The Top Local Places to See & Experience in Seattle
If you are planning a trip to Seattle, otherwise known as the “Emerald City,” you are in for a real treat! This beautiful location in the Pacific Northwest has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years, and during that time, the people of Seattle have crafted the land into a fusion of bustling city life and rugged nature. It is truly the best of both worlds and that’s why I love living here with my family!
So, I think most people know about Seattle’s most famous sights – places like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and our awesome Seattle Seahawks (“Go Hawks!”) – but I want to share some of the other amazing spots you can visit to celebrate the city’s history and culture, as well as our unique water features and mountains…all in just a few short days.
Let’s talk history first!
Seattle was named in 1852, after Chief Si’ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, and has a rich Native American history. One way to experience this is to visit Tillicum Village, located on Blake Island, which includes a delicious meal, Northwest Native American storytelling, live stage performance and the chance to hike the forested and ocean front trails of this state park. Another interesting piece of our history is the logging industry and gold rush days of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. To learn more about that, I suggest you head over to Pioneer Square and take the Underground Tour…if you are really daring, you could sign up for the Ghost Tour (my favorite!)
Now for a little culture (and there’s a lot of it in Seattle!)
I love our art museums…first check out the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and then head over to the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) – your admission will get you entry into both. SAAM is located in Volunteer Park, an area where I highly recommend you take a drive through the arboretum, climb the water tower and visit the Japanese Gardens just down the road. If you enjoy pop culture, you’ll love Experience Music Project (my teenage son’s favorite)! The ‘EMP’ is where music, video, science fiction & fantasy all meet. If you are interested in viticulture (a.k.a. great wine), I highly recommend a trip to Woodinville where you can visit hundreds of tasting rooms and explore our fantastic Washington wines.
On to nature
The natural landscapes and great outdoors are my favorite part of the Seattle area.
Let’s talk water first. From oceans and bays to rivers and lakes…we have it all. Start with a visit to Alki Beach, where you can rent a kayak, stand-up paddleboard or a bicycle to explore this gorgeous point with views of the Puget Sound islands and the Seattle skyline. While there, have lunch at Salty’s or Marination Ma Kai.
Next, to explore our rivers, you could take a white water rafting trip (or float) on the Wenatchee River. You’ll leave from Leavenworth, which is a fun Bavarian village with great beer and German food. Another great water view just outside of Seattle is at Snoqualmie Falls, where you can enjoy a meal (or coffee and dessert) at The Attic, perched right above the waterfall.
And, don’t forget our lovely lakes – Lake Washington, Lake Union and Lake Sammamish are all right outside your door. If you have a little more time, you could take advantage of our great Washington State Ferries, and cross the Puget Sound to explore Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island or Bremerton.
And, finally – you can’t visit Seattle without checking out our forests and mountains. I’m an avid hiker and don’t think I’ll ever run out of trails to explore in my hometown. If you have a full day, go to Mount Rainier and visit Paradise. If visiting in the summer months, be sure to also check out Sunrise. If you only have a half a day, you can see Rainier from Crystal Mountain where you can hike, or take a gondola, to the top and have lunch or dinner at the summit with the best Rainier view I’ve ever seen. This is a fantastic skiing and snowboarding spot in the winter, too. If you only have a few hours, you could try my favorite local hike. Take I-90 east towards Snoqualmie Summit, and go to Rattlesnake Lake where there is a quick two-hour hike to a ridge overlooking the lake. If the spirit moves you, you can even “go jump in the lake” afterwards to cool off 🙂
I hope I’ve inspired you to visit with some of these ideas – there’s so much to do in Seattle, and I know you’ll love it here!