This is not a list of the biggest tourist attractions in Seattle. This is a list of things that I have enjoyed in Seattle, and yes, some of the items are considered tourist attractions. They are in no particular order, so do not read into the numbering as a ranking. I have also included a bit of hotel advice at the bottom of the article. Happy trip planning!
20. Pike Place Market — Let’s just get this one out of the way. Pike Place Market is a big farmers market with locally grown food and locally sourced fish. There are also lots of little artisan shops, and vendors displaying handcrafted pieces made by local artists.
The famous spot where you might be able to catch a fish!
Fish, fish, fish all over the market!!!
A cool little store with unique jewelry and lots of Native American real and inspired artifacts. I even did a little rock and crystal shopping…
These are some other vendors stands where they sell handmade items, natural soaps and body lotions, and the list goes on. The chapstick and bars of soap from All Things Lavender are incredible, and smell so perfumey and wonderful. I will definitely be buying more soaps and chapsticks next time I visit Seattle!
19. Lowell’s Restaurant for breakfast — I really like Lowell’s for breakfast/brunch. It has a great view of Puget sound, and it’s the perfect place to watch boats and barges going back and forth. The seafood comes directly from Pike Place Market, and fish is incorporated into almost everything. Their breakfast menu is extensive, and almost every single dish has salmon or Dungeness Crab incorporated into the item. I also highly suggest the cocktails, which also have all seafood worked into many of them. The Bloody Mary’s that come topped with fresh crab and seafood are delicious.
18. Walk by the original Starbucks location — The original Starbucks location is right across from Pike Place Market. I have never had coffee there because I refuse to stand in line, and it’s a tourist attraction rather than where any Seattleites get coffee. I put this on the list because it’s fascinating that this one coffee shop became an empire and revolutionized the coffee shop industry. (If you look carefully on the picture below, you’ll see mannequins standing on the balconies . . . interesting . . . )
17. Voxx Coffee — If you’re hanging out around downtown Seattle shopping and walking around, I suggest Voxx Coffee to start your day or take an afternoon break. It has beautiful high industrial type ceilings, interesting light fixtures, and a lot of the decorations are meant to evoke an old school classroom feeling.
16. The original Nordstrom — Seattle is where Nordstrom started, and right in the middle of downtown is the Nordstrom flagship store. I recommend visiting, and they even recently renovated in the past few years. The store has an inviting set-up, and has a bar at the top where shoppers can stop for a quick break and drink to regroup. I do some shopping there every time I go to Seattle, since there’s no Nordstrom in Manhattan and it feels like a bit of a novelty. Right next to Nordstrom, there’s also Nordstrom Rack, which is the outlet version of the store. I also made my way to Nordstrom Rack, and found a few amazing designer items that otherwise would have been almost $400 each. You can’t go wrong either way!
15. See’s Candies — See’s Candies is a West Coast time-honored chocolate tradition. While the iconic brand started in Los Angeles in the early 1900s, it truly is a West Coast brand. They have a cute shop in downtown Seattle, steps away from Nordstrom. Their old-fashioned black and white interiors will make you feel like you’re in a candy shop from a different era. While Warren Buffet’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, has been the owner since 1972, the company has kept its signature look, and is as sweet and good as it was in the 1900s.
14. Drinks at the Four Seasons — Views, views, views . . . and a little luxury in Seattle. The Four Seasons Seattle is right by Pike Place Market. It’s only two blocks from the restaurant Lowell’s that I recommended above so the views from the restaurant Goldfinch Tavern overlooking Puget Sound are about the same; however, the ambiance is very different. I equate the environment at Goldfinch to a luxury lake home. All of the seating was plush and comfortable, incorporated a lot of wood, dim lighting, and was inviting yet exuded a certain opulence. Cocktails range in the $15-$20 area, with an elegant menu to go alongside the drinks.
Perfect opportunity to change into new earrings I had just bought from Nordstrom. Making myself right at home . . .
13. Alki Beach — A fun feature about Seattle is that water taxis are fairly prevalent. If the weather is mild enough or you’re in Seattle during the summer, I suggest taking a quick water taxi to Alki Beach. There’s a long stretch of beach with walking and bike paths. It’s a relaxing spot to take a walk, and there a couple of restaurants to grab a bite and enjoy the Seattle city view.
12. Take a Ferry Ride — The ferry system is extremely developed in Seattle, and it is one of the biggest systems of its kind in the United States. We had an overnight trip planned when we visited Seattle, and one of the legs of the trip was to take a ferry to Friday Harbor on the San Juan islands. The ferry was pleasant and it was about an hour ride. I suggest planning a day or short overnight trip, if you’re visiting Seattle for longer than two days.
