Category Archives: Seattle Information

What’s On in Seattle?

An Opinionated List of Interesting Upcoming Events

Updated July 20, 2017

Seattle Events and Festivals

Ongoing & Current Events in Seattle

  • Edible City: A Delicious Journey
    MOHAI’s year long exhibit, showcasing the unique culinary history and culture of Seattle.
    Through September • Museum of History and Industry
  • Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor
    Artifacts from and exploration of the terracotta army of the Qin, the First Imperial Dynasty of China.
    April 8 – September 4 • Pacific Science Center
  • Jacob Lawrence: Eight Studies for the Book of Genesis
    The celebrated artist’s re-telling of the biblical story in cubism and silkscreen.
    April 8 – October 1 • Henry Art Gallery
  • The Jim Henson Exhibition
    World premiere exhibit, featuring puppets, storyboards, scripts, and clips from the iconic puppet artist’s career.
    Opens May 20 • MoPOP
  • Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors
    The Japanese artist’s visually stunning and fantastically immersive installations come to the Seattle Art Museum.
    June 30 – September 10 • Seattle Art Museum

July 2017 Events in Seattle

  • Queen and Adam Lambert
    The band that brought you “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are The Champions” brings their show to Seattle.
    July 1 • Key Arena
  • Wooden Boat Festival
    Music, demonstrations, boat rental, kids activities – most of it free!
    July 1-4 • Center for Wooden Boats, South Lake Union
  • Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival
    World-class chamber performances at Benaroya Hall, with free pre-concert recitals.
    July 3-29 • Various locations, see website for details.
  • SeaFair Summer 4th
    Music and summertime festivities, a beer garden, and fireworks over Lake Union.
    July 4 • Gasworks Park and South Lake Union Park
  • Ballard SeafoodFest
    Traditional salmon barbecue and local music, arts and crafts, and family entertainment.
    July 7-9 • Ballard. See website for exact locations.
  • Seattle International Beer Fest
    Over 200 of the best beers from around the world, all served in the shadow of the Space Needle.
    July 7-9 • Seattle Center
  • Fun Home: The Musical
    Tony award-winning musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir.
    July 11-30 • 5th Avenue Theatre
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert with the Seattle Symphony
    A screening of the blockbuster 2001 film (based on the much-loved novel by J.K. Rowling), accompanied by John Williams’ score performed live by the Seattle Symphony.
    July 13-16 • Benaroya Hall
  • Alex & Aris
    World premiere play, “a mystery that explores how Aristotle painstakingly set the moral compass of Alexander the Great.”
    July 14 – August 6 • ACT Theatre
  • DragonFest
    Pan-Asian cultural performances and $3 restaurant tastes in Seattle’s International District.
    July 15-16 • Chinatown-International District
  • Bite of Seattle
    Seattle’s biggest food festival, featuring local chefs, restaurant tastes, entertainment, and wine and beer gardens.
    July 21-23 • Seattle Center
  • Capitol Hill Block Party
    Three-day music and arts festival, with food, beer gardens, and over 100 local and national artists in indoor and outdoor venues.
    July 21-23 • Capitol Hill. See website for exact locations.
  • Sequim Lavender Festival
    Free lavender farm tours, music, food court, and craft booths. 2 hours outside of Seattle in Sequim.
    July 21-23 • Various locations, see website for details.
  • WNBA All-Star Game
    The 2017 Verizon WNBA All-Star game takes place at Key Arena, home of the Seattle Storm.
    July 22 • Key Arena
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    Tony award-winning play of an autistic child’s quest for redemption, based on the novel by Mark Haddon.
    July 25-30 • Paramount Theatre
  • Neil Diamond
    The music icon and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame brings his 50 Year Anniversary World Tour to Seattle.
    July 26 • Key Arena
  • Seafair Torchlight Parade
    Balloons, bands, and swashbuckling pirates parade through the heart of Seattle’s downtown.
    July 29 • Seattle Center/Downtown
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live!
    Joel Hodgson and characters from the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” TV show bring their first live tour to Seattle.
    July 29 • Moore Theater

August 2017 Events in Seattle

  • Seattle Art Fair
    Modern and contemporary works from 93 galleries from around the world for collectors to purchase and the rest of us to ogle.
    August 3-6 • CenturyLink Field Event Center
  • Seafair Weekend
    Air shows, picnics, and hydroplane races on Lake Washington.
    August 4-6 • Lake Washington
  • Madame Butterfly
    Seattle Opera’s modernized production of a Puccini classic.
    August 5-19 • McCaw Hall
  • Belle and Sebastian
    The Scottish pop group brings their unique sound stateside.
    August 8 • Paramount Theatre
  • Metallica
    The metal mega-band makes a Seattle stop on its stadium tour since the 1990s.
    August 9 • CenturyLink Field
  • South Lake Union Block Party
    Food trucks, a beer garden, interactive art, and live music from Hey Marseilles.
    August 11 • South Lake Union Discovery Center
  • Hempfest
    Political rally, concert, and arts and crafts fair celebrating marijuana on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
    August 18-20 • Centennial Park, Myrtle Edwards Park, Olympic Sculpture Park
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
    The iconic band visits the Emerald City on its 40th Anniversary tour.
    August 19 • Safeco Field

The Best Time of Year to Visit Seattle

Updated: June 26, 2017

See Also

When is the best time to visit Seattle? A guide to the Best Time of Year to Visit Seattle.

Q. When is the best time to visit Seattle?

  • Best time for outdoor recreation: Seattle has consistently dry, sunny, and warm weather from mid-July through September – perfect for local hiking, biking, and boating. Puget Sound waters are not ideal for swimming, as they rarely get above 13°C. October through June is generally cold and damp, and many Mount Rainier hiking trails are closed for the winter. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing season in nearby mountain areas usually lasts from late November until April or May.
  • Best time for food and wine: Seattle restaurants and the winery tasting rooms in nearby Woodinville are great to visit at any time of year. The region’s famous Copper River salmon arrives in Seattle’s restaurants and markets in May and is generally available through mid-June. Many of Seattle’s best restaurants create and sell special three-course dinners at a discount during Seattle Restaurant Week, held twice-yearly in April and October. The Bite of Seattle, Seattle’s biggest food festival, takes place under the Space Needle in mid-July. Taste Washington, a regional wine and food event, is held in late March or early April.
  • Best time to visit Pike Place Market: With dozens of covered stalls, restaurants, bars, and galleries, any time of year can be a good time to visit Pike Place Market. Blooming flowers and blue skies mean that the Market is at its loveliest (and most crowded) during the warm, sunny days of late spring, summer, and early fall. Winter months at the Market are just as charming, without being as busy. Generally pleasant weather and the thinner non-summer crowds make the months of May and September a best bet.
  • Best time for whale watching: Whale watching season near Seattle falls between March and October, with the species of whale you’re likely to see varying by month within that range. The first gray whales appear in the region in March and April. Orcas are common in the summer months of May through September, and humpback whales are most often seen in October and November.
  • Best time to view flowers: Seattle is abloom in the springtime, making it the perfect time of year to see beautiful flowers during your visit. The University of Washington’s famous blossoming cherry trees bloom yearly in March, and April brings the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Prime blooming season at the Rhododendron Species Garden is mid-March through mid-May, and of course bright bouquets of blooms can be found year-round in the stalls of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
  • Best time for music fans: Summer in Seattle is bookended by two large and popular music festivals that take place in the shadow of the Space Needle: The Northwest Folklife Festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May), and the Bumbershoot Festival happens over Labor Day weekend, the first weekend of September. October brings the Earshot Jazz Festival. The Seattle Symphony’s season runs from mid-September through mid-June, and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival takes place annually in January.
  • Best time to visit Mount Rainier: July, August, and September are the best months to visit Mount Rainier National Park, when the snow has melted and hiking trails are open. Mountain wildflowers are at their peak around early August, and fall colors are best in the first half of October. Many park areas and roads are closed throughout the winter (mid-October/early November through June), though the road to Paradise stays open year round for those who wish to see the mountain by car.

Seattle Travel Seasons

  • High Season (June to August): Sunny, dry, and warm, with daytime highs generally around 24°C and low humidity. Flights, ferries, and tours all run with greater frequency during this time. Hotel and travel prices will be higher, and availability will turn scarce — make reservations well in advance. This is cruise ship season, with many sea-going tourists in town as they journey to and from Alaska via the Port of Seattle. Expect crowds, especially on weekends, as local music and art festivals mean that both tourists and locals are out en masse.
  • Shoulder Season (April to May, September to October): Crowds dwindle with the possibility of rain, though the weather is often wonderfully pleasant – especially in May and September – with plenty of sun and daytime highs around 15-20°C. The combination of lower travel prices and the lack of summer sightseers can make shoulder season an ideal time to visit Seattle if your plans do not require a guarantee of dry weather.
  • Low Season (November to March): Tourists generally stay away from Seattle during the colder months. The weather is consistently wet, breezy, and cold (usually around 4-10°C.), so it’s not a great time for sightseeing. Museum lovers and those heading to the mountains to ski, however, can find some great deals on airfare and hotel rooms during this period.
  • Seattle Weather by Month

    The best weather in Seattle is from late June to early September. July and August are the busiest months when hotels are full and restaurants are crowded. May, June, September, and October usually have nice weather and fewer tourists making them great months to visit if you’re not after hot summer weather. Most of Seattle’s best attractions lend themselves to enjoying even with a little rain which makes Seattle a good year-round destination.

    Seattle Temperature by Month (daily high in celsius)
    Warmest months to visit Seattle

    Seattle Rain by Month (mm)
    Driest months to visit Seattle.

    • January weather in Seattle: January falls squarely in the middle of Seattle’s rainy season. Temperatures are cold (though usually not cold enough for snow), it’s raining much of the time, and the air is damp. Most locals choose to stay indoors or escape to the mountains for snow activities. (Average Max Temperature: 8.3°C. Average Rainfall: 142mm.)
    • February weather in Seattle: Temperatures in Seattle remain chilly in February, though rainfall tends to be a bit lighter and we begin to see a few more dry days. Nevertheless, Seattle remains grey and windy, and everything is usually wet. It’s a great time to visit Seattle’s many museums and restaurants. (Average Max Temperature: 9.4°C. Average Rainfall: 89mm.)
    • March weather in Seattle: March sees about the same amount of breezy rain as February, but daytime temperatures begin to creep above 10°C. The sun also begins to poke through the clouds a bit more on dry days and bits of blue sky are seen amid the grey. Daffodils and cherry trees are in bloom, making March a good time to explore Seattle’s charming neighborhoods and parks. (Average Max Temperature: 11.6°C. Average Rainfall: 94mm.)
    • April weather in Seattle: Temperatures continue to rise in April, and we start to see a significant drop in rainfall compared to the previous two months. The sky is more often blue, but breezes remain chilly and the air can be damp, so you’ll want to pack layers. (Average Max Temperature: 14.7°C. Average Rainfall: 68.5mm.)
    • May weather in Seattle: May is generally a beautiful month in Seattle, with temperatures into the late teens and more days of sun and blue skies than rain. Even so, the evenings in May are chilly, and periods of rain are not uncommon, so a jacket and an umbrella are still a good idea. (Average Max Temperature: 18.2°C. Average Rainfall: 48mm.)
    • June weather in Seattle: Seattle’s fickle June weather marks the change from the rainy to dry season. While some days are sun-filled, warm, and summer-like, others can feel more like March or April: gloomy, cold, and damp. Approaching the solstice on the 21st, the sun doesn’t set in Seattle until almost 10pm, providing long days perfect for outdoor recreation. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Rainfall: 40.6mm.)
    • July weather in Seattle: Summer truly arrives in Seattle in July. A pleasant and predictable pattern sets in with little rain, daytime temperatures in the mid-20’s, low humidity, and plenty of sun (especially in the middle and latter part of the month). Outdoors is the place to be. High tourist season is well underway, so expect crowds on dining patios and hiking trails, and book outdoor excursions well in advance. (Average Max Temperature: 24.3°C. Average Rainfall: 17.8mm.)
    • August weather in Seattle: Dry, warm, sunny summer weather continues throughout August, traditionally Seattle’s warmest month. Daytime temperatures hover pleasantly around the mid-20’s, rarely getting above 30°C. Marine air cools the city at night, so packing a light jacket is advisable. And while the sun may shine hot, Puget Sound water temperature hovers at a brisk 13°C during the summer months, so most folks enjoy being on the water, rather than in the water. (Average Max Temperature: 24.6°C. Average Rainfall: 22.8mm.)
    • September weather in Seattle: Days shorten and the air begins to feel crisp at night, but Seattle Septembers still feel summerlike. Expect warm temperatures, little rain, and plenty of sunshine this month. Tourism begins to slow after Labor Day Weekend, and the combination of thinning crowds and pleasant weather make September an ideal time to visit Seattle. (Average Max Temperature: 21.4°C. Average Rainfall: 38mm.)
    • October weather in Seattle: Late October is traditionally the beginning of Seattle’s rainy season. While the beginning of October is often sunny and dry, the average air temperature cools significantly throughout this month, and we begin to see the return of clouds, fog, and wet weather. Leaves turn colors and autumn begins: early October is the best time to view the fall foliage on Mount Rainier. (Average Max Temperature: 15.4°C. Average Rainfall: 89mm.)
    • November weather in Seattle: Seattle’s wettest month is November, with heavy rain and winds. While not ideal for outdoor activities, the discounted hotel and travel rates that accompany the rainy season can make October a great time to visit – staying warm and dry in Seattle’s many museums, galleries, and restaurants. (Average Max Temperature: 10.5°C. Average Rainfall: 167.6mm.)
    • December weather in Seattle: December in Seattle is dark and windy, with almost constant rain. Days grow shorter, and the sun sets before 5pm around the mid-month. Temperatures have dropped significantly, and though snowfall is rare in the Seattle area, the surrounding mountain peaks are newly coated in the white stuff. Nearby ski resorts are now open and busy – it’s a good time to head for the hills. (Average Max Temperature: 7.6°C. Average Rainfall: 137.2mm.)

    Seattle Special Events by Month

    January Events

February Events

March Events

  • Emerald City Comicon – The Pacific Northwest’s premier comic book and pop-culture convention.
  • Seattle Irish Fest – Music, dance, and vendors galore to celebrate St. Patrick and all things Irish.
  • Taste Washington – Local wineries and award winning restaurants sample their wares at the nations largest regional food and wine event.
  • Moisture Festival – An annual celebration of Vaudeville, comedy, burlesque, and all things weird and wonderful. Lots of fun performances, a few of them kid-friendly, most adults only.

April Events

May Events

June Events

  • Fremont Solstice Fair – A whimsical summer celebration of music, food, and art, featuring a free-spirited parade with over 1,000 nude-but-painted cyclists!
  • Seattle PrideFest – The largest LGBT gathering in the Pacific Northwest: bands, DJs, drag queens, and Seattle’s annual Pride Parade.

July Events

August Events

  • Hempfest – Political rally, concert, and arts and crafts fair celebrating marijuana on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
  • Seattle Seafair Weekend – Air shows, picnics, and hydroplane races on Lake Washington.

September Events

  • Bumbershoot – Expect crowds, along with concerts, comedy, food, and film at this monster-sized music and arts festival under the Space Needle.
  • Washington State Fair – Animals, rides and games, fair food, concerts, and a rodeo, held annually in nearby Puyuallup, WA.
  • PAX Prime Gaming Show – A celebration of gamer culture, with concerts, panels, an exhibition hall, and digital and tabletop game play.
  • Fremont Oktoberfest – Beer gardens, live music, food and a 5K at this popular neighborhood festival.

October Events

November Events

December Events

  • Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition – Festive holiday team sing-off held annually in Westlake Center, benefitting Pike Place Market’s food bank and senior center.
  • Argosy Christmas Ship Festival – Enjoy on-board or ashore as a flotilla of illuminated and choir-carrying ships visit local waterfront communities for caroling and bonfires.
  • Winterfest – Seattle Center’s month-long seasonal celebration, featuring performances, ice sculpting, ice skating, and a model train exhibit.

The Seattle Travel Guide

Updated: June 22, 2017

48 Things to Know About Seattle

What to do and where to go in Seattle.
Where to stay, what to do, and how to get around in Seattle, Washington.

    The Basics

  1. Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, located 60 miles north of Washington’s State capital city of Olympia.
  2. Nestled on the shores of Puget Sound, Seattle maintains an active sea port, and is the fourth-largest container gateway in North America. Harbor Island on Elliott Bay is the nation’s largest man-made island.
  3. It rains a lot in Seattle, though not as much as most people think. The city averages 152 wet days per year, but generally this falls as a light drizzle; at 37 average inches, Seattle receives 2 inches less rain per year than the national average of 39. The weather in July through September is usually sunny and dry.
  4. Seattle sits between two mountain ranges, with the Olympic Mountains to the west, and Cascade Mountains to the east. The Canadian border is 110 miles north of Seattle.
  5. The four largest employers in Seattle are Boeing, Microsoft, the University of Washington, and
  6. Seattle’s University of Washington is consistently ranked among the nation’s top universities and loveliest college campuses. The University’s waterfront Husky Stadium is known as the most scenic setting in college football.
  7. Visiting Seattle

  8. The best time to visit Seattle is June through August. In summer, Seattle is sunny, dry, and warm, with daytime highs generally around 75°F and low humidity. Flights, ferries, and tours all run with greater frequency during this time, however. Hotel and travel prices will be higher, and availability will turn scarce — so make reservations well in advance.
  9. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is located 15 miles south of downtown Seattle. The best and most reliable transportation from Sea-Tac to downtown is Seattle Town Car. Link light rail is the cheapest, at $3/ride.
  10. Seattle has two cruise ship ports, and both are located near downtown. Seven cruise lines call Seattle a home port, offering 7-day cruises to Alaska: Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.
  11. Seattle’s two sports stadiums sit just south of downtown in the SoDo neighborhood. Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners MLB team, while both the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Sounders (MLS) play at CenturyLink Field.
  12. Seattle Neighborhoods

  13. Downtown Seattle is the most popular area for visitors to stay. It’s home to most of the city’s best (and most expensive) hotels, as well as lots of great shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Attractions include Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, Westlake Center and Pacific Place malls, and Nordstrom’s flagship location.
  14. Belltown is adjacent to downtown, sitting just north of the city center. It’s known for nightlife and high-rise condos, and is home to the Olympic Sculpture Park. From Belltown, it’s an easy walk to both downtown attractions and Seattle Center.
  15. Pioneer Square is the historic heart of the city, and is where you’ll find Seattle’s oldest buildings and the Underground Tour. Pioneer Square is within walking distance to Seattle’s two sports stadiums, the ferry terminal at Colman Dock, and downtown attractions.
  16. Queen Anne is home to the iconic Space Needle, and the Seattle Center entertainment complex that incorporates the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Key Arena, and the Seattle Children’s Museum and Theatre. Queen Anne hotels are generally less expensive than downtown.
  17. South Lake Union is a hi-tech hub, home to many prominent biomedical and technology companies, such as South Lake Union is home to the Museum of History and Industry, the Center for Wooden Boats, and the seaplane company Kenmore Air.
  18. Seattle’s Waterfront neighborhood sits just west of downtown, perched aside Puget Sound’s Elliot Bay. This is where you’ll find the Seattle Aquarium, the Great Wheel, and the Wings Over Washington ride, as well as docks for Washington State Ferries, Argosy sightseeing cruises, the Victoria Clipper, and the West Seattle Water Taxi.
  19. Seattle Things to Do

  20. Pike Place Market first opened in 1907, and is one of the nation’s oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets. The Market is open 363 days a year, closing only on Christmas and Thanksgiving.
  21. Aside from being the city’s most popular tourist destination, The Market acts as the heart of Seattle’s downtown community, providing social services such as a senior center, food bank, preschool, and medical clinic.
  22. Seattle Center – a large entertainment complex that also incorporates the Space Needle – was originally created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and remnants of the fair’s space-age theme remain in the Center’s mid-century architecture, sculpture, and the Monorail that runs from the base of the Space Needle into downtown.
  23. Aside from the Space Needle, Seattle Center’s campus also houses the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Key Arena, and the Seattle Children’s Museum and Theatre.
  24. Seattle’s two biggest music festivals are held annually on the Seattle Center Grounds: Folklife on Memorial Day weekend, and Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend. The Bite of Seattle, Seattle’s biggest food festival, takes place under the Space Needle in mid-July.
  25. The easiest and cheapest way to enjoy the Seattle skyline from the waters of Puget Sound is to take the water taxi to West Seattle. On the other side, grab a bite and a drink on the deck at Marination Ma Kai, or catch a free shuttle to Alki Beach.
  26. There’s a restaurant in the Space Needle! SkyCity Restaurant is a revolving dining room 500 feet above Seattle Center, and meal price includes admission to the Needle’s observation deck. Save room for the “Lunar Orbiter” dessert: an ice cream sundae served in a bowl of smoking dry ice.
  27. A food tour is a delicious way to discover a new city, or learn more about your home town. In Seattle, I especially recommend Savor Seattle’s VIP Pike Place Market and Chocolate Indulgence tours, and Wing Luke Museum’s International District seasonal food tour.
  28. Seattle Hotels

  29. The best hotels in Seattle are The Four Seasons, Inn at the Market, and the Alexis Hotel.
  30. The best hotels near Pike Place Market are the Inn at the Market, The Four Seasons, and the Mayflower Park Hotel.
  31. The best boutique hotel in Seattle is the Inn at the Market.
  32. The best modern hotels in Seattle are The Four Seasons, Inn at the Market, and Thompson Seattle.
  33. The best historic hotels in Seattle are The Sorrento Hotel, The Arctic Club, and The Mayflower Park Hotel.
  34. The Best budget hotels in Seattle are The Moore Hotel and The Ace Hotel.
  35. The best hotel swimming pools in Seattle are at Hyatt Olive 8 (indoor) and The Four Seasons (outdoor).
  36. Getting Around Seattle

  37. Use Link Light Rail (cheap) or taxi (easy) to get to downtown hotels. The taxi queue is a 1 minute walk from the baggage carousels in arrivals – just follow the signs. There’s rarely a wait.
  38. Seattle is a pedestrian-friendly city, and most points downtown are easily walkable. Certain parts of the city are built on a steep grade, however, and the hilly streets can be a challenge for folks with mobility issues. The University of Washington’s Access Map is a handy tool to plan a more easily-walkable route around town; showing which streets are steepest, and which sidewalks are blocked due to construction.
  39. If you’re staying near downtown, having a rental car can be more of a burden than a benefit. It’s tough (and expensive) to park downtown, and daily hotel parking rates can really add up.
  40. It’s easy to get around Seattle using the region’s Link light rail system, the Seattle Streetcar, and Metro buses. Use the Trip Planner to determine your route, and pay for all of them using refillable Orca cards.
  41. Link light rail runs from SeaTac Airport through downtown and up to the University of Washington in Northeast Seattle. It has station stops at the sports stadiums, the International District, Pioneer Square, downtown, and Capitol Hill.
  42. The Seattle Streetcar has two different lines; one running from downtown to South Lake Union, and one from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, via the International District.
  43. The Seattle Monorail runs from Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to the base of the Space Needle in Seattle Center, and is the best way to get to the Space Needle from downtown (and vice-versa). It’s a five minute ride that’s fairly inexpensive, and is a fun relic from Seattle’s space-themed 1962 World’s Fair. The Monorail is privately owned, so fare is not transferable from other modes of transport.
  44. Metro buses go everywhere, and are generally reliable. Trip Planner can help you determine what bus to take and where to catch it, and the One Bus Away app will track your bus’ progress.
  45. Taxis and ride share services (like Lyft and Uber) are plentiful in Seattle, and and easy to find when public transit’s not an option. Save renting a car for day trips outside of the city.
  46. Amtrak’s newly-refurbished King Street Station is located just south of downtown in Pioneer Square. This station is a stop on Amtrak’s north-south running Coast Starlight and east-west running Empire Builder routes, the Amtrak Cascades line that runs between Eugene, OR and Vancouver BC, and the Sounder regional commuter train.
  47. Daily ferry service runs from Colman Dock on the Seattle waterfront to Bainbridge Island and the city of Bremerton on the Kitsap Peninsula.
  48. The King County Water Taxi shuttles passengers back and forth between Pier 50 in downtown Seattle and two terminals: Seacrest Park in West Seattle and Vashon Island. Public transportation is accessible from either spot, with free shuttles running from Seacrest Park to Alki Beach and the West Seattle Junction shopping district.
  49. When to Visit Seattle

  50. The best weather in Seattle is from late June to early September. July and August are the busiest months when hotels are full and restaurants are crowded. May, June, September, and October usually have nice weather and fewer tourists making them great months to visit if you’re not after hot summer weather. Most of Seattle’s best attractions lend themselves to enjoying even with a little rain which makes Seattle a good year-round destination.
  51. The skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing season in Seattle’s nearby mountain areas usually lasts from late November until April or May.
  52. Whale watching season near Seattle falls between March and October, with the species of whale you’re likely to see varying by month within that range. The first gray whales appear in the region in March and April. Orcas are common in the summer months of May through September, and humpback whales are most often seen in October and November.
  53. July, August, and September are the best months to visit Mount Rainier National Park, when the snow has melted and hiking trails are open. Mountain wildflowers are at their peak around early August, and fall colors are best in the first half of October. Many park areas and roads are closed throughout the winter (mid-October/early November through June), though the road to Paradise stays open year round for those who wish to see the mountain by car.
  54. Nearby Snoqualmie Falls are at their best in the spring, when the river’s full and running at greatest capacity. If you can swing dinner or an overnight at the Salish Lodge & Spa while you’re there, do.

Seattle with Kids – A Guide

Update June 5, 2017


The best things to do in Seattle with kids. Family-friendly Seattle activities.

The 52 Best Things To Do With Kids In Seattle

From the Aquarium to the Zoo (and everywhere in between), this city is chock-full of great family adventures, just waiting to be had. Here are Seattle’s best places to eat, play, and explore with kids.

  1. Take a Tour Downtown
  2. Seattle Food Tour with Kids
    Guided tours make a good introduction to a city and are great for asking questions on where to eat, shop, and explore. If you’re local, they’re an awesome way to rediscover the city and find your next new favorite spots.

