21 Best Things to Do in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s Most Colorful Neighborhood

things to do in capitol hill
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Capitol Hill is by far Seattle’s coolest neighborhood; there’s artwork everywhere you look, from vibrant murals to unique sculptures, adding a creative flair to every corner. While it may be known for its nightlife, it’s just not a place to party; there are plenty of things to do in Capitol Hill any time of the day.

Back in my 20s, this was my go-to spot for nights out, and it’s perfect for it. With dozens of bars and nightclubs within a few blocks, you could say Seattle’s Capitol Hill is the ultimate playground for anyone looking to let loose. Want to bar hop? It’s never been easier. Looking to hear live music? You’ll find some of the best gigs in town right here.

Numerous late-night snacking sessions at nearby hot dog stands (my go-to was the Seattle dog with cream cheese and grilled onions) followed nights spent listening to live music at Neumos, having fancy cocktails at the hidden speakeasy bar Knee High Stocking Co., or mingling with friends at the Unicorn. I loved having weekend plans in this fun area (especially when it was time for the annual Capitol Hill Block Party) and took advantage of living closer to the city at the time.

What’s more, Capitol Hill is well-known for being LGBTQ+ friendly, embracing diversity and inclusivity like no other part of the city. From the rainbow crosswalks to the bustling Pride events, this place celebrates being who you are, and I can’t get enough of that energy.

I recently took a stroll through its streets during the day and discovered a completely different side of it that blew me away. Think trendy cafes where you can kick back with a coffee, incredible shops to find your next favorite outfit, parks to relax, and food that will have you coming back for more. Whether you’re an early riser looking to explore or a night owl ready to dance, Capitol Hill’s got something for you.

Here are the best things to do in Capitol Hill.

1. Admire Plants at Volunteer Park Conservatory

It’d been on my list of things to do in Capitol Hill in Seattle to visit Volunteer Park Conservatory for years, so I was glad to finally get here. This would also be the perfect thing to do in Seattle when it rains. To enter, just pay $6 at a self-service kiosk and hold on to your receipt. They have a wide selection of plants and flowers, including a massive cactus garden (the saguaro cacti on display brought back memories of my visit to Saguaro National Park).

Volunteer Park is a great place to take a stroll when you’re done. There is a large playground for children, numerous hiking paths, and tons of picnic areas. If you are interested in art, you can visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum, which is located in the park.

2. Visit Bruce and Brandon Lee’s Graves

bruce lee brandon lee graves

Seattle has been home to many well-known people, including Bruce Lee and his son Brandon. I’m not sure how they picked Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle to be where they were laid to rest, but it’s an honor for us Seattleites. Bruce was born in Hong Kong but spent considerable time in the Capitol Hill Seattle area when he was growing up, so it was clearly special to the family.

Visiting the cemetery is completely free, and you can locate their graves with the help of Google Maps. It’s the only spot with a walkway to it, but there are clear signs in front of it saying not to park. You can park a little further along the circular road, in a spot with no signs, and then walk down to the attraction. You’ll want to add this to a 4-day itinerary in Seattle if you have time.

3. Drink Coffee and Browse Records at Porchlight

porchlight coffee and records

Every coffee shop in the Capitol Hill area is unique in its own way, and Porchlight Coffee & Records is no exception. This Capitol Hill cafe is a bit out of the way from the heart of Capitol Hill, but it is definitely worth the extra walk. Get a coffee, then peruse the record selection (though signs ask you to leave your beverage on the table).

I also loved the vibe of everyone here the morning I visited; they were all very happy and friendly to me and who they were with. It’s a fun place to spend a morning when looking for things to do in Capitol Hill.

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4. Photograph All the Colorful Street Art

As the title of this article says, this is easily the most colorful neighborhood in Seattle. There’s some street art around the city, but here it’s actually well thought out and so creative. I must have taken a few dozen photos of all the murals around the area when exploring Capitol Hill, and it’s one of the best free things to do in Capitol Hill if you just feel like walking around.

Love all the art here? Check out when the next Capitol Hill Art Walk is to see more exhibits from local artists. There is so much creativity in this area, whether it’s the rainbow crosswalks you walk across or the local musicians you see playing a song on the corner.

