Whether you venture to Seattle on a day trip, weekend outing or full-fledged vacation, you’ll find plenty to do and see in this West Coast destination and its environs. Seattle is defined by the beautiful evergreens and natural beauty of its location in the Pacific Northwest which led to its nickname as the “Emerald City.” It’s also known for its artistic, quirky vibe, and for having more coffee shops per resident than any other U.S. city, a reputation it started earning way back in 1971 when the first Starbucks coffee shop opened here. In no particular order, here are the top ten attractions you should include in your Seattle trip itinerary.
Every city has those iconic, famous landmarks that, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the locals allegedly never visit. In Seattle’s case, they are Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, and regardless of what the natives say, you won’t regret a visit to either one. If nothing else, go for the sights and the people-watching at Pike Place Market, the heart of a nine acre historic district in downtown Seattle. It’s famous for its fish throwers, joke-cracking local vendors who toss salmon to each other at the market’s fish stalls. There are also stands selling everything from flowers to vegetables to knick-knacks. Nearby is the original Starbucks; once you’ve tried their coffee, make sure you taste what the locals drink at places like Vivace, Cafe Ladro and Victrola. The 605-foot-tall Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and still offers an excellent way to see the city from its observation deck. There’s even a restaurant at the top if you want to treat yourself to dinner with a view.
The great outdoors
To make it easier to enjoy Seattle’s setting on Puget Sound and the views of majestic Mt. Rainier, the city maintains over 400 parks. Two that no visitor should miss are Gas Works Park and Olympic Sculpture Park. The former is an open space near Lake Union built on the site of a former gas plant. It’s a wonderful picture and picnic spot with some unusual architecture. As the name implies, Olympic Sculpture Park has a garden showcasing contemporary sculpture. It’s situated on a seaside bluff, so it’s also wonderful for strolling and enjoying the views of the harbor and mountains.
Art is big in Seattle
The city is home to countless galleries, but no visit would be complete without a stop at Chihuly Garden & Glass. Dedicated to showcasing the work of Washington State artist Dave Chihuly, it’s a collection of stunning blown glass exhibits and sculptures, some set in a lush garden setting. Especially impressive is the 40-foot Glass House structure.
Seattle is surrounded by water
Water-related attractions make sense in a city located on a sound. The Seattle waterfront has wooden piers and a boardwalk where visitors amble along and stop for fish and chips or to take photos. If you’re visiting with kids, they’re bound to enjoy the sights at the Seattle Aquarium which is located here, and there’s also a Ferris wheel with gondolas for rides with views of the city and the mountains, especially spectacular at sunset. At the Arboretum Waterfront Trail, located on Lake Washington, you can meander through botanical gardens dotted with ponds and bridges; relax, take pictures or even go jogging.
Don’t miss these museums
You’ll want to make sure to tour the Seattle Art Museum with its modern and European art exhibits. It also houses an interesting collection of Northwest Coast Native American carvings; time your visit so that you’re here on the first Thursday of the month, and you can get in free. For a change of pace from more art-oriented displays, go to the Museum of Flight where you can see a British Airways Concorde airliner, World War I and II fighter planes and over one hundred other historic aircraft.
Take a ferry trip
Most people don’t consider public transportation as a tourist attraction, but in the case of the Washington State Ferries that connect Puget Sound with neighboring communities, a trip out of Seattle can be a fun activity in itself. The fresh air and glorious views of the city you’ll experience while standing on the ferry deck alone are worth the cost of the ticket, and the scenic tour of Puget Sound, with its opportunity to spot whales or sea lions, rivals that of professional excursion operators. Nearby locales that can be reached via ferry include Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard and Vashon; they are all good for at least a few hours’ entertainment. You can go hiking or biking on Bainbridge Island or just enjoy walking around the beach town of Winslow. Bremerton has a museum ship, the USS Turner Joy, that’s fun to visit. Sights on Vashon worth seeing include a lavender farm and a lighthouse. Antique-hunting and historic museum visits are popular in Port Orchard
Of course, like all great cities, Seattle has too much to see and experience in one visit. Taking in a sporting event such as a Mariners or Seahawks game or a Sounders soccer match, or go take some selfies with the Fremont Troll, a giant sculpture under a bridge, in the background. Enjoy a live performance at Gates Amphitheatre near Olympic Sculpture Park. You’re bound to enjoy your time in Seattle so much that you’ll want to keep coming back for more! +