The actual Best things to do in Seattle Washington 2023: Museums, Lakes & top attractions
Let’s be honest: there are so many things to do in Seattle that a single trip won’t be enough. And it’s not just the stunning museums and high-tech buildings that will make you fall in love. Although the Space Needle, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture are popular attractions, it’s also the urban culture and the wild nature that surrounds it that’s also worth exploring.
To find out all the amazing things to do in Seattle, keep reading!
The best things to do in Seattle in a nutshell
Savor the most spectacular views of the city from Seattle Great Wheel
Take photos in front of the most quirky and colorful wall in Seattle, the Gum Wall
Meet over 900 adorable animals and have a family picnic at Woodland Park Zoo
Enjoy a fun beach day or sunset watching at Alki Beach
Join the Seattle Underground Tour to explore the fascinating underground world of Seattle
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The best fun things to do in Seattle
If you want to enjoy the best panoramic views of the ocean, then Seattle Great Wheel is a go-to! The 175-foot-high Seattle Great Wheel has been standing on Pier 57 since 2012, attracting millions of tourists. The view from the top of the wheel is STUNNING, as it encompasses the Pacific Ocean, the Olympic Mountains, Elliott Bay, and the entire city. At night, the scenery is even more breathtaking: the view of the lit city will give you the ultimate “Sleepless in Seattle” romantic vibes!
The wheel’s capsules can hold up to 8 persons. However, if you’re in the mood for something more special, you can book a private cabin with leather seats, glass floors, and champagne! Sounds amazing, right?
This is one of the most fun experiences to have in Seattle!
Originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Center Monorail is an elevated full-scale monorail line that connects Westlake Center in downtown Seattle with Seattle Center, where Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, and the Children’s Museum lie. The monorail departs every 10 minutes from Westlake Center and can reach a speed of 45 miles per hour. It is the fastest and most fun way to get from the city center to Seattle Center!
Eating your way through the city is one of the best ways to explore Seattle!
Whether you’re an avid foodie or you just like to try new things, a food tour is a must thing to do in Seattle. The city is famous for its seafood (especially salmon, oysters, and shellfish), but it also has a booming Asian culinary scene thanks to the many Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants. An urban food tour in Seattle will introduce you to the gastronomic side of Seattle, giving you the chance to eat where locals eat!
The best things to do in Seattle for free
Pike Place Market is one of the major attractions in Seattle and a must-visit for tourists (especially food lovers)!
Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market is the longest-operating food market in the U.S. With over 200 food stalls with groceries, fish, crafts, and everything in between, this enormous market is a fascinating place to explore. Even if you don’t buy anything (although you’ll be tempted to), you’ll get blown away by the variety of the products and the delicious aromas.
Part of Seattle’s Art Museum, Olympic Sculpture Park is a colorful and quirky place.
Olympic Sculpture Park is an award-winning outdoor museum located on a nine-acre green space on Seattle’s waterfront near the Seattle Art Museum. It holds more than 20 large artworks, like Alexander Calder’s iconic Red Eagle and Jaume Plensa’s Echo. The park is open to the public every day from morning (30 minutes before sunrise) until evening (30 minutes after sunset) and the entrance is -of course- free.
Washington Park Arboretum, which is maintained by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in collaboration with the City of Seattle, is a green oasis in the heart of the city.
Located in a 230 acres area by Lake Washington, this beautiful park features a wide variety of trees and plants, like dogwoods, magnolias, cherry trees, azaleas, and camellias. The best seasons to visit Washington Park Arboretum are fall, when the leaves on the trees turn orange, and spring, when the flowers are in full bloom.
If you visit Seattle in summer, Alki Beach shouldn’t be missing from your list. Although this long sandy beach is an ideal destination for seaside walks throughout the year, it becomes particularly popular in summer. Stretching for 2.5 miles, Alki offers a variety of facilities including volleyball courts, fish-and-chips restaurants, bars, and water sports facilities, which you can enjoy until sunset.
But, even if you don’t want to spend money at all, there’s still a lot to do, like walking along the paved boardwalk, skateboarding, sunbathing, running, swimming, sunset watching or just people (or seagulls) watching!
