While Seattle has mostly gained its reputation as a rainy city, the start of Starbucks, and the glorious sight of the Space Needle, there’s plenty more things to do in Seattle within – and near – its borders, from lush forests to scrumptious food. Wedged between two mountain ranges, Seattle isn’t short of activities for nature lovers or, alternatively, for culture buffs and foodies. Once you get to the end of this bucket list, you may actually even find yourself jaw droppingly surprised by just how much the city has to offer!
The Best Attractions & Fun Things to Do in Seattle, Washington
1. Admire the Houseboats in the Marina
Although not exclusively houseboats, as some of them are actually more like floating homes, they not only prove as a unique and adventurous place to live in, but something rather spectacular to look at. At the Marina, you can specifically find houseboats to admire, and it’s surely a picturesque sight to see. From VRBO and other similar sites you can also book a night’s stay at one of them or just the the Floating Homes Association tour that will give you a peak inside some beauties.
For an extra bucket list challenge, see if you can spot the houseboat from the movie When Harry Met Sally!
2. Attend Circus School
Although a couple of different schools of similar nature exist in Seattle, SANCA (The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts) is definitely the crown jewel among the options. They have classes for children as well as adults, so besides sending your kids to a class with them, you have a great opportunity to try it out for yourself, too! There is a diverse range of circus-related skills for you to learn in the class, from trampoline to unicycle and trapeze to juggling.
3. Check Out the Fish at The Seattle Aquarium
Located on the Elliott Bay waterfront, the The Seattle Aquarium comprises ten exhibits and has nearly a million visitors per year. Owned by a nonprofit organization since 2020, the aquarium focuses on promoting and educating its visitors on the impact us humans have on the marine world.
Don’t forget to purchase a Seattle CityPASS® in advance to save almost half on five top Seattle attractions, including the aquarium!
4. Do a Tasting at The Starbucks Reserve Roastery
At a The Starbucks Reserve Roastery you can find Starbucks’ most exquisite and rare collection of coffees. There are a couple of them in the world, each offering plenty of sleek design and other treats beyond the rare coffee, but there’s no better place to have this roastery experience than Seattle, where the global headquarters of Starbucks are located!
At the roastery’s tasting, not only will the coffee master take you through delicious flavors of coffee, but you’ll only learn about the specific brewing and crafting processes that go into making them.
5. Drink at a Secret Speakeasy
What’s more fun than having a drink to relax after a day full of exploring the city? Having said drink in a secret spot only the selected few know about! And Seattle sure has numerous of these joints; although they may not actually be as secret any more as they were once upon a time, they may still be tricky to get into unless you know the secret way how to. Here’s a great guide to choose which speakeasy to try out, and how to get in and a list of some of the best:
6. Eat & Drink in the Chinatown-International District
Th Chinatown-International District district combines together Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon, and to get the best sampling of each cuisine and culture, you may have to spend nearly the entire day. Beyond scrumptious food and drink options, the district is full of attractions and historical landmarks for you to discover. If you just want a quick peak at the area, the Seattle 3-Hour City Tour by Bus will take you there.
7. Day Trip to The Woodinville Wine Country
Just a little over 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, you can find this exquisite site perfect to visit by any wine lover in the world. There are over 130 wineries and tasting rooms located in the Woodinville Wine Country, and you’ll want to make a day trip out of just getting through sampling a couple of them! If you don’t know which ones to choose the Seattle Met has picked 25 of the best or pop onto the Woodinville Wine Tasting tour from Seattle that also makes a stop at Snoqualmie Falls.
8. Eat Seafood (Especially Clam Chowder!)
When in Seattle and wanting to sample local food culture, seafood is a great place to start from; after all, the city does take its seafood pretty seriously! Although Seattle’s staple seafood is shellfish, you can’t go wrong indulging in local clam chowder dishes, either. For clam chowder specifically, try hitting up Pike Place Chowder, dubbed to have the #1 chowder in the US, and if you want to explore the seafood scene to your best capacity otherwise, here are some essential seafood spots to hit. I personally loved the The Walrus and The Carpenter!
9. Eat Your Way Through Seattle
As you may have already guessed from the variety of Asian cuisines and seafood on offer, you won’t have a hard time finding a delicious dining spot in Seattle. In fact, you’ll likely be spoiled with choices—from the best hand held pies at Piroshky Piroshky to the triple coconut cream pie at Dhalia’s to the cheddar chive biscuits at Morsel. If you’re the absolute foodie, then try to eat all of Seattle Magazine’s 16 quintessential Seattle things to eat!
