Try to stay dry here in the home of the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Seattle may not have an abundance of museums or historical sites, but it does have many natural attractions and I do consider it to be the most important city in the Pacific Northwest. Save 44% on admission to 6 popular attractions with the Seattle CityPASS. Seattle is located at about a 3 hour drive from Portland, OR (170 miles), 2½ hours from Vancouver (140 miles), and it’s a 13 hour drive from San Francisco (800 miles).
Top 13 Attractions
1. The Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city skyline and the surrounding area. It was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s 605 feet tall and looks like a spaceship on stilts. It stands high over the Seattle Center, a large complex featuring the Pacific Science Center, Chihuly glass display, the food court, and theaters. Admission is $19 for adults and $12 for children.
See the city skyline from the top of the Space Needle.
2. Pike Place Market – Located in the heart of downtown, this year-round public market has been a Seattle tradition since it first opened in 1907. -I know, I know, you are probably wondering why you should go all the way to Seattle just to visit a farmers market but seriously! Hear me out on this must-see!- It features an eclectic mix of vegetable, seafood (including the famed flying fish!), cheese and flower stalls along with handicrafts and tourist-friendly knickknacks. Also be sure to take the stairs to “Down Under,” a wood-floored maze of small shops beneath the main-level market.
Tip: Also be sure to warm up at the place that is touted as “the original” Starbucks (which actually moved here from down the street about five years after its 1971 opening, but retains its vintage look). It is likely to have a line coming out the door, but fortunately, you will find other Starbucks locations just steps away. You can also see the largest tea kettle in the world above the entrance to the Starbucks in Boston’s Government Center. It was cast in 1873 and to this day, you will still see steam spewing out of it.
3. Seattle Art Museum – This massive museum has quite the collection ranging from European masters’ paintings and ancient Asian artwork to Native American carvings and contemporary sculpture. For other great art destinations, check out my post on the 11 Best Places To See Art In Seattle. Museum admission is $19.50 for adults and $12.50 for students. Receive free admission on the first Thursday of each month.
4. The Seattle Aquarium – Has a nice variety of marine specimens from all over the world. Admission is $21.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.
Tip: While visiting the aquarium and the Seattle Waterfront area, be sure to go for a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel with enclosed gondola-type cabins, for a view from on high of the city, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Adult ticket is $13.
5. Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) – Before you let the name scare you off, I highly encourage you to consider a visit! Since reopening in late 2012, with new galleries and multimedia displays, in a new location in Lake Union Park at the north edge of downtown, it is back and better than ever before. Its exhibits on life in Seattle and Puget Sound cover everything from the maritime past to cutting-edge culture. Admission is $14 for adults and free for children.
Tip: Outside in the waterfront park, at the south end of Lake Union, watch boats scud across the lake and float planes take off. While there, boat-lovers shouldn’t miss the nearby Center for Wooden Boats, with displays, more than 100 historic boats, a wharf, rental boats and free vintage-boat rides on Sundays. Best of all, it’s free!
6. Washington State Ferries shuttle all around Puget Sound and they’re a key, and the prettiest, part of Washington’s transportation system. You can have a fun, quick and cheap sightseeing boat ride as a walk-on passenger (adult fare is $7.70 round trip) on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry. If it’s clear, you’ll even see 14,410-foot Mount Rainier looming to the south on the 35-minute ride. “The Mountain,” as locals call it, really does exist, although it’s often shrouded in clouds. Board the ferry at Pier 52 on the downtown Seattle waterfront and get off at Bainbridge and walk into the friendly little town of Winslow — its restaurants, cafes and shops are a 10-minute walk from the ferry landing on the main drag of Winslow Way. Back on the ferry, enjoy the spectacular urban skyline view as you approach downtown Seattle.
7. Chinatown International District – Since emerging in the 1880s, the famous Chinatown District (also called the International District) has been a cultural hub for Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino and other immigrants. It’s packed with Asian restaurants and shops, and home to the Wing Luke Museum that chronicles the life and times of Pacific and Asian Americans in the area ($12.95 adult admission). This Chinatown isn’t as nice as the one in San Francisco but it stacks right up there with some of the cities favorites.
8. Ballard Locks – The Pacific Northwest at the Ballard Locks is ‘the place’ to watch salmon and boats glide down the scenic waterways. The locks carry boats up and down, letting them travel between Puget Sound and Seattle’s freshwater waterways. A fish ladder lets salmon swim up past the locks to their freshwater spawning grounds; glass viewing windows let people watch them. Also be sure to stroll in the ornamental gardens surrounding the locks (formally known as Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, but called Ballard Locks after the local neighborhood.
