Sightseeing in Seattle: Your must-see guide
Seattle is a model American city. The metropolis that was once a hub for logging is now a shining example of stellar environmental sustainability. Not only that, several of the most recognizable American brands, like Amazon.com and Microsoft, call Seattle home. But that’s still not all that sets it apart.
While there might be dozens of coffee shops to try, the city is also filled with dozens of sights to see. From the iconic Space Needle to the hidden gems of Seattle’s outdoor fun, there is something for everyone on any budget.
Whether you’re visiting Seattle for the first time or a regular visitor, you’re something to treasure in the Emerald City.
It’s hard to deny that The Space Needle is the most recognizable landmark in Seattle. It’s flashing beacon blinks 605 feet in the sky and at 520 feet, you’ll find the observation deck. The observation deck offers 360 degree views of the entire city. Below the observation deck is the incredible SkyCity Restaurant. This family-friendly eatery will wow any patrons with an ever-changing view alongside delicious brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Smith Tower was completed a century ago, and the 38-story tower is the oldest skyscraper in all of Seattle. The historic building is found in Pioneer Square and, as you might expect, is a designated Seattle landmark. Take the old-fashioned elevator up to the 35th floor Observation Deck and you’ll find sights unmatched by anywhere else in the city. The Space Needle, Pioneer Square, Mount Rainier, and Puget Sounds are just the beginning of the sights to drink in.
If you think the namesake of Pioneer Square simply derives from convention, you’d be mistaken! Pioneer Square is the “birthplace of Seattle,” making the “Pioneer” in its name even more telling. Stand in awe of the Renaissance Revival architecture, grab a bite to eat at one of the numerous unique lunch spots, or even find new treasures in one of Pioneer Square’s kitschy boutiques. As Seattle’s first historic district, Pioneer Square is really a pioneer in Seattle’s robust culture.
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market has been a cultural hub for over a century, and it will surely continue for centuries to come. Pike Place occupies a 9-acre waterfront overlooking Elliott Bay, and it’s not just the farmers market that keeps all of those acres bustling. In addition to the other Seattle farmers markets, there’s a crafts market, hordes of specialty foods, unique small businesses, and delectable restaurants.
To experience the true history of the Pacific Northwest, head to Tillicum Village on Blake Island. Here, you’ll receive a welcoming gift of steamed clams in broth as you make your way to the cedar longhouse. In the longhouse, you’ll learn how salmon has been prepared by natives for generations and watch it being cooked over an open fire. Along with a delicious meal, the real treat is the Native American dance performance and “Coast Salish” storytelling.
Olympic Sculpture Park
The public Olympic Sculpture Park located alongside and operated by the Seattle Art Museum is an ongoing testament to the diverse interests of Seattle locals. Not only is the free Olympic Sculpture Park a feast for the eyes, but it’s also being used a way to rehabilitate the wildlife in downtown Seattle. Over 1000 feet of seawall and shoreline were transformed with a large portion of the park’s initial budget with the hopes that it will revitalize the salmon population. So, as you stroll through the park gazing at the contemporary permanent and temporary larger-than-life works of art, know that the environment is being helped at the same time.
Historic Waterfront Park is one of the best places to take in Seattle’s seafront. In 1897, it was here that the “ton of gold” was unloaded that began the Alaska Gold Rush. But, now it’s a beautiful place to stroll along the waterfront, peer through a coin-operated telescope, or try to spot native wildlife. If you could possibly tire of the natural beauty at Waterfront Park, check out the unique Waterfront Fountain and the larger-than-life Christopher Columbus statue.
You’re sure to discover something new at Discovery Park, the biggest city park in all of Seattle. In the 524 acres that encompass Discovery Park, visitors will find two miles of protected beaches that lead to open meadows, sand dunes, and groves of forests. Travel inland to uncover countless streams and find unique views of the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Seattle, head to Discovery Park and brush up on your environmental education while de-stressing.
Green Lake Park
Discovery Park may be the biggest designated Seattle oasis, but Green Lake Park takes the title of most “beloved.” The lake the park surrounds, Green Lake, was formed by the Vashon Glacial Ice Sheet, which also created the Puget Sound, 50,000 years ago! Over those thousands of years, the lake has seen many changes, both man-made and geological. Swimmers still flock to the lake for a cool dip in the summertime. Furthermore, the path surrounding the lake has just been renovated to accommodate walkers, joggers, and wheeled-users. If you’re looking for a lovely stroll to soak in the culture and pulse and Seattle, you have to head to Green Lake Park.
While official called the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Seattleite’s have affectionately dubbed this series of complex locks Ballard Locks. The locks serve three purposes: maintain water levels in Lake Washington and Lake Union, prevent saltwater intrusion, and to move boats from the lakes to Puget Sound, and vise-versa. You can watch the action up-close as you travel along a series of swinging walkways. There’s also a viewing area beneath the surface, allowing you to watch the salmon move through the system of “weirs” within the locks. Learn a little about working hand-in-hand with Mother Nature as you see it first-hand at Ballard Locks.