Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Puget Sound, WA

  • Published 2022/12/15

Puget Sound is an inlet of the Eastern North part of the Pacific Ocean, sitting along the northwestern coast of Washington.

It’s a complex system of different bodies of water and is connected to the Pacific Ocean via the Admiralty Inlet, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Swinomish Channel, and Deception Pass.

The sound runs south for 100 miles from Admiralty Inlet to Whidbey Island, with the Hood Canal being a western extension.

It’s part of the Salish Sea, the collective name for the Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca coined by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names in 2009.

The Puget Region includes the cities of Seattle, Everette, Olympia, and Tacoma.

The region was named after Huguenot lieutenant Peter Puget, who accompanied George Vancouver in his expedition, but Native Americans call it “Whulge.”

Here are the best things to do in Puget Sound, Washington:

Enjoy 360-Degree Views of Downtown Seattle atop the Space Needle

Exterior of the Space Needle

Andrew Zarivny /

Located on Broad Street in Seattle, the Space Needle is a 606-foot observation tower and icon of the city.

It was built in 1961 for the 1992 World’s Fair and was once the tallest structure in the state until 1969.

Designed by Edward E. Carlson and John Graham, Jr., the tower was built to withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and winds up to 200 mph.

The view from Space Needle's top floor

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Get unobstructed views of downtown Seattle and the islands of Puget Sound from the Needle’s observation deck 520 feet above the ground.

You can also glimpse the Cascade Range, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and Elliott Bay from the viewing deck.

Elevators in the Space Needle can take you from the ground up to the top of the structure in just 41 seconds.

People lined up at Space Needle's observation deck

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Get Fresh Produce from the Pike Place Market

Exterior of Pike Place Market

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The Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country still in operation.

Opened in 1907, it’s located on Pike Street and overlooks Elliott Bay.

The market covers nine acres of historic downtown Seattle and has been the city’s soul for over a hundred years.

Millions of tourists visit the market every year to enjoy handcrafted items, local cuisine, and other unique finds.

Fresh produce at Pike Place Market


It features a variety of shops, from antiques, to bookshops, family-owned restaurants, and fresh produce from local farmers all year round.

Pike Place Market also serves as home to hundreds of residents living in eight buildings throughout the neighborhood.

If you’re in downtown Seattle, drop by the market and sample locally-grown produce.

Flowers for sale at Pike Place Market

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See How Ships are Lifted at the Ballard Locks

Sailboat approaching Ballard Locks

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Located on Northwest 54th Street in Seattle, the Ballard Locks—officially named the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks—are the busiest locks in the U.S.

Constructed at the western tip of Salmon Bay in 1917, the locks have more boat traffic than any other lock in the country.

Its construction significantly lowered Lake Washington and Lake Union’s water levels and reversed the rivers’ flow.

Boats at Ballard Locks

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The Ballard Locks are responsible for maintaining the water level of the two lakes and preventing seawater intrusion, but their main job is to move boats from the lakes to Puget Sound and vice versa.

The complex also features a fish ladder where Pacific salmon migrate to sea and return to freshwater to lay eggs.

The waters of Ballard Locks

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Catch a Live Glassblowing Demonstration at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Exterior of the Chihuly Garden and Glass

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Located on Harrison Street in Seattle, directly next to the Space Needle, is Chihuly Garden and Glass.

The exhibit showcases the studio glass of Dale Chihuly and features three primary sections: the Garden, the Glasshouse, and the Interior Exhibits.

The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass, measuring 40 feet in height and covering 4,500 square feet.

The glass and steel structure that houses the 100-foot-long sculpture is made of individual elements in a color palette of amber, reds, oranges, and yellow.

Interior of the Chihuly Garden and Glass

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It’s one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures and is the main attraction in the complex.

The gardens’ colorful glass sculptures complement the plants and flowers.

If you’re lucky, you can catch a live glassblowing demonstration in the open space near the gardens.

Colorful glass sculptures in the Chihuly Garden and Glass

CK Foto /

Experience 1900s Farm Life at the Johnson Farm on Anderson Island

Located on Otso Point Road in Anderson Island is the historic Johnson Farm.

