The Pacific Northwest is an enchanting region from which legends have sprung. In the pocket of the Puget Sound Lowlands, the city of Seattle has flourished, welcoming visitors and new residents. From city-specific opportunities to the majestic nature that thrives around it, here are the top reasons to visit the Emerald City.
Home to more than 100 annual festivals, the city of Seattle loves a celebration. The Emerald City throws parties for food and drink (Taste Washington, Bite of Seattle, Oktoberfest), movies (Seattle International Film Festival), technology (PAX), music (Bumbershoot, Capitol Hill Block Party, Sasquatch Music Festival), and more (Emerald City Comicon, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Pride Festival, Seafair), including for the great state in which it resides (Washington State Fair).
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Seattle has access to mountains, ocean, a rainforest, desert, city, farmland, islands, and even a volcano. It’s well worth driving a few hours outside the city to explore the wilderness.
Since three-fourths of the year’s weather is dreary, Seattleites are that much more motivated to take advantage of outside activities when the weather allows. And when paired with the varied terrain described above, there’s something for everyone. Seattle is a wonder to visit if you like hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, sailing or canoeing.
Seattle brought the world Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, Boeing, Nordstrom, Expedia, REI and Sub Pop Records (which brought the world Nirvana, Soundgarden and the Shins, to name a few). Come and explore the city that inspired world-class companies, and then go and find the original space in which each of these powerhouses began!
On a similar note, Seattle not only turned out entrepreneurial geniuses, but musical ones too. If you love Heart, Jimi Hendrix, Kenny G, Nirvana, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Pearl Jam, Macklemore, Chris Cornell, Death Cab for Cutie or Odesza, then you appreciate Seattle musicians. Seattle is one of the few cities that is solely credited with the birth of its own music genre: grunge. Not enticed yet? Then come for the current music performances. Seattle is on everyone’s list of top cities for live music. Go ahead, Google it.
From Sleepless in Seattle to Twilight to An Officer and a Gentleman, Seattle has inspired (and provided the background for) a whole host of of films. You can check out Stadium High School in Tacoma (10 Things I Hate About You) or see landmarks featured in shows such as Frasier. And don’t forget Grey’s Anatomy!
Other than the show-stopping Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle boasts almost 200 art galleries, five art museums (including SAM) and numerous public art projects scattered across the city. To help people discover all the city has to offer, The Office of Arts and Culture maintains a public-art app called STQRY, and local government provides downloadable maps.
The San Juan Islands are the best place to spot whales, especially orcas. The largest of the San Juan Islands is actually named Orcas (pronounced ‘or-kiss’) Island. Keep your eyes peeled on a ferry across the Puget Sound or set up a proper whale-watching tour!
As of December 6, 2012, adult possession of marijuana became legal in the state of Washington. For some, that is reason enough to visit Seattle.
Seattle offers a variety of tourist sites you won’t find anywhere else, including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall, the Ballard Locks and the Fremont Troll.
Seattle is a full-on city with skyscrapers and bumper-to-bumper traffic sandwiched between the salty Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains beyond Lake Washington to the east. From either side, you’ll catch a sleek city skyline squeezing into the glory that is the Pacific Northwest. This is ‘breathtaking’ redefined.
The Evergreen State works very hard to stay, well, evergreen. Besides, it’s difficult not to think about the environment when Mount Rainier takes up your rear-view mirror on the way to work every day. Seattle’s electric utility, Seattle City Light, was the first in the US to become carbon neutral. Over the past 25 years, recycling by Seattleites saved over three million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2012, single-family households recycled nearly 70 percent of their waste. Seattle is one of five cities in the nation in which more than half of the commuters don’t drive to work solo.
It would be very unusual to be a first-time Seattle tourist and not go to the Seattle Center. Originally designed, along with the Space Needle, for the 1962 World Fair, it has remained a relevant and prominent Seattle spot. The center houses two professional sports teams: the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Reign. Both Bumbershoot and the Seattle International Film Festival take place on its campus. It is best known, however, for the Space Needle, Seattle Monorail, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project) and the Pacific Science Center.
Wine, beer and cider
In Washington state, there are more than 66 vineyards and 62 cideries. Washington has the second-largest number of wineries and fourth-largest amount of cideries in the US. In 2014, Washington State had the second-largest number of breweries in the nation after California. Since then, approximately one hundred more breweries have opened for a current tally of 362.
Aquarium and zoo
The Seattle Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo lead the city of Seattle by example. The aquarium is recognized for its community outreach and mission to support marine conservation. The zoo, founded in 1899, has been awarded for its education programs, conservation efforts and sustainable operations.
Being on the coast, Seattle has the best seafood. Salmon, oysters, tuna – if you name it, it’s better in Seattle. And that includes chowder (step aside, New England). More into turf than surf? Dick’s Drive-In has got your back. Not into meat or fish? Washington State produces approximately 60 percent of apples for consumption in the US, and they are darn delicious.
Last but certainly not least, visit Seattle for the history. The city was founded in 1851 and named after Chief Seattle, the chief of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes, who forged a relationship with the settlers. A few decades later, the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 tore it down. The city’s people, while rebuilding, developed a network of underground tunnels, so be sure to take the Underground Tour.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.