Are you ready to explore the exciting city of Seattle? From the iconic Space Needle to the vibrant Pike Place Market, Seattle offers something for everyone. With a rich history of innovation and industry, this Pacific Northwest city is the perfect destination for your next trip. Read on to discover our top 18 attractions and things to do in Seattle.
Already planned to visit Seattle? Don’t forget to check out our curated list of the best hotels in Seattle, offering exceptional comfort and hospitality. Discover your perfect accommodation for an unforgettable stay in the Emerald City.
18 Attractions & Things To Do In Seattle
Visit the Seattle Center & Space Needle
Standing majestically at six hundred and five feet, the Space Needle symbolizes Seattle and is a must-see for all visitors. Located within the expansive Seattle Center, the structure was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and still stands as the flagship of this iconic city. To experience true Seattleite culture, catching a ride up the revolving obelisk to the Needle Observation Deck is an absolute must. From this vantage point, tourists can view Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier, and the sprawling cityscape of downtown Seattle, creating a memorable moment and visualizing the breathtaking landscape of this vibrant city.
Also located in the Seattle Center is the glass art masterpiece Chihuly Garden and Glass. Home to a unique collection of stunning sculptures, vibrant walls of blown glass, glass artwork, and inspiring public art, this one-of-a-kind attraction captivates visitors with a spectacular display of color, light, and texture. Live demonstrations, exhibitions, and immersive experiences headed by expert artisans bring these glass masterpieces to life.
From theater shows, sports facilities, restaurants, and museums, the Seattle Center is a cornerstone of entertainment, offering days of enjoyment and adventure for people of all ages.
Explore Pike Place Market
Located on the waterfront in Seattle’s downtown district, Pike Place Market is a bustling hub of activity that offers locals and visitors a retreat from the everyday hustle and bustle. With its picturesque array of vendors, cafes, eateries, and specialty stores, this nine-acre marketplace is a hot spot for programmers and tourists.
At Pike Place, you can purchase fresh seafood from its lineup of fishmongers, indulge in various delectable baked goods and treats at local bakeries and restaurants, or shop for antiques and collectibles among the hundreds of proprietor-operated stores. This vibrant atmosphere comes alive during the spring, summer, and fall months when many visitors flock here to tour the market and hear its unusual stories.
When combined with visits to the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, and the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57, Pike Place truly offers an unforgettable experience of the Emerald City.
Discover Discovery Park
Discovery Park allows Seattleites and visitors to escape into the wild and step away from the city. Located on a point protruding into Puget Sound, the park has over 500 acres of coastline, meadows, and evergreen forests. Flora and fauna thrive here, and guests can enjoy the city’s lush beauty and natural wonders.
The most popular way to explore Discovery Park is on the Loop Trail or the Beach Trail, both providing views of the Olympic Mountains and abundant wildlife sightings. And for those looking to learn more about the park, the environmental learning center houses interactive exhibits and educational programs for adults and children.
Marvel at Chihuly Garden & Glass
Considered by many art fans to be a personal masterpiece of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an eye-catching centerpiece of Puget Sound. Here, visitors can wander the series of vibrant glass installations, each uniquely made and sent to live outdoors in the Northwest’s mild climate.
The garden and glass gallery combines captivating glass artworks with spectacular surroundings, offering a unique and inspiring experience. The gallery features eight sizes, showcasing significant works, including the dazzling Macchia Forest, Persian Ceiling, and Sun sculpture.
Chihuly Garden and Glass also offers a range of educational opportunities, including live demonstrations, workshops, and inspiring events from expert artisans.
Wander Pioneer Square Historic District
Pioneer Square is a charming historic area of Seattle, celebrated for its classic architecture, local shops and restaurants, and exceptional art galleries. It is the city’s original neighborhood, first established in 1852, and today it stands as a reminder of Seattle’s vibrant past.
The area is home to some of the city’s best attractions, including The Seattle Underground Tour and the Klondike Gold Rush National Park. Here, guests can explore the city’s past and try their hand at panning for gold.
Also, Pioneer Square is renowned for its lively nightlife. Whether you’re after a romantic meal, a few drinks with friends, or a night out on the town, the district boasts many award-winning bars, world-class restaurants, and locally-owned pubs.
One thing’s for sure – Pioneer Square is the perfect place for a day or night of fun and entertainment, no matter what your taste may be.
Visit the Seattle Art Museum
Located in downtown Seattle and only a short walk from Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum is a must-visit for all art lovers. With an incredible collection of contemporary art, including renowned works by Dale Chihuly, the museum offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. There are also rotating exhibitions to explore so that visitors can get an up-close look at some unique pieces.
The museum also has a fantastic gift shop and a café where visitors can grab a bite while they enjoy their time exploring the artwork. With its modern take on art and culture, the Seattle Art Museum is the perfect place to experience the rich history of Seattle.
Enjoy the Seattle Aquarium
Just steps away from Pike Place Market is the Seattle Aquarium, one of the premier destinations for animal lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and educational seekers. From sea otters and penguins to sealife with bright colors and mysterious appearances, the Aquarium is home to thousands of creatures. The Aquarium also provides engaging programs, educational exhibits, and more to help guests of all ages learn more about the Aquarium’s animals and the habitat they inhabit. Furthermore, the Aquarium offers feeding times and touch tanks, making it the perfect stop for adventurers of all kinds.
