Fun Things to Do in Seattle That Go Way Beyond Pike Place Market

Expect lush scenery, stylish hotels, and, yes, superior coffee, in the Emerald City. ☕️

things to do in Seattle
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Seattle is known for the Space Needle, small-batch coffee roasters, and a next-level Pacific Northwest foodie scene — not to mention gorgeous Puget Sound views. Add lush outdoorsy escapes and mighty Mount Rainier to the mix, and you understand how it got its Emerald City nickname. Sure, it rains a lot, but that's what coffee houses and craft beer are for.

Here's what you should eat, drink, and do in Seattle — one of the country's fastest-growing cities. Tip: Buy a CityPASS, which offers deep discounts to many top attractions.

1. Explore Pike Place Market

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A visit to Pike Place Market, dating back to 1907, is one of the most popular things to do in Seattle. Watch the fishmongers toss the day's catch to each other (gimmicky but fun), marvel at the size of the shrimp, lobster tails, and crabs displayed on ice, then have a casual chowder and fish sandwich lunch. Within the market complex, you'll also Matt's in the Market restaurant, overlooking the famous red neon "Public Market Center."

2. Snap Selfies at the Space Needle

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The observation deck at the 605-foot-tall Space Needle, which opened in 1962 as part of the World's Fair, offers jaw-dropping 360-degree views. The iconic attraction recently unveiled a $100 million makeover, which includes oversized glass panels to really soak up the stunning skyline and Puget Sound views (and on super clear days, Mount Rainier). It also has the world's first revolving glass floor, which is definitely not for the faint of heart!

3. Check Out Chihuly Garden and Glass

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The Chihuly Garden and Glass celebrates the one-of-a-kind glassblowing art of Tacoma-born glass artist Dale Chihuly. There's an indoor exhibit, which focuses on his brightly colored large-scale installations, as well as the Glasshouse, housing a 100-foot-long, hanging flower sculpture. In the outdoor garden, you'll find more hand-blown gems, many of which are framed by the nearby Space Needle — the ideal photo op.

4. See a Nirvana Exhibit

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At the Museum of Pop Culture, just steps from the Space Needle, check out the on-going Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit, which traces the band's trajectory from unknown Aberdeen musicians to global chart-toppers. More than 200 artifacts are on display, including one of Kurt Cobain's guitars and some of his old T-shirts. You can also visit exhibits on other Washington music icons: Pearl Jam and Jimi Hendrix.

5. Stop for a Coffee Break

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The very first Starbucks is in Pike Place Market, but it isn't the only game in town — or even in the market. Storyville Coffee , on the top floor of the Corner Market, is a tranquil spot to escape the market's ever-present crowds. Other top-flight coffee shops include Slate Coffee Roasters and Elm Coffee Roasters, along with Anchorhead Coffee, a wholesale company that now has a brick-and-mortar cafe in downtown (try one of the bottled cold brews).

6. Stroll the Waterfront

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You could easily spend the day along the waterfront. Walk among its numerous piers, lined with seafood restaurants like Ivar's and Elliott's Oyster House, and attractions like the Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57 and the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59. It's also a scenic spot to watch the ferries travel back and forth across the harbor. Want to get out on the water yourself? Take an hour-long sightseeing cruise with Argosy Cruises.

7. Drink at The Nest Rooftop Bar

Thompson Seattle

You'd be hard-pressed to find better bird's-eye views of Elliott Bay than the ones you'll find at The Nest, a swanky rooftop bar atop the Thompson Seattle hotel. Order a specialty cocktail like the gin-based Peach Perfect or a craft beer like Old Seattle Lager, then make your way out to the outdoor deck, where you'll want to keep snapping photos of the waterfront, dominated by the Seattle Great Wheel, beautifully lit up at night.

8. Have Dinner With a View

Edgewater Hotel

For a fancy dinner with to-die-for Elliott Bay views, head to Six Seven Restaurant, located within the Edgewater Hotel (fun fact: The Beatles stayed here in 1964 — Seattle was the Fab Four's third stop on their first U.S. tour). Dine on Pacific Northwest cuisine (Penn Cove mussels, Dungeness crab, Skagit Valley chicken) and try local wines. Even if you're not dining, have a drink in the lounge, which features a festive vibe and often has live music.

9. Sleep Steps from Pike Place Market

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The Thompson Seattle, a stylish boutique housed in a sleek glass building, is just up the block from Pike Place Market, so you're never too far from the city's top tourist attraction, but just far enough for peace and quiet. Rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows to take in those fab Elliott Bay views, the aforementioned Nest rooftop bar is not to be missed, and the in-house Scout PNW serves Pacific Northwest farm-to-table fare from chef Derek Simcik.

10. Sip Local Wine at the Hotel Monaco

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In the elegant lobby of the Kimpton Monaco, complete with a fireplace and plush couches, sample Washington cabernet sauvignons and merlots during the free evening wine hour. You can also sip local wine and try speciality cocktails in the hotel's beautifully designed Outlier restaurant (love the Jimi Hendrix bottle-cap portrait!), which specializes in market-driven small plates like potato-and-cheese pierogis and heirloom tomato toast. Plus, it's nice to know that your comfy room, decorated with bold patterns and pops of color, is just an elevator ride away.

11. Stay and Play in the W Seattle

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Party like a rock star at W Seattle, which celebrate's the city's famous music scene with DJs and live performances in the living-room-style lobby. When you're ready to hit the hay, head to your room (some have skyline and water views), featuring metallic accents, backlit headboards, and Nespresso machines. Trace, with a striking mid-century modern design, is open all day — dishes range from a Dungeness crab scramble to a sautéed sockeye salmon.

12. Hit All the Hotspots

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For a creative cocktail made with TLC, head to Mr. Darcy's in Belltown, while the new Deep Dive cocktail lounge from Renee Erickson (of The Walrus and the Carpenter and Bateau) — located underneath the Amazon Spheres — offers a speakeasy-style experience in a gorgeous space. Dining-wise, award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan's restaurants, JuneBaby and Salare, are all the rage, and Cortina is a new Italian spot in Ethan Stowell's stable. And while not a "hotspot" per se, Canlis remains one of Seattle's top fine dining experiences.

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