57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (2024)

👉Jump to: Things to Do | Sites and Attractions | Outdoors | Free and Cheap | Cool and Unusual Attractions | Rainy Day | Food and Drink | FAQ

I’m a long-time Seattle local with insights into the best things to do in Seattle!

This guide starts with the most popular Seattle activities, like riding to the top of the Space Needle and exploring the famous Pike Place Market. I then overview several of the city’s most famous sites, its culinary scene, and its cultural and outdoor attractions.

Next, I’ll share several free activities and personal favorite hidden gems for you to add to your Seattle bucket list! And, because this is Seattle, I’ve got a whole section for what to do on a rainy day.

Use this comprehensive guide — along with our companion article on where to stay in Seattle — to help you plan the perfect Pacific Northwest trip.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle

Capitol Hill

Eat, bar hop, and shop in the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (1)

📍 Google Maps

Capitol Hill is among the best neighborhoods in Seattle. This historic neighborhood, which has been an epicenter of the city’s LGBTQ+ community, has gone through a multitude of transformations over the years. But, in my opinion, it remains a worthy destination for visitors and locals alike.

On the north end of the Hill, you’ll find Volunteer Park and dozens of cute shops and cafes among historic mansions. Further south along the Pike/Pine Corridor is where you’ll find the nightlife — bars, clubs, and venues for live shows.

Some of Seattle’s best restaurants are in this neighborhood, with options for everything from Thai and Ethiopian cuisine to vegan fare and juicy burgers.

Capitol Hill has it all. Come here to spend time in nature, explore a foodie paradise, grab unique souvenirs, or drink and party with the locals.

Pike Place Market

Explore the famous hundred-year-old market.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (2)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 682-7453 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: free | 👉 Take A Food Tour of Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is Seattle’s iconic market in the heart of downtown. Not only is it one of the top attractions in Seattle, but it’s also one of the best things to do and see in Washington State.

Take your time wandering through the expansive market with hundreds of vendors selling produce, handmade goods, art, flowers, and more. Don’t neglect the underground specialty shops, including Golden Age Collectibles, one of the oldest comic book shops in the county.

To taste your way through the best of Pike Place Market, check out this fun Pike Place Market food tour I went on! The guide is a chef and I had such a fun time that I added it to this list in its own entry below.

If you’re not too squeamish, snap a picture in front of Seattle’s grossest local landmark: the gum wall. Afterward, wander through Post Alley and sample all the delicious treats (you won’t regret a bottle of Rachel’s ginger beer!).

🚌 How to Get There: Avoid driving to Pike Place Market! Your GPS may direct you down the pedestrian-friendly cobblestone road in front of the market, where you’ll move at a snail’s pace and the frustration will build — not the best way to start a visit here. Rather, walk to the market from your downtown hotel or take a bus along 3rd Ave that will drop you a couple of blocks away.

Discovery Park

Hike through the biggest park in the city.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (3)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 386-4236 | Website | Hours: 4 am -11:30 pm daily

A trip to Discovery Park is a good way to feel like you’re leaving the bustling city behind without actually exiting city limits. Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park at 534 acres — it takes up the entire northwestern end of the Magnolia neighborhood.

Come here if you want to wander through a forest, go bird watching, explore along the bluffs, and find a good place to picnic. The trails are well-maintained and good for hikers and non-hikers alike.

Wander down to the beach to see West Point Lighthouse and search for sea lions. Bring a snack and stay to watch a magnificent sunset over the Olympic Mountains.

Seattle Art Museum

Check out a diverse and beautiful museum.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (4)
57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (5)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 654-3100 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday, Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $29.99 adults, $19.99 students & teens (15-19), $24.99 seniors (65+) & military, free for children 14 and under

The Seattle Art Museum in downtown Seattle is hard to miss with the 48-foot-tall Hammering Man sculpture outside its entrance.

The inside is striking — look up when you walk in to see one of my favorite sculptures, Middle Fork. The museum boasts thoughtfully curated temporary exhibits and a large permanent art collection with African, European, Islamic, and Native American art, and more.

The entirety of the SAM exists beyond the downtown building, though. The Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park and the Olympic Sculpture Park along the waterfront are also part of the SAM. All three make up some of the best Seattle museums.

Coffee Tourism

Sip Seattle’s favorite beverage.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (6)

📍 Google Maps

Seattle knows a thing or two about coffee. I mean, it’s considered the coffee capital of the United States for a reason! There are hundreds of coffee shops in Seattle, so you’ll have an easy time doing some coffee tourism to find your favorite brew.

Whether your drink of choice is a simple drip, a classic americano, or a latte with a dairy-free milk alternative, you’ll quickly learn what makes a quality drink and why Seattleites are obsessed.

A few of my current favorite coffee shops are Uptown Espresso, Herkimer Coffee, and Hello Em. At all of these, you can grab a coffee and spend some time lounging while you savor your drink. But, try out whatever shop is closest to you — it just might become your new fav.