9. Olympic Sculpture Park – See world-class sculpture’s on a walk with wonderful views of the city, harbor and mountains – all for free! How could you not visit the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park? The outdoor sculpture garden spreads over 9 acres of a seaside bluff north of downtown, transformed from an industrial backwater into the home of artwork such as Alexander Calder’s “Eagle,” six tons of red-painted steel that looks like an abstract soaring bird. Paths wander amid sculpture; for a longer, lovely walk, stroll along the 1.2-mile waterfront path in adjoining Myrtle Edwards Park.
10. Boeing tour – See Boeing‘s “Future of Flight” exhibits and even see jets being made inside the Boeing factory, which is located about 25 miles north of Seattle in Everett. The Boeing plant is the biggest building by volume in the world (at 472,000,000 cubic feet) and holds the production lines for various Boeing jets, including the 787 Dreamliner. Admission is cheaper if it’s reserved. Reserved rates for adult admission for the exhibits and 90-minute guided tour is $18 and child admission is $12. (Children must be at least four feet tall to join the tour.)
11. Theo Chocolates – Check out Theo Chocolates in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle for some of the most delicious artisan chocolate in the city. Learn the “bean-to-bar” process on a half hour to hour long tour within the factory, along with Theo Chocolate’s own mission to make an irresistible organic and fair-trade chocolate bar. Explore how the chocolate is made, take a peek inside the kitchens with chefs whipping up caramels and confections, and taste the final product at the end of the tour—from the spicy and chai to the sea salt and almond varieties. We rank it at #6 on our list of the Top 10 Chocolate & Beer Tours In America. This factory can be found on 3400 Phinney Avenue North. Stop in Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
12. Seattle Japanese Garden – Situated on top Capitol Hill at the southwestern end of Washington Park Arboretum is Seattle Japanese Garden. This three and a half acre garden was designed in 1959 and constructed under the supervision of Kiyoshi Inoshita and Juki Iida—a world-renowned Japanese garden designer. The garden displays stone bridges, step stones and a Shoseian Teahouse, which demonstrates the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The koi fish pond and greenery provide a peaceful place to relax in the big city. We rank it at #5 on our list of the 15 Best Japanese Gardens In America. Seattle Japanese Garden closes during the winter months, so check the website before you go! The garden is open from dawn to dusk, and admission costs $6 for adults, $4 for seniors, students and youth, and children under five are free.
13. The Underground Tour – Head deep into the bones of this urban metropolis for an absolute charm for history buffs. You’ll quickly discover that the city of Seattle once stood 30 feet below its current elevation. That means, there’s a whole city beneath the ground! With this tour, you will be taken below the streets to learn the hidden stories that paint Seattle with colorful character. Tours start at Doc Maynard’s Public House—a restored saloon that takes us back to the 1890s. The tour guides really know how to entertain and make you laugh—especially when they tell you the reason they insist on keeping a genuine ‘Crapper’ toilet on display inside the building. This attraction was featured on our list of the Top 10 Behind the Scenes Tours in America. This is the perfect place to get the inside scoop on the deep, dark secrets of Seattle’s past. Admission costs $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $9 for children.
Still looking for more information? Here’s a 26-minute Seattle themed podcast episode that you will want to be sure to check out.
The Seattle Center Monorail was built for the World’s Fair and continues to provide tourists and locals alike with a convenient way to get around the city center. The Monorail is located near the Westfield Southcenter and takes you to the top of Capitol Hill, through the EMP and drops you off just outside the Space Needle. Other transportation options include the Seattle Metro Transit and expansive bus and street car system.
Skycity Restaurant – Dine atop the Space Needle for picturesque views of Seattle with gourmet food that is to die for!
Teatro ZinZanni – As featured on The Food Network’s “World’s Weirdest Restaurants” TV show, this place brings you back to the 1962 World’s Fair for a colourful collection of circus performances, comedy and classic cuisine of the era. It’s been a Seattle classic since 1998, and has grown to also feature a newer location in San Francisco. These dinner shows typically range from $108 to $143 per person.
The Cheesecake Factory – Since first opening in Beverly Hills in 1978, these restaurants have become well known for their fun atmosphere, huge portions and wide variety of entrees. They offer nearly forty varieties of cheesecake, with some that are only offered seasonally. These include: Key lime cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cookie – Dough cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake (available from October – holidays), Pineapple Upside-Down Cheesecake, and after thanksgiving they even have a peppermint Bark Cheesecake!
Hard Rock Cafe Seattle – Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, the Hard Rock Cafe Seattle strikes the perfect balance in a city that boasts one of the most diverse and influential alternative music scenes in the world. Designated a LEED certified building as defined by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, Hard Rock Cafe Seattle mixes in as much of authentic Seattle as possible—from the existing timbers of our Pike Street building to our city-specific memorabilia. The 14,000-square-foot cafe includes seating for 425, a vibrant bar and a Rock Shop featuring a wide array of Hard Rock’s limited-edition, highly-collectible merchandise. Memorabilia on display include: Jimi Hendrix’s 1969 Fender Stratocaster guitar, Krist Novoselic’s bass used while on tour with Nirvana to the doorway from Robert Lang Studios signed by many iconic Seattle bands.
