Must-Visit Attractions in Seattle, Washington

© Steve Tulley / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kathryn Beeson
16 July 2020

Seattle is a buzzing modern metropolis with an overwhelming amount of things to do. Whether it’s strolling around Gas Works Park or Pioneer Square; or seeing the famous Space Needle, these suggestions from Culture Trip’s local insiders will help you figure out where to start.

Pike Place Market

Farmers' Market, American
Map View
United States, Washington, Seattle, Pike Place Market
© David A. Barnes / Alamy Stock Photo
Pike Place Market is one of the USA’s longest-running farmer’s markets, having been in operation since 1907. Located on Pike Street, it’s a useful calling point for fresh, local produce. Whether you’re looking for the basics or hunting down gourmet, hard-to-find ingredients for your next dish, the market has got you covered. Pike Place also offers dining options and a craft market where you can pick up musical instruments, longboards, kitchenware and so much more, all handmade by local artisans in accordance with the market’s rigorous standards. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman

MoPOP

Museum
Map View

MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) is a museum not like any other and is a must-visit for anyone interested in music, film, TV or video games. Alongside a huge collection of artefacts and handwritten lyrics from legendary Seattleites Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, MoPOP houses the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. Extensive exhibitions of props, costumes, posters and first-editions from all of your favorite movies can be found here. Exhibitions change regularly so it doesn’t matter if you have been before. Examples of previous exhibits include Minecraft, Seattle grunge legends Pearl Jam, Disney costumes and a gallery dedicated to tattoo art. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman

Gas Works Park

Park
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Families and friends gather at Gas Works Park which overlooks Lake Union and the Seattle Skyline.
© Max Herman / Alamy Stock Photo

Urban renewal and excellent views of Lake Union and Seattle’s famous skyline are the order of the day at Gas Works Park, a public park occupying the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. Some of the old plant structures remain for you to explore and the busy green space has become a popular spot for picnickers, kite flyers, joggers and sunbathers. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman

Seattle Underground

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
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Go below the surface of the modern, tech-savvy city with a tour of the Seattle Underground. Explore the subterranean storefronts and pavements that were subsequently abandoned as the city raised its streets a story above the hazardous mudflats 19th-century Seattle was founded on. The 75-minute tour is across uneven terrain at low light levels, so sensible shoes are a must. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman

Space Needle

Architectural Landmark
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aerial view of the Space Needle, Seattle, Washington State, USA
© B.O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo

No first-timer’s trip to Seattle would be complete without visiting the city’s most famous landmark. Built in 1962 for the Seattle World’s Fair, the Space Needle is a 605ft (184m) tower with a flying-saucer-shaped observation deck at the top, complete with unparalleled views of the city and Puget Sound. On clear days, you can see Mount Rainier, Washington State’s tallest mountain, and beyond. Recommended by local insider Grace Coleman

Seattle Art Museum

Museum
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Seattle Art Museum
© John Elk III / Alamy Stock Photo
Seattle Art Museum encompasses three separate facilities: the Seattle Art Museum in Downtown Seattle, the Asian Art Museum in Capitol Hill and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront. Both the Seattle Art Museum and Asian Art Museum offer exciting and accessible exhibitions that both art fanatics and those with a more casual interest will enjoy perusing. There are also well-curated, permanent exhibits with a focus on modern and international art. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman

Pioneer Square

Architectural Landmark
Map View

Pioneer Square is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood where the city’s founders first started to build. Today, with a backdrop of picturesque 19th-century Richardson Romanesque buildings, it’s an iconically trendy Seattle spot. Sample some of the city’s famously good coffee from artisanal coffee shops, browse the neighborhood’s numerous art galleries, grab lunch from a food truck or perhaps book a bocce court in Occidental Square. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Museum
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Lose yourself for hours among the captivating glass sculpture displays at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Showcasing the work of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, the museum presents his work in various settings. As well as eight indoor galleries, visitors can explore an outdoor garden full of sculptures and the 40ft (12m) Glasshouse – the museum’s centerpiece. You might even find that you need more than one visit to see everything. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman

Olympic Sculpture Park

Museum, Park
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Alex Calder’s ‘Eagle’ (1971) is the centrepiece of the Olympic Sculpture Park
© Benjamin Benschneider / Seattle Art Museum
Part of the Seattle Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park is set over a nine-acre (4ha) space on Seattle’s waterfront. There are pieces by renowned sculptors Alexander Calder and Richard Serra, among others, so it’s the perfect place to come and admire some artwork. Or, even just to take a summer stroll in Downtown Seattle’s largest green space. The park also offers fantastic views of the city, notably the Space Needle, Puget Sound and the surrounding Olympic Mountains. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman

Seattle Aquarium

Aquarium
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Seattle Aquarium emphasizes conservation and education. Kids will love learning about our oceans and how to preserve them through the various animals housed here. The seals and sea otters are firm family favorites. You’ll also find tufted puffins, a giant Pacific octopus and a variety of fish species. If your child is a big animal lover, check out the aquarium’s range of public educational programs that run year-round. Recommended by local insider Eric Coleman

These recommendations were updated on July 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.