45 Best Things to Do in Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA
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See also: Where to stay in Seattle

Seattle in King County, Washington, is a seaport city hemmed by the Pacific Northwest and rolling peaks of evergreens.

Here, you'll see various attractions, including museums, parks, malls, restaurants, and many more!  

Interested to know more about this stunning city?  

Here are the 45 best things to do in Seattle, Washington:

See the Space Needle

Night view of Seattle Space Needle
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It seems only fitting to start your Seattle journey with the iconic Space Needle.

The sky-piercing jewel of the 1962 World’s Fair, this 605-foot-tall landmark is a beacon from all corners of the city.

Shoot up to the observation deck in less than a minute; a breathtaking view of Elliott Bay and the Cascade Mountains waits for you, between which Seattle stretches out in swathes of green-laced neighborhoods.

Closer view of Space Needle
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Explore Exhibits at Frye Art Museum

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The city's only free art museum, the Frye Art Museum, has been operating since 1952 in Seattle's First Hill district.

Business executives and art collectors Charles and Emma Frye donated their collection of primarily European works, known as the Founding Collection.

The Charles and Emma Frye Founding Collection, which is always open to the public for free, catalyzes their interaction with contemporary art and artists.

Entrance to Frye Art Museum
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Since it opened, the Frye Art Museum has gathered a sizable collection of works bought or given to the institution.

Frye Art Museum showcases regional and international artists while highlighting the evolving identity of Seattle through exhibits, activities, and community interaction.

Exterior view of Frye Art Museum
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass
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Chihuly Garden and Glass celebrate local glassblower and globally-renown Dale Chihuly.

Through comprehensive galleries of his exquisite craftwork, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the medium.

Visitors enjoying the art at Chihuly Garden and Glass
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However, the crowning glory of his career is displayed in a glasshouse – a lengthy sculpture of fiery red and orange in fine bloom.

View of Chihuly Garden and Glass
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Participate in a Tour with Savor Seattle Food Tours

Savor Seattle Food Tours is among Seattle's leading and most-known food tour businesses.

They are pros at bringing adventurous tourists to Seattle in the most distinctive, delicious, and unexpected ways.

All Savor Seattle tour guides are licensed, fully insured, and qualified to lead tours.

They are also CPR and First Aid trained.

Savor Seattle’s exclusive relationships provide access to some of Seattle's top restaurants and attractions.

They emphasize Seattle-specific tastes and local, seasonal, organic, and fresh ingredients.

Savor Seattle Food Tour limits trips to 12–16 participants since they believe beautiful things often come in little packages.

Witness Pacific Northwest Ballet's Performance

Pacific Northwest Ballet
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Classical and modern ballet come together in elegant and stunning performances by the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Reinventing old tales such as The Nutcracker in an explosive expression of performance art, it is no wonder they’re one of the world’s leading figures in ballet.

Pacific Northwest Ballet performing in outdoors
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Learn History at Wing Luke Museum

Exterior view of Wing Luke Museum
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wing Luke Museum, a Seattle-based art and history institution founded in 1967, specializes in the history, culture, and artistry of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Through engaging stories and motivating experiences, they hope to introduce everyone to the vibrant history, beliefs, and creativity of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Stairs at Wing Luke Museum
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The three levels of the 60,000-square-foot building feature contemporary galleries showing seasonal and ongoing exhibitions and protected historical areas that their daily guided tours can only access.

There are pieces of history and purpose hiding in plain sight, from restaurants to sculptures, that you may otherwise overlook.

Wing Luke Museum offers programs and guided neighborhood tours to teach you about tales and flavors on and off the main path.

Hall at Wing Luke Museum
Jmabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore the Museum of Pop Culture

Museum of Pop Culture
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Featuring fandom classics, the ever-changing exhibitions of the Museum of Pop Culture delve into music, video games, science fiction, and horror as fore genres.

Art piece with musical instruments at the Museum of Pop Culture
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A Nightmare on Elm Street meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a costumed display, and sci-fi fans will fall for the artifact collection from popular Blade Runner, Star Trek, and Men in Black iterations.

Entrance to the Museum of Pop Culture
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Stroll around the Alki Beach Park

Kids playing at Alki Beach Park
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Between Alki Point and Duwamish Head, in Elliott Bay, lies the 136-acre park known as Alki Beach Park.

