Best Things To Do In Seattle, WA
Updated: Sep 17, 2022
Seattle is located in the northwest of Washington and is the State’s largest city. It’s nicknamed the “Emerald City” because the center and surrounding areas are filled with greenery year-round. Despite its reputation for rainy days, Seattle is not an indoorsy place. The city is packed with everything from beautiful parks to iconic landmarks and waterfront tourist attractions. But it’s also a great hub for exploring the nearby mountains, islands, and volcanoes. Seattle has had a makeover in the past 10 years. The city expanded from a small hipster art scene to a tech giant central hub in America. With all these changes, there are a few things that have withstood the test of time in this hip and growing city... This article highlights the best things to do in Seattle, perfect to combine in a 3-5 day visit to the city.
Check out our video of Seattle to get a sense of what it's like there!
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Why Visit Seattle?
Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in America, being surrounded by vast snow-capped mountains and also a dramatic coastline hugging the city walls.
Seattle has a vibrant and bustling downtown full of fresh faces and energy that will lift your spirits even on rainy days.
Seattle is home to a rich history of art and music which are both easily accessible and also hidden in secret underground spots across the city if you look for them.
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Where to stay in Seattle
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Lotte Hotel Seattle (premium)
Best things to do in Seattle
In this article, we will highlight the best things to do in and around Seattle and also share a few of our favorite lesser-known places so you can enjoy your time in this wonderful city. Here are the things you must do in and around Seattle for the best experience:
Table of content:
You can find a map with all the places we talk about below.
11. Join a sports or music event
With professional sports teams and a famous grunge music scene, you can catch a game or enjoy a concert in the downtown area of Seattle. Watch the Mariners play baseball at T-Mobile Park or head to nearby Lumen Field to watch the Seahawks Football Team or Sounders FC soccer team. And if you’re more into music than sports, then join a concert at the Showbox or visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).
10. Explore West Seattle
Exploring West Seattle is one of the best things to do in Seattle as it is away from the hustle and bustle but also has a unique charm and character to it. Make sure to check out the popular California Avenue. This avenue has many cute shops and restaurants along with a ton of history and character. Easy Street Records is located at the main crosswalk on the avenue and is the hot spot for emerging artists, local shows, as well as vinyl classic records, and newly released albums. Seattle is known for its music and Easy Street Records is the best music store in the city in our opinion. The vibe is classic Seattle.
Another great place to visit in West Seattle is Alki Beach Park. Alki is the "California" of Seattle. This hidden gem lies across the water from downtown Seattle and looks out towards the city. It is full of unique restaurants, character homes, and a long sandy beach that sits next to a rollerblade and walking path for miles. The atmosphere is relaxed and things move at a slower pace in Alki. I recommend going to Marination Ma Kai (Hawaiian) or Salty's (seafood) for dinner so you can see the city and Ferris wheel lit up from across the water for the best views! La Rustica, a small but extremely tasty Italian restaurant, is also a local favorite.
Local tip: Go to Easy Street Records on a day when there is live music in the store. There is generally a large crowd and great music for the event along with quality coffee from their cafe.
9. Walk the Waterfront Piers
The ninth best thing to do in Seattle is to walk the bustling waterfront piers. There are tons of seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and tourist attractions here. Watch the Seattle sea life at the Aquarium, go on a whale watching tour, taste some local seafood at the famous Ivar’s restaurant, or take in the views from the Seattle Great Wheel. Personally, we would disadvise you to go on the Ferris Wheel because it is a bit of a tourist trap and doesn’t offer any better views than you would have from the Space Needle, Smith Tower, the Columbia Tower, or Kerry Park.
At Pier 57 you can check out the 4D movie experience called “Wings over Washington”. The movie will take you on a flight over all of Washington State in an immersive experience with wind, rain, and more. You will fly over the Seattle skyline, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the surrounding forests, and even learn some local history before the show. The show itself is only about 20 minutes and is a perfect introduction to Seattle’s history and surrounding scenery. We really enjoyed this experience and would definitely recommend it!
8. Skiing or hiking at Snoqualmie
At number 8 we have skiing or hiking at Snoqualmie Pass. Located about 50 miles or 80 kilometers to the east of Seattle, Snoqualmie is an easy and quick getaway from the city. Snoqualmie Pass has beautiful mountain scenery, making it the perfect place to go skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Our favorite hiking trail in the area is the Snow Lake Trail, which is roughly a six miles roundtrip and takes you to a beautiful, crystal-clear alpine lake. Your visit to the Snoqualmie pass can also be combined with a quick stop at the Snoqualmie Falls.
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7. Day Trip to Vashon Island
Vashon Island is located in the heart of the Puget Sound, between Seattle, Tacoma, and the Olympic Mountains. The Puget Sound is dotted with tranquil islands, away from the hustle and bustle of Seattle. Vashon Island is the perfect distance from Seattle to do a day trip and explore the best spots. Vashon is known for its Strawberry Festival in the summer and its overall laid-back vibes, art galleries, great food, pristine beaches, hiking trails, and shops.
The island is only accessible by ferry boat, which makes it a spot that many tourists visiting Seattle haven’t been to. A passenger-only ferry runs from Pier 50 to the North End of Vashon on weekdays. However, it’s actually better to explore the island by car since there’s not a great public transportation infrastructure there. If you take your own car, you can board the ferry from the Fauntleroy ferry dock in West Seattle, which generally leaves every 30 to 60 minutes every day of the week.
Local tip: Visit Snapdragon for breakfast or lunch in downtown Vashon. Their pastries are to die for and they also have great coffee. The atmosphere there is cozy with a lot of locals!
6. Take a walk through Seattle’s Discovery Park
A visit to Seattle isn’t complete without visiting one of its lush parks, which offer a taste of the Northwest landscape. The largest and most beautiful park in the city is Discovery Park, located about 5 miles north of the downtown area. The park is home to varied landscapes, such as tidal beaches, open meadows, dramatic sea cliffs, and thick forests. With panoramic views of the Puget Sound and both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, the hiking trails are truly rewarding.
Other beautiful parks include Green Lake Park, Carkeek Park, Washington Park Arboretum, and Seward Park.
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5. View of the Seattle skyline
The fifth best thing to do in Seattle is to admire the skyline. The Seattle skyline is one of the most iconic ones in all of the US. These are the best places to watch it from:
The Space Needle is the most iconic landmark in all of Seattle. Construction finished in the 1962, just in time for the World’s Fair. The Space Needle has been a modern marvel of architecture ever since. The view from the top, which is 605 feet high, offers 360 degrees of the entire city where you can see the whole cityscape along with amazing views of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. Going here as your first stop will give you a good sense of where you are in the city and the beauty that is all around you.
Local tip: Combine your visit to the Space Needle with lunch at the top. The Sky City restaurant spins 360 degrees during your sit-down and the food is to die for.