Seattle Bucket List - 50 Best Things To Do In The Emerald City
1. Space Needle
The Space Needle is an iconic symbol of Seattle and featured in dozens of movie’s and TV shows such as Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy and Sleepless in Seattle. This famous landmark draws visitor’s from around the world and has recently been updated to include an all-glass revolving floor. The very first of it’s kind in the world! You can combine your Space Needle tickets with other top Seattle attractions to save money.
2. The Original Starbucks
Starbucks is the largest coffee house in the world but it first began as a small local roasting house in Seattle back in the late 1970’s. Today, coffee lovers turn up in droves to visit the original Starbucks located across the road from Pike Place Market.
3. Pike Place Market
Besides the Space Needle, the Pike Place Market is the other top Seattle attraction. No visit to the Emerald City is complete without visiting this colorful market. It’s biggest draw card is the fish throw at Pike Place Fish which should not be missed. The market offers fresh produce and specialty food from independent businesses with most offering free samples. Also be sure to wander through the array of flowers and stop to see the views of the Seattle waterfront from the outside balcony located midway.
4. Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park is a nine acre park that sits along Seattle’s waterfront. The park is the city’s largest downtown green space and features interesting monumental artwork. However, one of the best things about visiting this park are the sunsets seen from here.
The Seattle Great Wheel sits on Seattle’s waterfront on Pier 57 near the Seattle Aquarium. The 175-foot tall Ferris wheel offers riders terrific views of the city and surrounding mountains inside it’s enclosed heated and air conditioned gondola’s. Even if you don’t ride, it is worth seeing, especially at night when the wheel displays it’s 500,000 LED lights.
Get a glimpse of life under the surface of the Puget Sound through a gigantic exhibit filled with hundreds of marine species native to Pacific Northwest water’s. You can also find marine mammals here that include mischievous sea otters and cute harbor seals.
The Chihuly Garden & Glass is home to an expansive 100-foot long amber colored sculpture which you may have seen on Instagram. Besides the glass sculptures, you can meander garden paths lined with tree’s and other plants.
8. Seattle Central Library
The Seattle Central Library stands out as an architectural masterpiece and attracts visitors from around the world. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus, this incredible structure received an American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 2005, and made the associations list of 150 favorite structures in the U.S. Be sure to stop in and view this masterpiece from inside and if you have time, take the elevator up to the buildings 10th floor for sweeping views of Elliot Bay.
Woodland Park Zoo is a not for profit zoo that has been around since 1899. The zoo’s 92 acres are divided into bio-climatic zones featuring different natural habitats ranging from humid tropical rain forests and coastal deserts, to temperate rain forests like those of the Pacific Northwest. Come and see cute penguins, magnificent brown bears and baby giraffes. If you purchase zoo tickets through Seattle City Pass, you can upgrade so that you may feed the rhino’s, giraffes and penguins for less then $10 each.
11. Gum Wall
This sticky wall is on absolutely everyone’s Seattle bucket list! Love it or hate it, you can’t come to Seattle without getting a gum wall selfie. You can find this quirky (and kinda gross) attraction in Post Alley which is right by the Pike Place entrance.
12. Sip Starbucks from the Columbia Tower
Did you know there is a Starbucks located in the Columbia Tower on the 40th floor with amazing views?! And all for the price of a small cup of coffee. Well, you probably don’t even need to buy anything. There is actually an observation deck on the 73rd floor open to the public for a small fee too. This is much higher then the Space Needle!
13. Visit Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square is the birthplace of Seattle laying claim to being the city’s ‘first neighborhood’. The historic area is known for its Romanesque Revival architecture, and there are a variety of unique boutique stores, eateries and a lively nightlife scene.
14. Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll was originally constructed in response to help rehabilitate the area from being a dumping ground and drug hangout spot. The art installation was inspired by the classic folk tale Billy Goat’s Gruff and is built out of steel and over six tons of concrete! You can find this Seattle road side attraction under the Aurora Bridge in the Fremont district.
15. Visit Bruce & Brandon Lee’s grave
Through the gates of Lake View Cemetery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood lies a spot that’s visited by 10,000 people every year. This is where Bruce Lee, legendary martial artist and actor was laid to rest as well as his son Brandon Lee. Their graves are a national and global pilgrimage site for many.