    Here are a few Seattle tours that I especially recommend for kids:

    Savor Seattle Chocolate Tour – I can’t recommend this enough. So much fun. Locals at Savor Seattle do a delicious and informative Chocolate Tour that usually includes stops at cupcake, cheesecake, and specialty chocolate shops in and around Pike Place Market. The guides are wonderful and give a good overview of where and how chocolate is made. Savor also does a Pike Place Market tour that’s very interesting – but if you have kids it’s hard to beat the chocolate tour.
    Savor Seattle WebsiteReviews

    Seattle by Foot Kid’s Tour – A downtown walking tour created with a child’s interests and attention span in mind. Get a kid’s eye view of Pike Place Market and the Seattle Public Library, make art at the Seattle Art Museum, and learn about the skyscrapers and public art you’ll find along the way. Public tours run regularly in the summer months, though private tours can be booked in advance year-round.
    Kid’s Tour WebsiteReviews

  3. The Seattle Aquarium
  4. The Seattle Aquarium with kids
    Located on Seattle’s wonderful waterfront and recently refurbished, the aquarium is a good stop for 90 minutes to 2 hours. (Some visitors arrive expecting a lot and leave disappointed.) Kids can touch starfish and sea anemones and (with a bit of luck) see different animals during feeding time. The scuba divers that swim in a large tank – and do show and tell with different sea life – are a hit with many kids.
    Aquarium WebsiteReviewsDirections

  5. Pike Place Market
  6. Seattle Pike Place Market with Kids
    Pike Place Market is a Seattle institution, and while it attracts a lot of tourists, it retains its charm. Locals still shop here, and the seafood, fruit, vegetables, and flowers are top-notch and fairly priced. The market is open from early morning until early evening but is at its best just before lunch. Stop by and pick up a map at the information booth at First and Pike – the volunteers who work there are really friendly, and can answer (just about) any Market-related question.
    Pike Place Market WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Best bets for kids at Pike Place Market:

  7. Airplanes!
  8. Seattle Museum of Flight with kids.
    Seattle used to be known as “Jet City,” and though that nickname isn’t used so much anymore, there are still no shortage of opportunities to get your airplane fix. On a nice day, pack a picnic lunch and head to Lake Union Park to watch the sea planes come and go. If you’ve got more time and are searching for something bigger, these next two spots are a must:

    The Museum of Flight
    A great museum for all ages, you’ll see airplanes spanning the first 100 plus years of flight. Get a look inside a Concorde, the first 747 ever built, the original Air Force One, fighters, bombers, and, well, pretty much anything that has wings or propellers. There’s a Kids Flight Zone, several flight simulators, and always changing featured exhibits. The museum is located 10 minutes by car south of downtown Seattle. There’s lots of free parking available. Bus #124 will also get you here from downtown. If you own your own plane there are 5 fly-in parking spots available. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm every day.
    Museum of Flight WebsiteReviewsDirections

    The Future of Flight (Boeing Factory Tour)
    For a different perspective on airplanes – focused on how they’re built rather than how they fly – visit the Boeing assembly plant 30 miles north of Seattle. The tour is geared towards adults (and you have to be over 48 inches) but anyone over the age of 7 that has an interest in airplanes should be thrilled. You see the assembly line where 747’s, 777’s and the new 787’s are constructed. Visit on weekdays to see the factory humming at full speed. Tours begin every hour from 9am to 3pm.
    Future of Flight WebsiteReviewsDirections

  9. Woodland Park Zoo
  10. Seattle Zoo with Kids
    This is a great zoo within a relaxed and beautifully laid-out park, so be prepared to spend a good part of a day here. Monkeys, gorillas, Komodo dragons, and giraffes are the big draws for us – but there’s so much here your family could easily have a totally different greatest hits. Zoomazium is a fun indoor climbing playground for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers, and a great place to burn off energy on a rainy day. Several restaurants within the zoo are decent, or bring your own food and have a picnic on one of many grassy areas. Bus #5 goes from downtown Seattle right by the zoo. The zoo is open 9:30am to 6pm from May 1 to September 30, and 9:30am to 4pm from October 1 to April 30.
    Zoo WebsiteReviewsDirections

  11. The Pacific Science Center at Seattle Center
  12. Pacific Science Center Seattle
    A museum full of hands on science fun. Great for kids aged 3 and up. (There’s a special play area for toddlers.) The museum has become a bit rundown and in need of some updating, but kids notice the engaging exhibits, not the cracking paint. The Tropical Butterfly House and IMAX Theater are probably the highlights. Located on the grounds of Seattle Center where there are lots of places to eat. You can easily take the Monorail here from downtown Seattle. It’s closed Tuesdays, open from 10am to 5pm Monday, Wednesday to Friday, and 10am to 6pm Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
    Science Center WebsiteReviewsDirections

  13. The Seattle Children’s Museum At Seattle Center
  14. Seattle Children's Museum Seattle Centercated 2 minutes from the Pacific Science Center. It’s in the same building as the Seattle Center Armory and all its restaurants. Taking the Monorail here from downtown Seattle is a good option. The museum is open 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.
    Children’s Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections

  15. The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
  16. Seattle Museum of Popular Culture with Kids
    There is just enough at MoPOP to keep kids aged 5 to 10 occupied for about an hour. Older kids might stay engaged for another 90 minutes. If this museum is something the adults in the family are excited to see you need not avoid it, but it could easily be scratched from a busy schedule. Sci-fi fans will appreciate the Star Trek souvenirs, Star Wars artifacts, and scary scenes from numerous science fiction movies and books.
    MoPOP WebsiteReviewsDirections

  17. Take the Water Taxi to West Seattle
  18. West Seattle Water Taxi
    There’s no cheaper way to cruise Elliott Bay. $4.75 buys you a 15-minute ride from Pier 50 on the downtown waterfront to Seacrest Park in West Seattle. From there, relax on the patio with some shaved ice at Marination Ma Kai, or take one of two free shuttle buses offered: head up the hill to check out the shops and restaurants at the West Seattle Junction, or over to explore West Seattle’s beautiful Alki Beach. Alki has tons for kids to do ­– it’s 2.5 miles of sand and pebble beach, with plenty of restaurant options and great people-watching. Bike, kayak, and paddleboard rental, too. The Water taxi runs all week long from April through October, and on weekdays in the off-season. Kids 5 and under ride free.
    Water Taxi WebsiteReviewsDirections

  19. Tour the Seattle Underground
  20. The Seattle Underground Tour
    Tours of Seattle’s “underground” take visitors down beneath Pioneer Square, and through the maze of buried alleys and storefronts that were once Seattle’s surface streets. They’re a great crash (or refresher) course on Seattle history, and kids and adults both find them fascinating. You’ll want to buy your tickets in advance, as both companies routinely sell out. Finally, with steep wooden stairways and uneven surfaces, these tours can be a bit “rustic” – I don’t recommend them for people with mobility issues, very small kids, or strollers.

    Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
    This is Seattle’s original and most famous underground tour. Groups are large, and guides are friendly and knowledgable, but lean heavily on the “schtick:” you may find this super fun or supremely irritating, depending on your personality. Tours run daily, year round, and last about 75 minutes. $19/adult, $9/child.
    The Underground Tour Website • ReviewsDirections

    Beneath the Streets
    This is the more intimate underground tour option; groups are smaller and the vibe is less corporate, though the guides are just as knowledgable. (Rumor has it, many of them used to work for the other company.) Tours run daily, year round, and are about an hour long. $15/adult, $8/child.
    Beneath the Streets WebsiteReviewsDirections

  21. Go on a Stadium Tour
  22. CenturyLink Tours Safeco Field Tours Seattle
    Seattle has two world class sports stadiums: Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners, and the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC play at CenturyLink Field. Both stadiums are located just south of downtown, are easily accessible by bus and Link light rail, and offer tours year round.

    Safeco Field Tours
    Depart from the stadium’s Team Store on 1st Ave, and are about an hour long. Tickets can be purchased through their website in advance, or pick them up at the Team Store shortly before the tour is scheduled to depart. You’ll see private suites, the visitor’s clubhouse, the press box, the field, and both dugouts. Wheelchair/stroller accessible. $12/adult, $10/child.
    Safeco Field WebsiteReviewsDirections

    CenturyLink Field Tours
    Depart from the Stadium Pro Shop off Occidental Ave, and last about 90 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the Downtown Pro Shop (at 4th and Pike) and the NW Box Office (off Occidental) – they sell out quickly and cannot be purchased by phone or online, so it’s recommended that you get there at least a half hour before the tour is scheduled to start. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to confirm the tour schedule, as tours aren’t given on event days. You’ll see the field, visitor’s locker room, press box, private suites, and the famous 12th Man flagpole. Wheelchair/stroller accessible. $12/adult, $5/child.
    CenturyLink Field WebsiteReviewsDirections

  23. Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
  24. Museum of History and Industry in Seattle with kids.
    Recently relocated and completely refurbished, this is one of Seattle’s best museums and a fantastic destination for both kids and adults. The exhibits are hands-on, detail rich, and very well done. The museum charts the history of the region though the development of major companies and industries. It’s located next to Lake Union and easily accessible by the South Lake Union Trolley. There’s a decent restaurant within the museum, and children 14 and under are free. Open 10am to 5pm daily, open until 8pm on Thursdays.
    MOHAI WebsiteReviewsDirections

  25. Music, Food, and Cultural Festivals
  26. Bumbershoot with kids.
    Seattle’s got a lot to celebrate, and more festivals than you can shake a stick at. Check out this full list of festivals by month, and don’t miss these family-friendly favorites:
    BumbershootNorthwest FolklifeSeaFair • and Maker Faire.

  27. Ride the Ferris Wheel on the Seattle Waterfront
  28. Ferris wheel in downtown Seattle.
    There are amazing views of the Seattle waterfront and Elliott Bay from the Seattle Great Wheel. Don’t worry about the rain – gondolas are fully enclosed, and hold up to 8 people. Pro tip: skip the ticket queue by buying online. Tickets are good anytime, and have no expiration date. Be sure to arrive with paper tickets in hand, though. If you’ve only got a confirmation code, you’ll have to wait in line anyway.
    Seattle Great Wheel WebsiteReviewsDirections

  29. Seattle Public Library
  30. Seattle downtown public library with kids
    This downtown modern architectural masterpiece is a great stop for kids of any age. Stop by the 1st floor visitor’s center and start a self-guided tour (available through podcast, MP3 download, and cell phone), or take the neon escalators up to the swoon-worthy views from the 10th floor reading room. There’s cool public art, a massive children’s center filled with books and computers, story time almost every day, and a café cart for snack time. The library is walkable from most points downtown, easily accessible by Metro bus, and has an underground parking garage. Library Hours are Monday to Thursday 10am-8pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm. Visit their storytime and events page here.
    Library WebsiteReviewsDirections

  31. Rent a Boat or Kayak
  32. Renting a kayak with kids.
    There are a number of different shops that rent boats, canoes, and kayaks to paddle around Lake Union and Washington and even little Greenlake. All supply life vests for kids and adults. The best are: the Center for Wooden BoatsMoss BayNorthwest Outdoor CenterAgua Verde Cafe and Paddle ClubUW Waterfront Activities Center • and Greenlake Boat Rentals.

  33. Play Pinball
  34. Where to Play Pinball in Seattle

    Seattle Pinball Museum
    Leave the quarters at home – the Pinball Museum has over 50 vintage and modern arcade games, and all are free to play after a single entrance fee. Sodas, snacks, and local craft beers available for purchase. Ages 7 and over. It’s located in Seattle’s International District, so there’s lots of great food nearby, and is accessible by Metro bus and link Light rail.
    Hours: Thursday-Saturday 12pm-10pm; Sunday, Monday, Wednesday 12pm-5pm. Closed Tuesdays.
    Seattle Pinball Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Full Tilt Ice Cream
    They’ve got classic pinball and arcade games, NW beer, and incredibly delicious all natural house-made ice cream. Flavors range from standard vanilla to the unique and exotic (Sriracha/peanut butter, anyone?), along with a good variety of vegan options. Large portion sizes and small prices for ice cream of this caliber. Four Seattle locations: Ballard, the University District, Ballard, and White Center.
    Full Tilt WebsiteReviews

  35. The Ballard Locks and Fish Ladder
  36. Fish swimming through the Ballard Fish Locks viewing area.
    Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks help boats get from sea level up to the level of Lake Union. The Fish Ladder does the same thing for spawning salmon, allowing them to return to the lakes and rivers around Seattle. There’s a viewing area where you see the salmon swim by (it’s pretty neat to watch), and free one-hour Locks tours.
    The Locks WebsiteThe Fish LadderReviewsDirections

  37. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
  38. Totem poles at Seattle's Burke Museum of History and Culture
    It’s not as hands-on as the Science Museum at Seattle Center, but this small, well laid out museum on the University of Washington campus has a more truly scientific bent. The center of the U-District is just a few blocks away and is filled with great (and cheap) places to eat, or take the viaduct down to nearby University Village. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
    The Burke Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections

  39. Ballard and the Ballard Farmers Market
  40. The Ballard Farmer's Market in Seattle
    Pike Place Market is great, but if you really want to experience one of Seattle’s famous local markets then head to the Ballard Farmers’ Market. It’s every Sunday from 10-3, and is a great spot to wander, shop and eat. Ballard’s lots of fun on other days of the week, too – it’s home to the Locks and is one of Seattle’s hippest neighborhoods, with loads of restaurants, cafes, and a brand new library with story hours for kids.

    Recommended kid-friendly Ballard Restaurants: Skillet DinerThe Hi-LifeSeñor Moose CaféBallard Pizza CompanyLi’l Woody’s Burgers and Shakes

  41. Hang Out at Seattle Center
  42. Artists at Play playground at Seattle Center MoPOPref=”” target=”_blank”>Museum of Pop Culture, and the Children’s Museum and Theatre, but on a nice day there’s also at least an afternoon’s worth of fun there that doesn’t require an entrance fee:

    The International Fountain
    It looks so simple. The large half-ball of a fountain looks like something you’d walk by, glance at for a minute or two, say “neat” and continue on your way. But the fountain has a way of pulling you in and lulling you into an afternoon of watching water jets shoot into the air in tune with the blasting music – leaving visitors wondering where their day went. When it’s hot kids have a blast.

    Artists at Play Playground
    Located just west of MoPOP on Seattle Center grounds, this awesome music-themed playground is a hit with kids of all ages. Anchored by a massive 35-foot climbing tower and 50-foot tube slide, the park has cool musical play sculptures, ADA accessible swing and merry go round, and separate toddler play structure. A must-do if you’re out and about Seattle Center.

    Restaurants at the Armory
    Better than your average food court, The Armory has lots of great, locally-owned options for a quick snack or a sit-down lunch. My recommendations: Skillet CounterEltana Wood-Fired BagelsMod Pizza.

  43. Go Tidepooling
  44. Tidepooling in Seattle with Kids
    Puget Sound waters are great to explore at low tide – you don’t even have to leave the city to find sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea stars, urchins, and more. Constellation Park in West Seattle, Discovery Park in Magnolia, Ballard’s Golden Gardens Park, and Carkeek Park in North Seattle all have great tide pools when the water’s out. Check the tide schedules online or use a free phone app (Tides Near Me is a good one); any time you see the tides dip into the negative range is a good time to go. And keep an eye out for folks in red hats – at very low tides, the Seattle Aquarium sends out a fleet of friendly beach naturalists to educate and answer questions. Here are some great resources to get you started:
    Washington Trails Association Guide to Tidepooling with Kids
    Online Tidal Chart
    Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist Program

  45. Gates Foundation Visitor Center
  46. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitors Center with kids Seattle
    Just across the street from Seattle Center and MoPOP, the center explores the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, its philosophy, and the best ways to improve health and education around the world. The theme of exhibits often returns to two questions: What does it take to change the world? How can each of us make a difference? The center is a lot more fun than it might sound and there’s a fair bit of hands-on exploration. Plus, it’s free, so easy to drop in for as long or as little as you want.
    Gates Foundation Visitor Center WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  47. Take an Argosy Locks Cruise
  48. Cruise through the Ballard Locks on an Argosy Locks Cruise in Seattle
    Seeing the city by boat is a not-to-be-missed experience, and Argosy corners the market on Seattle maritime tours. Their Locks Tour is especially fun: Seattle’s working harbor and Puget Sound, Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and Fisherman’s Terminal, and the floating homes and sea planes on Lake Union are all included. It’s two hours long, but there’s more than enough to keep kids interested the entire time. All ships have bathrooms, and drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Argosy also offers a one-hour Harbor Cruise, and a “Christmas Ship” tour in December with caroling and Santa Claus. Argosy sails out of Pier 55, right on the downtown waterfront.
    Argosy WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  49. The Center for Wooden Boats
  50. Seattle Center for Wooden Boats with Kids
    If this gem of a museum on south Lake Union looks small, it’s because all the best bits are out on the water. It’s always free to walk the docks and explore, and there are sailboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats for rent. CWB hosts free public sails on Sundays (they’re really popular; you’ll want to get in line before 10am), and has a maritime-themed story hour (aboard a 100-year-old tugboat!) every Thursday from 11-12. Great paired with a visit to the Museum of History and Industry next door. CWB is easily accessible by bus and streetcar, and has a limited number of parking spots available. Boathouse and rental hours are abbreviated in the off season – be sure to check the website before you go.
    Center for Wooden Boats WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  51. Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
  52. Panning for gold at Seattle's Klondike Gold Rush Museum
    Actually a small museum in Pioneer Square, this national park has artifacts and exhibits highlighting Seattle’s role in the Klondike gold rush of the 1890’s. It’s open year-round, with twice-daily gold panning demonstrations and Pioneer Square walking tours from June through Labor Day. Park rangers are friendly, and give kids a “passport” to stamp along the way. Best part? It’s all free! Definitely worth popping in if it’s summer and you’re in the area. Hours: 10am-5pm daily, Labor day through May. 9am-5pm daily, June through Labor Day.
    Klondike Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  53. See a Play at the Seattle Children’s Theatre
  54. Seattle theater with kids“” target=”_blank”>Seattle Children’s Museum, Pacific Science Center, Artists at Play Playground, and the Armory Building Food Court, it’s easy to pair a play with a museum trip or a casual lunch out.
    Seattle Children’s Theater WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

    Seattle Children’s Theater 2016/17 Season:
    The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: October 13 – December 11, 2016
    Stellaluna: December 1, 2016 – January 8, 2017
    The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats: January 19 – February 26, 2017
    Into the West: February 23 – March 19, 2017
    Seedfolks: March 23 – April 16, 2017
    Fire Station 7: April 13 – May 21, 2017

  55. Go Camping
  56. Tent camping with kids.
    Seattle is blessed with dozens (maybe hundreds) of great camping spots within 2 or 3 hours of the city. Read a quick overview of camping options in Washington State.

  57. Go Cabin Camping
  58. Cama Beach State Park is great for families.
    Not up for pitching a tent – or packing all the equpipment? The cabins at Cama Beach (pictured above) and Camp Long, or the yurts at Tolt MacDonald Park are great for families. But book early as these places fill many months in advance.

  59. Visit Soundbridge
  60. Soundbridge Musical Petting Zoo in Seattle
    Seattle Symphony’s Musical Discovery Center is like an instrument petting zoo housed within grand Benaroya Hall. Most days of the week, Soundbridge is reserved by school groups, but it’s open to the public on Fridays, and well worth checking out. All the instruments of the orchestra are available to try, there are musical-themed crafts, and a charming musical storytime. No need to worry about the germ factor – the friendly staff sanitizes mouthpieces after every guest. The Discovery Center also plays host to the Symphony’s First Concerts series, featuring short performances and hands-on Q&A for the juice-box set. Soundbridge is walkable from most points downtown, is easily bus accessible, and adjacent to Benaroya Hall’s underground parking garage. Hours: Fridays 10am-2pm, with musical storytime at 10:30.
    Soundbridge WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  61. Argosy Tillicum Village Excursion
  62. The Native American longhouse of Tillicum Village on Blake Island near Seattle
    A fascinating introduction to Seattle’s Native People’s History. 4 hours in total, the trip begins with a beautiful 45-minute boat cruise to Blake Island. There you’re treated to a Pacific Northwest-inspired buffet (the alderwood-smoked salmon is amazing) and stories and dance from Coast Salish tribe members – all in a traditional Native longhouse. Afterward, stick around to poke around the museum and gift shop, or explore the trails of beautiful Blake Island State Park. The combination of boat cruise, meal, and entertainment make this a great deal for the price. Excursions run from April through September, though July onward is your best chance for pleasant weather. Book early – these tours sell out, and an early-booking discount is offered more than 28 days in advance. Tours begin and end at Pier 55 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
    Argosy WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  63. Stroll Through The Sculpture Park
  64. Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park.
    The Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park displays large pieces of sculptured art along the waterfront, halfway between Seattle Center and downtown with great views of the sound, mountains, and ferries. The museum’s main location is downtown (near Pike Place Market) and makes a good effort at being kid-friendly. TASTE Cafe in the park’s Paccar Pavilion is handy for snacks and beverages.
    Olympic Sculpture Park WebsiteReviewsParking & Directions

  65. Go For A Hike
  66. Hikes for kids near Seattle.
    There are lots of great hikes in and near Seattle. Here are 10 of the best hikes in the Seattle area for families.

  67. Go to Bainbridge Island
  68. Bainbridge Island day trip with kids
    Spend a day on Bainbridge Island – It’s a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, and a perfect day trip for families. Here’s why you want to go:

    Bainbridge Island Ferry
    Departing from Pier 52 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront, this 35-minute ride offers unparalleled views of the mountains, Puget Sound, and the Seattle skyline. It operates on a first come, first served basis, and the car line can be quite long in the summer, so plan to arrive well ahead of time or, better yet, leave the car behind. (You’ll save money as a walk-on passenger and there’s plenty to do within foot distance from the ferry terminal.) All Bainbridge Island ferries have restrooms and food service on board.
    Ferry Schedule and Rate InformationFerry FAQs

    Kids’ Discovery Museum (KiDiMu)
    It’s not large, but this sweet indoor play center provides perfect wet-day entertainment for toddlers and preschoolers. Their hands-on exhibits and play spaces are well-designed and fun, with a miniature town, pirate tree house, STEM and art centers, and year-round outdoor climbing wall. Outside food and beverage is allowed, or pop out for nearby pizza or diner food – admission is good for the entire day. KiDiMu is easily walkable from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking.
    KiDiMu WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

    Waterfront Park
    It’s a short walk from the ferry terminal to Eagle Harbor’s 5-acre Waterfront Park. There’s a paved half-mile path along the shoreline, a playground, public restrooms and boat launch. There’s also an excellent grocery nearby, for easy snacks and picnicking.
    Park WebsiteTown and Country Market

    Back of Beyond Outfitters
    See Bainbridge from the water – Back of Beyond offers kayak, canoe, and paddle board rental at reasonable rates and within walking distance from the ferry. Tours and classes, too. Their rental location is on the public dock at Waterfront Park.
    Back of Beyond WebsiteReviews

    Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
    Older kids will be fascinated by this excellent little museum, housed in a 1908 schoolhouse in downtown Winslow. Award-winning exhibits cover Native American beginnings, early exploration, logging and shipbuilding, and the Island’s history of Japanese-American internment during World War II. Staff is super friendly and knowledgeable, and the museum is a mere 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. If you’ve got a car, pairing this museum with a visit to the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Memorial is particularly poignant.
    Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Bainbridge Aquatics Center
    Clean and well-maintained, this community indoor swimming pool has just about everything a family could want – rope swings, diving boards, 180-foot slide, lazy river, toddler pool with water toys, lap lanes, sauna, hot tubs, and snacks for purchase at the front desk. Admission is $6/adults, $5/kids, and free for 2-and-unders. There’s lots of free parking and the Aquatics Center is an easy 5-minute drive from the ferry terminal.
    Aquatics Center WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Island Rock Gym
    Indoor climbing and bouldering, a ten-minute drive from the ferry. Drop in, or reserve a class and have a professional show you the ropes. Island Rock Gym is clean, competitively priced, and offers snacks, drinks, and free coffee. Kids under 5 climb free, and admission is good all day.
    Island Rock WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Battle Point Park
    The best park on Bainbridge Island – it’s got duck ponds and sports fields, and the playground is incredible. The 1.6-mile path around the park winds through grassy meadows and forests, and is paved and level. Follow the Fairy Dell trail down to the beach. Battle Point Park is a 15 to 20-minute drive from the ferry terminal and has plenty of free parking.
    Battle Point Park WebsiteReviewsDirections

    The Bloedel Reserve
    Once a private estate, this immaculately-maintained 150-acre public garden is a wooded wonderland of lush, landscaped trails. There’s a moss garden and Japanese garden, ponds and reflecting pool, estate house and sweeping Puget Sound views. The loop trail takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, and while the terrain isn’t tough, it might be challenging with a stroller. The Bloedel Reserve is a 15 minute drive from the ferry. No food or pets allowed.
    Bloedel Reserve WebsiteReviews Directions

    Fay Bainbridge State Park
    With sandy, driftwood-strewn beaches, this is a great park for exploring when the tide is out. Great tide pools, amazing views of Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains and (on clear days) Mount Rainier. It’s on the northeast coast of the island, an easy 15-minute drive from the ferry.
    Fay Bainbridge Park WebsiteReviewsReviews

  69. Take an Ice Cream Cruise
  70. Sunday Family Ice Cream Cruise Seattle
    This fun and inexpensive Lake Union boat tour operates on Sundays year-round, and is a perfect activity for kids. There’s a chance to learn some Seattle history, watch sea planes take off and land, and see some floating homes and Dale Chihuly’s glass studio – but at only 45 minutes, it’s great for short attention spans. There are ice cream treats available for purchase on board (hot chocolate in colder months), and well-behaved dogs are welcome. Tickets are $12/adult, $5/ kids 5-13 years, $3/under 5, and are cannot be purchased in advance. Cash and check only. Departs Sundays from Lake Union Park, between 11am and 3pm, on the hour. Seattle street parking is free on Sundays, and the park is easily accessible by Metro bus and streetcar.
    Ice Cream Cruise WebsiteReviewsDirections

  71. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
  72. Theo Chocolate Factory tour with kids
    Kids 6 and older love touring this working chocolate factory in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, north of downtown. There’s an interesting 20-minute presentation on the bean-to-bar process, a walk through the manufacturing area, an amazing chocolate shop at the end of the tour, and plenty of free samples along the way. On weekends, Theo offers Chocolate Story Time for the smaller kids, complete with kid-friendly factory tour and samples. Tours are $10/person ($8 for Story Time), and fill up quickly – best to book in advance. Theo Chocolate has on-street parking, and is accessible by Metro Bus. Hours: 10am-6pm Daily.
    Theo Chocolate WebsiteReviewsDirections

  73. Go to an Indoor Climbing Gym
  74. Climbing gyms in Seattle
    Whether you’re looking for a fun first foray into the rock climbing world, or have loads of experience under your harness, here are Seattle’s best indoor places to climb (with ropes) and boulder (no ropes) with kids:

    Vertical World
    Located in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, Vertical World offers excellent climbing and bouldering routes under soaring 50-foot ceilings. Their experienced climbers will show you (and handle) the ropes during a one-hour Rock Climbing Experience Class (by reservation), or drop in to boulder at any time. This is a great experience to pair with a trip to Discovery Park or lunch at nearby Chinook’s at Fisherman’s Terminal. Child care is offered, with advance registration. Vertical World has both lot and street parking, with the nearest Metro bus stop a 5 to 10 minutes’ walk away. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 8am-8pm.
    Vertical World WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Stone Gardens
    Next door to the Ballard Locks, Stone Gardens is a fun indoor/outdoor climbing gym with two rooms dedicated to bouldering. Call in advance to book a Pro Belay (intro to rock climbing) class, or just stop by to scrabble around. Maximize the fun by combining this with a trip to the Locks and a to-die-for burger at nearby Red Mill Totem House. Stone Gardens has free on-site parking and is Metro bus accessible. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 9am-10pm.
    Stone Gardens Seattle WebsiteReviewsDirections

    Seattle Bouldering Project
    It’s a bit off the beaten path, but Seattle Bouldering Project in the Beacon Hill neighborhood is a great choice for those not interested in the ropes. They’ve got two full floors of bouldering, with cushy 2-foot thick floor mats, a children’s play area, and tons of natural light. Day pass prices are reasonable, and shoe rental is free on your first visit. Seattle Bouldering Project has ample on-site parking, and is accessible by Metro bus. Hours: Weekdays 6am-11pm, Weekends 9am-10pm.
    Seattle Bouldering Project WebsiteReviewsDirections

    REI Seattle
    More than a store, REI’s flagship location in downtown Seattle has mini hiking trails, a waterfall, and a massive 65-foot indoor climbing pinnacle. Single climbs are available in 15 and 30 minute intervals, by advance reservation on weekends or on a drop-in basis from 1:30 to 6:30pm Fridays. Group climbs are available by reservation most weekdays. REI Flagship also features a children’s play area, a café for snacking and light meals, an underground parking garage (first hour free), and is easily accessible by Metro bus. Store Hours: Weekdays and Saturdays 9am-9pm, Sundays 10am-7pm.
    REI Climbing Pinnacle Information

  75. Play Video Games at Gameworks
  76. Seattle Gameworks video game arcade
    A huge 2-level arcade filled with old and new video games. Gameworks is located in downtown Seattle and a short walk from Pike Place Market, the Monorail, and Westlake Mall. Bonus: Adults can order beer (though it’s expensive). Food is served in the arcade, and there’s a Cheesecake Factory directly across the street. A multiplex movie theater is on the floors above.
    Gameworks WebsiteGameworks Reviews Directions

  77. Swim at a Beach
  78. Great beaches for kids in Seattle.
    Seattle has several great beaches. My favorites are below. All have public restrooms.

