Chihuly Garden and Glass CK Foto / Shutterstock

Top Things to Do in Seattle

World-famous attractions and iconic locations you don’t want to miss.

Space Needle

This symbol of Seattle recently celebrated its 60th anniversary and a historic renovation. The top viewing deck now has two levels: An observation deck with floor-to-ceiling glass panels is above, allowing for stunning views of downtown, lakes, and mountains, including Mount Rainier. Below, a lounge and cafe feature the world’s only revolving glass floor and a menu of iconic Pacific Northwest flavors.

Travel Info: Take the Seattle Center Monorail from downtown’s Westlake Center (Fifth Ave and Pine St) to Seattle Center.

 

Chihuly Garden and Glass CK Foto / Shutterstock

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Internationally famous glass artist Dale Chihuly was born in the Seattle area, and this collection of his works is the most comprehensive in the world. Expect an art-filled outdoor garden, dazzling exhibition halls, and a glasshouse featuring 1,340 yellow, orange, and red glass disks suspended overhead.

Travel Info: Take the Seattle Center Monorail from downtown’s Westlake Center (Fifth Ave and Pine St) to Seattle Center.

 

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

Music, movies, video games, science fiction—this colorful museum next to the Space Needle celebrates Seattle’s pop culture legacy in all its forms. Find exhibits about everything from fantasy worlds to horror films and famous guitars, or record your own song using instruments in the interactive Sound Lab.

Travel Info: Take the Seattle Center Monorail from downtown’s Westlake Center (Fifth Ave and Pine St) to Seattle Center.

 

Seattle Center Monorail

Glide between downtown’s Westlake Center shopping mall and the Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle and other attractions, on an elevated track. This historic monorail was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair and continues to be one of the most convenient and unique rides in town.

Travel Info: Board at Westlake Center (Fifth Ave and Pine St) or Seattle Center (next to the Space Needle).

 

FREE 

Pike Place Market

Discover a variety of Seattle highlights at this well-known farmers market, the oldest continuously operating one in the United States. Among the vendor stalls piled high with fresh fruit, just-picked vegetables, handmade gifts, and gorgeous flowers are the original Starbucks cafe, the famous fish-tossing stall, dozens of restaurants serving delicious global dishes, and lively street musicians and performers. Take photos in front of the dazzling neon market sign and enjoy the views of Elliott Bay from the wide-open, outdoor MarketFront plaza.

Travel Info: Walk to First Ave and Pike St in downtown.

 

Seattle Art Museum

In the heart of downtown, this premier museum showcases nearly 25,000 pieces of art from around the region and the world. Explore four floors of galleries, featuring everything from breathtaking sculptures and installations to delicate artifacts and priceless paintings. A seafood-themed restaurant and a charming gift shop on the ground floor make it possible to spend an entire day here, while outside, the larger-than-life Hammering Man sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky leaves a lasting impression.

Travel Info: Walk to First Ave and Union St in downtown.

 

FREE

Olympic Sculpture Park

Take in the best of Seattle’s nature and culture all in one place. This waterfront public park on the north edge of downtown is filled with dozens of sculptures, gently sloped walking paths, and green grass for strolling, picnicking, and enjoying the views. Don’t miss Alexander Calder’s famed soaring, red Eagle or Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s striking Echo. 

Travel Info: Walk to Western Ave and Broad St or take bus 99 from downtown.

 

Waterfront

Bordering Elliott Bay, just west of downtown, the lively waterfront district is filled with seafood restaurants, gift shops, and major attractions like The Seattle Great Wheel and Seattle Aquarium. Walk the entire 1.5-kilometer stretch along the piers, about a 30-minute stroll, and enjoy the sights of departing ferry boats, the Olympic Mountains, and bustling crowds.

Travel Info: Walk from Pier 50 to Pier 70 on Alaskan Way in about 30 minutes.

 

Seattle Aquarium

With water everywhere in Seattle, it’s natural that this aquarium on Pier 59 provides ample opportunities to get up close to aquatic animals. Visitors can touch a starfish or sea anemone in the tide pool, see hundreds of fish and even sharks in the Underwater Dome, and find playful otters and seals in outdoor enclosures. A new Ocean Pavilion expansion at nearby Pier 60 is set to open in 2024 for even more water wildlife-viewing.

Travel Info: Walk to Pier 59 on the downtown waterfront.

 

The Seattle Great Wheel

On the end of Pier 57 on the downtown waterfront, 42 air-conditioned gondolas spin high into the air on The Seattle Great Wheel. This Ferris wheel, the largest on America’s West Coast, provides beautiful views of the water and downtown skyline. It also has a lift and ramp to give wheelchairs easy access. At night, the wheel puts on a dazzling show with more than 500,000 LED lights

Travel Info: Walk to Pier 57 on the downtown waterfront.

 

FREE

Kerry Park

If you’ve seen a postcard-perfect photo of Seattle with the Space Needle and downtown front and center, it was probably taken from this park in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Situated on a hill, Kerry Park overlooks the city skyline and, on clear days, even showcases Mount Rainier. Take an iconic photo for yourself or come to watch a romantic sunset.

