Seattle City Guide, Tours & Things to Do, USA inner banner

Seattle City Guide, Tours & Things to Do, USA

Only got a couple of days to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos.
Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide

Corporate giants Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and Boeing have changed our lives through innovation.

Many of their ideas came to fruition in and around Seattle. Since its growth spurt in the 1960s, this seaport city in the Pacific Northwest of America has been a hot spot for lovers of technology, live music, coffee, beer, seafood, and the great outdoors. While the GFC rocked Wall Street and much of America, Seattle’s diverse talent base kept the city moving forward. Post pandemic, things seem ‘steady-as-she-goes’.

With a diverse array of urban pursuits on offer, and the shimmering waters of Puget Sound, evergreen forests, snow-capped mountain peaks, and the Pacific Ocean all within easy reach, it won’t be difficult to fill your time in and around the ‘Emerald City’. If you plan to tick off the main tourist attractions, purchase a Seattle City Pass and make a considerable saving. You’ll get fast track entry to the world famous Space Needle observation deck, Seattle Aquarium, and your choice of three other activities.

This Seattle city guide is packed with ideas for things to see and do. Enjoy your visit.

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USA Tours, Activities & Attractions

Seattle for history lovers

Seattle’s streets are layered with history — both above and below the ground.

Join Beneath the Streets on a guided tour of the century-old passageways under Pioneer Square. These subterranean thoroughfares were originally at ground level, but the city’s streets were raised following the devastating Great Fire of 1889. Along the way, you’ll learn about the region’s First People — the Coast Salish — and the Klondike Gold Rush.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: Step back in time beneath the streets in Pioneer Square.

Spend a couple of hours digging into more of the city’s past at the lakefront Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). It attempts to answer the question: ‘Why Seattle?’ (in terms of what makes this place so open to change and new ways of thinking).

The history lesson continues at Lake View Cemetery — the final resting place of Bruce Lee. The world famous martial arts movie star died suddenly at age 32 and is interred alongside his son Brandon — who also died tragically young while filming The Crow. After visiting their memorials, pass by the Civil War section for an insight into this nation-defining conflict.

Top cultural activities in Seattle

Life in Seattle is intrinsically linked with the natural world — a fact which is celebrated through glass art at Chihuly Garden and Glass.

The facility’s galleries and famous glasshouse showcase the work of artist Dale Chihuly, who uses the qualities of glass to create a dazzling garden of diffused light. A visit here is not to be missed.

Technological advancement is also part of the Seattle psyche. Boeing is one of the city’s most high profile alumni and The Museum of Flight displays several of their majestic flying machines, including a supersonic Concorde and former Air Force One Presidential aircraft. It’s also possible to tour the Boeing Factory.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: The Museum of Flight. Image: Bigstock

Seattle holds a prominent place in American popular culture, and MoPOP (the Museum of Pop Culture) enthrals visitors with amazing memorabilia. See giant Hello Kitties, the Terminator’s exoskeleton, Jim Hendrix’s passport, and the fender stratocaster strummed and smashed by Nirvana.

Great places to eat in Seattle

Pike Place Market first opened its doors in 1907 and remains a much loved part of Seattle’s food scene.

The precinct incorporates a produce market, a busy seafood section, an array of specialty retailers, and plenty of cafes and restaurants. Chow down at Pike Place Chowder on what’s reputed to be the best seafood chowder in the country.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: Pike Place Market. Image: Envato

If your time in Seattle is short, sample nine local specialties in one go with Seattle Bites Food Tours. You’ll relish the mix of international tastes, including German gourmet sausages, Nutella crepes, Mexican tacos, and wood-smoked BBQ brisket.

There are hundreds of great eateries in Seattle, but we recommend celebrating your visit to the Northwest with three courses of New American cuisine at innovative Nell’s Restaurant. Savour the likes of Dungeness crab cakes with dill, capers, and lemon aioli, grilled swordfish with squash and brussels sprouts, and lemon tart served with macerated oranges and candied grapefruit.

As the global home of Starbucks, Seattle’s love affair with coffee is well documented. Whether you would or wouldn’t dream of stepping into a Starbucks back home, visit the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room to get an interesting insight into the operation of this global behemoth.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: Explore the story of Starbucks. Image: Envato

Where to shop in Seattle

Tired of taking home run-of-the-mill mugs, key rings, and t-shirts for friends and family?

Seattle’s Archie McPhee believes in ‘less talk, more monkey’, and stocks an incredible range of novelty items, toys, miniatures, collectibles, and more. Channel your inner chimp with a Dr Spock hairpiece, an existential colouring book, or a pair of ‘handerpants’ gloves.

You can tell a lot about a city from its bookshops, and the Elliott Bay Book Company (just a short walk east of the CBD) speaks volumes — all of it good! Shop for new releases, bestsellers, and thoughtful recommendations from the extremely helpful staff, and consider attending one of the store’s frequent special events. There’s something happening almost every week, and most of the events are free of charge.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide. Image: Elliott Bay Book Company

Ways to relax in Seattle

Schedule some holiday daydreaming time beneath the oaks in Seattle’s sprawling Discovery Park.

This 534-acre recreational green space occupies what was formerly military land in the city’s north-west. Download a map and set off to explore at your leisure.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: Mount Rainier National Park. Image: Envato

You’ll no doubt have clocked epic Mount Rainier — the highest mountain in the state of Washington — which dominates the horizon south of Seattle. Mount Rainier National Park makes a great day trip from the city and will immerse you in a collage of tranquil lakes, plunging waterfalls, verdant forests, and historic towns. Spectacular Narada Falls is one of the park’s must-sees.

Closer to home, make the most of the many walking trails that frame glorious Puget Sound. Explore its secluded coves, meet myriad fury and feathered locals, and keep an eye out for breaching orcas.

Seattle city guide
Seattle city guide: Puget Sound. Image: Envato

While Aussies tuck into meat pies at T20 cricket matches, Seattleites do hot dogs as the Mariners hit home runs at T-Mobile Park. Dive for baseballs sailing into the stands; if you catch one, it’s yours!

For more inspiration, visit www.visitseattle.org.

Browse our range of Seattle tours and experiences here.

Do you have any tips to add to our Seattle city guide? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

Barry Johnson

About the writer

Barry Johnson is a freelance travel writer living in Sydney, but with previous homes in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. His love of adventure led to getting lost in a Californian forest a week after The Blair Witch Project went viral, building a giant Buddha on a Cambodian mountain, camel racing in an Egyptian desert, and teaching English to Peruvian children as they taught him Quechuan — the language of the Incas.

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours and Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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