Fact: Alki beach was a set location for the Sleepless in Seattle movie. It was where Tom Hanks flew a kite with his son.
One of the quirkiest attractions in Seattle, the Gum Wall is a wall fully covered with multi-colored chewing gums located next to Pike Place Market. It all began in the 90s, when people started sticking their gums on the wall. As the years passed, the wall filled with gums piece by piece until it was completely covered.
Although the wall was cleaned up in 2015, it didn’t stop visitors from sticking their chewing gums on the brick wall again. The result? The wall is still fully covered with over a tone of colorful gums. This unique (and a bit gross) wall is the perfect backdrop for super-Instagrammable photos, so make sure you don’t miss it. However, avoid touching any of the gums -you don’t know in whose mouth it used to be!
The best things to do in Seattle with family and friends
Well, this is one of the best things to do in Seattle with kids!
Woodland Park Zoo is an awarded zoo located in North Central Seattle. It is home to over 900 animals and 250 species including red pandas, penguins, hippos, and tapirs -if you’re lucky, you may also see cubs. In the zoo, you’ll also find picnic areas (perfect for family picnics) and a food court, in case you haven’t brought food with you. Given that the zoo is big and there’s a lot to see, we suggest dedicating a whole day of your trip to explore it!
A visit to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is a fun and educational activity for all ages. Inside the Discovery Center, you’ll find several innovations that help the world become a better place and learn the stories of people who help their communities in many ways, setting an example themselves.
You’ll also have the opportunity to contribute to charity projects and find out how you can help the world using your skills by creating a campaign for a cause of your choice. It’s an ideal place for the kids to learn about the challenges that millions of people around the world are facing and how they can make a difference!
The Sky View Observatory, the tallest observatory in the Pacific Northwest, is perched on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the tallest building in the State of Washington. 73 stories might sound a lot, but you can climb them in no time using the building’s express elevators.
Once you reach the top, you can savor a 360° view of the city, have a drink at the Sky View Café and Bar, or enjoy an 1-hour private view with up to 4 persons! Keep in mind that the Sky View Observatory is one of the most popular attractions in Seattle, so lines might be long. Pre-booking your ticket is highly recommended.
Tip: If you’re searching for an ultra-special place to pop the question, Sky View Observatory offers a Private Proposal package. We bet it will be an unforgettable experience to propose at the top of this building!
This is one of the most fascinating things to do in Seattle -especially for history buffs! Seattle Underground has an enduring and interesting history. After a part of the city (Pioneer Square) was destroyed by the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, it was decided to be rebuilt on a higher level than it was originally constructed. As a result, what was left from the old city remained under the ground -a network of tunnels that still hold the secrets of the past. Today, this underground city is one of the most popular attractions in Seattle. Don’t miss it!
The best places for sightseeing in Seattle (Top attractions and monuments)
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Space Needle, which is arguably the trademark of Seattle’s cityscape! This 184-meter tower has been standing in the heart of the city since 1962, when it was constructed for that year’s World Fair.
You can reach the top of the Space Needle (at 160 meters) via the elevator in just 43 (!) seconds. From the building’s glass observatory, which has the first revolving glass floor in the world, you’ll marvel at all-encompassing views of the city and its surroundings, including Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and even Mount Rainier.
Aviation enthusiasts will love this museum!
The largest independent air and space museum in the world, the Museum of Flight houses an extensive collection of everything flight-related, from gigantic air-balloons to real airplanes hanging from the ceiling. More specifically, the museum holds 150 aircrafts, 25,000 small objects, and 18,000 aircraft manuals, divided into 3 collections (Objects and artifacts, Library, and Archives). There are also several fascinating interactive exhibits, like a boarding experience in a US Air Boeing 737, as well as several kids’ activities.
A mesmerizing metal façade and 3 floors of pop culture exhibits make the Museum of Pop Culture (MOP) stand out among the rest of the city’s attractions! Founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by Frank Gehry, this 140,000-square-foot museum hosts a wide variety of sci-fi and modern culture-related exhibits and interactive installations.
Museum’s exhibitions are variable and quirky: They include themes like Minecraft, Horror Films, Indie Games, Jimmy Hendrix, and Tattoos. It’s an absolute paradise for culture nerds!