In 1896, Finnish immigrants John and Alma Marie established the farm, which was once a leading producer of eggs on the island.

The estate features buildings from 1912 to 1920, including a barn and the Egg Room.

At the peak of its operations, Johnson Farm had 2,000 to 3,000 egg-laying chickens housed in two chicken coops.

The Egg Room is the estate’s centerpiece, as the eggs are candled, cleaned, sorted, and manually packed.

The Anderson Island Historical Society now operates it, so a docent can tour the main house and answer your farm-related questions.

See the Largest Collection of Jimi Hendrix Memorabilia at the Museum of Pop Culture

Exterior of the Museum of Pop Culture

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The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP, is a contemporary pop culture museum located on 5th Avenue North in Seattle.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded it in 2000.

The museum features several exhibits, interactive displays, and a wide collection of educational resources.

Giant guitar sculpture in the Museum of Pop Culture

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One of the museum’s highlights is IF VI WAS IX, a giant guitar sculpture made of more than 500 musical instruments and 30 computers—a collaboration between British designer Neal Potter and German sound sculptor Trimpin.

Inside the complex is a 140,000-square-foot building by Frank O. Gehry, which houses one of the largest indoor LED screens in the world.

Jimi Hendrix fans are in for a treat as the Museum of Pop Culture has the biggest collection of artifacts, musical instruments, and photographs of the musician.

Close view of the guitar sculpture in the Museum of Pop Culture

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Take Panoramic Photos of Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park

A person on Kerry Park's bench

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On West Highland Drive in Seattle, Kerry Park (or Franklin Place) offers panoramic views of Downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay, and Mount Rainier.

The viewpoint sits on the southern slope of Queen Ann Hill, giving you the best view of the city skyline.

Business mogul Albert Kerry who lived nearby donated the 1.26-acre piece of land to the city.

The grounds of Kerry Park

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Several benches face the skyline, where you can sit and watch as the sun sets and the skyscrapers start lighting up.

Because of the perfect backdrop, Kerry Park has been featured in several films and TV shows, such as “10 Things I hate About You” and “Frasier.”

Bring your cameras and snap panoramic photos of Central City and Mount Rainier.

People admiring the views from Kerry Park

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Travel to the African Savanna at Woodland Park Zoo

Giraffes at Woodland Park Zoo

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Located on Phinney Avenue is the 92-acre wildlife conservation park Woodland Park Zoo.

It was founded in 1899 as a small menagerie on Guy Phinney’s property.

After Phinney died, his wife sold the estate to the city, and in 1902, the Olmsted Brothers firm was commissioned to design Woodland Park as what it’s known today.

The zoo is divided into bioclimatic zones, with natural habitats recreated to resemble the animals’ surroundings in the wild closely.

A lion at Woodland Park Zoo

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Tropical Asia is the largest section, featuring species from South and Southeast Asia, including Indian rhinoceroses, Malayan tigers, orangutans, and pythons.

Woodland Park Zoo’s African Savanna is home to Africa’s grassland animals, such as giraffes and zebras.

It also features the African lion, warthog, savanna birds, and a recreation of an East African village.

Seabirds at Woodland Park Zoo

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Drive across Deception Pass Bridge

Daytime view of Deception Pass Bridge

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The Deception Pass Bridge is a two-lane steel bridge that connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island.

The bridge is part of the Washington State Route 20 and leads to Deception Pass State Park.

It consists of two spans, one crossing Canoe Pass and the other crossing Deception Pass, with Pass Island connecting the two bridges.

Thick fog covering Deception Pass Bridge

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Constructed in 1935, it measures 1,487 feet long and is about 180 feet tall from the water, depending on the tide.

Deception Pass Bridge is known for its engineering and architecture and is one of Puget Sound’s most photographed landmarks.

Whether you’re on your way to the state park or want to get scenic views of Deception Pass, driving across this bridge should be on your bucket list.

Cars along Deception Pass Bridge

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Spend a Day at Vashon Island

View of a ship from Vashon Island

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Vashon Island is a short ferry ride from Seattle, Tacoma, or Olympia and is known as the “Heart of the Sound.”

It’s a popular farming community with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, local coffee shops, art galleries, and boutiques.