If you’d like a local guide to take you to some of the top hot spots in town, then book the Ultimate Food Experience tour.
10. Explore The Living Computers: Museum + Labs
Located in Seattle’s SoDo District, the Living Computers: Museum + Labs is dedicated to computers and technology. There, you can enjoy the sights of vintage computers, and try out interactive activities with them. It’s a unique and hands-on experience that you might not be able to find in another part of the world.
11. Explore The Streets of the Queen Anne Neighborhood
Sitting on Seattle’s highest named hill, this neighborhood is known to be affluent and is specifically popular for the architecture style its houses and – dare I say mansions – represent. It’s also the home to nearly 30 landmarks, half of which are historic houses. Only a few residences of the original Queen Anne style of architecture remain today, and they’re an absolutely gorgeous sight.
12. Get Coffee at The Original Starbucks
Besides visiting their roastery, no trip to Seattle will be complete without visiting the original Starbucks, where it all started from for them in 1971. At least not if you’re a Starbucks lover (but even if you’re not their regular customer but love your coffee in general)!
13. Get Sweets at The Theo Chocolate Factory
Founded in 2005, Theo Chocolate Factory makes chocolate from scratch, all the way from a cocoa bean into a chocolate bar, using only organic ingredients. They’re North America’s first Fair Trade –certified organic chocolate maker, so the chocolate-y treats you can get from their factory shop are guaranteed to be quite exceptional and unique.
14. Get The Best View of Seattle at Kerry Park
Located on the Queen Anne hill, from Kerry Park you get spectacular views of Seattle’s downtown area any time of the day. Complete with a backdrop featuring Mount Rainier, this might be the most gorgeous sight to imprint into your memory – or onto your camera – while in Seattle.
It can be a bit of a hike (or a semi-expensive Uber ride) to get to Kerry Park, so you might want to consider just taking the 3-Hour City Highlights Tour that makes a stop there.
15. Get WOWED at The Chihuly Garden and Glass
The Chihuly Garden and Glass is an intriguing museum dedicated to the artwork of Dale Chihuly, who is a master of glass art. With eight galleries and three Drawing Walls, there is plenty to see, with the most spectacular piece among them all being the 40-foot tall glasshouse that features a 100-foot long colorful sculpture. Even though I am typically not a museum person, this one is not to be missed (and it’s part of the Seattle CityPASS® where you can save almost 50%).
16. Go on a Spooky Ghost Tour
Turns out, Seattle loves a good ghost tour! Spooked in Seattle’s ghost tour is consistently ranked among one of the best ghost tours in all of the States, run by paranormal investigators, even offering ghost hunting tours. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something less, eh, traditional then Nightly Spirits is an interesting choice, neatly combining a ghost tour and a pub crawl into a fun evening package.
17. Go Sightseeing at Washington University
Located in the middle of Seattle, the University of Washington is a great place for a hang out, especially if you’re finding yourself running short on cash. There’s plenty of awesomeness to spot simply by walking around, such as the columns at Sylvan Grove Theater. Or if you prefer to aim for a more specific destination, the Medicinal Herb Garden and Theodor Jacobsen Observatory are excellent alternatives.
18. Go to The Fremont Sunday Market
Fremont Sunday Market is a marketplace operational specifically on Sundays, drawing inspiration from the European markets toured by Fremont’s founders back in the day. You can find a diverse selection of vendors at the market, from fresh food and food trucks to handmade goods and antiques, with fashion, accessories, toys, and more in between.
19. Go to The Top of the Space Needle
And of course, no visit to Seattle will be anywhere near complete unless you visit the 605 foot tall Space Needle! It’s most definitely the most classic and most famous of all the attractions you can find in Seattle. It’s a beauty from the outside, but definitely take the elevator up to the top to get the most epic view.
20. Have a Picnic at Gas Works Park
A seaside park in Seattle, Gas Works offers plenty of space for a picnic, coupled with some awesome panoramic views of the water. It was formerly the location of a coal gasification plant, and today has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
21. Have Some Adventure at an Indoor Climbing Gym
In Seattle you can also find the first indoor climbing gym in America, running under the name Seattle Vertical World. Naturally that also makes Seattle, as well as this gym specifically, as an excellent place to try out indoor climbing for the first, or where to continue honing your indoor climbing skills at.
