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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Rodriguez

14 Things to do in Seattle, Washington


Seattle, Washington is located on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest. It is known for its majestic evergreen beauty, and to the locals, it’s the Emerald City. Click your heels three times and you won’t be in Texas anymore! Washington has a rainy reputation but its beautiful Spring and Summer months make up for it tenfold. If you’re from the great hot state of Texas, like me, this is one of the top places I recommend visiting during those arduous summer months!

This historical metropolis is rich in history and known for nature, music, coffee, pop culture, and food. However, if you’re looking for something to do ‘outside the box and want to have a unique experience in this beautiful state, follow me on the yellow brick road to experience the Emerald City from my point of view. I can promise you this, you won’t be sorry! Get your pen ready and find out a whole new way to experience Washington with my unique Seattle itinerary.


Before you get to the “unique experiences” you owe it to yourself to be a normal tourist, especially on your first visit to Seattle. Check out these iconic things to do in Seattle on your first day there!


VISIT THE ICONIC SPACE NEEDLE

Two words: absolutely stunning! This 185.5 feet architectural masterpiece is the landmark of the Pacific Northwest. You can go up to the observation deck and experience a 360 degree view of the city and if you aren't too afraid of heights you can look 520 feet downwards through the glass panels. This gives you a spectacular view of the city with a little bit of a thrill.


BONUS: Did you know that the Columbia Center is the tallest building west of Mississippi? I didn't! If you are in need of some shopping and good food you’ll find all that and more here. Go up to the 73rd floor to the sky view observatory to get a 360 degree panoramic view of downtown seattle. You can see Mount Rainier, Elliot Bay, the Cascade mountains, the Olympic Mountains, and the Space Needle.



CHIHULY GARDEN AND GLASS

Located in the heart of Seattle, right next to the Space Needle, come experience the artwork of Dale Chihuly. There are several art galleries and a lush garden that serves as his backdrop for his brilliant work. Somehow, Chihuly takes something as simple as glass and creates impressive and impossible structures. This is a must see for anyone, night or day, rain or shine. Literally, your eyes will be overwhelmed with its beauty. Get there when the sun is at its peak, and when the rays hit the glass just right, it is a sight you will not want to miss. You will never look at glass the same way again.



BONUS: Other things to do in Seattle include the Seattle Art Museum, the Pacific science center, the Flight Aviation Center. I didn't have time to stop at these popular attractions but my friends say they are worth a trip if you have a little extra time and money to spare.


WALK ALONG THE SEATTLE WATERFRONT

This is a hotspot for us tourists. I thought it was a little expensive, but in the end, it was well worth the trip. Early in the day, when the crowds were low, I could hear the soft rustle of the Puget Sound, almost like a trance. As I walked along the pier I could see the vast Olympic Mountains; I soon realized why even locals flocked to this spot. The Seattle Great Wheel is located on Pier 57. Standing at 175 feet tall, it is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast of the United States. I highly recommend you take a ride at sunset, the world changes colors that high up in the sky.



BONUS: Washington is known for its parks and outdoor scenes. I didn't have time to hit all the parks but a few of the most well-known parks are Kerry Park and Golden Gardens Park. The Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle aquarium are both great places to entertain your kids.


STARBUCKS IS A MUST

There are over 2,000 coffee shops in Washington State. Now, I know what you must be thinking, this is the ultimate tourist attraction in Seattle, but you must make a trip to the original Starbucks coffee shop. Located in the heart of Pikes Place Market, locals and tourists wait for that special cup of joe. Even though we have Starbucks all over the country, this cup of stars tastes just a little bit better. I even bought myself a souvenir mug and a photo of the original Starbucks Reserve Roastery to remember my time here. After you get your coffee it's time to take a stroll around the Pikes Place Market.





VISIT PIKE PLACE MARKET

Pikes Place Market is a historic shopping complex with some of the best seafood, famous farmer's market, craftspeople, and merchants around. The market opened in 1907 and has been a central site for visitors all over the world. My favorite attraction was the Pike Place Fish Market. You will see fish flying over your head as employees throw around three-foot salmon to each other when a customer makes an order, it is quite the show! As you wander around the market, just outside the main entrance, you will stumble upon the post alley gum wall. A bit quirky and fairly unique, this local landmark is a fun spot to take a pic! Make sure you say hi to Rachel, the bronze pig, the unofficial mascot of the market on your way out.






BONUS: A fun way to learn about the history of the market is to take a food tour. Here you can experience famous landmarks like the gum wall and bronze pig and then watch some salmon fly. You will get to enjoy the diverse tastings from authentic Italian gelato to the famous salmon burger by chef Tom Douglas.



WANDER AROUND OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK

No matter the weather, rain or shine, you must visit the Olympic Sculpture Park. One, the entrance fee is free! Two, the artwork is just that impressive. Located on an industrial site of the water's edge, the Z-shaped green path will take you from the city to the water. Make sure to grab your camera because you are going to get some amazing views from the Seattle skyline to the Olympic Mountains.