11. Chihuly Glass Museum — Dale Chihuly, born in Tacoma, Washington, has become somewhat of an institution around the US and the world. He’s one of the most famous glass sculptors of our time. His handblown glass art sculptures are around the US, grandly displayed in places such as Las Vegas, Dubai (in Atlantis the Palm), and even on exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden. In Seattle, there’s a permanent exhibition of Chihuly’s work right next to the Space Needle. Chihuly Garden and Glass has a very large indoor and outdoor exhibit, showcasing so many amazing Chihuly pieces.
You’ll be able to take a picture of the Space Needle, because you’ll be right next to it.
10. Canlis — Canlis is the Eleven Madison Park of Seattle. It is by far the most expensive restaurant in Seattle. Dinner will be pricey, coming in at least in the $300-$500 range, depending on alcohol consumption. (They offer an exquisite wine pairing, or you can order a la carte from the wine menu.) The price is well worth it, and every course is a work of art that you will want to take photos of from every angle before you eat it. The restaurant itself is in a mid-century home, but it feels more like a fancy treehouse hidden in the woods. There’s a small cocktail lounge seating area when you walk in, with a musician playing at the grand piano. I recommend starting with a cocktail, and enjoying the ambiance before you sit down for the main event. Be prepared for a long dinner, and if you’re like us, we arrived when it was light out, and left when it was pitch black outside! (Link to reviews: Yelp 4.0, TripAdvisor 4.5)The view from our dining table was incredible:
9. Walk around Capitol Hill — Capitol Hill is about the equivalent to the West Village in New York City. It originally started out as an artistic and free-spirited neighborhood, with liberal and progressive thinkers. Over time, similar to the West Village, it has become gentrified and the prices of real estate have sky-rocketed! It is a great place to walk around, shop, bar-hop, and try out some restaurants. It is one of the most trendy and desirable places to live and hangout in Seattle. I loved bar-hopping in Capitol Hill, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the rainbow crosswalks!
8. Taylor Shellfish — Taylor Shellfish is a longtime family owned oyster spot with happy hour, where the oysters are “tide to table.” I’ve been to the Capitol Hill location multiple times, and it’s definitely one of my favorite places for oysters in Seattle. They really try to keep all of the oysters from the Seattle area, so you’ll be hard pressed to find Canada or Oregon oysters. When you go to Taylor Shellfish, you have to try to the geoduck — pronounced “gooey-duck.” Geoduck is a Pacific Northwest area clam that looks like a clam with a large snake attached to it (pictured below).
Map showing where all of the seafood comes from:Highly recommend the tequila oyster shooters:Here’s the geoduck keeping fresh in the large seafood basins. It is such a unique looking creature.I love how all of the clams and oysters are displayed, and stored in the middle of the restaurant.Geoduck (left), oysters, and black sturgeon caviar (in the two small white spoons).
7. Victrola Coffee — Victrola Coffee is a serious coffee shop and roasting room in Capitol Hill. (They do also have a couple of other locations, but I suggest the Pike Street location.) I love getting their espresso here, even though it is a little too strong for me. I also love that they serve it with a small cup of sparkling water, so that you can cleanse your palate after the coffee. Trust me, you will need it!
Here’s a goofball Seattle friend with glasses he just found on the sidewalk, being emo, and enjoying an espresso:
6. The Pine Box — If you have an appreciation for the supernatural, you might get a kick out of The Pine Box. It’s a craft beer bar that used to be a mortuary. The bar even has old photos on display on the wall, so patrons can see what it used to look like. I recommend coming here for a beer or two, if you’re making your way through Capitol Hill.
5. Unicorn Bar — The Unicorn is a classic Seattle bar, with a carnival-themed interior, a large arcade, and skee ball in the basement. Arcade games are popular in Seattle, and they’re in a lot of bars around the city. You may recognize this bar because it was featured in Macklemore’s Thrift Shop video. They also have lots of salty snacks, and I recommend the truffle popcorn while you’re downing beers. Unicorn is definitely known for their carnival-like cocktails, but somehow I’m always in a cold refreshing beer mood when I go there.Lime Jell-O shots!The bedazzled ATM is a nice touch for Unicorn bar’s environment:Have you seen anyone so excited to get money out of the ATM? You’d think it was someone else’s bank account lol
4. Dick’s Drive-In — True late night eats. Okay, clearly you can also come here during the day, but I think Dick’s Drive-In is a great night spot. This burger place was also featured on the Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown Seattle episode. I highly recommend trying at least one of the plain cheeseburgers, even if you’re going to order a deluxe burger. They are delicious, and I’m not even the biggest burger person!Look how happy my friend is after eating these delicious cheeseburgers lolMy husband’s starting lineup (fries not pictured) . . . Okay, okay, some of those are mine!!Extreme close up of my second cheeseburger:
3. Georgetown bars — When you think about Seattle you picture overcast skies, grunge music, flannel, and dive bars. However, the reality is that with the wild success of Amazon and other Pacific Northwest companies, Seattle has become gentrified, and a lot of the places now cater to highly paid corporate workers–many of whom come from other big US cities and expect a similar environment. If you want to visit one of the few places in Seattle that still has more of a neighborhood and stereotypically Seattle feel, visit some of the bars in Georgetown along Airport Way. The neighborhood is industrial, everyone is very casual, and there are also a few breweries and cool places to get wine.
