There’s more than just Greys Anatomy in Seattle.
Despite its reputation for rainy days, Seattle is not a place to hole up indoors. There are so many things to do in the great city that even locals have plenty of opportunities to discover something new everyday. Hailed as the culture capital of the Pacific Northwest — set on the Puget Sound with the stunning Mt. Rainier visible on clear days — Seattle has everything from renowned museums and beautiful parks to buzzy neighborhoods and popular attractions. Seattle is also a jumping-off point for visiting Washington wineries or exploring the dramatic natural beauty of the region (or even traveling to Vancouver).
A perfect day in Seattle must start with coffee, as is tradition. It’s the land of Starbucks after all, but also a wealth of amazing smaller and independent coffee shops. After that, choose from typical spots like the Space Needle or Pioneer Square, then explore museums, gardens, markets and more. If you’re feeling adventurous, get on the water for a boat tour or some kayaking. You’ll definitely work up an appetite to dine at the best restaurants in Seattle. Whatever your pleasure, the list of things to do in Seattle has something for you.
The biggest city in the Pacific Northwest has a diverse population, a surplus of public parks and leafy residential neighbourhoods on surrounding hills. Setting off the space age urban environment of the Seattle Center and the cluster of skyscrapers downtown, Seattle is ensconced in glorious natural scenery.
Here’s five things you must do as a first-time traveller (or returning!) in the Emerald City:
1. Pioneer Square
Known as Seattle’s oldest neighborhood where the first settlers built their homes, Pioneer Square boasts some incredible architecture, art galleries, cafés and bookstores. It’s one of the best places for soaking up Seattle history housing the outstanding Klondike Gold Rush museum where people go to learn about Seattle’s involvement in the 1890s mass migration to Canada’s Yukon region. Then try Smith Tower; built in 1914, this was the tallest building on the West Coast for years, and the views from the 35th floor are still spectacular. And if you’re into something that seems a little more secret, sign up for a Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, where as the name suggests, you’ll journey underground to dark tunnels and winding subterranean passageways. You can even walk to Russian concerts in Seattle after if you’re up for it.
2. Space Needle
If there’s one thing Seattle is known for aside from coffee, it’s the 605-foot-tall Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle has dominated Seattle’s skyline ever since with its unique UFO-like design. The tower’s round observation deck (520-feet high) offers spectacular views of the city and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. The Loupe, a cocktail lounge, features a revolving glass floor. If you’re not a fan of heights, check out the SpaceBase gift shop at the bottom of the tower. When it comes to prices, recent visitors are torn: Some said the views are worth the high admission price, while others said it’s just as impressive from the ground. Experience it for yourself and be the judge!
3. Pike Place Market
One of Seattle’s most iconic destinations, this century-old public market houses dozens of stalls and shops for farmers, restaurants, purveyors, and artisans, all overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront. The bustle is non-stop here. From locals buying fresh seafood and flowers to visitors eating their way through the different gourmet food stalls, there’s an endless array of movement and chatter. Showing up without a game plan can be overwhelming, but you can find a self-guided walking tour pocket guide on the market’s website or just peruse the alleyways yourself to find a good steal.
4. Bainbridge Island
A 35-minute trip from the Seattle Ferry Terminal, Bainbridge Island makes a great day trip for families or couples a short stay in Seattle. Whether you walk, drive, or ride your bike off the boat, you’ll arrive in downtown Winslow quickly. From there, explore the bookstores, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, and cafés that line Winslow Way, or head to Waterfront Park and City Dock for an easy hike along the shore. Extend your stay with dinner at Hitchcock, chef Brendan McGill’s lovely locavore restaurant, and stay the night at the fairytale-evoking Eagle Harbor Inn.
5. Seattle Great Wheel
Located on Pier 57, The Seattle Great Wheel is one of the largest of its kind in North America and gondolas are fully enclosed for rain-or-shine rides. The views from Seattle’s 175-foot-high Ferris wheel more than compensate for its corniness. From the top you’ll enjoy a grand panorama of the city, the Pacific Ocean and—if you’re lucky—the Olympic Mountains. First opened in 2012, it’s not a particularly old landmark, but that hardly matters. Besides, not only can you expect fantastic views when you’re going for a ride, but the wheel istelf lights up, providing the Seattle skyline with a little bit of razzle dazzle.