A Practical Travel Guide to Seattle Washington

by | Dec 6, 2022 | Americas, BLOG, UNITED STATES


Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, in the northern United States.

This magnificent city is world famous for constantly being a city with various diverse neighborhoods, and people from all over the world live there.

Whether you enjoy being outside or prefer to spend most of your time indoors, Seattle has dozens of activities and attractions for everyone.

This helpful travel guide to Seattle Washington will give you practical information to help you plan your trip. See all the must-visit attractions and places, things to do, and, most importantly, tips on where to eat and stay when you visit Seattle.

Brief History of Seattle

The Denny Party, the first European settlers, landed at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. They relocated their camp to Elliot Bay in April 1852.

Seattle Township was founded on May 23, 1853, and became a township three years later. The city was born in 1869.

Seattle was named after Noah Sealth, the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes’ chief, also known as Chief Seattle.

One of the city’s founders, David Swinson (“Doc”) Maynard, was the principal proponent of naming the city after Chief Seattle. Previously, the city was known as Duwamps.

As a result of the Klondike Gold Rush, Seattle witnessed a remarkable boom. It quickly became an important transportation center.

The SS Portland docked with her famed “ton of gold” on July 14, 1897, and Seattle became the principal transit and supply center for miners in Alaska and the Yukon. Few of those workers became wealthy in the long run. However, Seattle’s industry of dressing and feeding miners paid out the most in the long term.

The Gold Rush ended with the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which was mostly responsible for building the University of Washington campus we know today.

Some Seattle Facts & Stats

  • Seattle is the largest city in the State of Washington, in the northwest corner of the United States of America. The city’s metropolitan region, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, is the 15th most populated in the US and the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The city is situated along the Pacific Ocean between Lake Washington and the harbor known as Puget Sound. It is located 96 miles south of the United States and Canada border.
  • Although the Seattle area has been inhabited for at least 4,000 years, European settlements did not arrive until the mid-nineteenth century.
  • Seattle was known as “Queen City” from 1869 until 1982. The city’s current and official nickname is “Emerald City,” which was chosen in an early 1980s contest based on the surrounding leafy trees. Other nicknames are: “Gateway to Alaska,” “Rain City,” and “Jet City.”
  • Seattle has a total area of 142.5 square miles, of which 84 square miles is land and 59 square miles is water (41% of the whole surface), according to the United States Census Bureau.
Seattle’s Skyline – Photo: Stephen Plopper

When is the Best Time to Visit Seattle

The sunny and dry summer months of June, July, and August are ideal for visiting Seattle.

While there are many things to do in Seattle at any time of year, summer is when the sky is most likely to be clear, making views from the Space Needle or a journey out to Mount Rainier the most rewarding.

Popular activities in the vicinity, such as hiking or visiting the city’s parks, may be done in the winter, spring, or fall.

However, the weather in Seattle may be misleading. Some years, late spring and early fall, might seem like summer, with May and October being warm and dry, but it all depends on the year.

If you can’t come to Seattle during the summer, don’t feel like you’re missing anything if you come in the spring or fall.

If you’re going for a holiday, you should probably avoid the winter unless you enjoy being drenched for days.

How to Get There

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, located less than a half-hour south of the city, is easily accessible.

You can take the light rail from the airport to the city and then Metro Transit buses to move about, but it’s recommendable to rent a vehicle to get outside of the city center.

What to do in Seattle

Seattle has a distinct blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. With its location on Puget Sound and multiple urban lakes, the city’s natural areas and parks provide a pleasant respite for residents and tourists.

But you don’t have to be a nature lover to appreciate the Emerald City’s beauty. Famous landmarks such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, as well as the city’s flourishing art and cuisine scene, will keep cultural enthusiasts entertained.

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood; it is here that construction on the city’s current center began in 1899 following a massive fire that devastated much of the settlement.

Today, this section of the city is rich with art, architecture, food, and history, making your visit both fascinating and educational.

Seattle has the ideal blend of old and new.

Among other things, you can take an exciting tour beneath the streets of Seattle.

Seattle – Pioneer Square – Photo: Msuner via Creative Commons

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

While few Klondikers struck it rich during the Gold Rush of 1897, Seattle merchants made a fortune and cemented the city’s status as the Pacific Northwest’s preeminent commercial hub.

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, established by Congress in 1976, has five units: three in Canada, one in Skagway, Alaska, and one in Seattle’s Pioneer Square Historic District.

The Seattle Visitors Center, which is in the remodeled Hotel Cadillac building, remembers the city’s role in the last big gold rush in North America.

Seattle – Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Photo: Diego Delso via Creative Commons

Seattle Art Museum

SAM, or the Seattle Art Museum, is just one block from Pike Place Market, with halls full of light that entice you to walk among the various worldwide art collections and several temporary and permanent exhibitions.

