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Seattle has lots of fun things to do and places to see for visitors and tourists. In fact, tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Seattle. People come from all over to explore the vast beauty of the region and experience the world-renown culture that makes Seattle special. Search for events and activities in the Seattle area or browse through some of our favorite spots below!
Here are a few of the top favorite activities and places to go that we recommend:
The Space Needle
The number one most recognizable landmark in Seattle. Built with the Seattle Center as part of the World’s Fair in 1961, this is a great place to get a bird’s-eye view of all the downtown and close-in areas of the city. Take the Monorail from downtown Westlake Center and you’ll be whisked to the Needle in a matter of minutes.
Pike Place Market
The flavor of Seattle is in full display at the Market and throngs of visitors and locals pass through everyday. The sights, smells, and sounds of a functioning daily market tantalize your senses. Watch fish mongers throw salmon to a nervous customer, listen to the buskers sing, dance, juggle and play music for, sip a latte from the original Starbucks, and shop leisurely for a unique Seattle souvenir among the hundreds of craftsman’s booths. You haven’t truly experienced Seattle till you’ve been to the Market. Intimidated to tour alone? Try Angela’s “Savor Seattle Food Tour” a small-group 2-hour walking tour of the food and culture of Pike Place Market.
Ride the Ducks
Instead of a typical bus tour insulated away from the action, try the fun and wacky amphibious open-air tours on a Duck. You’ll see downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, historic Pioneer Square, and Fremont up close and personal. Then your ship will waddle right into Lake Union for a spectacular view of the city skyline and a ducks-eye view of luxurious yachts and houseboats. It’s a party bus and a pleasure cruise all in one!
The oldest part of Seattle, Pioneer Square is just south of the heart of downtown and a short walk from Pike Place Market. There are a number of brick buildings in Pioneer Square that date back to the 1890’s. A huge fire in 1889 destroyed most of the original downtown area but the city took advantage of the fire to raise up the streets in Pioneer Square, solving a long standing drainage problem. Take the Underground Tour to see how things looked before then. There are also above ground audio tours available and self-guided walking tours described online if you prefer to explore on your own.
Argosy Boat Cruises
Seattle from the water is breathtaking. Being surrounded by both fresh and salt water, we have some of the best water vistas and topside is a great way to view the city. Argosy is the main company offering water tours and cruises. There are some smaller operators, but Argosy seems to have the most consistent and widest variety of cruise choices. You can choose between dinner and daytime cruises on Elliott Bay, Lake Union, and Lake Washington (from Kirkland) or tour through the Locks or the Harbor.
The waterfront is the most touristy (think souvenir shops and cotton candy) but still fun area of Seattle. The Seattle Waterfront stretches along the entire downtown area fronting Elliott Bay. Walk the piers or catch one of the ferryboats leaving here for Bainbridge Island, Victoria, and the San Juans. The Seattle Aquarium and the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center are also worth a visit. The new Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park and shoreline trail on the northernmost end of the waterfront is a filled with fun sculptures and amazing vistas over the bay – a definite “must see”.
Officially called The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, The Ballard Locks serve as the gateway for boats entering and exiting the Ship Canal running between the saltwater of the Puget Sound and the fresh waters of Lake Union and Lake Washington. Enjoy watching the parade of fishing boats, pleasure craft, commercial tugs, and everything in-between as they make their way to and from the waterways around Seattle. Be sure to cross over to the west side of the locks to admire the salmon working their way up the fish ladder or “fish locks” as the kids like to call it. A stroll through their botanical gardens is also pleasant, especially during the free summer weekend concerts.
The Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge is a favorite photo shoot place for tourists. Fremont is known for its laissez-faire approach to life, and locals often refer to Fremont as the “Center of the Universe”. While you are there, catch a bite to eat, do a little window shopping and check out the Statue of Lenin, too.
Woodland Park Zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo takes up about half of Woodland Park located on the north end of Fremont and connected to Green Lake Park on the east and the Phinney Ridge neighborhood on the north and west. Enjoy a walk past a wide variety of animal and plant life in the beautiful exhibits or sit and take break while the kids play inside the new “Zoomazium” (zoo + gymnasium) or ride the refurbished historic carousel.
Wild Waves Theme Park
South of Seattle about 30 miles down I-5 is a great outdoor water theme park called Wild Waves. Obviously only open seasonally but Seattlites like to stay cool on those occasional hot summer days and the water slides are a blast!
Boeing Museum of Flight
Seattle and the Boeing Company have an intertwined history. Seattle grew up being the commercial aeronautics capitol of the world. Walk through our aeronautic history at the Museum of Flight. Explore the first Air Force One, the only supersonic Concorde jet on the west coast, the mach 3 Blackbird spy plane, and much more. Even if you don’t think your are “in” to airplanes you will find this museum enjoyable: the exhibits well laid out, the history is really quite fascinating and the museum cafe serves delicious lunches.