Seattle is one of my absolute favorite cities in America! The views are stunning. All around the city, you can see evergreen trees, mountains, and different bodies of water from the Puget Sound and Elliott Bay to Lake Union and Lake Washington. This city really has it all, despite its reputation for being one of the rainiest cities in the U.S. If you visit at the right time, you can experience a week of sunshine. And when it does rain, it’s usually a sprinkle instead of a torrential downpour—at least in my experience. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places to sleep, eat, and play. Let me know your favorite Seattle spots in the comments!
Places to Stay
- W Seattle – The W is a trendy hotel offering contemporary accommodations, luxury amenities and lively experiences in a vibrant downtown setting. It’s home to the first North American private recording studio, the W Sound Suite. When not being used to mix music, the Sound Suite offers a unique venue for small social events. Be sure to mention you’d like a view of Mt. Rainer upon check-in!
- Courtyard by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Pioneer Square – History and adventure can be found everywhere around you when staying at the Courtyard. The well-appointed hotel sits in the historic Alaska Building constructed in the early 1900s. Within this time-honored setting, you’ll find Seattle’s best local attractions within walking distance including T-Mobile Park, Pike Place Market, and Lumen Field. Pictured below is a suite I stayed in on my last trip.
- Grand Hyatt Seattle – Experience a quintessential Pacific Northwest getaway at Hyatt’s 7th and Pine location. Visit the iconic Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the shopping mecca of Pine Street, which are all just steps from the hotel. Designed with hand-blown glass and artwork inspired by Seattle’s landscape, the Grand Hyatt is your destination within your destination.
- Inn at the Market – Inn at the Market is the only downtown Seattle hotel located directly in the famous Pike Place Market, and it offers wonderful waterfront views. Recognized by Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast, Inn at the Market is a tranquil hideaway, just steps away from the vibrant atmosphere of Pike Place Market and the waterfront.
- Four Seasons – For those with the most luxurious tastes, the Four Seasons puts you in the heart of the city’s downtown, with the Seattle Art Museum on one side, iconic Pike Place Market on another, and the waters of Elliott Bay gleaming to the west. Claim a chaise by the pool, sip drinks around the firepit, or enjoy a soak in the jetted tub as you revel in this outdoor oasis in the heart of downtown.
- Modern apartment with Space Needle view – One of Airbnb’s Plus properties, this unit boasts floor-to-ceiling-windows and a spiral staircase. The 100-year-old historic building has original hardwood floors and is situated in the Queen Anne district.
Restaurants & Bars
- Von’s 1000 Spirits – Von’s is a downtown Seattle destination for bespoke spirits, scratch cocktails, the legendary Wagering Wheel, and true sourdough. It’s located next door to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and just down the street from Pike Place Market. Von’s features the city’s largest collection of spirits (over 1,500 and growing) and produces custom small batch bourbon, gin, vodka and tequila. The restaurant specializes in sourdough pizza and pasta, prime marbled Hamburgers, and made-to-order salmon chowder. The pizza is phenomenal! You can see a picture of the bar’s many spirits below.
- Serious Pie – Tom Douglas’ Serious Pie is a pizzeria located in both Ballard and Downtown. They serve up delicious salads, sandwiches, and famous pizzas with blistered crusts, which are light textured but have structure and bite. Serious Pie bakes each pizza in a 600-degree stone-encased Applewood-burning oven. Soooo yummy!
- Salt & Straw – Salt & Straw makes their ice cream in small batches by hand. When the ice cream maker first entered the scene in the United States, it was pretty low tech: a bucket of ice, some rock salt, and a lot of elbow grease. Salt & Straw gives a nod to the way ice cream was churned at the turn of the century. This ice cream is so good I’ve paid for overnight shipping to have it delivered to the East Coast… twice!
- Bathtub Gin & Co – Bathtub Gin & Co. is in a former boiler room in the back of the building in between First and Second Avenue in Belltown. There’s a low lit multi-level lounge with a small pine bar upstairs with various liquors from around the world and comfortable tables and couches on the lower level, including the intimate library in the back. Bathtub Gin & Co. is a warm prohibition style cocktail bar perfect for those rainy Seattle nights. Sip on local gin and tonics, choose a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned, or be daring and have one of the bartenders concoct one of their favorite drinks. I visit this speakeasy at least once every time I’m in town.
- The Crocodile – The Crocodile offers an unparalleled, independent music sanctuary for artists and fans alike against the backdrop of Seattle’s music legacy. At the time of this article, they are in the middle of moving to a new location. I can’t wait to see what the new space offers. This is another Seattle spot with excellent pizza, and at a very affordable price point!
Things to Do
Museums & Gardens
- Seattle Art Museum – Located downtown, one block from Pike Place Market, global art collections, temporary installations, and special exhibitions from around the world bridge cultures and centuries. Seattle Art Museum acknowledges it is on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish, and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, it honors the ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.
- The Museum of Flight – The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, the Museum and its people bring mankind’s incredible history of flight to life.
- Chihuly Garden and Glass – Chihuly Garden and Glass, located right next to the Space Needle, is a museum in the Seattle Center showcasing the studio glass of Dale Chihuly. Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, Chihuly enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established the glass program and taught for more than a decade. His glass artwork is stunning. Don’t miss this experience when you visit Seattle!