Take a Ride on the Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel is a must-see attraction when visiting the city of Seattle. Located at Pier 57, the wheel overlooks the waterfront and takes you soaring high into the sky. It offers stunning views of the surrounding areas, including Downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Elliott Bay. It’s definitely one of the city’s most unique experiences and makes for an excellent photo op and memory that will last a lifetime. The wheel also puts on special events like light shows, fireworks, and live music for an extra-special evening.
Walk on the Loop Trail at Discovery Park
Venture beyond the city and explore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood, just west of downtown Seattle. This 500-acre park offers spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains, as well as plenty of trails to explore and take in the wildlife. The Loop Trail and Beach Trails are the two most popular routes to take, but there are many others to choose from. And if you’d like to learn more about the park, the environmental learning center offers interactive exhibits and education programs for all ages.
Take a Stroll on The Beach Trails at Discovery Park
Head to Discovery Park for a breathtaking Puget Sound view and a fantastic outdoor experience. The Beach Trails are a great way to take in the scenery and explore the diverse landscape, with plenty of saltwater and freshwater beaches to discover. There’s even an area to explore the tidepools and their inhabitants. A walk on the Beach Trails is a great way to reconnect with nature, as well as take some amazing photos of Seattle’s impressive natural beauty. Plus, make sure to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way.
Attend a Tour of the Boeing Assembly Plant
If you want to get an up-close look at aviation history, taking a tour of the Boeing Assembly plant is a must-do. Located in southeast Seattle near the city’s iconic Space Needle, the tour provides a convenient way to explore the facility and its exhibits. It includes transportation to and from the plant, a 90-minute tour of the assembly plant, and the opportunity to explore several exhibits. Whether you’re an aviation fan or want to learn about a unique Seattle industry, this tour is worth your time.
Enjoy the Olympic Sculpture Park
Just north of Seattle’s downtown area, the Olympic Sculpture Park allows visitors to experience world-renowned art outdoors. This 2.5-mile linear park, operated by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), is a great place to enjoy some of the city’s iconic features, like the Space Needle, the Great Ferris Wheel, and even the houseboat community featured in Sleepless in Seattle.
Visitors can view various sculptures and installations, wander the park’s pathways, and appreciate the peaceful atmosphere. The park is free to enjoy and open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Explore the Seattle Asian Art Museum
The Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) is located in Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It houses a robust collection of contemporary and modern Asian art and contains fascinating items from various countries and cultures. You’ll find traditional Japanese paintings, breathtaking Korean screens and dishes, Chinese calligraphy and pottery, Indian statues, and more. SAAM is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and visitors can purchase tickets online or at the museum entrance.
Visit the Personal Courage Wing at The Museum of Flight
Located south of downtown Seattle, The Museum of Flight is home to many airplanes, educational exhibits, and flight-related historical objects. One of the most exciting attractions is the Personal Courage Wing, dedicated to remembering aviation’s vital role during World War I and II. The exhibit displays 28 restored fighter planes, personal stories of pilots and air support troops, and interactive experiences like a flight simulator. On Thursdays through Mondays, visitors can explore these displays, explore the rest of the museum, and take part in premium experiences that offer access to behind-the-scenes exhibits.
Go Whale Watching off the Coast of Seattle
The unique waters of Puget Sound host a wide variety of marine life, including an abundance of whales. If whale watching is on your bucket list, Seattle is an ideal place to do it. The whales can easily be spotted from the shoreline, but for a closer and more exciting experience, you can hop on a coastal cruise that departs from the city’s waterfront and sail out into the sound.
Experienced staff will guide you through the cruise, provide information and facts about the whales, and scan the water for signs that one of the majestic creatures may be nearby. Spending a day whale watching off the coast of Seattle is an unforgettable adventure.
Visit the Red Barn Collections at The Museum of Flight
If you’re looking for an immersive journey through the world of flight and aviation, one of the first stops should be the Museum of Flight. The museum houses many airplanes, educational exhibits, and flight-related historical objects in Seattle. Among other attractions, visitors can explore the iconic Red Barn collections, which explore the early days of flight. The museum offers premium experiences to gain access to behind-the-scenes exhibits and even a flight simulator for further exploration. Be sure to take time to visit the Red Barn collections and explore the many fascinating aspects of flight.
Take a Trip to the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Garden
The tranquil gardens of the Carl S. English, Jr Botanical Garden are a fantastic sight to behold. Located near the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks – also known as the Ballard Locks – the garden is a lush area encompassing many plants and flowers carefully handpicked for their beauty. Visitors can take in the diverse collection of flora, as well as take a stroll around the lake and enjoy some peaceful moments away from the city. A trip to the English Botanical Garden is guaranteed to be a wonderful experience of relaxation and serenity.
Linear Park at Alki Beach Park
The stunning coastline of Alki Beach Park is a go-to spot for sunbathing, picnics, and beach activities during the warmer months in Seattle. The park is also home to a 2.5-mile linear path with benches scattered along that make for great leisurely strolls.
For those looking for a more engaging experience, the park is perfect for explorations of the many tide pools during low tide. And when you get hungry during your visit, you can find plenty of nearby restaurants and bars to grab a bite or a drink. Alki Beach Park is an excellent place to relax and take in Seattle’s amazing views.
Seattle provides a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of marine life, whether it’s exploring the Washington Park Arboretum or spotting orcas on a whale watch. And with attractions like the Seattle Great Wheel and Gas Works Park, visitors can end the day with a stunning sunset view.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks) offers a quiet experience to appreciate engineering feats and witness the boat traffic for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core. With so much to do within city limits and beyond, there’s something for everyone in Seattle.