22. Day Trip to Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park, one of the 61 beauties on our US National Parks Bucket List, encompasses almost a million acres! Pretty hiking trails that go along the Pacific coastline and amidst the rainforest is the biggest reason that visitors take the 3+ hour trip from Seattle. But, it’s also great for boating, fishing and tidepooling!
If you didn’t rent a care in Seattle, no worries, just book the Olympic National Park Small-Group Tour that will pick you up at your hotel.
23. Hike to Rattlesnake Ledge
Another hiking option that’s close to Seattle is the Rattlesnake Ledge. It’s located near North Bend, reaching just above 5 miles in length. It’s rated as moderate in difficulty, and features great forest surroundings as well as awesome panoramic views of the lake once you get to the top.
24. Leave Your Mark on The Post Alley Gum Wall
The Gum Wall by The Market Theater is a tourist attraction, but not one that became such intentionally. It is said that is all started when someone standing in line for a show at the theater stuck his used gum to the wall and put a penny on top of it. When other theater goers saw this, they followed suit, and now it’s filled will hundreds of thousands of pieces of used gum. You can easily make a contribution to the Seattle Gum Wall by leaving yours on it while visiting
Fun fact: Interestingly enough, it’s also a popular site for wedding photography.
25. Ogle at The Pretty Snoqualmie Falls
If you’re looking for the most scenic spot in Seattle’s surroundings, Snoqualmie Falls is probably it. They’re so beautiful they draw more than 1 million visitors to their site each year, and since you can get there from Seattle in less than an hour, it won’t even be too much of a hassle to include the stop on your Seattle itinerary!
You know what’s even better than just seeing waterfalls? Doing some wine tasting on the way. The Snoqualmie Falls & Woodinville Wine Tasting tour will help with that!
26. Pay Your Respects at The Bruce Lee Grave Site
Bruce Lee was one of the most notable martial artists slash actors out there, with his life sadly having a tragic ending to it. He has a brain edema at the young age of 32. He was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle, and visiting the gravesite is an excellent way to show your honor and respect towards the man. His son Brandon Lee, who met an even more tragic end to his life’s story (he died on set by defective blank ammunition at the age of 28), is actually buried by his side.
27. Pet The Kitties at Neko Cat Cafe
NEKO Cat Cafe is among the elite of cat cafes. They not only provide a sanctuary for rescue cats, but also offer opportunities to take your company of afternoon cuddles home as your adopted life partner! Their wonderful dedication to cats makes it a worthy cause of spending your time, money, and enjoyment in.
28. Play Games at The Seattle Pinball Museum
As the name suggests, at the Seattle Pinball Museum you can find yourself surrounded by pinball machines, ranging through different decades, to as early as the mid-1950s. Besides their earliest pinball machine, what makes this museum even more fun is the fact you get to actually play on these machines!
29. Relax at Alki Beach
Alki Beach is the site where the first white settlers to Seattle originally landed, making it a historical landmark beyond its attractive sandy beach. If you happen to need a break from tanning and swimming, the park area also consists of a promenade, pier, and some grassy areas, plus more.
30. Root For The Mariners at T-Mobile Park
Although The Mariners are not among the most successful MLB teams, they can prove to be a lot of fun to watch, at least if you’re a baseball buff, or otherwise don’t stand many opportunities to see a different game to play. Get donned in a baseball fan’s look, grab some popcorn and other snacks, and have a blast at one of their games when in Seattle.
31. See a Show at The Pink Door
First and foremost The Pink Door is an exquisite Italian restaurant. But in addition to the delicious food, you can find yourself enjoying nightly entertainment, ranging from cabaret to trapeze and even tarot – and of course, more traditional music shows as well. A dining experience can hardly get more exciting than this!
32. See a Show at Paramount Theatre
A City of Seattle landmark and a National Register of Historic Places accredited spot, you can catch interesting concerts at the Paramount Theatre. Notable acts such as Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead have also held shows at this venue.
33. See The Cool Street Art in The City
The city of Seattle is filled with awesome murals to check out, and chasing after them can make for a really fun and unique walking tour kind of a day trip, too. The Evergrey has a list of Seattle’s iconic murals and the map for their locations, so you can easily see them all.
