In a forward-thinking city like Seattle, creativity is on full display in thought-provoking museums and historic theaters, in music venues and hallmark festivals, and in cultural institutions that honor our diverse communities.
Downtown’s Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is at the art core with progressive works, priceless paintings, inspired installations, and more from international and Pacific Northwest artists. You can also head to SAM’s sister sites: Olympic Sculpture Park for 3.5 hectares of towering sculptures and stunning views of Elliott Bay, or Seattle Asian Art Museum in Capitol Hill for Asian artifacts and contemporary exhibits.
The Pacific Northwest’s glass art legacy can be experienced at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle Center. There you can take in hundreds of impressive works from world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Or time your visit during Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience, a citywide showcase of glass art in October with dozens of artists and organizations offering open studios, art parties, live demonstrations, museum and gallery exhibitions, talks, tours, and more .
Other museums honor the region’s rich cultural influences, including Chinatown–International District’s Wing Luke Museum, where exhibits showcase the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander experience; Ballard’s National Nordic Museum, featuring the heritage of Nordic countries and immigrants who settled here; and the University District’s Burke Museum, where the Pacific Northwest’s natural history and Native cultures are in the spotlight. If you’re staying in a downtown hotel, you can also enjoy an exclusive discount at some of the region’s top museums during Seattle Museum Month in February.
As for performing arts, institutions like Paramount Theatre, Benaroya Hall, , and McCaw Hall—all located downtown or at Seattle Center in the nearby Queen Anne neighborhood—host a sweeping range of live theater, dance, concerts, and more. In fact, these venues are home to some of the city’s most notable arts groups, including Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Of course, as the home of legendary bands and musicians such as Nirvana, Macklemore, Heart, and Jimi Hendrix, Seattle is full of concert halls and music festivals. Lumen Field and Climate Pledge Arena host some of the biggest international acts on their stages, while The Showbox—with locations near Pike Place Market and in SoDo—is one of the city’s most popular music venues, featuring up-and-coming indie acts and global headliners alike. Belltown’s The Crocodile is the place for rock and hip-hop bands, while Ballard’s Tractor Tavern is a draw for country and indie acts.
The music never stops during Northwest Folklife, one of Seattle’s famous art and music festivals, which spans four days. Held every May at Seattle Center, it has been bringing together cultural music and arts programming for more than 50 years. Capitol Hill Block Party takes over the Capitol Hill neighborhood with outdoor stages and indoor performances by rising hip-hop, electronic dance music, and alt-rock artists over three days in July, and Bumbershoot attracts well-known acts and local musicians to Seattle Center every September while also providing a unique arts and culture experience. If jazz music is more youre tempo, you won’t want to miss Those staying in a participating hotel downtown can enjoy free access to Cloudbreak in November, a three-week music festival with ongoing concerts at more than two dozen live music venues around town.
Travel Info: Queen Anne is a three-minute monorail ride from downtown. Capitol Hill is a 15-minute walk from downtown and is accessible via the King County Metro 2 and 12 bus routes. Chinatown–International District and University District are accessible from downtown via Link light rail. Ballard is accessible from downtown via the King County Metro 28, 40, and D Line bus routes.