Things to do in Seattle

There is a great deal of fun activities and areas to explore in Seattle. Below is a list, organized by area.

Seattle Center:

Space Needle: Take a ride up the Space Needle to check out the incredible views.

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP): Music, science fiction, and pop culture all come together at the fascinating Museum of Pop Culture. The Frank Gehry-designed building looks like a smashed guitar from above, while inside, its colorful exhibits cover everything from the history of indie video games and horror films to Nirvana, the Seahawks, and more.

Chihuly Garden and Glass: The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is dedicated to the work and career of locally born, world-renowned glassblower Dale Chihuly, who was introduced to the craft while studying at the University of Washington. It is the most comprehensive collection of his art to date, with interior galleries featuring a variety of his work in the medium.

Downtown:

Pike Place Market: From the iconic market sign and Rachel the Piggy Bank to the gum wall, the original Starbucks cafe, well over 225 local artisans selling their wares, the famous fish-tossing tradition, and music-playing street performers, there are tons of great sites to see.

Seattle Art Museum – two ways: The Seattle Art Museum is the city’s largest museum dating back to the 1930s and housing a varied collection of artwork that spans multiple eras and geographic regions. Take the time to visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor extension of the museum that’s open to the public for free about a mile away at the waterfront.

Smith Tower: Visit the city’s first skyscraper, built in 1914, and ride the historic, manually operated elevators to the 35th-floor observatory, where 360-degree views await.

Seattle Aquarium: Down at the Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront’s Pier 59, learn all about salmon, meet a few adorable sea otters, and greet the various sea creatures of the Pacific Ocean.

Seattle Great Wheel: Although it was only built in 2012, the Seattle Great Wheel has quickly become a fixture of the city’s skyline—plus it adds an entirely new sightseeing perspective, thanks to its location perched on the end of Pier 57.

Museum of Flight: One of the largest air and space collections in the country, with an overwhelming number of things to see—like a Boeing lunar rover and an Air Force One from the Eisenhower era—and do, including NASA space shuttle trainer tours and flight simulators.

Water Taxi to West Seattle: Hop on the water taxi in Pioneer Square and take a quick 10 minute boat trip to West Seattle. Have lunch or happy hour at Marination Station right on the water when you get off of the taxi.

Kerry Park: Near downtown, in the Queen Anne area is a picturesque spot that looks down at the Seattle skyline from the north. It’s the ideal place to get the quintessential view of the city, featuring the Space Needle, Elliott Bay, downtown skyscrapers, and (on clear days) Mount Rainier.

Ballard:

Golden Gardens: Golden Gardens Park is a public park and beach on the, which includes wetlands, beaches, hiking trails, and picnic and playground areas.

Ballard Locks: Check out the locks at the west end of Salmon Bay. The grounds also feature a fish ladder and the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden

University District, Wallingford, Fremont:

Gas Works Park: A great place for a picnic and beautiful views of Lake Union and the skyline.

Henry Art Gallery: Right on the UW campus is the Henry Art Gallery and was the first public art museum in Washington State.

The Ave: University Way NE (otherwise known as the Ave) is a street located right off the UW campus with tons of restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.

The WAC: Rent a boat at the WAC (Washington Activities Center) and check out the Arboretum.

Fremont Market on Sunday’s: 10am – 4pm is one of the best markets in Seattle with local food trucks and tons of cool things to shop for.

Green Lake: A short bus ride from the University District is Green lake – a man-made lake that has a 3 mile loop to walk/run/bike and places to swim and take out paddle boards and kayaks.

Capitol Hill:

Night Life: Just one stop on the light rail you reach the exciting Capitol Hill, which has tons of great restaurants, bars and a great night life scene.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room: You won’t have trouble finding a Starbucks here in the company’s hometown, but you’ll want to seek out this special Starbucks experience on Capitol Hill. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a Willy Wonka–esque coffee wonderland, where you’ll find exclusive beverages, various brewing methods, a coffee library, and more.

Volunteer Park: A 48.3 acre park in capitol hill and home to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and other beautiful views and spots to relax.

Lake Washington:

All great places to take a swim and soak up the sun:

  • Magnuson Park and Beach
  • Madison Beach
  • Mathew’s Beach
  • Madrona Beach

Short trip outside of Seattle:

Washington State Ferries: A ride across Puget Sound aboard one of 22 Washington State Ferries vessels is a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the bow of the boat as you cruise to the nearby communities of Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. This is one of those cases where the journey is as much fun as the destination.

Hiking: Check out this site, “Hike Metro” for Walks, Hikes, and Outdoor Adventures in the Seattle area that you can reach by Public Transit….No Car Needed! There are also tons of other places to go hiking in Seattle if you have a car. Here are a few great ones.

Woodinville Wine Tasting: There are tons of winery’s just 30 minutes outside of Seattle. Here is a map of them all.

Special Events:

Seafair: Seafair is Seattle’s annual summer festival committed to uniting and celebrating all of Seattle’s diverse communities by offering affordable fun and activities. This year, Seafair weekend is on August 3rd, 4th, and 5th!

Getting around:

Light Rail: An easy way to get from the UW to Capitol Hill, Downtown, International District, and as far as the Airport. The light rail comes every 5 or so minutes.

Bus: Busses can get you to almost anywhere within the Seattle area.

Uber/Lyft: Can take you to any destination.

Water Taxi and Ferries: Can take you outside of Seattle. Pick up the ferry and water taxi downtown.

Bikes: LimeBike (green bikes), ofo (yellow bikes) and spin (orange bikes) are all over campus. Download the app to ride these bikes all over Seattle. The Burke Gilman is right on campus and you can take this for miles (all the way to Fremont, Ballard, and even Bothell).