34. Enjoy The Exhibits at The Museum of Pop Culture
A nonprofit museum dedicated to all things pop culture, you can find various exhibitions, some of which are interactive, at this venue. From getting an insider look into the band Nirvana to the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, there’s something for everyone at the Museum of Pop Culture. Plus, more than dozen of the exhibitions have even toured around the US as well as internationally, so you know you’re in for a good and high quality time when visiting.
Don’t forget to purchase a Seattle CityPASS® in advance to save almost half on five top Seattle attractions, including the Museum of Pop Culture!
35. See The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks)
Located in Salmon Bay’s western end, the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks are a complex of locks that carry the most boat traffic in the entire United States. Beyond its daily functionality, it’s also one of the most popular Seattle Attractions.
36. Shop & Eat at Pike Place Market
Besides the Farmer’s Market and the Crafts Market, the Pike Place Market offers other diverse shopping options. In addition, you can stop to grab a bite at its numerous restaurants, with the market site often getting dubbed as the heart of Seattle’s food scene.
It’s easy to explore Pike Place Market on your own, but you can also take one of these highly rate tours:
- Pike Place Market: Walking Food Tour
- Pike Place Market Chef-Guided Food Tour
- Private Highlights Experience with a Local
- The Ultimate Food Experience with Local Guide
- Underground Donut Tour
37. Stroll Through Kubota Garden
Kubota Garden is a Japanese style garden in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. It’s open to any visitor throughout the year and makes for a lovely stroll in the morning or afternoon.
38. Walk through Volunteer Park
Near the Capitol Hill is the Volunteer Park, which makes for a quite different stroll than Kubota Garden, but a pleasant one nevertheless. At the park you can also find a conservatory as well as the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
39. Take a Photo With The Fremont Troll
Tucked under the Aurora Avenue Bridge, in the Fremont neighborhood, is the iconic—and massive—Fremont Troll. The concrete sculpture is definitely a unique roadside attraction, and has drawn thousands of visitors who want an epic photo opportunity.
40. Take a Ride on The Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel is a 175 feet tall Ferris wheel located on Seattle’s Pier 57. With the ride lasting from 10 to 20 minutes, you get to take in some fabulous sights of the city of Seattle.
41. Take a Seattle Seaplane
To experience Seattle from above, hop on a Seattle Seaplane! Although the flight only lasts some 20 minutes, it covers some of the best attractions and things to see in Seattle, giving you a new perspective on all the sights. Just imagine a birds-eye view of the Space Needle!, even if you’ve already seen them from ground up before.
42. Take a Walk Through The Olympic Sculpture Park
Created by the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park is 9-acres of public green space that’s home to a sculpture museum. There’s different works of art scattered throughout the grounds, so strolling through here is unpredictable yet amazing!
43. Take in The View From The Top of Smith Tower
Not only does the Smith Tower architecture look impressive on the outside, setting foot indoors and heading to the top offers even more impressive views. It’s among the Seattle attractions that are the most world famous.
44. Take Pics at The Seattle Selfie Museum
A different kind of museum than the others on the list, the Seattle Selfie Museum is tailor-made for those loving a good, Instagrammable portrait of themselves. Ticket prices are on the higher side, and you only get an hour to explore and photograph, but it’s also a total blast that’ll leave your camera filled with precious memories to remember for years to come.
45. Take The Ferry to Bainbridge Island
Another unique way to experience Seattle is by hopping on the ferry headed to Bainbridge Island. And yes, specifically the ferry ride should be on your list of things to do in Seattle, if lovely panoramic views of the city are your kind of a thing. The views include Seattle’s skyline and the mountains beyond. Once on the island, do make most of your trip and stroll around until you find a great spot for some coffee or food – with there being plenty to choose from.
46. Throw Axes at Blade & Timber
Want to do something unique while in Seattle? Forget bowling, go throwing axes instead! Blade & Timber is an axe throwing facility with 18 lanes and a cooler full of beer. Don’t worry, you’ll get some expert training before taking to the target yourself. Then you can just directly aim for the bulls-eye or play one of the many fun axe throwing games like horse or landmine.
47. Tour The Museum of Flight
At the Museum of Flight you can find one of the largest collections for air and space with over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, like the Lockheed A-12MD (Blackbird). They also have lots of cool exhibits and many rare photographs.