5. Eat Cheap Burgers at Dick’s Drive-In

dicks drive in burgers

You cannot stop in Capitol Hill and not visit Dick’s Drive-In, which is easily the most famous burger company in the city. They’ve been around since 1954 and have only grown in popularity with more locations popping up.

I’ve had so many good memories here: going to Dick’s with my friends in high school when we had the rare hour-long lunch breaks, as well as watching Macklemore film his “White Walls” music video on the rooftop of this very location.

If you haven’t heard of them, they’re known for having amazing burgers, fries, and milkshakes for dirt cheap. You’ll spend between $1 and $5 per item, meaning you can splurge on quite a bit here. One thing to note is that they don’t make any substitutions, and they do charge for condiments (although I believe ketchup is only about 10 cents).

6. Find Your Next Read at Elliot Bay Book Company

elliott bay book company

When you need a book, Elliot Bay Book Company is the place to go in Capitol Hill. I walked into Elliott Bay Book Company and was mesmerized by how many books they had, and I could easily spend a few hours getting lost in all the different sections. Per usual, I was fascinated with how large the travel area was and had to restrain myself from not buying all the books.

Keep an eye on their event calendar, as they host many authors throughout the year to come to do a book reading. I’ve just started doing this in the past year, and it’s so fun to meet the person who read a book that you loved and be able to ask them questions about the process.

Hungry? Head next door to Chophouse Row to get a scoop of ice cream at Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery.

7. Get a Matcha Latte at Atulea

I just started drinking matcha, so when I parked my car close to this cafe, I was interested in what they offered. It’s an Instagram lover’s paradise, as the wallpaper and plants have so many fun colors to pose next to. This may be the most photogenic cafe in all of Seattle (or at least one of my new favorite photo spots in Seattle!).

I got a matcha latte, but they can help you figure out what to order if you’re new to it. There’s a wide variety of drinks I’ve never heard of before, like cheese tea, so I’ll definitely be back here to try new drinks next time.

8. Practice Axe Throwing at Blade & Timber

blade and timber axe throwing

I first did axe throwing years ago when I was visiting Camano Island, and I was surprised at how much fun I had when I did it. This activity has quickly soared in popularity, so I was thrilled to see it in this area as one of the fun things to do in Capitol Hill Seattle.

They’ll give you a lesson before you start, and it’s actually easier than you think once you get into the swing of things. You can go by yourself, but it’s a lot better with a group of people, so you can compete against each other.

If you’re hungry after, head to nearby Kitanda Espresso and Acai for Brazilian coffee and snacks.

9. Watch a Film at SIFF Cinema Egyptian

SIFF Cinema Egyptian

If you’re looking for things to do in Capitol Hill at night that don’t involve bars or nightclubs, head to the SIFF to catch a movie. While they do play current movies, this foreign language cinema specializes in showing diverse stories from around the world. I’ve really gotten into foreign films lately, so I love the selection they have here on a regular basis.

They also have special events here, so keep an eye on their calendar. One of their Seattle Halloween events is a four-part series all about Korean horror films if you’re into that!

10. Spend an Afternoon at NEKO Cat Cafe

If you’re having one of those days where nothing is cheering you up, book yourself a reservation at Neko Cat Cafe on Pine Street, as it’s one of the top spots to visit in Capitol Hill. For $20, you can reserve a 45-minute spot in the cat cafe, where you can drink coffee and admire the adorable kitties. I truly don’t know how you can’t crack a smile after that!

What I love most about this place is that most of the cats are up for adoption, so it supports a good cause. The kitties get to socialize and might end up finding a forever home (maybe yours!). In addition. to coffee, they also have beer and wine available, plus they’re open until 10 p.m. every night if you need an evening activity to do.

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11. Stroll Through Cal Anderson Park

I’ve seen this park multiple times during trips in the area, but only on my most recent visit did I walk through it. I joked on my Instagram stories that it was like a mini-Central Park (much, much smaller, of course), but it was nice to see a green park, a reflection pool, and a quiet area to walk through in contrast to the noise and business of the rest of the area.

It’s also kid-friendly, with a playground, a wading pool, giant chess sets, and a sports field. The Capitol Hill Light Rail stop is also right next to it, which makes it convenient if you’re headed back home on it after exploring what to do in Capitol Hill.

