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Best Things To Do in Seattle

Seattle's distinct neighborhoods are ideal for exploration, especially downtown, where tourists will find most of the city's attractions. Some suggest a visit to Pioneer Square to uncover some of the city's oldest buildings. The area also sponsors an art walk on the first Thursday of every month to acquaint the curious with the area's many galleries. There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Consider snowshoeing or hiking through the nearby Olympic Mountains.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Seattle

Local Pick: Must-see ?
Bursting with artwork spanning the colors of the rainbow, Chihuly Garden and Glass offers visitors a look at creative, glass-blown pieces crafted by renowned Pacific Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly. The museum opened in 2012 and has since attracted the admiration of Seattleites and tourists alike. 
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Bursting with artwork spanning the colors of the rainbow, Chihuly Garden and Glass offers visitors a look at creative, glass-blown pieces crafted by renowned Pacific Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly. The museum opened in 2012 and has since attracted the admiration of Seattleites and tourists alike. 
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#2

#2 in Seattle

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
Since 1907, this bustling market near the downtown waterfront has been the go-to place for local produce. Today, you can find almost everything, from local artwork to vinyl records. Plus the flower market is a particular must-see, according to reviewers. Though Pike Place Market is one of the most tourist-heavy attractions in Seattle (plan to run into crowds, especially during the weekend) that's no reason to scratch it off your to-do list. Recent visitors said the abundance of vendors and lively atmosphere make it an experience you shouldn't pass up. 
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Pike Place Market
Since 1907, this bustling market near the downtown waterfront has been the go-to place for local produce. Today, you can find almost everything, from local artwork to vinyl records. Plus the flower market is a particular must-see, according to reviewers. Though Pike Place Market is one of the most tourist-heavy attractions in Seattle (plan to run into crowds, especially during the weekend) that's no reason to scratch it off your to-do list. Recent visitors said the abundance of vendors and lively atmosphere make it an experience you shouldn't pass up. 
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#3

#3 in Seattle

Local Pick: Must-see ? Free
If you like history, Pioneer Square should be at the top of your to-do list. This neighborhood was one of the first settlements in the Northwest U.S. (hence the name), and it has maintained much of its Old West identity. Today, you'll find the cobblestone area peppered with art galleries, restaurants and shops, not to mention an ornamental pergola, which provides shelter to those waiting to hop on the cable car. According to recent visitors, the area is worth a stroll but the neighborhood has seen better days. Many commented that while the architecture is beautiful, there is a large homeless population in the neighborhood. 
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Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Pioneer Square
If you like history, Pioneer Square should be at the top of your to-do list. This neighborhood was one of the first settlements in the Northwest U.S. (hence the name), and it has maintained much of its Old West identity. Today, you'll find the cobblestone area peppered with art galleries, restaurants and shops, not to mention an ornamental pergola, which provides shelter to those waiting to hop on the cable car. According to recent visitors, the area is worth a stroll but the neighborhood has seen better days. Many commented that while the architecture is beautiful, there is a large homeless population in the neighborhood. 
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#4

#4 in Seattle

Local Pick: Must-see ?
If there's one thing that Seattle's known for (aside from coffee and Tom Hanks' insomnia), it's the 605-foot tall Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle has dominated Seattle's skyline ever since with its unique UFO-like design. The tower's round observation deck (520-feet high) offers spectacular views of the city and the nearby Olympic Mountains. Also at the top of the needle is a revolving restaurant that serves up tasty (though pricey) meals. If you're not a fan of heights, check out the Space Base gift shop at the bottom of the tower.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Space Needle
If there's one thing that Seattle's known for (aside from coffee and Tom Hanks' insomnia), it's the 605-foot tall Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle has dominated Seattle's skyline ever since with its unique UFO-like design. The tower's round observation deck (520-feet high) offers spectacular views of the city and the nearby Olympic Mountains. Also at the top of the needle is a revolving restaurant that serves up tasty (though pricey) meals. If you're not a fan of heights, check out the Space Base gift shop at the bottom of the tower.
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#5

#5 in Seattle

Local Pick: Recommended ?
This giant museum houses one of America's premier art collections, which ranges from European masterpieces to contemporary sculpture. Although the museum has received some criticism for being small in nature, the collection and variety of exhibits easily make up for its size. Even if you're not the biggest fan of art museums, this one is a must. The Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park are also part of the complex. Visitors say the museum has a convenient downtown location and features exhibits that are well curated. 
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Seattle Art Museum
This giant museum houses one of America's premier art collections, which ranges from European masterpieces to contemporary sculpture. Although the museum has received some criticism for being small in nature, the collection and variety of exhibits easily make up for its size. Even if you're not the biggest fan of art museums, this one is a must. The Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park are also part of the complex. Visitors say the museum has a convenient downtown location and features exhibits that are well curated. 
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#6

