Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. This seaport city is full of both beauty and wonder. And by wonder, I mean some super unique and intriguing things.
What should you see in Seattle?
Whether you want to see strange museums and shops, take in the beauty of cascading waterfalls or see some iconic landmarks, Washington has it all.
Here’s a list of must-see places in and around Seattle. (In no particular order, they’re all equally awesome)
#1. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a 108-year-old farmer’s market and Seattle tourist attraction which draws in more than 10 million visitors annually. This multilevel Market is home to more than 500 shops, vendors, restaurants, and bars.
The Market’s 4 fish markets offer an array of fresh and smoked salmon, Alaskan halibut, swordfish, and tuna. They also offer crab, shrimp, lobster, shellfish, oysters, clams, and mussels that are delivered to the Market daily.
When you live in the desert like I do, getting fresh seafood that ISN’T shipped on a truck frozen for 12 hours, is LIFE.
…as exhibited by this very flattering photo of me eating $63 crab legs at Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Pier 54.
#2. The Famous Gum Wall
After checking out Pike Place Market, why not check out Seattle’s famous gum wall?
Down an unassuming alleyway next to Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market is a hidden work of art dubbed the “Gum Wall” or the “Wall of Gum.”
The unexpected, colorful (and somewhat disturbing) display is an excellent representation of Seattle’s unique charm and character.
History of the gum wall
This gum wall started in the 1990s, when local patrons in line for an improv show at Post Alley’s Market Theater stuck their used gum on the wall. The Gum Wall has grown piece by piece to cover an enormous expanse of brick wall and continues to expand down the alleyway.
Fun fact: in 2015, the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority pressure-washed, scraped, and cleaned the wall for the first time in 20 years…but beginning the very next weekend, locals and tourists collectively started to recreate the wall at the same location as before.
It’s safe to say it’s not going anywhere.
It’s also safe to say there’s about an 87% chance this is where Coronavirus originated.
Getting to Seattle's Gum Wall
It’s a little tricky to find at first. We actually stumbled across it when we thought we weren’t going to find it at all.
You’ll head down a ramp (look for the Market Theater sign) to the left of the main entrance (marked by a large neon “Public Market” sign) to Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. At the bottom of the ramp, veer left into Post Alley and the Gum Wall will appear on both sides.
Simply click on the map below for directions as well!
#3. Seattle's Pier 54
Since 1988, Pier 54 has become one of the top tourist destinations in the Seattle Waterfront. Famously home to the flagship Ivar’s restaurant, the pier has become a symbol of Seattle and is a central location for a fun day on the waterfront.
The entire waterfront is filled with unique shops, delicious restaurants, gorgeous views of Puget Sound, and features the Seattle Great Wheel.
In case you missed the super flattering photo of me eating crab legs at Ivar’s Acres of Clams, here it is again.
Also pictured: The Rambling Raccoon tickling a wooden raccoon’s foot for no apparent reason.
My shame is nonexistent.
#4. Seattle Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass
Seattle’s Space Needle is an observation tower that is considered to be an icon of the city and the Pacific Northwest.
The Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and has been designated as a Seattle landmark.
You must purchase tickets in order to ride up the elevator and witness the stunning 360-views of the city and beyond at the top.
The views are definitely worth it! At the top of the Space Needle you’ll also find a dining establishment, as well as a revolving glass floor!
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Named after Dale Chihuly, this exhibition hall presents a comprehensive collection of his work. This collection of glass includes not just an exhibition hall, but also a garden installation and a glasshouse. You can learn more about Dale Chihuly, by clicking here.
You’ll also learn all about how the blown glass is turned into art and even have the ability to purchase some unique blown glass art at the end of the tour.
(Warning: it’s PRICEY.)
This is definitely a must-do when you come to Seattle! It’s an iconic landmark for a reason!
In case you missed it, you can purchase your combination tickets, here!
#5. Kerry Park
At Kerry Park, you’ll get an unbeatable view of Elliott Bay and the Central City, with an occasional backdrop of Mount Rainier.
It also helps that it’s a killer backdrop for some photos!
Kerry Park is a small public park and viewpoint on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.
This park is located along West Highland Drive between 2nd Avenue West and 3rd Avenue West.
Click here for directions to Kerry Park.
#6. Seattle's Troll Under The Bridge
The Fremont Troll (also known as The Troll, or the Troll Under the Bridge) is a public sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.
So yes, it’s literally just a troll under a bridge. And it’s awesome.
history of the fremont troll
In 1990, the Fremont Arts Council launched an art competition with a goal rehabilitate the area under the bridge, which was becoming a dumping ground and haven for drug dealers. The piece, built later that same year, won the competition.
In 2005, the segment of Aurora Avenue North under the bridge, running downhill from the Troll to North 34th Street was renamed “Troll Avenue” in honor of the sculpture.
#7. Washington State Capitol
Obviously the capital of Washington isn’t Seattle. (I say ‘of course’ loosely because I didn’t know that until I was there. Don’t judge me.)
The Washington State Capitol or Legislative Building is located in Olympia and is home to the government of the state of Washington. It contains chambers for the Washington State Legislature and offices for the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and treasurer and is part of a campus consisting of several buildings.
The capitol grounds also feature a beautiful water fountain, colorful blooming flowers, and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
#8. Tolmie State Park
While you’re already in the Olympia area, be sure to check out Tolmie State Park. In my humble (but hiker-educated opinion) state parks are generally some of the most underrated places in the U.S.
The highlight of Tolmie State Park is the beach access, although the majority of the wooded 105 acres is packed with a surprising amount of hiking trails (3 miles total).
Click here for directions to Tolmie State Park.
#9. Watershed Park
Speaking of already being in the Olympia area, Watershed Park is a little hidden gem that you should definitely check out!
Deep in the park is the Moxlie Creek Springs Basin, one of the largest spring basins in the region.
Cool fact: In the 1800’s, wells were first established on the Watershed property. Nearly every glass of water in the City came out of Watershed Park.
It’s also the perfect place to go hug trees, if that’s your thang.
…and an even better place to ground yourself!
What does that mean?
Taking your shoes and socks off and grounding with nature by walking barefoot.
…unless your Jessi and slip and fall hard.
When I landed I yelled, “I’m grounded!”
Cuz I was on the ground.
If you wanna catch the embarrassing story, you can watch it on my Instagram, here.
Check out my muddy body from the fall:
I look like that creeper in the woods your momma warned you about.
For directions to Watershed Park, click here.
#10. Mount Rainier National Park
Located only 81 miles from Seattle, Mount Rainier is a must-see!
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape.
Mount Rainier is actually an active volcano and is the most glaciated peak in the U.S.A., spanning five major rivers.
Mount Rainier National Park is huge, covering over 369.3 sq miles. There are over 260 of those miles consisting of maintained trails for your enjoyment.
Out of those 260 miles, you’ll find 61 moderate trails in Mount Rainier National Park, ranging from 0.6 to 18.9 miles and from 1,755 to 14,000 feet above sea level.
This particular hike was full of switchbacks, wildflowers, lush forest, and of course – a stunning waterfall.
Click HERE to read all about Comet Falls Trail, so you can go see it for yourself!
Seattle is known to many as the Emerald City because of its famous, lush, evergreen forests.
There is no shortage of things to do and places to see in Washington, from the thriving culinary scene to the iconic Space Needle. No matter what you decide to do, you won’t leave disappointed.
And if you’re looking for more places to travel (during a pandemic!) check out the Top 5 Unique Things to Do in Page, AZ!