I get daily emails from readers saying they’re coming to Seattle and want to know what to do while they’re here. As a local, it’s impossible to recommend just a few activities, which is why I created this massive list of 55 of the best things to do in Seattle so you’ll have a wide variety of items to choose from.
This list of what to do in Seattle has everything from museums to outdoor activities to stunning viewpoints, so there’s something for everyone. You can also do many of these activities year-round, so this list should make it much easier to plan your trip to Seattle.
With that, let’s dive into some fun things to do in Seattle, whether it’s your first time visiting or you live here!
1. Visit Pike Place Market
I know this is a tourist attraction, but it’s one that I feel everyone needs to visit at least once. Established in 1907 by seven local farmers, Pike Place is the longest-running farmers’ market in the United States.
Today, the market houses 500+ vendors, restaurants, bars, and shops, attracting over 10 million yearly visitors. You’ll find fresh produce from local farmers and fishmongers, rare comic books, craft items, and the unofficial market mascot, Rachel the piggy bank.
This market is also the perfect place to sample some of Seattle’s most famous foods.
2. Explore Theo Chocolate Factory
This experimental chocolate factory in Fremont has been running since 2006 and is dedicated to leading the way in sustainable chocolate production.
For around $14 per person, you can enjoy an interactive chocolate factory tour, where you’ll learn about the entire plant-to-product process. Theo Chocolate also hosts storytimes for the little ones and group and private classes and events.
3. Stroll Through the Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle Waterfront is a bustling area with excellent seafood restaurants, interactive attractions, and quirky stores like Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.
Explore the waterfront in the late afternoon for breathtaking sunset views and to see the city light up. Be sure to stop by the Waterfront Park at Pier 62, where you may encounter live music or dance performances.
The waterfront is also one of the best places to stay in Seattle since you’re close to many attractions and have stunning views.
4. Take an Underground Tour in Pioneer Square
Known as Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, Pioneer Square suffered a devastating fire in 1889 after a pot of glue caught flame. After this fire, residents decided to rebuild the city above the old one — leaving underground passageways and buildings that are still accessible today.
Take an underground tour of the original neighborhood to learn more about Seattle’s history and some of the city’s defining events.
5. Visit the Seattle Aquarium
Situated on the Seattle Waterfront, the aquarium is the perfect place to visit with the kids or as adults if you’re curious about what sealife is native to the area.
Entry costs less than $30 and gives you access to displays, educational experiences, and the 360° underwater dome, which provides a truly immersive underwater experience. There’s both an indoor and outdoor area to explore as well as a touch pool.
This is part of the Seattle CityPASS, which can save you money on multiple attractions.
6. Try Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
While it’s hard for me to single out specific stalls worth visiting in the Pike Place Market, Beecher’s Cheese Factory is an attraction on its own. Not only do they sell fresh, handmade cheese, but you can witness the cheese being produced at their store.
If you’re feeling hungry, I promise their mac ‘n cheese won’t disappoint. Their grilled cheese sandwiches are equally mouthwatering.
7. Leave Your Mark on the Gum Wall
If you’re looking for the ultimate Instagrammable spots in Seattle, the Gum Wall near Pike Place Market should be top of your list of the best things to do in Seattle.
This colorful wall-meets-art-installation started back in the 90s when people waiting in line outside Unexpected Productions would stick their pieces of gum on the wall. Add your ball of gum to the wall or take a photo in front of one of the more quirky and unique Seattle attractions.
8. Enjoy Views from the Seattle Great Wheel
Whether you’re looking for a romantic Seattle date night or fun family activity, this wheel, with its views of the city, Puget Sound, and surrounding mountains, won’t disappoint.
Standing 175 feet tall on pier 57 on the waterfront, the Great Wheel is the largest Ferris wheel on the West Coast. The wheel, built in 2012, features 42 air-conditioned gondolas that can hold up to 8 people. Entry costs around $16 for adults.
9. View the Amazon Spheres
Epitomizing Seattle’s love for nature and continuous innovation, the Amazon Spheres combine an architecturally magnificent corporate space with over 40,000 plants.
These Amazon headquarters are only open to the public every other Saturday, and bookings must be made 15 days in advance. But, if you can’t secure a tour, you can still capture the spheres from outside, and they’re stunning at night.
10. Take a Brewery Tour
Washington State is home to over 250 craft breweries, many of which can be found around Seattle’s SoDo, Fremont, and Ballard neighborhoods. I recommend taking the Fishermen’s Terminal Brewery Tour to visit three of the best breweries in Seattle.
Alternatively, if you’re here during September, you’ll want to check out some of the Oktoberfests in Washington going on.
