What to do in Seattle, Washington

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On a clear and sunny day, it’s easy to walk through the Emerald City to appreciate the outdoor venues, sidewalk cafes and enrichment activities. Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit Seattle, Washington.

The annual precipitation averages 39.25 inches a year. November is the wettest month, and July is the driest with less than one inch. The best months to visit are April through August.

Staying two nights at the Embassy Suites Seattle in the Pioneer Square district, the vibrant historic neighborhood is next to Lumen Stadium, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders is the best bet for travelers.

It’s also near the Union Station for easy access around the city. After fortifying myself with the complimentary hot and cold breakfast the hotel offers to guests, I hit the streets to discover the Best of Seattle.

Here are 10 Sights and Sips You Don’t Want to Miss

Rise to the top in Seattle outside on the Space Needle. Photo by Kate Weinlein
Rise to the top in Seattle outside on the Space Needle. Photo by Kate Weinlein

1. Pioneer Square

Since the early 1960s, Pioneer Square has been the center of Seattle’s art scene. The one square mile provides a haven for Seattle’s artistic community, housing esteemed galleries, innovative exhibition spaces, and working artist studios.

Outdoor art is everywhere you look. Be sure to visit the elaborate Iron Pergola that was erected in 1909, as a covered waiting stop for the Yesler and James Street Cable Car Company.

This elaborate Victorian-style pergola with ornamental iron columns was designed by Seattle architect Julian Everett.

Nearby the towering Tlingit Indian Totem Pole, made in Alaska, stands as a symbol of the complicated relationship between American Indians and European Americans.

Be sure to take a ride to the top of the Space Needle.
Be sure to take a ride to the top of the Space Needle. Photo by Jill Weinlein

2. Seattle Center

One of the best ways to see many of Seattle’s popular attractions is by purchasing a Seattle CityPASS – https://www.citypass.com/seattle. It gives you access to five touristy venues in the city for a discounted price.

Once you obtain your City PASS, head over to Seattle Center where three destinations are located. Be sure to make a reservation to visit the iconic Space Needle.

Guests ride an elevator up to the top of the tower’s futuristic flying saucer design. Visitors can walk outside to take in the full 360 degrees of panoramic views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier in the distance, Puget Sound, and the snow-capped Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges.

Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands at 605’ tall and is one of the most photographed structures in the world.

Step onto the upgraded Skyrisers that are tilting out glass walls that provide visitors the illusion of floating in the open air. There are also open-air glass benches and a glass floor to take in all the scenery. 

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a one of a kind exhibit in Seattle.
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a one of a kind exhibit in Seattle. Photo by Jill Weinlein

3. Chihuly Glass and Gardens

Also at Seattle Center, use your Seattle CityPASS at the nearby Chihuly Glass and Gardens to learn about artist Dale Chihuly and his beautiful free-blown, fine art glass sculptures.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour through various galleries, and step outside to enjoy the natural and glass gardens.

A small theatre inside shows various films about Chihuly’s use of colors and inventiveness of grand scale pieces of glass art displayed in iconic cities around the world.

Be sure to see the visually stunning Float Boats for their stunning shapes and colors, and the sea life room to admire the most beautiful underwater glass garden. His striking Mille Fiori “a thousand flowers” glass piece was inspired by the variety of flowers in his mother’s garden.

Near Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle is the interactive MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Near Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle is the interactive MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture. Photo by Jill Weinlein

4. MoPOP museum

One of the most engaging educational venues to visit at Seattle Center is the MoPOP museum. The unique and colorful exterior was designed by famous architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2000, thanks to founder and funder Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

It opened as EMP Museum featuring exhibits that celebrated music and cultural innovations. Now it has been renamed MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) and is dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture.

With its roots in rock ‘n’ roll, Jimi Hendrix and grunge was born in Seattle, MoPOP appeals to multigenerational audiences through its engaging collections, interactive exhibitions, and educational programs.

Inside the museum at Culture Kitchen visitors can choose from a variety of seasonal salads, grain bowls, hand-tossed pizzas and grilled items.

5. Seattle Aquarium

Down by the waterfront, use your Seattle City Pass to explore the Seattle Aquarium and take an Argosy Cruises Harbor tour.

The entertaining one-hour narrated tour offers a different perspective of Seattle’s waterfront, skyline, and historic landmarks than just walking along the streets. 

