Before a recent trip to the Emerald City, I spent hours, days, and weeks, researching where to go and what to eat. Honestly, I commit to this obsessive practice before all of my trips, but as Seattle has ALWAYS been on my bucket list, I was especially motivated.
Now that I have had the pleasure of experiencing the city first-hand, I feel it is my duty to share my own experiences and must-sees. The city has a TON to offer travelers with all sorts of interests, so hopefully these might help some of you narrow down your own searches.
1. Pike Place Market
Before visiting the city I thought it sort of strange to see a market at the top of so many lists, but after exploring this incredible mecca of food, shops, and interesting people, I can now say I totally get it. This was the first place I explored upon arrival, and I found myself blissfully lost among the crowded corridors. A lot of the shops are filled with locally-made goods and the food and beverage options are absolutely endless. You can try many of the delicious offerings before you buy them, and even witness large fish being tossed into the air as you pass the seafood merchants. For more on the market, check out our full Pike Place overview.
2. The Space Needle
The Seattle skyline would not be complete without the famous Space Needle, standing 605 feet tall and boasting spectacular views of the entire city. This iconic tower offers two completely different views; one during the day and one at night. I HIGHLY suggest you purchase the Seattle CityPASS, which gives you two opportunities to make the climb. This also includes tickets to many of the other attractions on this list, for a fraction of the cost if purchased separately. For more information on the Space Needle and its huge renovation, click here.
3. Chihuly Garden & Glass
I must admit that prior to my trip, I wasn’t overly interested in Chihuly, but the pictures really don’t do this place justice. The museum is relatively small, but the glass structures are mesmerizing, ranging from small figurines to massive pieces that will make you want to stare at them for hours. The outdoor garden is equally impressive, and even boasts a close-up view of the Space Needle next door. Click here for more pictures from the exhibit.
4. Museum of Pop Culture
MoPop (as the locals refer to it) has a little something for everyone. The exhibits pay tribute to everything from science fiction to fantasy, as well as a whole section of music memorabilia. The museum of Pop Culture is a really cool place for people of all ages and interests and is even made to look like a smashed guitar from above. (which can be seen from the top of the Space Needle)
5. Harbor Tour
I am so glad I did not judge this attraction by the reviews online, because the harbor tour was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I can’t speak to the other companies that offer tours, but Argosy was the company included in our CityPASS and they did not disappoint. Everyone from the bartenders, to the tour guide were incredibly nice and enthusiastic. We were taken around the harbor as the guide pointed out several points of interest and gave us numerous interesting facts. The views are incredible and the overall experience is quite relaxing, so I would definitely recommend checking it out!
6. Seattle Great Wheel
You can’t miss the Great Wheel as you explore the streets near Pike Place market. The Ferris wheel itself is pretty standard, but the view from the top allows you to see an incredible view of the city, harbor, and the Space Needle. If money is no object, you can even opt for one of the VIP pods that feature comfier seats, built-in Bluetooth, and a glass bottom for even cooler views. (side note: if you are afraid of heights, I would not suggest the VIP pod)
7. Gum Wall
This has got to be the grossest attraction on Earth, and is by far the most germ-infested site, second only to the Blarney Stone in Ireland. With that being said, The gum wall is a beloved staple in downtown Seattle, and travelers from all over the world have contributed their own chewed-up pieces of gum to the wall. Despite the strong smell of spit and various types of gum, this colorful public display is definitely worth seeing, and similar to the lock bridge in Paris, is a fun way to leave your mark on the city.
8. Fremont Troll
Located under the Aurora Bridge in the Fremont area, this 18-foot montrocity is truly a site to see. It was erected on Halloween of 1990 and was intended to be a more positive use of the space, which was once a dumping area and hotspot for drug dealers. The troll truly embodies the fun and quirky spirit of Fremont so make sure you stop by and maybe even climb up to the top of his head for a great picture.
9. Gas works Park
After visiting the troll, I recommend you make your way over to Gas Works Park, which is also located in Fremont. Originally a coal gasification plant, the structure was converted into public art after being purchased by the city in 1956. Not only does this park have an AMAZING view of the Seattle skyline, it is also a wonderful spot to have a romantic picnic or fly kites. Follow the spiral path to the top of the hill for the best views.
10. Mount Ranier National Park
If you’re visiting Seattle and find yourself with a day to spare, I highly recommend you make the 54-mile trek to Mount Ranier National Park. You can either pre-plan a tour or explore on your own, but I would definitely suggest having a guide. The park is humongous and full of awe-inspiring views of the mountains, lakes, and wildlife. I opted for the full-day tour from a reputable company and I am so glad I did, as I would have never known where to look for all the amazing things we got to see. Read about my Full Day at Mount Ranier National Park for more info and some inspiring pictures of what you can expect to see there.