48. Tour The Underground Tunnels
There are a few interlocking tunnels existing below Seattle’s ground level, and each are worthy of exploring. The tunnels tell intriguing stories of the old storefronts that were laid to rest after the Great Fire of 1889. So hop on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour and enjoy a unique walking tour underneath Seattle.
49. Visit Sky View Observatory
Dubbed the tallest observatory in the entire Pacific Northwest region, at nearly 1,000 feet the views and tallness of Seattle Sky View Observatory will not disappoint. Want that perfect photo of Seattle’s skyline from above? Here’s where you go and get it from.
If you want less hassle during your visit, just pre-purchase your ticket!
50. Go to The Seattle Art Museum
Seattle’s leading museum in art, at the Seattle Art Museum you can find exhibitions ranging from Monet to Barbara Earl Thomas. If you have a tendency to visit museums wherever you travel, SAM is no different in how it ought not to be missed out on.
51. Drink at Washington’s Oldest Winery
Not only is Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery the state’s oldest one, but it is also its most acclaimed one! With a history dating longer than a century, the operators of the winery sure know what they’re doing – and you’ll get to experience it first hand by going out on a visit to sample their wines.
52. Explore the Tide Pools at Golden Gardens Parks
Golden Gardens Parks draws visitors for many outdoorsy reasons, but one of the most popular activities to do while there is to explore the tide pools. From sea urchins to starfish to crawling crabs, you’ll never know what to expect as you peek under rocks.
53. Walk Through Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square is the first neighborhood of Seattle to exist since the arrival of the white settlers, still remaining true to its roots in its buildings’ architectural style. With its borders holding onto such extensive history, a walk through Pioneer Square is sure to be an interesting kind.
54. Witness The Boeing Future of Flight
The Boeing Future of Flight is an airplane assembly facility that produces Boeing 747, 767, and 777 on site. But, it is also a notable tourist attraction near Seattle, located 25 miles north of the city. Not only can visitors take a peak into how planes are built, but they are able to witness the largest building in the world, covering 98.7 acres.
How many of these things to do in Seattle have you already crossed off your list? How many of them were totally new activities and activities that are stirring up the possibilities of what Seattle has to offer? Hopefully this bucket list has made you prepared and excited to visit the capital of Washington, as it sure has gotten me head over heels crushing on the city! Rain or shine, there’s always numerous ways to enjoy a day out in Seattle.
Essential Tips for Visiting Seattle
Getting There: Seattle-Tacoma is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to the city center, you can use the tram, bus, shuttle or take a taxi.
Where to Stay in Seattle: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. Mayflower is a great choice in the Downtown District. For something on the less expensive side, try HI – Seattle Hostel at the American Hotel located in the International District. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Lotte Hotel Seattle. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available all over the city, plus most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. For a more budget friendly option, you can take the public bus or metro/subway. The ORCA card is an all-in-one transit card offering rides on multiple forms of transportation (Link Light Rail, Metro Bus and streetcar) for one fee. You can buy one at the airport!
Best Tours in Settle: You can find some of the top tours at Get Your Guide or Viator, and here are some of the top ones. tours:
- From Seattle: Snoqualmie Falls & Woodinville Wine Tasting
- From Seattle: Mount Rainier Full-Day Tour
- Seattle: Pike Place Market Chef-Guided Food Tour
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I earn a commission that helps to keep this blog running—at no extra cost to you. For more information read my full disclosure.
You Might Also Enjoy
Eat Piroshky & Drink Cappuccino in Seattle
Eat the Best Clam Chowder in Seattle
Explore Seattle’s Underground on a Pioneer Square Tour
Make a Contribution to the Seattle Gum Wall
Start a Grunge Band at EMP in Seattle
9 Non-Fishy Things at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle
4 thoughts on “Seattle Bucket List: 50+ Fun Things to Do in Washington’s Emerald City”
I haven’t been to Seattle, but one of my favorite memories as a child was getting Italian ice during the summer and walking along the docks with my family looking at all of the yachts and houseboats on long island.
Loved your content, will try some of these fun things next time with my kids.
Saving this list for later this summer now that the border is open! I have been living in Vancouver for 2 years and looking forward to exploring nearby Seattle!
You’re right about the Chihuly Garden and Glass; it wows you. I have seen some of his work at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and the Hilton in Houston has one of his unique chandeliers. His float boats are not to be missed.