    Matthews Beach on Lake Washington
    Located on the Burke Gilman bike trail. A nice swimming spot with life guards on duty during opening hours. (Like all beaches you can swim anytime at your own discretion.)

    Madison Park Beach on Lake Washington
    Located in the Madison Park neighborhood with a half-dozen restaurants, a Starbucks, and beautiful playground within 3 blocks of the beach. Life guards on duty and a raft with a diving board is moored 100 feet out into the lake.

    Green Lake Beach
    The warmest place to swim and a popular favorite. There are 2 different beaches on opposite sides of this small lake. A very popular walk/bike path (2.5 miles around) circles the lake. Life guards on duty and a raft with a diving board is moored 100 feet out into the lake. Lots of restaurants, a wading pool, and a playground are found at the north end of the lake. Rent boats, paddle boats, kayaks, and paddle boards at Green Lake Boat Rentals (on the sunniest weekend days there can be a 30+ minute wait for rentals but most of the time there’s plenty of stock).

    Golden Gardens on Puget Sound
    The water is cold here so not great for swimming but this is still one of Seattle’s most popular beaches. Barbecues are scattered along the beach and free for using (first come, first served). There’s a creek here that’s fun for kids to divert and dam. Located on the western end of the Burke Gilman bike and pedestrian path (about 1.5 miles from Ballard neighborhood). There aren’t any restaurants right at the beach (though there are 2 within a short bike ride).

  79. Go Geocaching
  80. The best spots for geocaching in Seattle
    Geocaching is a free, GPS-based treasure hunt taking place all over the world. It’s a great activity for families, and a fun way to explore a new city. (Check out Geocaching 101 to get started.) Here are a few of Seattle’s best caching spots:

    Geocaching Headquarters in Fremont [GCK25B]
    The mothership. Schedule a hosted visit, or just pop in during their weekday drop-in hours to log the coveted HQ cache, get exclusive swag, and meet the Lackeys who make it all happen. It’s all free. After your visit, take the GeoTour, a fun 9-stop multi within walking distance of HQ.
    Geocaching HQ WebsiteReviewsGeocache Info

    Olympic Sculpture Park [GC1A2TN]
    Downtown multicache with gorgeous Puget Sound views and incredible artwork from the Seattle Art Museum’s collection.
    Olympic Sculpture Park WebsiteReviewsGeocache Info

    Kubota Gardens [GCM2C9]
    South Seattle multicache in an historic landmark. Absolutely beautiful location, with waterfalls, streams, bridges, and landscaped trails.
    Kubota Gardens WebsiteReviewsGeocache Info

  81. Living Computer Museum
  82. Seattle Computer Museum
    Take a walk through computer history and a hands-on exploration of dozens of restored machines with original software. Just for kids, there’s the LCM Bit Zone, with vintage video games to play, and cool interactive circuitry and binary exhibits. Admission is a steal at $6/adult, $2/youth, and includes a museum tour. LCM is located south of Safeco Field in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, with free lot parking and easy access via Metro bus and Link light rail (SODO station). Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10am-5pm.
    Living Computer Museum WebsiteReviewsDirections & Parking

  83. Explore the Fremont Neighborhood
  84. The Fremont Troll
    Quirky Fremont is one of Seattle’s most fun and unique neighborhoods. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the best stretch of the Burke Gilman path, and is a great place to walk around, grab a restaurant bite, or have a picnic. On Sunday there’s a huge market with lots of great food and flea-market style vendors. The Urban Beer Garden at the Fremont Brewery is family-friendly and a great place to have a couple pints of a local Seattle beer – you’re welcome to bring outside food into the brewery.

    Here are my top picks for kid-friendly food in Fremont: Uneeda BurgerHomegrownFrelard Pizza CompanyCafe Turko • and PCC Natural Market.

  85. Fly on a Trapeze
  86. Fly on a trapeze in Seattle
    Seattle is home to two amazing circus schools, and both offer one-time introductory classes open to everyone 6 years and older.

    Emerald City Trapeze Arts
    Located in a beautiful wood-beamed warehouse space just south of downtown. They offer tons of beginning trapeze and arial arts classes and are super easy to get to – only a block away from the Link Light Rail SODO station. Plan ahead: advance registration is required, and it’s best to reserve a few weeks out.
    Emerald City Trapeze Arts WebsiteReviewsDirections

    The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) (SANCA)
    The largest circus school in the US, SANCA is located south of downtown in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Most of their classes are series-based, but they do offer 2-hour single serve flying trapeze classes most days of the week. Preregistration and payment are required at least 48 hours in advance. SANCA has plenty of available parking, and is a few blocks from the nearest Metro bus stop.
    SANCA WebsiteReviewsDirections

  87. Visit A Swimming or Wading Pool
  88. Wading pool for kids at one of Seattle's public parks.
    There are 2 very fun outdoor swimming pools with water slides in the city. Mounger Pool in Magnolia and Colman Pool in West Seattle. They get manageably busy on the hottest days of the summer.

    Seattle also opens a number of wading pools that are a fun and relaxing way for the littlest ones to cool off and play when the city gets hot. (And yes, that does happen.)  You can find a comprehensive list here, but my favorites are those at: Volunteer Park • Greenlake • Wallingford Park • and East Queen Anne Playground.

  89. Last Resort Fire Museum
  90. Seattle Fire Engine Museum
    It’s not for everyone, but kids (and adults) with a fascination of fire trucks will enjoy stopping in at this free Pioneer Square museum. The super knowledgeable museum staff will tell you everything you’d like to know about the beautifully restored antique fire engines on display, and there are printed information sheets about each engine to take home. Pairing this with a stop at the nearby Klondike Gold Rush museum makes for a fun (and free) educational afternoon. Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays 11am-3pm in summer, Wednesdays 11am-3pm in winter.
    Last Resort Fire Department WebsiteReviewsDirections

  91. Go for a Bike Ride
  92. The Burke Gilman bike path with kids.
    Seattle might not be Portland when it comes to bike friendly infrastructure but it has enough bike paths and bike lanes to give the casual bike visitor plenty of routes to enjoy the city. There are a couple of places to rent bikes and helmets. Downtown is not the best place for a ride, instead head to the Burke Gilman Bike Trail that runs through the popular Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard and Fremont – and continues out through the U-District and northeast Seattle for 20+ miles. It’s all relatively flat so it’s good for kids or parents pulling a trailer. Definitely keep a close eye on the kids and encourage them to keep to the right as some cyclists can ride the path at a pretty good clip. Recycled Cycles, Montlake Bike Shop and Ballard Bike Co. – all on or near the Burke path – are good options. Call ahead to see what’s available and reserve what you need.

  93. Traxx Indoor Kart Racing
  94. Go Kart Racing for Kids in Seattle
    This is a 30 minute drive north of Seattle, but a hands-down favorite with many kids. The big track and karts (which go pretty fast) are for kids 11 and older. There is a smaller track and cars for 3 to 10 year olds, and they can use the smaller karts on the big track at a couple of select times (check the website as it changes often). Video games, pool, pizza, and beer in the waiting area.
    Traxx Racing WebsiteReviewsDirections

  95. Jump Around At An Indoor Gym
  96. Foam pit at Seattle Gymnastics Academy.
    Seattle Gymnastics Academy in Ballard (pictured above), Lake City, and Columbia City offers an open gym time to jump in the foam pit, bounce on the trampoline, run and swing and flop. It’s a lot of fun but only for kids 5 and under.
    Seattle Gymnastics Academy WebsiteReviews

    PlayDate SEA is a perfect pit stop when adults need a break, but the kids have energy to spare. There’s 8,000 square feet of tunnels, slides, and climbing structures, with interactive dance floor and separate toddler play area for the kids. Adults chill in the attached lounge and café, enjoying the flat screen TVs and free WiFi access. Along with coffee, beer, and wine, the café offers snacks, kids’ meals, pizza, salad, and sandwiches. No outside food or beverage is allowed, and socks are required for kids and adults. Street parking is limited, but PlayDate SEA is easily accessed by Metro Bus.
    PlayDate SEA WebsiteReviewsDirections

  97. iFly Indoor Skydiving
  98. iFly Indoor Skydiving Seattle
    Adults and kids (age 3 and up) can don a flight suit and fly in the wind tunnel here. It’s lots of fun,  though there is a fair bit of preparation to get in the chamber – safety instructions and videos, getting dressed, waiting in line – so plan your visit for a few hours.
    iFly WebsiteReviewsDirections

  99. Go Zip Lining
  100. Ziplining in Seattle with kids
    Bellevue Zip Tour offers guided zip line and aerial challenge courses for kids and adults 9 years and older. They’ve got 6.5 lines (some up to 500 feet long and 85 feet high) through lush pine forest, super friendly and helpful guides, and great mountain views. They’re located in Bellevue’s Eastgate Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle, and operate from April through October.
    Bellevue Zip Tour Website ReviewsDirections

    If you’re open to a zip lining adventure further from the city, here are some other great courses in the area:
    Zip Wild
    5 fun zip and challenge courses located within Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville, about a hour and a half drive from Seattle. Ages 5 and up. Operates in summer only.
    Canopy Tours Northwest
    6 thrilling zip lines in a beautiful farm and forest setting. Located on Camano Island, about an hour’s drive from Seattle. Operates year round. 65 lbs and over.
    San Juan Island Zip Tour
    8 line zip tour over forests and wetlands on Beautiful San Juan Island, about 3 1/2 hours from Seattle (including ferry). Operates April through October, 8 years old/80 lbs and up.

  101. SkyMania Trampolines
  102. Trampoline Bounce House for Families
    A very fun place for kids and never too busy. You can bounce around and do flips and spins and knee drops in a huge trampoline area or play a game of dodge ball (pictured above) in the smaller area. There are a handful of fun pinball, video, and foosball games to play afterwards. It’s in Kirkland, a 15 minute drive from downtown Seattle. Adults “can” jump too but few do and it’s pretty much all kids and teenagers on the trampolines.
    SkyMania Trampolines WebsiteReviewsDirections

  103. Hit A Trendy Cafe
  104. seattle-cafes-with-kids
    Seattle is know for its awesome cafes and coffee. Most are kid friendly. Cafe Diablo on Queen Anne (pictured above) is one of our favorites. Caffe Ladro (Fremont, Capitol Hill, downtown, and near Seattle Center) and Macrina Bakery (Belltown, Queen Anne, SoDo) are also great.

The Best Places To Eat with Kids in Seattle

If you want to eat at some boring chain restaurant like Olive Garden or Red Robin, there’s no shortage of these around. However Seattle has a ton of unique and locally-owned restaurants that serve great food, and are worth trying out. With a few accommodations and some adventurous parents the whole family will have a great time.

Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Seattle with kids:

Best Pizza

Tutta Bella – They don’t serve a whole lot else beside their thin crust pizza – not even any pasta – but what they do offer is delicious. Great desserts: tiramisu and gelato, and good espresso. Four locations: Westlake (between Downtown and Seattle Center), Stone Way (between Fremont and Wallingford), Columbia City, and Issaquah.

Best Hamburger

Red Mill – A couple different locations at Interbay (between Queen Anne and Magnolia), the original on Phinney Ridge (just north of the Woodland Park Zoo), and the Totem House location next to the Ballard Locks. If you’re in Capitol Hill or Ballard, Li’l Woody’s is great, too.

Best Sushi

SushiLand in Queen Anne is a delicious and cheap conveyor-belt sushi place. Seattle has some top notch (and very expensive) Japanese restaurants but for great sushi in a relaxed setting nothing beats this SushiLand. The seared salmon is incredible. It’s walking distance from Seattle Center and the Monorail.

Coolest Place You’re Still Allowed to Take Your Kids To

Alibi Room – OK, this is pushing the definition of Kid’s Restaurant to the absolute breaking point. The Alibi Room might also fall under the category of Singles Bar or Pick Up Joint, but it’s got great food and beer, and the happy hour specials are incredible. It’s loud enough to absorb any noise and it’s very dark, so other guests might just think you’re dining with some very short adult friends. Generally, it’s more an evening spot so if you visit at lunch or early afternoon you could be the only ones in the place.

It’s a little tricky to find but that keeps all the tourists away. To get there find the famous pig in Pike Place Market, descend the stairs just a few feet away to Pike Alley and walk down the lane about 100 feet. The Alibi Room will be on your right, directly opposite Gum Wall – a collection of gum that people have plastered on one of the alley’s walls. Kids love it. Parents of good taste and upbringing find it repulsive.

Best Donuts

Top Pot Doughnuts  – Locations all over the city (Upper Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Downtown Seattle, Wedgwood, Bellevue, Mill Creek and Qwest Field). Yummy! If you’re in Pike Place Market eat some of the freshly made donuts at Daily Dozen Doughnuts.

Best Cupcakes

Trophy Cupcakes – If anyone tries to recommend Cupcake Royal to you, thank them politely and then remove them from your Christmas card list — Trophy is the indisputable cupcake champ. Locations in Wallingford, University Village, and Bellevue.

Best Ice Cream

I have a few favorites. For the hands-down best ice cream visit Molly Moon’s (eight locations around Seattle). The best ice cream parlor that also has adult treats like champagne sorbet floats is Shug’s in Pike Place Market. For the best ice cream truck, track down the roaming white truck of Parfait.

Best Bakery

The best cookies (chocolate oat peanut butter chip is my fave), breads, cakes and scones can be found at Macrina Bakery in Upper Queen Anne, Belltown and Sodo.

Best Cafe

Caffe Ladro serves the best espresso drinks in the city. (Locations in Upper and Lower Queen Anne, West Seattle, Fremont, Capitol Hill, Downtown and some suburban locations like Edmonds, Bellevue and Kirkland.) Caffe Fiore (Upper Queen Anne, Sunset Hill and Ballard) has the coolest vibe. And Irwins (Wallingford) has that laid back neighborhood vibe that Seattle has come to define.

Best Cafes with Playrooms

The best playroom/cafe combo in the city is at Mosaic Coffee House in Wallingford (just behind the Dick’s Drive-in). Their huge playroom is great for ages 6 months to 6 years. Don’t go out of your way to visit Firehouse Coffee in Ballard but if you’re in the area and need a latte, it does have a decent playroom for the kids. Wunderkind Cafe in Ravenna has cool Lego and Duplo rooms and serves food, coffee, and beer.

Vios Cafe (in Capitol Hill and Ravenna) and Serendipity Cafe (in magnolia) are 2 good restaurants with nice sized play areas for children.

Photo credits

See Also

The Best Books about Seattle

Updated: May 31, 2017

On This Page

The Best Books Set In and About Seattle

Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s something in the water, but there’s something about Seattle that inspires both writers and readers alike. (We may be the only city that has a best-selling action figure modeled after a beloved city librarian.) Consistently ranked among the nation’s most literate urban centers, Seattle’s neighborhood sidewalks are dotted with “little free libraries,” and our public library’s central branch is a vast architectural masterpiece that is nothing less than a shrine to literacy. Simply put, we’re book crazy here.

The Best Seattle Fiction

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain: A NovelGarth Stein
    A heart-filled and canine-narrated tale of love, loss, redemption, and hope. See also Stein’s A Sudden Light, Raven Stole the Moon, and How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets.
  • Blueprints of the AfterlifeRyan Boudinot
    A darkly funny and mind-bending sci-fi story of technology and its human counterpart in post-apocalyptic Seattle.
  • BoneshakerCherie Priest
    Mad inventors, pirates, and wild west zombies abound in this swashbuckling steampunk alternate-reality tale set in 1880’s Seattle.
  • Broken for YouStephanie Kallos
    An elderly Seattle recluse takes in a young woman with a mysterious past in this compelling story about chosen families and the healing power of friendship.
  • DisclosureMichael Crichton
    A taut psychological thriller revolving around an accusation of sexual harassment in 1990’s corporate Seattle.
  • Firefly LaneKristen Hannah
    A heartwarming coming-of-age tale and story of true friendship, spanning three decades in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and SweetJamie Ford
    Poignant coming of age tale set in 1940’s Seattle amid the racial tensions of WWII and Japanese-American internment. See also Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost.
  • Indian KillerSherman Alexie
    A Native-American serial murderer terrorizes Seattle, seeking vengeance for the crimes against his people.
  • Long for This WorldMichael Byers
    Richly-told story of a geneticist wrestling with an ethical dilemma, and finding comfort in his family – set in late 1990s Seattle.
  • Madison House: A NovelPeter Donahue
    The future of modern-day Seattle hangs in the balance as a group of disenfranchised boardinghouse residents attempt to hold back the re-grading of Denny Hill in the early 1900’s.
  • No-No BoyJohn Okada
    A young Japanese-American man faces imprisonment and community resentment when he refuses to pledge allegiance to the country that has interned him.
  • Set This House in Order: A Romance of SoulsMatt Ruff
    Science Fiction meets psychological thriller meets romance in this dark but touching story of two people with multiple personality disorder who fall in love. Set in Seattle.
  • Snow Falling on CedarsDavid Guterson
    A haunting and evocative account of a murder trial, set in an isolated Puget Sound island in the 1950’s.
  • Still Life with WoodpeckerTom Robbins
    Zany and philosophical, sexy and psychedelic – an oddball love story by one of Seattle’s best-loved authors.
  • Truth Like the SunJim Lynch
    Political cat-and-mouse between a modern-day journalist and a mastermind of the 1962 World’s Fair.
  • Until Proven GuiltyJ.A. Jance
    The first installment in a popular murder mystery series featuring J.P. Beaumont, an old-school and unconventional Seattle homicide detective.
  • WaxwingsJonathan Raban
    A British expat and a Chinese immigrant navigate an unlikely friendship during Seattle’s turn of the millennium dot-com boom.
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A NovelMaria Semple
    This sharp and satirical family comedy joyfully skewers modern Seattle and its eco-conscious, craftsman-home-loving, Microsoft-working denizens. See also Semple’s Today Will Be Different.
  • Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?G.M. Ford
    A wisecracking Seattle sleuth and a group of alcoholic vagrants attempt to retrieve a mob-boss’s daughter from the clutches of an environmental cult.
  • Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a FistSunil Yapa
    The fates of seven disparate strangers are altered during the dramatic and history-making 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle.
  • The Best Seattle Non-Fiction

    The Best Seattle Young Adult Fiction

    • Adios, NirvanaConrad Wesselhoeft
      A gifted young man is supported by poetry, music, and his friends as he struggles with survivor’s guilt in the wake of his twin brother’s death.
    • Don’t Breathe A WordHolly Cupala
      A 16 year old girl escapes an abusive boyfriend and lives as a runaway on the streets of Seattle.
    • Five Flavors of DumbAntony John
      Heart-filled story of a deaf high school senior who agrees to manage her school’s ultra-popular rock band.
    • Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer Series)Lish McBride
      A sweet and funny paranormal series about a Seattle teen who discovers he has the power to raise the dead.
    • The Nature of JadeDeb Caletti
      An anxious 18 year old girl falls for a handsome and secretive single father while working with the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo.
    • The Twilight SeriesStephanie Meyer
      Vampires, werewolves, and the Pacific Northwest. Most of the series is set in Forks, a small town on the Olympic Penninsula.

    The Best Seattle Books for Middle-Grade Readers

    • The Boxcar Children Mysteries: The Seattle PuzzleGertrude Chandler Warner
      The Alden children vacation in Seattle and solve a mystery as they sightsee.
    • Dear America: The Fences Between UsKirby Larson
      Set in early 1940’s Seattle, a young girl’s life is turned upside down after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the internment of her Japanese-American neighbors.
    • Hannah West SeriesLinda Johns
      A plucky, 12-year-old amateur sleuth solves mysteries in various Seattle neighborhoods.
    • Jackie’s Wild SeattleWill Hobbs
      Shannon, age 14, and her younger brother, Cody, spend the summer in Seattle with their animal-rescuing uncle.
    • Our Only May AmeliaJennifer Holm
      The adventures of a headstrong girl in a family of Finnish immigrants in 1890’s Washington State.
    • Ruby Lu, Brave and TrueLenore Look & Anne Wilsdorf
      The first in a series of books about a spunky, Asian-American eight-year-old living in Seattle. See also Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything and Ruby Lu, Star of the Show.

    • DashKirby Larson
      A fifth-grade girl and her dog are separated as her family is moved from Seattle to a WWII Japanese-American Internment camp.

    The Best Seattle Picture Books

    The Best Seattle Coloring and Activity Books

    See Also

    The Best Hotels in Seattle
    The Best Restaurants in Seattle
    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Seattle With Kids: The 51 Best Things to Do
    What’s On in Seattle: Seattle Events and Festivals

    The Best Restaurants in Seattle

    Updated: May 30, 2017

    See Also

    The Best Places to Eat in Seattle

    Tips and Recommendations

    • Seattle’s a laid-back place. Casual attire is suitable just about anywhere (except Canlis).
    • Most of the best restaurants in Seattle take reservations, so call ahead if there’s a spot you really want to to try.
    • Seattle’s best brunch is at Toulouse Petit and Portage Bay Cafe.
    • The best restaurant for a fancy splurge is Canlis.
    • Seattle’s best restaurant patio can be found at Westward.
    • The best Chinese restaurants in Seattle are Harbor City and Din Tai Fung.
    • Seattle’s best Mexican restaurant is La Carta de Oaxaca.
    • The best vegetarian restaurants in Seattle is Café Flora.
    • The best spots for dinner and a show in Seattle are The Pink Door and Teatro Zinzani.
    • Seattle’s best sushi is at Shiro’s.
    • Seattle’s best Japanese restaurant is Maneki.
    • Seattle’s best sandwich is at Salumi.
    • The best restaurant in Pike Place Market is Matt’s in the Market.
    • The best clam chowder in Seattle is at Pike Place Chowder.
    • The best bakery in Seattle is Macrina. Their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter might be the best cookie on the planet.
    • Seattle’s best restaurants on the water are Elliot’s Oyster House and Ray’s Boathouse.
    • Seattle’s best view restaurant is Sky City at the top of the Space Needle.
    • The best pasta in Seattle is at Spinasse.
    • Seattle’s best steakhouse is El Gaucho.
    • The best late night eateries are Green Leaf and Ba Bar.
    • The best seafood in Seattle is at Etta’s and Rock Creek.
    • Seattle’s best burger is at Red Mill. The best in downtown is at Lil Woody’s.
    • The best dessert in Seattle is the coconut cream pie at Dahlia Bakery. (But all Tom Douglas restaurants have it – if it’s not on the menu, just ask.)

    The 15 Best Restaurants in Seattle

    • Westward – $$ – Reviews
      Monday–Friday: 4pm-10pm
      Saturday/Sunday: 10am-10pm
      Phone: (206) 552-8215

      Best Places to Eat in Fremont

      Westward serves up seafood and Mediterranean/new American cuisine in a charming lakeside location on the north shore of Lake Union. A popular spot for dinner and weekend brunch, their evolving coastally-inspired menu includes vegetarian options, fish and seafood, and heartier meat and poultry options. Emphasis is placed on fresh and local ingredients. If you’re in a hurry, the attached Little Gull Oyster Bar’s menu includes a generous selection of snacks, and their knowledgeable bartenders are happy to teach you everything you never knew you wanted to know about oysters. Both Westward and Little Gull offer signature cocktails, as well as tap beer and a sizable wine list.