Live Shows

Catch an epic live show.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (7)

Seattle is steeped in grunge music history. While you may not find as much of that today, the energy that turned Seattle into a city of phenomenal live shows remains.

Whether or not you consider yourself a music aficionado, you should try to catch a show at one of Seattle’s many live music venues. A few popular ones are Neumos in Cap Hill along with the famous Crocodile in Belltown. For a more refined venue, check out performances at The Triple Door.

Do your tastes lean more toward the performing arts? Check out plays and more at places like the Paramount and Moore Theater.

Seattle Center

Explore the cultural center of the city.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (8)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-7200 | Website

The Seattle Center is home to many of Seattle’s great attractions, all within walking distance of one another.

Ride to the top of the Space Needle and admire the view while you stand on the revolving glass floor. Afterward, check out the Museum of Pop Culture, a contemporary museum featuring pop culture memorabilia, science fiction and fantasy exhibits, and an immersive music experience.

Enjoy the Artists at Play playground with kids, check out the Pacific Science Center, or catch a Kraken game at the Climate Pledge Arena. Whatever you choose, the Seattle Center is a must-do experience, especially for first-time visitors.

🚝 How to Get There: I recommend using the monorail to get to the Seattle Center, especially if you’re staying downtown. Catch it at the Westlake Center Mall station. It drops visitors right between the Museum of Pop Culture and the Space Needle. Plus, it’s a good excuse to hop on this fun 60s Space-Age-inspired ride.

Alki Beach

Lounge away the day on a beach.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (9)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website | Hours: 4 am – 11:30 pm daily

Seattle isn’t anyone’s top beach destination, but visiting in warmer months necessitates a trip to Alki Beach in West Seattle. This beach has it all — a sandy area for beach bumming, volleyball nets, fire pits, a lengthy boardwalk, and lots of dining.

Rent a kayak to explore from the water and keep your eyes peeled for seals and their pups resting on the shore if you visit during pupping season.

Alki Beach is for everyone – families, solo travelers, couples. Expect it to be crowded on super hot days, but the lively atmosphere more than makes up for it.

Seattle Sites and Attractions

Downtown Waterfront

Check out Seattle’s lively waterfront.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (10)

📍 Google Maps

The downtown waterfront is a great place for people-watching and has a handful of the city’s top attractions and landmarks.

You’ll see people meandering along the pathway to and from Olympic Sculpture Park, jogging, fishing, or stopping to get seafood from Ivars on a typical day by the waterfront.

Go to Miner’s Landing to grab a bite to eat. Take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel (pro tip: do this at sunset). Or visit the Seattle Aquarium to see otters, and puffins, and feel sea anemones in the touch tank.

I’d also recommend visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop to find some seriously strange gifts and eclectic wares like mummies and a whole ‘lotta taxidermy.

Argosy Cruises

Take a tour of Seattle from a boat.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (11)


📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 623-1445 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: (Harbor Cruise) $39 adults, $35 senior (65+), $22 youth (4-12), free kids (3 and under)

Argosy Cruises is a tour company that operates from the waterfront. All tours have live narration. Plus, there’s a bar on board that serves co*cktails and other beverages and snacks to enjoy while you cruise.

A boat tour in this city is a must. You’ll have views of the Seattle city skyline from right on the Sound and may even catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier on clear days.

Argosy’s Harbor Cruise is a great way to learn about the city’s past and present. Or choose its Locks Cruise, which will take you up through north Seattle where you’ll learn about the Ballard Locks, Gasworks Park, and Seattle’s floating home community.

Museum of Flight

Get up close and personal with aircraft.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (12)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 764-5700 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $26 adults, $18 youth (5-17), $22 seniors (65+), free ages 4 and under

Go to the Museum of Flight if you’re a flight enthusiast or want to understand one of Seattle’s lesser-known nicknames: Jet City. It’s located in south Seattle, right on the border of Tukwila.

The Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the country. It’s packed full of aircraft, artifacts, and exhibits for anyone wanting to learn about the history of flight. Budgeters take note — you can enjoy this museum for free on the first Thursday of the month from 5 pm to 9 pm.

Seattle Aquarium

Get familiar with marine life in the Pacific Northwest.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (13)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 386-4300 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm daily (last entry 5 pm)

In town on a rainy day or visiting with kids? The Seattle Aquarium is the place to spend a lowkey morning or afternoon. The aquarium is right along the waterfront, just a short walk from the Seattle Great Wheel.

Inside, you’ll find a touch tank full of sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, sea anemones, and more. Come to see fish, octopus, and sharks. And look out for my favorites: the harbor seals, river otters, and puffins.

Knowledgeable staff are happy to answer questions and you’ll have ample opportunities to learn about the Aquarium’s conservation efforts.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Learn about the latest brewing methods from the worldwide coffee giant.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (14)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 624-0173 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 10 pm Mon-Thurs, 7 am – 10:30 pm Fri-Sun

Starbucks is the coffee giant most people think of when they come to Seattle. A visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a great stop for the biggest fans.

