Nestled in the stunning Pacific Northwest region of the United States, Seattle, Washington, offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and innovative spirit. Known as the Emerald City, Seattle boasts a plethora of exciting activities for visitors to enjoy. From iconic landmarks and world-renowned museums to breathtaking views and culinary delights, there is something for everyone in this vibrant metropolis. In this blog, we will delve into the top 10 Seattle Washington things to do, ensuring an unforgettable experience for travelers of all interests.
1. Space Needle
A visit to the Space Needle is a must when exploring the city. This iconic landmark was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and stands at 605 feet tall. You can take a 43-second elevator ride to the observation level and enjoy panoramic views of Elliott Bay, the Cascade Mountains, and Mount Rainier. You can also dine at the rotating SkyCity Restaurant or experience the thrill of walking on glass floors at The Loupe.
The Space Needle was designed by architect John Graham and his team, who were inspired by a doodle-on-a-napkin concept by Edward E. Carlson, the chairman of the World’s Fair. The needle-shaped tower was constructed in less than a year and became an instant symbol of Seattle and the future. Today, it attracts over a million visitors every year and hosts various events and celebrations.
2. Chihuly Garden and Glass
If you are a fan of glass art, you will be amazed by the stunning creations of Dale Chihuly, a world-renowned glassblower who was born in Seattle. The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum showcases his most comprehensive collection of works, including colorful sculptures, chandeliers, and installations. The highlight is the glasshouse, where a vibrant 100-foot-long sculpture hangs from the ceiling.
Dale Chihuly is one of the most influential artists in the field of glass art. He studied at the University of Washington and later founded the Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle. He has created works for various museums, gardens, hotels, and public spaces around the world. His style is characterized by organic shapes, vivid colors, and innovative techniques.
3. Pike Place Market
One of the oldest and most famous farmers markets in the country, Pike Place Market is a bustling hub of vendors, shops, restaurants, and entertainment. You can browse through fresh produce, flowers, crafts, antiques, and specialty foods, or watch the famous fishmongers toss salmon at the fish market. You can also visit the original Starbucks store, sample some cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, or indulge in some pastries at Piroshky Piroshky.
Pike Place Market was established in 1907 as a place where farmers and consumers could meet directly and avoid middlemen. It soon became a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and expanded to include various businesses and attractions. The market is also home to the Gum Wall, a quirky landmark where visitors stick their chewed gum on a brick wall.
4. Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
For a dose of pop culture, head to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), where you can explore exhibits dedicated to music, science fiction, horror, video games, and more. The museum is housed in a striking building designed by Frank Gehry that resembles a smashed guitar from above. You can see memorabilia from Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, and other icons of popular culture.
The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 as a tribute to his passion for music and creativity. The museum aims to inspire and educate visitors about the power and diversity of pop culture through interactive displays, collections, and programs. The museum also hosts concerts, festivals, and events throughout the year.
5. Seattle Center Monorail
Another relic from the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Center Monorail connects Seattle Center to downtown’s Westlake Center along a one-mile route. The monorail is a fun and convenient way to get around the city and enjoy views of the skyscrapers and streets below. It can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour and takes only two minutes to complete the trip.
The Seattle Center Monorail was designed by Alweg Rapid Transit Systems as a demonstration project for urban transportation. It was one of the first full-scale monorail systems in the US and carried over eight million passengers during the World’s Fair. It is now operated by Seattle Monorail Services and carries over two million passengers annually.
6. Pacific Science Center
If you are looking for a family-friendly attraction that will spark your curiosity and imagination, check out the Pacific Science Center. This interactive museum features exhibits and activities that cover topics such as astronomy, biology, physics, engineering, and more. You can explore galaxies in the planetarium, see butterflies in the tropical butterfly house, play with a two-ton granite ball, learn about your genes and DNA, and much more.
The Pacific Science Center was also built for the 1962 World’s Fair as the US Science Pavilion. It was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center towers in New York. It was one of the first science museums in the US to emphasize hands-on learning and discovery. It also hosts IMAX theaters, laser shows, and science festivals.
7. Seattle Great Wheel
For another perspective of the city and its waterfront, hop on the Seattle Great Wheel. This giant Ferris wheel is located on Pier 57 and stands at 175 feet tall. It has 42 climate-controlled gondolas that can fit up to eight people each. You can enjoy views of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains as you spin around for about 15 minutes.
The Seattle Great Wheel was opened in 2012 as part of a redevelopment project for Pier 57. It is one of the largest Ferris wheels in North America and features LED lighting that creates colorful patterns at night. It is open year-round and offers special packages for holidays and occasions.
8. Ballard Locks
The Ballard Locks are a complex of locks that connect Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. They are also known as the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks after their engineer who designed them in 1917. The locks are used by boats of all sizes to pass between the saltwater and freshwater bodies, and they also have fish ladders that allow salmon to migrate upstream to spawn. You can watch the boats and fish go through the locks from observation decks or visit the botanical gardens nearby.
The Ballard Locks are one of the busiest lock systems in the US and handle over 40,000 vessels every year. They are also an important link for salmon populations that depend on both saltwater and freshwater habitats for their life cycle. The locks have a visitor center that provides information about their history and operation.
9. Underground Tour at Pioneer Square
If you want to learn about Seattle’s history and see a hidden side of the city, take an underground tour at Pioneer Square. This historic district was once the heart of Seattle, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1889 and rebuilt on top of its ruins. The underground tour takes you through subterranean passages that were once streets and storefronts, and tells you stories about Seattle’s past.
Pioneer Square was named after the first settlers who arrived in Seattle in 1852. It was a lively area with shops, hotels, saloons, theaters, and brothels. However, it was also plagued by flooding, sewage problems, rats, and crime. After the fire wiped out most of its buildings, the city decided to raise its street level by one or two stories and bury its old infrastructure underground.
10. Aviation Hot Spots
Seattle has a rich aviation heritage and is the home of Boeing, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies. If you are fascinated by flying, you will love visiting the places where you can see how planes are built and learn about the history and future of aviation. You can take a tour of the Boeing Factory in Everett, where you can witness the production and testing of various aircraft models, including the 747, 777, and 787 Dreamliner. You can also explore the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, where you can admire hundreds of planes on display, from a vintage biplane to a supersonic Concorde to a NASA Space Shuttle Trainer. You can also enjoy exhibits, simulators, restoration projects, and educational programs at this amazing museum.
Seattle, Washington, is a captivating city with an abundance of unique attractions and experiences. From iconic landmarks like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to artistic treasures at the Chihuly Garden and Glass and Seattle Art Museum, this city promises an unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re seeking natural beauty, cultural immersion, or culinary delights, Seattle offers something for everyone. So, pack your bags, embrace the Emerald City, and prepare for a journey filled with unforgettable memories.