Something has to be in the air in Seattle to be the birthplace of successful companies like Microsoft or Starbucks, and bands like Nirvana. If you plan to visit this corner of Washington State, we’re going to tell you the best 25 things to see and do in Seattle.
Leaving aside its more material side, Seattle is a versatile and dynamic city, underground and at the same time hooked on trends, with a vintage touch seasoned with the most contemporary hipsterism. And increasingly infected by the Silicon Valley poison, which the locals reject so much.
The first thing that catches your eye is the silhouette of the Space Needle, the most peculiar tower and symbol par excellence of Seattle (if you’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy you know what we’re talking about). Compared to other towers on the continent like the Toronto Tower, it’s not very high (“only” 184 meters), although it was a real feat in 1962, the year it was built. You can climb up to the observation deck and see the city from above, and shit yourself in the glass floor areas. The entrance fee is between $32.50 and $37.50 (depending on visiting hours) and you can buy them online or at the ticket office.
When you come down from the tower, it’s best to go to Kerry Park and enjoy another wonderful view. But this time you’ll have a panoramic view of the city skyline, including obviously the famous tower (after all, if you’re in the Space Needle, you won’t see the Space Needle :-p).
If you are crazy about food markets, welcome to the club! In Seattle you have to aim for this name: Pike Place Market, where you can walk among hundreds of stalls of all kinds of food and… Oh yeah! also for restaurants where you can appease your hunger. It’s open every day, from 9:00 to 18:00. In this article we give you a list of 8 restaurants where to eat in Seattle (good and cheap).
Nearby, in the Post Alley, you will find the Gum Wall, a very colorful wall just because it is full of gum! The tradition of sticking gum on these bricks began in the 90’s, when people were waiting to enter the Market Theater, and has ended up becoming one of the most disgusting attractions in Seattle.
One of Seattle’s most interesting neighborhoods with the most personality is Capitol Hill, the neighborhood that hosts the largest LGBT community in the city. If you like to walk the streets, stop for a beer and go shopping… you have to come here. And also why not to get a little cultured, here is The Elliott Bay Book Company, a bookstore with more than 150,000 new and second-hand titles.
And the Pioneer Square area has to be included in your plans too: full of brick buildings, trendy shops and ambience, especially at lunchtime.
The Columbia Center is another building that will delight those who are eager to fly: from its Sky View Observatory you can see the whole city (yes, including the Space Needle). We didn’t go there, due to lack of time, but we were told that it’s very cool. It is the tallest building in Washington State, at 284 meters, and the entrance fee is $22.
We found the Seattle Central Library a curious stop: it is a steel and glass construction that is a very photogenic place. In addition, on the 10th floor there is a free lookout point that will give you a curious view of the city.
Did you know that Seattle is home to the first Starbucks in the world? It was founded in 1971, and since then it’s been impossible to know how many liters of coffee were drunk on the streets of Seattle (and the world!). And yes, to enter even to know this historic place is a must. If there’s one Starbucks that drives everyone who visits it crazy (especially instagrammers), it’s The Seattle Roastery. But don’t forget to try other cafes, because Seattle is one of the cities with more coffee culture in the world, going to Starbucks alone would be like eating at a Domino’s Pizza in Naples. Some of the best coffee shops in Seattle are: Milstead and Co. and La Marzocco Cafe.
Amazon’s headquarters is also one of the best things to see in Seattle, thanks especially to its glass domes. There is also good news for geeks: you can take tours to see the offices of this famous company (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am and 2 pm). More info here.
In 1889 Seattle was destroyed by a huge fire. To learn about its history and see places that were buried under the ruins, there is a very popular tour called the Underground Tour. You will walk through tunnels and passages while your guide tells you all about the past of this ghost town. Curiosity: Apparently the fire started when a Swedish apprentice carpenter, played the Swedish (sorry, bad joke) and forgot hot glue next to some wood shards…
If you have the time and feel like a quiet moment, we recommend you to go to one of these two parks: the Olympic Sculpture Park, is an urban park that, as you may have imagined, is characterized by being dotted with statues. And the Washington Park Arboretum, which at one end has the Japanese Garden.