Best day trips from Seattle
If you’re looking for the best place for hiking and nature exploration, look no further than Mount Rainier. Standing at 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the State of Washington.
Mount Rainier, which is also an active volcano, boasts a stunning setting with densely clustered trees, colorful wildflower meadows, beautiful waterfalls, and picturesque paths. Mount Rainier also has an ideal geology for many activities, like hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, snowboarding, camping, and climbing!
Tip: The best seasons to visit Mount Rainier are spring and fall, when the landscape turns into a colorful carpet of trees and flowers. It’s mind-blowing!
Within just 2.5 hours of Seattle, you’ll find a 922,651-acres natural paradise: Olympic National Park. Named after Mount Olympus, the residence of the Greek gods and goddesses, this park boasts unparalleled natural beauty. From rainforests to beaches and from alpine highlands to hot springs, UNESCO-listed Olympic National Park boasts a variety of landscapes. Some of the must-visit spots in Olympic National Park are Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch Beach, Quinault Rain Forest Loop, and Sol Duc Hot Springs.
At Olympic National Park, there are also a couple of visitor centers, which will provide you with all the necessary information and offer several activities, like hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, skiing, and fishing.
The top places to eat & drink in Seattle
Canlis restaurant, which has been operating since 1950, is one of the highlights of Seattle’s gastronomical scene! This restaurant specializes in meat-based dishes with a gourmet twist, like beef tartare, dry-aged ribeye, and fried rabbit. Except for an excellent food catalog, Canlis also has an extensive wine list -an experienced sommelier will help you pick the right wine to pair with every dish. If you’re searching for a top-notch restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, this is a go-to.
Info: 2576 Aurora Ave. N, Seattle, Washington 98109, United States Tel: 12062833313
Cafe Munir is not only one of the best restaurants in Seattle, but it is also among the most budget-friendly ones. Located in north Ballard, Cafe Munir offers a wide variety of Lebanese dishes and mezzes, like Baba Ghanoush, Mudar’ Dara, Hummus, and Fatayer bil Batinjaan at surprisingly low prices. It’s the ultimate (affordable) date-night spot!
Info: 2408 NW 80th St, Seattle, WA 98117, United States Tel: 12067834190
Housed in an old brick building in a quiet corner between First and Second Avenue in Belltown, Bathtub Gin Co. is a hip place to enjoy sophisticated cocktails and, of course, gin. Its seasonally-changing catalogue comprises creative cocktails made with fine ingredients, like honey, blackberries, apricots, strawberries, and maple syrup, an extensive list of gins (both local and foreign), beers, and wines.
Info: 2205 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, United States Tel: 12067286069
How to get to Seattle?
The fastest way to get to Seattle from most countries around the world is by air. There are direct flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from Europe, Dubai, Hawai, and other states. However, if you’re planning to travel to Seattle from a nearby state or Canada, you can do so by train, car, or ferry.
Where to stay in Seattle?
The best areas to stay in Seattle are Pike Place Market (for first-time visitors), Belltown (for entertainment and nightlife), South Lake Union (for culture), and Seattle Center (for families).
Explore more: Check all the hotels in Seattle
What is the best time of the year to visit Seattle?
July-September is peak season for tourism in Seattle, as the weather is warmer thus ideal for sightseeing. However, the city is usually overcrowded during these months. If you want to avoid the crowds, but still enjoy mild weather, the best months to visit are May and October.
What are the most popular attractions in Seattle?
The most famous attractions in Seattle are the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Seattle Great Wheel, the Museum of Flight, and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
What are the must-try foods in Seattle?
The best foods to eat in Seattle are the Seattle Dog (cream cheese hot dog), teriyaki, oysters, fried chicken, salmon, and pho.
Now we ‘d like to hear from you
Technology, culture, fun, food, Seattle has it all! What’s not to love about it? From hanging out at Alki beach and enjoying the city view from the Great Wheel to meeting the animals at the Woodland Park Zoo and taking photos at the Gum Wall, there are SO many things to do for every taste and age!
So, tell us: What are YOUR favorite things to do in Seattle? We’re looking forward to seeing your answers in the comments! Oh, and if you liked this article, don’t forget to share it on Social Media!