- Space Needle
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the 605-foot-tall Space Needle quickly became an icon of the city that today is recognized far and wide. On the observation level, which you can reach via a 43-second elevator ride, see the doodle-on-a-napkin concept that led to the Space Needle design. Views from the top feature Elliott Bay, the Cascade Mountains, and even Mount Rainier.
- Seattle Center Monorail
Another World’s Fair relic, the Seattle Center Monorail links Seattle Center—home of the Space Needle and several other notable attractions—to downtown’s Westlake Center along an approximately one-mile route. The designated historic landmark can reach a top speed of 45 miles per hour and weaves between skyscrapers above the city streets.
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Music, science fiction, and pop culture all come together at the fascinating Museum of Pop Culture. The Frank Gehry-designed building looks like a smashed guitar from above, while inside, its colorful exhibits cover everything from the history of indie video games and horror films to Nirvana, the Seahawks, and more.
- Chihuly Garden and Glass
The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is dedicated to the work and career of locally born, world-renowned glassblower Dale Chihuly, who was introduced to the craft while studying at the University of Washington. It is the most comprehensive collection of his art to date, with interior galleries featuring a variety of his work in the medium. The pièce de résistance is the glasshouse, with a vibrant 100-foot-long sculpture in hues of red, orange, and yellow suspended from the ceiling.
- Pike Place Market
From the iconic market sign and Rachel the Piggy Bank to the gum wall, the original Starbucks cafe, well over 225 local artisans selling their wares, the famous fish-tossing tradition, and music-playing street performers, there are enough sights and sounds at Pike Place Market to pack a day (or more). The market added its historic Market Front expansion in 2017, featuring an open-air plaza and fantastic views of Elliott Bay.
- Seattle Art Museum – two ways
The Seattle Art Museum is the city’s largest museum dating back to the 1930s and housing a varied collection of artwork that spans multiple eras and geographic regions. Take the time to visit the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor extension of the museum that’s open to the public for free about a mile away at the waterfront.
- Smith Tower
Visit the city’s first skyscraper, built in 1914, and ride the historic, manually operated elevators to the 35th-floor observatory, where 360-degree views await. Displays tell the tale of characters who made Smith Tower what it is today, while the tower’s Prohibition-themed Temperance bar serves themed cocktails.
- Seattle Aquarium
Down at the Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront’s Pier 59, learn all about salmon, meet a few adorable sea otters, and greet the various sea creatures of the Pacific Ocean, from puffers to giant clams. Watch scuba divers feed the fish, gawk at sharks swimming overhead in the underwater dome, and even touch a sea anemone.
- Seattle Great Wheel
Although it was only built in 2012, the Seattle Great Wheel has quickly become a fixture of the city’s skyline—plus it adds an entirely new sightseeing perspective, thanks to its location perched on the end of Pier 57. Enjoy three revolutions around in one of the air-conditioned gondolas to see the city, water, and mountains on the horizon.
- Museum of Flight
Aviation buffs, take note: The Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space collections in the country, with an overwhelming number of things to see—like a Boeing lunar rover and an Air Force One from the Eisenhower era—and do, including NASA space shuttle trainer tours and flight simulators.
- The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
This bucket list–worthy experience in nearby Mukilteo lets you tour a working Boeing factory, the world’s largest building by volume, to see 747s, 777s, and Dreamliners in the making. After exploring the factory, learn more about airplane advancements, from jet fuel to in-flight entertainment systems, at the Future of Flight Aviation Center.
- Pioneer Square
Seattle’s original downtown is full of beautiful old buildings in Romanesque Revival style, underground tours that take you beneath the streets to see the remains of the city’s first buildings, and an ever-growing slate of hip shops and restaurants. Take an afternoon or more to explore Pioneer Square‘s ivy-covered buildings and pop into bars, boutiques, and hidden gems, like Waterfall Garden Park.
- South Lake Union
The always bustling Lake Union, located just northeast of downtown, hosts a variety of seaplanes and boats of all kinds, including the floating home from Sleepless in Seattle. Get out on the water at The Center for Wooden Boats, which offers rentals and tours. And explore the area’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene.
- Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
Known as MOHAI, this museum on the shores of Lake Union encapsulates what Seattle is all about, with a dash of smart history, a dose of technology, and quirky artifacts around every corner (think a pink truck with toes). Permanent exhibits showcase everything from the city’s maritime history to modern tech innovations.
- Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
You won’t have trouble finding a Starbucks here in the company’s hometown, but you’ll want to seek out this special Starbucks experience on Capitol Hill. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a Willy Wonka–esque coffee wonderland, where you’ll find exclusive beverages, various brewing methods, a coffee library, and more.
For more information about the many other amazing Seattle attractions and must-sees, please visit: https://www.visitseattle.org/things-to-do/sightseeing/