Good news for Asian lovers: in Seattle there is not only a Chinatown like in many cities in the United States, there is also a Japantown, a Little India and surely something else hidden around there. The truth is that Seattle’s neighborhoods are full of personality… another super recommendable (and cheap) one is the U District.
Seattle’s cultural scene is versatile and always evolving, but there are a handful of museums you should consider. One is the Museum of Pop Culture (the MoPOP), created by Paul Allen himself, co-founder of Microsoft. Here you can surround yourself with personal items of musical greats, such as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, David Bowie or Jimy Hendrix himself.
Another one is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, an almost unreal world where you will be surrounded by coloured glass sculptures, immense and somewhat crazy. It’s a tribute to the artist Dale Chihuly, a must-see in Seattle.
The Seattle Museum of Art is also worth a visit, especially if you are passionate about ethnic art. Note: It has different venues so if you decide to go, you should plan your visit well.
Are you more numbers than letters? Then you will surely be more interested in visiting the Pacific Science Center, which is entirely dedicated to science. Both the little ones and the not so little ones will like it!
Do you want to have a very special Yankee experience? Go see a Seattle Mariners baseball game… Few things are more typical than this. Or if you find baseball too boring, you can opt for a football game, but you’ll have to decide whether to be a Seattle Sounders or Seattle Seahawks fan. We wouldn’t think about it and would go to see the latter at their stadium, Centurylink Field Stadium, which once held the Guinness Record for the loudest fans. Tours of the stadium are also available on non-game days.
We haven’t finished with the Seattle neighborhoods yet, Fremont is one of the most fashionable right now. There are a lot of shops, restaurants and a craft brewery here that you have to visit: this is Fremont Brewing. Pints cost about $5-6 and there is also the possibility of tasting several beers. Note: they don’t sell food, so if you want you can bring your own food, but they do give free apples and mini-pretzels hehe.
If you get carried away with the pints and when you’re back you think you see a troll… You’re not going crazy! It’s the Fremont Troll, a colossal and very popular sculpture under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.
And why not take the last one listening to music at The Croccodile? It’s a pub where bands like Pearl Jam or Pen Cap Chew, Kurt Kobain’s first band, played. Come on, it’s the Seattle version of Liverpool’s The Cave! Note: take a look at the calendar as the performances are not always free. You can see it here.
Take a walk around Pier 66, a very nice and lively area, with good views of the sea and Downtown. A short distance away, there is Pier 57/55 which is also very cool (with its Ferris wheel and Miners Landing, a pier full of shops and restaurants).
Seattle is located in Elliot Bay, a good plan to take a ferry from the Seattle Ferry Terminal and sail around it. The most popular route is to Bainbridge Island, where you can take nature walks and enjoy a visit to a quiet city (in 2005 it was voted the second best place to live in the USA). The price of the ferry is $8.50.
Do you feel like going to the beach with the boat ride? Then go to Alki Beach, but don’t expect an ideal beach for swimming. It’s a quiet area where you can relax by the water, have a drink in the bars or enjoy a nice sunset with the Seattle skyline in the background.
And if you still have time left on your visit to Seattle, a good idea is to rent a car and get some great getaways: there are gems like Mount Rainier or the Olympic Peninsula. The state of Washington (not to be confused with the city, Washington DC) is one of the greenest states in the United States.
There are also options for these tours. Here are the most interesting ones:
Hiking route on Mount Rainier
Snoqualmie Falls & Woodinville
7-day tour of Canada’s national parks
Excursion to St. Helens National Monument
Boeing Factory Tour and Future of Flight
The truth is that we liked this northern city of the United States very much, and we wouldn’t mind coming back with more time! Do you know more things to see and do in Seattle?