You probably think of Alki Beach Park when you picture the ideal summertime vacation.

The monument commemorating the arrival of the first white settlers is located near the beach's southern (Alki Point) end.

View of Alki Beach Park
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also picnic tables, a bathhouse with an art studio, and restrooms.

The beach's northern end is sheltered by a bulkhead and surrounded by cottages.

The Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and other watercraft that navigate Puget Sound waters are visible from the beach, along with ferries, sailboats, steamships, and other boats.

People enjoying their day at Alki Beach Park
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Visit Kubota Garden

Kubota Garden
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Autumn sighs in quiet reflection at Kubota Garden’s maple brilliance.

Kubota's choice of fauna and pines is fanning out amid the purposeful array of hills, streams, waterfalls, rocky intervals, and ponds.

Waterfall at Kubota Garden
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Indulge in inner musings at this beloved garden that tempts introspection, arched bridges, and pathways hemmed by lanterns to form a guiding hand.

View of Kubota Garden
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Watch a Show at the Triple Door

Performance at Triple Door
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The Embassy Theatre, a vaudeville venue that first debuted in 1926, once occupied the ancient Mann building, which now houses The Triple Door.

Triple Door, situated in downtown Seattle, offers top-notch entertainment and food that draws inspiration from delicacies in the Pacific Northwest.

The primary goal of The Triple Door is to offer the greatest audio, lighting, ambiance, and hospitality.

Thomas Dolby's performance at Triple Door
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The Mainstage theater hosts traveling national performers boasting unobstructed views from every seat.

It is intimate that even a latecomer to a sold-out performance is only 35 paces from the stage.

Their MQ Stage & Lounge is among Seattle's top happy hour and live music spots.

Performance at Triple Door
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See Smith Tower's Architecture

Smith Tower Seattle
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A concrete arrow heralding Seattle’s first skyscraper, Smith Tower looms 148 meters high.

While it may no longer be the ultimate observatory point, its rich neoclassical features, such as latticed doors, onyx banisters, and charming elevator operators, help retain an air of quiet dignity.

For a classy nightcap, indulge in a cocktail at the classy speakeasy based here.

View of Smith Tower
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Pay a Visit to Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium
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Seattle Aquarium sheds light on the secrets of the Pacific depths with vibrant sea plantations and dynamic sea life.

From the color palette of sea anemones to deep-sea species, the non-diver can marvel at moon jellies and giant octopi.

Star fish at Seattle Aquarium
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Dive shows keep the crowd excited, and the curious can interact with sea cucumbers and urchins in carefully curated touch pools.

People admiring the fishes at Seattle Aquarium
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Experience Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
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Comedic tragedy has carved out an unusual tour of a brick-lined city below the city.

Thanks to the carelessness of a cabinet maker in the late 1800s, an ignited glue pot led to the Great Seattle Fire, after which Pioneer Square and surrounding streets were constructed a good two stories higher than the original structures, lending to a cavernous underground.

You’ll find leftover brick-and-mortar traces from previous homes and buildings.

View of Underground Tour
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See the Planes at the Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight
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The forerunner of aviation, Seattle houses multiple air-central spaces, including the impressive, independent air and space museum, the Museum of Flight.

Steel and glass unite to hoist aircraft of the highest pedigree and significance.

Exhibits at Museum of Flight
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The Gossamer Albatross II, the Concorde, a de Havilland Comet, and Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird are just a few of the many pioneering aircraft in the history of aviation.

A Space Gallery further demonstrates the strides humans have taken to conquer airspace, detailing exploration crafts and hardware deployed by NASA and similar organizations.

View of Museum of Flight
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Shop at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market
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Spread out over acres of winding alleys like a world of its own is Pike Place Market.

Cross under the iconic market sign into a collective of fresh produce, slick seafood stalls, and baking bread, a crusty aroma that seeps into the throng of a 200-strong crafts market.

Buskers line the cascading streets that’ll bring you down to Elliott Bay for a waterfront sunset.

Gum wall at Pike Place Market
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Nearby Gum Wall is another colorful attraction where you can leave a tangible mark.

Chew, spit, and stick – this gooey masterpiece is decades in the making.

Fresh fruits at Pike Place Market
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Have Fun with Washington State Ferries

Washington State Ferries
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Slow and steady rebrands a practical trip across Puget Sound into something scenic.