Prepare for an elevated Starbucks experience here. The Reserve offers tours and tasting flights. It also has an extended menu with co*cktails, artisanal pastries, sandwiches, and unreleased coffees you won’t find in other stores.

👉 Local Tip: You can visit the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market too. But know that it’s not all that different than a regular Starbucks. Expect long lines and drinks only at the market location. If you only have time for one, I highly recommend choosing the Reserve Roastery over the original.

Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center

Admire the views from the tallest building in Washington state.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (15)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 386-5564 | Website | Hours: 1 pm – 8 pm, Thursday-Sunday | Entrance: $20 for WA Residents; $30+ non-residents

The Space Needle isn’t the only place in the city to soak up those beautiful Seattle views. The Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center is the perfect place to capture views of the surrounding city, mountains, and Sound. Some argue that Sky View Observatory has even better views than the Space Needle.

Ride to the top during sunset to see the city come alight in the evening. Capture photos of Mount Rainier and the Olympics on clear days. The Sky View Observatory also has a bar and cafe with tasty co*cktails and a small food menu, enticing visitors to linger for a while.

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour

Take a tour of the original city beneath Pioneer Square.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (16)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 682-4646 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $22 adults, $20 student (13-17) & seniors (60+), $10 youth (7-12), free ages 6 and under| 👉 Beneath The Streets Underground History Tour

The Underground Tour is a popular tourist attraction that even locals love. It takes visitors on a journey through the original city before the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 decimated it.

On the tour, your guide will take you beneath the streets of Pioneer Square where you’ll see original storefronts and sidewalks (and toilets – yes, really) as you learn the history of the underground city the current one was rebuilt upon.

The humorous guides make this tour extra enjoyable and it’s a great way to learn some unconventional (and sometimes salacious or haunted) Seattle history.

Woodland Park Zoo

Watch and learn about adorable animals and Seattle’s conservation efforts.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (17)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 548-2500 | Website | Hours (change seasonally): (May 1-Sept 2) 9:30 am – 6 pm daily; (Sept 3-April 30) 9:30 am – 4 pm daily | Entrance: $28.35 adults, $17.35 children(ages 3-12)

Want to see penguins, red pandas, rhinos, and Komodo dragons? Visit the Woodland Park Zoo. This conservation-focused zoo is the perfect place to see and learn about a variety of adorable animals and their habitats.

Woodland Park Zoo is one of the best things to do in Seattle with kids year-round, but it’s also a great place for animal lovers of all ages.

Come during several fun community events throughout the year. Visit during the WildLanterns light show during the holidays and attend various ZooTunes concerts during the summer. Beer and cider lovers, Brew at the Zoo is your event.

Climate Pledge Arena

Watch epic concerts and cheer for two of Seattle’s beloved sports teams.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (18)
57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (19)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +1 206 752 7200 | Website

The Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle Center is one of the city’s best concert, event, and sports venues. It’s where Seattle’s NHL team, the Kraken, and its WNBA team, Seattle Storm, play. Don’t pass up a visit even if you aren’t a sports fan. There are some epic concerts and events that happen here, too.

Book tickets to see big names (past acts have included Fall Out Boy, Macklemore, Arctic Monkeys, and Madonna). Or check out everything from comedy tours to wrestling shows.

Climate Pledge Arena lives up to its name by committing to eco-friendly practices. It’s a certified zero-carbon arena dedicated to zero waste and water conservation.

What to Do Outdoors in Seattle

City Parks

Picnic, jog, or stroll through the city parks.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (20)

Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website

You’ll find a wealth of green spaces and city parks in Seattle, so getting outdoors for some fresh air is a must. One of the most popular is Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. Not only does it have a botanical garden and museum, but there’s also plenty of space to picnic, play frisbee, and ample play areas for kids.

Gas Works Park is a must-visit if you want incredible views of the city across Lake Union. Check out Seward Park for its jogging trails, or to barbecue with friends down by the water.

If you make the trip over to West Seattle, you can visit Lincoln Park. Here you’ll have stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Vashon Island to the west, and you can take a dip in the heated outdoor saltwater pool if you visit during the summertime.

Golden Gardens Park

Spend time on Seattle’s prettiest beach.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (21)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website | Hours: 4 am – 11:30 pm daily

Golden Gardens is one of the most beautiful beaches in Seattle. This beach in Ballard is the place to go for lounging, barbecuing, and swimming on those really hot days.

In cooler seasons, you can explore the park’s trails, listen and watch for seals, enjoy a bonfire, or search for sea creatures in the tide pools. Whatever season you visit, make sure to stay for sunset. It’s spectacular.

Washington Park Arboretum

Stroll through a peaceful arboretum.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (22)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 543-8800 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 8 pm daily

Venture out to the Washington Park Arboretum to see one of the most beautiful spots in Seattle.

You’ll wander through hundreds of trees and plants in different themed gardens, including a woodland garden and a Japanese garden. Enjoy the vibrant colors in the fall, pretty blooms in the spring and summer, and delightful scents and unexpected pops of color in the wintertime.