      The atmosphere in Westward’s main dining area is casual and cool, decorated in a hip and modern maritime theme that manages not to cross the line into nauseatingly nautical. If the weather is agreeable, however, the place to be is outside. Share a meal while overlooking Lake Union, snack on oysters and gaze at city views from an Adirondack chair, or sip champagne around the bonfire; the beachy atmosphere of Westward’s patio area is truly unique and delightful.

      Reservations are recommended (and only taken through their website), especially for dinner and in the warmer months. Parking is free in the small lot, with additional free street and lot parking nearby. Valet service is offered on Friday and Saturday nights for $12. Boaters are welcome to use Westward’s dock or pull kayaks up onto the beach.

    • Serious Pie – $$ – Reviews
      11am-11pm daily
      Phone: (206) 838-7388

      Best Pizza to Eat in Seattle

      There’s pizza, and then there’s Serious Pie. In 2006, iconic Seattle chef, Tom Douglas, turned the culinary spotlight onto this often humble food – forever elevating the form with his thin, amazingly crispy-crusted and delectable pies. Serious Pie’s pizzas are baked in an apple wood-fired oven and crafted using fresh, local ingredients, house-cured meats, and innovative toppings such as smoked duck and Penn Cove clams. Prelude your pizza with a marinated kale salad, bruschetta, or charcuterie board, and save room for dessert – their seasonal housemade ice creams and fresh cannoli provide a perfectly sweet ending to an amazing meal. Serious Pie has a generous selection of local and regional beers and ciders (seven on tap), as well as a variety of wines and house-crafted sodas. Happy hour is from 3-5pm on weekdays, with discounts on beer and wine, and all regular menu pizzas offered in half-sizes for $6.

      The atmosphere at this Belltown pizzeria is cozy and boisterous, with most of the seating at communal tables. There’s usually a wait, but the staff at Serious Pie ensure that it’s a pleasant one – they’re happy to call or text you when your table is ready, so you’re free to poke around inside neighboring shops or catch a cocktail nearby. Large parties can call ahead and reserve the “Kitchen Table,” which is exactly what it sounds like (it’s where they shape their pizza dough), and enjoy full menu access and a truly behind-the-scenes experience.
      Serious Pie is easily accessible by Metro Bus and Link Light Rail (Westlake station), with metered street parking and pay lots nearby.

    • Shiro’s Sushi – $$$ – Reviews
      5:30-10:30pm daily
      Phone: (206) 443-9844

      Best Sushi Places to Eat in Seattle

      Any fan of traditional Japanese sushi would do well to visit Shiro’s, considered for over 20 years the gold standard of Seattle Sushi restaurants. Located in Seattle’s bustling Belltown neighborhood, Shiro’s highly-trained chefs use local and seasonally-available seafood to craft their sushi in the edomae method, traditional to Tokyo. This unique blend of Eastern tradition and ultra-fresh Northwest seafood will impress both sushi connoisseurs and novices alike. Don’t expect any flashy décor — the simplicity of this small and casual space allows the flavors of the expertly-prepared food to truly shine.

      Seats at the sushi bar are hard to come by, but guarantee a great view and the only way to order an open-ended chef’s-choice omakase — customers line up before opening to snag these coveted seats. If waiting in line isn’t for you, get a table reservation and order one of Shiro’s two omakase tasting menus, along with exquisitely fresh appetizers, broiled entrees (Shiro’s original black cod recipe is a stand-out and has been featured in the New York Times), soups, and tempura dishes. A variety of hot and cold sake, as well as beer and wine are available.

      Shiro’s Sushi is easily accessible by bus. Metered street parking is available, though hard to come by in this busy neighborhood. Reservations are highly recommended for table service, though not available for seats at the sushi bar.

    • Steelhead Diner – $$ – Reviews
      11am-10pm daily
      Phone: 206) 625-0129

      Best Places to Eat in Pike Place Market

      Perched above Pike Place, with a view of the Market and Puget Sound, Steelhead Diner offers contemporary comfort food with a Pacific Northwest twist. The atmosphere here is family friendly and casual, but don’t let the placemat menus fool you – Steelhead Diner is serious about serving up thoughtfully upscale renditions of the classics we all know and love. Modern seafood standards like beer battered fish & chips, cioppino, and crab and shrimp tater tots are standouts in Steelhead’s menu, which also includes signature soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as more sophisticated options like grilled whole trout and coffee-crusted New York Steak. Steelhead Diner has a full bar and offers an extensive selection of Northwest wines and beers. Their commitment to local and sustainably-sourced ingredients means that even the soda hails from nearby.

      Reservations can be made online or by phone, and are recommended for dinner and for large lunch groups. Steelhead’s market location makes it easily accessible by Metro bus or Link light rail (Westlake station). Parking is amply available in nearby garages and lots, while street parking around the market is metered and can be hard to come by.

    • Armandino’s Salumi – $$ – Reviews
      Monday 11am-1:30pm (take out only)
      Tuesday–Friday 11am-3:30pm
      Phone: (206) 621-8772

      Best Places to Eat in Seattle

      The best cured meats this side of Manhattan can be found at Armandino’s Salumi in historic Pioneer Square. Locals simply call this spot “Salumi,” and know that time served waiting in line here will be amply rewarded with mouth-watering, hand-cured Italian goodness. The wide variety of meats and salamis is amazing on its own, but it’s their stand-out sandwiches that really make this small restaurant worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood and worth the trip if you’re not. A variety of cold deli-style sandwiches and 3-4 hot sandwiches are offered daily (the meatball and porchetta being particular crowd favorites), along with a daily soup, pasta and veggie side. House wines, Italian beer, and soft-drinks complete the menu.

      Armandino’s Salumi is a small, family owned operation (and what a family: Armandino is Armandino Batali, Mario’s dad), so hours are abbreviated: it’s open exclusively for weekday lunch, and Mondays are take-out only, with a limited menu of their most popular sandwiches. Come early to avoid the long lines, or call before 10am with your sandwich order (cold sandwiches only) and skip the line altogether. Armandino’s Salumi is easily accessible by Metro bus and Link light rail (Pioneer Square station), with street parking and pay-lots available nearby.

    • The Pink Door – $$ – Reviews
      Monday–Thursday 11:30am-10pm
      Friday/Saturday 11:30am-11pm
      Sunday 4pm-10pm
      (Lounge area always open until 1am)
      Phone: (206) 443-3241
      Best Italian Places to Eat in Seattle

      Equal parts enchanting, delicious, and entertaining, The Pink Door is an Italian food lover’s dream. Inside this unassuming gray building near Pike Place Market lies a whimsically romantic trattoria that serves up delicious Italian standards with a view. Perfect for lunch and dinner al fresco, The Pink Door’s charming dining deck overlooks Elliot Bay, and inside is all about entertainment. Diners delight in the jazz musicians, tarot-card readers, and magicians that perform nightly within the high-ceilinged dining room, with trapeze artists appearing on Sunday and Monday evenings. On Saturday nights, head back after dinner into the lounge area to enjoy The Pink Door’s weekly late night cabaret/burlesque show (with separate cover charge). All this razzle-dazzle is grounded by a deliciously simple, seasonal menu of homestyle Italian favorites that manage to hit all the right notes, as well as full bar service and a sizable selection of Italian and Northwest wines.

      It’s easy to miss this gem – there’s no sign, so look for the pink door in Post Alley between Stewart and Virginia Streets. Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner – especially if you’re looking to catch the trapeze show. Note that online reservations are for deck seating only, call to reserve a spot in the dining room.
      The Pink Door can be easily accessed by Metro bus and Link Light Rail (Pioneer Square station). Metered street parking can be difficult to come by, but there are many pay lots and parking ramps nearby.

    • The Walrus and the Carpenter – $$$ – Reviews
      4-10pm daily
      Phone: (206) 395-9227

      Best Places to Eat in Ballard

      Since opening in 2010, the small menu and small plates at this humble Ballard oyster bar have garnered huge amounts of national praise — Bon Appetit has called The Walrus and the Carpenter one of the 20 most important restaurants in America – and it’s easy to see why. Only the freshest local oysters are served here, along with regional clams and mussels, house smoked fish, specialty meats (including a killer steak tartare), and fresh vegetable sides prepared to perfection. Amid the accolades, however, The Walrus and the Carpenter has retained the friendly feel and casual charm of an old neighborhood fishing pub. Expect to rub elbows with your neighbors within this bustling and light-filled space — the dining room seats only around 40, and it’s always chock-full.

      It’s walk-in only at this popular spot, so line up before opening or be prepared for a wait, though there are plenty of inviting shops and watering holes nearby to explore while you do, and the staff is happy to call when your table is ready. Visit during “progressive happy hour” (Monday-Thursday from 4-6pm) and enjoy ½ off market price on select oysters for the first hour, and ¼ off from 5-6. Oysters prefer sparkling wine, of course, and an ample selection is offered here, as well as French reds and whites, regional and European beer, and specialty cocktails.

      The Walrus and the Carpenter is easily accessed by Metro Bus, with RapidRide service from downtown (D Line). Metered street parking is available nearby, but hard to come by during peak dining hours in this busy neighborhood.

    • Trove – $$ – Reviews
      Noodle 12pm-11pm daily
      Parfait 12-11pm daily
      Bar 4-11pm daily
      BBQ Sunday-Thursday 5-10pm
      Friday and Saturday 5-11pm
      Phone: (206) 457-4622

      Best Places to Eat in Seattle

      Capitol Hill’s Trove is four restaurants in one – each featuring the big, bold flavors of chef Rachel Yang’s inventive take on modern Korean cuisine. Trove’s Noodle bar offers quick and casual counter service and a front row view of the noodle chefs at work preparing a handful of knock-out seasonal dishes. Their Rice Cake with Lamb Curry was named one of Bon Appetit Magazine’s five best pasta dishes of 2015. Portions are generous, and twice daily happy hours (at 4-6 and 10-11pm) will kick $2 off any noodle dish. These happy hour specials extend into Trove’s intimate and enclosed Bar, where hungry patrons are welcome to enjoy food service from the noodle bar, as well as custom cocktails, six local beers on tap, and a variety of international beers, wines, and sake.

      The largest (and priciest) jewel in Trove’s crown is the BBQ. Adventurous diners can sear their own expertly-marinated beef, pork, and prawn platters on built-in tabletop grills within this vibrant and club-like Korean-style barbecue. The sides and starters (salt and pepper squid, crispy cauliflower, and sautéed kale sprouts, in particular) are top-notch and perfect for sharing – come with a group and order a variety. Diners preferring a less hands-on experience can sit at one of the many non-grill tables and leave the cooking to the chefs, or pick a perch at the bar and watch the show in the open kitchen. Desserts are from Parfait, Trove’s street-side “ice cream truck” window. Restaurant guests and walk-ups alike enjoy a rotating menu of multilayered custard creations, based on traditional Korean desserts and served in individual mason jars.

      Reservations are taken for parties of four or more in the BBQ area, and recommended for weekend night dining. Trove is Metro bus-accessible, with ample nearby metered street parking.

    • Cascina Spinasse – $$$ – Reviews
      Sunday–Thursday: 5-10pm
      Friday/Saturday: 5-11pm
      Phone: (206) 251-7673

      Best Hip Places to Eat in Seattle

      Cascina Spinasse is the place to go for classic Northern Italian cuisine in Seattle. This casual and quaint trattoria in Capitol Hill serves authentic Piedmontese dinner fare, crafted from local and seasonal ingredients. The menu at Cascina Spinasse is small – a handful each of antipasti, primi, and secondi plates – but every dish is pitch-perfect. While guests reliably rave about the braised rabbit and salt cod bruschetta everyone flocks here for the pasta. Rich, eggy, and hand-crafted daily, chef Stuart Lane’s pasta has been called “transformative,” particularly the finely-cut tajarin, whether ordered enveloped in a rich ragu or divinely dressed in butter and sage. Those in the mood for a real treat would do well to arrive with an empty stomach and a full wallet: Cascina Spinasse’s Menu Degustazione allows you to try it all – each antipasti, primi, and secondi on the menu for $100 a person. Full bar service and a well-curated Italian wine list complement your meal.

      Like the food served within, the atmosphere at Cascina Spinasse is rustic and warm, with worn wooden tables, soft lighting, and lace curtains framing the windows. Such inspired Italian in an intimate setting makes those rustic tables hard to come by, though — call (or book online) well in advance for reservations. Procrastinators, however, need not despair: bar seating overlooking the open kitchen is reserved for walk-in guests, so come early and try your luck.

      Cascina Spinasse is accessible by Metro bus, with ample metered street parking nearby.

    • Café Campagne – $$ – Reviews
      11am-10pm Monday-Thursday
      11am-11pm Friday
      8am-11pm Saturday
      8am-10pm Sunday
      Weekday breakfast is offered from 8am between Memorial Day and Labor Day
      Phone: (206) 728-2233

      Best French Places to Eat in Seattle

      A picture perfect Parisian-style brasserie comfortably nestled into Post Alley in Pike Place Market, Café Campagne consistently delivers French classics, flawlessly prepared. Divine egg dishes like their velvety quiche, brioche French toast, and an impeccable croque madame have made this spot particularly popular for weekend brunch, while the legendary lamb burger, handcrafted charcuterie, steak frites, and roast trout regularly draw crowds at lunch and dinner. Café Campagne offers a wide selection of French wines, European beers, and full bar service to complement your meal. Small plate specials and discounted drinks are available at weekday happy hour, from 4-6pm.

      Snag a window seat or a table on the sidewalk terrace to enjoy the frenetic energy of the market, or leave the bustle behind – the simple and classic décor of Café Campagne’s large dining space provides a cozy respite and feels intimate, despite the crowds. Reservations are recommended, especially during weekend brunch, and can be made online or over the phone.

      Café Campagne is Metro bus and Light Rail accessible (Westlake station), with garage, lot, and limited metered street parking nearby.

    • Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant – $ – Reviews
      11am-2am daily
      Phone: (206) 448-3318

      Best Places to Eat in Seattle

      A local favorite for authentic and exquisite Vietnamese cuisine, Belltown’s Green Leaf boasts generous portion sizes, exciting flavors, and hole-in-the-wall prices. This jewel of a restaurant takes some digging to find – its basement location is marked only by an unassuming green sign – but is well worth the trip. Fresh and vibrant soups, salads, noodle, and rice dishes abound in Green Leaf’s comprehensive menu, with many vegetarian options and too many standouts to count. (Locals know you can’t go wrong with the fresh spring rolls. And the savory banh xeo crepes. And the lotus root salad. And their sumptuous pho. And…) Casual and friendly, Green Leaf’s grand-sized dining area is made intimate by carved wooden furniture and Vietnamese décor. Full bar service is available, and the cozy and comfortable lounge area is the perfect spot for sipping a kumquat cocktail, or any other specialty cocktail from Green Leaf’s extensive drink menu. Perhaps best of all, this hidden gem is open until 2am nightly, making it the perfect spot for a late night bite.

      Green Leaf is easily accessed by Metro bus, with plenty of metered street parking nearby. Reservations can be made by phone, and are recommended during busy lunch and dinner hours.

    • Matt’s in the Market – $$$ – Reviews
      11:30am-2:30pm Lunch
      5:30pm-10:00pm Dinner
      5pm-7pm Happy Hour
      Phone: (206) 467-7909

      Best Places to Eat in Pike Place

      For a quintessentially Seattle dining experience, one can do no better than Matt’s, serving new American lunch and dinner in the heart of Pike Place Market. Tourists and locals both flock to this charming bistro, and with good reason. The lunch menu is brief but outstanding, with inventive salads, sandwiches, and light entrees showcasing ultra-fresh ingredients and spot-on flavors — the catfish and pulled-pork sandwiches are two dependable favorites. Matt’s dinner menu changes regularly, determined by what’s available from the market stalls below, and offers both small plates and heartier entrees. The considerable wine list is composed of regional and European vintages, and the full bar offers daily happy hour specials between 5 and 7pm.

      With high timber-beamed ceilings and checkerboard floors, Matt’s feels light and airy during the day, and romantic after the sun goes down. Large demi-lune windows frame postcard-perfect views of the iconic market sign, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains beyond.

      You won’t get a table at Matt’s without a reservation, taken both online and by phone. Book well in advance and ask for a seat with a view. Matt’s is Metro bus and Light Rail accessible (Westlake station), with garage, lot, and limited metered street parking nearby.

    • Toulouse Petit – $$$ – Reviews
      8am-2am daily
      Daily happy hours at 4pm-6pm and 10pm-1am, weekday happy hours 8am-11am
      Phone: (206) 432-9069

      Best Places to Eat in Seattle

      Located near Seattle Center in the Queen Anne neighborhood, Toulouse Petit will win the heart of any fan of Cajun cuisine and French Quarter-style excess. Their beignets, fried chicken gumbo, and shrimp and grits are on par with the best that New Orleans has to offer, and they’ll serve you a mean Sazerac at any time of day. This brasserie’s voluminous menu extends beyond New Orleans inspired fare, however, into impeccably-prepared rustic European, Mediterranean, and steakhouse-style offerings. It can be difficult to choose, so it’s good that Toulouse Petit’s three daily happy hour menus (two on weekend days) proffer a plethora of their most popular menu items for under $10 apiece – bring friends and share. The bar offers New Orleans and European beers, a comprehensive wine list, and a good variety of top-shelf liquors.

      As a backdrop to all this excess, the décor at Toulouse Petit is fittingly rich and ornate – velvet-clad booths, hand-cut tile floors, and inlaid-wood tables set a perfectly decadent scene. It’s a popular spot, and the vibrant atmosphere can get loud, especially after the sun goes down, when the late night drink and food specials attract the young, local crowd.

      Toulouse Petit accepts reservations only for dinner – these are recommended and can be made by phone or online. Breakfast and lunch are walk-in only, so expect a line on busy weekend days. Toulouse Petit is Metro bus accessible, with plenty of garage and metered street parking nearby.

    • Canlis – $$$$ – Reviews
      Monday-Friday 5:30pm-9:30pm
      Saturday 5pm-10pm
      Closed Sundays
      Phone: (206) 283-3313

      Best Fancy Places to Eat in Seattle

      Everything is perfect at Canlis. Since 1950, this revered restaurant has been universally considered the apex of fine dining in Seattle: The warm and polished midcentury interior, with sweeping views of Lake Union, downtown Seattle and the Cascade Mountains. The impeccable service, at the same time gracious and unpretentious. The unique and much-celebrated cuisine that chef Jason Franey calls “comfort geek” — modernist and molecular without being unapproachable. These superb elements combine to create evenings that guests consider more an experience than a meal.

      It’s special occasion, blow-your-paycheck dining at Canlis, and you are expected to dress the part – this is the only restaurant in Seattle which requires a suit or sport coat for men. And leave your Levis at home, there’s no denim allowed. A la carte meals are offered in three or four courses, with a seven-course chef-determined tasting menu, and award-winning sommeliers that will assist you in pairing the perfect wine to your meal. With nightly live piano music and plush décor, Canlis’ lounge area provides a luxurious spot to wait for your table or enjoy an expertly-crafted cocktail and snacks from the a la carte bar menu.

      Reservations in the dining room are a must, and should be booked (online or over the phone) well in advance, though lounge seating is available for walk-in guests. Canlis is not easily accessible via public transit, so you’ll want to drive or hire a cab/Uber. Parking is valet only.

    The Best Hotels in Seattle

    Updated: May 23, 2017

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    Seattle Hotels – Tips and Recommendations

    The 18 Best Luxury Hotels in Seattle

    1. The Four Seasons – Downtown

    Best outdoor pool and luxury hotel in Seattle.
    Seattle’s best luxury hotel – centrally located near Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and loads of downtown restaurants. Modern, airy, and elegant decor, plush and spacious guest rooms and suites, and stunning views. The full spa, beautiful outdoor heated infinity pool, and 24-hour fitness center all overlook Elliott Bay. The restaurant is fantastic. Service is impeccable.
    Hotel Phone: 206-749-7000

    2. Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Downtown

    Most luxurious five star hotel in Seattle.
    The most opulent and traditional Seattle hotel. Luxurious suites are warm and comfortable and feel like you’re in a friend’s home. Executives Suites are worth the splurge for the additional room and wonderful bathrooms. Luxury shopping surrounds the hotel and 2 of Seattle’s best restaurants, Shuckers and The Georgian, are on the ground floor. The elegant Georgian offers a daily traditional afternoon tea. Pike Place Market and Pacific Place Mall (downtown’s best and biggest mall) are both a 5 minute’s walk away. The fitness center on the 2nd floor is really nice, and a there’s a lovely glass-enclosed pool and hot tub, with outdoor terrace. The hotel has its own bee hives on the roof – the honey is used in everything from desserts to beer in the hotel’s restaurants.
    Hotel Phone: 206-621-7100

    3. Inn At The Market – Downtown

    Best honeymoon hotel in downtown Seattle and close to Pike Place Market.
    This is Seattle’s premier boutique hotel. It’s located in the lanes of Pike Place Market and surrounded by top notch restaurants – and when I say surrounded, I mean surrounded: this is foodie heaven. Fantastic views, large rooms, and immaculate bathrooms are hidden within the understated exterior. It’s in the heart of the tourist scene but never feels anything but classy and enchanting. There’s a marvelous rooftop patio on the 5th floor that looks over Pike Place Market to Elliot Bay. It’s rarely used by hotel guests so you could grab food and a local bottle of wine from the market and quite possible have the whole deck to yourself.
    Hotel Phone: 206-443-3600

    4. Thompson Seattle – Downtown

    Contemporary Seattle hotel with amazing water views.
    Seattle’s newest hotel is also its most modern. The Thompson has floor to ceiling windows with great water and mountain views to the west. Decor is contemporary and stylish with a modern edge. Just steps from the shops and restaurants of Pike Place Market, though the in-house restaurant, Scout, is not to be missed. The amazing rooftop cocktail and oyster bar with killer views. Exceptional service and a welcoming atmosphere complete the experience.
    Hotel Phone: 206-623-4600

    5. Alexis Hotel – Downtown

    Seattle's best hotel with great bar.
    A Kimpton boutique hotel with a casually elegant vibe. Excellent downtown location near all major attractions. Guest rooms are stylish, spacious, and quiet, with thoughtful details throughout. Incredible specialty suites, in-house bar and cafe, daily wine hour, and complimentary bike rental offered.
    Hotel Phone: 206-628-4844

    6. Hotel Andra – Belltown

    Seattle hotel with cooking course and close to great restaurants.
    A lovely and modern boutique-style hotel, done up in a warm Scandinavian-chic decor. Rooms are comfortable and well appointed, with a good variety of sizes to choose from: small (but thoughtfully laid-out) studios up to spacious suites. Celebrity chef Tom Douglas owns the fantastic restaurant next door (which also provides the hotel room service), and attached cooking school. (You’ll get a 20% room discount if you book a class.) You can’t beat the location – the Andra is close to Pike Place Market, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.
    Hotel Phone: 206-448-8600

    7. Hotel 1000 – Downtown

    Best wine and boutique hotel in Seattle.
    Centrally-located luxury hotel, easy walking distance to stadiums, shopping, restaurants, museums, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market. Modern guest rooms and suites are spacious and comfortable, with deep, ceiling-fill tubs big enough for two, and glass partitioning (with automatic privacy shade) between bathing and bedroom areas. There’s an in-house restaurant and bar, full-service spa, virtual driving range, champagne upon check-in, and complimentary car service provided. Very pet friendly but probably the least kid-friendly hotel in Seattle. (If you’re looking for an adult’s getaway this is a great choice.)
    Hotel Phone: 206-957-1000

    8. Hyatt at Olive 8 – Downtown

    Seattle's most romantic hotel.
    Eco-friendly luxury hotel in the downtown corridor. The vibe is sleek and contemporary, with an outstanding farm-to-table restaurant and lounge, on-site spa and fitness facility, and beautiful saline lap pool with dry sauna and steam room. Close to shopping, the convention center, and Pike Place Market.
    Hotel Phone: 206-695-1234

    9. Grand Hyatt – Downtown

    Best business hotel close to Seattle Convention Center.
    Downtown modern luxury hotel with great views, especially from higher, west-facing rooms. Accommodations are spacious and include automatic entry foyers, black-out shades, and huge soaking tubs. Excellent gym and restaurants. Super convenient location for shopping, sightseeing, and the Seattle Convention Center.
    Hotel Phone: 206-774-1234

    10. Hotel Max – Downtown

    Best hotel for pets and music in Seattle.
    A fun and modern boutique hotel with small rooms, a big heart, and an urban vibe. The comfortable lobby has pop art, rock music, and craft beer happy hour on the daily. Guest rooms, though small, are comfortable and well-appointed, and include thoughtful touches like Tivoli clock radios and art mags for browsing. 5th floor rooms include Crosley record players and a selection of Sup Pop vinyl. The Max might be difficult with small kids but is extremely dog-friendly. Great restaurant, super friendly staff, and a location that’s convenient to downtown attractions.
    Hotel Phone: 206-728-6299

    11. The Westin – Downtown

    Best view hotel in Seattle.
    A safe choice (though not terribly exciting) for a clean, comfortable stay in a central downtown location. Rooms are large and have Westin’s famous “heavenly” beds and showers. The higher floors have the best views of any Seattle hotel. There’s a heated indoor pool, burger bistro, and close access to many great restaurants and attractions.
    Hotel Phone: 206-728-1000

    12. The Edgewater – Waterfront

    Seattle hotel with best views of the ocean.
    Great views at this charming lodge-themed luxury hotel situated on Seattle’s waterfront. There’s a fantastic restaurant and cozy lounge area sitting right over Elliott Bay, and every guest room has a gas fireplace. The waterfront room views are definitely worth the upgrade. Walkable to waterfront attractions, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, and the Olympic Sculpture Park, but you do feel a little detached from the downtown action (perhaps that’s what you want).
    Hotel Phone: 206-728-7000

    13. Pan Pacific – South Lake Union

    Seattle best hotel in Amazon area.
    A warm and modern luxury hotel, discreetly tucked into the South Lake Union neighborhood, a little outside of Downtown. Convenient to Seattle Center and great neighborhood restaurants, it’s a 10 minute walk to downtown shopping and 15 minutes to Pike Place Market. Car service is provided if you’re not up for the trek. Spacious guest rooms are well-appointed, many with excellent Space Needle and Lake Union views. Bathrooms are gorgeous, with large soaking tubs. There’s a fantastic bar/restaurant, as well as an adjacent Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Tutta Bella Pizzeria for quick eats.
    Hotel Phone: 206-624-8111

    14. Hotel Monaco – Downtown

    Seattle's best hotel close to shopping.
    A trendy and modern Kimpton boutique hotel in central downtown. Prime location – surrounded by shopping and restaurants and within walking distance to all downtown attractions. Guest rooms are spacious and stylish, and the elegant and welcoming lobby has live music on the weekends. There’s a good restaurant, daily wine hour, and free bike rental. Good for pets and great for kids – there’s a magic show every Friday, and you can even request a pet goldfish for the duration of your stay.
    Hotel Phone: 206-621-1770

    15. Palladian Hotel – Belltown

    Seattle's best new hotel.
    A Kimpton boutique hotel in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, blocks from Pike Place Market and downtown attractions. Cozy guest rooms have a hip, playful vibe, with trendy vintage-modern décor. There’s a charming old-world lobby bar with daily hosted cocktail hour, as well as a great seafood restaurant and complimentary bike rental.
    Hotel Phone: 206-448-1111

    16. Sorrento Hotel – First Hill

    Best hotel for honeymoon in Seattle.
    One of the most charming hotels in Seattle, this old world boutique hotel is situated a little uphill from downtown but still within easy walking distance. Gorgeous wood-paneled lobby, designer suites, and spacious guest rooms with period details and white marble bathrooms. The elegant restaurant and lounge are fantastic (and recently renovated).
    Hotel Phone: 206-622-6400

    17. Mayflower Park Hotel – Downtown

    The best value luxury hotel in Seattle.
    Located smack in the heart of downtown, this historic boutique hotel offers loads of charm at a cheaper price tag than the Fairmont or Sorrento. Elegant old-world furnishing, gorgeous lobby bar, gracious staff, and easy access to all transit (including light rail direct from the airport to the hotel). Guest and bathrooms are small but clean and well-appointed, with period details. Unbeatable location for shopping and downtown sightseeing.
    Hotel Phone: 206-623-8700

    18. The Arctic Club – Pioneer Square

    The best historic hotel in Seattle.
    There are gorgeous architectural details everywhere you look in this beautiful restoration of an early 1900’s social club. Guest rooms and baths are good-sized and well-appointed, with tasteful vintage decor – some have terraces and jacuzzi tubs. There’s a great in-house restaurant and beautiful lobby bar, both with a classic “men’s club” feel. If you can steal a peek at the Northern Lights Dome Room (the Arctic Club banquet space), do. It’s a stunner. Located on the edge of Seattle’s financial district, the Arctic Club isn’t as centrally-located as other options, but is still walkable to most downtown attractions. Transit access couldn’t be easier – the Pioneer Square light rail station is right next door.
    Hotel Phone: 206-340-0340

    Staying in Downtown Seattle

    The best hotels in downtown Seattle
    Dense and dynamic, Seattle’s downtown core is home to most of the city’s best (and most expensive) hotels, as well as some of our most incredible hotel room views. Loads of great shopping, dining, and entertainment options are at your doorstep: By day, browse the market stalls at Pike Place and the galleries at SAM. Get your fashion fix at the original Nordstrom location at 6th and Pine. At night, step out for a show – you’ll have your pick of all types of music, theater, and dance. At any time of day, you’re surrounded by fantastic restaurants just waiting to serve you award-winning Northwest cuisine and the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste.