Travel Info: Take King County Metro bus 2, 13, or 29 to Queen Anne Ave N and W Highland Dr, then walk three minutes to Third Ave W and W Highland Dr.

 

Sky View Observatory

Enjoy breathtaking views from Seattle’s tallest skyscraper at the 73rd-floor Sky View Observatory. From 275 meters up, you can see shimmering Elliott Bay to the west, downtown Seattle below, and nearby mountains. Afterward, sip a craft cocktail or glass of wine along with light snacks in the recently updated café.

Travel Info: Walk to Fifth Ave and Columbia St.

 

Smith Tower

Once the tallest building on America’s West Coast, this historic Seattle building still has plenty of charming character. The pyramid-shaped roof and classic architecture are easy to spot in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. Ride elevators to the 35th floor where an observatory deck offers panoramic views of the city, and a speakeasy-inspired bar serves cocktails with a view.

Travel Info: Walk to Second Ave and Yesler Way.

 

Sports Stadiums and Arenas: T-Mobile Park, Lumen Field, Climate Pledge Arena

Three massive venues host Seattle’s sports teams and their loyal fans. Join the unforgettable atmosphere at two open-air stadiums in the SoDo neighborhood: Lumen Field, home to the city’s football (Sounders FC and OL Reign) and American football (Seahawks) teams, and T-Mobile Park, where the Seattle baseball team (Mariners) steps up to bat. Climate Pledge Arena, at the Seattle Center, is one of the most sustainable venues in the world and transforms from ice hockey rink (Kraken) to basketball court (Storm) throughout the year. All three sports sites offer behind-the-scenes tours for a look at locker rooms and more.

Travel Info: Lumen Field & T-Mobile Park: Take King County Metro bus 21 to Fourth Ave S and S Royal Brougham Way or Link light rail to the Stadium stop. Climate Pledge Arena: Take the Seattle Center Monorail from downtown’s Westlake Center (Fifth Ave and Pine St) to Seattle Center.

 

Washington State Ferries

Walk, drive, or bicycle onto a green-and-white ferry boat from Pier 52 on the downtown waterfront. This scenic trip to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton near the Olympic Peninsula is one of the most popular activities in the state. Expect smooth waters as you see forested islands and seabirds along the way.

Travel Info: Walk to Pier 52 on the downtown waterfront.

 

FREE

Chinatown Gate

Seattle’s diverse Chinatown–International District is where many Asian community centers, shops, and restaurants are concentrated. This colorful gate in red, yellow, green, and blue is modeled after traditional gates in China and marks the western edge of the neighborhood. Stop to gaze up at the 8,000 tiles and snap a photo beneath it before taking a walk through the area’s many offerings.

Travel Info: Take King County Metro bus 5, 24, 26, 28, or 40 to Fourth Ave and S Jackson St, or take Link light rail to the International District/Chinatown stop, then walk to Fifth Ave S and S King St

 

FREE

Ballard Locks

Local engineers created this complex “boat elevator” system to control water levels between Seattle’s freshwater lakes and the Puget Sound. Get an up-close view of vessels passing through, then explore the surrounding botanical garden and newly renovated Salmon Education Center, where you can see real fish leaping up a salmon ladder and interactive panels detailing the fish’s journey during spawning season.

Travel Info: Take King County Metro bus 17 or 29 to NW Market St and 28th Ave NW, then walk about 10 minutes to the locks.

 

FREE

Alki Beach

This sandy stretch in the West Seattle neighborhood draws locals and visitors alike for its beautiful beach experience. Spread a towel out to join the sunbathers or walk the paved pathway to enjoy the people-watching. Across the street, many restaurants and shops add to the beach-town feel with seafood menus, ice cream, and beers best enjoyed out on the patio.

Travel Info: Take the West Seattle Water Taxi (Pier 50) to Seacrest Park, then take the free 775 shuttle to Alki Point.

 

The Museum of Flight

Famous aviation company Boeing was founded in Seattle, and this museum honors its ongoing legacy at the site of its original headquarters. Located in Georgetown, the Museum of Flight is perfect for airplane-lovers, with more than 150 air and spacecraft ranging from historic models to advanced modern jets. You can even walk through a space shuttle trainer that real astronauts used to prepare for missions.

Travel Info: Take King County Metro bus 124 to E Marginal Way S and S 96th Pl.

 

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

Located north of Seattle in the city of Mukilteo, this behind-the-scenes tour takes you inside Boeing’s airplane assembly plant. Your guide will lead you and other guests to see planes being built on the factory floor. Afterward, explore the Future of Flight Aviation Center to play with interactive exhibits that show off the latest in airplane technology.

Travel Info: It’s a 30-minute drive to Mukilteo from Seattle on I-5 north and WA-525 north.


Travel Professionals:

Discover more inspiration for curated itineraries of iconic attractions and sites with options for every traveler, from families to students. View a list of tours or explore step-on options here.

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