Explore on your own or take one of the Arboretum’s walking or tram tours where you can ask questions and learn about the plants that make up this oasis in the middle of the city.

Lake Union Park

Try out a hot tub boat, free pea boat rental, or other ways to get out on the water.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (23)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website | Hours: 4 am – 11:30 pm daily

You have to get out on the water if you visit Lake Union Park — it’s just one of the best ways to experience it.

There are several ways to do this, and the easiest and most budget-friendly is to visit the Center of Wooden Boats. Rent a free pea boat and take it out for a few hours. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, or other boats from there for a reasonable fee.

Want a more unique experience? Rent a donut boat with friends (and bring your own donuts to bring it full circle). If you’re here in the cooler months, you need to do a hot tub boat rental. From experience, the latter is just as relaxing in the rain.

Green Lake

Hang out by the most popular lake in north Seattle.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (24)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website | Hours: Open 24 hours

On a sunny day, Seattleites flock to Green Lake Park up in north Seattle. Jog, walk your dog, or stroll along the 2.8-mile loop surrounding the lake.

Come here to play baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball, or ultimate frisbee. The park has plenty of shady trees for a picnic (or mid-afternoon nap) and a wading pool and play area for kids.

Rent stand-up paddle boats, kayaks, and water bikes from the Greenlake Boathouse if you want to get out on the lake. And you’re not far from food if you get hungry. The restaurants and cafes surrounding the east side of the lake make it easy to grab a lunch or snack as needed.

Cherry Blossoms in the University District

Go flower peeping at the University of Washington.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (25)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 543-9198 | Website

Early spring is one of the best times to visit Seattle because you’ll have the opportunity to catch the cherry blossoms blooming all over the city. But more specifically, you can see their glorious display in the University District.

Visit the Quad on the University of Washington campus to see these pretty pink flowers contrasted against the gothic architecture of the UW buildings. Bloom times vary from year to year, but you can usually expect to see most of the trees blooming from mid-March to early April.

Hiking

Hike a nearby mountain.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (26)

Washington Trails Website | 👉 Book a Mount Rainier Day trip Tour on Viator

Seattle is close to mountains and national parks, so it makes sense that hiking is such a popular activity here. There are plenty of city parks to hike through, but for a challenge, you’ll want to venture out further. You can find several great hikes within an hour’s drive from the city.

New hikers wanting to tackle a mountain should check out Rattlesnake Ledge, a popular hike with a well-maintained trail and a great payoff. Try Mount Si for more of a workout or take on Mailbox Peak if you’re conditioned enough for a strenuous climb.

Want other options? Check out my article on the best hikes near Seattle to find others that might fit your taste and experience level.

⛰️ Want to hike Mount Rainier? If you want to experience Washington’s iconic mountain, I highly recommend booking this Mount Rainier tour. It’s available year-round and will take you to one of the most beautiful places to visit in Washington!

Free & Cheap Stuff to Do in Seattle

In addition to the below activities in this section, you can also read my full list of 33 free things to do in Seattle for more budget-friendly Seattle activity ideas.

Kerry Park

Find the best (free) view in the city.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (27)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 684-4075 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily

In a city this pretty, you might wonder where to find the best views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, the Space Needle, and Mount Rainier. Lucky for you, Kerry Park exists! Go to this pocket-sized park to see all of the above at once.

There is a massive hill leading up to this park in Queen Anne, so I highly recommend either driving or taking a bus up the hill to save your legs and lungs from the effort. The small park can get crowded during summer, but you can capture some beautiful postcard-worthy photos here, especially at sunset.

T-Mobile Park

Root for the Mariners.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (28)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 346-4000 | Website

You don’t have to pay a ton of money to see the Mariners play! One of the best ways to watch is to get cheap tickets and then go down to The Pen to watch the game from center field.

T-Mobile Park is a large, impressive stadium in SoDo, and there are plenty of surrounding bars and places to grab a drink or bite to eat afterward to save a couple of bucks (you’ll pay a premium on food and drinks inside the park unless you utilize the value menu).

My recommendation? Order a Seattle dog from one of the hot dog vendors outside the stadium before or after the game, and then head to Fast Fashion Brewing for a delicious IPA afterward. Your taste buds (and wallet) will thank you.

Ballard Locks

Check out the ships, seals, and salmon at the locks.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (29)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 780-2500 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 9 pm daily

The Ballard Locks are where saltwater Puget Sound connects to freshwater Lake Washington. You don’t have to pay a thing to see this cool feat of engineering.

The locks are open year-round and they’re one of the top things to do in Ballard. In addition to watching the boats pass through the Lake Washington Ship Canal, you can peak at the chunky seals hanging around, or check out the salmon fish ladder.

👉 Pro Tip: Peak viewing time for the salmon on the fish ladder is from mid-June to September, so you’ll have the best chance of seeing the salmon run if your visit falls in the summer months.

