Seattle, Washington is one of the crown jewels of the Pacific Northwest. White settlers arrived at the edge of Puget Sound in the early 1850s and soon established a small village in what is now commonly known as the Pioneer Square district in the modern city of Seattle. The pioneers shared the area with Native American tribes and named the city after a Duwanish tribe elder named Sealth. When the transcontinental railroad arrived in the latter part of the 19th century, the town grew exponentially along with the coal and lumber industries as well as fishing, shipbuilding, and wholesale trade.
Today, visitors will find a cosmopolitan city that is not only full of exciting sites and activities, it’s also the gateway to all of the outdoor recreation that Washington State has to offer. We’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do in Seattle, Washington to help you make the most of your next visit.
Shop at Pike Place Market
From the original Starbucks café to vendors tossing fish at the fish market, from local artisans selling their wares to music from street performers, Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle is a must-see when you’re in town.
Watch the world pass by from the Space Needle
Built for the World’s Fair in 1962, the Space Needle has since become a staple of the Seattle sky line and an iconic destination. A 43-second elevator will take you up the 605-foot tall structure to views of the Cascade Mountains, Elliot Bay, and Mount Rainier.
Visit the Seattle Aquarium
Learn all about the ocean life, natural wonders, and flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest at the Seattle Aquarium. You can meet sea otters and seals, watch scuba divers feeding fish, and view the many educational exhibits.
Visit the San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago of 172 islands and reefs between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada. Four of the islands can be accessed by ferry: Orcas Island, San Juan Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island. A true San Juan Island experience will include whale-watching, farm-to-table cuisine, and a good dose of outdoor recreation.
Play the Classic Arcade Game at the Seattle Pinball Museum
The Seattle Pinball Museum is home to more than 50 pinball machines dating from the 1960s through to the present. Expect to find snacks, vintage sodas, local craft beer, and lots of free play time at this Chinatown attraction.
Explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass
The famous glass sculptor, Dale Chilhuly, is a Seattle native and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is dedicated to this local’s work. Sculptures are located throughout the property, including indoor galleries and the glasshouse, which is home to a 100-foot long sculpture suspended from the ceiling.
Take to the sea at The Center for Wooden Boats
Maritime history comes to life at The Center for Wooden Boats. You can rent a boat and go for a row, sign up for a workshop, or arrive on a Sunday for the Public Sail when volunteer skippers and crew take passengers out for a free ride on Lake Union in their wooden schooners, ketches, yawls, and yachts.
Mountain bike the Olympic Discovery Trail
The Olympic Discovery Trail winds through forest from the west side of the Port Angeles to Lake Crescent outside of Seattle. Expect to find amazing views of the Olympic mountains, sustained climbs, fun downhill sections along this 60-mile route.
Underground tour of Pioneer Square
Head to Seattle’s original downtown for a taste of Pacific Northwest history. Pioneer Square is full of Romanesque Revival style old buildings, and you can spend a whole afternoon exploring the architecture, the bars and restaurants, and the boutiques. You can also take an underground tour to explore the remains of the city’s first buildings.
Do a wine tasting in Woodinville, Washington
Head to Woodinville Wine Country, a small town just 30 minutes outside of Seattle, to taste some of the region’s best varietals. You’ll find something for every palate and everyone in Woodinville.