Just a word of caution: I’ve had no issues walking around here during the day, but sometimes the park doesn’t have the best crowd hanging out around here at night, so stick to the main streets if you can.

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12. Buy Plants and Clothes at Glasswing Shop

glasswing shop

If you’re on the hunt for a hip spot to buy some unique threads and lush houseplants, swing by Glasswing Shop in Capitol Hill. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in, but it felt like going to your trendy friend’s closet combined with a jungle. You’ll find everything from comfy tees to those décor items you didn’t know you needed until you saw them.

I had a hard time not buying all the plants here, as I’ve recently become a plant mom. While I abstained this time, I’ll probably buy a few next time. I also love that they have workshops if you’re new to the plant world, such as an introduction to bonsai plants.

13. Get Lunch at Rocket Tacos

rocket taco meal

I’ve been to tons of Capitol Hill restaurants over the years in the main area, but I wanted to explore some different parts on my last visit and ended up closer to Volunteer Park at Rocket Tacos. While this was a completely random pick, I was thrilled to see it’s the same company as the Rocket Tacos I so frequently visit during my Whidbey Island activities.

I got the fish tacos, and it was the perfect lunch to fuel me up for the afternoon. They claim to have the best tacos in Seattle, and I agree that they’re definitely in the running after trying these.

I recommend grabbing a table outdoors if it’s sunny, but they also have plenty of tables and a bar indoors if you need a rainy-day activity to do. They also have brunch if you feel like treating yourself on the weekend (churro waffles, anyone?), which is always one of my favorite things to do in Capitol Hill.

14. Try Local Beer at Stoup Capitol Hill

optimism brewing

I’ve been to Optimism Brewing Company many times over the years, but recently found out that Stoup Brewing bought them, so they’re now known as Stoup Capitol Hill. That said, it’s probably my favorite Capitol Hill brewery, as it’s in a huge, industrial-chic spot that has dozens of beers on tap to try. I recommend the Raspberry Sourpunk if you’re into sours.

They’re also dog-friendly, so feel free to bring your pup with you to socialize as long as they behave and stay on their leash. This is also a very family-friendly Seattle brewpub, and they’ve even set up a dedicated play area to keep the little ones entertained while the grown-ups sip and chat.

Hungry? They have some of the best food trucks hanging around on a daily basis, making it easy to stay here for hours.

15. Get a Scoop at Frankie & Jo’s

frankie and jos ice cream

If you’re wandering around Capitol Hill and have a craving for dessert, do yourself a favor and swing by this popular ice cream shop. Frankie & Jo’s has some of the most innovative and downright delicious plant-based ice cream you’ll ever try, and you’ll barely notice a difference.

Supercookies & Cream is my favorite, but Brown Sugar Vanilla is a close second. The spot itself has a laid-back vibe with a hint of retro flair, and I love that they have adorable reusable pint containers. Pro tip: Don’t skip on their waffle cones; they’re gluten-free and absolutely amazing.

16. Indulge in a Donut at General Porpoise

general porpoise donuts

When I asked for Capitol Hill recommendations on my Instagram stories, there must have been at least a dozen people who quickly recommended stopping at General Porpoise. I’d never heard of them before, so I figured I’d stop here for a quick donut to go. However, I quickly realized this place had a whole vibe, so I decided to grab a table and stay for a bit.

While they have tasty donuts and coffee, I loved the upstairs “loft” portion that’s right next to a giant window letting in tons of light. It felt like a quiet little escape during my busy day of looking for things to do in Capitol Hill. Also, make sure you use the bathroom before you leave, as even that’s photogenic (although I felt too weird to actually take a picture).

17. Shop Local at Standard Goods

standard goods

I walked by this store when exploring Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and they had such a good window display that I had to stop in. They have the cutest clothing for kids, women, and men and tons of PNW-themed gear (believe me, it was so hard not to buy all of it!).

They’re also very LGBTQ+-friendly, which I love to see, although that’s not unexpected in this area. While it’s a good place to stop for a gift for yourself, it’s even better when you need to buy someone else a present since they have such unique items and popular Seattle gifts.