Fremont Troll

Take a photo with a troll beneath a bridge.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (30)

📍 Google Maps

Visit to the eclectic Fremont neighborhood where you can see Seattle’s famous troll beneath the bridge. The Fremont Troll was originally built during an art contest the neighborhood held to help revitalize the area under the bridge.

Sure, seeing the troll, climbing it, and snapping some photos only takes only a few minutes. But after you do this, wander west along N 36th St to explore cool local shops, or check out the neighborhood’s other quirky art installations.

Pro tip, do this on a Sunday! That way, you can also check out the Fremont Sunday Street Market. It’s an awesome flea market where you’ll find all manner of interesting wares and yummy food truck bites.

Seattle Ferries

Take a day trip to an island.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (31)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (888) 808-7977 | Website

You should make an effort to ride the ferries when visiting Seattle. It’s cheap to walk or bike on (under $11 roundtrip) and you have a few options for places to go.

While on the ferry, be sure to go out on the deck where you’ll have fantastic views of mountains on one side and the Seattle skyline on the other (though bring a coat, it gets very chilly while the ferry’s in motion!).

Take the ferry to Vashon or Bainbridge Island, two places that make for fun and easy day trips from Seattle. Both places will give you a bit of a break from the city and let you see and experience some small towns in Washington state.

Check out my guide to what to do on Vashon Island and what to do on Bainbridge Island for more info.

Frye Art Museum

Admire art at a completely free museum.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (32)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 622-9250 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday, Closed Mondays & Tuesdays

You don’t have to pay to view some of the beautiful art in the city. The Frye Art Museum in the First Hill neighborhood is completely free to visit, and well worth it too. Here you can see the private art collection of the Frye family, a mixture of 19th-century paintings and sculptures.

In addition to the permanent collection, the Frye Art Museum also has rotating temporary exhibits of contemporary local and global artists that change every few months so there’s always something interesting to see.

Seattle Central Library

Check out an architectural beauty.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (33)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 386-4636 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Friday – Monday, 10 am – 8 pm Tuesday-Thursday

Seattle’s downtown public library is a notable building. It’s 11 stories high and made up of glass and steel. The building is a starkly beautiful structure smack dab in the middle of Seattle’s city center. Whether you’re an architecture or book lover, you should pay a visit, and explore it. It’s one of the coolest libraries in the United States.

👉 Read Next: Check out my complete guide on how to do Seattle on a budget to find out even more ways to explore the Emerald City cheaply!

Cool and Unusual Attractions in Seattle

Georgetown

Explore Seattle’s gritty, cool, and eclectic neighborhood.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (34)

📍 Google Maps

Georgetown is by far one of the coolest neighborhoods in Seattle. Its gritty and edgy vibe makes it feel somewhat like Seattle’s neighbor to the south, Tacoma.

You’ll find restaurants, cafes, dispensaries, breweries, and bars throughout, but most of the action is along Airport Way S. Peruse the vintage shops or check out graphic novels at Fantagraphics. Grab sweet treats from Matcha Man Ice Cream and Tayaki or pop over to Deep Sea Sugar and Salt for the most delectable cakes and cupcakes.

Visit on a Saturday or Sunday to see the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. There, you’ll find a little market where vendors set up shop in transformed trailers. Poke around and you’re sure to find something you can’t leave without.

Ride a Seaplane

Book a ride on a seaplane.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (35)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (866) 435-9524 | Website | Hours: 6:30 am – 3 pm daily | Entrance: $119/person for a 30 minute flight | 👉 Book a Seaplane Tour

The Emerald City is known for its beauty and what better way to take it all in than from the air? Kenmore Air offers seaplane rides from Lake Union in Seattle where you’ll get to see several Seattle landmarks – the Space Needle, Elliott Bay, the University of Washington Campus, and more.

This is the perfect excursion for the person who adores the window seat. During the ride, you’ll have a narrated tour of what you’re seeing to help cement this unforgettable experience.

While their main flights are from Lake Union, you can also take off from their Kenmore hub along Lake Washington. And if you’re really in love with this idea, you can even book a San Juan Island tour or a volcano tour over Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens.

Connections Museum

Check out one of the most unusual museums in Seattle.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (36)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 767-3012 | Website | Hours: Only open Sundays 10 am – 3 pm | Entrance: free ($5 donation suggested)

Located in Georgetown, this little-known niche museum is perfect for those interested in technology, telecommunications, and how the two have evolved over the years. Note it is only open on Sundays!

The museum has multiple exhibits that are both interactive and informative and show the extent of the work that went into developing, maintaining, and operating the equipment.

Visitors will have a tour guide available to walk them through and explain exactly what they’re looking at so you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding of communication equipment from the past to the present.

Smith Tower

Savor co*cktails in Seattle’s first skyscraper.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (37)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 624-0414 | Website | Hours: 12 am – 8 pm Wednesday-Thursday, Sunday; 12 pm – 9 pm Friday-Saturday; Closed Monday and Tuesday

The Smith Tower was the city’s very first skyscraper and the tallest building until the Space Needle was built. Take a self-guided tour of this beautiful building in Pioneer Square and you’ll be transported back to the 1920s.