EXPERIENCE THE MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE

Aka MoPop, this museum is very interactive. If you want to learn how pop culture affects our society today then you are in for a treat. The timeline starts with the rock n roll movement of Jimmi Hendrix and takes you on a tour of the Marvel Universe to gaming revolutions. This museum is too interesting to pass up when visiting Seattle.


GO SAY HI TO THE TROLL

Located in an unusual spot just off the freeway, go say hi to the Fremont Troll. The sculpture has some interesting roots in Norway folklore and depicts a troll living under a bridge, the George Washington Memorial bridge in fact! This is an iconic spot for a photo! After your photo, take a stroll around Fremont, where some of the best coffee shops are located.


SOUTH LAKE UNION

I love swimming and all water sports, especially kayaking. Lake Union is the best spot for those recreational water sports. It’s the largest freshwater lake in the state and is a major part of Lake Washington. If you go in the summer, you can rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or an electric boat to check out the floating houses, which were featured in my favorite Tom Hanks movie, Sleepless in Seattle. Here you will also find one of the best photo opportunities for the city skyline- the Gas Works Park. In the evening head to Dukes Seafood for some oysters and bubbly with views of the Space Needle and seaplanes landing on Lake Union.


SEATTLE NEIGHBORHOODS: BELLTOWN, BALLARD, and PIONEER SQUARE

If you are ready for some nightlife, head no further than the local neighborhood of Belltown. Belltown attracts visitors from all over, for it is home to the Indie music scene. Bands like Nirvana and R.E.M graced the stage at The Crocodile. After a drink or two, those taste buds of yours might be asking to try the famous Seattle Dog, a twist on the American dog with cream cheese and fried onions. YUM!


Ballard is one of the top neighborhoods in Seattle. It is a hip historical waterfront neighborhood that offers trendy restaurants, craft beers, and Indie shops. The sandy beach of Golden Gardens Park draws sunbathers, volleyball players, and offers beautiful mountain views.


Pioneer Square is the birthplace of Seattle. Its claim to fame is that it was the first established neighborhood in Seattle. It is rich in history and brought about the revival of Renaissance architecture. The history of this neighborhood can be felt in the very bones of the brick. Come here for art, music, food, and coffee.


BONUS: If you want to stay close to the city center check out these neighborhoods North Shore, South Seattle, West Seattle, Green Lake. Go over and read “Where to Stay In Seattle” and “Best Treehouses in Seattle” for additional information on accommodations and best neighborhoods to visit in Seattle.


After you spend a few days exploring the city it’s time to find the hidden gems this state has to offer. This next part is for my adventure seekers and risk-takers and the guys and girls who are looking to step out of the box. Keep reading to find out more!


UNIQUE ADVENTURES


RUN A MARATHON

My first visit to Seattle, Washington was summer of 2017. About the time I got my first job and got married I started to get the itch to travel. For me, travel is about experiencing something local and finding those adventures off the beaten path; that’s where you grow and that’s where your stories are made. I also had a major item on my bucket list that I was ready to tackle.

The reason I went up to Seattle was twofold: to visit my best friend who just moved up there, and second, I wanted to run a marathon. Now, I know that sounds crazy and not everyone wants to run or even likes to run, but from my experience, there is no other way to experience the true culture of a city and learn true compassion from strangers than to participate in a race. The Rock n Roll Marathon takes you through downtown Seattle and at every mile you get to experience local musicians play their hearts out for you. It was incredible! I ran next to the Space Needle, through the famous Pike Place Market, around the Olympic sculpture park, and past the Great Wheel. After the run, you can explore downtown a little more thoroughly, but the best part about that whole experience is that you now have a nice-looking medal to add to your storyboard! Running a half or full marathon is no easy feat but with a little training and preparation you will have knocked off a once in a lifetime bucket list goal that earned you a seat at the best breakfast place in town: Biscuit Bitch




EAT A BISCUIT!

If you’re southern like me, there is a constant debate over which food choice is better: tortilla vs biscuit. I have this “debate” with my husband on every trip and he somehow always wins with the tortilla on top, but that was not the case in Washington. An hour after a race I’m famished, and my stomach lets me know real quick that it needs to be refueled. Remember, calories don’t count as you just burned over 1000 calories in that race. Enter Biscuit Bitch. My mouth is literally watering at the memory of this beautiful breakfast. It’s dirty, it’s greasy, and it's finger-licking good. Located in Pikes Place Market you will not want to pass this place up. The line may be long but it’s just that good and well worth the wait. Luckily, with our advances in technology, just order it online and pick it up and go eat it at the Olympic sculpture park or along the pier. I promise it will taste as good sitting in the grass as it would if you sat in the restaurant. For your reference, I ordered the Bitchwitch with sausage and my husband ordered the Easy Bitch with the special gravy sauce. Just look at those pictures…. your tastebuds will be so happy there won’t be a single crumb left on that plate.