    Expect to pay premium rates to stay downtown, especially in the summer months. A car isn’t essential – this area is exceptionally walkable, and parking can be expensive and hard to come by. (Expect hotels to charge $30-$40/night extra for valet.) Generally, what’s not accessible by foot is easily reached via light rail, street car, or monorail.

    The Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Four Seasons Water/City $43 No Outdoor Outdoor
    Inn at the Market Water/City $39 Yes No No
    Thompson Water/City $42 No No No
    Alexis Water/City $42 No In-Room No
    Fairmont Olympic City $55 No In-Room/Shared Indoor
    Hotel 1000 Water/City $45 No In-Room No
    Hotel Max City $40 No No No
    Mayflower Park City $35 No No No
    Hyatt Olive 8 City $55 No Shared Indoor
    Grand Hyatt City $30 No In-Room No
    Westin Water/City $45 No Shared Indoor
    Hotel Monaco City $42 No No No
    Hotel Vintage City $42 No In-Room No
    Motif Water/City $32 No No No
    W Seattle Water/City $68 No In-Room No
    Sheraton City $57 No No Indoor
    Crowne Plaza City $50 No No No
    Hilton City/Water $45 No No No
    Renaissance City $43 No No No
    Paramount No $39 No No No
    The Roosevelt No $45 No No No
    Hilton Garden Inn No $43 No No Indoor
    Homewood Suites No $45 Yes No Indoor
    Executive Pacific City $37 No No No

    Staying in Belltown

    The best hotels in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood
    Nightlife and high-rise condos are the hallmarks of this Seattle neighborhood, located just north of downtown. Belltown is convenient to many of Seattle’s best attractions, and the city’s young and hip flock to this area for its trendy boutiques, bars, and eateries. Jazz clubs, rock venues, prohibition-style speakeasies; you’ll find them all here, as well as most of Tom Douglas’ award-winning restaurants. Walk to Pike Place Market, Seattle Center (home of the Space Needle, Chihuly Museum, food and music festivals, and MoPOP), and the waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park.

    Though still above the national average, Belltown hotels rates are generally lower than those you’ll find downtown, and there are some real bargains to be had in this area if you’re willing to forego a little bit of luxury. The active nightlife crowd means Belltown’s not an ideal choice for those seeking peace and quiet – expect additional activity on weekend nights, especially right after the bars close at 2am.

    The Best Hotels in Belltown

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Andra City $39 No In-Room No
    Palladian City $39 No No No
    Warwick City/Space Needle $34 No In-Room Indoor
    Ace Water/City No No No No
    Moore City $15 Yes No No
    Inn at El Gaucho Water/City $40 No No No
    Hotel Five No $37 No No No

    Staying in Pioneer Square

    The best hotels in Pioneer Square Seattle
    Once the heart of downtown, the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood is home to some of the city’s oldest surviving buildings, the ever-popular Underground Tour, and the Klondike Gold Rush Museum. It’s not all antiques, though – in recent decades the area has experienced a resurgence in popularity. There are now modern art galleries, boutique shops, and trendy restaurants housed within the Romanesque Revival-style buildings of Seattle’s past, and the neighborhood is once again considered one of the city’s most vibrant. Pioneer Square is within walking distance to Safeco Field and CenturyLink sports stadiums, the downtown ferry terminal at Colman Dock, and Pike Place Market.

    Pioneer Square has its own stop on the region’s Link light rail line, a streetcar line that runs through the International District into the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and is home to Amtrak’s King Street Station; there’s no need to rent a car when transit is this easy. It’s worth mentioning that there are several social service agencies located within the neighborhood, attracting a fair number of homeless people. If you stay in this area, expect some to see some congregating and minor pan handling, but don’t be alarmed – these folks are less dangerous than they are down on their luck.

    The Best Hotels in Pioneer Square

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Arctic Club City $46 No In-Room No
    Courtyard City/Water $47 Yes No Indoor
    Best Western City $25 No No No
    Silver Cloud Stadium Water/City $35 No In-Room/Shared Outdoor

    Staying near Seattle Center/Lower Queen Anne

    The best Seattle hotels near the Space Needle
    Anchored by the iconic Space Needle, Seattle Center is an arts and entertainment mainstay located just north of the Belltown neighborhood. The Center was originally created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and remnants of the fair’s space-age theme remain in the Center’s mid-century architecture, sculpture, and the Monorail that runs from the base of the Space Needle into downtown. This area isn’t the most scenic, but there’s no shortage of things to do: along with the Needle, the Center’s campus houses the Pacific Science Center, The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Seattle Children’s Museum and Theatre. The Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and many theatre companies make their home at Seattle Center, which is also the site of many of the city’s biggest urban outdoor festivals: Bumbershoot, Folklife, PrideFest, and Bite of Seattle. The Gates Foundation Visitor Center and Olympic Sculpture Park are both located nearby.

    Hotels around Seattle Center are generally less expensive than those downtown, and include many mid-range and budget options. Parking is cheaper and more readily available in this neighborhood, and the Seattle Monorail provides easy access to downtown and Pike Place Market. The area around Seattle Center quiets at night, making it a good option for visitors who want to avoid the busiest parts of the city, but lodge near popular attractions. Check your dates, though – if you’re traveling during a festival weekend (especially Memorial Day or Labor Day) or when there’s a major concert at Key Arena, expect the opposite: busier streets, more expensive rooms, and difficult parking.

    The Best Hotels near Seattle Center

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Maxwell No $37 No In-Room Indoor
    Hyatt House Space Needle $25 Yes No No
    Hyatt Place No $22 No No Indoor
    MarQueen No $36 Yes No No
    Holiday Inn Space Needle $19 No No No
    Holiday Inn Express Space Needle $19 No No Indoor
    Mediterranean Inn Water $20 No No No
    Four Points No $20 No No No
    Hampton Inn & Suites Space Needle $19 Yes In-Room No
    Homewood Suites Water $20 Yes No No
    Best Western Space Needle $15 No No No

    Staying in South Lake Union

    The best hotels in South Lake Union Seattle
    This is is one of Seattle’s fastest growing neighborhoods. Once a gritty industrial center, South Lake Union is now a hi-tech hub, home to many of the region’s most prominent biomedical and technology companies. The recent revitalization has brought loads of great restaurants into the area, and is responsible for the creation of beautiful Lake Union Park, located on the urban lake’s southernmost tip. Head to the park to check out the impressive Museum of History and Industry, explore the vessels (or rent one) at the Center for Wooden Boats, or hop a float plane at Kenmore Air – they’re all adjacent to its lovely waterfront expanse. The South Lake Union Streetcar runs through the heart of the neighborhood into central downtown, making it easy to visit the more central sights as well.

    South Lake Union hotels are generally less expensive than those downtown, many with swimming pools and lovely lake or Space Needle views. It’s quieter here than in the city center – making this neighborhood a good choice for those who like to escape the hustle and bustle at the end of the day. When you’re up for it, accessing the city is easy: aside from the streetcar, most South Lake Union hotels provide complimentary shuttles into downtown and Seattle Center.

    The Best Hotels near Amazon in South Lake Union

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Pan Pacific Space Needle $43 No Shared No
    Courtyard Lake $35 No Shared Indoor
    Residence Inn Lake $32 Yes Shared Indoor
    Silver Cloud Lake Free No In-Room/Shared Indoor

    Staying on the Seattle Waterfront

    The best hotels on Seattle's waterfront
    Set snugly beside a deep Salish Sea inlet, Seattle’s downtown waterfront neighborhood is all about the bay: Elliott Bay. From the pebbly beaches of Myrtle Edwards Park on the waterfront’s north end to its busy working harbor to the south, marine-loving types will find no shortage of things to do along this beautiful Puget Sound Seaboard. Take in the sunset at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, hang with the harbor seals at the Seattle Aquarium, take a seaside spin one the Great Wheel, and eat the freshest seafood of your life at any of the amazing restaurants dotted along the way. When staying beside the water’s not enough, Argosy Harbor Cruises, the Victoria (or San Juan) Clipper, the ferries at Colman Dock, and the West Seattle Water Taxi all await to whisk you out onto the waves.

    There are only a couple of hotels situated directly on Seattle’s waterfront. These will be pricey, especially if you spring for a bay-facing view. The walk from the waterfront up to downtown and Pike Place Market isn’t far, but it is steep, and separated by a busy roadway. This separation makes the waterfront district feel disconnected from the rest of downtown – which may or may not be what you’re looking for. And heads up: there’s construction underway to better link the downtown core to the waterfront district – the finished product will be stunning, but in the meantime the area’s a bit of a mess.

    The Best Hotels on the Waterfront

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Edgewater Water/City $43 No In-Room No
    Marriott Waterfront Water $61 No No Indoor/Outdoor

    Staying in Capitol Hill

    The best hotels in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood
    Known for its nightlife, counterculture, and great food and drink, Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s most vibrant and well-loved neighborhoods. It’s anchored at its north end by stately old homes and leafy Volunteer Park: home to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Seattle University borders the area’s south end. In between is a dense and glorious mishmash of fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, taverns, and music venues. Indulge your inner foodie at Melrose Market, make a caffeine-fueled pilgrimage to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, or browse the shelves at Seattle’s best bookstore, The Elliott Bay Book Company. At the end of the day, Capitol Hill makes it easy to unwind and recharge – the neighborhood is home to more than 100 bars and nightclubs.

    All these hotspots don’t leave much room for lodgers; Capitol Hill has only one hotel, situated next to Seattle University on the district’s busy south end. Travelers wanting a quieter experience and a more personal touch can opt for one of north Capitol Hill’s charming Bed & Breakfasts, most within walking easy walking distance of Volunteer Park. It’s an easy walk into downtown from most points in southern Capitol Hill, though you might want to spring for a cab on the (steep) trip back up. This area is also easily accessed by public transit – there’s a Capitol Hill Link light rail station, as well as a streetcar line that runs through the International District and into Pioneer Square.

    The Best Hotels in Capitol Hill

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Silver Cloud City $30 No In-Room/Shared Indoor
    Sorrento (First Hill) City $39 No No No

    Staying in the University District

    The best hotels near the University of Washington Seattle
    North and east of Seattle’s downtown, the “U-District” is where you’ll find the main campus of the University of Washington. It’s not just dorms and classrooms: two trip-worthy museums (Henry Art Gallery and Burke Museum of Natural History) sit surrounded by gorgeous gothic architecture, mountain views, and famous springtime-blossoming cherry trees. The area surrounding UW campus is chock-full of good (and cheap) restaurants, bars, and indie boutiques. The U-District hosts a fantastic year-round farmer’s market every Saturday – grab something to go, and bike (or stroll) down the nearby Burke-Gilman Trail. When you’ve had enough of college living, head east down the 45th St. viaduct and peruse the chic shops and upscale eateries of University Village – a tony outdoor shopping center located just downhill from campus.

    University District hotels are generally cheaper than those downtown, except over university move-in weekends in September and graduation weekend in mid-June. If you’ve got a car, parking will be cheaper as well. A car’s not necessary, though – it’s easy to get to the city’s most popular areas and attractions via light rail, thanks to the new University of Washington station.

    The Best Hotels in the University District

    Hotel View Parking Kitchen Jacuzzi Pool
    Residence Inn City $25 Yes No Indoor
    Watertown City $20 No In-Room No
    University Inn City $15 No No Outdoor
    Hotel Deca City $21 No No No
    Silver Cloud No Free No No No

    The Best Cheap Hotels in Seattle

    • Moore Hotel
      Historic hotel with loads of charm – one block from Pike Place Market. Guest rooms are comfortable and spacious, with high ceilings and retro decor. Bathrooms are no-frills, but clean and serviceable. Shared bath “European Style” rooms have in-room sinks/vanities and the lowest rates you’ll find anywhere. Suites come in many configurations, and are great for families. There’s no AC, so avoid west-facing rooms in the summer months if you’re bothered by street noise. Lovely marble lobby, fantastic coffee shop, unbeatable location and price.
    • Ace Hotel
      Hip, quirky boutique hotel in a fantastic location. The building is old, but the vibe is fresh and fun: think high ceilings, wood floors, original artwork, and minimalist design. Guest rooms are clean and comfortable; standard rooms have full platform beds, in-room sinks/vanities and share bathrooms (these are clean and plentiful), deluxe rooms have en-suite baths and full, queen, or king beds – and the best have partial water views. Interior rooms have air conditioning. Daily waffle breakfast. Located in the fun Belltown neighborhood, an easy walk to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.
    • Best Western Plus Pioneer Square Hotel
      A clean and comfortable historic district hotel. Guest rooms have original woodwork, vintage decor, and air conditioning. Bathrooms are small, but well-appointed. Some rooms have balconies with city and Sound views; avoid west facing rooms if road noise is an issue. Continental breakfast provided. Located in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, within walking distance to the ferry terminal, sports stadiums, and Pike Place Market.
    • Hotel Hotel
      Boutique, no-frills hostel in charming Fremont. Hip, clean, and secure, Hotel Hotel has co-ed shared-bath dorm rooms with lockers, private rooms with shared or en-suite baths, and a private-bath family room that sleeps four. There’s a well-stocked kitchen available for guest use (and free daily breakfast), and a communal lounge space with TV. Surrounded by great food and fun shops in one of Seattle’s best neighborhoods, with easy bus access to downtown.
    • Warwick Hotel (Mid-range)
      Comfortable and modern hotel, great central location, amazing views. Guest rooms are spacious and bright, with comfy beds and marble bathrooms. All rooms and suites have Juliet balconies; those on the 5th floor and above have unobstructed city and Sound views. Recently renovated fitness center and pool/hot tub, good in-house restaurant and lounge. Excellent location: an easy distance to shopping, Pike Place Market, the Space Needle/Seattle Center, and downtown attractions.
    • The Maxwell (Mid-range)
      Fun hotel in the quieter Lower Queen Anne/Seattle Center neighborhood. The atmosphere here is vibrant and very family friendly: all rooms have microwaves, Junior Suites sleep six, and there’s wood-fired pizza right next door. The indoor pool isn’t huge, but it’s better than nothing. Located near Seattle Center – walk to the Space Needle, museums, grocery stores, and the monorail into downtown. Complimentary shuttle bus takes guests pretty much anywhere in the city. Free parking, wi-fi, and bike rental.
    • Courtyard Pioneer Square (Mid-range)
      A modern hotel in an historic building – The gorgeous marble lobby dates from the early 1900’s, but this hotel’s vibe is sleek, contemporary, and urban. Guest rooms and suites are cozy, with large windows and great views. There’s an indoor heated pool, fitness center, coin-op laundry, and a bistro-style restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. Located in Seattle’s financial district, so don’t expect a lot of night life nearby. Walkable to many points downtown, with super easy access to buses and light rail: the Pioneer Square transit station is one block away.
    • ***If you’re open to the hostel experience, here are a couple more to consider: Hotel Hotel’s sister property, City Hostel, features amazing local artwork and is located close to downtown in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. The Green Tortoise at Pike Place Market is Seattle’s most famous hostel and a great option for small budgets: along with daily breakfasts, they offer three free dinners a week, bike rental, and loads of communal tours and events.

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle

    Updated: May 10, 2017

    See Also

    Recommended Seattle Tours

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle

    The Very Best Things To Do in Seattle

    1. Elliott Bay Water Taxi from Downtown to West Seattle

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle

    There are many options for getting out on the water when you’re in Seattle – you can rent a kayak, take a ferry ride, and there are several day cruises. But if you don’t want to spring for a day trip or paddle your own boat, you can take the short ride across Puget Sound on the Elliott Bay Water Taxi to West Seattle and Alki Beach. It’s easy and fun, the views are gorgeous, and it’s the best deal in town for a quick trip on the water. Combine the boat ride with lunch at Marination and this might be my favorite outdoor activity for a sunny day in Seattle.

    The Elliott Bay Water Taxi goes from Pier 50 in downtown Seattle to Seacrest Dock. No need to buy tickets in advance – there are ticket machines on the pier (fare information). Boats leave every hour and arriving at the dock 10 minutes in advance is nearly always enough to ensure a spot. It’s a passenger ferry only – no cars – but you can take bikes and strollers on board.

    It’s only a 15 minute ride, but the views from the Water Taxi of the Seattle skyline are spectacular. Once you’ve arrived in West Seattle, you can board a free shuttle bus that takes you up into the Admiral or Alaska Junction neighborhoods for shopping or snacks.

    But most folks stay along the waterfront, walking the promenade or taking the shuttle headed to Alki Beach. In the summer months, you can rent a bicycle (or buggy bikes that seat a family) to ride the paved trail. You’ll have to share the lane with long boards, inline skaters, and razor scooters, but it’s a fun scene.

    There are loads of friendly places to eat along Alki, so don’t worry about bringing treats with you. Marination Ma Kai – right at the Water Taxi pier as you disembark on the West Seattle side – has fish and chips and sliders (and a full bar) or, you can head to Cactus for modern Mexican cuisine. There are lots of places in between – there’s pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) and Thai and even if you’re not going there to eat, you should take a peek inside Spud (more fish and chips, there are several places along the strip) where there are photos from the time when Alki Beach was home to an amusement park with rides and public baths. Cafes abound, as well, and Alki is now home to a Top Pot, the world famous producer of “hand forged donuts.”

    The beach faces the Olympic Mountains and it’s a great place to take in a sunset. You can get a Metro bus back to Seattle if you’ve missed the last sailing, but it’s much better to return to downtown by water so you can get one more look at Seattle’s sparking skyline.

    2. Pike Place Market

    Pike Place Market things to do Seattle the west side by Puget Sound and the east by First Avenue. It’s Pike Place Market and it’s a cornerstone of Seattle culture. Touristy, sure, but if you don’t visit the Market, you’ve missed out on the one place that defines Seattle. The Market is a gold mine of activity, delicious food, and Seattle characters. It’s noisy, charming, quirky, a little chaotic at times, and it’s always, always fun.

    Start at Rachel the Pig. She’s the life sized piggy bank at the entrance to the market. Toss a bit of spare change in the bank and rub Rachel’s nose for luck. The money donated here goes to support the Market’s social service program – health care, housing for seniors, a food bank, and lots more.

    Right behind Rachel at Pike Place Fish are Seattle’s famous fish throwing guys. The fish folk at this always lively seafood counter are more like circus entertainers than your regular retail crew – they’re funny and friendly and yes, they do know seafood. Keep your eyes open when you’re at Pike Place Fish, a salmon may very well go flying past on its way to the counter across the walkway.

    On a more serious note, take a minute to look up at the mural above the entrance to the market. There were hundreds of Japanese American farmers selling their produce at Pike Place Market prior to World War II. Relocation and interment of those farmers during the war made those numbers decline to nearly nothing. The mural commemorates the contributions of those farmers in creating a thriving Market in Seattle, pre-war.

    Overwhelmed? That’s okay. There are two ways to tackle the market: Just wander and see what catches your eye. Or, take a tour.

    Seattle Food Tours and Savor Seattle run small walking tours of the market. Their knowledgeable guides will help you understand the history of Pike Place Market, introduce you to local vendors, and yes, you do get snacks, so show up hungry. Tours run about two and a half hours and all ages are welcome. The tours cost about $40 per person and meet near the market. Book online, in advance, and wear good shoes for walking. You don’t cover a lot of distance, but you will be on your feet.

    Beyond Rachel the Pig, the Mural, and of course the Market’s iconic neon sign, there are a handful of Market classics to check out. The Daily Dozen, just past the news stand, makes mini donuts and tosses them in powdered or cinnamon sugar while you wait. Washington State has lots of flower farms and many of the stands are staffed by the region’s Hmong community. It’s typically between five and fifteen dollars for a generous bouquet.

    There are several fancy restaurants in and around the Market, but Lowell’s has moderately priced seafood and the dining area has a spectacular view of the Olympics and Puget Sound. Towards the north end of the Market, you’ll find arts and crafts vendors – get your Seattle souvenirs here. Be sure to head down to the lower level for a peek at the oddball Giant Shoe Museum. Even if you don’t want to spring to see the giant shoes, the mural is fun to see – and there are a handful of funky little gift and import stores, a comic book store, and a magic shop.

    Pike Place Market is also home to a well-run busker (street musician) scene; local musicians show up early to sign up for the best spots, including outside Seattle’s (not quite, but it’s presented as) first Starbucks. You’ll find all kinds of musicians here – ukulele, honky tonk piano, acapella singers – some of them have been performing at the Market for years. If you haven’t given all your spare change to the piggy bank, throw some to the performers before you snap their pictures.

    There are events and activities year round at the market – check the calendar to see if there’s a festival on, or a cooking class you’d like to take, or theater events.

    The market gets very crowded in the peak season – late spring to early fall. If you plan to visit with small children (even, and perhaps especially, if they’re in a stroller), you may want to do so earlier in the morning before the walkways get tight.

    3. The Space Needle

    The Best View in Seattle
    Michael Allen Smith

    It was 1962 and the World’s Fair was in Seattle. In the middle of the fairgrounds – what is now Seattle Center — stands the space age vision for the 21st century, the Space Needle. At 605 feet tall, it has become Seattle’s most recognizable landmark, bringing in over one million visitors every year.

    It takes 43 seconds to reach the observation deck of the Space Needle by elevator. During that short ride, the guide/elevator operator gives what might be the shortest sight-seeing tour on record, but don’t worry – you can take your time learning about the history of the Needle and Seattle once you reach the top.

    Exhibits line the inner circle of the observation deck, but you’d be forgiven for ignoring them – the real draw here is the 360 degree view of Seattle, Puget Sound, the Olympics, the Cascades, Mt. Rainier, and more. If you’re worried you won’t get your money’s worth from the view, check the webcam for a preview.

    Navigating the ticketing for the Space Needle is a little tricky. You’ll save a few bucks by selecting a departure time. There’s a combo ticket that includes the Chihuly Garden and Glass (a very worthwhile stop). If you can make reservations at the restaurant, the trip up is included.

    The SkyCity Restaurant is a revolving dining room 500 feet above Seattle Center. The restaurant is festive and very family friendly. Dress up if you like, or don’t – it’s totally okay to show up in your sightseeing clothes. There’s a kids menu that includes a weekend brunch offering. And there’s a famous dessert, the Lunar Orbiter – an ice cream sundae served in a bowl of dramatically smoking dry ice. The menu is a little bit pricy, but keep in mind that your trip up was included and that you’re dining with a panoramic view of the entire city, and then some. The setting makes the SkyCity a favorite for special occasions; Seattle locals book tables for birthdays and anniversaries and other events. Walk-ins are very rare, so reservations are recommended. If you don’t want formal dining, there is a snack bar at the observation deck level, but your best bet is to head back down to the Armory food court at Seattle Center.

    There’s a fun gift shop at the base of the Needle where you can get Space Needle shaped salt and pepper shakers, books about the history of Needle and its role in the World’s Fair, and a Lego Space Needle kit. You don’t need a ticket to shop in the store.

    If you want to get to the Needle using thematic transportation, take the Monorail from Westlake Plaza Shopping Center. It’s only a few minutes, but the Monorail was also built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. The Monorail runs until 9pm Sunday to Thursday and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday. It goes every ten minutes so you’ll never have to wait long.

    On a clear day, the observation deck at the Space Needle is probably the best place in Seattle to get a look at just how beautiful the City’s setting is. If you plan your trip up the Needle to coincide with sunset, Seattle will show off even more than usual.

