Top 12 Top Attractions in Seattle

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nicknamed the “Emerald City” for its lush evergreen forests and glistening waters, Seattle delights visitors with its stunning natural beauty. But the city offers much beyond postcard views. As a hub for technology, art, and innovation, Seattle overflows with cosmopolitan energy. Vibrant neighborhoods showcase trendsetting cuisine, craft breweries, indie shops, and globally inspired culture.

AttractionBrief Description
Space NeedleIconic tower offering panoramic views with a glass-enclosed observation deck and a revolving restaurant.
Pike Place MarketHistoric, bustling market with a wide variety of vendors, including the original Starbucks.
Chihuly Garden and Glass MuseumExhibition showcasing Dale Chihuly’s glass artworks in a garden setting.
Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)Museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture, with exhibits on music, sci-fi, and more.
Woodland Park ZooA 92-acre zoo featuring species from around the globe.
Seattle AquariumAquarium highlighting Pacific Northwest marine life.
Washington Park ArboretumA 230-acre arboretum offering a peaceful escape with diverse plant species.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical ParkMuseum detailing Seattle’s role in the Klondike gold rush.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery CenterInteractive exhibits on global development initiatives.
Museum of FlightAviation museum displaying aircraft and spacecraft from different eras.
The Museum of Flight Restoration CenterFacility for the restoration of historic aircraft, open to visitors.

Skyscrapers mingle with historic buildings against mountain backdrops. The possibilities seem endless when exploring Seattle attractions. But with limited time, what sights top the must-see list? Here are 12 of Seattle’s supreme attractions showcasing this world-class destination at its finest.

Space Needle

Name and Location: The Space Needle is a famous landmark located in Seattle Center in the Uptown neighborhood of Seattle.

History and Significance: Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle has been a symbol of Seattle for over 50 years. It was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River when it was built.

What to Expect: Visitors can ride to the top of the Space Needle in a glass elevator to an indoor/outdoor observation deck 520 feet high with 360-degree views of Seattle and surrounding areas. There is also a rotating restaurant at 500 feet.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9am-10:30pm, with later hours in summer. Tickets start at around $29 for adults. Book ahead online to guarantee a time slot.

As the iconic image of Seattle across the globe, the Space Needle needs no introduction. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, this futuristic tower embodied the forward-focused, pioneering spirit of the city. The flying saucer-like shape shot 605 feet into the clouds and could withstand winds up to 200 mph and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake.

Today, the landmark still evokes awe. Visitors ride exterior elevators 520 feet to the rotating glass-enclosed observation deck. Panoramic views unfold in every direction, with snow-capped Mt. Rainier, emerald islands on Puget Sound, and the skyline below. For special occasions, the luxurious revolving restaurant sits just above.

Pike Place Market

Name and Location: Pike Place Market is Seattle’s original farmers market located downtown spanning several blocks along Pike Place.

History and Significance: Operating since 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously running public farmers’ markets in the United States. It helps small regional farms sustain themselves.

What to Expect: Visitors will find an incredibly vibrant marketplace with all kinds of vendor stalls, street performers, and iconic sights like the flying fish at the original Starbucks store.

Visitor Information: Free to visit. Open daily 9am-6pm, with varying hours for different shops and restaurants. Get there early on weekends when it is busiest.

Pike Place bustles daily as farmers, cooks, and craftspeople sell wears amidst a colorful backdrop. The 110-year-old market sprawls across 9 acres with 11 buildings, making it one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the U.S.

Wander through the market to soak up sights like giant arrays of fresh flowers, perfectly pyramided fruits, and fresh catches of salmon flying through the air. Ethnic eateries and specialty food shops like the original Starbucks location tempt taste buds. With over 200 vendors and street performers to enjoy at this iconic landmark, Pike Place never gets dull.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Name and Location: Chihuly Garden and Glass is a museum dedicated to blown glass art by Dale Chihuly in Seattle Center.

History and Significance: Opening in 2012, this exhibit highlights the significance of Seattle native Dale Chihuly who is renowned for revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement.

What to Expect: Visitors can view incredible blown glass sculptures throughout eight galleries and a 40-foot glass structure in the garden. There are also glassblowing demonstration areas.

Visitor Information: Open Sunday-Thursday 10am–7pm, Friday-Saturday 10am–8pm. Admission starts at $32 for adults. Timed tickets are recommended for entry.

