It can be hard to narrow down the best things to do in Seattle because this city has so much to offer! The stunning views of the water, cool neighborhoods, and evergreen forests alone will keep you occupied for days. There is a reason why they call it the Emerald City. Not only that but there are endless iconic views to see, delicious food to indulge in, and some of the best day trips to take. In this blog, I’m going to share the “17 Best Things to Do in Seattle: A First Timer’s Guide” to help you plan your trip!
When to Visit Seattle
Usually, the first thing people think of when they hear Seattle is RAIN. Unfortunately, it’s known for being one of if not the rainiest city in the US. While the former statement is true, there are plenty of months out of the year where Seattle is pleasant to visit. May through September are the driest months out of the year so if you plan a trip during that time you should be golden. We visited in late July and were lucky enough to have 75 degree sunny days the entire trip!
Things to Know Before Visiting
- If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to travel from the airport to downtown take the Sound Link light rail. Tickets are only $2.75 and it takes roughly 40 minutes. The train is super clean and safe and it’s a great way to beat traffic.
- Seattle is crazy about coffee! Support the smaller shops you see around the city.
- The city is extremely hilly. I was unaware of this before visiting so make sure to bring comfortable shoes.
- Since the city is primarily on the water, the temperatures drop at night time (even in the summer).
Things to Do in Seattle
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market – the most iconic place in Seattle. This farmers market has a little something for everyone to enjoy. Whether it be to grab delicious food, pick up some flowers, or have yourself a ginger beer. There is no shortage of things to do at Pike Place Market. Mid-day crowds can be more than you’d like to endure but have a little patience, it’s a popular spot! Below I’m sharing the best places to eat and visit in the market:
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer
- Beechers Cheese
- Le Panier
- Three Girls Bakery
- Piroshky Piroshky
- Matt’s at The Market (restaurant)
- The Pink Door (restaurant)
- The “First” Starbucks (more on that below)
- Pikes BBQ
Also, the food stands on the street are also great options. We had sweet corn from a vendor and it was delicious!
Another favorite was Post Alley. A cute alley with multiple shops and restaurants!
Chihuly Garden & Glass
The Chihuly Garden & Glass museum is a MUST SEE when you’re visiting Seattle! It’s located adjacent to the space needle so you get stunning views of that as well. The most famous sculpture is by far the one pictured above. The Artist, Dale Chihuly, drew inspiration from his two favorite buildings to create this masterpiece. The Saint-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London. Dare I say it, it was my favorite part of our trip. The museum costs $30 per person to visit and at the moment you need to reserve a time slot (try to get a morning spot for an empty glasshouse). BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE!
Lastly, you may recognize this artist because he most famously is known for all the beautiful glass sculptures in the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas (they have a mini version of the ceiling at this museum). 10/10 recommend!
The Space Needle
Built-in 1962 for the World’s Fair, The Space Needle is another iconic spot to visit when in Seattle. Standing at 650 ft tall you can visit the observation deck above or opt to enjoy the rotating restaurant at the top. We decided not to visit since many locals have said it’s not worth the visit to the top, enjoy from below. If you decide to visit the top, tickets range from $27-$40 and you can book them with your Chihuly Museum tickets.
Visit Kerry Park
A postcard view if I’ve ever seen one! The view from Kerry Park is hands down the best view in Seattle and is not to be missed. Located in the Queen Anne neighborhood it’s a popular place to catch a sunset. We visited at 8:30 am and had the small park to ourselves for a bit. Highly recommend!
Snoqualmie Falls is a 268 ft waterfall that is located 30 minutes outside of downtown Seattle. It’s one of the state’s most popular attractions and if you rent a car make sure to check it out. There are two viewing areas for the falls, the upper and the lower. To access the lower falls (our personal favorite view) there is a mildly easy 0.8-mile hike. We visited first thing in the morning and there were not many people around. Free to visit!
Visit Bainbridge Island
This quaint island is located 25 minutes from Seattle and is known for its rustic character and small town charm. It’s the perfect day trip from Seattle and can be reached by ferry (ferry schedule here it’s only $9 roundtrip). There is a small downtown area with a few restaurants and charming shops to browse in. You can also rent bikes, kayaks, walk the waterfront trail, go on a hike, and visit the art museum.
You’re able to take your car over on the ferry as well. If you decide to do that you can visit the Bloedel Reserve (a beautiful garden is located on the north side of the island). Finally, the best part about visiting Bainbridge is the ferry ride to and from. The views from the city are truly unmatched!
The “First Starbucks”
The First Starbucks is located at Pike Place Market and at all times has a line wrapped around the block for the experience of visiting the “First” store. I continue to put first on parentheses because technically this is not the first store even though it’s advertised as such. You can learn more about that in this blog post but nevertheless, if you’re a huge Starbucks fan, this spot is cool to visit!
Visit the Amazon Spheres
It’s no secret that the e-commerce giant, better known as Amazon, was founded in Seattle. The company still has its headquarters there today and these three spheres are a part of that. They created these spheres for an outlet that employees can use and think and be surrounded by nature. The public is able to visit the spheres on the first and third Saturday of every month. Make sure to book reservations in advance!