    4. The Seattle Aquarium

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Christine Mahler

    Puget Sound is home to the world’s largest octopus. The Giant Pacific Octopus can grow to measure 14 feet from arm to arm and can weigh nearly 35 pounds. The Seattle Aquarium has a display tank devoted to these critters – watching an octopus change colors or move through the tank is an aquarium highlight, to be sure. It’s fun (or maybe scary?) to see the eight armed cephalopod up close, then look out over the waters of Puget Sound and think, “Oh, they’re out there. Right now.”

    Of course, there’s more than the octopus at the aquarium. The Puget Sound tank in the entryway is a spectacular floor to ceiling display of the marine life in Seattle waters. There are tide-pool touch tanks staffed by patient and educated volunteers who will teach kids – and curious adults – about starfish and urchins and sea cucumbers. There are brightly colored tropical tanks as well, usually surrounded by children who will be more than happy to point Nemo out to you.

    Seattle’s aquarium is home to coastal birds and marine mammals, as well. The puffins have big bright beaks and a funny waddle, the otters are furry and playful (when they’re not napping), the seals are graceful and social. There’s a surprising variety of marine life at this aquarium, and while it isn’t large it still manages to be first class as aquariums go. Daily activity programs include educational talks, feedings, and interacting with divers who work the big dome tank in the aquarium’s lower level.

    You can absolutely bring your stroller, but there’s no secure parking for it – you’ll have to keep an eye on it yourself. You can also bring a picnic – ask at the front desk when you buy your tickets about where it’s okay for you to eat. Kids under age 3 get in for free, 4-12 year olds for $21.95, 13 and up pay full price at &21.95. If it’s a nice day and you’d like to go out on the water, consider a combination ticket that includes the Argosy Cruise – it leaves from Pier 59, directly across Waterfront Park from the Aquarium.

    As the Seattle Aquarium is in the heart of the city’s touristy waterfront district, parking can be challenging. There is four-hour metered parking in the area, but you may find it easiest to just ditch your car in a garage or pay lot. If you’re staying downtown, it’s best to walk. There’s a stair climb that goes from Pike Place Market down to the waterfront, but there’s also an elevator at the Pike Place Market garage. Heads up: there’s a lot of construction happening in the neighborhood so traffic is changing constantly. This doesn’t mean you should skip the waterfront but do plan some extra time if you’re driving to navigate the neighborhood.

    The Aquarium has an onsite café on the second floor, but if you’re hungry for a fish feast after looking at so many of them, there are a lot of family friendly seafood places on the waterfront. Fisherman’s Restaurant is on the next pier over, as is The Crab Pot, which has a takeout counter if it’s a day that encourages eating outside. You can also head back up into the market to Lowell’s – they have an amazing view of Puget Sound from their dining area. Yes, they all have items on the menu for the non-fish eaters.

    You can easily spend a day poking around the waterfront – especially if the weather is nice. The Aquarium is an exciting attraction in any weather, though, and it’s a fun way to learn about what lives in the waters that make Seattle such a beautiful place to visit.

    5. MoPOP

    MoPOP Experience Music Project music museum Seattle Centermodern transportation and post-modern architecture.

    Inside, MoPOP is a celebration of pop culture – not just music, but movies and ideas, too. In the music part of the building, you’ll find guitars smashed by Jimi Hendrix, clothes worn by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, a changing exhibits that show off rock and roll ephemera – posters, album covers, notebooks, amps—the stuff that rock history is made of.

    For hands experimentation with pro-quality sound equipment, there’s the Sound Lab. The Sound Lab has a dozen studio pods where you can play with audio engineering or find out what it sounds like to play a real electric guitar. There are also a few trio labs where interactive learning tools help you understand musical concepts like the 12 bar blues.

    In addition to all the music exhibits, the entire lower level of the museum is devoted to science fiction and fantasy in literature, video games, and films. There’s Star Trek paraphernalia, costumes from Labyrinth, The Wizard of Oz, and The Princess Bride, and classic science fiction movies to watch. It’s nerd heaven, fun for the kind of people that like Dungeons and Dragons or the classic TV series, Firefly.

    MoPOP has an impressive array of events – speakers, live music in the Sky Church, movie screenings, and gaming days. Tickets are available through the MoPOP website, but get them in advance – the events tend to be very popular and sell out quickly.

    Hungry? There is a restaurant onsite, Pop Kitchen and Bar, that serves burgers, pizza, and salads (and also has a full bar), and the Seattle Center Armory has an excellent food court less than a 3 minute walk from MoPOP. A few years ago, most of the typical food court chains were replaced by local restaurant counters, so it’s more like a food truck rally than the usual shopping mall offerings.

    A few tips: Your older kids – tweens and teens – will enjoy MoPOP, but it’s not great for the littlest ones. Some of temporary exhibits have assigned viewing times, so booking your ticket in advance, online, will help you plan your visit. If you’re driving, you’ll have to pay for parking except on Sundays and holidays; there are plenty of nearby parking lots. If you want to skip the car, it’s easy to get to MoPOP by bus. Metro routes 3, 4, and 82 all stop at 5th and Broad Street, right near the entrance, but you can also take the Monorail from Westlake Mall in downtown Seattle.

    6. Chinatown – The Wing Luke Museum and Seattle’s International District

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Tracy Hunter

    Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum tells the stories of the Pacific Northwest’s immigrant communities – not merely tales of hardship, but also of societal contribution and the shaping of Seattle’s multi-cultural character. If that sounds a bit lofty, don’t be put off: the museum is a lively and interesting place. Exhibits on deck include a show highlighting the role of Asian Americans in surf and skateboard culture and a retrospective of the life of Bruce Lee.

    There are a number of tours – inside the museum and on the streets of Chinatown – that introduce visitors to the culture and history of this exciting neighborhood. The Historic Hotel Tour takes you into a 1910 general store and through a series of staged rooms that show how different populations lived when they first came to our city. There’s also a dumpling tour, a Bruce Lee themed tour, and a tour that takes readers to the sites in the popular novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, about a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl struggling through the times of WWII internment camps.

    The Museum also leads and participates in lots of great community events – the Lunar New Year festival, the Jam Fest summer street party series, and a summer camp for kids. Wing Luke is a cultural cornerstone in this exciting neighborhood, and they provide an insightful look into how Seattle became the diverse city it is today.

    The neighborhood around the museum is great for eating and shopping, too. There’s the Uwajimaya Village complex with its giant international supermarket, excellent food court, and Kinokuiya Bookstore, which has an amazing collection of Japanese comic books and Asian design books and magazines. For fancy high-end design and fine arts, there’s Kobo at Higo and Momo on Jackson Street. And there are any number of smaller shops selling Chinese herbs, house wares, toys, and action figures.

    The food in the neighborhood is a dizzying tour of the Pacific Rim. There’s tea and snacks at the beautiful Panama Hotel, bubble tea at Oasis Tea Zone, small Japanese plates (izakaya) at tiny Maekawa, and larger ones at Seattle’s oldest Japanese restaurant, Maneki. There’s Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Japanese, bakeries, noodle houses, BBQ joints, and crepe shops. If you can’t find something to eat in the ID, as locals call it, you’re not hungry.

    Getting here is easy – any of the Metro buses running through Seattle’s central bus tunnel stop at the International District station. The Bolt Bus station is here, too, so if you happen to be taking the express bus service from (or to) Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Canada, you’ll board in the south end of the International District. There’s a shortcut to King Street Station over a pedestrian bridge, so you’ve got easy access to Amtrak from the neighborhood as well.

    7. The Seattle Great Wheel

    The Seattle Ferris Wheel on the Waterfront.
    It’s a relatively new addition to Seattle’s waterfront, but this 175-foot Ferris wheel is difficult to miss. $13 a pop ($8.50 for kids) is more than worth it for the one-of-a-kind views you’ll enjoy, and the photos you’ll take home. Go during the day to enjoy the panoramic Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay, or at night for the dazzling Seattle skyline.

    Gondolas are comfortable, fully enclosed, and hold up to 8 people – if it’s busy and there are fewer than 6 in your party, you might be expected to share a car. The only way to guarantee a private ride on the Great Wheel is to book the VIP Gondola ($50/person), which holds up to four people and includes upgrades like leather bucket seats, a stereo, priority boarding, and souvenir tee-shirt and photos. But beware: while perhaps a plusher ride, the VIP gondola is not for the faint of heart. It’s the only car with a glass bottom – creating quite a thrill as the ride extends 40 feet beyond the pier over the waters of Elliott Bay!

    The ride itself is slow, smooth, and around 15-20 minutes long, depending on the size of the crowd and how many people are boarding. I recommend skipping the ticket booth line and buying ahead online – tickets are good anytime, and have no expiration date. Be sure to arrive with your printed tickets in hand, though. If you’ve only got a confirmation code, you’ll have to wait in line anyway to get them printed out.

    There are plenty of food options around the Great Wheel: enjoy a meal on the waterfront, or head 2 blocks uphill to Pike Place Market. The Seattle Great Wheel is located on Pier 57, and is within easy walking distance of the Seattle Aquarium, the Argosy cruise terminal, Pike Place Market, the WA State Ferry terminal, and the West Seattle Water Taxi. Metered street parking and pay lots are available across the street on Alaskan Way.

    8. The Museum of Flight

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Cord Rodefeld

    If you’re an aviation geek, you can’t visit Seattle without digging into the history of air and space travel at the Museum of Flight. This mammoth museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that takes visitors through the fascinating history of human flight: all the way from those first rickety airplanes and hot air balloons to the miracle of modern space travel.

    While there are loads of educational exhibits (artifacts from the early days of flight, space suits and rocket schematics, even entire airplanes in the Airpark section of the museum, and the original red barn where William Boeing had his first commercial manufacturing plant), there are also fun interactive installations. There are simulators for flying a jetpack and landing a plane, and you can climb into the cockpit of a SR-71A Blackbird reconnaissance plane or a full-scale mock-up of an F/A-18L Hornet fighter.

    It sounds hyperbolic, but there really is something here for everyone: Baby boomer types can relive the golden age of space explorations, little ones can taxi a toy plane to the landing strip in the Kid’s Flight Zone. History buffs can tell stories over the WWII and WWII model airplane collections, and everyone can imagine, once they’ve been inside Air Force One, what it would be like to fly in this kind of style – even if the plane at the Museum is over 50 years old.

    The museum’s Space Gallery bears the name of Charles Simonyi, one of the world’s first space tourists. Inside the gallery there’s a Soyuz capsule, a tiny pod that traveled to the International Space Station and back again, and the NASA’s Full Fuselage Shuttle Trainer. (And yes, that’s the actual trainer used by every shuttle astronaut) For an extra charge, visitors can tour the Shuttle Trainer to see what it was like to be an astronaut onboard a space shuttle mission.

    The gift shop at the Museum is a good one — full of fun toys, games, books, and even costumes for flight enthusiasts. There’s a cafe, too, with salads and sandwiches, and when the weather is good, you can sit outside and watch the airplanes take off and land from nearby Boeing Field.

    The Museum of Flight is south of downtown Seattle in an industrial district. It’s easy to get to by car and there’s plenty of parking, but if you’re taking the bus (Metro 124) you’ll need to be sure to add a little time to your schedule. The neighborhood is a bit of a no man’s land – the only walkable restaurant nearby is Randy’s (a cool diner with model plane décor) but the bus stop is right in front of the museum.

    (For a different perspective on airplanes – focused on how they’re built rather than how they fly – visit the Boeing assembly plant 30 miles north of Seattleand take the Future of Flight Tour. The tour is geared towards adults (and you have to be over 48 inches) but anyone over the age of 7 that has an interest in airplanes should be thrilled. You see the assembly line where 747’s, 777’s and the new 787’s are constructed. Visit on weekdays to see the factory humming at full speed. Tours begin every hour from 9am to 3pm.)

    9. Day Trip to Bainbridge Island

    Best Day Trip near Seattle
    Gabe Knezek

    Ferries are an important part of what makes Seattle great. The waters of Puget Sound are full of tree covered islands – Vashon, Bainbridge, and the San Juan Islands to the North – and they all have their charm. Bainbridge Island is the gateway to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, but it’s also a worthwhile destination in itself.

    You pick your transportation: car, motorcycle, bicycle, or simply walk on. Fares vary depending on how you’re traveling – the Bainbridge ferry schedule has all the information you’ll need. A car will give you more freedom, certainly, and parking on the Island is only difficult if there’s a festival on, but it is not necessary to drive to visit the island – and leaving the car behind will save you some money. Winslow town center is only a five minute walk from the ferry dock. In the summer months, you can also rent bikes from Bike Barn Rentals (call ahead to reserve your ride) and tour the island on two wheels.

    At the entrance to town, you’ll find the Bainbridge Island Art Museum. This fine arts museum showcases the work of local artists and craftspeople. There’s a nice café here and an attractive outdoor patio for sunny days. The museum is free and it’s open every day. Winslow is full of cute shops and there are great places to eat. There’s always a line at the Sideliner Diner – it’s worth the wait. Blackbird Bakery has excellent treats of the savory and sweet kind. And Mora ice cream is an island tradition.

    Further in town, still within an easy walk from the ferry, there’s the Bainbridge History Museum. The museum showcases the island’s timber history. It also retells the terrible story of how the island’s Japanese residents were deported from their homes to the infamous internment camp in Manzanar, California.

    The island is home to Bloedel Reserve, a spectacular former estate that’s now open to the public. There are 150 acres of formally landscaped gardens and forest, and an elegant manor house with beautiful Puget Sound views. Kitsap Transit runs bus service to the garden; check the website to learn more about how to get there without a car. Heads up – this is a formal reserve and food isn’t allowed in the gardens. Snack before you arrive or plan your picnic in one of the island’s public parks. West Port Madison Nature Preserve is quite close to the Reserve and has picnic shelters.

    Cyclists love Bainbridge for its varied terrain. The island is home to the Chilly Hilly, a ride that takes place early in the cycling season and is just like the name sounds – cold and hilly. Summer rides are kinder for weather, but the hills are the same, year round. Riders with strong legs can follow the bike route signs and complete a 35 mile loop trail around the island. This ride is no joke, there’s a 2000 foot elevation gain, so be prepared.

    While there’s lots to do on the island, it’s easy to just wander around with no schedule at all, poking for seashells on the island’s beach parks, taking advantage of the good food, and embracing island time. The only thing you need to plan for is the ferry schedule. High season – summer and holidays – can bring long wait times for drivers. Check the ferry website for the best travel times if you’re on a schedule – or skip the car, there’s never a wait for walk-ons, bikes, or motorcycles. Plan your to return shortly before sunset. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views to the West. And, as you return to Coleman Dock in Seattle, you’ll see the city start sparkle as day turns to night and the skyscrapers light up.

    10. Seattle Underground Tour

    Best Tour in Seattle.
    Jeroen van Luin

    Let’s get this out of the way first, so as to set expectation. It’s not so much about what you’re going to see on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. When you take the tour, you’ll walk around some basements in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, Pioneer Square. There are some remaining fancy architectural touches, some plumbing oddities, and purple glass tiles that let the light through into the musty spaces hiding under First Avenue. The storytelling guides are outstanding and this tour is the best possible introduction to Seattle’s colorful history.

    No hyperbole here – you’re touring a series of basements. You’ll have to climb some stairs, the lighting is weird, and the floors are uneven. Wear shoes you can walk in. It’s not a difficult walk by any means, but you do need to watch your step. You’ll also walk between spaces in Pioneer Square, so you might want a rain jacket or umbrella if you’re doing the tour on a wet day – which can be any season in Seattle. It’s a little cool below ground, too; prepare for that. Kids are welcome, but it’s recommended they be at least seven years old to participate.

    The tour starts in the heart of Pioneer Square at Doc Maynard’s, a restored 1890s saloon with a gorgeous mirrored bar – there are snacks and drinks at the Underground Café if you need a bite before (or after) the tour. You can show up and buy tickets for the tour, which is fine during low season, but during high season, you may have to wait a few hours to join a group. If you’d like to have more control over you schedule, buy tickets in advance, online ($9.00 for kids, $19.00 for adults).

    Here’s the overview – in 1889, a fire destroyed most of Pioneer Square. The City of Seattle decreed that new construction would be brick or masonry. But the neighborhood was a tidal flat and when it rained, the muddy ground would swallow everything. An ingenious and ridiculous series of engineering solutions were implemented to help residents navigate the swampy downtown – pedestrians would use ladders to climb out of the below grade sidewalk to street level, then climb back down after they’d cross the street. Imagine the awkwardness for the ladies of the day.

    The Underground was condemned in 1907, but in 1965, Bill Speidel, an enterprising columnist for the Seattle Times, started taking people on tours and retelling the history of Seattle to his guests. Now, the Underground Tour operates almost every day of the year and is a popular attraction for visitors – and locals who feel like they need a refresher course in their town’s history. The tour company also offers a ghost hunting tour and a saucier adults-only bus tour of the city.

    For a more intimate underground tour option, consider Beneath the Streets; groups are smaller and the vibe is less corporate, though the guides are just as knowledgable. (Rumor has it, many of them used to work for the other company.) Tours run daily, year round, and are about an hour long. $15/adult, $8/child.

    If you want coffee and snacks before, try Slate or Zeitgeist, two excellent cafes very close to Doc Maynard’s. Grand Central Bakery is in a lovely brick arcade and has sandwiches served on their own bread. Pioneer Square has loads of chic new restaurants and galleries; it’s worth adding time to your day to explore this part of the city.

    11. Woodland Park Zoo

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle

    Feed a penguin. Watch the meerkats frolic. Laugh at the otter antics. Woodland Park Zoo is home to over 1000 different types of animals, from the pair of female hippos in the African Savannah exhibit to the Rain Forest exhibit’s brightly colored poison dark frogs. The award winning team at the Zoo has been recognized for their commitment to environmentalism, their quality as an attraction, and their education programs. The zoo has also been repeatedly recognized for exhibit design that’s fun for visitors but doesn’t compromise on the health, safety, and well being of the animals.

    A trip to the Zoo can be a full day out, so you’ll need to plan like you would for any easy outdoor adventure. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers for Seattle’s changeable weather. A day pack is a good idea, not just for bringing snacks and water, but for when you want to peel off your fleece in the more humid exhibits. There are no lockers, so you will have to carry anything you bring on site. There are designated picnic areas if you’ve packed your own lunch, but there’s also a surprisingly good food court with excellent local coffee. The Zoo also rents strollers in all kind of configurations, wheelchairs, and electric carts. Check with guest services for the latest rates.

    If you use public transit to get to the Zoo, (take bus #5 from downtown), not only will you get a discount when you show your Metro card or transfer, you’ll also save on parking – that will add another 5.25 to your day. There’s some street parking in the neighborhood, but you may end up walking further than you’d like and you’re already going to spend all day on your feet.

    The Zoo has an impressive calendar of events. Check what’s on for the day as soon as you arrive so you won’t miss the opportunity to feed a penguin or giraffe, take a guided walk through the Bird Experience, or listen to a talk by the elephant keeper. There are also seasonal events – an Easter egg hunt, the ZooTunes family friendly summer concert series, and WildLights, a sparkling Christmas season lights display.

    If you want to bookend your visit to the Zoo with a meal, the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood is full of great restaurants. Pete’s Eggnest and Beth’s Café are two old standards for diner style breakfasts. There’s Red Mill, the best burger joint in Seattle’s for over a decade. You might have to stand in line, but it’s worth it. Try Phinney Market Pub and Eatery for local farm-to-table meals, and yes, kids are welcome, there’s even a play area. For fast, affordable, fresh Mexican food, there’s Pecado Bueno, a little south of the Zoo – and they make a decent margarita.

    The Zoo is a little out of downtown, but it’s not hard to get to and it’s in the heart of an interesting, friendly neighborhood. It’s open every day but Christmas at 9:30; closing hours vary by season. Admission is 13.75 for adults, 9.75 for kids, but this is Seattle, so there’s a Rainy Day Discount of 50%, so don’t let the bad weather keep you away, especially if you’re on a budget. It’s a great day out. Plus, there are meerkats. Everyone loves meerkats.

    12. Seattle’s Art Museums

    Seattle Art Museums downtown Seattle culture
    As far as far as art scenes go, Seattle’s no New York City, but we do have a vibrant artistic community and a handful of wonderful, world-class museums. From pop to portraiture, regional to international, here are the major players in the Seattle visual arts:

    Seattle Art Museum: A block down First Avenue from Pike Place Market, Hammering Man looms: he’s Jonathan Borofsky’s mammoth 48-foot kinetic steel and aluminum sculpture, silently at work 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (because even Hammering Man gets Labor Day off). Since 1992, he has guarded the entrance to the downtown branch of Seattle’s largest art museum, known to locals simply as SAM.

    SAM’s permanent collection is impressive, if a bit of a hodge-podge: Egyptian, African, Native American, Asian, European, Pop, Contemporary… you name it, SAM’s got it. They also showcase a fantastic variety of world-class touring exhibits – check the calendar to see what’s on. For all its artistic pedigree, though, SAM’s not stuffy; it’s an approachable museum of manageable size, with helpful docents giving free tours, and interactive kids’ nooks sprinkled throughout. If you’ve got kids along, I’d plan to spend an hour or two exploring the museum, but art lovers could easily fill an entire day poking through its 35 galleries. There’s a good café on site (currently undergoing renovation), and an excellent museum gift shop that doesn’t require admission – it’s worth popping in even if you don’t have time for the exhibits. The downtown location is open from 10 to 5 on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 to 9 on Thursdays, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

    SAM’s got two more locations as well: The Olympic Sculpture Park is located along Seattle’s downtown waterfront, just downhill from Seattle Center. Less a park than a free, open-air museum, it’s home to a great collection of modern works by contemporary artists: most notably, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, and Louise Bourgeois. The Sculpture Park is one of downtown Seattle’s few green spaces, and has fantastic views of the sound, mountains, and ferries; it’s a great place to take a walk or to run the kids around, even if you have little interest in the art itself. The Paccar Pavilion on the Park’s south end has bathrooms, a café, a small kids’ activity space, and an underground parking garage with great all-day rates. The Olympic Sculpture Park is open daily, year-round, from 30 minutes pre-dawn to 30 minutes post-dusk.

    SAM’s third location, The Seattle Asian Art Museum, sits in beautiful Volunteer Park, just off Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue. The entrance to this Art Deco style building is flanked by two stone camels and faces Isamu Noguchi’s Black Sun sculpture. Both sculpture sites make for popular photo ops, and if you position yourself just right, you’ll get the Space Needle right in the center of the Black Sun.

    The Museum houses a small but excellent permanent collection of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian sculpture, textiles, and two-dimensional art. They also also host traveling exhibitions, having displayed a staggering array of Asian art styles, from Japanese manga to Mughal era scrolls and everything in between. It’s family friendly – there’s a hands-on kids’ activity room that’s open to all visitors, and the surrounding park has a recently renovated playground, a wading pool in the warmer months, and is wonderful for picnics. Parking is free and abundant, or take the bus – the 10 will take you there from downtown. The Seattle Asian Art Museum is open from 10 to 5 on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 to 9 on Thursdays, and closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
    ***NOTE: The Seattle Asian Art Museum is currently closed for renovation and slated to reopen in 2019.

    Chihuly Garden and Glass: Nestled squarely under the Space Needle on Seattle Center grounds, this stunning museum of glass art masterpieces has definite wow-factor that’s well worth the price of admission. Some history: Dale Chihuly was born in 1941, just south of Seattle in Tacoma, Washington. He studied design at the UW in Seattle, and has maintained a studio and hotshop on the shores of Lake Union since the early 90s. This local artist’s vibrant and magnificent award-winning artwork is displayed in more than 200 museums around the world, from Las Vegas to Jerusalem. Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition showcasing the artist’s process and works, opened in 2012.

    The museum is breathtaking, and great to visit year-round: the kaleidoscopic colors of the indoor galleries seem to shine extra brightly during Seattle’s gray winter months, and the beautiful outdoor gardens are especially enjoyable when it’s warm and dry. Bring your camera, and plan to spend an hour or two here; in addition to the art, there are frequent glass-blowing demonstrations, an excellent gift shop featuring the works of NW artists, and a great in-house café. (The café is a popular spot, and reservations are recommended. If you find yourself hungry and without a table, you can easily head out for a snack at one of Seattle Center’s better-than-decent restaurant counters in the Armory Building food court.)

    Is Chihuly good for kids? It depends. If yours are content with a walk-quietly, hands-off art viewing experience, I say go for it – Chihuly’s fantastic colors and designs are captivating to all ages. If you’ve got more exuberant little ones who’ll want to run around and touch the pretty colors, it’s probably not worth the stress. Generally, 8-and-ups should be okay.

    Chihuly Garden and Glass is open daily from 11-6 Sunday to Thursday, 11-7 Friday and Saturday. Buying combined Space Needle/Chihuly Museum tickets will save you money on both, and the Museum is included in the Seattle’s City Pass Promotion. Seattle Center is easy to get to by bus or monorail, and parking is available in many nearby lots or by valet.

    Frye Art Museum: This is a hidden gem of a museum, located just up the hill from downtown, in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood. It’s named for Charles and Emma Frye, prominent Seattle-ites from the early 20th Century who willed their extensive art collection to the city, stipulating that a museum be built to house them, and that it would always be free to the public. These donated works – an impressive assortment of 18th century European oils – are known as the Founding Collection, and are displayed just as they hung in the Frye’s grand Seattle residence: in a huge room, hung wall to wall, floor to ceiling, gilded frame to gilded frame. It’s quite a sight.

    The rotating exhibitions tend to be of a different nature entirely – they’re mostly modern and conceptual pieces, and the artists vary wildly by degree of fame. Sometimes it’s a first solo exhibition by a local artist, sometimes it’s Warhol. Generally, it’s well-curated and thoughtfully displayed.

    The Frye has a lovely, light-filled café that serves coffee, tea, and the 4 S’s (sandwiches, soups, salads, and snacks). There’s ample patio seating, and art books and magazines to browse. I love a good museum gift shop, and the Frye’s is the best in town – they’ve got a great book selection, and many beautiful and unusual pieces by independent artists. There are free public tours everyday at 1pm, and private tours can be arranged in advance by phone. The Frye is fairly kid-friendly; there’s no play or activity area, but the café has a decent kid’s menu, and the free admission makes it’s easy to make a quick trip with little ones.