After the tour, go up to the Smith Tower Observatory Bar on the top floor. If an impeccable ambiance, delicious food, well-made co*cktails, and incredible views are what you’re searching for, you’ll find all of them here.

Seattle Pinball Museum

Play pinball at a non-traditional museum.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (38)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 623-0759 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 6 pm Thursday – Monday, Closed Tuesday & Wednesday | Entrance: $23 adults (age 15+), $20 kids (7-14); no children under 7 permitted

Not much of a traditional museum fan? Not to worry. The Seattle Pinball Museum is anything but traditional. Part museum and part arcade, visit here and you’ll pay an entrance fee and then be able to see the museum’s collection of pinball machines from as early as the 1930s and up to the present day.

The best part is you’re free to play them all as long and as much as you like (they even have snacks and drinks to keep you going). If you’re someone who really likes interactive museums, it doesn’t get much more interesting and interactive than the Pinball Museum.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Admire intricate glass sculptures.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (39)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 753-4940 | Website | Hours: Varies (see website) | Entrance: $35-39 adults, $26-29.50 youth (5-12), $30-33.50 seniors (65+), children 4 and under free

This may be considered one of the most popular tourist attractions, but the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibits are unique to Seattle and equipped with sculptures so stunning they’ll stop you in your tracks.

This museum is a bit on the pricey side, but if you want to see one of the most colorful and pretty places in Seattle, you won’t regret a visit here. Wander through the greenhouse, chat with knowledgeable staff, and even catch a live glassblowing demonstration at Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Bathtub Gin

Grab a drink in a secret bar.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (40)
57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (41)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 728-6069 | Website | Hours: 5 pm – 2 am daily

Seattle has always had a thing for speakeasies, so you’ll find quite a few around the city. Of these, one of the best is Bathtub Gin & Co. Tucked away in an unassuming alley in Belltown, you’ll have to knock on the door to be let in.

Once inside, take in the cozy multi-level bar and find a couch to lounge on, and decide on just the right co*cktail to try. The co*cktails on their menu are great, but I highly recommend telling the bartender what kind of liquor and flavor profile you like and letting them come up with a custom drink just for you.

What to Do on a Rainy Day in Seattle

McCaw Hall

Watch a moving opera performance.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (42)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 733-9725 | Website

If you want to catch a show in a beautiful venue, look no further than McCaw Hall. This is the center for the opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and other live performances in the city, located right near the Space Needle.

Go for a more casual Sunday morning viewing or dress up for an evening show. They have an on-site restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop. Check their website before you go to see what’s playing!

Museum Hopping

Explore Seattle’s museum scene.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (43)

A rainy day in Seattle means it’s time to go museum hopping. The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is one of the more popular ones. Here, you’ll learn about Seattle’s transformation into the hub it is today through several eye-opening exhibits. This one is a must for major history fans.

To learn more about Seattle’s communities, visit the Wing Luke Museum where you’ll learn about the history of the Asian American community in the city. The Northwest African American Museum will educate you on the history of the Black community in the Pacific Northwest. Here, you’ll find African art and contemporary pieces by local artists.

👉 Pro Tip: Select Seattle museums are free to visit on the first Thursday of the month! This includes the MOHAI, Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Flight, and more. Hours for free entry vary, so check the web before you go.

Board Game Cafes

Play board games over brews.

Seattle is home to several board game spots where you can shop for new games or rent some from the store’s collection and play them in-store.

Of these, Mox Boarding House is the largest and most well-known. They have a great selection of games, a varied and tasty food and drink menu, and host tournaments and other game nights for new and experienced gamers. Their location in Ballard is where you’ll want to go, though they also have one in the neighboring city of Bellevue.

Another option is Meeples Games in West Seattle. This board game cafe is smaller, but perfect for families with younger kids. It’s a bright and welcoming space with a good selection of food, drinks, and snacks where you’ll be among friendly and laid-back locals who also love to game.

The Triple Door

Enjoy burlesque performances, live music, and happy hour deals at a historic Vaudeville theater.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (44)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +1 206 838 4333 | Website | Hours: 4 pm – 9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4 pm – 10 pm Friday-Saturday

The Triple Door in downtown Seattle originally opened as a Vaudeville theater in 1926. It still retains some of the charm from that bygone era. Today, it’s a must-visit theater for anyone who loves performance art and intimate dinner shows.

The Triple Door has two stages. The Mainstage hosts larger shows and touring acts. The MQ (Musiquarium) Stage is a lounge with a laid-back atmosphere, local acts, and happy hour deals.

Snag tickets to one of the Triple Door’s big shows where you’ll sit in a cozy U-shaped booth and enjoy a Southeast Asian-inspired dinner during the show. Or visit the MQ stage for a casual evening of live music and delicious drinks.

