Pike Place Market1501 Pike PlaceHours: Pike Place level: M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-5PM. Down Under level: 11AM-5PM dailyIn downtown, the market is Seattle's largest tourist area. It is home to the famous fish market, original Starbucks Coffee shop, and a large indoor and outdoor market. Many other attractions in downtown are within walking distance of Seattle's biggest tourist area making it the perfect place to start any sightseeing trip of the city. Space Needle400 Broad StHours: 8AM to Midnight-Open 365 days a yearPrice: Adults $22, age 4-12 $13, under 4 free, over 65 $19 - tickets 1$ less if you buy them online in advanceA short monorail ride away from downtown is Seattle's most iconic landmark. While expensive to ride to the top, the Space Needle is a "must see" for visitors on a nice day.
Ride the Ducks SeattleA 90-min ride on an amphibious World War II vehicle (yes, part of the ride is on Lake Union), not cheap ($23 adult) and not for those with a limited sense of humor (the style is a bit over-the-top). Definitely unique. 5th Ave. and Broad St., across from the Space Needle. Open-year round. Argosy CruisesOffers sightseeing cruises of the harbor, the locks, and the surrounding lakes. Seattle Underground TourWill take you underground in Pioneer Square. In 1889, 25 square blocks of Seattle were destroyed in a fire. When rebuilding, the city decided to raise the streets in the city approximately one story. Eventually the sidewalks were raised as well, and people traveled between the second story of the rebuilt buildings. The Seattle Underground was born!
Seattle is home to a number of top-notch museums. Downtown is home to the renowned Seattle Art Museum, which displays an good overview and assortment of art from around the world. In the Central District is the Seattle Asian Art Museum, an off-shoot of the Seattle Art Museum which focuses on Chinese & Japanese Art, but includes works as far away as India. Additionally, The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is in Chinatown/International District is the only Asian Pacific American museum in the nation. Nearby is the Frye Art Museum, a small private collection featuring 232 paintings by Munich-based artists. Not a museum, but open to browsing by the public, is the Seattle Metaphysical Library, in Ballard, which spcializes in material not found in normal libraries.
Surrounding the Space Needle on the grounds of the Seattle Center are several more big museums, including the Pacific Science Center, an interactive science museum, the Experience Music Project, a Rock & Roll museum with a special Jimi Hendrix exhibit, and the Science Fiction Museum Home of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Both the Museum of History and Industry and the Center for Wooden Boats are located on the southern point of South Lake Union.
Downtown is home to the popular Seattle Aquarium. The University District holds the The Henry Art Gallery, one of the biggest contemporary art galleries in Washington. Also on the university campus is the Burke Museum, a combination natural history/archaeology museum. Further out in Georgetown is the Museum of Flight, with a large collection of aircraft ranging from wood and fabric crates to the sleek Concorde.
Travelers planning to visit multiple attractions may benefit from Seattle CityPASS, which grants admission to 6 Seattle attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate and includes expedited entry in some cases. The included attractions are: Space Needle; Seattle Aquarium; Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour; Pacific Science Center; Experience Music Project Museum and an Option Ticket with choice of either Museum of Flight or Woodland Park Zoo.
Most of the architectural attractions in Seattle are located in a small portion of the downtown area, easily traversed on foot. Among the highlights are the Rem Koolhaas/OMA designed Central Library, a unique, contemporary building with an enormous glass-fronted atrium; the Experience Music Project designed to resemble Jimi Hendrix's smashed guitar done in a manner only Frank Gehry could conceive; the Smith Tower, an Art Deco skyscraper which has an observation deck and is Seattle's oldest skyscraper; the Columbia Center, the tallest building in the Pacific Northwest and one with its own observation deck; the Seattle City Hall, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Bassetti Architects, with its roof garden, designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. and Swift & Company; and the new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, designed by NBBJ, with its 12 acre garden also designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd.
Of course, the most popular view in Seattle remains the one from the revolving top of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. And given the retro-futurism look of the Space Needle, a fitting way to get there is via the Monorail, which connects the Seattle Center to Downtown.
Parks and outdoors
Seattle is peppered with parks, from small urban squares to large forested areas with views of the Puget Sound. Seattle's park system was designed by the Olmstead Brothers firm in Seattle's early days, park planners across the country celebrate Seattle's park system as one of the best designed and best preserved in the United States. While many other American cities have only one or two Olmsted-designed parks, Seattle has an extensive multi-park plan linked by boulevards. It is this legacy that makes Seattle one of the most livable spots in the country.
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
(a.k.a. Ballard Locks) in Ballard
. Check out the fish ladders and if you're lucky you'll see huge Pacific Northwest salmon coming and going.
Check out the troll under the Aurora Bridge, near Fremont!
UW Waterfront Activities Center - Rent a canoe and explore the arboretum
Woodland Park ZooHours: 9:30AM-4PM in the winter (1 Oct-30 Apr), 6PM in the summer (1 May-31 Sep)Price: $15 ($11 in winter)It has mostly realistic and spacious habitats for the animals, unlike the animal jails in some zoos. The Raptor Show at 3PM on non-rainy weekends is particularly entertaining if you get the bird handler with the Bronx accent: "If dis boid's head were da same size as youses, its eyes would be da size of sawftbawls."
