Seattle is the capital of Washington State in the Pacific NorthWest region of the United States. It’s the biggest city in the state, with a population of around 724,000 people. Seattle is known as the Emerald City because it’s surrounded by lush greenery throughout the year. The city is bordered by Lake Washington on its eastern side. This is a large freshwater lake, which is a popular spot for fishing and water sports. To the west of the city lies the Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. This means Seattle is almost entirely surrounded by water, which makes it a haven for outdoor activity enthusiasts.
Seattle is famous as being the home of grunge and legendary grunge trailblazers, Nirvana. It’s also very well known for a tiny little chain of coffee shops called Starbucks.
Let’s take a dive into the city and guide you on all the top things to do in Seattle on your visit.
Pacific Science Center
This science center is an eight-building complex on 2nd Street in downtown Seattle and is one of the top things to do in Seattle with kids. The Center, commonly abbreviated as PacSci has two IMAX theaters, a Planetarium, Tropical Butterfly House and Laser Dome. The Pacific Science Center buildings were designed by architect, Minoru Yamasaki, who was also behind the idea for the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Originally built for the Seattle World Fair in 1962, the complex spans more than 7 acres of land. As well as visiting during the day, the colorful lights on the arches and fountains at the entrance makes the grounds Pacific Science Center a great thing to do in Seattle at night.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, $6.95-$25.95
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is so much more than just a market, and it’s also a place of constant entertainment. If you love fish, fresh seafood, beautiful flowers, antiques, and comics, you’ll certainly have fun spending money. However, even if you don’t, watching the vendors toss fish across the aisle, over your head, and catching it perfectly (every time) on the other side, is pretty impressive to witness. The famous farmer’s market that overlooks the Elliot Bay has been operational since 1907 and shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, it’s only become more and more famous, welcoming around 10 million visitors each year. It’s Seattle’s top tourist attractions and the 33rd most visited attraction on earth. There are 500 vendors spread throughout eight buildings, and the atmosphere at Pike is always buzzing. This is the number one fun thing to do in Seattle. Don’t forget to get your photo taken beneath the iconic market sign while you’re there.
Olympic Sculpture Park
This 9-acre sculpture museum and beach has been an iconic Seattle attraction since 2007. Built largely with private donations, it’s a unique draw for visitors wishing to see the permanent and visiting exhibits. The award-winning park sits on the downtown waterfront and is the biggest green space in the area. Some of the most iconic and famous works in the park are The Eagle by Alexander Calder, Seattle Cloud Cover by Teresa Fernandez, and Wake by Richard Serra. Until March 2020, Regina Silveira’s Octopus Wrap art work is being shown in the pavilion. A visit to the park is one of the top things to do in Seattle.
Museum of Pop Culture
This funky museum was known as the Experience Music Project and started by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. The unique building was designed by Frank Gehry and is famous for its sheet-metal construction. The design is very controversial in that people either love it or hate it. Forbes Magazine included it in the list of the worlds’ 10 ugliest buildings, which only served to make it more famous.
The colorful exterior shimmers in purple, greens, and silvers and it’s certainly impossible to miss. The Museum of Pop Culture is home to the world’s largest collection of Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana memorabilia. These include handwritten song lyrics, photographs, and instruments played by the legendary guitarist and the ground-breaking Grunge rockers. The Sky Church at the museum has one of the world’s largest indoor LED screens and a 65-foot-high ceiling.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, $19-$30
Built for the Seattle World Fair in 1962, the Space Needle is one of the most recognizable sights in the United States. The main focus of any visit to the Space Needle is to ascend to the observation deck. The deck sits 520ft above ground and provides unrivaled views. From here, you can see the Cascade and the Olympic Mountains, as well as Mount Rainier. The elevators in the Space Needle travel at 16 km per hour, taking just 41 seconds to ride to the top. If you’re hungry while you’re there, you can have a bite at the top of the Space Needle at the SkyCity restaurant or the Atmos Cafe.
Tickets required, available online or at the ticket office, $24.50-$37.50
This downtown neighborhood was originally settled in 1852, but was all but destroyed in 1889 by the Great Seattle Fire. An annual festival accompanies the Fire Fighter Memorial to commemorate those who died fighting the flames. These days, the area is known for its beautiful Renaissance architecture and the hip art galleries and cafes within its borders. It’s a preservation district and is a great place for a walk during the day. It’s also a great thing to do in Seattle at night as it’s known as the center of the city’s nightlife, with lots of pubs, sports bars, and nightclubs to enjoy.
Off-Beat Attractions in Seattle
The Market Theater Gum Wall is a disgustingly odd attraction in downtown Seattle. It’s literally a wall covered in chewed gum. The wall is located in an alleyway just off Pike Place Market. Affixing gum to the wall been a weird tradition in Seattle for a good number of years. In an attempt to stop the bricks eroding, the city scrubbed the walls in 2015. After the work was completed, people simply came back and started it all over again. The will of the gum chewers of Seattle is strong, my friends. Instagram is full of photos of visitors next to the wall, but it’s advisable not to get too close. It is one of the top things to do in Seattle, even if it’s just to say you’ve seen it with your own eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Seattle
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the top things to do in Seattle. The questions cover a range of topics and will help you research and plan your next trip to the city.
What are some must see things to do in Seattle, Washington?
Paying a visit to the Seattle Aquarium is a good thing to do in Seattle with kids and is a must-see attraction for younger visitors. Seattle Art Museum is a great day out in the city, with its large range of temporary and permanent exhibitions. There’s art from America, Asia, Middle East, and Europe. There’s also a huge collection of styles, from traditional sculptures, European Impressionism and Modern and Contemporary.
What are some things to do in Seattle when it rains?
Pike Place Market and the Space Needle are two great things to do in Seattle when it’s raining. The atmosphere at Pike is great fun, and the views from the Space Needle are incredible. After you’re done with those, take a break for coffee at the original Starbucks. The first store is in Pike Place, and you can see where it all started in 1971. The outlet still has original 70s fixtures and fittings, but the coffee is definitely 21st Century.
What are some fun things to do in Seattle, Washington?
One of the most fun things to do in Seattle is to ride the Seattle Great Wheel on Elliot Bay. The wheel is 175ft tall and has a total of 42 gondolas. It’s pretty unique in that the wheel actually extends 40ft out over the water in the bay. Another great fun thing to do in Seattle is taking a ride on the King County Water Taxi. The choice of two routes takes you from West Seattle to downtown or West Seattle to Vashon Island. It’s an inexpensive way to ride the waterways that surround the city.
Seattle is chilled out and welcoming city with a very diverse mix of people. It’s known for its big ideas and counter-culture, which makes it a very unique and fun place to spend time. There are a lot of top things to do in Seattle for all ages and interests, and despite its reputation for being rainy, it’s not quite as bad as you think. Yes, it rains, but it’s often very light, and it won’t get in the way of you having fun. Seattle is served by SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma) International Airport, approximately 14 miles from downtown. I hope we’ve convinced you of all the fun things to do in Seattle, so what are you waiting for?