    The Frye Museum is a six-block hike up the hill from downtown, or an easy ride on the #12 bus. There’s a free parking lot, with additional metered street parking, and admission is always free (though donations are happily accepted). Open Tuesday to Sunday 11–5, Thursday 11–7. Closed Monday.

    Henry Art Gallery: Appreciators of modern, conceptual art won’t leave disappointed by this small but dynamic museum on the University of Washington’s campus. The building itself is a surprising mash-up of modern aluminum and glass architecture and the school’s gothic stonework of old. What’s inside is edgy and experimental. There’s usually a compelling exhibit of featured work by the University’s MFA students, but the real reason to go is the Henry’s outstanding series of rotating exhibits: the list of previously featured artists includes icons such as Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Maya Lin. One of the museum’s biggest draws is Light Rain, a permanent Skyspace installation by American light artist, James Turrell.

    It takes about an hour to tour the museum, maybe a bit longer if you want to linger in Turrell’s Skyspace during the changing light of dusk. If you’ve got time and pleasant weather, I recommend taking a walk around the University campus while you’re there: Suzzallo Library is a gorgeous gothic building that you’ll swear is straight out of Hogwarts, there’s a killer view of Mount Rainier from Drumheller Fountain, and when the cherry trees are blooming in the quad, there’s no more magical place to be. The University’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is also located on UW’s Seattle campus, and is well worth a visit and the easy 10-minute walk.

    As far as food options, there’s a decent café inside the Henry, and plenty of great coffee shops and restaurants on campus and in the surrounding U-District. I don’t recommend the Henry for kids, unless you happen to have a budding Andy Warhol-type on your hands – there’s simply not enough to hold their attention. There’s a parking garage adjacent to the museum (it’s free on weekends, and on weekdays gives a partial refund on visits shorter than 4 hours), or the 72 bus will take you within 2 blocks from the entrance. The Henry Art Gallery is open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11-4, Thursday and Friday from 11-9, and Closed Monday and Tuesday.

    13. Seattle’s Music Festivals

    The best music festival in Seattle
    Jeremy Reding

    Two big festivals bookend the summer music season – Folklife on Memorial Day weekend and Bumbershoot on Labor Day weekend. But there’s lots happening year round – street parties and classical music and all kind of international happenings.

    Here are a few ways to experience Seattle music beyond the club scene.

    May – Northwest Folklife Festival: The focus changes every year, sometimes it’s the roots of Hip-Hop, sometimes it’s the traditions of Southeast Asia, sometimes it’s Americana. But Folklife is always a smorgasbord of international culture with a huge helping of music and dance. There are dozens of stages, each populated with different acts; sometimes they follow a theme (like the Hawaiian cultural line-up of slack key guitar and hula dancers) and sometimes, it’s a hodgepodge. There’s plenty of international food stands, arts and crafts vendors, and the whole thing is free. Donate by buying a Folklife button to help keep it that way.

    July – Capitol Hill Block Party: This long weekend of music takes place in Seattle’s hippest ‘hood. The Party takes over six block of the city and has five stages (two outdoor, three indoor) and has about 100 acts. There are beer gardens, food vendors and all the local businesses are open. If you want to see Capitol Hill at its liveliest, this is a great way to do it. Heads up, parking is a terrific hassle here on a good day, so take transit or a cab. Tickets start at $50.00 for a single day. Yes, you can bring kids – they’ll need their own tickets – but this is very much for the older ones.

    July & August – Seattle Chamber Music Festival: String quartets and trios, piano and violin duets, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, and maybe some surprised you’ve not heard of before. The series takes place in Benaroya Recital Hall, a smaller yet perfectly tuned venue for immaculately performed classical music. Prices vary and a few shows are free.

    September – Bumbershoot: The mother of all Seattle music festivals, this three day celebration of music and arts brings a staggering array of musical talent to the city. Venues vary wildly from stadium shows to intimate little theaters or outdoor stages. Day passes start at $65.00 but prices go up quickly. Some of the headliners are so popular that you’ll need to line up in advice. Kids are absolutely welcome, but some venues are 21 and over only.

    October & November – Earshot Jazz Festival: From award winning student ensembles to the top names in Jazz, Earshot hosts more than 50 different events at Seattle’s excellent jazz venues – The Triple Door, Town Hall, and tiny Café Racer. Festival passes are available and include preferred settings; many of the other events are first come first serve depending on the venue.

    These are just a few of the bigger Seattle music events in town – there’s so much more. The City of Seattle maintains a festival page, but it’s worth checking the events section in the local papers – The Stranger, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly – to find out what’s going on when you’re in town.

    14. The Ballard Neighborhood

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Paul David Gibson

    Almost every Sunday, year round, from 10 am to 3pm, Ballard Avenue closes to traffic and opens to the Ballard Farmers’ Market – one of Seattle’s largest. Seasonal produce, cheese and wine, bread from local bakeries, preserves and candies, snacks, snacks, and more snacks are for sale at the dozens of stands that line the street. There are musicians, and arts and crafts too – all local, the market requires that vendors be from Washington state. If you buy at the Ballard Farmers Market, it was grown, cooked, distilled, or felted here. You should absolutely go hungry, no matter what time of day, and eat a walking feast while you wander between the stands and Ballard’s increasingly chic, hip shops.

    Ballard was once a very sleepy neighborhood, home to primarily Norwegian immigrants who worked in timber or fishing. The Nordic Heritage Museum showcases the lives of the Scandinavians who carved new lives in the Pacific Northwest. But Ballard has changed dramatically in recent years thanks to a booming technology economy. A few establishments remain, like the Tractor Tavern and Hattie’s Hat, but there’s much here that’s brand new. Restaurants and businesses are opening in Ballard’s attractive low rise turn of the century brick buildings.

    A little under a mile away from the Farmer’s Market, you’ll find the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. The locks were built in 1917 to allow boats to transit from Puget Sound to Lake Union, but Chittenden was a forward thinking man for his time and designed the locks with a built in fish ladder. The fish ladder allows migrating salmon to journey upstream to their breeding grounds, unimpeded by the locks. And there are chutes that allow the small fry – salmon hatchlings – to return to the Puget Sound and then, out to the deep waters of the Pacific to live out their lives until they, too, return to their breeding grounds. The best time to visit the locks is between July and September when the salmon runs are at their most robust, but the season can start early and run through November. There’s a park and a visitor’s center where you can learn about the salmon run and the history of the locks. The fish ladder – with its underwater viewing window – is on the south side. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a big fishing boat navigate the locks while you’re there.

    Ambitious types (or those with a bike or car) may want to walk an additional two miles to Golden Gardens, one of Seattle’s better beach parks. There’s a nice swath of sand here, a restored wetland habitat, and spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains. If you plan ahead, you can scour the Farmers Market for all your snacks and then, head to the park for a picnic dinner. Summer evenings are especially popular here for the sunset views.

    Getting to Ballard from downtown is easy by bus – Metro’s Rapid Ride D line takes drops you off just a few blocks from the Farmers Market. Local service via the 17 or 18 will get you closer to market and the locks, but those lines make a lot more stops. Driving to Ballard is a very reasonable option but parking can be very challenging, especially on market days when the weather is good. There is a pay lot just outside the locks or, you can cross your fingers and hope to find street parking or in one of the lots on 56th, just north of and parallel to Market Street. If you choose to make Ballard your home base, you can stay in the heart of the action at the boutiquey Hotel Ballard or the Ballard Inn – they’re run by the same folks and are right on Ballard Avenue.

    15. North Capitol Hill and Volunteer Park

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle
    Michael Jefferies

    The Asian Art Museum sits in beautiful Volunteer Park, just off Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue. The entrance to Art Deco style building is flanked by two stone camels and faces Isamu Noguchi’s Black Sun sculpture. Both sculpture sites make for popular photo opps, and if you position yourself just right, you’ll get the Space Needle right in the center of the Black Sun.

    The Museum is the cornerstone of the park, with a small but excellent permanent collection of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian sculpture, textiles, and two-dimensional art. The Museum also hosts traveling exhibitions and has displayed a staggering array of Asian art styles, from modern Korean installations to Mughal era scrolls and everything in between. There are also lecture series, designed to expose the arts-curious to new ideas of Asian Art, and concerts, and talks with writers. The museum celebrates the cultural contributions Seattle’s diverse Asian community brings to the city and keeps the tradition of Asian art alive with exhibitions by working, modern Asian artists. There are a few free days every month – check the Seattle Asian Art Museum website for more information. And yes, it’s kid friendly – there’s a hands-on kids’ activity room that’s open to all visitors.

    To the north of the museum, there’s the Volunteer Park Conservatory, a glass greenhouse built in 1912 and containing a remarkable array of cacti, orchids, bromeliads, and other rare plants. The conservatory got a complete restoration for its 100th birthday. The Conservatory is open year round, but the best time to visit might be on bleak winter days when you can spend an hour or two in the warmth of the cactus room, or in the steamy humidity where the orchids thrive. Check the website for admission prices and free days.

    During the summer, Volunteer Park is home to free music and theater in the 1932 band shell. There’s Shakespeare and classical music ensembles, and sometimes, you’ll catch a reenactment of an episode of classic Star Trek. You’ll need to bring lawn chairs and a picnic; there’s no place to buy food or drinks in the park, but there’s plenty nearby. If you can’t sit still, you can climb the stairs inside the water tower to take in a 360 degree view of Seattle and across the water to Bellevue.

    Just north of the park, in the Lake View Cemetery, are the graves of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon Lee. Visitors come from all over the world to this quiet spot to pay homage to the family of martial arts stars.

    To visit Volunteer Park, take Metro bus route 10 from downtown Seattle. The bus stops just outside the park on 15th Avenue. Service is a little infrequent mid-day – you may have better luck taking an 8 or a 43 and then, walking about half a mile down 15th to the park’s entrance. There’s a bonus to taking the walk – there are lots of great cafes and restaurants on 15th, and a supermarket if you want to buy a picnic to take with you. It’s a nice walk, too, the streets are lined with the finest mansions timber money could buy. A few of them have been converted into Bed and Breakfast inns – the Tudor style Shafer Baillie, the 1909 Bacon Mansion, and the Gaslight Inn are just a few. There’s some street parking available so if you’re heading to the park by car, it’s less challenging than in other parts of the city.

    16. Four Ways to Enjoy the Water

    Kayaking in Seattle
    J Brew

    Seattle is surrounded by water: The big inland bay of Puget Sound to the west, Lake Union in the middle, bordered with houseboats, and Lake Washington to the east, spanned by bridges to Bellevue and Redmond. Seattle-ites take advantage of all this waterscape by going sailing, kayaking, canoeing, or, in warmer months, jumping right in. There are plenty of swimming beaches for days when the weather permits – Alki Beach on the sound and Denny Blaine on Lake Washington are two of the most popular – but there are lots of other ways to enjoy the water.

    Argosy Cruises offers a number of options, but the most popular is the Harbor Cruise Tour. Leaving from the Seattle waterfront several times a day, the tour shows you the gorgeous Seattle skyline from the water. Go out on a clear day and you’ll get spectacular views of Mt. Rainer and the northwest mountain ranges that mark Seattle’s horizons. The narrated tour takes about an hour and it’s a great pick for travelers with kids. If you’ve got an extra hour to spare, Argosy’s Locks cruise offers a little bit of everything: you’ll not only cruise the harbor, but also travel through the Ballard Locks into Lake Union, where you’ll see Seattle’s famous floating homes and sea planes. There are a couple of ways to save money on the cruises – check the discounts page or book your tickets 30 days in advance. Visiting in winter time? Argosy also runs Christmas sailings that feature local choirs and an onboard Santa. Rates vary depending on your cruise selection; Harbor Tours start at $23.00 for adults, less for seniors and kids.

    Lake Union Electric Boats are a fun and low key way to cruise the lake under your own power. Well, it’s not much power, but the little boats are comfortable, seat up to ten people, and they’re a perfect place to have a floating picnic. The boat rental company supplies life vests for humans of all sizes, including infants, and for an extra fee, they’ll include an ice chest with ice. You can bring your own meal and a sound track – there’s a music system on board. The boats can be completely enclosed, so you’re not limited to hot summer days for cruising. Rentals are $99.00/hour. You must have your boat returned by 9:00 pm. There are a few smaller markets near the pier, but you’ll find more variety if you do your shopping before you head to Westlake Landing to get your boat. Try the PCC in Fremont or the Whole Foods in South Lake Union.

    If you’d rather be self propelled there are loads of place throughout the city to rent a kayak, but only one of them is associated with an excellent Mexican restaurant. The Agua Verde Paddle Club (and restaurant) near the University of Washington campus rents single and double kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. They’re open year round, but summer is the most popular season. Reservations are available for groups of 12 or more only, everything else is first come first serve. There are guided tours, including those timed perfectly for sunset on the water. The waterfront café is very popular, not just with kayakers, and is a perfect place to fuel up before your adventure – or have a meal afterwards. First timers are very welcome. Rental rates on single kayaks start at $17.00 hour.

    Even if you’re not a student at the University of Washington, you can take advantage of the first come first serve canoe and rowboat rentals at the UW’s Waterfront Activities Center. The waters around the Center are close to the Arboretum. This part of Lake Washington is great for bird watching and turtles come out of the water to sun themselves on rocks and logs. You’ll slide through water lilies and you can paddle into some very quiet waterways. There are some restrictions on what size your kids need to be if you’re planning to take them out on the water with you, call ahead for more information. Hours vary by season. Rentals start at $9.00/hour for weekdays.

    17. Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

    This fantastic local history museum has recently been relocated into an old city armory building on the scenic southern tip of Seattle’s Lake Union. It’s flanked by a marina of creaky old boats to the north, and the glossy new Amazon Headquarters to the south. Seaplanes take off and land just off its shoreline. There could be no more fitting backdrop within which to learn about Seattle’s past, present, and future.

    Inside, MOHAI houses a collection of more than 100,000 historical objects and artifacts, thoughtfully curated into a series of intimate and interactive exhibits encircling a vast central atrium. There’s a little bit of everything offered: from Seattle’s Native American roots and timber-town beginnings, to its technology and aerospace industries, music and maritime history, sports, shipbuilding, you name it. The exhibits are rich in detail and very well done – it’s easy to spend hours here and not see everything.

    MOHAI is great for kids. There’s interesting stuff everywhere you look (Boeing’s first commercial airplane is suspended from the ceiling, just above a “toe” truck – complete with toes!), and tons of hands-on exhibits where kids can build, draw, push buttons, and invent. And no trip is complete without a trip to the top floor and to peer at the city through the 360-degree periscope.

    MOHAI’s got a great little cafe, offering sandwiches, salads, snacks, and sweets. (And coffee, of course.) Eat at one of the tables inside, or take your food out to the lakeshore and watch the Kenmore Air seaplanes come and go. Next door is the charming Center for Wooden Boats – you can rent a boat for a reasonable rate, or roam the docks and explore for free.

    MOHAI is open from 10am – 5pm daily, and until 8pm on Thursdays. Adult admission is $17, $15 for seniors over 62, $14 for students and military. Kids 14 and under get in free. MOHAI is easy to get to from downtown via the South Lake Union Streetcar. There’s a metered parking lot, as well as limited street parking.

    18. Stadium Tours

    Touring Safeco Field CenturyLink Field Seattle
    Seattle has two world class sports stadiums: Safeco Field is home to the Seattle Mariners, and the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC play at CenturyLink Field. Both stadiums are located just south of downtown, and are easily accessible by bus and Link light rail. Tours are offered year-round – they’re not too expensive and are a fun way to learn a bit about the stadiums’ history and architecture, as well as offering a rare opportunity at a peek behind the scenes.

    If you’re pairing your stadium tour with lunch or dinner out, it’s worth noting that there’s aren’t a lot of great restaurant options around the stadiums themselves – mostly mediocre-ish sports pubs that cater to the game crowds. If you’re looking for something better or more interesting, head north into Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood or east to the International District. You’ll fare much better there, food-wise.

    Safeco Field tours depart from the stadium’s Team Store on 1st Ave, and are about an hour long. You’ll see private suites, the visitor’s clubhouse, the press box, the field, and both team dugouts. Tickets can be purchased through their website in advance, or pick them up at the Team Store shortly before the tour is scheduled to depart. Wheelchair/stroller accessible. $12/adult, $10/child.

    CenturyLink Field tours depart from the Stadium Pro Shop off Occidental Ave, and last abut 90 minutes. You’ll see the field, visitor’s locker room, press box, private suites, and the famous 12th Man flagpole. Tickets can be purchased at the Downtown Pro Shop (at 4th and Pike) and the NW Box Office (off Occidental) – they sell out quickly and cannot be purchased by phone or online, so it’s recommended that you get there at least a half hour before the tour is scheduled to start. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to confirm the tour schedule, as tours aren’t given on event days. Wheelchair/stroller accessible. $12/adult, $5/child.

    19. Try Something New

    Been there, done that? There are loads of great and unexpected things to do around this city, and chances are good that even the most well-established mossback (that’s a native Seattle-ite) hasn’t tried them all. Whether it’s just for kicks, or to kick-off a new hobby, it’s fun to challenge yourself and try your hand at something different:

    • Fly on a trapeze: Emerald City Trapeze Arts is in a beautiful wood-beamed warehouse space just south of downtown. They offer tons of beginning trapeze and arial arts classes and are super easy to get to – only a block away from the Link Light Rail SODO station. Plan ahead: advanced registration is required, and it’s best to reserve a few weeks out.
    • Go skydiving indoors: Adults and kids 5 and older can don flight suits and and fly in the wind tunnel at iFly Indoor Skydiving, located about 20 minutes south of downtown. It’s lots of fun, though there is a fair bit of preparation before getting in the chamber – safety instructions and video, getting dressed, waiting in line – so plan your visit for a few hours.
    • Become a pinball wizard: the Pinball Museum has over 50 vintage and modern arcade games, and all are free to play after a single entrance fee. It’s located in the International District, and has sodas, snacks, and local craft beers available for purchase. Ages 7 and over. If you’ve got little ones who want to play, Full Tilt Ice Cream features classic pinball and arcade games, NW beer, and incredibly delicious all natural house-made ice cream in flavors that range from standard vanilla to the unique and exotic. Four Seattle locations.
    • Unleash your inner Chihuly: Seattle Glassblowing Studio offers a variety of one-time lessons – choose a 15-minute mold your own glass class (great for kids), 30-minute blow your own glass class (ages 11 and up), or 4-hour private lessons. They’re located on 5th and Bell beneath the Monorail, in Belltown.
    • Learn to cook (or cook better): Take a 2-3 hour cooking class at Dianne’s Market Kitchen in Post Alley, or at Tom Douglas’s Hot Stove Society cooking school in Hotel Andra. (Make a night of it – Andra offers a discounted rate when you take a class.) Eat Seattle’s classes take place in the in the Pike Place Market Atrium Kitchen, and can be paired with a chef-led Market tour. Classes at all of these popular spots frequently sell out, so it’s best to book well ahead.
    • Go zip lining: Bellevue Zip Tour offers guided zip line and aerial challenge courses for kids and adults 9 years and older. They’ve got 6.5 lines (some up to 500 feet long and 85 feet high) through pine forest, friendly and helpful guides, and great mountain views. They’re located in Bellevue’s Eastgate Park, a 20-minute drive from downtown Seattle, and operate from April through October.
    • Solve a mystery: First popularized in Europe and Asia, live action “escape” and “puzzle rooms” have been popping up like mushrooms across geek-chic Seattle over the last couple of years. The idea is this: teams rely on their wits and logic to solve a series of puzzles and either escape a locked room or solve a puzzle. They’re generally themed and story-based, and last about 90 minutes. Ideal as a group activity (they’re often used for corporate team-building), they can also be a fun way to meet new people. They vary a lot in difficulty, execution, and general cleanliness, but there are couple that stand out as the best: Locurio, in the Fremont neighborhood, is a magician-themed mystery and is recommended for groups of 6-8. If you’ve got a larger group, Puzzle Break, in Capitol Hill has a couple of different themes to choose from and and caps its team size at 14.

    20. Tacoma’s Museums

    Best Things To Do in Tacoma
    scott wallace

    Tacoma was once primarily a mill town and a port; very much a second city to Seattle. Development has changed that, however, and nowadays Tacoma shines on its own. They’ve got a campus for the University of Washington, reliable public transit, and a continually growing arts and culture scene. Tacoma is its own destination now and it’s worth a day trip from Seattle to spend time exploring the Museum District, learning about Washington History, and taking advantage of the small but vibrant restaurant scene.

    Tacoma has six museums; four of them are included on Tacoma’s Museum Pass. Three of them are within walking distance of each other: the Tacoma Art Museum, the Museum of Glass, and the Washington State History Museum. LeMay – America’s Car Museum – is about a 20 minute walk from the museum district.

    The Tacoma Art Museum shows primarily Northwest art. In 2014, the Museum completed an expansion that gave it the space to display their extensive collection of Western American art. The Museum also exhibits work by – and about – Native Americans. There’s a permanent exhibit of work by local glass art icon Dale Chihuly. Chihuly’s work is all over the district, in the art museum, on the sky bridge that connects the upper museums with the Museum of Glass, and in the fountain plaza in front of the Museum of Glass.

    The Washington State History Museum is a comprehensive and kid friendly look at the factors that shaped the character of Washington. From early native populations to salmon fishing to Boeing airplanes, the museum traces the past with life sized displays that include sound and interactivity. It’s easy to spend two hours, more, learning what life was like in the Pacific Northwest’s early days. The Museum is also home to the Puget Sound Model Railroad Engineers Club; the Club is building a scale replica of the region’s rail network.

    Even if you don’t go inside, the Museum of Glass is worth a look for the plaza alone, where shiny glass sculptures are displayed in a modern reflecting pond. But do go inside — the building has a working hot shop where you can watch artists at work in a theater like setting, and it’s always a surprise to see what artists do with glass. You might be surprised to find that a museum focused on glass is family friendly, but there are hands on activities, even for the little ones under age 12.

    The LeMay Car Museum collection runs from the early days of the automobile through the muscle cars of the 70s, and includes some concepts cars designed to run on alternative fuels like solar, electric, and steam power. Family friendly exhibits include a pinewood car race track, a deconstructed chassis that teaches visitors about how cars work, and cars you can sit in. And there are lots of gorgeous classic cars.

    All of the museums have nice cafes, but wander over to The Social Bar and Grill for new American style food and drinks. It’s casual, the food is excellent, and if the weather is nice, there’s a lovely outdoor patio overlooking the water. Or, if you want to grab something to for your return trip on the train, stop at Friesenburgers where you can get a real bison burger with fries.

    It’s about a 45 minute drive from downtown Seattle to the center of Tacoma. You can drive and park your car in the museum district – there are plenty of metered streets spots and pay lots – or if you want to make a bigger adventure out of it, you can take Amtrak. There are five trains a day leaving from Seattle’s King Street Station. Heads up: The Cascades is a commuter line and it’s very reliable, but the Coast Starlight is a long haul train and doesn’t always arrive on time. The train station is about a 20 minute walk from the museums, or you can take a bus; they leave from the station every 15 minutes.

    21. Local Brews, Booze, and Wine

    The Best Brewery in Downtown Seattle
    jan zeschky

    Seattle has a terrific bar and pub scene; no matter how you like your alcohol, you’ll find a place where it’s being served, mixed, paired … but increasingly, you can also find it made right at the place you’re drinking it. Washington State has long been home to excellent wine – it’s the second largest wine producing region in the nation – then in the 1980s a craft beer culture appeared on the scene. More recently, locally distilled spirits are popping up, both as neighbors to long time winemakers and as standalone destinations in the city. Here are a few ways to try Pacific Northwest made drinkables. Bottoms up!

    Pike Brewing Company has a sprawling family friendly restaurant at the south end of Pike Place market. They opened in 1989 and produce about two dozen different beers, some seasonal, some available year round. You’ll find their beer in local supermarkets, but it’s also available in Oregon, Alaska, and Montana. There are tours of the brewing facility every Tuesday through Saturday at 2pm, no reservations necessary. And there’s a fantastic menu – including one for kids – that includes plenty of fresh local seafood, just like you’d expect at Pike Place Market.

    They’re brewing American whiskey at Westland Distillery, south of downtown in Seattle’s industrial SODO district. Tours are by appointment only and cost $5.00 – you’ll get that back if you buy a bottle. Tastings are complimentary, stop in during opening hours. (Do check the website for additional details.)

    The region’s most well established winery has early 19th century roots, but is probably best known for its Woodinville location. Chateau St. Michelle is a French style winery on 105 acres with gorgeous grounds. The Chateau also hosts a popular outdoor concert series in their amphitheater. There’s a variety of tour and tasting options, from drop in visits for smaller groups to events that pair the Chateau’s wines with local produce, charcuterie, cheeses, and more.

    Beer drinkers who want to try something completely different can join Cycle Saloons for a pedal powered tour of many of Seattle microbreweries. There’s also a pedal powered paddle boat that plys the waters of Lake Union. While there’s plenty to drink, there’s no food provided but you can bring your own snacks. Make reservations, and nope, no kids allowed. There are some height and weight restrictions – you’ve got to be tall enough to reach the pedals – so check on that before you book.

    Woodinville is only a half hour drive from downtown Seattle and it’s home to nearly 100 tasting rooms. Download a winery map to take a self-guided tour. There are dozens of local tour operators if you’d prefer not to drive; Evergreen Escapes offers small group tours with pick up and drop off at several convenient downtown locations.

    The city of Yakima is a bit further afield but makes for a nice overnight stay for wine lovers. The Yakima Valley is the wellspring of Washington’s wine industry and there are over 80 wineries to visit. There are several possible routes to explore, print a map and be your own guide.

    Road Dog Tours takes small groups to a handful of Seattle’s 15 in city distilleries. This three hour tour provides an in-depth look at the growing spirits scene. Make reservations, the distillery tour is the most popular item on the Road Dog menu. There are three pickup locations in downtown Seattle. All participants must be 21 or older.

