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Must Do in Seattle: Top 10 Things to Explore on Your Next Visit

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Where to begin? The rain, the coffee, the views… Sleepless in Seattle! Hello 1993! There are so many unique things to do in Seattle, with a blend of nature and urban Seattle attractions, as well as some epic day trips. Seattle has the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, so be sure to get on the water or hike through the Pacific Northwest to truly experience all there is to offer.

1. Get a close up with the Fremont Troll

The Fremont district is filled with cute houseboats and neighborhood shops but start with a photo op at this quirky art installation. The grumpy beast lives below a bridge, hidden under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge.

If this is your first visit to Seattle, make sure you wander through this iconic waterfront market. If you get there early, you can see the famous fish mongers actually throwing the catch of the day when they open! Grab a breakfast pastry at Piroshky Piroshky (a small Russian bakery) or a savory bao from the Mee Sum stall. There are more than 120 local stalls with fresh produce, seafood, flowers, cheeses, etc.

3. Spot the Space Needle

Is it touristy? Yes! Is it still a great view? Absolutely! This integral part of the Seattle skyline offers views of Mount Rainier on a clear day from the observation deck. Originally constructed in 1962 as part of the World’s Fair, the recent renovations have only added to the oomph. Tickets can be purchased in advance. If you plan to do a few other popular attractions, you might consider getting the CityPASS. It saves you $91 for adults and $52 for kids on 5 of the most popular attractions.

4. Be blown away at Chihuly Gardens & Glass

If you haven’t seen Dale Chihuly’s work, you are in for a real treat. These permanent exhibits offer many “wow” moments with blown glass art. World famous and Washington-born, Chihuly’s colorful art is must-see.

5. Get a Caffeine Boost

Seattle is known for its local coffee scene, so be sure to explore a few. It’s also home to the original Starbucks. If you are a fan of this mega chain, head to their Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, an immersive experience with copper roasting basins and an expanded menu. If you are looking for something more local, head to Caffé Vita or Milstead & Co.

6. Chase some Waterfalls

Take a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls, the largest and most popular nearby waterfall with 268-foot cascades. There are paved paths just steps from the parking lot, making this spot easily accessible for all. In the winter, the falls can freeze and create some beautiful icicles. There is a candy shoppe on site to sugar up after your hike!

7. Din Tai Fung

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love Asian food. Having spent several years in China, I am always seeking a local spot. Din Tai Fung, the Taiwanese renowned restaurant, offers their soup dumplings and savory noodles in Pacific Place or University Village. Be sure to order their pork xiao long bao (小笼包), noodles with sesame sauce (担担面) and string beans with garlic (干煸四季豆). They offer reservations, but regardless… it’s worth the wait!

8. Go Brewery Hopping

Seattle has an abundance of craft beers, so you won’t have to search long for a local pint. Fremont Brewing has a huge selection, with a nice outdoor area, cozy fireplace and free pretzels. If you are looking for proximity to the water, check out Old Stove Brewery by Pike Place.

9. Get on the Water!

There are many ways to explore Puget Sound: take a ferry to Bainbridge Island or get on a sunset harbor cruise with Tall Ship. If you want to see the “Sleepless in Seattle” beach where Tom Hanks flies a kite with his son, check out Alki Beach. Alki Beach is a great spot to enjoy the downtown skyline views, play beach volleyball or relax in a tidepool. You can take the West Seattle Water Taxi from the downtown Ferry Terminal.

10. Hike through Mount Rainier National Park

The proximity of the national park to Seattle makes it an easy day trip. Hike through the park to sparkling alpine lakes, wander through the old-growth forests and enjoy the natural wonders on the mountain. The drive takes about 2 hours. If you don’t have a car, I’d suggest hopping on a small group tour.

BONUS: Stay on a Houseboat!

Seattle has a unique culture on Puget Sound with many locals living on the water. You too can stay on a houseboat while visiting the city. We found one that easily slept 5 adults and was such a unique way to experience Seattle!

Seattle has many different attractions that make it fun, even for an adult, to visit! These 10 spots are what make Seattle unique, even though a few are the obligatory tourist attractions. Head up to the Pacific Northwest and explore!

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