Drive around Queen Anne Neighborhood
Home to the iconic Space Needle, Queen Anne is a mixture of residential and city vibe. We enjoyed driving around the neighborhood bordering Kerry Park and marveling at the gorgeous Victorian homes. You could easily spend an entire afternoon exploring this part of the city (note that it is very hilly). Don’t miss the iconic Victorian Brian Coleman house, it’s straight out of a fairytale!
Breakfast at Biscuit Bitch
I have mixed feelings about this place. Don’t get me wrong the food was DELICIOUS but the service and ordering system was very unenjoyable. They have two locations one in Belltown and the other in Downtown Seattle. Whichever one you choose expect to wait at least an hour for your food. They only accept orders through their website so it’s best if you order before visiting so you don’t have to wait!
Visit Mount Rainer National Park
Did you know that Mount Rainer is an active volcano? This beauty ascends 14,000 above sea level and you can catch a view of it from multiple parts of the city (on a clear day). The national park is located an hour from Seattle city and has over 260 miles of hiking trails, campsites, and beautiful meadows. Some parts of the park are seasonal and during the summer the wildflower meadows are straight out of a fairytale. You can find more information on visiting here.
The Gum Wall
The Gum Wall is a local legend. Even with that, I have to say I was not impressed by this. I think it’s quite disgusting but it’s iconic in Seattle so everyone needs to walk through the alley at least once.
Fun fact: in November 2015 the Pike Place preservation society cleaned off the entire wall to preserve the brick underneath. It took them 130 hours and they were able to clean off 2350 pounds of gum.
Hike Rattlesnake Ledge
This hike is not for the faint at heart, but my god the views at the end make it worth it. Rattlesnake Ledge Hike is located 35 minutes from downtown Seattle. This trail is 1.9 miles to the top but the entire time you are hiking uphill. And when I say the entire time, I mean the entire time! It took roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the top and 40 minutes to walk back down. Make sure to bring loads of water, a snack for when you reach the top and wear comfortable shoes. When you’re finished you can cool off by swimming in the lake!
Sunset Drinks at The Nest
This bar is located in the Thompson Hotel and has some pretty epic views of the city. It’s the perfect place for a cocktail before dinner. It can get pretty busy during the weekends so plan to visit during the week! The Pea Diddy cocktail is a favorite.
Dinner at The Pink Door
This Italian restaurant is located in Post Alley and is quite unique and eclectic. Known for its burlesque shows and circus theme it’s one of the cities most popular restaurants. The terrace has pretty views of the water and the food was VERY good. I highly recommend booking a reservation as you could be waiting hours for a table without one.
Walk Around Capitol Hill
The Capitol Hill neighborhood has a completely different feel than downtown Seattle (more of a locals spot!). It’s known for its hip bars and eateries. You can spend an entire afternoon here walking around and checking out the cute shops! Here were some of our favorites:
- Starbucks Reserve Roastery
- Glasswing Shop
- Scotch & Soda
- Terra Plata
Grab an Ice Cream Sundae at Molly Moon’s
Another local legend, Molly Moons has multiple locations in and around Seattle. They are known for their sundaes (I had the warm brownie sundae and 10/10 would recommend). Lastly, 90% of their products are sourced from the Pacific Northwest so when you support Molly Moon’s you’re supporting the surrounding community as well!
Catch a Mariners Game at T-Mobile Park
I’ve been to many baseball stadiums throughout the years and all I have to say is the Mariners fans sure know how to party. This stadium was bursting with energy and they even had a party deck with a DJ and all. If you’re visiting during baseball season it’s easy to get to using public transit and a fun way to experience the city!
Where to Stay
While all opinions and recommendations are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to, tours I’ve completed, and products I recommend. This means I get a small commission if you book a stay or purchase a product after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support and will continue to share the best properties, things to do, and items I truly use and love!
For a first-time visit, I would recommend staying downtown as there are a copious amount of things to do in close vicinity. We stayed at the State Hotel and would highly recommend staying there. Not only was it a block away from Pike Place Market but the rooftop views were so dreamy at sunset, the beds were comfortable, and the service was unmatched. You can BOOK YOUR STAY HERE!
What to Pack for Seattle
For most months out of the year, it’s safe to have a rain jacket and umbrella on hand. Along with that, here are some of my go-to packing favorites:
- comfortable walking shoes
- light jacket for the evenings
- activewear: I’ve been living in this two-piece set from amazon and these bike shorts are my go-to
- hiking shoes for those outdoor adventures
- SPF because you can still get sunburnt when the sun isn’t out (swear)! This SPF brush is a life-saver when traveling
- Basics: I always find the best basics at either Free People or Abercrombie. You can also shop my favorite amazon basics here.
Thank you for reading my “17 of the Best Things to Do in Seattle: A First-timers Guide” I hope it gave you insight into planning your trip and if you have any questions be sure to comment below! For more of my travel guides head here.
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