Top Attractions in Seattle
Collected by Amanda Castleman, AFAR Local Expert
From lush Northwestern panoramas to bustling night markets and a pop culture museum shaped like Jimi Hendrix's smashed guitar, The Emerald City offers some of the country's best attractions. Here's what to see.
400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
This "U.F.O. saucer on a stick" is an atomic age baby, dating back to the 1962 World's Fair. If you're lucky enough to catch the city's iconic symbol on a sunny day, take the 41-second elevator ride to the observation deck and behold the sweeping...
85 Pike St #500, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Walk, cycle or people-watch along the shores of Elliott Bay, a downtown stretch known for its circusy flair and spectacular vistas. You can ride the Great Wheel or visit the beloved Seattle Aquarium, home to wolf eels, sea otters, and the world's...
1300 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Guarded by the Hammering Man sculpture outside, this superb museum collection romps from native tribal art to African masks to carvings from Oceania. Highlights include the 16th-century wood-paneled Italian Room and The Studio, a portrait of...
325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
This sheet-metal fever dream by architect Frank Gehry is like a rock-and-roll Guggenheim, home to interactive exhibits that span music, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, video games, and other scrambled bits of modern life. A hands-on studio lets kids...
860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Better known as MOHAI, this collection dives deep into local history, from the region's maritime history to its tradition of technological innovation. Highlights include Boeing's first commercial plane, the 1856 Petticoat Flag sewn by women during...
4272 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Once a separate city, this eclectic northern neighborhood joined Seattle in 1891 and helps to keep it weird. The "Artistic Republic of Fremont" has declared itself the Center of the Universe, and asks visitors to set their watches back five...
3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199, USA
Seattle's largest public park sits on a sea bluff that's high enough to pierce the city's infamous fog, revealing gorgeous views of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. Wander its 11 miles (18 km) of paths through forest groves, meadows...
801 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
Zip between downtown's Pier 50 and West Seattle—or over to Vashon Island—on these adorable catamarans. The routes crisscross Elliott Bay and reveal views of the city skyline, Space Needle, and the Olympic Mountains that can't be seen...
216 Union St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
This elegant dinner theater occupies the historic Mann Building, once a vaudeville house and later a den for smutty movies. Today its original gilding and stage proscenium shine again, and the venue hosts everything from Neil Young tribute bands...
6861 NE South St, Suquamish, WA 98392, USA
Just across Puget Sound—via the half-hour Edmonds–Kingston ferry—stands this exceptional tribute to the area's first people. American Indian tribes have inhabited the Northwest for 10,000 years, shifting from cedar-plank houses...
600 5th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
One of the country's largest Asian markets, this massive complex has anchored the International District since 1928—and contains a Japanese bookstore, a 12-station food court, and a Taiwanese hot-pot hot spot: The Boiling Point. Its shelves...
1900 W Nickerson St, Seattle, WA 98119, USA
A tiny former ferry—the m/v Fremont Avenue—takes 50-minute spins around Lake Union, a glacial-gouged body of fresh water the size of Monaco. A cruise reveals gorgeous views of the Space Needle and Seattle's skyline, as well as the...
950 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Taxi across Lake Union in an amphibious aircraft, then soar through the air and over the city. "Flightseeing" is the best way to take in the surrounding woods, waterways, and glittering skyscrapers—all cradled by two snowcapped mountain...
San Juan Islands, Washington 98286, USA
An archipelago of more than 450 rocks, pinnacles, and islands peppers northern Puget Sound. This National Monument shelters a uniquely tranquil landscape, where mist smudges the lines between water, forest, and distant peaks. The main...
2300 S Massachusetts St, Seattle, WA 98144, USA
This historic cultural center grew from fierce roots. Activists occupied the 1909-vintage Colman School for eight years before Seattle finally greenlit the museum in 1993: The occupation was possibly the United States' longest act of civil...
2100 Westlake Avenue North, 1, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
If you want to immerse yourself in Seattle's vibrant spirit and natural beauty, nothing beats renting a boat on Lake Union, the 580-acre aquatic playground just northeast of the Space Needle and downtown core. Rent a kayak or a stand-up...
1424 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
This famous Vashon Island creamery maintains a toehold on the mainland in the Chophouse Row Building on Capitol Hill. It sells cheese, including the gooey bloomy-rinded Dinah's treasured by top Northwest chefs. But all products pale beside the...
9817 55th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118, USA
Pacific Northwest plants and Asian aesthetics merge in this stunning 20-acre landscape, secreted away in the South Seattle neighborhood of Rainier Beach. Japanese immigrant Fujitaro Kubota started the garden on a brush-choked, logged-off swamp,...
240 2nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104, USA
This indoor putt-putt course elevates plain old mini-golf with three huge innovations: the easy availability of both 40 local craft beers and slow-braised tacos from Manu's, and...dogs. That's right: Pooches can play through, especially at...
1741 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134, USA
Outfitter to the Great Klondike Gold Rush, this Seattle-based company supplied stampeders with boots, sleeping bags, Mackinaw wool blankets, and rugged attire made from water-repellent Tin Cloth. "Our materials are the very best obtainable, for we...
2960 4th Ave S #115, Seattle, WA 98134, USA
Seattle's big, beautiful backyard includes some iconic sights, like Mount Rainier's steep, shining snow cone, the blasted slopes of Mount St. Helens, and the green, teeming rain forests of the Olympic Peninsula fringing the Pacific Ocean. All...
94 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Burlesque thrives in the Emerald City: Seattle is home to at least 50 troupes and an academy teaching the art of the tease. Right in the heart of Pike Place Market, six classically trained dancers wow crowds full of couples and bachelorette...
Burke-Gilman Trail, Washington, USA
Nineteen miles of paved path start at Golden Gardens in Ballard. Get a close look at the park's resident beavers—which dam the ponds on its north end—then head east along the saltwater shoreline, keeping an eye out for seals, sea...
2127 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
Three futuristic glass domes stand in South Lake Union: the crown jewels of the e-tail giant's $4 billion urban campus. Come 2018, the company plans to pack two domes with trees, and the tallest will shelter a river and waterfalls hovering over...
305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Great literature takes to the stage at the Seattle Center! Founded in 1987, the troupe first performed short stories, then classic novels, ranging from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy to Dracula by Bram Stoker and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues...
Ebey's Landing Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239, USA
Two hours northwest of Seattle, this National Historical Reserve celebrates the early pioneers who came to Whidbey Island for its rich soil and promising seaport. The reserve also shelters one of the area's most stunning all-season hikes: 5.6...
4425 Shilshole Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
Pub crawl the hip Ballard and Fremont microbreweries on this 16-passenger bike. Don't worry about being tipsy in traffic: Guests only provide pedal power. A sober, highly skilled guide pilots the unwieldy contraption and gives a brief rundown of...
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