18. Learn About Coffee at the Roastery

You all know I’m not one to recommend touristy sites that often, as there are so many better places in the area. However, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a bit unique in that there are only three other ones in the world, so it’s worth a quick stop.

That said, I don’t recommend getting your drink here – the line had to be about a 30-minute wait when I went, and that was at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday! Go to one of the many other nearby Starbucks locations instead (and preferably not a Starbucks, so you can support a local coffee shop) unless you’re set on a special drink. The exception to that is the bar here, where you can get an espresso cocktail.

It’s fascinating to watch them roast the coffee and see the giant machines that help with the process. They also have staff on hand to answer any questions you have and further educate you on coffee, which I really appreciated as a former barista. It’s one of the most popular places for where to go in Capitol Hill but can be worth it to stop by.

19. Eat Oysters at Taylor Shellfish

taylor shellfish

You have not had seafood in Seattle until you’ve had Taylor Shellfish Farms. I used to drive by their Chuckanut Drive location all the time when taking a scenic Washington drive back to my college up at WWU, but I didn’t have the money to afford a meal there at the time. That’s why I was excited to see their Capitol Hill location and stop in for lunch.

They are most famous for their oysters, which are freshly shucked and served with a side of their signature mignonette. However, if that’s not your thing, their clams, mussels, and crab are equally drool-worthy. I also love the friendly vibe, making it perfect for a casual lunch, a date night, or even buying some fresh seafood to cook up at home.

If you’re unsure about which shellfish to try, the staff is super knowledgeable and always up for a chat to guide you. This is also the perfect place for a Seattle date night idea.

Buying a Seattle CityPASS is a great way to save money on ticket costs, as you’ll be able to see multiple Seattle attractions for one price!

20. Go Bowling at Garage

the garage capitol hill

I worked in Capitol Hill for years after college, and we had many memorable work parties at Garage. The place is huge, has loads of space for playing pool, bowling, and is just a generally good spot to hang out with friends. Whether you’re up for a game night with friends or just looking to relax with a drink, this is one of the top places to visit in Capitol Hill.

They also have a pretty big menu, including burgers, pizzas, and some killer wings. I also love the old-school car garage feel, thanks to the vintage architecture. It’s like a throwback spot with all the modern fun. If you’re in Capitol Hill and want a mix of old and new, this is your spot.

21. Watch Live Music

neumos capitol hill

I couldn’t end this list of things to do in Capitol Hill in Seattle without mentioning how this is the area to go for live music. There are constant shows going on, so you’ll never run out of things to do if you’re looking for nightlife in Capitol Hill.

There are many places to go, but Neumos on Pike Street is the heart and soul of Capitol Hill when you want live music venues in this vibrant neighborhood. I’ve been there dozens of times in my 20s for shows, and it’s the perfect small venue to get up close and personal with your favorite artist. I love that it’s a multi-level building with great views of the stage and has a well-stocked bar.

Here are a few other places to watch music in Capitol Hill:

  • Chop Suey: A place to discover something new and exciting, known for its varied lineup and focus on local talent.
  • Barboza: Right under Neumos, this intimate spot offers up-close-and-personal gigs with underground vibes.
  • Comet Tavern: A local favorite, Comet Tavern is known for its live bands, energetic atmosphere, and a true Seattle feel.

While we’re talking about music, you don’t want to miss the annual Capitol Hill Block Party every July. This epic fest features food, art, and music covering several blocks in the area, including everything from hometown heroes to big-name stars. There’s a mix of indie rock, pop music, and more, so you’re bound to like someone.

I’ve been here several times, and it’s such a fun time – every bar in the area has its own specials going on, and you get a chance to see artists you may not have heard of before.

Map of Things to Do in Capitol Hill

You’ll love all these things to do in Capitol Hill when you’re out exploring!

2 thoughts on “21 Best Things to Do in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s Most Colorful Neighborhood

  1. Allison Leonard says:

    HI MARISSA! I’m another Seattle born person and i love all your suggestions. I Recently discovered a new cafe ( https://diasporaseattle.com/ )
    that could be a good suggestion! The diaspora cafe owner is indigenous and offers espresso drinks with this yaupon tea. It’s delicious PLUS super unique to PNW. Check it out if you get a chance and thanks so much for your content!

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