One of the fastest growing American cities in these last couple of years, Seattle offers both a superb and exciting urban experience and an unmatched natural beauty in its surrounding areas. Situated on the West Coast, just 100 miles south from the US-Canadian border, Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region.
For those visiting ‘the Emerald City’ for the first time, the city might feel overwhelming due to the myriad options in terms of entertainment, scenic landscapes and iconic landmarks or various cultural, art and musical events. From the world recognized Space Needle to the Museum of Flight and Seattle’s underground culture, there’s a lot to see and do.
Should you be curious about the city, we’ve already done a little – and subjective – research and came up with the 10 best things to do in Seattle right now. Here they are:
10. The Space Needle
The Space Needle is probably the most recognized landmark of Seattle that people around the world think of when they hear the name of the city, and for good reason, because it provides the best sights in the whole city. The impressive building was built back in 1962 for the World’s Fair, which at that time held in Seattle. It was located right in the middle of the fairgrounds – today’s Seattle Center – rising 605 feet into the sky.
Nowadays, the Space Needle attracts around one million visitors every year. The observation deck is probably the best place to be in Seattle on a clear day – sunsets are even better – for it provides astonishing 360 sights around Seattle. The city setting is superb, but there’s Mt. Rainier and other wonderful things to admire far in the distance.
9. The Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Ferris Wheel on the Waterfront might be a new addition to the superb city, but it doesn’t mean it’s less than awesome. Especially if you go there with kids. The 175-foot high Ferris wheel is a super fun experience both during the day and the night, but if you go there after the sun has set, you’ll be dazzled by Seattle’s impressive skyline glowing in the dark of the evening.
The Gondolas of the Ferris wheel are completely enclosed and can hold up to 8 people, so plenty of room for the entire family. They are very comfortable as well. For those longing for a more breathtaking experience, there’s the VIP Gondola, priced at $50 per person and holding no more than 4 in a more comfy but glass bottomed car. Yeah, glass bottom. That should provide most people with a nice surge of adrenaline as the gondola goes 40 feet beyond the pier and over the water.
8. The Museum of Flight
Flight is certainly not for everyone and the Museum of Flight won’t be either. But for those passionate about aviation and the history of air and space travel, the Museum of Flight is why you go to Seattle in the first place. The museum holds an impressive collection of exhibits which take you on a journey of the captivating history of human flight.
Taking you from the first flimsy trials of flight with airplanes and hot air balloons all the way to our modern times of air and space travel, the Museum of Flight is simply amazing. There are myriad of exhibits ranging from the first space suits and rocket and airplane schematics to entire airplanes such as the legendary SR-71A Blackbird recon airplane or a full scale mock-up of an F/A 18L Hornet fighter jet.
There are also flight simulators, plenty of history to be told, WWII airplane collections and pretty much something for everyone. You also have the change of getting inside a 50 year old Air Force One airplane.
7. Seattle Underground Tour
The Seattle Underground Tour is the best place to start your exploration of the city’s colorful history. The tour takes you under Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, the Pioneer Square, walking you through various plumbing oddities, fancy architectural touches, purple glass tiles, plenty of cool basements with weird lighting and uneven floors.
The tour guides are some of the best you could have, so you can expect a quality experience and plenty of information and stories about how Seattle was in the past. The underground was condemned back in 1907, but in 1965, Bill Speidel, working as a columnist for the Seattle Times, started taking people in underground tours and retell the history of Seattle. Today, the tour is available almost every day and has grown into a very big attraction for visitors from all over the world.
6. The Ballard Neighborhood
The Ballard Neighborhood is a very interesting place to see in Seattle. It’s not an everyday destination though. It’s on Sundays that the place really comes up to life. Every Sunday, year round, from 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon, Ballard Avenue closes to traffic and opens to the Ballard Farmers’ Market.
It’s there where you’ll find seasonal produce, locally baked bread, wine, cheese, preserves, snacks and various candies. The street is full with dozens of stands with everything you might wish, plus the local musicians, artists and craftsmen. The shops are wonderfully chic and offer a feast even when you’re not hungry.
5. The Seattle Computer Museum and Labs
Seattle seems to be full of history and amazing museums, and the Living Computer Museum + Labs is among the best ones. Full of dozens of restored machines from the 1960’s until today’s technology such as robots, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, video games and everything digital, the museum is a superb dive into the history of computers.
Situated in the SoDo neighborhood, the Seattle Living Computer Museum is a must see destination, both if you’re a local or a foreign visitor.
4. Local Brews, Booze, and Wine
Seattle’s got one amazing brewery, bar and pub scene, and no matter what your preferences are, you’ll find your place. It’s long known that Washington State has excellent wine, being the second largest wine producing region in the US.
What’s more, the craft beer culture, which flourished back in the 1980’s, has now grown in a mature culture, offering some of the best beer the Pacific Northwest has. Companies like Pike Brewing Company are producing beer which you’ll only find locally. Then there’s whiskey and locally distilled spirits to enrich your mood. Pair that up with some fresh local seafood at the Pike Place Market and you’re set.
3. Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo is an impressive place to be in, home to more than 1,000 different species, from penguins to meerkats and otters, hippos from the African Savannah and bright colored poison dark frogs. The zoo is committed to environmentalism, so no need to worry about that, as the staff is highly trained and knowledgeable, without compromising animals health.
Should you visit the Woodland Park Zoo, take a full day and prepare for a little outdoor adventure. You can also choose to picnic, there are several designated areas to have your own lunch, but they’ve also got a food court with excellent menu choices and good local coffee.
2. Day Trip to Bainbridge Island
An important part of what makes Seattle great are its ferries and the islands around. Covered in forests, the Vashon, Bainbridge and San Juan Islands are charming places worth visiting. And out of them all, the Bainbridge Island is a superb destination, perfect for a day trip from Seattle.
You can choose to go there by car, motorcycle, bicycle or even walk around, depending on what you want to do and how flexible you want to be. The car is not necessary and there are plenty of bike rentals on the island. There are art museums, cozy little cafes, bakeries with excellent treats and sweets, the impressive Bloedel Reserve with its many gardens and forests and an elegant manor house.
For the outdoor and cycling enthusiasts, the island offers plenty of bike routes to choose from, the most famous of them being the Chilly Hilly. The terrain is varied and offers a good challenge for those seeking it. For lazy days, the island’s beach parks are perfect.
1. The Seattle Aquarium
Home to the world’s largest octopus – the Giant Pacific Octopus, the Seattle Aquarium is an astonishing experience. The huge display tank lets you admire creatures like this, and watching an octopus change its colors or move through the tank is surely an impressive sight that you don’t get to see too often.
The Puget Sound tank is a floor to ceiling display, showing the sea creatures living in Seattle’s waters. There are plenty of tanks showing all kinds of marine life, from coastal birds to big marine mammals. Puffins and otters and seals, starfish, urchins and sea cucumbers.
With its diversity, the Aquarium is an exciting destination and one of the best in Seattle, and a very fun one if you’re not scared of seeing those creatures swimming so close to you.