To better navigate the island’s narrow roads, you can bring your own bike or rent one from a shop near the ferry terminal.

Point Robinson lighthouse at Vashon Island

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One of the most famous attractions on the island is the Point Robinson Lighthouse, built in 1887 to serve as a navigational aid for ships sailing near Maury Island.

You can enjoy scenic views of the snow-covered Mount Rainier from the lighthouse.

Vashon Island is the perfect day trip while touring the Puget Sound region.

Attend a Concert at the Skansie Brothers Park and Netshed

The Skansie Brothers Park and Netshed is a 1.1-acre property in Gig Harbor that includes a historic net shed dating back to the 1920s.

Net sheds are storage sheds for fishing nets and gear used by local fishermen.

The Skansie brothers, well-respected fishermen and mechanics in Gig Harbor, designed the structure on Harborview Drive.

The city purchased the property in 2022 and built a public pavilion where a garage once was.

You can admire boats docked next to the property or sample local produce from the farmers’ market, which occupies the open space during summer.

Concerts and movie nights are held in the park during the warmer months, so drop by the Skansie Brothers Park and Netshed when you’re in the area.

Learn about the Pig War at the San Juan Island National Historic Park

Aerial view of San Juan Island National Historic Park

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Located on Cattle Point Road in Friday Harbor, the San Juan Island National Historic Park, the San Juan Island National Historic Park, was dedicated to the U.S. and British forces on Cattle Point Road in Friday Harbor during the Pig War.

How the war started is more complicated, but the most popular story is that in 1859, the two forces almost got into a war when an American farmer shot a pig.

The tension was already brewing between the two countries over possession of San Juan Island even before the incident.

A house at San Juan Island National Historic Park

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The park features the English Camp on Garrison Bay and the American Camp on the island’s southernmost tip.

Surviving buildings on the British side include a blockhouse, a commissary, barracks, and a hospital, while the U.S. side has two officers’ quarters and the camp laundress’ house.

Block house at San Juan Island National Historic Park

Tomas Nevesely /

Spot Wild Orcas at the Lime Kiln Point State Park

Scenic view of Lime Kiln Point State Park

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On the West Side Road in Friday Harbor is the 42-acre Lime Kiln Point State Park.

It sits on the western edge of San Juan Island, making it one of the best spots in the world to view wild orcas.

The unique geographical features of the island allow you to be within 20 feet of whales jumping out of the water.

The park got its name from the lime kilns that operated on the island in the 1860s.

Picnic table overlooking the waters at Lime Kiln Point State Park

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One kiln has been restored and made into a museum where you can see the equipment used to mine lime.

At the Lime Kiln Point Interpretive Center, you can see orca statues, a dorsal fin replica, and interactive displays about orcas.

Whale-watchers will have the time of their lives at the Lime Kiln Point State Park, especially during migration season.

Rent a Cabin at the Cama Beach Historical State Park

Cabins at Cama Beach Historical State Park

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

Along West Camano Drive in Camano Island is the Cama Beach Historical State Park.

The park was originally a family resort from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The original cabins have been restored and modernized, so you can rent one for the whole family to stay in overnight.

Boathouse at Cama Beach Historical State Park

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

The park also offers boating, scuba diving, and fishing, but the popular activity is beachcombing.

For animal lovers, the Cama Beach Historical State Park has 15 miles of trails for wildlife viewing.

The waters of Cama Beach Historical State Park

Ron Clausen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go on a Whale-Watching Tour with Puget Sound Express

People aboard the Puget Sound Express

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Puget Sound Express is a family-run tour service that offers half-day whale-watching tours in Seattle, Port Townsend, and Port Angeles.

Tours are conducted with state-of-the-art catamarans and typically last around three to four hours.

Their vessels feature heated cabins, TV monitors, and comfortable restrooms.

Snacks and hot and cold beverages are served during the tour, including the famous Blueberry Buckle.

See Bigg’s orcas, humpback whales, and the elusive minke whales with Puget Sound Express.

Final Thoughts

Puget Sound is a unique mix of the old and the new.

The contrast of modern structures, historical sites, and diverse wildlife gives the region a one-of-a-kind flare.

If you’re after an eventful getaway, try these best things to do in Puget Sound.

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