Elliott Bay Bookstore

Find a great read from Seattle’s favorite bookstore.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (45)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 624-6600 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 10 pm daily

Elliott Bay Bookstore is a must-visit for book lovers. This large store in Capitol Hill is part bookstore, part reading and event space, and part cafe.

With a wide selection of books, notebooks, and other reading-related gifts, it’s a great place to spend a few hours. Make sure you plan accordingly — it’s very easy to get lost among the stacks of mysteries, memoirs, science fiction novels, and more.

Central Cinema

Do dinner and a movie in an indie theater.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (46)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 328-3230 | Website | Hours: Vary | Entrance: $12 general admission

If you’re looking for the best place to do dinner and a movie, then look no further than Central Cinema. This indie theater plays classic, nostalgic, and crowd-pleasing movies and serves beer, wine, dinner, and dessert right to your seat.

They also have other non-traditional movie events such as their Hecklevision screenings (talking and jokes welcome and encouraged during the show!), and themed sing-a-long nights. Located in the Central District, this gem of a spot is worth a visit for a cozy night indoors.

Theo Chocolate

Take a tour of a chocolate factory.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (47)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 632-5100 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily, Closed Mondays

There’s no cure for a gloomy day quite like a chocolate tasting tour. Theo Chocolate is a local brand that has a huge variety of organic and fair-trade chocolate and confections. Visit their flagship store to find a variety of exclusive bars and treats unavailable outside of the Seattle area.

They also offer reasonably priced tours of their factory where you can learn about their history, the chocolate-making process, and sample some of the goods as you go. If you’re someone with a sweet tooth, you’ll want to take a trip to their store up in Fremont.

Food and Drink in Seattle

Pike Place Market Food Tour

Taste your way through Seattle’s number one attraction.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (48)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 682-7453 | 👉 Book a Chef-Guided Food Tour

One of the best ways to get familiar with Pike Place Market is through its culinary scene! The historic district boasts tons of bakeries, cafes, restaurants, and food stands. Booking a chef-guided food tour is a great way to try a lot of them all at once.

You’ll get to skip the lines and taste generously portioned samples on this visitor and resident-friendly tour. Come hungry! Creamy, flavorful clam chowder, light and fluffy biscuits, chewy, salty cheese curds, and so much more await you.

Between snagging your samples and leading you through the maze-like market, your guide will also share stories of the market’s history. After the tour, they’ll suggest nearby attractions and let you in on other great places to eat in Seattle.

Asean Streat Food Hall

Pig out on Southeast Asian cuisine at a colorful indoor food court in Westlake Center.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (49)
57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (50)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +1 206 695 2510 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 9 pm daily

Asean Streat Food Hall is a relatively new spot in downtown Seattle. This indoor food court in Westlake Center is perfect for a quick, tasty, and generously portioned meal at a decent price.

Come here on a cold or rainy day to order a variety of Southeast Asian dishes for lunch or dinner. The food court is filled with twinkling lights, colorful baskets, and bright food stands. They all give the illusion that you’re somewhere much warmer than the Pacific Northwest.

Asean Streat Food Hall has sweet and savory options. Order a mussel pancake, shrimp fritters, Khao Soi, and Burmese lamb curry. Sweet treats include Korean “croffles”, honey toast, and mouthwatering dessert crepes.

Molly Moon’s Ice Cream

Eat delectable, locally-made ice cream.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (51)

📍 Google Maps (multiple locations) | Phone: (206) 294-4389 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 10 pm Sunday – Thursday, 12 pm – 11 pm Friday – Saturday

If you want ice cream in Seattle, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Molly Moon’s. This local, woman-owned Seattle institution has standout permanent flavors (their salted caramel is always a win!), and rotating seasonal flavors.

Ingredients are sourced locally, and the mouthwatering scent of their fresh, in-house baked waffle cones will greet you when you approach the shop (you can smell it from a block away!). There’s a reason you’ll find Seattleites lined up for Molly Moon’s even in the depth of winter — it’s really that good.

Chinatown International District

Take a food tour through the Chinatown International District.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (52)

📍 Google Maps

Go to the International District if you’re craving a sampling of some of the yummiest food in Seattle. There, you’ll find hole-in-the-walls, cafes, delis, restaurants, and more that make it possible for you to take yourself on a self-guided food tour.

Stop at are King’s Barbecue for delectable roasted duck and BBQ pork, Harbor City Restaurant for dim sum, Fuji Bakery for Japanese-French baked goods (try the beef curry balls and ube malasada), Hello Em for some Vietnamese Coffee with egg foam, and Saigon Deli for some of the most delicious and affordable banh mi in the city.

Seattle Breweries

Check out some of the best breweries in the area.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (53)

Seattle’s brewery scene is impressive and there are numerous places to grab a beer and have a good time in nearly every neighborhood. Whether you’re into hoppy IPAs, rich stouts and, or something in between, you’ll be happy with your selections.

