Things to do in Seattle

Things to do in  Seattle

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Seattle is a high-tech hub in a spectacular setting, surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes, forested islands, and wave-lapped beaches. It’s also Washington State’s undisputed cultural capital, with a vibrant art scene and cosmopolitan dining that draw creative transplants from around the globe. Whether strolling Pike Place Market, sipping coffee at the Original Starbucks, gliding up the Space Needle, or taking a day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park, the best things to do in Seattle are yours to discover.

Top 15 attractions in Seattle

Space Needle

Seattle’s Space Needle, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most distinctive icons, rises 605 feet (184 meters) above the city. Once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River at the time of its construction—built for the 1962 World’s Fair—the tower features a rotating lounge and an observation deck at 520 feet (158 meters) with 360-degree panoramic views over Seattle and its surroundings.More

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square, where Seattle’s founders first settled in 1852, is a bustling district in the southwest corner of downtown Seattle. The shop- and nightlife-laden neighborhood takes its name from the small, triangular cobblestone plaza known as Pioneer Square Park, and features a bust of Chief Seattle, an ornate pergola, and a totem pole.More

Pike Place Market

Every day from dawn to dusk, Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market buzzes with locals and tourists alike, who come to browse the 150 stalls of fresh seafood, produce, flowers, artisanal products, and local art, as well as see the numerous street performers wandering throughout.More

Seattle Waterfront

When a city has an enviable location on a large body of water, like Puget Sound, the waterfront becomes a top attraction. This is definitely true in Seattle, where the nearly 20-block stretch along the water is home to restaurants, hotels, markets, shops, and more than a dozen piers.More

Kerry Park (Franklin Place)

For views of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, and Mount Rainier, the hilltop Kerry Park (Franklin Place) is hard to beat. Popular with photographers, Kerry Park looks out across the city skyline, the leafy streets of the Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, and Puget Sound, where you can spot ferries leaving the Seattle waterfront for the San Juan Islands.More

Mt. Rainier National Park

One of the oldest national parks in the United States, Mt. Rainier National Park was established in 1899 to preserve the wilderness surrounding Mount Rainier. Encompassing 369 square miles (956 square kilometers) of old-growth forests, wildflower meadows, glacial scenery, and wildlife, it’s a must-visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.More

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

Learn about the annual phenomenon of salmon spawning at Seattle’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known locally as the Ballard Locks, where three types of Pacific salmon pass through the fish ladder during the summer months on the way upriver to their spawning grounds.More

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park covers a huge swath of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, encompassing rugged coastline, towering mountain ranges, temperate rain forests, and wildflower-filled lowland meadows. Home to some of the biggest stretches of old-growth forest remaining in the US, this misty Pacific Northwest park is the ultimate outdoor escape.More

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Glass artist Dale Chihuly, famous for his whimsical sculptures, was born in Tacoma but has left his mark on Seattle. Fans can revel in his colorful creations at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum at Seattle Center. The facility includes a 100-foot (30-meter) glass sculpture, theater, and Chihuly retrospective, plus an outdoor garden.More

Snoqualmie Falls

Fans of Twin Peaks will recognize Washington state’s iconic Snoqualmie Falls, an epic cataract that drops 270 feet (82 meters) in one single, massive rush. Travelers can hike down to the base of the falls, take in the views from the side of the falls, or walk a winding boardwalk along Snoqualmie River for a look from the bottom.More

Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Great Wheel is a can’t-miss icon that speaks to the fun-loving nature of the city’s residents. One of the biggest Ferris wheels in the US, the Seattle Great Wheel features enclosed gondolas that afford spectacular coastal views. It stands above 175 feet (53 meters) and weighs in at more than a quarter of a million pounds.More

Lake Washington

More than just the second-largest lake in all of Washington State, Lake Washington defines Seattle as a city intimately tied to the water. Residents and visitors alike come to Lake Washington to connect with the natural beauty of the landscape, which includes views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountains.More

Lake Union

Just north of downtown Seattle, the glacially carved freshwater Lake Union is ringed with houseboats—including the one made famous by the movieSleepless in Seattle—and home to numerous recreational opportunities. The lake is a true urban gem, contributing to Seattle’s high standard of living.More

Fremont District

Seattle’s funky, irreverent, and always colorful Fremont neighborhood is a vibrant place to explore. The area bills itself as the “Center of the Universe,” and it’s a hotbed of interesting landmarks. Visitors stroll along the scenic Ship Canal and grab coffee, artisan chocolate, craft beer, or a full dinner at one of Seattle’s best restaurants.More

