Seattle is a diverse, modern city with a local population of tech entrepreneurs, college students, families, artists, and musicians.
Its typically rainy weather has inspired jazz musician Ray Charles, rocker Jimi Hendrix, and famous grunge band Nirvana, and it will certainly inspire you!
Follow these top 10 things to do in Seattle to make the most of your trip!
1. Visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass Galleries
Located in Seattle Center next to the Space Needle, this glass art museum by artist Dave Chihuly is a must-see.
His colorful glass creations flow, twist, and bend to resemble delicate flowers and abstract shapes. Most of his indoor work is suspended, with lights shining through; you’ll feel like you’re walking around a 3D mosaic!
Outside, the garden blends nature and art together. Chihuly’s creations appear among plants and flowers, often making for unexpected color surprises, like the purple glass spines surrounded by green trees.
One of his largest ever sculptures is suspended in the Glasshouse, a 4,500ft structure resembling a giant greenhouse. Return to this exhibit throughout your visit to watch as the natural outdoor light changes the colors and patterns of the glass.
A ticket costs $22, or combine it with a ticket to the Space Needle for $36 total.
2. See the City from the Space Needle
This Seattle landmark was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and functions today as an observation deck.
Get a bird’s eye view of Seattle at 520ft. above the ground! The observation deck is surrounded by windows so there’s no danger of falling. From here, you can see the city skyline, the neighboring Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Elliot Bay, and nearby islands.
For a romantic dinner or a family lunch, reserve a table at the gourmet Sky City Restaurant. The restaurant slowly rotates so you can view Seattle from different angles as you eat. Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield locally sources the food to provide an authentic, regional dining experience. Expect to find a lot of seafood on the menu.
Observation deck tickets are $22, but if you eat at Sky City first, admission is included with your meal.
3. Walk Through Volunteer Park and Walk Through History
This park was originally established in 1876 by the city of Seattle. It was initially a cemetery, but in 1885, the graves were relocated, transforming the park into a civic space.
Today, the forty acres are home to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art museum. In addition, you can find lots of fountains, lily ponds, and beautiful gardens throughout the park.
The Conservatory is housed in a Victorian greenhouse, complete with white iron and thick glass windows. You can tour the historical building from Tuesdays to Sundays and learn more about its past. Tickets are $4.
The Seattle Asian Art Museum has been designated a city landmark. Its exterior is white and designed in Art Deco style; meanwhile, the interior features an impressive collection of Asian art throughout the centuries. Tickets are $9 for adults, and visits can be made on Wednesdays to Sundays.
4. Experience Seattle’s History with a Walking Tour
Seattle’s only “pay what you feel” tour company takes you on a guided tour of the city and lets visitors set their tour price through tips.
New to the city? First-timers are encouraged to sign up for the two-hour Seattle 101 tour. Beginning at Pike Place Market, the tour will take you through the historic center in Pioneer Square. Then you’ll head down to the riverfront to watch ferries, take photos, and taste clam chowder. More food and drink recommendations are given on the tour.
If you’ve already wandered around the city and gotten lost a few times, then you may be interested in the Market Experience tour. This one-hour culinary tour will show you around the market, let you sample the local cuisine, and let you in on some hidden secrets.
Tours can be booked at http://seattlefreewalkingtours.org/index.php
5. Watch the Sunset at Waterfront Park
Catch a new view of the city skyline from the two piers at Waterfront Park. You can also see the West Seattle Bridge, Magnolia Bluff, the neighboring mountains, and Blake Island off in the distance.
There’s nothing more romantic or relaxing than walking down the pier after a day of exploring and seeing the sunset light the water on fire, listening to the waves lap against the wooden pier, and hearing seagulls calling out in greeting.
Be sure to stop by the Waterfront Fountain near the north end of the park. This bronze sculpture looks like a Tetris game with its cubical shapes. In the background, you can see the Seattle Great Wheel ferris wheel.
The park is free and open to the public from 6am to 10pm daily.