If you want to go brewery hopping, Ballard is a good place to start. There you’ll find a bunch of independent Seattle breweries all within about a mile of each other. Check out Stroup, Reuben’s, and Lucky Envelope to get started, though you’ll quickly find that you really can’t go wrong with any choice.

Cafe Salem

Indulge in some delicious Ethiopian eats.

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (206) 328-0404 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 9 pm daily

There are a lot of Ethiopian restaurants to choose from in Seattle, all serving up some mouthwatering meals. Many of these are in the Central District and Capitol Hill, and I recommend starting with Cafe Salem for a tasty meal in a cozy location.

Order your injera with delicious spiced meats or vegetarian options, and don’t forget to order some Ethiopian coffee, too.

Dicks

Grab burgers and milkshakes at a no-frills Seattle landmark.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (54)

📍 Google Maps (multiple locations) | Phone: (206) 632-5125 | Website | Hours: 10:30 am – 2 am daily

Burgers, milkshakes, and fries are what you’ll get at Dicks. This popular local joint has cheap and quick eats, is open late, and is a Seattle classic (Sir Mix-a-Lot even rapped about it). Try it at least once after a night of drinking and dancing.

Zig Zag Cafe

Sip some of the best craft co*cktails in the city at this romantic and cozy spot in Pike Place Market.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (55)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: +1 206 625 1146 | Website | Hours: 5 pm – 12 am Tuesday-Saturday, Closed Mondays

Zig Zag Cafe is one of the best places in Seattle for complex and delicious craft co*cktails. It’s close to Pike Place Market but feels less touristy than the city’s main attraction.

You’ll find just as many locals as out-of-towners at Zig Zag Cafe. Dim lighting, ample seating, and friendly bartenders make this an appealing spot for many groups. It’s one of my favorite places to go with my husband when we want great drinks in a romantic, yet low-key setting.

Zig Zag Cafe is known for its drinks. You can’t go wrong with any, but I always say yes to its tequila-based co*cktails. I also suggest giving the food a try. The menu rotates but has included bites like kimchi deviled eggs and mushroom pappardelle.

Teriyaki

Dine on Seattle’s comfort food.

Bring an appetite for teriyaki to Seattle: you won’t be disappointed. Seattle is considered one of the places in the US to get the best of it.

Start with Toshio’s Teriyaki or Nikko Teriyaki, but don’t limit yourself. Whether you get it from a little hole-in-the-wall closest to where you’re staying or seek it out from further afield, you’ll find out that you really can’t go wrong with teriyaki in Seattle.

The Ave

Find cheap eats throughout the U-District.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (56)

📍 Google Maps

The Ave is the area along University Way NE between NE Pacific and NE Ravenna in the University District. This strip features shops, bars, and best of all, some of the yummiest, reasonably priced eats in the area.

Sample cuisine of all types from Thai to Chinese to Mediterranean and more. This is one spot foodies don’t want to miss out on, especially during the University District Arts Fair in May when the area comes alight with festivities.

Seafood

Taste some of the best seafood you’ll ever have.

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (57)

One of the things Seattle is most known for is its abundance of seafood. You can’t go wrong with Seattle’s favorite fish: salmon. Whether you get it smoked, grilled, or prepared another way, you’re guaranteed the good stuff.

Try some clam chowder (served in a bread bowl for a really decadent experience), and get your hands on some Dungeness crab at all costs.

A final Seattle and Pacific Northwest delicacy to try at least once? Geoduck. It may look weird, but that’s just even more reason to try it along with all the other gourmet food from the sea that Seattle is so good at preparing.

Pho

Warm up with a tasty bowl of pho.

One of the best meals to enjoy on a rainy day? Pho. Seattleites know this and it’s pretty obvious by the abundance of great pho places in the city. You can find a good dish in many different neighborhoods, but two of the best places to get started are Pho Bac Sup Shop and Mekong Village.

FAQs About What to Do in Seattle

What are some of the best things to do in Seattle, Washington?

Some of the most popular sites in Seattle include Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Alki Beach, and Discovery Park.

What are some free things to do in Seattle?

Free Seattle experiences include Fremont Troll, experiencing the Frye Art Museum, exploring Seattle Central Library, and admiring views from Kerry Park.

What are some fun things to do in Seattle on a rainy day?

On a rainy day in Seattle, you could go museum hopping, visit board game cafes, explore Elliott Bay Bookstore, or tour the Theo Chocolate factory.

***

Thanks for reading my guide on the best things to do in Seattle!

For more local insights, read about my tips for visiting Seattle next.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?

57 Best Things to Do in Seattle (A Local’s List) (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kimberely Baumbach CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 6226

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kimberely Baumbach CPA

Birthday: 1996-01-14

Address: 8381 Boyce Course, Imeldachester, ND 74681

Phone: +3571286597580

Job: Product Banking Analyst

Hobby: Cosplaying, Inline skating, Amateur radio, Baton twirling, Mountaineering, Flying, Archery

Introduction: My name is Kimberely Baumbach CPA, I am a gorgeous, bright, charming, encouraging, zealous, lively, good person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.