While Seattle has long been dubbed one of the rainiest cities in the United States, this enchanting destination is far from boring. The diverse topography is home to more than 20 culturally unique neighborhoods, picturesque hiking trails, outstanding waterfront views, and an eclectic mix of museums. This comprehensive list of what to do in Seattle is just a jumping-off point.
The opportunities here are endless and constantly expanding as more inventive chefs and local purveyors make their mark in this tech-heavy urban hub. From coffee shops to neighborhood trolls, there’s something for everyone.
29 of the Best Things to do in Seattle
Are you creating your Seattle bucket list? Are you looking for what to do in Seattle during an upcoming visit? Do you want something fun to do in Seattle this weekend? We have you covered on all fronts.
1. Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour
We’re a ‘bit’ biased, but we’d be remiss not to include our Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tours. We offer two city tours, one departing from Lake Union in the heart of downtown Seattle and the other departing from our headquarters in Kenmore at the northern tip of Lake Washington.
Both of these incredible tours offer an exhilarating takeoff, stunning views of the surrounding region — including the Space Needle — and a gentle landing on the water.
2. Pioneer Square
Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, settlers started building homes in Pioneer Square in 1852. In those early days, flooding was rampant, the water levels rising with the tide. However, the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 decimated most of the city. Despite the destruction, the chance to start over afforded future generations the opportunity to get out of the muck.
The city, and specifically Pioneer Square, were rebuilt with two important creds: all new buildings would be made of brick and stone (which were less likely to burn), and the city itself would be raised to combat flooding. Today, the quirky neighborhood showcases some of the city’s oldest buildings, a National Historical Park park located within city limits (Klondike Gold Rusk), and a garden of waterfalls!
3. Seattle Underground Tour
As the city of Seattle was rebuilt, many of its original shop owners simply rebuilt in their original locations — at sea level. The result was a two-tiered city where the streets were 37 feet above the shops. As overhead sidewalks were eventually built, glass skylights were added to the walkways to provide light below.
The underground city gradually became a place where prostitution and gambling ran rampant. Drinking abounded. And as the topography shifted, much of it was eventually closed off and/or caved in. You can see what’s left during a Seattle Underground Tour, which takes you through much of the lower areas still accessible in Pioneer Square.
4. Smith Tower
Built in 1914, Smith Tower was Seattle’s first skyscraper. At the time, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and featured a manually operated elevator that took visitors to the 35th-floor observatory. From there, 360-degree views made this destination a unique city highlight.
Today, the iconic building still offers exceptional (though interrupted) views of the city, along with an open-air observation deck and a speakeasy-style bar.
5. Sky View Observatory
Want a bird’s eye view of Smith Tower? The Columbia Center is Seattle’s tallest skyscraper, standing at an impressive 76 stories. On the 73rd floor, the Sky View Observatory offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city — including the top of Smith Tower, located just two blocks away as the crow flies.
6. Seattle Central Library
The Seattle Central Library is a breathtaking glass masterpiece. It’s constructed of enough glass to cover more than five football stadiums! Come to rest your feet and peruse your favorite reeds. Take a self-guided cell phone tour by texting 206-868-8564. Or head to the 10th floor, where you can get peekaboo views of Elliot Bay!
7. T-Mobile Park
Cheer on the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park, one of the most beautiful baseball parks in all of America. Plus, T-Mobile Park sports an impressive selection of gourmet food, so you can get a bite of local cuisine while trying to nap a foul ball.
8. Lumen Field
At the neighboring Lumen Field, root for the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC. Known for its boisterous atmosphere (aka loud fans), spectators tend to stand throughout the whole game. So come in comfortable shoes!
9. Seattle Great Wheel
Located on Pier 57, the Seattle Great Wheel is the largest Ferris wheel in North America. The fully-enclosed gondolas offer picturesque views, rain or shine. Ride times vary between 12-20 minutes, depending on how crowded the gondola is. A private VIP gondola is also available, featuring leather bucket seats, a stereo system, and a glass floor.
10. Seattle Aquarium
This family-friendly Seattle destination is loaded on Pier 59. Tucked within Elliot Bay, it’s an iconic location for meeting and learning about many of the region’s diverse water residents. Visitors will have a chance to watch scuba divers feed fish, gawk at sharks swimming overhead in the aquarium’s underwater dome, and meet a few adorable sea otters!
A unique hands-on exhibit, Life on the Edge, allows you to touch and hold members of the tide pool. These can include sea urchins, hermit crabs, sea stars, and sea cucumbers.
11. Pike Place Market
The infamous Pike Place Market was founded in 1907 to give local farmers, crafters, and small businesses a central location to sell their goods. Today, the Market remains a hub for diverse activities, services, and businesses. It’s home to the Original Starbucks. (Fair warning, the lines are looking).
Here you’ll also be able to see a working cheese producer, Beecher’s Cheese, and sample some of the best Mac & Cheese around. Piroshky Piroshky sells 32 different piroshkies daily, ranging from sweet to savory. Rachel’s Ginger Beer pours handcrafted dinger beer infused with fresh ingredients.
The Crumpet Shop has been a staple since 1976, though they are likely to sell out quickly! Near the southern end, you’ll find Pike Place Fish Market, known for its flying fish. And of course, the fresh flowers are always an eye-catching delight.
12. Seattle Center Monorail
The Seattle Center Monorail is a World’s Fair relic. Built in 1962, this unique above-ground train stretches approximately one mile from downtown Seattle’s Westlake Center to the Seattle Center. It’s a designated historic landmark and weaves between Seattle skyscrapers above and the city streets below.
