront, and skyline, and the bay. Another option for is a cruise around Lake Union and Portage Bay, also offering sweeping views of the skyline, and a look into Seattle's unique floating homes community.

5. Snap a photo of the view from Kerry Park
Ever wonder where to get that postcard shot of the Seattle skyline with the Space Needle in the foreground from? This is the spot. Grab your camera, admire the view, and snap a bunch of photos. On a clear day, you can also see Mt. Rainier peek through, making the view even more perfect.

6. Say hi to the Fremont Troll
Located under the Aurora Bridge in Fremont, the Fremont Troll is a public art piece that was built in 1990 as the winner of a competition to rehabilitate the area under the bridge. The piece has its roots in Scandinavian folklore. He's a bit strange, but he's also cool (and HUGE), and you should definitely go say hi to him!
7. Hang out at Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is built on the site of an old coal gasification plant of the Seattle Gas Light company. It houses numerous remnants of the plant, which provided gas for energy to the city of Seattle for 50 years, and is the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the United States.

It also has lots of grass hills and incredible views of Lake Union and the Seattle skyline. It also hosts various events and festivals, and you can find lots of people picnicking and flying kites here on a sunny day. Definitely a cool, unique park to check out.

8. Spend some time at the library
The Central Library location of the Seattle Public Library is an architectural spectacle that is definitely worth a visit. The 11-story steel and glass buildings have won numerous awards. Take a self-guided tour around the facility, sit and read some books (there are several reading rooms), or just stop by to enjoy the view from the 10th floor viewpoint - whatever you do, you can't miss the unique architecture here.

9. Take a walk at Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is a 9-acre sculpture museum and park owned and operated Seattle Art Museum. It features both permanent and visiting installations, and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding water and mountains. Perfect for a leisurely walk, and for experiencing the unique art and natural landscape of the area.

10. Admire the views on the waterfront
Okay, so the Seattle waterfront may be overrun with tourists and full of kitschy souvenir shops and mediocre restaurants - but you can't beat those city and bay views from here. My personal favorite viewpoint is from Pier 69 (pictured above).

From there, keep walking south on Alaskan Way. You can also go for a ride around the Seattle Great Wheel, which is the tallest Ferris Wheel on the west coast and offers panoramic views of the city and Elliott Bay.

11. Take a photo in front of the gum wall
The gum wall is located in front of the theater in Post Alley in Pike Place. It is one of two such walls in the United States (the other one is in San Luis Obispo, CA), and considered to be the second germiest attraction in the world. It started when theater patrons started sticking their gum to the wall; no matter how many times it was cleaned off, the tradition seemed to stick (pun intended, haha). In 1999, it was declared a tourist attraction, and all efforts to clean off the gum stopped...that is until November 2015, when over 2000 pounds of gum were scraped off.

12. Check out the locks in Ballard
Also known as the Hiram M. Chittaden Locks, this series of locks lowers the water levels of the freshwater Lake Union and Lake Washington, and reverses the river flow, and levels it off with the water levels of the sea water of Elliott Bay. It handles the most boat traffic out of any lock in the United States, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Seattle. You can watch the boats pass through, watch the fish go up the fish ladder, or explore the surround park and gardens. Or, for a unique experience, you can take a boat tour that actually goes through the locks.

Have you been to Seattle? What are your favorite things to do there?

Want to read more about Seattle? Check out the best places to eat in Seattle and the most Instagrammable places in Seattle!


There really seems to be so much to do in Seattle I am dying to make it up there! I think I would especially love Pike Place and the gorgeous glass art at Chihuly Garden. Will definitely be referencing this when I finally plan a trip! Thanks Caroline :)
Great post! I can't wait to visit Seattle one day and would love to go up the Space Needle! Also great tip regarding seeing it both at night and around sunset.
Clazz said…
These are great suggestions! I didn't go up the Space Needle or go inside the glass gardens because of the cost, but it was cool to see from the outside. Great suggestion for a good viewpoint though, because I struggled with that! I had an amazing view coming into Seattle and then once I was downtown you barely see the needle! There's a red room in the library that sounds interesting... apparently you can't spend too long in there because it makes you feel funny!! I was going to go but ran out of time, so that's on the "weird" list for next time haha. Along with the MOPOP museum and the troll! :D

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