Seattle is an exciting urban city surrounded by unmatched natural beauty. Adventure awaits you.
It’s hard to think of Seattle as anything but natural, though. After all, the city owes much of its appeal to its natural features – the myriad hills that did survive settlement offer views of mountain ranges and water.
When you think of Seattle, you likely think of the Space Needle. It’s famous. It’s tall. It makes an appearance on any TV show or movie set in Seattle. While the Space Needle is definitely the dominant landmark in Seattle, it’s far from the only symbol of the city.
Seattle Space Needle
Whether you’re a Seattle resident or a tourist carefully watching your budget, you’ve likely asked yourself – is going up the Space Needle worth the cost of admission? My vote would be that it is worth it, at least once. While there are other viewpoints in the city, the Space Needle gets you a view right above the heart of town and clear out to the mountains and far reaches of the Puget Sound from there. Plus, unlike other viewpoints, there are actually a few things to do at the top of this one. Read on for reasons why it’s worth a trip up Seattle’s Space Needle.
This one goes without saying, but the entire point of going up the Space Needle is to enjoy the view. At 520 feet above street level, the view is pretty nifty – especially if you do it right and go up on a sunny day. Going up on a clear night is especially beautiful as the twinkling city lights make the view something special. Expect good views on foggy days at your own peril! (there won’t be any).
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market was the first farmer’s market in the U.S. and it’s still an amazing farmer’s market to this day. Locals stop by to pick up fresh fish, veggies, fruits, flowers and cheese (Beecher’s Cheese is at the market and it’s amazing), and tourists wait for fish mongers to toss a fish at the famous Pike Place Fish Market. The iconic Public Market sign is at the main entrance near 1st Avenue and Pike Street.
One of Seattle’s weirdest attractions, the Fremont Troll is a gigantic concrete sculpture under the Aurora Bridge in the quirky Fremont neighborhood. While this landmark doesn’t get as much buzz outside of Seattle as more commercial sites like the Space Needle, it’s a symbol of what makes Seattle unique – community coming together to create something, art and a little bit of fun mixed in.
Seattle’s ferries are more than just a way to commute into the city – they’ve become a symbol of Seattle’s maritime heritage and continued connection with the surrounding Puget Sound. Seattle’s ferries connect riders to Bremerton, Bainbridge Island and other islands. For anyone who wants to see Seattle from a different vantage point, most ferries let you walk on for cheap. Ferries can be very romantic.
Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel wheel lights up Pier 57 and changed the Seattle waterfront forever. With fully heated or air conditioned gondolas and spectacular views, this Ferris wheel is a great attraction to dazzle out-of-town guests, but fun for locals, too.
Decked out in thousands of LED lights, the wheel can put on a spectacular light show. The lights have the ability to do a variety of things – swirl, flash, and other patterns, or even celebrate the team colors of the Mariners, Sonics, Seahawks, or other local teams.
The wheel’s gondolas are enclosed and have heating and air conditioning so that riders can enjoy this ride all year round. The views are spectacular from all sides – the Puget Sound, Seattle skyline, and mountains will all be visible on clear days. At their farthest point, the gondolas are 40 feet out over the water. The gondolas have glass-bottomed floors, too, which makes dangling out over the Puget Sound a little more exciting.
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum is not far from Pike Place Market and makes a fine way to fill a half day, but it ranks as one of Seattle’s most recognizable landmarks due to the massive piece of art at its main entrance – Hammering Man. Designed by Jonathan Borofsky, Seattle’s Hammering Man is actually one of several such sculptures around the world. Seattle’s version stands 48 feet tall and hammers four times each minute round the clock.
One stadium is just not enough for Seattle. Instead, we have two stadiums right next to each other. Safeco Field with its retractable roof is home to the Mariners, Seattle’s Major League Baseball team. CenturyLink Field next door hosts both the Seahawks and soccer team, the Sounders.
While the Smith Tower isn’t Seattle’s tallest building, it’s one of the most recognizable with its pyramid rooftop. This is Seattle’s oldest skyscraper and when it was built in the early 1900s, it was the tallest building in town. Over the years, the tower has housed many businesses and offices. Today, it’s still filled with tech companies and other businesses, but is also known for its beautiful 35th-floor Chinese Room and Observation Deck where the public can catch a view of the city.
Pioneer Square is a place just about everyone who visits or lives in Seattle has heard of. This historic square is well known and often added to tourist itineraries for its Underground Tour. Pioneer Square does have a bit of a gritty reputation with locals (and indeed it might not be the best area to walk around alone), yet this area has some of the city’s top galleries as well as some nifty attractions worth checking out. While the name Pioneer Square refers to a 20-block section of the city, for the most part it’s Pioneer Square Park with its iron pergola and old-style architecture that defines the neighborhood. Read on for ten things to do that make Pioneer Square worth a visit.
One of Seattle’s popular, yet lesser known attractions is the Ballard Locks (more formally called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks). Outside of the downtown core, the Locks are part of what makes Seattle unique. They function as a way to keep the salt water from the Sound and fresh water of the Ship Canal separate, but still allow boats to pass through.
You can watch boats load into the locks, or walk along the water to watch boat traffic or draw bridges in action. In salmon season, you can also watch salmon going up the salmon ladder adjacent to the locks. It’s as Seattle as it gets!