Carkeek Park is a sweet little beach park in North Seattle. Good hikes, and may have salmon migrating upstream in fall.
Cowen Park has a play structure for children and a backstop for baseball/softball. Cowen is connected to Ravenna Park via a wooded ravine that makes for good jogging and walking. It is a particularly nice walk in the (rare) snow.
Discovery ParkThe largest city park in Seattle. Magnolia is great for kite-flying as well as a trail to the beach with great cliffs and boat watching. At Park's beach, you can see the view of both Cascade and Olympia Mountain ranges. This is a great getaway from long weeks of work and to bring kids to enjoy some quality family moments. The wildlife sanctuary is well protected to maintain the rich natural environment. Gasworks ParkIn Wallingford is built on the former site of the city gas facility, and a few hulking tanks and pipes are preserved, giving it a slightly eerie feel. The hill at the center has a sundial on top, and offers a spectacular view of downtown across Union Bay, as well as gusts of wind great for kite-flying. Don't eat the carcinogenic dirt! Golden Gardens Park
is one of two places in Seattle that still allows bonfires on the beach. Set on the Puget Sound, it offers spectacular views of the sun setting over the Olympic mountain range on clear days.
Green LakeNorth of the University District, has side-by-side 2.75 mi (4.4 km) asphalt and gravel trails for walking, jogging and rollerblading around the circumference of the lake, plus several sports fields. The path is good for people-watching as there is a constant stream of thousands of Seattlelites all day long. On the East side there are areas of grass where you can often find pick-up soccer, volleyball as well as basketball on outdoor courts. There's also an indoor swimming pool, which is much cleaner than the lake. If the signs warn that the lake is closed, don't ignore them or risk getting "swimmer's itch" from the plentiful parasites spread through duck feces. The surrounding neighborhood is vibrant and fun in good weather, with rental rollerskates, bikes, restaurants, etc. Jefferson ParkLocated on Beacon Hill half a mile south of the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station is Seattle's sixth largest park at 45.2 acres and offers unparalleled views of the Duwamish River, downtown and the Olympic Mountains. It is the home to the Jefferson Park Golf Course, the Jefferson Community Center, Jefferson Lawn Bowling, Jefferson Skatepark and Beacon Mountain. Kerry ParkOn Highland Drive on Queen Anne Hill is the single most photographed view of Seattle, with a spectacular cityscape with the Space Needle, Safeco Field, CenturyLink Field, and Elliott Bay in front and Mt. Rainier visible behind the skyline. The best view is to go on a clear summer day around 9PM, the sun will have just dropped behind the Olympic range, the city lights will just be coming on, but there will be enough sunlight left that Rainier glows purple behind the city. The Sculpture "Changing Form" by Doris Chase is standing in the center of Kerry Park since 1977 and this park attracts many tourists and locals to enjoy their afternoon or night chillaxing. Kubota GardenA spectacular 20-acre (8 ha) park space in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of South Seattle. To quote the linked website, the Garden contains "streams, waterfalls, ponds, rock outcroppings, and an exceptionally rich and mature collection of plant material." Established by Fujitaro Kubota in 1927, he wanted to "display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese manner."
Magnuson Park / Sand Point, the second largest park in Seattle, used to be a U.S. Naval base. The remaining naval buildings are now used for recreational purposes and to host shows. Magnuson boasts multiple sports fields, a boat launch, an off-leash dog park, and lots of walking trails. The Sound Garden (after which the local Seattle band was named), is on NOAA property. It is public art work that moans eerily in the wind.
Myrtle Edwards ParkOn Elliott Bay has a nice view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Also a great place to take a walk, jog or bike ride. The walking and cycling paths (at times separate) start north of the ferry piers and go right along the water for 1.5 mi (2.4 km), and provide a delightful way to get close to the harbor. It is separated from the rest of the city by several train tracks, so you won't have to listen to any vehicle traffic.
Ravenna Park in the Ravenna area is a park named for its wooded ravine. It is good park for baseball, soccer, tennis, or have a barbecue. Ravenna Park is connected to Cowen Park via a trail alongside a little creek. This park provides a basic feel for the nature that can be found outside of the city.
Olympic Sculpture Park is a new park on the waterfront built and maintained by the Seattle Art Museum. It has wonderful views across the water and contains sculptures built by famous artists including Richard Serra and Alexander Calder.
Seward Park in the Seward Park neighborhood has 300 acres of beautiful forest land and a 2.4 mile bike and walking path, an amphitheater, a native plant garden, an art studio, miles of hiking trails, and shelters to grill food.
The University of Washington Arboretum is 230 acres (93 ha) of urban greenery with collections of oaks, conifers, camellias, Japanese maples and hollies. Often filled with people going for walks on sunny summer days, especially weekends. The Japanese gardens are a special spot.
on Capitol Hill
, home of the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM).
Waterfront provides one of the best views while walking in Seattle (if you don't mind the crowds).