Think beautiful beaches and homes lining the shore, Seattle skyline a husky backdrop… but wait, what kind of ferry is it anyway?

View of the city from the Ferry
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With a minimum load of 64 cars, the massive Washington State Ferries keep your road trip going.

Drive straight across the channel in a one-of-a-kind ferrying experience.

People at Washington State Ferry
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Ride the Seattle Great Wheel

Seattle Great Wheel
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Requisite harbor views are best done on a cliché Ferris wheel ride, and the 53-meter Seattle Great Wheel will provide you with just that.

Fancy a luxurious, romantic night out?

View of the Seattle Great Wheel
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There’s even an upgraded pod with leather seats and champagne to end your date on a high note.

Closeup of the cabin at Seattle Great Wheel
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Learn Something New at Pacific Science Center

Pacific Science Center
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If you’ve never marveled at the herculean feats of insects, Pacific Science Center’s Insect Village will set you right.

Ever wonder about what technology will bring to our future?

Outside view of Pacific Science Center
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The immersive displays of “What is Reality” will engage you in thoughtful discussion.

You can even take to the stars in the planetarium; the Center is a classroom for scientists of all ages and interests.

Interior view of Pacific Science Center
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View Various Artwork at Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum
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Boasting a varied inventory of historical and contemporary art, Seattle Art Museum is a hotspot for artists and purveyors.

From the delicate stone works and rougher basketry of Native American art to the dramatic results of Giovanni di Paolo and Puccio di Simone, you can spend hours browsing through the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Art display at Seattle Art Museum
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Wander around Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park
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It’s easy to fall in love with Olympic National Park’s wild forests and sweeping beaches poised below elegant peaks and majesty mountain ranges.

Those with indomitable spirit will no doubt venture up the jagged mountains on long hikes, the purple and orange hues up top giving way in the winter to ski slopes of top-tier quality.

Waterfall at Olympic National Park
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Those who prefer grounded activities can set up camp near Lake Crescent’s vast shores, soaking up the rejuvenating energies of Sol Duc Hot Springs after a long day of trekking in the sand.

Tide pools and scenic walks carve into the coastline, the roar of waves offset by the peaceful and open view of the Pacific Ocean.

Sunset at Olympic National Park
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See the City at Sky View Observatory

Sky View Observatory
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Topping the 73rd floor of Washington State’s tallest building is Columbia Center’s Sky View Observatory.

The blockish buildings and the city’s green veins are laid out like a map, where the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier cut majestic figures over the boats of Puget Sound.

Go Hiking at Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park
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Gas Works Park may just about inspire your steampunk masterpiece.

Preserved parts of a gasification plant, the copper pipes, towers, and the old pump house have been repurposed into a two-in-one monument and playground.

Abandoned machineries at Gas Works Park
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A unique kite-flying spot emerged from the rubble as the Great Mound, perch at the top for a Seattle panorama.

View of Gas Works Park
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Safeco and CenturyLink Field
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Baseball and sporting fans will inevitably be drawn to the boisterous atmosphere at Safeco or CenturyLink Field, the former ballpark home base to the Seattle Mariners.

Behind-the-scenes tours are available off-season for baseball fans curious about the facilities, allowing a glimpse into the training centers of their favorite teams.

CenturyLink Field’s joint sports and exhibition complex also hosts large-scale conventions and expos all year; visit their website for any must-see events to make the most of your visit.

Aerial view of Safeco and CenturyLink Field
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Visit Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park
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Exposed to the elements and in perfect eye-line with other Seattle landmarks, the monumental sculptures are vivid slashes of color and geometry.

An outdoor gallery, Olympic Sculpture Park draws attention with over 20 works by renowned artists such as Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, and Roxy Paine.

People relaxing at Olympic Sculpture Park
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See the Seattle Center Monorail

Seattle Center Monorail
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Astride an elevated, city-winding track, Seattle Center Monorail ferries between the time-transcending Seattle Center and downtown Westlake Center in all its space-age glory.

Visitors boarding the Seattle Center Monorail
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Running at 45 miles per hour, it is a one-mile journey that twists between buildings for a truly unique perspective.

Driver of the Seattle Center Monorail
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Read a Book or Two at Central Public Library

Central Public Library
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Nothing is more enticing than the smell of paper and the quiet rustling of books, but Seattle’s Central Library takes a step further in fostering a reflective space.