Seattle Aquarium

The cold, dark waters around Seattle hide an abundance of marine life, from orca whales to giant Pacific octopus to otters and salmon. The Seattle Aquarium helps visitors access this rich underwater world without getting wet. The experience involves touch tanks, daily dive shows, and plenty of exhibits showing off the area’s sea life.More

Trip ideas

Pike Place Fishmonger Tips for Selecting Seafood

Pike Place Fishmonger Tips for Selecting Seafood

Top activities in Seattle

Viator Exclusive Tour - Mt. Rainier Day Trip from Seattle
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Seattle Harbor Cruise

Seattle Harbor Cruise

Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market- 2 Hours
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Pike Place Market Tasting Tour

Pike Place Market Tasting Tour

Seattle 4-Hour City Tour
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Seattle 4-Hour City Tour

Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle Winery Tour
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Mt. Rainier Day Tour from Seattle

Mt. Rainier Day Tour from Seattle

BEST Olympic National Park Day Tour from Seattle
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Luxury Leavenworth Day Trip through the Cascade Mountains
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BEST Snoqualmie Falls and Leavenworth Day Tour
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Whidbey Island Deception Pass Private SUV Tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Seattle

When to visit

You don’t get an emerald city without plenty of rain, but summer in Seattle is downright gorgeous and usually sunny. The driest season here stretches from July through early August, coinciding with events including the Seafair Weekend Festival, the Seattle Art Fair, and West Seattle Summer Fest. Nice weather holds through early fall, when September brings crowds to the Bumbershoot cultural festival and Seattle Seahawks’ football games.

Getting around

Getting around Seattle with public transit is easy and saves you the hassle of dodging traffic or searching for parking. The Seattle Center Monorail travels between downtown’s Westlake Center and the Seattle Center, where the Space Needle and other top sights are located. Additionally, there are two above-ground streetcar lines, South Lake Union and First Hill. Sound Transit’s Link light rail connects Northgate and downtown Seattle. And King County Metro Transit buses go everywhere else.

Traveler tips

From the Seattle Art Museum to Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle has world-class art destinations worth planning a trip around. One of the most locally beloved art spots, however, is free. The 9-acre (3.6-hectare) Olympic Sculpture Park contains a huge collection of monumental artwork on the Seattle waterfront and is the largest green space in downtown. It’s also within easy walking distance of top landmarks, including Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
PST (UTC -8)
Country Code

People Also Ask

Is it always cold in Seattle?

No. While Seattle is no stranger to chilly weather, it's rare for temperatures to drop below freezing, and summers in the city are generally warm and sunny. However, because Seattle gets a lot of rainfall, especially, between October and April, it often feels colder than it actually is outside.

How can I spend 2 days in Seattle?

Consider devoting day one of a 2-day trip to Seattle to downtown attractions such as the Central Waterfront, Pike Place Market (home to the first Starbucks store), and the Seattle Art Museum. On day two, head to the Seattle Center, home to the Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the famous Space Needle.

What's Seattle best known for?

Seattle is known for its lush surroundings, and it’s easy to get out into nature without straying far from the city—just be prepared for a bit of rain. The Emerald City is also the birthplace of Starbucks and Amazon, and the grunge music movement of the 1990s has long been associated with the city.

What do locals do for fun in Seattle?

When it comes to having fun, Seattleites have plenty of options. Football fans can check out Seahawks games, while those more fond of the arts have access to ample museums and concert venues. Seattle is also popular with outdoorsy folks, and its proximity to trails, forests, and waterways makes it easy to get out and explore.

What should you not miss in Seattle?

Seattle’s most popular attractions include Pike Place Market—the site of the first Starbucks—and the iconic Space Needle. There are also tons of great museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s also worth exploring subterranean Seattle on the famous Underground Tour.

Is Seattle close to Canada?

Yes, Seattle is only a 2-hour drive from the border with Canada. If you have a car, it's possible to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, as a day trip from the Emerald City. Simply pack up your travel documents and drive north on the Interstate 5 until you reach the border.

What part of Seattle should I visit?

Seattle has plenty of neighborhoods worth exploring, each with its own unique charm. Downtown is great for history and big-city vibes, while Uptown’s Seattle Center features a large concentration of attractions. Ballard is the place to go for dining and shopping, while up-and-coming SODO is a celebrated for its large concentration of wineries.

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