An iconic town blends a big-city spirit with a sense of adventure
Located on the Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, Seattle entices visitors with its blend of sophisticated city life and outdoorsy spirit. Although the city has a reputation for heavy rains, it enjoys lots of sunny days during the summer, giving visitors ample time to explore the town and surrounding attractions. From the quirky to quintessential, Seattle’s best destinations are beloved by visitors and residents, and many are off the beaten path but easy to find.
Green Spaces and Great Beauty
The rainy weather of the Pacific Northwest does wonders for the natural beauty of the region. Seattle is awash in lush outdoor spaces, and a great place to start is the Waterfall Garden Park just south of downtown. Situated in Pioneer Square just at the site of the first UPS headquarters, this park’s central feature is a 22-foot man-made waterfall. Many locals grab a cup of coffee from a local shop and head down here to enjoy a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Closer to water, the Pike Place Market offers fresh seafood overlooking the Elliot Bay waterfront. Operating since 1907, the Fish Market is famous for employees hurling 3-foot salmon and other fish to each other to speed up orders. Even more shopping can be found at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle.
The oldest Starbucks in the world is located nearby, but expect long lines and no seating. Just down the road is the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, where travelers can try out all sorts of special roasts and learn more about the lifecycle of coffee, from bean to cup.
The city expertly blends its local gems with international influences in Kubota Garden. The 20-acre site in south Seattle embraces Japanese garden design in its care and placement of native plant life. Hills and valleys are interspersed with water features and rock outcroppings. In May, the garden comes alive with flowering trees and plants, including rhododendrons, azaleas and irises.
Gardens in Seattle come in more than just natural forms. A Sound Garden is a sculptural wonder installed on the grounds of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, overlooking Lake Washington. The steel towers are hung with organ pipes and weather vanes that produce soft tones in the wind. The site is free to visit with an approved photo ID and issued pass from the NOAA’s security station on the main access road.
The Chihuly Garden and Glass combines Tacoma native Dale Chihuly’s stunning works of art with tree-lined paths in a long-term exhibit. The centerpiece is the Glasshouse, a 40-foot-tall building housing a 100-foot-long suspended sculpture suffused with vibrant color.
Look to the Skies
Built as part of the 1962 World’s Fair, Seattle’s famous Space Needle is a sight to behold, and the vistas from the top of the 605-foot-tall attraction are jaw-dropping. For an even more spectacular view of the skyline, take a trip to the top of the Sky View Observatory, on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center skyscraper in downtown Seattle. The observatory offers one of the highest publicly accessible views in the Pacific Northwest. A 360-degree panoramic outlook shows off Mount Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay and, of course, the city itself.
Seattle has long held a central role in the nation’s aerospace industry, and the Museum of Flight is a must-see destination for aviation buffs. Permanent exhibits feature World War I aircraft, World War II fighters and the story of Boeing’s early years. Reach beyond the skies and into the stars in the Spaceflight Academy exhibit, which presents the science of space aviation and offers guests a look inside a fuselage trainer, which astronauts use as part of their training.
More family fun and exploration awaits at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. Housed in a sprawling complex, the center’s interactive exhibits let you experience the wonder of the human body, the mysteries of Earth and the fascinating laws of physics. Music and lights come together for an unforgettable experience inside the center’s Laser Dome — the largest and longest domed laser theater in the world. Check out the Butterfly House for insights into this colorful insect.
Seattle Salad Days
In the wild and woolly days of the Klondike Gold Rush during the late 1800s, Seattle was a busy stop on the way to Alaska. The Seattle Unit of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park offers a self-guided experience that includes a walking tour of Pioneer Square and on-site exhibits detailing the journey and hardships experienced by gold miners hoping to strike it rich.
Heaven for Anglers
Western Washington is a fisherman’s dream, and Seattle abounds in hot spots for anglers. Union Bay off of Lake Washington is dotted with great spots for casual fishing and first-time outings for young sportsmen. Belvoir Place, a park overlooking Union Bay, offers a small boat launch and fishing from April through October for bass, yellow perch, crappie and coastal cutthroat.
North of downtown, Green Lake boasts a fishing pier and 24-hour access, with year-round fishing for trout, carp, catfish and rock bass. Elliott Bay on the waterfront features Pier 86, a hidden gem with a bait shop and covered cleaning stations. The bay is ripe with squid, Dungeness crab, halibut and salmon.
Lake Washington, on the east side of downtown, is where more than 40 species await the ambitious anglers. Try your luck here for bass, trout, salmon, coho and chinook, and enjoy clear views of Mount Rainier while you’re out on the water or on the Reverend Murphy Fishing Pier.
For More Information
Washington Tourism Alliance