MOUNT RAINIER

My time in Washington was spent not only running a marathon but visiting, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States: Mount Rainier National Park. If you like to hike this is the post for you. My trip here was inspired by the book “Wild”. If you haven’t read it yet I highly recommend you head to your local bookstore or Amazon and grab a copy. It will inspire you to get off that couch and go hike a mountain! It got me thinking about backpacking and what it would be like to spend a night under the stars, away from all the hustle and bustle of city life. So, my friend and I planned out a detailed 4-day trip to hike a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. We chose the 35-mile trek from White Pass to Chinook Pass. The four days out on the trail and living on what was in my rucksack was extremely liberating. My crew included me, my husband, my best friend, and her boyfriend. The days were long, and we hiked approximately 13 miles a day and each campsite was a glorious reward. We swam in refreshingly cold lakes, lit a fire each night, and played Yahtzee around the campfire. On the third day, we made it to the part of the trail that crossed into Mount Rainier National Park; I remember gazing toward the mountain and there was not a single cloud in the sky. We had the most picturesque view, like something out of National Geographic; it was breathtaking. Surrounded by the evergreen forest you felt like you were embraced in the arms of Mother Nature. It’s moments like that when you realize how much you take for granted the vast and natural beauty of our land.






COUGAR LAKE

A special find along the Pacific Crest Trail was Cougar Lake. Slightly off the beaten path, this portion of this trek was tough. There was a quick elevation gain and the terrain was quite rugged. However, I forgot all about that once we made it to the lake. There were two lakes with plenty of campsites. We found a site along the Big Cougar lake that had a ledge with a perfect launching point for a quick swim and it let us experience one of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises I think I have ever seen. This spot is definitely off the main road and one local's seek out for a long weekend to getaway. I highly recommend you take the detour to this spot.




CONCLUSION...GO VISIT SEATTLE!

There are so many things to do in Seattle! I hope this post gives you a starting point on your first trip here. People time and time again rave about the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s true. The hustle and bustle of the city is full of life, art, music, and history, and the quiet and solitude of the mountains are just a stone's throw away. Remember to hit all the tourist spots, they are iconic for a reason. Take a leisurely stroll around Kerry Park, Waterfront Park, or the Woodland Park Zoo. For some inspiration and relaxation after a long day of walking, visit the Washington Park Arboretum. Find a food truck to give you a famous Seattle dog to share with your friends. Take some time to visit the Seattle aquarium and see if you can find the legend of the giant pacific octopus. If your favorite things include all things sports, go see a Seattle Seahawks hockey game or catch one of the innings of the Seattle Mariners. For my nature lovers, go find those breathtaking views outside the city limits. Find your true north and hike along the Pacific Crest Trail; visit the Cougar Lakes and take a dip in its arctic cool waters. This state has so much to offer for families with kids all the way to my solo travelers. A trip to the Pacific Northwest is a must for anyone traveling to the United States!






FAQS:

1. Is 3 days enough in Seattle?

Yes of course! To make the most of your three days I encourage you to mix the iconic tourist attractions with the downtown core and mingle in a few of the historic neighborhoods to get a truly local experience.

2. What can you do in Seattle for half a day?

If you only have a half-day in Seattle you must go to Pike Place Market, visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass, and go see the Space Needle. Go get breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks. Then go walk off your breakfast at one of the many parks, look at the Seattle skyline, and walk through some public art.

3. Are there any free things to do in Seattle?

You won’t believe it but there are a ton of free things to do in Seattle! Stop by the Seattle Center for art and 40+ open acres of land and green space. Some of my favorite free things to do in Seattle include, strolling through the arboretum, wandering around Ballards Locks, and taking a run through Myrtle Edwards Park.

4. What are the best family activities in Seattle?

If you're worried about entertaining your kiddos while in Seattle don’t worry! There are so many things to do in Seattle with the family. Check out these highly engaging and interactive museums such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Pop Culture! If your child loves trains, take them to the Seattle Center Monorail where there is plenty of seating for them to pretend they are the conductor. If they like boats, head to the living museum of Wooden Boats. Let your kids learn how to build and sail a wooden boat then go out and rent a kayak for the day on Lake Union. If you are looking for a kid-friendly beach head over to Alki Beach and let the kids swim and hang out in the tide pools. Last but certainly not least, take the kids over the Seattle Aquarium so they can visit the sea creatures of the Pacific Ocean and the wild animals of the Woodland Park Zoo.

5. What outdoor things can I do in Seattle?

For adventure seekers who want to visit Seattle, check out these outdoor activities; they are a must! Go hike Mount Si, it's what the locals do to prepare for a big trip. Trail runs through Issaquah Alps and you may just find the trailhead to Cougar. Road bike around Bainbridge Island and kayak around from Lake Washington through the Locks to Puget Sound. Go run the Seattle Marathon after Thanksgiving or run the Rock in Roll Marathon in the summer. And lastly, if you are in really good shape, go hike “The Mountain”, aka Mount Rainier, the biggest item on any bucket list for Seattle, Washington.



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