13. Space Needle
Arguably the most iconic landmark in Seattle, the Space Needle was constructed to be part of the 1962 World’s Fair. The observation level is just a quick 43-second elevator ride from its base and offers panoramic views of Elliot Bay, the Cascade Mountains, and even Mount Rainier. Also keep an eye out for Kenmore Air seaplanes, which often fly past while making their Lake Union approach.
For those who want the full meal deal (literally), visit the Loupe Lounge. It’s a 21-and-over rotating bar that’s perched 500 feet above the city.
14. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass feels other-worldly. Showcasing the epic work of renowned Northwest glass artist Dale Chihuly, it features a series of indoor and outdoor installations.
Particularly unique is the Glasshouse — a 40-foot tall glass and steel structure that covers an impressive 4,500 square feet of space. Suspended overhead is a 100-foot-long glass sculpture ranging in bright oranges, yellows, reds, and ambers.
15. Pacific Science Center
This family-friendly interactive museum is another beloved relic of the 1962 World’s Fair. It boasts more than 300 exhibits, two IMAX theaters, and an exciting Laser Dome. It offers a wide variety of interactive exhibits, ranging from an immersive planetarium and educational maze to a dinosaur exhibit and a live science stage. Particularly exciting is the tropical butterfly house, which has over 1,000 insects and plants from around the world!
16. Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Turn up the tunes at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). This funky museum looks a bit like a smashed guitar from above. (Keep an eye out for it during your Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour.) The bright exterior makes it a great place to snap a selfie.
But music lovers will want to be sure to explore the interior exhibits too. A tribute to the rich history of Northwest Music, it offers an immersive experience. Exhibitions range from traditional museum-esque educational meanderings to a hands-on Sound Lab, where your can let your inner musician loose.
17. Museum of History & Industry
Opened in 1952, the Museum of History & Industry (MOHIA) relocated to the southern tip of Lake Union in 2012. The new home was constructed within the city’s Naval Reserve Armory that stretches out over the water. In fact, you can see the lake from within the Grand Atrium, where a 165-foot wooden sculpture stretches beyond the floor.
Seattle’s indie enclave, Fremont is one of the quirkiest neighborhoods in the city. After all, it has the unofficial motto of “De libertas quirkas” (the freedom to be quirky). Indeed, it is home to some unique sights:
- The unofficial Center of the Universe (located at N Fremont Ave and 35th St N)
- A statue of Lenin (at the confluence of N 36th St, Fremont Pl N & N 36th St)
- Troll (West of the Troll at the SE corner of Fremont Ave N & N 36th St)
- Waiting For the Interurban Statue (N 34th St)
19. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
How is chocolate made? What makes Theo Chocolate so fantastic? Where does the cocoa fruit come from? What environmental and social issues surround cocoa and cocoa farms? Learn about all this and more at the Theo Factory Chocolate Tour. Plus, taste their amazing products.
20. Ballard Locks
Known as the Lake Washington Ship Canal, the Ballard Locks connect Lake Washington and Lake Union to the Puget Sound. Constructed between 1911 and 1917, they play an integral role in Seattle’s maritime industry. The locks are also home to a unique fish ladder that allows visitors to see salmon returning to their spawning grounds during the summer months.
21. Museum of Flight
Located on the southwest side of King County International Airport, the Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the country. An AvGeek Must, the 15-acre campus houses more than 160 different air and space craft.
It includes the historic birthplace of the Boeing Airplane Company – a two-story barn that’s flooded with natural light and real examples of how planes were first built with wood. NASA space shuttle trainer tours and flight simulators are additional highlights. So too is the Kid’s Zone, which invites future fliers to explore and learn.
22. Boeing Future of Flight
Aviation buffs will also want to head north to Paine Field to explore the Boeing Future of Flight. While the Boeing Factory Tour remains closed, you can still enjoy the Gallery, Sky Deck, and Boeing Backstage Pass experience.
23. Seattle Art Museum (SAM)
The Hammering Man outside the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) sets the tone for the quirky collection of diverse art ranging from European masterpieces to contemporary sculptures. Spread across three locations — Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and Olympic Sculpture Park — it offers thought-provoking works.
While admittance to both museums is fee-based, the Olympic Sculpture Park is a nine-acre park that’s free to the public. It stretches along the Seattle waterfront, just one mile north of the Seattle Art Museum.
24. Wing Luke Museum
Spanning 60,000 square feet, the Wing Luke Museum is a celebration of the culture, art, and history of Asian Pacific Americans. The three-floor museum houses contemporary galleries with a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits. The museum has a special focus on education, offering a variety of programs for school children.
25. Kerry Park
Kerry Park offers one of the most iconic views of Seattle’s skyline. Here you can see the Space Needle and bustling Elliot Bay. On clear days, the landscape is flanked by Mount Rainier.
26. Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
Offering a Willy Wonka-esque twist on coffee, this elegant caffeine wonderland gives you access to exclusive beverages, allows you to preview a variety of brewing methods, allows you to explore a coffee library, and invites you to witness the coffee roasting process!
27. Seattle’s Gastropubs
Seattle’s passion for good food and good drinks enjoyed at the same time has evolved into a gastropub craze where cocktails and beers are as carefully chosen as nibbles and entrees. Favorites include Quinn’s, Black Bottle, Brimmer & Heeltap, and Brouwer’s Café.
28. Discovery Park
The largest public park in Seattle, Discovery Park stretches 534 acres. It offers visitors access to diverse habitats, ranging from lush meadows and thickly forested areas to the rock-covered shores of Puget Sound. It is also home to the iconic West Point Lighthouse, which was constructed in 1881.
29. Gas Works Park
Located at the northern edge of Lake Union, Gas Works Park spans 19.1 acres. The former site of the Seattle Gas Light Company, remnants of the gasification plant still stands on the site today. From its grassy slopes, stunning views of Seattle and Lake Union can be enjoyed.