Dazzling works by renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly decorate this exhibit space at Seattle Center. The lush Garden houses eight galleries with suspended sculptures, chandeliers, and more using Chihuly’s signature vibrant hues. The Glasshouse displays a 100-foot sculpture that resembles reeds in a marsh. And the centerpiece Glass Ceiling holds a suspended 1500-piece chandelier of yellow and red glass. This breathtaking museum celebrates the beauty and versatility of art glass.

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

Name and Location: The Museum of Pop Culture, known as MoPOP, is a museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture located in Seattle Center.

History and Significance: Founded in 2000, MoPOP hosts exhibitions, interactive activities, sound sculptures, and various events to showcase popular culture art and history.

What to Expect: Visitors can view iconic pop culture exhibits recognizing influential musical artists, science fiction films, indie video games, and more while learning cultural context.

Visitor Information: Open daily from 10am-5pm. General admission starts at $28 for adults. Purchase tickets online in advance for discounted rates.

Music, science fiction, video games, and pop culture converge at this uniquely designed Frank Gehry building. Exhibits rotate frequently to keep things fresh and relevant. Learn about legends like Jimi Hendrix through iconic costumes and instruments. Test drive virtual reality experiences and rock musical stages firsthand. Or pose by movie props and juxtapose yourself into scenes through clever cameras and green screens. With hands-on activities around every corner, adults and kids alike delight in the colorful, creative energy at MoPOP.

Woodland Park Zoo

Name and Location: Woodland Park Zoo is a 92-acre zoo located in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle.

History and Significance: Open since 1899, Woodland Park Zoo helps conserve wildlife from around the world through animal care, education, conservation, and research.

What to Expect: Visitors can view over 1000 animals, attend keeper talks and feeding demonstrations, ride the carousel, and engage with nature play activities throughout the zoo’s award-winning exhibits.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9:30am-4pm in winter, 9:30am-6pm in summer. Ticket prices start at $14.95 for adults at the gate. Discounted tickets can be purchased online in advance.

Lions and tigers and bears – the 92-acre Woodland Park Zoo immerses you into wildlife habitats from around the globe. Get eye-level with prey chasing predators on the African Savanna. Say hello to playful snow leopards in the Northern Trail. And walk through a tropical rainforest to spot exotic birds like rhinoceros hornbills from Asia. With over 1000 animals, this zoo entertains visitors for hours. Don’t miss the authentic elephant training and handling sessions to learn about their natural behaviors and husbandry.

Seattle Aquarium

Name and Location: Seattle Aquarium is a marine experience located on Pier 59 along the Seattle Waterfront.

History and Significance: Opening in 1977 near Pike Place Market, Seattle Aquarium was one of the first aquariums in the country to display marine life native to its surrounding habitats.

What to Expect: Visitors can get hands-on with marine life touch zones and view 150 aquatic species exhibits showcasing habitats from the Puget Sound through to coral reefs.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9:30am-5pm. Tickets start at $34.95 for adults. Save money by booking online tickets in advance. Timed entry is required.

While relatively small for an aquarium, Seattle Aquarium packs a visual punch along the bustling waterfront. The tanks showcase Pacific Northwest aquatic life through glass walls and underwater domes. Spot sharks and rays as you stroll through the porthole tunnel of the 120,000 gallon tank. Visit the aquatic nursery to see baby seahorses or octopi hatching and developing. And be sure to catch daily talks, animal feedings, and opportunities to touch sea creatures like starfish and sea cucumbers. It’s an up-close introduction to Puget Sound’s wealth of marine life.

Washington Park Arboretum

Name and Location: Washington Park Arboretum is a 230-acre arboretum that is part of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, located on Union Bay east of Capitol Hill.

History and Significance: Established in 1934, the arboretum’s collections represent one of the most diverse gatherings of temperate-zone plants in the world for conservation, research, and education.

What to Expect: Visitors can walk over 5 miles of scenic trails to spot native and exotic plants and wildlife, including wetlands, forests, meadows, and peaceful lakeside views with Mount Rainier in the background on clear days.

Visitor Information: Free to visit and open daily from dawn until dusk. The best times to visit are spring to view blooming azaleas, rhododendrons, cherries and magnolias or autumn to see fall foliage.

Spanning 230 acres of forests and wetlands, the Washington Park Arboretum provides a peaceful urban escape. Curving footpaths wander past thousands of plant species from around the world. Collections include exotic Asian forests, vibrant Pacific Island displays, and, naturally, Pacific Northwest landscapes blanketed with native ferns and towering evergreens.

Keep your eyes peeled for birds and other wildlife along the trails too. With lush gardens, tranquil lakes, and evening concerts on the lawn in summer, the arboretum soothes the body, mind and soul.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Name and Location: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located along Seattle’s waterfront encompassing parks and museums focused on the Klondike Gold Rush history.

