You’ll notice a few popular tourist spots like the Space Needle missing from this list. It’s nothing personal, and we hope you do visit them. We just happen to believe these attractions are even better.
1. The Ballard Locks
From the swimming salmon to the fishing boats, kayaks and docks, the Ballard Locks represent the essence of the Pacific Northwest. The locks carry boats up and down, allowing them to travel between the Puget Sound and Seattle’s fresh waterways. You can also stroll through the ornamental gardens surrounding the locks and catch a free summer concert on weekends until Labor Day.
2. The Fremont Troll
You’ll find this handsome fellow in Seattle’s eclectic Fremont neighborhood, which is referred to as the Center of the Universe. Trolls are part of Scandinavian folklore, and the Fremont/Ballard area has a large Scandinavian population. The troll has been hanging out under the Aurora bridge since 1989, and taking a photo with him is a quintessential Seattle experience.
3. Pike Place Market
This is one tourist spot where you’re practically guaranteed to see locals (on a weekday, and rarely during summer). Most visitors to the market notice the fish-throwing and the seasonal produce stands, but there are a lot of hidden gems (restaurants, bakeries, bars and speciality shops) just waiting to be discovered.
4. Alki Beach
Alki Beach is the site of the landing of the first white settlers in Seattle, which happened on a cold day in November in 1851. Alki is an Indian word that means “Bye and Bye,” and everyone in Seattle should visit and walk the two mile scenic stretch of sidewalk at some point.
5. Discovery Park
Located in Magnolia, Discovery Park is a 534 acre natural wonder. You’ll find sandy beaches, lush, green walking trails and plenty of wide open spaces.
6. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Famed local artist Dale Chihuly is a leader in the art of blown glass, and his glass museum is incredibly impressive. It’s well worth the price of admission.
7. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Learn the history of Seattle’s underground remains and how life used to be on this impressive and informative historical tour.
8. Volunteer Park
Volunteer Park offers a peaceful respite from the chaos of the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was briefly designated as a cemetery in 1885, and you’ll find a small section of gravesites with a couple of famous names (like Bruce Lee). Walk through the conservatory and catch one of the best views of the city from the reservoir area.
9. Seattle Art Museum
With its ever-changing exhibits, classic collections, onsite restaurant and continuous local events like SAM Remix, there’s a lot to see and do at SAM. They also host a variety of free events throughout the year, making them a true Seattle treasure.
10. Green Lake Park
There’s just something about this relaxing 2.4 mile walking path around the lake that makes you feel like a true Seattleite. And from the first signs of spring to the late fall foliage, it’s a beautiful stroll in any season.
11. Washington Park Arboretum
Located on the shores of Lake Washington, Seattle’s arboretum is an underrated treasure. You could easily spend a day hiking or biking its tree-lined paths or exploring the UW Botanic Gardens and forget that you’re still within the city limits.
12. Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
Whether you love or hate Starbucks (and the local opinions are split), if you enjoy coffee at all, you’ll want to see the company’s latest creative venture. The idea to create a one-of-a-kind coffee shrine turned out beautifully, and you can sip creative espresso drinks while watching the beans roast. The roastery serves food, but there’s also an irresistible local favorite pizza spot, Serious Pie, onsite.
Seattle is such a beautiful place. Explore it as much and as often as you can.