Bordered by the ocean and ringed in mountains, the Emerald City’s natural beauty is unlike any other metropolis. Its neighborhoods are nestled against lakes, and the original downtown core is built on what once was marshland. Fueled by coffee, it is a mecca for foodies, tech experts, and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re visiting for the long weekend, popping in for the day or looking to make a memory playing tourist in your hometown, there are a plethora of fun things to do in Seattle.
10 of the Best Things to do in Seattle
One of the best ways to get acquainted with a new city or learn something new about your old stomping ground is on a tour (or two). The following Seattle tours are some of our favorites, ranging from all-day excursions to 20 minute scenic flights.
Seattle Seaplane Tours
Call us biased, but we happen to think our Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tours are bucket list worthy. Taking off of Lake Union, these 20-minute tours offer a birds-eye view of the entire city. The narrated tour soars over the beautiful University of Washington Campus, T-Mobile Park (home of the Seattle Mariners), and Lumen Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks). Passengers are treated to a panoramic view of Elliot Bay, where icons like the Space Needle, 53-meter Great Wheel, and Washington State Ferries can be seen during their daily operation.
Seattle Underground Tour
Did you know, Seattle’s original neighborhood has long been evacuated? It rests one story beneath the surface of Pioneer Square. Some of the lower neighborhood’s windows, a series of overhead skylights, can still be seen in the cracking sidewalks. The opaque glass inlays provided a source of light to the inhabitants below. Guided tours of the underground are provided by two different companies, Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour and Beneath the Streets.
The exceptionally unique experience touring the underground city in Seattle offers a dive deep into how a fire raised the city, the pitfalls of the original toilets, and more!
Lake Washington Scenic Flight Tour
In honor of our 75th anniversary, we introduced a new scenic tour departing from Kenmore Air Harbor on Lake Washington — the site where it all began! This scenic Seattle seaplane tour takes passengers past the University of Washington, Shilshole Bay, and Discovery Point. Plus, it gives visitors a behind-the-scenes peek at the maintenance operation. Kenmore Air Harbor remains is the main hub of our maintenance operations. Here, planes can often be seen undergoing annual and 100 hour inspections.
Photo by @seattlefoodgrams
Seattle Boat Tours
With 200 miles of shoreline, boating is as quintessential to Seattle’s culture as rain and coffee. From elegant crew boats and majestic sailboats to casual paddle boarders and intriguing houseboat communities, the city’s eclectic array of water vessels is as diverse as its inhabitants.
Arguably the most popular Seattle boat tours are offered by Argosy Cruises. They depart from several different docks throughout the city, not the least of which is on Lake Union, right next to Kenmore Air’s terminal.
For those interested in being the captain of their own Seattle boat tour, there are a plethora of options. The Electric Boat Company offers a variety of electric-powered water vessels, with the largest of their fleet holding up to 12 passengers. But perhaps most unique are Seattle’s Hot Tub Boats. As the name suggests, these boats are equipped with a HOT TUB! Soak in the city views while staying nice and warm!
Mount St. Helen’s & Mount Rainier Scenic Flight Tour
Have you ever flown face-to-face with a living giant? Our Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier Scenic Flight Tour brings you up-close and personal with these two iconic peaks. Departing from Boeing Field, each passenger gets a window seat aboard our 9-passenger Caravan wheel-plane. Keep your camera ready. This is the perfect vantage to see Mount St. Helen’s 2-mile wide crater (she’s often steaming!) and Mount Rainier’s glaciers (there’s 25 total – the most extensive collection of permanent ice on a single US mountain south of Alaska).
Seattle Food Tours
While the Michelin star isn’t applied to cities in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle’s foodie culture has established a reputation as a foodie destination. In 2019, it was named among the Top 10 foodie cities in the United States and its chefs have brought home more than 20 James Beard awards. This is thanks largely to the region embracing the principles of farm-to-table, sea-to-table, and nose-to-tail cooking.
Nowhere are these ideals more present than at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where everyday shoppers rub elbows with chefs shopping for the freshest of the fresh. There are a plethora of food tours from which to choose. One of the most popular is Eat Seattle, which offers chef-guided walking tours through the market, sharing bits of history and bites along the way.
Looking for a self-guided tour? Check out our roundup of the best doughnut spots in Seattle!
Seattle Whale Watching Tours
Viral images of orcas making their way into Elliott Bay may have you dreaming of whale watching from Seattle’s downtown pier. But these sightings are few and far between. The famed resident orcas, and the equally stunning transient orcas, tend to stick to the waters around the San Juan Islands. So too do the grey whales, humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Seeing these majestic creatures and a host of other wildlife, like bald eagles, typically requires a trip to the outer reaches of Washington’s coast and beyond.
While day tours depart from the downtown Seattle waterfront, a quick scenic flight to Friday Harbor offers treats passengers to a scenic view of the coastline and surrounding area. And from there, a whale watching tour with San Juan Safaris has a 90% success rate at spotting whales while on the water.
More Fun Things to Do in Seattle
An essential guide to finding your perfect cup of joe in the city known for its caffeinated craft brews.
Immerse yourself in the wonder of flight. Explore how mankind took to the sky and the stars at one of Seattle’s top attractions — the Museum of Flight.
The Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop features 6+ miles of stunning views, eclectic neighborhoods, and fabulous dog-friendly stops to grab a bite.