For those embarking on their inaugural journey to Seattle, no itinerary would be complete without a visit to some of the city’s most emblematic landmarks, such as the renowned Pike Place Market and the iconic Space Needle. A whale watching excursion is also a must-do. To fully appreciate the picturesque setting of the city, take a leisurely stroll through Olympic Sculpture Park or Discovery Park. For a more adrenaline-fueled adventure, venture out on a day trip to Mount Si. On days when the overcast skies loom, indulge in the awe-inspiring glass-blown creations at Chihuly Garden and Glass, delve into the rich history of aviation at the Museum of Flight or maritime history at Ballard Locks, or discover the hidden secrets of Pioneer Square on an underground tour.
Pike Place Market
For over a century, this vibrant marketplace situated by the downtown waterfront has been the ultimate destination for fresh, locally-sourced produce. Today, it boasts an impressive range of offerings, from captivating local artwork to rare vinyl records. The flower market, in particular, has garnered rave reviews from visitors. While Pike Place Market is undoubtedly one of Seattle’s most popular tourist spots, be prepared to navigate through crowds, especially on weekends. Nevertheless, don’t let that deter you from experiencing its lively ambiance and diverse vendor selection. Recent patrons attest that it’s a must-visit attraction, regardless of the hustle and bustle.
The streets encircling Pike Place Market are adorned with a plethora of restaurants and coffee shops, and conveniently located just west of the marketplace at First Avenue, an information booth awaits. In case you require assistance navigating the vast market, third-party companies offer guided tours and food tours. The market is bifurcated into two levels, the street-level and the underground, also known as the DownUnder, which are accessible every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The official market bell chimes at 9 a.m., but some vendors start welcoming customers as early as 6 a.m. Closing hours may vary, but most merchants close shop at 6 p.m. While there is no admission fee to explore the market, it is wise to have cash on hand in case you encounter something that catches your fancy. The market is located a few blocks south of the Westlake Link light rail stop or by driving north of Pioneer Square. Alternatively, several bus routes drop passengers off within walking distance of the market on 3rd Avenue and Pine Street. Two parking garages are available near the market, with rates starting at $4 an hour.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a vibrant showcase of artistic brilliance, boasting a kaleidoscope of colors that span the entire spectrum of the rainbow. The exhibition is a testament to the exceptional glass-blowing talents of the renowned Pacific Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly. Since its inauguration in 2012, this permanent display has captivated the hearts of Seattleites and tourists alike, garnering widespread admiration for its unparalleled beauty and creativity.
The venue boasts eight galleries, three magnificent “drawing walls,” a breathtaking Glasshouse adorned with glass-blown flowers, and a Garden that seamlessly blends Chihuly’s masterpieces with verdant shrubbery. A state-of-the-art theater screens videos that showcase Chihuly’s creative process. Recent visitors were struck by the meticulous attention to detail in every glass-blown piece and the vibrant, vivid colors that left them in awe. The venue exceeded their expectations, and some even suggest visiting after dark to witness the attraction’s stunning illumination.
While the admission fees for Chihuly Garden and Glass may seem steep, starting at $30 for adults and $19 for children aged 5 to 12, there are ways to make the most of your visit. For instance, purchasing a combo ticket that includes entry to both the museum and the adjacent Space Needle can save you money, with prices starting at $54 for adults and $40 for children. Alternatively, if you plan on seeing other attractions in the city, consider investing in a Seattle CityPASS, which includes entry to Chihuly Garden and Glass and several other top sights.
Located in northwestern Seattle, just a stone’s throw away from the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass is easily accessible by car or public transport. Parking lots and garages are available nearby, or you can take the monorail to the Seattle Center stop. We recommend pairing your visit to the museum with a trip up the Space Needle, but don’t forget to check out the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is located just half a mile south.
Chihuly Garden and Glass is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and until 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Please note that tickets are available until 45 minutes prior to closing. Despite the admission fees, the museum is well worth a visit for its stunning displays of glass art and beautiful gardens.
Seattle’s most iconic landmark, the 605-foot-tall Space Needle, stands tall and proud in the city’s skyline. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle’s distinctive UFO-like architecture has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike. The tower’s circular observation deck, perched 520-feet high, offers breathtaking panoramic views of Seattle and the majestic Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. For those seeking a unique experience, The Loupe, a revolving glass-floor cocktail lounge, is a must-visit. Alternatively, if heights aren’t your thing, the SpaceBase gift shop at the base of the tower is a great spot to peruse Seattle-themed souvenirs.