6. Set Sail at the Center for Wooden Boats
Imagine you’re beginning a sailing expedition at two historical sailboat museums resting on Cama Beach and South Lake Union. There’s a variety of boats on exhibit such as rowboats, pedal boats, and classical sailboats—all made of wood. This unique museum and nature preserve is one of the top 10 things to do in Seattle.
If sailing is your passion or curious interest, you can rent a boat and take a lesson with the crew. For those who like building, there are boat-building workshops available.
When you’re ready to return to land, stretch your sea legs and explore the natural surroundings of Cama Beach and South Lake Union. There are miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Are you too tired to make it back to your hotel? Have no fear, you can also rent cabins along the shoreline and have a peaceful evening.
Admission to the Center of Wooden Boats is free, but prices vary for sailing and building lessons as well as rentals.
7. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover at Seattle Central Library
This award-winning library is full of more than just books. It’s a space for public art installations, meeting friends, relaxing, and of course, reading.
To really appreciate the design that has gone into the building, you’ll need to look down, up, and side to side. The Evelyn W. Foster Learning Center is covered in hardwood flooring that spells out book titles in the eleven different languages the library carries.
The library has special areas for children, teens, ESL learners, researchers, a writer’s room, music practice rooms, and an interactive visitor center.
Once you’ve had a chance to explore, wind down with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee from Chocolati, a coffee stall on the third floor.
Self-guided tours are and can be accessed with a smartphone or downloaded via podcast.
8. Bike Down to Myrtle Edwards Park
Another great seafront destination, Myrtle Edwards Park curls around Elliot Bay and provides breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, the Olympia Mountains, and Puget Sound. It’s easily accessible from downtown.
You’ll find a 1.25mile path perfect for biking or walking. This green space is full of local wildlife such as eagles, herons, and gulls. Among the natural scenery, you’ll also find modern art sculptures leading up to the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.
Tickets to Myrtle Edwards Park and Olympic Sculpture Park are free, and both parks are open twenty-four hours.
9. Shop Locally at Pike Place Market
This market, founded in 1907, is one of the oldest farmer’s markets in America. As you enter, be sure to drop a few coins in and take a photo with the market’s mascot: Rachel the Piggy Bank.
Get lost among the hundreds of market stalls, restaurants, take-out vendors, cafes, and bakeries. The question “What’s for dinner?” has never seemed so important nor so difficult to answer. With a massive selection, you don’t have to choose—you can eat Korean bbq, a Southern-style biscuit, seafood, Spanish tapas, and sushi. With a crème-filled éclair for dessert.
Make sure to save room for the market’s most recognized dish—clam chowder from Pike Place Chowder.
Once your hunger is satisfied, support local craftsmen at the crafts market. Here you’ll find artisanal jewelry, artisanal soap, artisanal pottery, artisanal anything your heart desires.
Grab a prohibition-style cocktail from Radiator Whiskey before heading over to Can Can to watch a dance performance. You can also laugh your heart out at Unexpected Productions, an improvisational theater.
Download a map and visiting guide from http://pikeplacemarket.org/plan-your-visit
10. Let Your Imagination Soar at the Museum of Flight
This is your go-to place to learn about old planes, new planes, war planes, jet planes—if it flies, you can learn about it here through the museum’s interactive exhibits.
The aircraft section of the museum takes you on a chronological journey through the airplane’s evolution. Ooh and aah at one of the first wooden planes that had only five instruments. History buffs will love learning about the fighting planes used in WWI and WWII while culture enthusiasts can enjoy seeing the first commercial planes and helicopters.
Be even more amazed by the spacecraft models. You’ll follow along mankind’s journey into space with a replica of the Mercury capsule, a Soviet rocket, the Apollo 17 Lunar Model, an International Space Station Mock-up, a Boeing lunar rover, and many more.
Tickets start at $21 for adults.
Seattle is the perfect place for a city-meets-nature vacation. This top 10 guide takes you to its special museums, restaurants, and outdoor walking trails.
When you return home with great memories and breathtaking photos, listening to jazz, rock, and grunge music will help you get over your vacation nostalgia.