From the iconic fish market to amazing waterfalls, these are the ten must-sees when visiting Seattle:
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest and most famous public markets in the US and a must-see for any visitor to Seattle. You can browse hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, seafood, flowers, crafts, and more and watch the famous fishmongers toss salmon across the counters. You can also sample some of the best food and drinks in the city, from the original Starbucks coffee shop to the award-winning Beecher’s cheese. Don’t miss the iconic gum wall, where visitors have been sticking their chewed gum for decades, creating a colourful and sticky mural.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Photo by Sunira Moses
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a stunning museum that showcases the creative and colourful blown glass sculptures of renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Eight indoor galleries and lush landscaped gardens feature a mix of new and past significant works. They are awe-inspiring whether you visit during the day or evening when the sculptures are lit up. The highlight here is a 100-foot-long glass sculpture suspended in a glass conservatory—one of his most extensive ever. Located at the base of the Space Needle, you might want to buy a combined ticket for cost savings or get a Seattle City Pass.
Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a fun and interactive museum that celebrates the history and culture of popular music, movies, TV shows, video games, and more. You can explore exhibits dedicated to Seattle’s music legends, such as Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, and other pop culture icons like Star Wars, Marvel, and Harry Potter. You can also play instruments, sing karaoke, watch movies, and join workshops and events. The museum is housed in a futuristic building designed by Frank Gehry, a sight to behold.
Seattle Art Museum
The Seattle Art Museum, or SAM, is a world-class museum with a diverse and impressive art collection from different regions, periods, and styles. You can admire paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and more, from ancient to contemporary, local to global. Some of the highlights include Native American art, Asian art, European art, and modern and contemporary art. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions, lectures, tours, and programs. Don’t forget to check out the Olympic Sculpture Park. This nine-acre outdoor museum extension displays large-scale sculptures along the waterfront.
Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is a popular attraction for families and animal lovers, as it houses over 1,000 animals from 300 species, many of which are endangered or threatened. You can see gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, bears, penguins, and more in naturalistic habitats that mimic their native environments. You can also learn about the zoo’s conservation efforts, participate in animal encounters and feedings, and enjoy seasonal events and activities. In the winter, the zoo hosts WildLanterns, a dazzling display of illuminated lanterns that transform the zoo into a winter wonderland.
The Seattle Aquarium is another family-friendly attraction showcasing the Pacific Northwest's marine life and beyond. In various exhibits and tanks, you can see colourful fish, coral reefs, sharks, octopuses, sea otters, seals, sea lions, and more. You can also touch starfish, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins in the tide pools, watch divers feed the fish in the underwater dome, and learn about the aquarium’s research and conservation projects. The aquarium is located on the Seattle Waterfront, where you can also enjoy other attractions, such as the Seattle Great Wheel and the Seattle Ferry Terminal.
Seattle Center is a cultural and entertainment hub hosting many events and festivals annually. It was initially built for the 1962 World’s Fair and retains some of the attractions from that era, such as the Space Needle and the Monorail. You can also find other attractions, such as the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum, the Seattle Opera, the Seattle Repertory Theatre, and the KeyArena. In the winter, the centre hosts Winterfest, a holiday season celebration with ice skating, music, lights, and more.
Pioneer Square is the oldest neighbourhood in Seattle and a historic district that preserves the city’s heritage and charm. You can admire the Victorian architecture, browse the art galleries and antique shops, and dine at the cosy cafes and restaurants. You can also learn about the history of the area, such as the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the Klondike Gold Rush, by joining the Underground Tour, a guided walk through the subterranean passages that once were the main streets of Seattle. You can also visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, a museum that tells the story of the Gold Rush and its impact on Seattle.
Snoqualmie Falls is a scenic and natural attraction worth a day trip from Seattle. The falls are a 268-foot waterfall that plunges into a gorge, creating a spectacular sight and sound. You can view the falls from the observation deck or hike to the lower park for a closer look. You can also visit the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Plant and Museum, one of the world’s first underground power plants. If you want to extend your stay, you can book a room at the Salish Lodge and Spa. This luxury hotel overlooks the falls and offers a cosy and romantic getaway.
The Space Needle is the most recognizable landmark in Seattle. It is a great place to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. The 605-foot tower was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and has since become a symbol of Seattle’s innovation and creativity. You can take an elevator to the observation deck, where you can see the downtown skyline, the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier. You can also dine at the rotating SkyCity restaurant or experience the thrill of the glass floor at The Loupe, the world’s first revolving glass floor.
Where to stay:
Downtown: This is the city's heart, where you’ll find most major attractions, shopping, dining, and nightlife. You’ll also have easy access to public transportation, such as buses, light rail, streetcars, and monorail. Some of the best hotels in downtown Seattle are the Inn at the Market, the Mayflower Park Hotel, and the Hyatt House Seattle/Downtown.
Capitol Hill: This hip and trendy neighbourhood has a vibrant arts and music scene, eclectic shops and cafes, and a diverse and LGBTQ-friendly community. You’ll also be close to the Volunteer Park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Lake View Cemetery.
Ballard: This historic and charming neighbourhood is where you’ll find a Scandinavian heritage, a lively waterfront, and a thriving brewery scene. You’ll also be close to the Ballard Locks, the Nordic Museum, and the Golden Gardens Park.