Where its sleek, glassy skin may come off as an unexpectedly modern library façade, the natural light and overhangs affect a dreamy but thoughtful atmosphere.

Interior view of Central Public Library
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Shop at Fremont Sunday Market

Fremont Sunday Market
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There’s nothing like mingling in at Fremont Sunday Market, sampling local fare, and digging for personalized trinkets.

Eat fast at a food truck before delving into the spirited crowd, exploring stalls toting antiques, vintage ware, arts and crafts, or fresh fruits to snack on.

With up to 200 vendors, this European-style market is a show of support for small businesses in a big city.

Have a Picnic at Kerry Park

Kerry Park
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A cozy park atop Queen Anne Hill, there is no better outdoor viewing platform than Kerry Park.

View point at Kerry Park
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Breathe freely and absorb the panoramic view from leveled Puget Sound to the specter of Mount Rainier.

Downtown Seattle splays out in a casual exhibition behind Space Needle’s prolific outline.

View of Kerry Park
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Experience the Fun at Seattle Chinatown-International District

Seattle Chinatown
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Of course, what is a trip without indulging in the local food scene?

Seattle Chinatown-International District will have you chowing down authentic Asian cuisine in no time, offering a plethora of pho, sushi, and dim sum options.

Kids playing at Seattle Chinatown-International District
CineCam / Shutterstock.com

Bring home snacks from the Uwajimaya Japanese supermarket (the best kind of souvenir), or burn off those calories with a few intense games at the Seattle Pinball Museum.

Those curious about the neighborhood community should invest some time into learning their story at Wing Luke Museum, then it’s back to dining with new appreciation.

Restaurants at Seattle Chinatown-International District
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Take Some Pictures of Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks
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Stationed in Lake Washington’s Ship Canal, Ballard Locks is a century-old “boat elevator” that bridges freshwater lakes and salty Puget Sound.

Boating in Ballard Locks
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While the movement of yachts and trawlers is a spectacle in itself, the on-site botanical garden and the fish ladder are natural delights not to be missed.

If you time it right, you’ll catch the trout’s determined migration.

View of Ballard Locks
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Visit the Many Theaters in the City

Paramount Theatre
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The sister playhouses of Paramount Theatre, The Moore, and The Neptune carry Seattle’s art scene with over 600 performances annually, including Broadway shows and smaller concerts and dance performances.

With rounded spectator seating and historic, gilded interiors, visitors can also tour the spellbinding premises for some behind-the-scenes insight and funny staff stories.

Entrance to Neptune Theatre
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Have a Great Adventure at Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square
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The heart of Seattle’s foundation lay in the neighborhood around Pioneer Square, its architecture bearing the marks of time.

Original wooden structures may have been replaced by Romanesque Revival buildings, but small historical symbols such as the Tlingit pole exist as a reminder of the city’s past.

View of Pioneer Square
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Explore Washington Park Arboretum

Washington Park Arboretum
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An impressive 230 acres stretch along the shores of Lake Washington to make up Washington Park Arboretum’s all-year splendor.

Seasonal sectors guarantee earthy spring fauna such as the Rhododendron Glen, a vibrant and sturdy collection of maples and oaks, and a treasured Azalea Way for a cherry-brushed pastel haven bordered by evergreens.

People strolling around the Washington Park Arboretum
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Observe the old and new at South Lake Union

South Lake Union
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South Lake Union is a real-time showcase of Seattle’s constant reinvention. Formerly a manufacturing zone (home to Boeing’s first airplane factory), the neighborhood now hosts Amazon’s cutting-edge headquarters.

Market at South Lake Union
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Biotechnology and research institutes dominate, effectively branding Seattle as an innovation hub.

Yet alongside modernization are well-preserved historic landmarks and memorials, such as the Historic Ships Wharf and Center for Wooden Boats.

Bird's eye view of South Lake Union
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Witness St. James Cathedral's Stunning Architecture

St. James Cathedral
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Or, catch a choir performance. St. James Cathedral is an old-world structure of typical Renaissance design; arched ceilings, bordered pillars, and stained-glass inserts take you back to the early 1900s.

Entrance to St. James Cathedral
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Get in touch with your spiritual side, bask in the reverent ambiance, or quietly tour the grounds to appreciate its architecture.