11. Enjoy Views from The Space Needle
Celebrating over 60 years of gracing the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle provides truly unmatched 360° views of the city. This 520-foot tall Seattle must-see location has the world’s only rotating glass floor and indoor and outdoor viewing spaces.
Besides the spectacular city, you’ll see the Olympic Mountain range and the Cascade Mountains in the distance. There’s also an on-site café and wine bar on the upper level.
Tip: If you’d like to save some money, consider purchasing a Seattle CityPASS to get discounted access to up to five attractions.
12. Become Mesmerized by Chihuly Garden and Glass
If you’re looking for the perfect spring activities in Seattle, you’ll want to start at this art museum and glass garden next to the Space Needle.
If you’re visiting the Space Needle, I recommend getting a combination ticket to visit both sites at a discount or enter with your CityPass. This will give you access to the Glasshouse, garden, and indoor exhibitions.
There are also daily glass-blowing demonstrations and informative signs and videos on the brilliant artist behind it all, Dale Chihuly. It’s one of the best things to do in Seattle if you’re an art lover.
13. Get Inspired at MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture
There are plenty of fun things to do in Seattle, but visiting the MoPOP Museum may be the most exciting. This vibrant museum near the Space Needle is a striking attraction inside and out.
This 140,000-square-foot building features interactive and inviting exhibitions relating to pop culture. The non-profit museum houses exhibitions on iconic films, music artists, and indie video games, to name a few.
Tickets range from $26-$32 and are cheaper if booked well in advance.
14. View the City from Kerry Park
This elevated park may be small, but it delivers extensive city views. If you’re looking for the ultimate snapshot of Downtown Seattle, make your way to this neighborhood park a short walk from the Seattle Center.
On a clear day, you’ll see snow-capped Mount Rainier in the distance. Be sure to arrive early as this Seattle tourist spot can get crowded at midday and sunset.
15. Explore the Seattle Public Library
This magnificent architectural masterpiece provides an innovative library experience where you can get some work done or settle with a book on a rainy day. The modern, multi-level design allows sunlight to stream into the vast spaces from various angles.
16. Admire the Works at the Seattle Art Museum
One of Seattle’s best rainy day activities is going museum hopping. About a block from Pike Place Market, the multi-level Seattle Art Museum features temporary and permanent art exhibitions from across the world. These include installations of Native American, Islamic, and Asian art.
Stop by on the first Thursday of the month for free entry, or book online to get a $3 discount on the roughly $22 ticket price.
17. Explore Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID)
Consisting of four distinct neighborhoods, namely Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and Filipino Town, this district is home to a large part of Seattle’s Asian American communities. You’ll come across many family-owned restaurants and shops offering incredible Asian food and products.
Stop by Jade Garden for some tasty dim sum before heading to Hood Famous bake shop for a Vietnamese coffee and ube cheesecake.
18. Stroll Through Olympic Sculpture Park
This 9-acre urban park is an extension of the Seattle Art Museum and features large and intriguing contemporary sculptures. The views of the Olympic Mountain range and Elliot Bay from this spot will surely leave you mesmerized. Architecture fans will be especially fascinated by the park’s unique zig-zag layout.
This park is free to access year-round and opens and closes with the sunrise and sunset.
19. Visit the Frye Art Museum
If you’re visiting Seattle on a budget, I suggest you stop by the Frye Art Museum — Seattle’s only free art museum. Opened in 1952, the museum had its start when art collectors Charles and Emma Frye donated their collection of late 19th and early 20-century European and American artworks.
The original collection of 232 oil paintings has since expanded to include more contemporary art gained through donations and purchases.
20. Walk Around Green Lake Park
Green Lake Park is one of Seattle’s most frequented urban parks, and it’s easy to see why. The park has a 2.8-mile circular running or walking route, an indoor swimming pool, sports courts and athletic fields, a playground, and a boathouse cafe. There’s also a small beach with a swimming area, where you’re free to explore by kayak or paddleboard.
At the west end of Green Lake, you’ll find a quaint boathouse converted into the Seattle Public Theater.
21. Hike Through Discovery Park
A mere 15-minute drive from Seattle, this 534-acre expanse of dunes, forest groves, streams, and sea cliffs composes the largest park in the city. The expansive park offers sweeping views of Puget Sound, the Olympics, and the Cascade Mountains, especially from the lighthouse and beach.
Hike through various terrains on the Discovery Park loop trail, or take the South Beach trail that runs along the 2-mile stretch of tidal beaches. Feel free to pop by the visitor center near the Discovery Park Playground and south parking lot for information and guidance.