Experience the modern marvel of commercial jet production on this unique and one of a kind tour. The Boeing Factory Tour is a visit inside a working assembly plant allowing you the opportunity to view 747, 767, 777, and 787 Dreamliners on the assembly line before they take to the sky. Tours are available seven days a week.
17. Alki Beach
Alki Beach is an ideal spot to spend a sunny day but is also good on a winters eve because they allow bonfires on the beach. Many visitors are surprised to even learn there is a beach in Seattle, but obviously don’t be expecting to find pristine white sands here. What this beach does offer is a Pacific Northwest vibe, a chill neighborhood with many cafes serving fish & chips, and the occasional whale sighting.
18. Ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island
The Washington Park Arboretum holds a world class collection of plants, including some that are found nowhere else in the Northwest. The collection includes Giant Sequoia’s, Larches, Magnolia’s, Rhododendron’s and Maple’s. You can wander the miles of trails through the 230 acres of parkland that is set on the shores of Washington lake for free.
20. Kerry Park
Kerry Park is where most of the iconic Seattle city skyline photo’s you always see are taken. From this vantage point you can take in sweeping views of Elliot Bay, the Space Needle, and on occasion Mt Rainier in the background. At night, the brightly lit ferries glide across the waters.
21. Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park sits on the site of former Seattle Gas Light Company (a coal gasification plant) on the north shore of Lake Union. Certainly a strange park, it incorporates a number of old plant equipment into play area’s for children.
22. Pay tribute to Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, and the band is credited with starting the grunge sound and era. Although it is well known he grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, he spent a lot of his recent years and his last days in his Seattle home. Fans still love to stop by his old home to pay tribute to this legendary artist. You can find the house on 171 Lake Washington Boulevard, East Seattle.
23. Take an Alaskan cruise
Okay, so technically this is not in Seattle, but the cruises depart from Seattle. An Alaskan cruise is a once in lifetime experience and if you come to Seattle and have time, this should definitely be on your bucket list! The cruise takes you through Alaska’s southeast passage to small towns that you can only fly or cruise into. And to top it off, the ships spend a day at either Glacier Bay or Tracy Arm Fjord where you can watch glaciers being carved into the ocean. Spectacular!
24. Take a Seattle Underground History Tour
The Seattle Underground tour takes visitors on a tour of the interconnecting tunnels that lie beneath the area of the city known as Pioneer Square, the birthplace of Seattle. You can stroll sidewalks and see storefronts that were built over 120 years ago and see what the Emerald City looked like in years gone by. This is one of Seattle’s most popular tours and has almost always five star reviews!
25. Cruise around the Locks
Enjoy Seattle sights from the water on a cruise around Ballard Locks. It’s a narrated tour that covers the history of the Seattle waterfront and takes you by the waterfront and houseboat homes of the neighborhoods rich and famous.
26. Tillicum Excursion
Learn about the tribal culture of the Pacific Northwest on this four hour excursion to Blake Island. At Tillicum Village on Blake Island you will watch a live traditional performance and have free time to explore Blake Island State Park. To top it all off, the tour includes a delicious salmon buffet style dinner.
27. Go Whale Watching
If you happen to be visiting Seattle between the months of April and October, you really must add a whale watching cruise to your Seattle bucket list. The resident Orca’s are iconic to this region and they are simply incredible to watch in the ocean. This cruise actually departs from Friday Harbor and not Seattle but if you haven’t seen a killer whale in real life, you need to experience this, at least once in your life.
FOOD & DRINKS
33. Elysian Brewing
34. Pike Brewing
35. Pyramid Alehouse
36. Canon Bar
The Canon Bar over on 12th Avenue is consistently in the running for Best Cocktail Bar in America every year and boasts having the largest spirit collection in the western hemisphere. They produce creative and cutting edge cocktails and we particularly enjoyed the ‘Bright Idea’, which is a concoction of tequila, watermelon, pomegranate, lemon and… IPA! It comes served in a light bulb shaped glass of course.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese pride themselves in using locally sourced milk and keeping their cheese free from artificial ingredients. They use traditional methods to make their cheese just as cheese-makers have done so for thousands of years. You can see their traditional methods in action at the Seattle store located across from Pike Place Market. They do serve lunch here and we recommend their “World’s Best Mac & Cheese” (it really is), or a serving of cheese curds.
