The biggest attractions in Seattle are big for a reason: They’re a great way to get immersed in the city’s culture and a boatload of fun, too. Here are nine of the best attractions for tourists and locals, alike.
Pike Place Market
Open year-round, this is Seattle’s most iconic attraction — and it’s filled with tasty treats. There’s so much to love about Pike Place Market
. Aisles of gleaming fruits and vegetables, tables overflowing with fresh floral bouquets, and booth after booth selling all manner of locally made jewelry, clothing and gifts. It’s also a great place to enjoy many fantastic eateries serving prepared dishes. When you’re not sure what kind of food you’re in the mood to eat, just head to Pike Place Market and sample a little of everything. There’s also the whole fish- throwing thing, too.
Four museums, 11 theaters, five gardens, six fountains, more than a dozen restaurants, a skate park and an events arena. In short, this is Seattle’s entertainment hub, with plenty of fun for arts and culture lovers of all stripes. No wonder more than 10 million people visit Seattle Center
each year. Big-name attractions on site include EMP Museum
, Pacific Science Center
, Chihuly Garden and Glass
and, of course, the skyline-defining Space Needle
Seattle Art Museum
Located in downtown Seattle on the corner of First and Union, SAM
presents items from its collection as well as traveling exhibits. If you’re exploring the permanent collection, you’ll want to see the Native & Meso-American collection with works by the area’s original inhabitants. Other highlights include contemporary works by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol; European masterpieces of portraiture and sculpture; and Asian pieces dating back to the second century. The Seattle Asian Art Museum
, in Volunteer Park, features noteworthy collections of Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian art, and its Japanese art collection is among the most distinguished outside of Japan.
Woodinville Wine Country
Not everyone knows it, but wine country is just a stone’s throw from Seattle. Just 30 minutes outside the city, the Woodinville area is home to dozens of local wineries, cellars and tasting rooms. You’ll also discover one of the finest restaurants in the Northwest, The Herbfarm
. If you’re looking for a longer getaway, head to the Yakima Valley wine region (two to three hours away), where you can tour the actual vineyards where Washington’s best grapes are grown.
As the longtime home of major airline manufacturing companies, Seattle is no stranger to the miracle of flight. Little wonder then that one of the finest aviation museums in the nation is located here. More than 150 historic artifacts are on display, including the legendary SR-71 Blackbird (capable of speeds up to Mach 3 and altitudes above 85,000 feet), an original Concorde jetliner and the actual 707 jet used as Air Force One during the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s. Many of the exhibits are hands-on and perfect for kids, including flight simulators, a control tower and the Kid’s Flight Zone, where they can strap on flight gear and test their piloting skills.
A unique interpretive center dedicated to exploring the very limits of technology as they apply to the world of commercial aviation, this one-of-a-kind attraction is part of the Boeing manufacturing plant. The museum provides an active learning environment where visitors can test ideas, experience the magic of flight through simulator rides, learn about next-generation technology soon to be found on passenger planes and even touch the highly advanced composite skin of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
One of the best free attractions in Seattle, the park is open year-round and features sculptures from artists such as Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero and Louise Bourgeois. It’s located in a former industrial site, and the grounds make use of many native plants as well as eco-friendly features such as rainwater capture and a salmon habitat. A z-shaped path cuts through vast expanses and grassy meadows, connecting with beachside trails and bicycle paths.
A unique area located on Alaskan Way in downtown Seattle, the Waterfront is an active area pretty much year-round. With dozens of paths, piers and public spaces, it’s always a great place to relax and enjoy a little people watching as you absorb the local scene. The Waterfront’s newest attraction, The Great Wheel, offers a view of the city and surrounding area from a whole new vantage point, sitting 175 feet above Pier 57 and extending nearly 40 feet over Elliott Bay. The Seattle Aquarium
is at Pier 59, and Piers 55 and 56 offer embarkation points for cruises to Tillicum Village on Blake Island, where visitors can experience Native American culture. The popular Water Taxi to West Seattle leaves from Pier 50, Washington State Ferries
from Pier 52, and Metro's route 99 connects Elliott Bay's waterfront attractions such as the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Aquarium and ferry services with the International District, Pioneer Square and First Avenue destinations including the Seattle Art Museum and Pike Place Market.
If you’re in the area and looking for shopping and dining, you’re in luck as well. Check out the antique stores or Simply Seattle
for gifts and souvenirs and grab a table at one of the well-known seafood joints for a Seattle-style dinner.
Woodland Park Zoo
There’s only one place in Seattle where you’ll get a chance to set eyes on a chuckwalla, a wallaroo and a kookaburra. Or maybe you’re looking for a sloth bear, a green acouchi or a prehensile-tailed porcupine. No matter what kind of creature you’re crazy to see, the Woodland Park Zoo
is the place to go when you want a glimpse of exotic wildlife. It also features award-winning exhibits such as the Northern Trails, which focuses on animals of the Northwest, Western Canada and Alaska, and the Trail of Vines, a stellar primate showcase.