History and Significance: Established in 1976, this national park serves as a tribute to the stampede of prospectors who passed through Seattle by ship to seek their fortunes in gold fields near Dawson City, Yukon starting in 1897 after gold was found in the Klondike region of Canada.

What to Expect: Visitors can tour Rangers Stong House museum of gold rush stories and artifacts as well as Cadillac Hotel Museum exhibiting photography of the 1897-1898 stampede.

Visitor Information: The visitor center and museums have varying hours but are generally open year-round from 9:30am-5pm with extended summer hours. Admission is free to these sites.

This National Park unit commemorates Seattle’s role as the jumping off point for prospectors flocking north to the Klondike gold fields. Start at the park’s museum inside the historic Cadillac Hotel in Pioneer Square to brush up on history. Rangers demonstrate panning for gold and other living history.

Then journey to the waterfront simply by following the red brick road to discover exhibits at the park’s other locations. Artifacts, photos, films and recreated settings transport visitors back in time to the wild days of the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center

Name and Location: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is an interactive museum in downtown Seattle that shares stories about the foundation’s efforts to improve lives globally.

History and Significance: Open since 2012, this innovative center provides insights into the challenges of global health and poverty that the foundation addresses through philanthropy.

What to Expect: Visitors can engage with interactive exhibits and activities highlighting health and development issues facing developing countries while learning how innovations help solve these problems.

Visitor Information: Free general admission. Open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–5pm. Groups of 10 or more can reserve guided tours for more in-depth experiences.

Tour the sustainable headquarters of the world’s largest private foundation for a peek at their innovative and impactful global development programs focused on reducing poverty, disease and inequity. Interactive exhibits allow learning through play about sanitation, nutrition and more. See machines that turn human waste into clean energy and water. Explore how expanding women’s access to contraceptives reduces population pressures. And pack meals for food assistance programs to reduce world hunger. It’s an eye-opening look at solutions created here to tackle global issues.

Museum of Flight

Name and Location: The Museum of Flight is an aerospace museum located south of downtown Seattle at Boeing Field.

History and Significance: Founded in 1965, the Museum of Flight holds the largest private collection of aviation artifacts and archives in the world to preserve history and promote air and space innovation.

What to Expect: Visitors can view over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, experience flight simulators,看 interactive NASA exhibits, watch a digitized planetarium show, and more showcasing the past, present and future of aviation and space technology.

Visitor Information: Open daily 10am-5pm. General admission is $25 for adults. Purchase tickets online in advance for discounts. Extended hours offered June-August until 9pm on the first Thursday of the month.

From early biplanes to supersonic jets and spacecraft, this massive museum showcases flight history. The sprawling location includes air and spacecraft displays from WWI to modern day, including the first Air Force One and the only remaining Boeing 80A (one of the original 12 B-17 Flying Fortresses). Over 75 aircraft are on view, along with exhibits examining aviation science and space travel. Fun interactive flight simulators let you test your wings too! With awesome exhibits for avid aviation buffs and age-appropriate STEM displays for kids, the Museum of Flight educates and inspires.

The Museum of Flight Restoration Center

Name and Location: The Museum of Flight Restoration Center is an extension of the Museum of Flight focusing on aircraft preservation and restoration located at Paine Field in Everett, WA.

History and Significance: Opened in 2005, the Restoration Center gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to restore and conserve historic aircrafts, many of which later go on display at the Museum of Flight.

What to Expect: Guests can tour massive restoration and preservation facilities housing iconic aircrafts in various states of active restoration by staff and volunteers who share insights about projects.

Visitor Information: Only open for tours on the first Thursday and third Saturday of each month. 90 minutes tours start at $10 per person. Advance reservations required either online or by phone.

Adjacent to the Boeing Field airport, this separate hanger location houses an impressive additional 40+ aircraft undergoing restoration. Many planes here are the last remaining models, like the B-17E Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, and lone surviving Martin Mars water bomber. Chat with staff restoring these historic planes and watch them work right on location. With an impressive inventory spanning early 1900 aviation to the jet age, this free-to-visit sister site is a must-add for aviation buffs exploring Seattle.

From iconic landmarks like the Space Needle to under-the-radar attractions like the aviation restoration center, Seattle overflows with diverse, world-class sights to fill any vacation itinerary. Natural wonders mingle with cultural institutions and educational experiences suitable for all ages. Foodies, techies, outdoor adventurers, music lovers, space enthusiasts – all find inspiration throughout this vibrant Pacific Northwest city. So get out there are start exploring the best of what makes Seattle such an incredible destination!

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