By Travel + Leisure and Travel + Leisure Staff
March 21, 2016

Hailed as one of the Best Places to Travel in 2016, this Pacific Northwest capital of cool has a blossoming culinary neighborhood, Capitol Hill, a vaunted music scene, and no shortage of attractions.

If you want to know what to do in Seattle, start by ascending the Space Needle—an iconic landmark built for the 1962 World’s Fair. On a clear day, you can see views of the Olympic Mountain Range, Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker from the revolving restaurant at the top. From here, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the city, and limitless inspiration about where to go next.

We recommend taking a ride on one of the 24 Washington State Ferries that crisscross the Puget Sound and its inland waterways—after all, 41 percent of the city is made up of water. Head to Bainbridge Island for an afternoon: it’s home to a free art museum and chic local shops.

Continue along the waterfront by strolling to the Seattle Aquarium (inside, you’ll find harbor seals and sea otters), the Ballard Locks (famous for its botanical garden and fish ladder), and the Seattle Great Wheel. If you’re a VIP, you could find yourself on the special gondola with leather seats and a glass floor.

If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Seattle, mingle with residents at Pike Place Market, or watch the signature fish toss, which began as a way to serve patrons more quickly. You can also fuel up at the market’s Starbucks: one of the chain’s oldest outposts.

Another underrated Seattle attraction is the Museum of Flight, which contains the Space Shuttle Trainer used by NASA, an Air Force One plane used by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and a red barn where the Boeing Company began. Is it any wonder that Seattle was nicknamed Jet City?

And thanks to a clutch of hip new hotels, you’ll never be at a loss for a place to bed down in Seattle. Our favorites include the Ace, the first self-proclaimed art hotel, the Alexis, and luxurious Hotel Ballard in a one-time fisherman’s neighborhood.