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17 Reasons Why You Should Visit Seattle

Picture of Jacklyn Grambush
Updated: 16 August 2017
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.

Festivals

Offering over 100 annual festivals, the city of Seattle is not new to 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 anything else its people love (Emerald City Comicon, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Pride Festival, Seafair), including the great state in which it resides (Washington State Fair).

Ecological diversity

Within a handful of driving hours (plus or minus a ferry ride), Seattle has access to mountains, ocean, a rainforest, desert, city, farmland, islands, and a volcano.

Climate Regions of Washington State
Climate Regions of Washington State | © Adam Peterson / WikiCommons

Outdoor activities

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, biking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing, sailing, canoeing, jet skiing, water skiing, surfing, or parasailing.

Paddle boarding at Alki beach
Paddle boarding at Alki beach | © oksana.perkins/Shutterstock

Industry titans

Seattle brought the world Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom, Expedia, R.E.I. (not surprising based on the last two points), 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!

Music legends

On a similar note, Seattle not only turned out entrepreneurial geniuses, but musical ones too. Well, that and people who play okay music but are somehow famous for it. If you love or respect or have heard of Heart, Jimi Hendrix, Kenny G, Nirvana, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Pearl Jam, Macklemore, Chris Cornell, Death Cab for Cutie, or Odesza, then you appreciate (or have heard of) Seattle musicians. Seattle is one of the few cities that is solely credited with the birth of its own music genre. Not enticed by the birthplace of grunge and music legends? Then come for the current music performances. Seattle is on everyone’s list of top cities for live music. Go ahead: Google it.

© Robert Sorbo/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Kurt Cobain | © Robert Sorbo/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Movie references

From Sleepless in Seattle to Twilight to An Officer and a Gentleman, Seattle has inspired and hosted a barrage of films. You can check out Stadium High School in Tacoma (10 Things I Hate About You) or Finn MacCool’s (21 & Over). The list goes on. And don’t forget about the TV shows, including Grey’s Anatomy and Frasier.

Art

Other than the show-stopping Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle boasts almost 200 art galleries, five art museums (including SAM), and public art scattered across the city. The Office of Arts and Culture even has an app called STQRY, as well as maps, to help people discover public art.

Chihuly glass folders glowing at night
Chihuly glass folders glowing at night | © Rachel Nosce/Shutterstock

Whale-watching

The San Juan Islands are one of the best spots to see 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 Sound or set up a proper whale-watching tour!

© Monika Wieland Shields/Shutterstock

Marijuana

As of March 23, 2017, Washington is one of five states that have legalized weed for both medical and recreational purposes. For some, that is reason enough to visit Seattle.

Attractions

Seattle is by no means a city that will leave newbies bored. It 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.

Views

Seattle is a full-on city—with skyscrapers and bumper-to-bumper traffic—sandwiched between the salty Puget Sound and 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—breathtaking redefined.

Seattle from Kerry Park | © Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr
Seattle from Kerry Park | © Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr

Sustainability-minded

The Evergreen State works very hard to stay, well, ever green. Besides, it’s difficult not to think about the environment when Mt. 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 U.S. 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% 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 alone.

Seattle Center

It would take some effort to be a first-time Seattle tourist and not go to the Seattle Center. Originally designed, along with the Space Needle, for the 1962 Seattle’s 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 over 66 vineyards and 62 cideries. Washington has the second largest number of wineries and fourth largest amount of cideries in the U.S. 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.

Food

Being on a 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 so into meat? Washington State produces approximately 60% of apples for consumption in the U.S., and they are so darn delicious.

© Checubus/Shutterstock

History

Last, but certainly not least, visit Seattle for the history. The city was founded in 1851 and named after Chief Seattle, the chief of 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, while rebuilding, preserved a set of tunnels underground, resulting in a can’t-miss Underground Tour.