Image: Jerry Meaden, Flickr
They weren’t sleepless in Seattle for nothing, as you’ll soon discover! Here are the 25 best things to know about the city:
- Pike Place Market
One of the longest-running farmer’s markets in America - in business since 1907 - this historic shopping complex that sits on the edge of a hill over the sea is the place to be on a weekday morning - especially if you love a bit of seafood (more on this later!).
Over 500 vendors set up shop here selling local goods under the world-famous neon sign, including fresh-cut flowers, cheese, antiques, art and fruit (the country’s biggest output of apples, cherries, pears and raspberries comes from here!). All this, plus talented street performers providing entertainment as you shop - you really couldn’t ask for any more, could you?
If the thought alone of an early weekday morning makes you want to dive under the duvet, you can always pop into the world’s first-ever Starbucks on-site (more on this later, too!). Don’t miss the fish throwing between the sellers, either - probably the flagship attraction here!
The heart and soul of the city and one of its most visited landmarks - you really don’t want to miss this.
2. Hollywood landmarks
We’ve already mentioned one, but there are countless TV shows and movies that have utilized the striking scenery of this incredible place, such as Grey’s Anatomy and Fraiser.
3. The Seattle Waterfront
The views offered by this hotspot make fighting the busy crowds worth it, and you can pop into one of the many souvenir shops as you meander down.
Filled with green spaces (almost 500 parks marking a total of 11% of the city!), it's not called the Emerald City for nothing! Here are our faves:
Woodland Park. Both a park and zoo, this popular garden dedicated to the conservation of wildlife also includes Green Lake and several hiking trails.
Discovery Park. The largest park in the city.
Gas Works Park. Combining both history and nature, this space offers fantastic views of the skyline as well as fascinating remains of an old 1950s coal gas plant.
Seward Park. Filled with lush forest and trees over 250 years old, this 300-acre peninsula bursting with beaches, boats, tennis courts and hiking trails is a popular escape from the busy urban areas of the city.
Olympic National Park. Featuring impressive artworks by A-list artists.
Many big names in music have come from Seattle - Nirvana probably the most famous. Responsible for the city’s move towards grunge since the 1980s and the knock-on vibrant music scene that has since followed, you should definitely Come As You Are! (Ahem, sorry.)
Other notable bands that have hailed from here include Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, as well as jazz legends such as Ray Charles.
As might be expected, therefore, many music festivals take place here over the spring and summer.
6. Seattle Gum Wall
An iconic piece of Seattle art, this gum-covered wall has stood as a landmark in the city since 1993.
7. Bainbridge Island
Boasting 150 acres of gardens, ponds and meadows, this nearby oasis is the perfect complement to the skyscraper-stuffed city jungle.
Love it or hate it, you cannot argue that Starbucks is a behemoth of a brand, and it all started right here!
Coffee is to Seattle what tea is to Britain - probably owing to the rain that so often punctuates both places! As such, the city boasts an impressive selection of coffee shops, coffee festivals and - of course - coffee snobs!
9. Space Needle
Built for the 1962 World Fair, the Seattle Space Needle is one of the most visited landmarks in the city and a globally recognized icon. Offering 360-degree views from 520 feet up high, there’s no better way to see the unique Seattle skyline - especially since a recent renovation has made it even more architecturally impressive, such as tilting glass walls that give you the illusion of floating in the air (not for the faint-hearted!).
10. Chihuly Garden and Glass
The perfect activity for a rainy day, this is a vibrant and colorful exhibition by local glassblower and sculptor Dave Chihuly. A unique visual experience like no other.
11. Fremont Troll
This well-known attraction was created as an effort to rehabilitate the unkempt area under the George Washington Memorial Bridge in 1990, utilizing Norwegian folklore that depicts a similar scene.
It’s worthwhile to spend some time around the actual area of Fremont, too, owing to the Sunday farmers’ market, lovely vintage stores and some of the best coffee shops in the city.
Norwegians chose to settle here because of the salmon fishing opportunities, and the Nordic influence can still be felt strongly today. Head to the labyrinthine waterways of Ballard Locks to watch salmon jumping out of the water as you walk along the canal.
13. Pioneer Square
Housing art galleries, shops, bookstores, restaurants, cafés and nightclubs - along with some old Romanesque and Renaissance-revival buildings - the original downtown Seattle is filled with hidden gems, and you can step back in time to where the city first began in the 1850s.
Highlights include the Smith Tower, which was built in 1914 and offers spectacular views from 35 floors up, and the historic Beneath The Streets tour, in which you can walk in the footsteps of the pioneers who used these underground passages.
14. Lake Union
Hire an electric boat or kayak to soak up the rays while enjoying the scenery.
15. Craft Beer
Seattle is well-known and loved for its craft beer made by independent brewers. The best selection can be found in the lively Belltown neighborhood across the many clubs and bars.
16. Puget Sound
A vast fjord-like network of flooded glacial valleys that’s witnessed every major event in the city’s history. Dotted with islands, this picturesque inlet provides the backdrop to Seattle and a treasure trove of fresh-air activities. This significant natural landmark is a must if you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for something a bit more zen-like during your time here.
Seafood. As may be pretty obvious by now, Seattle and seafood go hand in hand, and no matter where you are in the city, you’ll be able to taste its fishy treats.
Asian food. A sizable Asian community has lived here since its founding, which is why you’ll find plenty of authentic eateries all over town.
Do Seattle’s food and drink accolades ever stop? The city is yet another must for anyone who loves chocolate, with bragging rights to more than one famous company, such as Fran’s Chocolates’ salted caramels that became a favorite of President Obama’s.
Whether you’re a Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Kraken, Seattle Sounders FC or Seattle Seawolves fan (phew!), there’s something for you here in the world of sport.
20. Emerald City Comic-Con
Calling all comic fans! This is one of the best events to indulge in some cosplay, take part in discussion panels, get your hands on merchandise and meet other like-minded enthusiasts. Attracting thousands of people each year, you’ll soon see why this is one of the most famous conferences in the world.
Between Northgate Mall, Westlake Center and Southcenter, there’s somewhere helping you indulge your shopping habit.
Did you know Seattle was the birthplace of Amazon and Microsoft, among a host of other tech giants?
23. Snoqualmie Falls
This incredible waterfall drops almost 270 feet and features two observation decks on which you can enjoy some breathtaking scenery and incredible hiking trails.
24. Woodinville Wine Country
A well-known destination for wine lovers, this area is composed of four districts, meaning you’ll have your pick of wineries, microbreweries and eateries to choose from.
25. Tillicum Village
Take a day trip from Seattle to experience some of the indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest. Backdropped by Mount Rainier National Park, you can watch skillful carving traditions, browse handmade goods and enjoy a seafood dinner while you watch some Native American dancing. It's just a short ferry ride away!
Ready to spend some time in the Emerald City? Get your Seattle city pass here