22. Visit the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
Situated in Discovery Park, this community center opened in 1977 after years of protest and efforts to occupy the military site of Fort Lawton. At Daybreak Star, you’ll find a permanent collection of Native American art, and the center also hosts temporary exhibitions and events like Powwows.
Be sure to stop by the Sacred Circle gift shop, where you can purchase Native American-made items and art.
23. Stop by the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks
This top tourist attraction in Seattle is the busiest locking system in the U.S. and offers the perfect opportunity to see how locks work. You’ll spot boats of all shapes and sizes entering and exiting this interesting “boat elevator” system, and you can even experience it first-hand on a narrated cruise tour.
During the summer, you’ll spot salmon climbing the fish ladders and even a few sea lions swimming about. There’s also an underground spot where you can view the fish through the glass. The nearby botanical garden offers an opportunity to enjoy a picnic.
24. Play at Seattle Pinball Museum
You’ll love the Seattle Pinball Museum if you’re a gamer or simply appreciate anything nostalgic. The museum was opened in late 2010 with the intent of sharing the love of pinball games with fellow collectors and community members.
Here, you’ll find modern and vintage games (dating back to 1934) from brands like Dutch Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, and Spooky Pinball. A $20 ticket will give you access to over 50 pinball games from Friday to Monday.
25. Visit Woodland Park Zoo
This conservation-focused zoo, founded in 1899, is the perfect family-friendly activity in Seattle. The extensive, 92-acre zoo features over 300 species from around the world in recreated tropical, savannah, and jungle environments, to name a few.
You’ll get to spot everything from bears and lions to reptiles and penguins. There is also a petting zoo, farm area, and spectacular 2.4-acre rose garden. Another highlight at this zoo is the winter Wild Lanterns light festival, which features large animal-shaped lanterns.
26. Go Kayaking on Lake Washington
Bodies of water surround Seattle, and we locals certainly take advantage of that. Lake Washington is the second largest lake in Washington state, offering plenty of room to glide about, so you’ll love one of the best things to do in Seattle if you want an outdoor activity.
Join the boats and paddlers enjoying the splendor of Washington State’s second largest lake with your kayak. You can also rent one at Washington Waterfront Activities Center for less than $20 an hour.
27. Have a Picnic at Gasworks Park
One of my top picks for free or cheap activities in Seattle is visiting Gasworks Park. The 19-acre park in Fremont was once the site of an active coal gasification plant, which operated for 50 years until 1956.
Today, the park is open to the public for free and offers striking views of Lake Union and the Seattle skyline. Grab a picnic basket and some of your favorite snacks, and settle down to enjoy the sights and fresh air.
28. Learn at Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
Nestled in the heart of the C-ID is the nation’s only museum dedicated to sharing the Asian Pacific American experience. It was named after the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council, Wing Luke.
The museum offers curated exhibitions on the history, culture, and art of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Their aim is not only to drive racial and social equity through education but to revitalize the Chinatown-International District.
The museum offers regular tours, workshops, and food tours throughout the district.
29. Pose with a Troll under the Bridge
In 1989, the Fremont Arts Council hosted an art competition to rehabilitate the area under Aurora Bridge. The winning idea, executed by sculptor Steve Badanes and his team, was of a troll — inspired by a Norwegian folktale, Billy Goats Gruff.
The troll has featured in several iconic films. These include Sleepless in Seattle, 10 Things I Hate About You, and The Twilight Saga.
This is one of the best places to visit in Seattle, Washington with kids, as they’ll love climbing all over the troll. Get a snapshot with this friendly Seattle attraction before heading off to find the Statue of Lenin, The Fremont Rocket, and the “Waiting for The Interurban” statues nearby.
30. Stroll Through Washington Park Arboretum
A wonderful fall activity in Seattle is to wander through the various trees and admire their changing colors. This 230-acre stretch of greenery is home to over 5,500 plant species, including Chinese and Japanese Maples, Azaleas, and Mountain Ashes.
Practice the art of “forest bathing” to unwind, or join a free public walking tour every first Thursday between 11:30 – 1 pm. You can also take a $20 narrated tram tour to give your feet a rest.
31. Take a Moment at the Seattle Japanese Garden
The 3.5-acre traditional Japanese Garden, situated in the Washington Park Arboretum, has been a tranquil space of beauty since 1960. The carefully designed garden features benches, a small pond, manicured trees, and pathways with stones handpicked from Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains.
Check the Japanese Garden’s website when planning your visit, as there are regular events, like the tea ceremonies, to join.
32. Visit the National Nordic Museum
Opened to the public in 1980, this museum is the largest of its kind in the United States. The museum was established to honor the thousands of Nordic immigrants who came to the Northwest at the beginning of the 20th century.