Rainforest Cafe – Step into this indoor jungle and discover one of the most realistic indoor rain forests ever created, complete with cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation, tropical rainstorms, beautiful aquariums, trumpeting elephants and wild animatronic gorillas, jaguars, and elephants. A “thunderstorm” goes off every now and then, where the “”animals” go wild and thunder and lightning appear to sound off in a dramatic yet exciting experience. The menu includes a wide variety of options, including pastas, seafood, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. Order their “volcano” sundae and they start yelling “volcano” and make quite a spectacle! Pick up a souvenir on the way out at their large, iconic gift shop.
Buca di Beppo – Owned by Planet Hollywood, Buca di Beppo specializes in immigrant Southern Italian food. Vintage photographs cover the walls, in fact each restaurant is said to have more than 2,500 pictures. The food is served family style, where each item is shared among the dinner party. A select number of locations have a lunch menu, with individual-sized portions. All restaurants have a Pope table, a large table in a room to iteself, with a bust of the pope in the center. Most locations also have a room right across from the kitchen, where you can watch them cook – chefs even come over and talk to you and even let you sample dishes.
3 Star- Hyatt Place (Avg. price $169 and up) is one popular place to stay in Downtown Seattle with great views of the Space Needle and free shuttle provided to anywhere within a 1 mile radius! This hotel serves delicious flatbread sandwiches with wine and cocktails at the Bakery Café.
3 Star- Watertown Hotel Seattle (Avg. price $179 and up) is a colorful hotel with plenty of decorative vibe. This hotel is just next to the University of Washington campus and many other great features of the city. Enjoy breakfast at Pineapple Café in the mornings.
3 Star- Mayflower Park Hotel (Avg. price $159 and up) is a great place to stay in the heart of the city just steps from the best attractions. Enjoy the classy chandeliers and antique additions, dine at Andaluca Restaurant and grab a drink over at Oliver’s Lounge.
4 Star- Inn at the Market (Avg. price $159 and up) is the only hotel located directly in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Take a walk just below to the very first Starbucks and take in the views of the Northwest Pacific Coast from the rooftop deck.
4 Star- Hotel 1000 (Avg. price $219 and up) is a grand sleek and modern hotel conveniently located in the midst of the action. Be sure to book a room with with a deluxe city view to get the most of your stay!
4 Star- Alexis Hotel (Avg. price $246 and up) is a great boutique hotel with just a short walk to favorite attractions such as Pioneer Square, Pike Place and the Seattle Waterfront. Enjoy wine hour and the Library Bistro inside. Each room is equipped with yoga mat and complimentary yoga channel.
4 Star- Pan Pacific Seattle (Avg. price $200 and up) is a grand boutique hotel and resort located right downtown within walking distance to the top attractions. Dine inside award winning Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar just next to the hotel for a taste of today’s catch.
4 Star- Hotel Andra (Avg. price $209 and up) is a quaint boutique hotel just next to transportation and Pike Place market. The hip décor and award winning Lola restaurant with many flavors including a mix of Mediterranean cuisine.
4.5 Star- Hotel 1000 (Avg. price $249 and up) – It’s ranked by TripAdvisor reviewers as the number one hotel in all of Seattle and it’s ranked by CNN as one of the 10 highest tech hotels in America. Enjoy the hip vibe and chic décor at this 21st century technolodge. Discover infrared doorbell with sensors that detect body heat (so housekeeping knows when not to interrupt), smart climate control settings, a digital do-not-disturb button and a 40-inch LCD HDTV that doubles as a digital art gallery, displaying works that you can personally select. There’s video-on-demand, surround sound, satellite radio, high-speed Wi-Fi (included with room) and a slew of media hubs for every gadget imaginable. Innovative plumbing enables the bathtub to fill from the ceiling, an intelligent mini-bar notifies the front desk when it needs stocking, Cisco video phones float around the hotel and a virtual reality Golf Club is swing-ready with more than 50 courses from around the world.
5 Star- The Fairmont Olympic Hotel (Avg. price $229 and up) is a historic landmark located in the heart of the city next to all the best attractions. The two award winning restaurants located inside—The Georgian and Shuckers are highly sought by the locals of Seattle.
5 Star- Four Seasons in Seattle (Avg. price $345 and up) is a great place to stay with spacious rooms and grand downtown views. The rooms are complete with local Seattle art and the ART Restaurant and Lounge top off the theme with urban Northwest inspired cuisine.
*There is also a Great Wolf Lodge, with a large indoor water park, located about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Seattle. It is in Grand Mound, WA.
Video: The Best of Seattle
Video: Pike Place Market
Video: The Space Needle
- #attraction, #attraction