Piroshky is a very popular bakery in Seattle. What is a Piroshky you may ask? It is simply a hand held pie with fillings that depend on the culture and the people making them. It is Russian in origin and the owners originally wanted to bring a taste of Russia to the Pacific Northwest, however they have since incorporated more western recipes into their baked goods such as cinnamon rolls and apricot turnover. They have quite a few bakeries within walking distance of each other in downtown Seattle but the most popular one is across from Pike Place Market. Don’t be surprised to see a long line of people waiting to get in.
39. Biscuit Bitch
Get a whole day’s worth of calories at Biscuit Bitch who specialize in biscuits and gravy with southern inspired fixings!
40. Sample Clam Chowder
If you haven’t tried clam chowder, you need to! There is probably no better place to try it then in Seattle (except maybe Maine) and if you have already tried it, there are so many variations being served up just in the Seattle downtown area alone that you could probably spend a whole day sampling. You could visit Pike Place Chowder, Lowell’s Restaurant, Duke’s Seafood & Chowder or Ivar’s to name a few. Go for a stroll in the small alley across from Pike Place Market. You won’t be disappointed.
This always fun and lively oyster bar is located in Old Ballard. Stop by for icy cold piles of oysters, wine by the glass or a Tallboy.
42. Try Alaskan King Crab
43. Unicorn Bar
The Unicorn Bar is a carnival themed bar located in Capitol Hill. They serve their version of carnival style food, such as the Unicorn Dog (corn dog with onions and sriracha cream cheese), colorful and creative cocktails, and the bar itself has an arcade and photo booth. In addition, they hold fun weekly events such as game nights, karaoke and cabaret shows.
If you enjoy drinking with a view then head to Maximilien; a charming french restaurant and bar that sits behind the Pike Place Market featuring panoramic views of Elliot Bay. Rain or shine, they have Le’igloo’s on the rooftop that visitors can enjoy the views from as walk-ins or reserved in advance.
A swanky rooftop bar with gorgeous views of Lake Union and the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Join them for dinner or to listen to dj’s spin tracks on the weekends.
The Showbox is a music venue in an old art deco building which you can find right across the road from Pike Place Market. It first opened its doors in 1939 and has since been providing entertainment for music lovers from the jazz age to the grunge era. You can check their calendar and see who is playing whilst you are visiting Seattle.
DAY TRIPS FROM SEATTLE
47. Snoqualmie Falls
Washington state’s iconic Snoqualmie Falls is a popular day trip destination from Seattle and is only less than 30 minutes away. This epic waterfall crashes 270 feet to the base and visitors can view it from the boardwalk above or hike to the bottom. You can drive yourself out there or take a tour. Many travelers love opting for the Snoqualmie Falls and Woodinville wine tasting tour option.
48. Mt Rainier National Park
Mt Rainier National Park is a popular destination for those wishing to escape the city for hiking, backpacking and mountain climbing in some seriously stunning landscapes. Mount Rainier National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the US and is best known for its glacier-capped volcano which stands in the center of the park rising 14,410 feet above sea level and is the most glaciated peak in the lower 48. On a clear day, you can easily see it from Seattle looming in the distance.
49. Mount St. Helens
Mt St Helens is best known as the volcano that erupted not too long ago back in 1980 and is still considered active as evidenced by the steam rising from the ever-growing caldera. There is a Visitor’s Center where you can learn all about volcanoe’s and local geology, and hiking trails that allow you to see the destruction caused and how quickly the vegetation has recovered.
50. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is the image you probably have in mind when you think of the Pacific Northwest - temperate rainforests dripping in moss, snow-capped peaks and driftwood strewn beaches. You can easily visit this UNESCO World Heritage site from Seattle as a day trip by taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island (you will need to rent a vehicle). You might not be able to see the whole park in one day so if you have time try to spend two or three nights in this area. You can see this Olympic Peninsula Driving Itinerary to find out where the best stops are and what you should see and do.
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