Family Travel: Top 16 Things to Do in Seattle (Map Included)

Oh, Seattle, home to the first Starbucks store and dozens other incredible places and things one should see and do when in Washington…

Last updated: October 18, 2021

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle - Roads and Destinations

What to See and Do in Seattle, Washington

Seattle has been on our family bucket list for a while. But since it’s relatively close to Los Angeles, we always chose other destinations, leaving the Emerald City for later. It seemed appropriate to use longer vacations for faraway places. Seattle, in our opinion, was perfect for a weekend getaway.

This year, we finally decided to make this trip happen. Initially, long Memorial Day weekend was set as the ideal time to see and try all the favorite things one shouldn’t miss in Seattle. Yet as it happens often, prices for air tickets skyrocketed at the last moment. So we had to postpone our trip again. This time, however, we didn’t let anything else intervene with our plans and finally made it to the Emerald City.

Places to Stay Near Seattle

When it came to accommodation, Seattle appeared to be quite expensive. To stay on our budget, we booked a hotel room in Kent. The town was located about 15 miles (20 minutes) away from Downtown Seattle. This distance was really nothing considering that we rented a car.

Moreover, it worked even better the next day when we ventured to Mount Rainier National Park. The road from Kent to the park and a few other destinations along the way was significantly shorter than from Seattle.

16 OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEATTLE

Typically for us, we started our day by exploring the outskirts of Seattle. Our adventures here would’ve probably lasted longer, but cold weather and rain forced us to drive back to the Emerald City.

The Best Things to Do in Seattle: Attractions

1. Space Needle

Once in Seattle, we couldn’t help but visit the Space Needle first. The iconic observation tower is one of the symbols of Seattle. It was built near Seattle Center for the 1962 World’s Fair and has been attracting millions of visitors a year ever since.

Besides its unique design – a big plate atop the narrow tower, – the Space Needle offers breathtaking views of the city. One can hardly skip this attraction whether she has one day or one hour to spend in Seattle. Visiting the Space Needle, however, will cost you some money. You need to shed about $35 per an adult ticket.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle - Roads and Destinations

2. Seattle Center

Seattle Center goes hand in hand with the Space Needle. In fact, these places share the same location with the exception that Seattle Center occupies larger territory. Like the Space Needle, it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

Today it’s a famous art, education, tourism, and entertainment center. The place is popular with adults and kids alike. On top of its famous museums and exhibitions, Seattle Center includes a playground with big slides for its little visitors.

3. Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass is one of the most extravagant things to do in Seattle Center. Open in 2013, this popular exhibit features the studio glass of Dale Chihuly.

4. MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture)

Seattle Center is also home to the Museum of Pop Culture, one of the best things to do in Seattle for contemporary culture enthusiasts. During its almost twenty years, the nonprofit museum has organized multiple exhibits. More than a dozen of them have toured across the country and internationally.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle  - Roads and Destinations

5. Seattle Aquarium

A short walk from the Space Needle and Seattle Center is another must-do thing in Seattle, the Seattle Aquarium. This public attraction opened its doors in 1977 and has been featuring amazing selections of marine inhabitants ever since.

6. Pike Place Market

The Pike Place Market was one of those incredible places we simply stumbled upon while exploring Seattle. This diverse market offers everything you can only imagine. From farmers’ market to single booths on the street and big flower shops, the place doesn’t let you leave without stocking your bags with some goodies and souvenirs.

If food is your Achilles’ heel, grab a bite (your choice is immense) and enjoy views at the Waterfront Viewpoint. There is one drawback, though. The Pike Place Market is extremely crowded and parking nearby is close to impossible.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle - Roads and Destinations

7. Market Theater Gum Wall

Narrow stairs near the farmers’ market at the Pike Place Market take you to the Market Theater Gum Wall. One of the most unique places in Seattle, this popular touristic alleyway is covered with used chewing gums. The unusual attraction entices many visitors who usually check it out after shopping at the Market.

Thus, if you want to take a good picture of this place without a maddening crowd in the background, visit it early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Seattle - Roads and Destinations

The Best Things to Do in Seattle: Parks and Squares

8. Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is one of the best places in Seattle to explore ample art galleries, coffee shops, and popular bars. We quickly browsed around. What impressed us the most was the amount of people taking advantage of secluded Waterfall Garden Park.

9. Chinatown-International District

The Seattle Chinatown International District astounds with a lot of eateries and bilingual street signs. While looking at the street signs might be one of the last things you want to do in Seattle, Asian cuisine certainly doesn’t disappoint. From noodle houses to dim sum restaurants and sushi spots, you are here for a multi-course Asian feast.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle - Roads and Destinations

10. Olympic Sculpture Park

After so many things to do in Seattle, it’s time to take a short break and relax. And what better place than one of the city’s parks? If you just finished enjoying the views from the Space Needle, take a short walk to Olympic Sculpture Park. Located just ten minutes away, the park is a narrow stretch of land with the outdoor sculptures, benches, and a small beach.

Olympic Sculpture Park - Roads and Destinations

11. Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park is a popular place to take a break from shopping at the Pike Place Market. The place entices with some of the scenic views of the city skyline and waterfront. On a clear day, you can even enjoy the splendid views of the Olympic Mountains.

12. Discovery Park

Discovery Park is the largest public park and one of the best things to do in Seattle for a reason. It’s located along Puget Sound and features a narrow beach with the West Point Light at the far end. Additionally, Discovery Park boasts incredible views of the surrounding area, the mountains, and stunning Mount Rainier overlooking the park from afar.

Discovery Park - Roads and Destinations

The Best Things to Do in Seattle: Eating and Shopping

13. Drink Starbucks Coffee

Even if coffee is not your favorite drink, you simply can’t avoid it in Seattle. Frankly, Starbucks coffee here tastes exactly like anywhere else in the world. But you absolutely must have that symbolic cup of your favorite drink in the city that gave birth to the largest coffeehouse chain in the world.

If you’re lucky or have some connections, you might even get a chance to explore Starbucks headquarters in Seattle’s SoDo (South of Downtown) neighborhood.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle - Roads and Destinations

14. Grab a Bite at RoadChef Truck

Usually we buy groceries and prepare our own meals even when we travel. This time, however, we decided to get some local delicacies from food trucks in Seattle Center. Here, RoadChef won us over with their vegan wraps.

The delicious vegan falafel wrap is something I can never say “no” to. Moreover, the staff at RoadChef was extremely nice and welcoming. It you’re fond of people who can make your day, be sure to look for these guys when you’re in the city next time.

16 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle. Roads and Destinations

15. Buy Gifts and Souvenirs at Essentially Seattle

Located on Harrison Street in Seattle Center, Essentially Seattle is one of the best places to buy gifts and souvenirs in the area. Besides its wide range of products, the cute store spoils its shoppers with frequent discounts.

16. Buy Groceries at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

Grocery Outlet Bargain Market’s prices are pretty affordable and often even lower than at any other grocery stores in the city center. So make your buck last longer by preparing your own food. If cooking is not an option for you, make sure to get at least some fresh fruits and sweet potato chips to snack on.

Map: Top Things to Do and Attractions to See

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