*Side note: A restaurant called The Corson Building is located in Georgetown. I went this last time I was in Seattle on the insistence of a husband’s friend, but I would not go back again. The restaurant is one very small room, where you share a communal-style table with others. Everyone is served each course at the same, because it’s a completely set $80 pre-fixe and everyone in the restaurant eats the same thing. The concept is farm to table, without a big focus on seafood, and a few of the courses are large plates shared between the table and not individually plated. There is also an accompanying wine pairing for $60 to go along with the dinner, which was the best part of the meal for me! (Link to reviews: Yelp 4.0, TripAdvisor 4.0)
2. The Bellevue Collection (Bellevue, Washington) — Bellevue, Washington is like the Westchester of Seattle, but it’s a lot closer, since unlike Westchester, you don’t have to drive through the entire city of Seattle to get there. I am adding The Bellevue Collection to my Seattle list because if you’re visiting Seattle for three or four days, it’s a great place to go that’s full of bars, restaurants, a dine-in movie theater, and tons of shopping. (Especially if you happen to go during a time of extreme rain, and you’re sick of trekking the streets of Seattle in the rain!) There a mix of high-end restaurants with fun sports bars and pubs, a new W Hotel, and lots of the buildings are connected by convenient outdoor bridges so that you don’t have to walk outside in the rain. The Bellevue Collection refers to this whole collections of stores, restaurants, hotels, and buildings. Bellevue Square refers to the name of the original shopping “mall” dare I call it, and it’s the main shopping center. The last few times my husband and I have stayed in downtown Seattle, but next time we are considering staying at the W Hotel in Bellevue so that we’re close to his parents.
1. Chateau St. Michelle Winery (Woodinville, Washington) — I highly recommend the 30 minute Uber trip to visit Chateau St. Michelle Winery. Washington State produces some great wines, and Chateau St. Michelle is one of their best wine procedures. The grounds are beautiful, there’s lots of lush greenery, and the air feels crisp and clean. During the summer, the winery has a whole concert series, and lots of famous artists frequently perform at the venue such as Bob Dylan, Gypsy Kings, Josh Groban, and the list goes on.
If you really need to get your hair done or blown out while you’re in Seattle, I suggest the Gene Juarez salon. It is the Seattle area’s biggest and most prestigious salon chain. I went to the downtown Seattle location for a blow out. I’m only giving this a notable mention because I thought the downtown location could use a little facelift, and they were a bit understaffed for a busy Saturday afternoon. However, the location is perfect, and there are huge windows looking out onto downtown. If your significant other needs somewhere to grab a drink while they wait for you, a new bar and restaurant just opened next-door to the salon in Hotel Theodore, called Rider.
Seattle hotel advice:
Obviously, it depends on what you intend to do during your Seattle trip. As far as Seattle proper goes, I really like staying within walking distance of Pike Place Market, downtown shopping, and Capitol Hill. When you’re planning where to stay in Seattle, keep in mind that Seattle is extremely hilly. It is completely uphill from Puget Sound all the way to the direction of Capitol Hill.
- This last time we stayed at the Grand Hyatt in a Club Access Room. It’s very easy to walk to Capitol Hill from there, Pike Place Market, and it’s in the middle of the downtown shopping area. It has bland corporate decor, so if you’re looking for a boutique experience, I would not recommend it. However, if you’re seeking a clean 4-star hotel with a great location, I suggest staying here and paying for Club Access. I am suggesting Club Access because we ended up using it so much. It was great for getting bottled and sparkling waters, quick snack, or enjoying a whiskey or wine, when there isn’t enough time to go somewhere before dinner.
The view from our Elliott Bay View room:
- The Sheraton Downtown is about a block away from the Grand Hyatt. I have not stayed here yet, but the hotel lobby looked extremely bright, and very modern. I would be willing to try it, if I wanted to be in this exact location again.
- I stayed at the Westin downtown once. The hotel is very old, and I did not enjoy spending time in our room, even though we had an incredible view from a very high floor.
- The Fairmont Olympic is one of Seattle’s oldest and most historic hotels. Think of this hotel as more equivalent to the Waldorf or Plaza in New York, but a more scaled down version. The hotel has some rooms that are more updated than others, but at the moment the entire block in front of the hotel has been excavated to basement level.
- The Four Seasons is located right on Puget Sound, one block from Pike Place Market. I plan to stay here next time I visit Seattle during the summer. The hotel has an infinity pool and overlooks Puget Sound. However, the hotel is slightly out of the way of the city, and everything will end up being uphill from there. Additionally, if you want your trip to be more walkable to fun places like Capitol Hill, then this is definitely not a walkable location, unless you want to hike.