Mother Mary statue at St. James Cathedral
Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grab a Cup of Coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
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Set in Starbucks-typical varnished wood and black accented space is a flagship store like no Starbucks you’ve seen before.

Looking more like a distillery than a café, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery presents the roasting process in real-time; an experience coffee bar and bakery serves a classier roast than the regular cash-and-ago selection, including coffee and tea cocktails.

If you’re a frequent Starbucks customer, you’ll love this place.

Exterior view of Starbucks Reserve Roastery
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Enjoy Thrilling Rides with Kenmore Air

Kenmore Air
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The true birds-eye-view is from the air, wings wide and gliding across the city.

Kenmore Air’s Seattle Scenic Seaplane Tour will have you soaring above Seattle on a leisurely cruise while enjoying a top-down view of the city.

Visitors boarding the Kenmore Air
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Shop at Various Thrift Shops

U-District Seattle
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Leave behind the fancy malls for more of Seattle’s grunge vibe.

Thrift stores are popular and plenty and budget-friendly.

Bring home vintage finds or head over to the shops near U-District for trendier, student-donated clothing. To blend in, you have to dress to fit.

Dresses at  U-District
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Tour the University of Washington Campus

University of Washington Campus
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Chances are you’ve left university behind and have no desire to revisit the back-breaking moments of study.

But the University of Washington’s sprawling campus will remind you of the moments after exams, basking on the quad with your friends, of relaxed strolls between buildings.

Interior view of the library at the University of Washington Campus
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The university posits an oasis of spring blossoms, framing historical buildings in soft pastels to achieve a magical photo stop.

View of the University of Washington Campus
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Revisit Seattle's History at the Museum of History & Industry

Museum of History & Industry
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Seattle’s history is long and rife with destruction and discovery.

From the 1889 Great Seattle Fire and subsequent Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, or the later Boeing foundation and the Red Scare Smith Act Trials of the 1900s, you’ll find the Museum of History & Industry a trove of historical resources that details the city’s growth through artifacts and photography.

History buffs can spend an entire day unraveling the significant collections of over four million pieces, only a fraction on permanent exhibition.

Entrance to Museum of History & Industry
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See Bears at Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo
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‘Prestigious’ doesn’t even describe Woodland Park Zoo’s numerous accolades.

Careful thought is put into the design of individual habitats, presenting their inhabitants in revealing but natural displays.

Leopard drinking water at Woodland Park Zoo
Bretton M / Shutterstock.com

For domestic visitors, Tropical Asia’s sector of tigers, tapirs, orangutans, and rhinos from Malaysia and India paints the wilds of far-off countries – maybe you can’t go to them, but they’re brought to you.

Lions at Woodland Park Zoo
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Other Things to Do Nearby

Pay a Visit to Woodinville Wine Country

Woodinville Wine Country
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A literal country of over 130 wineries, embark on your journey for your favorite red or white through Woodinville Wine Country.

Wine connoisseurs will enjoy visiting the state’s first winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle having established in 1954.

For a fully immersive experience, don’t just taste – tour the vineyard’s gravelly soils and production rooms to learn the art of winemaking.

See the Planes at the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
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If there’s one aviation attraction to visit, it must be the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour.

Learn the mechanics of air travel with this guided tour around Boeing’s production facility.

Display of an aeroplane at Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
Hermann Luyken, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Plane spotters get to come up close and personal with aircraft sections of older models, while interactive features allow you to try your hand at designing your aircraft.

Exhibit hall at Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
Hermann Luyken, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Mountain Climbing at Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier
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Every nature reserve deserves its dormant volcano; Seattle’s Mount Rainier postures over 4000 meters as a prominent Decade Volcano with a notable history of destructive eruptions near settlements.

Mount Rainier covered with snow
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Take to its thickets in a guided walk to catch a glimpse of elk and coyotes hiding in the outcrops of lakes and sweeping forests.

For more thrill, head towards its glaciers on a snowshoe adventure.

Road leading to Mount Rainier
melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Within the city are tamer counterparts that blend art and nature.

Here, you'll see multiple museums and galleries that celebrate history and artistic endeavors.

Seattle also offers a diverse choice of cuisine, catering to the taste of the high class while promoting local fare and cheap but delicious bites.

Visit Seattle in Washington!

More Washington

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