The Seattle Great Wheel offers panoramic views of Seattle. Photo Jill Weinlein
The Seattle Great Wheel offers panoramic views of Seattle. Photo Jill Weinlein

6. Seattle Great Wheel

Nearby is the Seattle Great Wheel featuring 42 gondolas on the 175-foot tall Ferris wheel. When it was installed at Pier 57 years ago, it was touted as the tallest fully enclosed Ferris Wheel along the West Coast.

Each gondola spins for optimal views of Elliott Bay, Seattle city, islands and mountains in the distance. The ride is about 15 minutes and is not part of CityPASS. 

Pike Place is a favorite shopping and dining area for locals and tourists. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Pike Place is a favorite shopping and dining area for locals and tourists. Photo by Jill Weinlein

6. Pike Place Market

Watch fish mongers send freshly caught fish soaring in the air before they are wrapped and handed to a local shopper at the lively Pike Place Market.

Founded in 1907, the wide interior pathway is lined with vibrant colored produce stalls that arrange freshly picked apples, pears and cherries, next to creative craft stands and specialty food shops.

Be sure to visit the one-of-a-kind gum wall, where thousands of sticky marks decorate the brick wall in Post Alley. 

7. Conversation Kitchen & Bar

Seattle offers a variety of excellent dining opportunities. One of Seattle’s beloved chefs, Kaleena Bliss, recently won on the Food Network’s Chopped: Casino Royale.

Visit her kitchen at Conversation Kitchen & Bar inside the Thompson Hotel for a spectacular dinner focused on fresh local produce, farm-raised proteins, and the best ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.

One of the best Asian restaurants in the city is Wild Ginger above Pike Place. Inside the lively and spacious two-story restaurant offers an extensive Pacific Rim menu filled with Chinese and Southeast Asian fare.

View of Lumen Stadium for the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown Pioneer Square. Photo by Jill Weinlein
View of Lumen Stadium for the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle Downtown Pioneer Square. Photo by Jill Weinlein

8. NEKO Cat Cafe

Make a reservation at NEKO Cat Cafe to pet and play with adorable and adoptable cats and kittens while sipping tea, a glass of wine or sake.

Visitors enter an enclosed room to spend a 45-minute visit with the whimsical felines. There are two locations in Seattle. One is in the Capitol Hill area and the other in Bellingham.

Renew your passport online

9. Coffee cafes

Coffee cafes are on almost every block thanks to Starbucks opening its first coffee cafe in Pike Place in 1971. Other coffee cafes worthy of visiting include Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square.

It’s an airy cafe with an industrial-feel offering coffee and pastries, plus a nice display of local art on the walls. Another cafe to visit is Caffe Umbria for its European-style ambiance and cup of espresso or coffee to enjoy with pastries and paninis.

Those seeking tea will want to visit Rabbit Rabbit Tea for a choice of nine different teas from around the world. They make 50 different flavors of drinks including  Boba tea, Thai milk tea, Japanese buckwheat tea and tiramisu milk tea. Rabbit Rabbit Tea has more than 23 stores in Taiwan and now one cafe in Seattle.

University of Washington is one of the most beautiful campuses every season from Spring to Fall.
University of Washington is one of the most beautiful campuses every season from Spring to Fall. Photo by Jill Weinlein

10. University of Washington Seattle

Walk onto the University of Washington Seattle campus to see some of the most magnificent gothic architecture in the Emerald City.

One of the most photogenic spots on campus is The Quad, especially during springtime when the 30 Yoshino cherry trees are blooming in a variety of stunning pink colors, and petals float down like snowflakes, and Mount Rainier at a distance.

Visit the striking Denny Hall, built in 1895 to admire the oldest building at the university, and then on to the Harry Potter-style Suzzallo library with its 65-foot high vaulted ceiling, carved oak bookcases, exquisite stain glass windows and metal hanging light fixtures. 

Book This Trip

Ready to plan your fun-filled excursion to Seattle, Washington? Get prepared with knowledge of the best small shops, hotel and VRBO accommodations, local restaurant reviews, tips on how to get around and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.

Plan even more fun with unique Seattle activities, expert-led tours and skip-the-line tickets for major attractions through GetYourGuide. Find more information and book your dates in advance here.

Find exclusive flight discounts, car rental options and vacation packages through CheapOair.

To learn more about Seattle, go to www.visitseattle.org

Author’s Bio: Jill is a food and travel writer based in Los Angeles. She visited Seattle with her teenage daughter on a college scouting trip and will hopefully be coming back to Seattle often.

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