14 Must-do activities in Seattle for Family and Local Explorers

Seattle, Washington, offers a sublime meld of natural and urban delights that beckon tourists and locals alike. From the iconic Space Needle to the vibrant Pike Place Market, this bustling city has something for every kind of explorer. Whether you’re a family planning your next great adventure or a local yearning to rediscover your city’s gems, our list of the 14 best things to do in Seattle is your one-way ticket to excitement and memory-making. Join us as we plan out the perfect Seattle itinerary that balances culture, nature, and pure fun.

1. Reach New Heights at the Space Needle

A visit to the Space Needle is a must on any trip to Seattle. This architectural wonder overlooks the entire city, offering breathtaking panoramas of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, the twinkling city lights, and the Puget Sound. The recent renovation boasts a rotating glass floor 500 feet in the air, giving a whole new perspective on sightseeing. For an extra special treat, reserve a table at SkyCity—the rotating restaurant located within the structure—for a meal with a view that’s second to none.

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2. Immerse Yourself in Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a quintessential Seattle experience that will engage all your senses. This bustling public market is one of the oldest in the United States and offers an array of fresh seafood, farmer’s markets, local crafts, and so much more. Don’t forget to capture a photo with the famous ‘Rachel’ the Piggy Bank and look out for the original Starbucks cafe. Spend hours exploring the nooks and crannies, and maybe even catch a flying fish display from the lively market vendors.

3. Be Dazzled at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Experience the ethereal work of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition. The museum is a kaleidoscope of color and form, with indoor galleries and the extraordinary Glasshouse conservatory. Marvel at intricate chandeliers, stunning sculptures, and magnificent garden installations that showcase Chihuly’s innovation and skill. The juxtaposition of his work against the serene natural landscape is itself a mesmerizing art installation.

4. Encounter Art at the Seattle Art Museum

Art enthusiasts will find solace at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), featuring a diverse collection spanning continents and civilizations. From ancient Egyptian mummies to contemporary installations, SAM takes pride in being a platform for international and local artists. The museum also includes the vast Olympic Sculpture Park, a striking green space on the Elliott Bay waterfront, where art and nature converge in a thought-provoking way.

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5. Hike Through Natural Beauty at Discovery Park

Escape the urban bustle with a hike through Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest public park. This 534-acre natural area is home to meadows, forest groves, and stunning sea cliffs with panoramic views. With the choice of several trails, you can tailor your adventure, and perhaps come across wildlife like owls, herons, and even the occasional seal along the shores of Puget Sound.

6. Explore the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

A true homage to music, science fiction, and pop culture, MoPOP is an engaging museum that celebrates the creative process. Displays range from Jimi Hendrix memorabilia to the iconic outfits of musicians like Prince and Lady Gaga. Interactive exhibits allow you to try your hand at being a rock star in the Sound Lab or to be transported to a fantastical world in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

7. Ride High at the Seattle Great Wheel

Located on Pier 57, the Seattle Great Wheel is one of the most popular attractions along the waterfront. This iconic ferris wheel offers air-conditioned gondolas and a relaxing way to take in views of the city skyline and Elliott Bay. The experience is particularly enchanting during the evening when the city is aglow with lights. For those seeking a little extra romance, consider booking a private gondola with your loved ones.

8. Set Sail on a Ferry to Bainbridge Island

Take to the waters with a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, a charming and scenic look at life in the Puget Sound. Ferries depart regularly from downtown Seattle and traverse the sound to the island where you can explore vineyards, quirky galleries, and stunning landscapes. It’s a chance to slow down, breathe in the fresh sea air, and take in picturesque views of the Seattle waterfront as you approach the city by sea.

9. Discover the Underwater World at the Seattle Aquarium

Located on Pier 59, the Seattle Aquarium provides in-depth marine life education along with engaging exhibits for all ages. Get up close with seals, otters, and a myriad of sea creatures that call the Pacific Northwest home. Special touch pools and daily feedings offer a unique experience to learn about the diverse marine ecosystem.

10. Roam with the Animals at Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo is an award-winning natural habitat zoo that’s home to over 1,100 animals representing nearly 300 species. Explore exotic landscapes like the African Savanna and the Asian tropical forest while observing animals in settings that mimic their natural environment. With interactive activities and a commitment to conservation, the zoo provides an enriching experience for visitors of all ages.

11. Experience Seattle’s Quirky Underground on an Underground Tour

Step back in time with a tour of Seattle’s underground passageways in Pioneer Square. After the Great Fire of 1889, the city was rebuilt one story above the historic street level, creating a fascinating underground city that’s filled with anecdotes and trivia from Seattle’s early days. Knowledgeable guides lead you through this buried neighborhood, revealing the city’s most unusual and amusing history, making it one of the most uniquely Seattle experiences.

12. Shop and Dine at Pioneer Square

Spend the day in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood strolling through its red brick pathways, now home to a variety of shops, art galleries, and local eateries. Historic Saloon-themed bars. Victorian architecture, and a bustling night scene make Pioneer Square a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience Seattle’s old-world charm. The neighborhood also marks the start of the city’s famous ‘underground tours’.

13. Stroll Along the Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle Waterfront is more than just a place to catch a ferry; it’s a lively promenade with an assortment of attractions, restaurants, and seasonal activities. Grab some fish and chips or sushi at one of the seafood eateries and then peruse the souvenir shops and art vendors. If you’re feeling energetic, join the locals on a jog along the waterfront. Or simply sit on a bench and watch the boats and ferries cruise by.

14. Touch the Sky at the Museum of Flight

Aviation enthusiasts will delight in the exhibits at the Museum of Flight. Where you can learn about the history and evolution of human flight. With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, including the original Air Force One. The museum takes you from the early days of aviation to the cutting-edge technologies of today. Interactive exhibits and Flight Simulators add an extra dimension, making this a thrilling day out for the whole family.


Seattle invites you to explore and discover its rich tapestry of experiences. There’s an adventure waiting for you at every turn, from the heights of the majestic Space Needle to the depths of the vibrant marine life at the Seattle Aquarium. We’ve only just scratched the surface of what Seattle has to offer. And we encourage you to chart your own course through this magnificent city, and to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re planning a family trip or are a Seattleite ready for some local escapism, Seattle is a city that promises delight and wonder at every juncture.

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