At this attraction near Ballard Locks, you’ll find exhibitions on the history, culture, and values of the five Nordic countries, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
33. Learn About Aircraft at the Museum of Flight
Another of the top Seattle tourist attractions is the Museum of Flight — the largest air and space museum in the world. The 15-acre site houses over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, and you’ll also find flight simulators and the original Boeing Aircraft factory here.
With workshops, interactive tours, and virtual reality experiences, a visit to this museum makes for a fun family activity. Entry is less than $30, and admission is free on the first Thursdays.
34. Spend Your Change at Dick’s Drive-In
Running since 1954, you’ll find this classic burger joint conveniently located near some of the top Seattle sightseeing spots. With burgers costing as little as $1.40, this budget-friendly spot is a must-visit after a long day of adventuring in Seattle.
35. Have Coffee at a Cat Cafe
Besides a cup of coffee, what better way to start your day than with some kitty cuddles? Book a visit to Seattle Meowtropolitan a few blocks from the Fremont Troll or Neko Cat Cafe near Downtown Seattle for a heartwarming coffee date with some fluff balls.
36. Ride the Ferry to Bainbridge Island
Washington has many ferry routes with multiple cities and islands separated by water bodies, and a ferry ride is an excellent mode of transport for a budget-friendly day trip from Seattle.
You’ll love a day trip to Bainbridge Island, one of Seattle’s most popular ferry destinations. For less than $10, you can enjoy a refreshing 35-minute ride with stunning cityscape views. Once in Bainbridge, there are museums, parks, and a beach with a campground for you to explore.
37. Walk through Beacon Food Forest
Situated in south Seattle, this volunteer-run community garden started in 2010. It is open to all and consists of entirely edible plants. They aim to provide equitable access to food sources and foster a stronger sense of community through volunteer events and workshops.
With regular work party events, there’s always an opportunity to volunteer your green fingers for this great cause. The 7-acre gardens are also lovely to simply admire and walk through.
38. Explore the Center for Wooden Boats
The Center for Wooden Boats aims to honor the Northwest’s maritime history. Their goal is to provide everyone with the chance to experience the waters on their collection of wooden boats.
In addition to offering educational talks, exhibits, and hands-on experiences for all ages, the center rents out its sail and row boats. They also provide free Sunday Sail trips and allow you to rent their peapod rowboats for an hour from Wednesday to Sunday at no cost.
39. Make a Bonfire at Golden Gardens
One of the best places to enjoy the sunset in Seattle is Golden Gardens. The beach in the park is always abuzz with volleyballers, runners, and paddlers, but the bonfires make it extra popular.
Show up early with friends and secure one of the 12 fire pits. If you find yourself in West Seattle, you can also secure a bonfire at Alki Beach.
40. Tour T-Mobile Park
The exquisite T-Mobile Park is a 19.59-acre real grass ballpark with a retractable roof and is home to the Seattle Mariners. If you’re a baseball fan, this park, which opened in 1999, offers various opportunities to appreciate the sport besides match days.
For around $15, you can book a guided tour of the facilities and restricted areas like the All-Star club, owners suite, field, and press box. There’s also a merchandise store and a Mariners Hall of Fame where you can learn more about the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest.
You’ll find baseball-inspired art pieces throughout the park, and the bleachers provide a unique view of downtown Seattle and Puget Sound.
41. Watch an Outdoor Movie
If you’re wondering what to do in Seattle, Washington in summer, I highly recommend catching a movie at a drive-in cinema or park. Many Seattle parks host outdoor movies, including Marymoor Park, Westlake Park, and Juanita Beach Park.
You can also head to Seattle Center for Movies at the Mural, where free films are showcased on a 40-foot screen below the Space Needle.
42. Tour the City by Bicycle
If you’re only spending one day in Seattle and would like to see as many sights as possible, why not see them on a bike tour? Seattle is one of the most active U.S. cities, so you’ll fit in on a bicycle.
43. Visit a Farmer’s Market
Support the local farms by stopping by one of the many markets in Seattle. There are farmers’ markets running all week, so you’ll always have an opportunity to buy farm-fresh produce.
Some notable markets include West Seattle, Ballard, Pike Place, University District, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill farmers’ markets.
44. Take a Hot Tub Boat Ride
One of the more unique Seattle things to do is to rent a hot tub boat. This Washington State bucket list activity allows you to enjoy the waters and views in the comfort of a private floating hot tub.
45. Explore the Connections Museum
Whether you have a particular interest in the history of telecommunications or simply love history, you’ll enjoy the Connections Museum. You’ll see everything from functional switchboards to early videophones and telegraph teletypes.
