Around Seattle with CityPASS


The sun was out. The sky was blue. The air temperature hovered at about 71° F. It was the quintessential summer day in Seattle and the city was simply begging to be explored. Fortunately, my cousin, Andrea, and I started the day with two CityPASS booklets in hand.


Starting out the day right. For only $64, CityPASS gives you access to five different Seattle attractions – a $119 value! Photo by Kristin Kruger.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or super familiar with a city, CityPASS is a great way to get around and explore. We met at (where else?) Starbucks to caffeinate and plan out our day. Here’s what we had to choose from:

It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the end Andrea had her heart set on the aquarium. We set out for the Seattle waterfront.


The Seattle Aquarium’s Life on the Edge exhibit is a hit with youngsters where they get to touch to discover. Photo by Kristin Kruger.

As we entered the aquarium, a scuba diver spoke to his audience and answered questions from inside the 120,000-gallon Window on Washington Waters exhibit. We continued on and stood captivated as an octopus fed, puffins dove and sea otters played. There were starfish to touch, cuttlefish to smile at, and marine trivia to learn in the underwater dome. Did you know that halibut are actually born swimming vertically? It’s not until they reach adulthood that they start swimming on their side and one of their eyes actually migrates from one side of their head to the other so that both eyes are on “top” of their head. Mind. Blown.

After a morning spent underwater, we felt the time was right to go on a boat cruise. As we left the aquarium, we encountered the Seattle Waterfront Arts Market, which gave us plenty to browse as we made our way past the Seattle Great Wheel to Argosy Cruises. We reserved our boarding tickets and grabbed a quick bite (fresh oysters and cocktails) at Cafe 56 next door while we waited.


The Argosy Cruise Harbor Tour also gave us a unique, close-up look at Seattle’s international ports, with a gorgeous skyline view in the background. Photo by Kristin Kruger.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day to go on the Harbor Cruise. As soon as we boarded, we headed up two flights of stairs to the rooftop deck. With the sun shining down on us, we circled the harbor, northward along the waterfront passing under the spinning Seattle Great Wheel and waving at the cruisers aboard the Norwegian Jewel docked at pier 66 – a much larger vessel than ours. As we cruised by the Olympic Sculpture Park we got a glimpse of Echo, the park’s most recent art installation, before the ship swung to portside for sweeping views of Elliott Bay Marina, a sailboat regatta, and the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountain range beyond.

As we disembarked the ship, we found ourselves sun-soaked and relaxed, lulled into a drowsy state by the rocking of the waves. We had enough time in our day, however, to fit in one more attraction. So we called up an Uber car and caught a ride to Pacific Science Center.


The animatronic dinosaurs at the Pacific Science center definitely succeeded in appealing to our inner children. Photo by Andrea Mabanta.

We were immediately engaged by the crazy parabolic mirrors in the lobby and the interactive exhibits continued all the way through the museum. At first, I wished we had a couple kids in tow to watch them learn, discover, and truly appreciate all that the museum had to offer. As we went along, however, I noticed that the exhibits had started to bring out our inner kids. We were touching and playing and learning as much as if we were middle schoolers on a field trip. The highlight? The Butterfly Pavilion, hands down, where we watched a black-winged beauty emerge from her cocoon in real-time.

By then, it had been a full day of exploring with CityPASS and we still had two tickets left to redeem! The thought crossed our minds to rush up the Space Needle to catch the sunset, but ultimately, we decided to save our last remaining tickets to stretch our adventures to another day. Instead, we wandered through Seattle Center and ended the day in true Seattle style: cozying up to the bar at Taylor Shellfish for more fresh oysters and a couple glasses of wine.

CityPASS tours encompass some of the hottest attractions around the city in one easy tour book, making urban exploration easy on your brain, time and wallet. I’ve compiled a few tips for those planning to tour Seattle with CityPASS:

  • Take your time! Your CityPASS booklets are valid for 9 days after your first use so you can spread the coupons over several days if you need to. If you rush through all attractions in one day, you’ll miss out on a lot!
  • Check for upgrades! A lot of the attractions have upgrade options for CityPASS holders with discounts on premium tours. Take them into consideration when you plan your visit.


    Did you know otters hold hands when they sleep so they won’t float away from each other? Oh, the things you learn at the Seattle Aquarium! Photo by Kristin Kruger.

  • Ask questions at the aquarium! There are usually awesome volunteers and aquarium staff stationed near each of the exhibits and they really are a wealth of information – and very eager to share!
  • Take advantage of the Day/Night admission at the Space Needle (included in your CityPASS tour). It’s a great way to start and end your day and you’ll be amazed at how the light and cloudscape change the feel of the city skyline and mountain ranges. Besides, it’s less crowded before 11am or after 7pm.
  • Admission to the Pacific Science Center includes an IMAX movie! Make sure you check their website for current movies and showtimes and plan your visit accordingly.
  • EMP stands for Experience Music Project – but they showcase more than just music! Their sci-fi exhibits are out of this world too (pun intended).


    The life ring pose is mandatory before boarding any Argosy Cruise. Photo courtesy of Kristin Kruger.

  • For your Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, scope out a seat or railing on the starboard side (right, as you’re facing the front of the boat) for the best views.
  • The Woodland Park Zoo has a free mobile app to help you navigate and explore the zoo in a whole new way. Check out their themed mobile tours in the Maps section.
  • With its location between Sea-Tac International Airport and downtown Seattle, the Museum of Flight is a great place for visitors to squeeze in an extra attraction on your way to or from your flight.

About the Author

Kristin Gillespie

Kristin Gillespie is Director, Marketing at Visit Seattle. An avid traveler and Seattle transplant of more than 17 years, Kristin loves to explore the Northwest and is rarely found without a camera in hand—although these days it's typically pointing toward her adventurous little girl.

More Posts By Kristin Gillespie


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