#6 in Seattle

Local Pick: Recommended ? Free
If you're looking to get outdoors without getting out of the city, this is the place. Sprawling across more than 500 acres in northern Seattle, Discovery Park is the city's largest green space. You'll find hiking trails, meadows, beaches and sand dunes abound. One must-see is the West Point Lighthouse, which can be reached by following the North Beach Trail, while the South Beach Trail leads you to a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and the city skyline. Trail maps are available at the visitors center near the park's main entrance.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Discovery Park
If you're looking to get outdoors without getting out of the city, this is the place. Sprawling across more than 500 acres in northern Seattle, Discovery Park is the city's largest green space. You'll find hiking trails, meadows, beaches and sand dunes abound. One must-see is the West Point Lighthouse, which can be reached by following the North Beach Trail, while the South Beach Trail leads you to a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and the city skyline. Trail maps are available at the visitors center near the park's main entrance.
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#7

#7 in Seattle

Local Pick: Recommended ?
For a glimpse under the sea, head to the Seattle Aquarium, which sits along the waterfront just a few blocks west of the Seattle Art Museum. It may not be as impressive as other cities' aquariums, but Seattle's facility offers a wonderful introduction to northwestern sea life. The highlight of your visit will most likely be the "Window on Washington Waters" exhibit, which features aquatic animals native to the surrounding area.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Seattle Aquarium
For a glimpse under the sea, head to the Seattle Aquarium, which sits along the waterfront just a few blocks west of the Seattle Art Museum. It may not be as impressive as other cities' aquariums, but Seattle's facility offers a wonderful introduction to northwestern sea life. The highlight of your visit will most likely be the "Window on Washington Waters" exhibit, which features aquatic animals native to the surrounding area.
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#8

#8 in Seattle

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
These locks – operated by the Army Corps of Engineers – are popular among visitors and locals in Seattle. The locks allow boats to pass between Puget Sound and the Lake Washington ship canal, offering a live demonstration of Seattle's maritime lifestyle. After you've watched a couple barges pass by, head to the south side of the locks where fish ladders help salmon migrate during the summer months; if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a sea lion looking for a quick bite to eat. The fish can be seen up close from special viewing windows. The Chittenden Locks are also home to the Carl English Botanical Gardens, which feature a variety of unique plants and beautiful views.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Ballard Locks)
These locks – operated by the Army Corps of Engineers – are popular among visitors and locals in Seattle. The locks allow boats to pass between Puget Sound and the Lake Washington ship canal, offering a live demonstration of Seattle's maritime lifestyle. After you've watched a couple barges pass by, head to the south side of the locks where fish ladders help salmon migrate during the summer months; if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a sea lion looking for a quick bite to eat. The fish can be seen up close from special viewing windows. The Chittenden Locks are also home to the Carl English Botanical Gardens, which feature a variety of unique plants and beautiful views.
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#9

#9 in Seattle

Local Pick: If Time Allows ?
Seattle is one of the most important cities in the world of aviation and the home base of the Boeing Company, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. You can find out more about the city's unique and fascinating history in aviation at one of its best museums, the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. The museum is especially enticing for families with young children who can climb in and around various aircraft. Also recommended is the Red Barn, Boeing's original airplane factory, which features exhibitions chronicling the history of flight. The nearby Great Gallery also holds vintage aircraft, offering travelers a unique look into Seattle's prolific technological history. One of the most popular attractions is an older version of Air Force One, the American presidential airplane.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Museum of Flight
Seattle is one of the most important cities in the world of aviation and the home base of the Boeing Company, one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers. You can find out more about the city's unique and fascinating history in aviation at one of its best museums, the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. The museum is especially enticing for families with young children who can climb in and around various aircraft. Also recommended is the Red Barn, Boeing's original airplane factory, which features exhibitions chronicling the history of flight. The nearby Great Gallery also holds vintage aircraft, offering travelers a unique look into Seattle's prolific technological history. One of the most popular attractions is an older version of Air Force One, the American presidential airplane.
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#10

#10 in Seattle

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
There's no better way to get a healthy dose of culture than to enjoy some fine art, especially when the art is outdoors and free to enjoy. In other words, you should plan on visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park, a 9-acre section of the Seattle Art Museum that's filled with works by such sculptors as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg and Roxy Paine. Once you've had your fill of art, turn your attention to the view, which stretches over Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Olympic Sculpture Park
There's no better way to get a healthy dose of culture than to enjoy some fine art, especially when the art is outdoors and free to enjoy. In other words, you should plan on visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park, a 9-acre section of the Seattle Art Museum that's filled with works by such sculptors as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg and Roxy Paine. Once you've had your fill of art, turn your attention to the view, which stretches over Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains.
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#11
Mount Si Free

#11 in Seattle

Local Pick: If Time Allows ? Free
If you don't have time to make the drive to Mount Rainier (about 80 miles southeast of downtown Seattle), Mount Si offers a popular alternative. Sitting about 30 miles east of the city center, Mount Si offers several opportunities to strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails. According to most, Mount Si is also a good place to get warmed up before tackling some of the more challenging trails found in nearby Mount Rainier National Park.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Mount Si
If you don't have time to make the drive to Mount Rainier (about 80 miles southeast of downtown Seattle), Mount Si offers a popular alternative. Sitting about 30 miles east of the city center, Mount Si offers several opportunities to strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails. According to most, Mount Si is also a good place to get warmed up before tackling some of the more challenging trails found in nearby Mount Rainier National Park.
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