The museum is open every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, and the volunteers are happy to give you a tour or answer a few questions. There is no entry fee, but donations are requested.
46. Stroll through Kubota Garden
Seattle has no shortage of breathtaking gardens — the Kubota Garden, established in 1927, being one of them. This Japanese-style garden features two red bridges, 11 ponds, and waterfalls, with vibrant flowers.
I recommend visiting this garden to get a tranquil break from the city or to take a few snapshots of the vibrant plants and picturesque landscape. There are also regular guided tours and events on offer, so be sure to check the website beforehand.
47. Get the Tallest Views at Columbia Tower
Book a ticket to the 360° Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center if you’re looking for a more affordable way to view the cityscape. For around $25, you can take an elevator up to the tallest viewing area in the city and the Pacific Northwest, situated almost 1,000 feet above the ground.
48. Explore Olympic National Park
There are plenty of reasons why I’d recommend a visit to the Olympic National Park. This National Park is a nature lover’s paradise with nearly 1 million acres encompassing lush greenery, streams, and snow-capped mountains.
Set off on one of the park’s various hiking trails, visit Marymere Falls, and go wildlife spotting (or photographing). There are also spectacular places to stay in Olympic National Park if you’re simply looking to escape the city bustle for a while.
49. Explore Nearby Wineries
As the second largest producer of wine in the United States, Washington offers plenty of wine tasting and tour opportunities. There are quite a few urban wineries to visit in Seattle, primarily concentrated around the south, but it’s also one of the best things to do near Seattle.
Book a winery tour and taste some wines at a few locations on Bainbridge Island. You can also book a tour of Woodinville wine country, 30 minutes away, where you’ll find over 90 tasting rooms. This is also where you’ll find Washington’s oldest winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle.
50. See the Cherry Blossoms at Washington University
Besides its exquisite facades that look like they come straight from a Harry Potter novel, this university also has a breathtaking cherry blossom quad. If you’re planning your trip to Seattle in the spring months, stop by the University of Washington to see the path explode with soft pink cherry blossoms.
I found the best time to see and capture these blooming beauties is during the last week of March. Be sure to arrive early in the day to avoid larger crowds.
51. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
See the Emerald City and its surroundings from an entirely different perspective on a hot air balloon trip on one of the best things to do in Seattle.
One of the best-rated companies to offer this exciting activity is Seattle Ballooning, offering sunrise and sunset flights. They’re close to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, making it an easily accessible first stop before heading downtown.
Book a private or group ride, starting at $325, for a birds-eye view of Downtown Seattle, the surrounding countryside, Puget South, and Mount Rainier — to name a few.
52. Enjoy Views from Seattle’s First Skyscraper
While Seattle’s skyline features plenty of incredible skyscrapers today, the Smith Tower, built in 1914, was the city’s first and one of the top things to see in Seattle. It may not have been as tall as the New York skyscrapers it drew inspiration from, but the 38-story structure was still an impressive addition to Seattle.
Today, you can take an elevator to the observation point on the 35th floor of this historic landmark, where you’ll find a restaurant and bar. This tower offers panoramic views of the city, waters, and mountains, with access tickets costing a fraction of what you’d pay at the Space Needle.
53. Go Camping Around Seattle
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do around Seattle, why not go camping? The city is surrounded by national parks, forests, and peaks, so there are plenty of camping spots that make for the perfect weekend trip from Seattle.
Whether a camping beginner or a nature expert, you’ll love camping sites like Saltwater State Park, Manchester State Park, and Verlot Campground. Many sites are less than 3 hours away from the city and offer great recreational water and terrain activities.
54. Visit the First Starbucks in Seattle
While you’re around the Pike Place Market, another must-see in Seattle is the original Starbucks that opened in 1971. This store is the perfect place to find exclusive drinks and buy Seattle souvenirs like Starbucks mugs and bearistas.
The relatively quaint shop attracts thousands of visitors as one of the most famous tourist attractions in Seattle, so lines get long. Try to arrive early and on weekdays to avoid the winding queues.
I don’t actually recommend getting coffee here because it tastes exactly like the three other Starbucks around the corner, so just take a few pictures and visit a different shop for your latte.
55. Go on a Cocktail Cruise
If you have some money to splurge, treat yourself to a private Seattle sightseeing cocktail cruise. This is the perfect way to see some of the city’s most popular sights, like the Seattle houseboats, while enjoying a few expertly prepared cocktails and good company.
A more affordable option is a Seattle harbor cruise on a bigger, shared boat.
Which of these things to do in Seattle are you most excited for?