- Seattle Japanese Garden – Seattle Japanese Garden is 3.5 acre urban sanctuary. Winding paths and benches invite you to view the garden slowly and mindfully, in all of its detail—stones, water, lanterns, bridges, buildings, plants and animals. Seasonal changes are constant and every visit refreshingly unique. It is in the Madison Park neighborhood, located in the southern end of the Washington Park Arboretum on Lake Washington Boulevard East. Check out the beautiful greenery of the gardens below!
- Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens – The Arboretum (adjacent to the Seattle Japanese Garden) is a welcome oasis on the shores of Lake Washington. Jointly managed by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens and the City of Seattle, its 230 acres contain a dynamic assortment of plants, some found nowhere else in the Northwest. Take a walk through the Arboretum and discover this beautiful living collection.
- Gas Works Park & Lake Union – Gas Works Park is a 19.1-acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union at the south end of the Wallingford neighborhood. It’s a beautiful industrial site right on Lake Union. There are plenty of nearby coffee shops and restaurants you can walk to after you explore the area.
- Bainbridge Island – Bainbridge Island is a small city in western Washington. It’s connected to Seattle by ferry. The forested Bloedel Reserve has landscaped gardens and trails. Nearby, coastal Fay Bainbridge Park and Campground features an east-facing beach with views of the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, in an eco-friendly building, offers rotating exhibitions by contemporary local artists.
- Mt. Rainer National Park – Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning five major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits here.
- Olympic Sculpture Park – The Olympic Sculpture Park, created and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, is a public park with modern and contemporary sculpture in downtown Seattle. The park, which opened January 20, 2007, consists of a 9-acre outdoor sculpture museum, and indoor pavilion, and a beach on Puget Sound. This is a great free activity for a sunny day.
- Freeway Park – Located between 6th and 9th Avenues, Freeway Park is bounded on the north by Union and on the south by Spring Street. To the east is First Hill, to the west the park overlooks Seattle’s financial center. Freeway Park provides a space where residents, shoppers, downtown office workers, hotel visitors and the whole array of people from all backgrounds who make up the downtown population may come together to enjoy the social elements of a city park.
- The Great Wheel – The Seattle Great Wheel is a giant Ferris wheel at Pier 57 on Elliott Bay. At an overall height of 175 feet, it was the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast of the United States when it opened in June 2012. If you’re afraid of heights like me, this is a great opportunity to try to conquer your fear without getting completely overwhelmed. It’s beautiful at sunset, even on a rainy evening!
- Sailing Seattle – This is your chance to experience high performance racing yachts at your own pace. Bring your own food and beverage and sit back as Sailing Seattle’s highly skilled crew do all the work. But don’t be afraid to ask the captain to try your hand on the helm! From public sails to private charters, Sailing Seattle’s boats are perfect for families and corporate events alike. Forget the hustle and bustle of the big city as they turn off the engine, raise the sails, and feel the wind.
- Kerry Park – An unsurpassed view of Elliott Bay and the Central City, with an occasional backdrop of Mount Rainier, draws camera buffs to this spot. At sunset they often line the wall just as the city and the sound are beginning to glow with lights. At night it becomes almost a fantasy scene, with brightly lit ferries gliding across the water and the Space Needle shining from its 500-foot pedestal. See a view from this spot below.
Landmarks & Photo Ops
- Pike Place Market – Pike Place Market is a special community within the heart of downtown. More than the city’s beloved public market, Pike Place is a vibrant neighborhood comprised of hundreds of farmers, craftspeople, small businesses, and residents. Each group is an important and vital makeup of the Pike Place Neighborhood. In addition to preserving and protecting the historic buildings and character of the nine-acre historic district and serving as an incubator and supporter of farmers, artisans, and small businesses, the Pike Place Market was chartered by the City of Seattle to provide services for low-income individuals.
- The Gum Wall – The Market Theater Gum Wall is a brick wall covered in used chewing gum located in an alleyway in Post Alley under Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle. Much like Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California, the Market Theater Gum Wall is a local landmark.
- Space Needle – The Space Needle is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and is a treasured Seattle icon. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair—the Century 21 Exposition whose theme was “The Age of Space”—the tower’s futuristic design was inspired by the idea that the fair needed a structure to symbolize humanity’s Space Age aspirations. Since its grand opening on April 21, 1962, the landmark continues to symbolize the innovative and forward-thinking spirit of Seattle. Located at Seattle Center, the Space Needle stands at 605’ tall and is one of the most photographed structures in the world.
- Fremont Troll – Fremont has long been known for its iconic Troll. This silver-eyed concrete sculpture clutches a Volkswagen Beetle while huddled beneath the Aurora Avenue Bridge. Locals and tourists alike flock to the Fremont Troll for photo-ops and festive occasions, but since its completion in 1990, the land flanking this piece of public art primarily harbored blackberry brambles. Milstead & Co. and Fremont Brewing’s Urban Beer Garden are two exceptional beverage spots within walking distance of this photo op. Check out a picture of the troll below.
- Statue of Lenin – The Statue of Lenin is a 16-foot bronze statue of Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It was created by Bulgarian sculptor Emil Venkov and initially put on display in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1988, the year before the Velvet Revolution. This is certainly a controversial statue, but it’s worth seeing if you’re in the area.
- Bruce Lee & Brandon Lee Grave Sites – This is the grave site of famous martial artists and actors Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon. The site is located in Lake View Cemetery at 1554 15th Ave E with beautiful nearby coastal views.