Things to do in Seattle
Searching for things to do in Seattle? Browse Travel + Leisure’s guide, which spotlights the scenic Washington city’s top attractions and activities, from Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market to Capitol Hill and Ballard Avenue. Whether you want to check out Seattle’s underground, stroll Olympic Sculpture Park, take a cruise on Puget Sound, ride the South Lake Union Trolley, or get far out of town and hike Mount Rainier, Travel + Leisure can lead the way.
With a reputation for being caffeinated and anti-establishment, Seattle’s less grungy side is also worth exploring. Some places like Discovery Park, the Seattle Art Museum, the REI flagship store, and the Space Needle need no introduction, but there are plenty of hidden hangouts, local institutions, and things to do in Seattle only insiders know about. Follow the vertical Tiger Mountain Trail for stunning views of Maple Valley and snowy peaks beyond; go for the best burgers and beer in town at King’s Hardware; shop for super-seasonal picnic fixings at University District Farmers Market; imbibe creative cocktails in a former opium den at Fu Kun Wu; or check out the latest in electronic art at McLeod Residence. Read on to find out more great ideas on what to do in Seattle.
Visitors can try some of Washington's best Syrahs in a starkly modern, 33,000-square-foot facility that includes a full-time kitchen staff, wine-tasting classes, and even a bocce court. The property shares its space (and winemaker) with Novelty Hill.
The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, may seem like an odd place to spend a few hours, but this high-traffic dual-lock system is surprisingly fascinating, even for those who’ve never given a thought to nautical engineering.
Since 1951, this brick-faced Port Townsend museum in this historic district has welcomed visitors to what was once a City Hall court room.
Artist and Seattle native Dehanna Jones built this buzzing glassworks studio/gallery in the heart of up-and-coming Georgetown. Jones hand-blows her colorful vases, cups, votive holders, and bowls, from opaque and/or transparent glass.
Hip Belltown watering hole
Located on the neighborhood's main drag, Hitchcock Madrona demands repeat visits since owners Erica Nelson-Sheehan and Dustin Nelson (who are cousins) change their shop's design theme quarterly, ensuring it always has a new vibe.
Located upstairs from Ballard’s Thaiku, Fu Kun Wu is both secretive and sensual. Originally a Chinese apothecary upstairs with an opium den below, Fu Kun Wu's bar employs expert mixologists who create strong herb-infused cocktails such as the oolong tea martini and yohimbe mojito.
With an inventory that’s Barnes & Noble-esque in scope, this venerable independent bookstore is a point of pride for Seattleites.
The museum pays tribute to native son and world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, and surveys Pacific Northwest art from oils to jewelry.
Every Earth Day, the Procession of the Species parade, with participants colorfully dressed as birds, turtles, killer whales and more, weaves through downtown.
The boutique winery makes a firm Bordeaux blend called Chaleur Estate.
Hard-core kayakers head for the islands of Puget Sound, but more casual paddlers can explore plenty of gorgeous waterways right within Seattle’s city limits.
For an aquatic perspective of Gig Harbor, rent a kayak, canoe, paddleboat, or powerboat. For more surefooted types, there's also the relatively newer sport of paddleboarding. Guided and non-guided excursions are available, in addition to lessons and a kayak camp for kids.
Windstar Cruises achieves a unique cruise experience with its three motorized sailing yachts. Who cares if the sails are computer operated? They still billow and are gorgeous, and there’s plenty of open deck space from which to enjoy them.