    22. “Green” Tourism

    In November of 2012, Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, and legalized the possession and private use of marijuana for adults across the state. It’s by no means a free-for-all (we do have some decorum), so if you’re looking to enjoy this Emerald City perk, it’s important to stay on the right side of the law. Here’s what you need to know:

    • Adults (age 21 and over) are allowed to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower, 7 grams of cannabis extracts, 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused edibles, and 72 ounces of liquid marijuana concentrates.
    • Marijuana can only be bought and sold at state-licensed retail stores, and the resale and giveaway of marijuana products is strictly prohibited. Providing marijuana to a minor can land you a $10,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.
    • It’s illegal to consume marijuana in public view, though the police will generally look the other way if you’re discreet. If you’re caught, you might be slapped with a $27 fine.
    • Marijuana use is still federally prohibited, so be especially careful not to smoke in and around federal property (government buildings, ports, airports, national parks).
    • DO NOT drive stoned. Besides being a bad idea generally, if a police officer suspects that you have marijuana in your system, they’ll issue a blood test, along with a DUI if their suspicions were correct.
    • Can you smoke in your hotel? If your hotel room is a non-smoking one (and most are), that does include pot.
    • Can you take it home? Nope. It’s illegal to transport marijuana across state lines or into Canada.
    • How do the shops work? It’s pretty simple, really. Recreational shops do not require a doctor’s prescription, though you’ll need to show a valid (and non-expired) ID at the door. Most shops only take cash, but all the better ones have ATMs onsite. Marijuana use and sampling is strictly prohibited on store premises.

    There are many recreational marijuana shops in and around Seattle, varying wildly in selection, price, and appearance. The best is Dockside Cannabis in the SODO neighborhood, just south of downtown. Dockside has a fantastic and well-organized selection, an upscale, airy, and boutique-like feel, even a “museum” that details the history of cannabis in the US. Their super friendly and knowledgeable bud-tenders are happy to answer any questions and help you find the perfect product. It’s a great spot for beginners and experienced cannaseurs alike, is easy to get to by transit, and has a free parking lot.

    If you’re on the north end of the city, I’d recommend Hashtag, in the Fremont neighborhood. It’s a bit smaller than Dockside, but the staff is just as helpful and the selection and prices are good. Hashtag is clean and bright, with a fun vibe that caters to the hipsters and young urban professionals who live nearby. It’s easy to get to by bus, and there’s plenty of free on-street parking.

    Those hoping for a more in-depth look at local marijuana commerce and culture should check out Kush Tours. Their friendly and professional guides take you behind the scenes to explore this evolving industry – from seed to shop – with those in the know. Tour groups are small (up to 6 people), and begin and end at Boro School of Glass in south Seattle, where you’ll be treated to a pipe-blowing demonstration. You’ll visit and tour Dawg Star Cannabis, one of the Seattle’s premiere licensed grow facilities, and Evergreen Herbal, where extractions and edibles are produced. Finally, you’ll put your new-found knowledge into practice at one of the city’s best retail shops. The $150 pricetag may seem a bit steep, but it’s worth it for this one-of-a-kind experience.

    23. Seattle Food Tours

    Best Food Tour in Seattle
    Dru Kelly

    Seattle’s status as a food lovers’ city continues to grow and grow and grow. It’s no surprise. The Pacific provides an abundance of excellent fresh seafood. The mild climate east of the Cascade Range is perfect for produce – cherries and peaches and apples. There’s an ever expanding viticulture scene, a long tradition of top notch coffee, and, on the heels of the technology boom, a restaurant boom that ‘s long been breeding celebrity chefs – Tom Douglas, Thierry Rautureau, Ethan Stowell, rising stars Carey Mashaney, Jason Brzozowy and so many more. There’s a lot of great food in Seattle, from basic ingredients to seriously prepared eats. If you’d like to get an overview of what’s here and who’s cooking it, a food tour is a great way to go. These operators all offer a full menu of tours, but here are a few of their specialties.

    Seattle Food Tours offers a Belltown restaurant tour (over 21, only) that’s more like a progressive dinner party than a standard tour. Schedule your participation early in your stay in Seattle; that way you’ll get an introduction to some of downtown’s finest places to eat – and you’ll know where to go back on your own. It is a walking tour, though there’s plenty of sit down time at each stop. The tour takes about two and a half hours, and takes place in the early evening – perfect for a happy hour adventure.

    Savor Seattle runs a Capitol Hill tour twice daily where you’ll explore the ever changing offerings in Seattle’s hippest neighborhood. This one includes kid friendly treats like cupcakes and ice cream. Your tapped in guides will take you to a series of snacking stops, but they’ll also tell you what’s hot on the Hill.

    Seattle Bites runs a Pike Place Market tour where you’ll learn the history of the market while you taste the wares on offer. Tours are twice a day during high summer season, once a day during the off season. Older kids are very welcome on this two and a half our adventure in the market. It’s not a long walk, but you’ll be on your feet, so wear good shoes.

    The Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s International District offers seasonal dumpling crawls and what they call a Sizzling Summertime Tour where you can taste foods from all around Asia – Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, so much more – and you’ll get BBQ, of course. Learn about the history of this diverse neighborhood while feeding your adventurous appetite.

    Local chocolate maker Theo has daily factory tours where you’ll learn about how chocolate is grown, sourced, and turned in to oh so delicious treats. There’s half an hour of tasting, and then, you’ll spend another half hour walking the factory floor to see how this magical stuff is made. Kids over five years old are welcome. The factory is in Fremont, north of downtown Seattle – if you’re traveling by bus, take a number 5 and about 15 minutes to the Factory on Phinney Avenue.

    Got a car and want to do a self guided dining day trip? Consider Chuckanut Drive, a gorgeous strip of two lane highway that runs along the edge of Puget Sound. There are oyster farms and cheese makers and cool old cafes and gorgeous beach front parks in which to eat your bounty. Bellingham Tourism produces a milepost guide to the route – download yours and go have an independent on the road feast.

    Tips for Your Guided Food Tour
    Kids: Many welcome older kids – market tours and daytime tours are typically very kid friendly, but you know your kid best. These aren’t fast paced activities, there’s lots of standing around while your guide introduces you to the offerings or the neighborhood’s history. Evening tours that include bars are often 21 and over only.
    Dietary concerns: Of course, it’s okay to not try everything, but substitutions can be tricky depending on the situation. Vegetarians, gluten-free types, those who don’t drink alcohol, whatever your concern, your guides want you to have a great time and they want to find things for you to try. But addressing your needs will be much easier if you state your concerns in advance.
    Difficulty and weather: None of the food tours involve strenuous activity, but you will spend a lot of time on your feet. Wear good walking shoes. All operators go rain or shine, so check the forecast before you go to your meeting point.
    Reservations: In slower seasons, you can often book at tour at the very last minute, but from late spring to early fall, Seattle’s food tours are extremely popular. Make a reservation. If you’ve got a larger group of travelers (more than five) ask about a group discount or maybe even a private tour.

    24. Cool Local Shops

    The Best Things To Do in Seattle

    Pike Place Market is only the start of Seattle’s ever changing arts and crafts scene. The north end of the market is home to dozens of stalls staffed by local makers. Get a cigar box ukulele or a hand knitted scarf or a limited edition Seattle themed silk screened t-shirt or beach glass and silver necklace or … you get the idea. There’s a lot of cool handmade stuff here and when you visit the market, don’t just eye the edibles. Take a wander to see what else Seattle artists are making.

    But the Market is just a start. Seattle’s entrepreneur economy isn’t just about tech. It’s about making all kinds of interesting products – and it has been for decades. Here are a few local goods and some cool shops where you can find an array of interesting things that have “Made in Seattle” proudly stamped on them.

    Alchemy Goods makes backpacks, wallets, messenger bags, and lots of other cool accessories out of recycled and seatbelt straps. They’ve got recycling programs in place with Trek Bicycles, REI, and many independent shops. Their recycled bike tube products are tough and really, really cool. You’ll see their products at a number of shops in Seattle, but they’ve also got a store from at 1723 1st Avenue South.

    Beecher’s Cheese opened in Pike Place Market in 2003 and Seattle has been devoted to the shops locally made selection of delicious cheese since then. They’ve won loads of awards for their products and they’ve even got a shop in New York now. They’ve got a full selection at their Pike Place Market location, plus, they make a killer grilled cheese sandwich so you can get a snack while you shop the cheese cakes. Forgot to get Beecher’s before you headed to the airport? Good news, there’s a Beecher’s shop in the Alaska terminal.

    Filson made tough outdoor clothing to supply gold rush era prospectors and it was built to last. They’ve been at it for over 100 years, so the company was built to last too. Feeling the need for some rugged plaid after your time in the Pacific Northwest? Filson has it. Plus, you can take a factory tour – reservations are required. The Filson store is at 1555 4th Avenue South.

    Glassybaby tea lights aren’t just beautiful accessories for your home. They’re made from a place of true generosity; a percentage of the sales of this wildly successful company goes to help cancer patients who aren’t fully covered by insurance. The Madrona neighborhood hot shop (3406 East Union Street) where the lights are produced has a retail outlet but there’s also a store at the University Village Shopping Center.

    Magpie sells toys, games, books for kids, and clothing — all with a local focus. They also make their own line of clothing for the little ones and accessories for their parents. Magpie products are typically made from vintage or recycled fabrics that are American made. Bring the kids along; the shop is at 2002 E Union St.

    Paper Hammer stocks gorgeous letter press stationary printed at their studio in Tieton, Washigton, just the other side of the Cascades. For paper goods that are truly a work of art, stop in at the 1400 2nd Ave store in downtown Seattle.

    Tom Bihn Bags are obsessively designed and produced by the company’s namesake at a factory in South Seattle’s industrial district. The laptop backpacks, tablet shoulder bags, and soft sided luggage all share an attention to detail that is rare in luggage. Most of their business is online, but they do have a factory showroom and retail outlet at 4750A Ohio Avenue South. Check ahead on the hours, they’re limited.

    Watson Kennedy is that rare retailer that comfortably sits between a shop and an art gallery. Their objects are all carefully selected for aesthetics and quality, there’s sure to be something here that appeals to your personal style. Ask what’s locally produced, the shopkeeper will know. They have two locations, one at First and Spring, focused on housewares and décor, and one in Pike Place Market, with bed and bath wares.

    Okay, hardly anything at Archie McPhee’s is local. But the store – selling boxing nun dolls, rubbery alien finger puppets, bacon patterned bandages, wobbly dashboard Beethoven heads, and all kinds of irresistible things you didn’t know you needed – is a Seattle icon. It’s fun and weird and cheap (mostly) and kids love it. 1300 N 45th St in Wallingford.

    25. Seattle Coffee

    The best coffee in Seattle
    Michael Allen Smith

    That green logo is everywhere. The Starbuck’s mermaid appears in 65 countries, at over 21 thousand locations. And the not-quite-original Starbuck’s location in Pike Place Market remains a very popular destination with travelers who come from around the world to worship at the temple of coffee. They recently added a Roastery where you can dive deep into the mythology of the coffee giant. The beautifully appointed Capitol Hill location has small batch roasts and a specialized selection of coffee paraphernalia.

    Seattleites are fiercely loyal to their coffee houses, and while Starbucks maybe the biggest, it’s far from the only show in town. There are an estimated 35 coffee shops for every 100,000 Seattle residents. Can’t get your head around that? Just know that you will never go far without finding a café that Seattleites swear is the best in town.

    Want to get your brew at somewhere besides a big chain coffee house? Here are a few smaller places that make an excellent cup of joe.

    Located in funky Fremont, Milstead & Co. serves some of the fussiest coffee in town. Don’t mistake this for a fussy atmosphere – the attitude stops at what goes in your cup. You’ll pay a bit more for coffee in this lofty industrial style space, but Milstead has established a reputation for serving only the very best in beans. Ask what’s on for the day when you get to the counter – it changes frequently. Milstead is at 770 N 34th Street.

    Cherry Street Coffee has a handful of locations around Seattle, but if you’re downtown, try the one on First Avenue, just south of the Seattle Art Museum. It’s a small space with a few window seats – grab one of those for the best people watching. Cherry Street spun out of a partnership with now closed Seattle local icon, B&O Espresso. Cherry Street has been flying solo since 1997 and their roast has devout fans.

    Victrola opened their first café at 411 15th Avenue E on Capitol Hill and almost immediately became a coffee force to be reckoned with. They now have a roaster on Pike Street – not far from the Starbucks roastery – giving further evidence to the idea that you can’t have too many coffee providers in Seattle.

    The signs say “Home of the Velvet Foam.” That should tell you how seriously Uptown Espresso takes the process of steaming the milk for your drink. The other thing you’ll find at Uptown Cafés? Big tables. That makes them popular with the folks that work in cafes and groups that like to meet for board games. They’re comfortable places to hang out.

    They’re really best known for their donuts and if you visit the downtown location when the cruise ships are in, be prepared to stand in line. But the coffee at Top Pot is very good and their newest location on Alki Beach is in a beautiful bright open space right across the street from the beach. Take the water taxi from downtown and transfer to the free shuttle that goes to Alki. On sunny weekends, it’s crowded here, but it’s worth the wait.

    Okay, it’s not coffee, it’s tea, but it warrants a mention. The Panama Hotel in Seattle’s International District has a staggering selection of teas and is one of the most serene places in the city to spend an hour or two gazing into your cup. It’s at 605 1/2 So Main St, just a few blocks walk from the International District bus tunnel station.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s Cloud City, Ladro, Fuel, Herkimer, Slate … ask again tomorrow, there could well be a dozen more. After a few days in Seattle, it’s likely you’ll have your own opinion about who’s got the best coffee. And with a café on nearly every block in town, if you haven’t found it yet, you will, just around the corner.

    See Also

    Best Dog-Friendly Spots in Seattle

    Updated: July 12, 2017
    Seattle's best dog-friendly hotels and restaurants
    Seattle has gone to the dogs; it’s estimated that 160,000 canine companions live within its city limits. And while there are a number of pet-friendly spots around town, a few really go above and beyond for our furry friends. Here are the very best dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, bars, and breweries in Seattle.

    Dog-Friendly Seattle – Tips and Advice

    Seattle’s Best Dog-Friendly Hotels

    The Alexis

    A luxury boutique hotel with an elegant vibe and a great pet policy. Your dog will be greeted by name on arrival, even with a special welcome sign. The Alexis has a dedicated pet concierge, complimentary beds, bowls, leashes, and dog walking bags for the duration of your stay, no size/breed limit, no limit to the number of pets you can bring along, and NO additional pet fee. They even welcome dogs to their hosted evening wine hour – with treats, of course. The Alexis is located near the Seattle Art Museum, an easy six-block walk from Pike Place Market.
    Hotel phone: (206) 624-4844

    Hotel Max

    An urban, artsy, luxury boutique hotel that’s incredibly welcoming to pets. Hotel Max provides eco-friendly beds, bowls, toys, and treats, plus a custom dog tag with the hotel’s name and number on it, should Fido get lost downtown. Pet-toting guests are given a comprehensive resource list to accommodate every need – from walking and grooming to vets and even pet psychics. Hungry pups can enjoy gourmet items from their whole-food based pet room service menu. Two pets of any size are allowed, for an additional fee of $45 per stay. Hotel Max is located about five blocks up from Pike Place Market at 7th and Stewart.
    Hotel phone: (206) 728-6299

    Hotel Monaco

    This colorful and trendy boutique hotel is in a prime central downtown location, and rolls out the red carpet for both kids and pets. (Kids love that there’s a magic show every Friday and that you can request a pet goldfish for the duration of your stay.) They’ll welcome your furry friend with bed, bowls, bags, and treats – all with no size/breed limit and NO additional pet fee. Hotel Monaco is surrounded by shopping and restaurants and within walking distance to all downtown attractions.
    Hotel phone: (206) 621-1770

    The Pan Pacific Seattle

    A warm and modern luxury hotel, tucked into Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The Pan Pacific has excellent Space Needle views and a great pet policy: two dogs of any size can be accommodated for an additional $50 fee per stay. Canine guests receive not only a plush bed and gourmet treats, but also complimentary walks by hotel staff. Convenient to Seattle Center and great neighborhood restaurants, The Pan Pacific is a 10 minute walk to downtown shopping and 15 minutes to Pike Place Market. Conveniently located near both a Whole Foods and a high-end dog bakery and boutique for easy access to food and souvenirs for your four-legged friend.
    Hotel phone: (206) 264-8111

    The Palladian

    A cozy boutique hotel in Seattle’s dog-friendly Belltown neighborhood, blocks from Pike Place Market and downtown attractions. Guest rooms have a hip, playful vibe, with trendy vintage-modern décor, and there’s a charming old-world lobby bar and daily hosted cocktail hour. Super pet-friendly, The Palladian welcomes any pet of any size or breed, with NO extra fee – bowls, bed, bags, and leash provided.
    Hotel phone: (206) 448-1111

    Hotel 1000

    Centrally-located luxury hotel, great for an adults getaway. They’ve got modern-styled guest rooms with deep, ceiling-fill tubs big enough for two, full-service spa, virtual driving range, and champagne upon check-in. Not very kid-friendly but great for pets: they’ll welcome your dog with a bed, bowls, and treats for a $40 once-per-stay fee. Easy walking distance to stadiums, shopping, restaurants, museums, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market.
    Hotel phone: (206) 957-1000

    Hotel Vintage

    A wine-themed luxury boutique hotel, close to shopping and restaurants, and so pet-friendly that they even have a front-desk dog. Decor is contemporary chic, guest rooms are named for local wineries. There’s a complimentary wine hour each evening, and a great in-house Italian restaurant. Hotel Vintage charges NO additional pet fee and will provide dog bed, treats, bowls, and maps to dog parks and a list of pet friendly bars and restaurants.
    Hotel phone: (206) 624-8000

    The Four Seasons

    Seattle’s best luxury hotel, with impeccable service, stunning views, and a fantastic restaurant. Their full spa and beautiful outdoor heated infinity pool overlook Elliott Bay. The Four Seasons welcomes one small dog (under 20 lbs) per room for an additional fee of $50 per stay. Dog bed, bowls, and treat provided. Located near Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and loads of downtown restaurants.
    Hotel phone: (206) 749-7000

    Hotel Andra

    A lovely, Scandinavian-chic boutique hotel set on the border of downtown and Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Hotel Andra is surrounded by great restaurants, and is home to local chef Tom Douglas’ famed cooking school. If you’re traveling with your pet, you’ll need to provide your own dog bed and bowls, but all breeds and sizes are welcome here, with NO additional pet fee. You can’t beat the location – besides restaurants, Andra is close to Pike Place Market, shopping, and nightlife.
    Hotel phone: (206) 448-8600

    Hotel Sorrento

    One of the Seattle’s most charming hotels, located just uphill from downtown. This old world boutique hotel has a gorgeous wood-paneled lobby, designer suites, and spacious guest rooms with period details and white marble bathrooms. Hotel Sorrento welcomes dogs of all sizes and breeds, and provides bedding and bowls. An additional $50 pet fee is charged per stay, plus a $200 refundable damage deposit.
    Hotel phone: (206) 622-6400

    The Edgewater Hotel

    This lodge-themed luxury hotel sits right on Seattle’s waterfront. There’s a fantastic restaurant and cozy lounge area with terrific views, and every guest room has a gas fireplace. The Edgewater is also pet-friendly, allowing up to two animals per guestroom, with no weight/breed limit. A $100 pet fee (plus 14.5% tax) is charged per room, per pet, per stay. Walkable to waterfront attractions, Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, and the Olympic Sculpture Park – downtown Seattle’s best and most scenic dog-walking spot.
    Hotel phone: (206) 728-7000

    Seattle’s Most Dog-Friendly Restaurants

    The Innkeeper • $$-$$$ • Belltown
    Latin/International fusion cuisine with a fantastic happy hour and patio seating in the spring and summer months. 21+

    Flatstick Pub • $$ • Pioneer Square
    Super fun spot for beer, mini-golf, and bar games. $1 off pints when you bring in your dog during “yappy hour,” 6-7pm M-F and all day Sunday. 21+

    Norm’s Eatery and Alehouse • $$-$$$ • Fremont
    Burgers, pasta, and weekend brunch – they’ve even got a dog menu, so Fido can enjoy a meal out, as well. Happy hour 4-7pm every day.

    Le Pichet • $$-$$$ • Pike Place Market
    Classic French Bistro that feels like your favorite little spot in Paris. Dogs are welcome at outdoor tables.

    The Pink Door • $$-$$$ • Pike Place Market
    Charming Italian restaurant in Pike Place Market’s Post Alley with nightly entertainment. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio overlooking the ferries on Elliott Bay.

    The Leary Traveler • $$ • Ballard
    Cozy and low key gastropub, with well-behaved dogs allowed inside. Great beer selection and cocktails; solid lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus. (Don’t miss the yam fries!) 21+

    Bandits Bar • $ • Belltown
    Hole-in-the-wall dog-friendly Belltown tavern with cheap drinks, tasty tamales, darts, and pinball. Leashed dogs allowed inside. 21+

    The Blarney Stone • $ • Downtown
    Fun Irish pub just across the street from Pike Place Market. Pool tables, seasonal patio seating, and daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Dogs are allowed both inside and out. 21+

    Biscuit Bitch • $ • Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Belltown
    Small, dog-friendly, un-fancy yet excellent breakfast and brunch spot specializing in biscuit sandwiches and biscuits & gravy. Gluten free available, too!

    Fadó Irish Pub • $$-$$$ • Pioneer Square
    This Pioneer Square pub features a solid “upscale Irish” menu, friendly staff, and usually soccer or rugby on the television. Pets are welcome at outdoor tables.

    See Also

    Taking a Cruise Out of Seattle

    Updated: March 28, 2017

    Where to stay and how to see Seattle before and after an Alaska cruise

    Seattle has two cruise ship terminals, and more than one million passengers embark annually from the Puget Sound waterfront for 7-10 day cruises to Alaska. Seattle’s cruise season runs from late April through early October. Seattle is a home port for Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, and a stop on some Crystal and Seabourn cruise line itineraries.

    On This Page

    Seattle’s Cruise Ship Terminals

    The Port of Seattle operates two busy cruise ship terminals. Both terminals provide services like airline check-in and baggage transfer, concierge and luggage storage, long-term parking, complimentary shuttles, and rental car kiosks.

    Transportation Between SeaTac Airport and Seattle’s Cruise Terminals

    Seattle’s SeaTac Airport is 15 miles south of downtown Seattle and the cruise ship terminals. The easiest way from the airport to the cruise terminal is to arrange for town car, limo, or SUV pickup. I recommend Seattle Town Car – they’re reliable, don’t cost much more than a cab or a ride app, offer child and infant car seats, and curbside pick up will save you the trek to the taxi/rideshare zone with all of your luggage.

    Shuttle Express provides shuttle service straight to the pier for $44/person, or in a combination hotel/pier shuttle transport package for an additional $10 each. Due to the per person fare, if you’re traveling with a lot of adults, it will be cost-effective to choose a town car – kids travel free on a shuttle, one per adult.

    Taxis are easy to find and generally plentiful at SeaTac airport, located on the third floor of the airport parking garage. After collecting your luggage, go up one level, take the skybridge across to the parking garage, and then the elevator/escalator down one level to 3. There are clearly marked signs along the way to help you get there.

    Rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, and Wingz are now allowed to pick up at SeaTac, as well – with the addition of a $5 airport fee. The rideshare pickup zone is located on the third floor of the parking garage, near the taxi stand. UberBLACK, UberSUV, UberXL and UberSELECT vehicles can pick up passengers curbside outside of baggage claim.

    At $3 a pop, the cheapest way from SeaTac to downtown is Light Rail. The station located off the 4th floor of the airport parking garage, with trains departing every 10 minutes or so. You’ll get off downtown at Westlake Center. If your cruise is departing from the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66, it’s about a 15-minute walk from the light rail station. You’ll want to consider a cab or Uber if you’re carrying bags – it’ll be a cheap ride for the short distance to the waterfront. If you’re departing from Smith Cove at Pier 91, you’ll definitely need a ride – Smith Cove Terminal is a 15-minute drive from Westlake Center.

    Where to Park During a Seattle Cruise

    Seattle cruise terminals offer secured long-term parking at a rate of $20-25/day – about half as much as you’ll pay for hotel parking downtown. You’ll want to book online in advance, as the parking areas regularly fill up. Alternately, park at the SeaTac airport garage for about the same price and take light rail or other transport into the city.

    Where to Stay Before or After a Seattle Cruise

    If you’re coming into the SeaTac airport late and not expecting to do much sightseeing around Seattle, staying near the airport is a good option, as it will be less expensive than staying downtown. The best hotel near SeaTac is Cedarbrook Lodge – they have an incredible spa and award-winning farm-to-table restaurant. Other good options are the SeaTac Crowne Plaza and Hilton – both offer cruise packages with complimentary shuttle service to the cruise terminals.

    Staying in downtown Seattle will give you the best chance to see the city, and offers easy access to Seattle’s best attractions. Hotel rates are at their highest during cruise season, however, so don’t expect to find many cheap options. Many hotels offer cruise packages that include transport to the terminal, but these are generally not big money-savers, as cab/rideshare fare to the pier is fairly inexpensive and Shuttle Express offers scheduled transport from some downtown hotels to the cruise terminals at a rate of just $12 per person. If you’re sailing on a Norwegian or Oceana cruise that departs from the Bell Street Terminal, The Edgewater Hotel and Marriott Waterfront are both within easy walking distance of the pier.

    The best downtown Seattle hotels for cruise travelers are:

    The Best Seattle Tours for Cruise Travelers

    Those looking to see Seattle in a small window of time before or after a cruise will find a guided tour to be a convenient and efficient option. Tours specific to cruise travelers will handle your luggage, and pick up and drop-offs are coordinated to accommodate ship sailing and departure times.

    Tours Northwest’s Sightseeing and Cruise Transportation Tours run anytime a cruise ship is in port, and will pick up and drop off at downtown and SeaTac area hotels, as well as both cruise ship ports. This three hour tour covers fifty miles, visiting Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, the Stadium and International Districts, Seattle Center (including the Space Needle and MoPOP), the Ballard Locks, Discovery Park, Fisherman’s Terminal, Lake Union, and more.

    If you’re staying in near the airport in SeaTac, Show Me Seattle is your best option. They offer pick up at SeaTac hotels and both cruise ship terminals, and will drop-off at SeaTac Airport, SeaTac area hotels, and the Seattle cruise terminals. Tours last three hours and cover the downtown Seattle area, historic Pioneer Square, the International and Stadium districts, Seattle Center and the Space Needle, the Queen Anne and Fremont neighborhoods, and the Ballard Locks. These cruises run on ship departure days only.

    A delicious and informative shore excursion for those visitors whose ships are in port, a two-hour guided Food and Cultural Tour of Pike Place Market is a great way to experience the city’s best loved attraction with those in the know. Learn the Market’s history and taste the region’s best culinary offerings – with 9-10 tastings included, there’s no need to stop for lunch.