Seattle’s most renowned landmark, the towering 605-foot Space Needle, stands as an impressive testament to the city’s architectural prowess. Originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle’s unique, UFO-inspired design has won the hearts of both locals and tourists. Its circular observation deck, positioned 520-feet above ground level, provides unparalleled panoramic views of Seattle and the majestic Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. For those seeking an unparalleled experience, The Loupe, a revolving glass-floor cocktail lounge, is a must-visit. On the other hand, if heights aren’t your cup of tea, the SpaceBase gift shop located at the base of the tower is the perfect spot to browse through Seattle-themed souvenirs.
Located in the charming Queen Anne neighborhood, just a mile north of downtown Seattle, stands the iconic Space Needle. Offering breathtaking views of the city and beyond, the observation deck boasts varying hours depending on the season. During the summer months, from Fourth of July weekend to Labor Day weekend, visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. In September, post-holiday, the deck is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, and from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In the winter season, the core hours are noon to 5 p.m., but additional morning and evening hours may be added for your convenience. There are ample parking options nearby, or you can take the monorail to the Seattle Center stop. Come experience the wonder of the Space Needle for yourself.
Kerry Park, a charming little viewpoint nestled in Lower Queen Anne, boasts breathtaking panoramas of Elliott Bay, the Central City, and on occasion, Mount Rainier. Photography enthusiasts flock to this spot, especially during sunset when the city illuminates and the Space Needle stands out like a beacon in the night. Although compact, Kerry Park offers a glimpse of the Changing Form sculpture and a children’s play area located in the Bayview-Kinnear Park just below. Recent visitors rave about the stunning views, but caution that crowds can be overwhelming, so plan accordingly and aim for a clear day. Accessing Kerry Park is a breeze, as several bus lines, such as the No. 2 and No. 13, service the area. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and admission is free.
For those who find themselves pressed for time and unable to make the trek to Mount Rainier, Mount Si presents itself as a compelling alternative. Located approximately 40 miles east of downtown Seattle, this mountain offers numerous hiking opportunities that are sure to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast. Many hikers recommend Mount Si as a great starting point for those who plan on tackling the more demanding trails in the nearby Mount Rainier National Park. So, grab your hiking boots and hit the trails at Mount Si for an unforgettable experience!
On a clear day, the summit of Mount Si offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the Olympic Mountains. The trail to the top spans 8 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 3,100 feet. While many recent travelers found the hike to be a fun way to stay active on vacation, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. For those seeking a more leisurely hike, the trails in Discovery Park may be a better fit. Nonetheless, hikers of all levels were impressed with the excellent condition of the Mount Si trail. Please note that while restrooms are available at the bottom of the trail, there are no facilities along the way.
For those looking to hit the road, the most straightforward path from Seattle’s city center is to take Interstate 90 East until you reach Mount Si Road. To access the trails and parking, a one-day Discovery Pass for $11.50 is required. From April to October, visitors have the option of taking advantage of King County Metro Transit’s Trailhead Direct shuttle, which connects Capitol Hill Link light rail with Mount Si. For schedules and fares, please refer to the King County website.
Museum of History and Industry
Discover the captivating history of Seattle at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). This esteemed institution is dedicated to collecting and preserving artifacts that showcase the innovative spirit of the Puget Sound region. Permanent exhibits, such as the “Bezos Center for Innovation,” “Maritime Seattle,” and “True Northwest: The Seattle Journey,” offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. The collection boasts an impressive array of locally made or invented products, including art, toys, furniture, vehicles, and clothing. MOHAI also offers a diverse range of educational programs, from lectures to summer camps for children. Visitors can take a break at the museum’s cafe or shop for unique, locally-made products at the on-site store. Experience the rich history of Seattle at MOHAI.
MOHAI is a museum that never fails to captivate its visitors with its fascinating, informative, and inspiring exhibits. Nestled in Lake Union Park, the building boasts a stunning view of the lake, which can be enjoyed from the maritime history exhibit. Conveniently located near the Space Needle, MOHAI is easily accessible by car or public transportation, with several parking lots and bus routes nearby. The South Lake Union streetcar also stops at the park, making it a breeze to get to. Tickets for adults are priced at $22, while accompanied children 14 and younger can enter for free. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays in August. MOHAI is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a professional and enriching museum experience.