Modern and contemporary arts, African, Mesoamerican, Mediterranean, European, and many more are among the collections.

The Downtown Art Museum, Asian Art in Volunteer Park, and the Olympic Sculpture Park on the Seattle waterfront are different locations for the museum.

Seattle – Art Museum – Photo: GoToVan via Creative Commons

Smith Tower

When it was first built in 1914, the 42-story Smith Tower was hailed as the world’s tallest office building outside New York City, and it remained the tallest structure west of Chicago for nearly a half-century.

While its height—489 feet from the curbside to the top of the tower finial—is no longer its claim to fame, the city’s landmark does house the West Coast’s only manually operated elevator.

You may ride one of the sparkling brass-cage originals to the 35th-floor Observatory for a charge.

You can see Mount Rainier, the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges, and Elliott Bay from the deck.

Seattle – Smith Tower – Photo: Bruce W

Beneath the Streets Tour

You will undoubtedly be offered hundreds of excursions throughout your time in Seattle. Still, you should not miss the “Beneath the Streets Tour,” dedicated to authentic and unique guided explorations through old underground passages beneath Pioneer Square.

The trip lasts around 60 minutes and takes you through several streets in the area, studying the architecture of the 1800s. Throughout the tour, you will be told many anecdotes and rumors that only a few people in Seattle know.

Seattle – Beneath the Street Tour – Photo: Karen Neoh via Creative Commons

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

The Olympic Hotel was the place to be seen when it opened in 1924. It was a magnificent setting for parties, marriages, and debutante balls for almost a half-century before losing its luster.

It is not unexpected given that the bondholders who backed the $4 million building were among the city’s most socially essential residents.

The Italian Renaissance-style structure has tall, arched Palladian windows, glistening oak paneled walls, and terrazzo flooring poured by Italian workers dispatched to Seattle for the job.

Furniture costs more than $800,000, including hundreds of antique mirrors, Italian and Spanish oil jars, and bronze sculptures.

The Olympic Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

In 2003, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts took over management.

Seattle – Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Photo: Jmabel via Creative Commons

Benaroya Hall

The $118.1 million Benaroya Hall, which occupies an entire city block and houses the Seattle Symphony, features two concert halls, including the 2,500-seat S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, which is renowned for its exceptional acoustics.

The multilevel Grand Lobby, illuminated at night, provides breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the metropolitan skyline.

The Garden of Remembrance, located in the hall’s outdoor space along 2nd Avenue, honors more than 8,000 Washington residents who have died in the service of their nation since 1941.

Seattle – Benaroya Hall – Photo: Frank Fujimoto via Creative Commons

The Waterfront

The bustling Seattle Waterfront is one of the city’s most distinctive characteristics. It is the heart of Seattle’s energetic maritime community, with all the sights, shorebird sounds, and saline air a coastal metropolis offers.

It’s where you’ll find ferries to Bainbridge Island or the Kitsap Peninsula, as well as the Seattle Aquarium.

The piers are a popular tourist destination, featuring restaurants and bars, import stores, and harbor excursions.

Seattle Waterfront – Photo: Rennett Stowe via Creative Commons

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market, a 100-year-old market that attracts more than 10 million visitors annually, is well known for its fishmongers, produce stalls, craft stalls, and food stores.

But there is much more to the Market than meets the eye, such as a giant wall full of gum, which many have heard of and is already quite famous.

Seattle – Pike Place Market – Photo: Gary Tou


If you like coffee, you’ve probably heard of Starbucks because the first store in the chain’s history is near the Market’s entrance.

It opened its doors in 1971, and while it is no longer in the same store inside the Pike Place Market, it is still active.

You can visit it and buy something; the entire place has that vintage style that will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, and, of course, they have their gift shop where you will undoubtedly find something you want to take home.

Seattle – Starbucks – Photo: Herry Sutanto

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium, one of the best aquariums in the country, provides a fascinating glimpse into Pacific Northwest marine life, featuring over 400 distinct species of fish, plants, and animals native to the region.

Sea otters and seals play in pools, while feeding time is quite interesting.

Visitors may also learn about the aquarium’s ecological and conservation efforts with the surrounding environment and can even engage with the species in one of the interactive displays.

Seattle – Aquarium – Photo: Yiyang

The Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park encompasses the region between Piers 57 and 59. The park has spectacular views of the Seattle cityscape and harbor, and tourists have even been known to sight a seal.

The Waterfront Streetcar, formally known as the George Benson Waterfront Streetcar Line, debuted in 1982 and was Seattle’s first streetcar since 1941.

It used to be a terrific way to view Seattle’s top sights, but it was discontinued in 2005 when the maintenance barn and one of the stations were removed.

Seattle – The Waterfront Park – Photo: Ryan Stone

Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Great Wheel, with about 88 tons and more than 160 feet, is another attraction worth the visit in Seattle. You’ll find it on Pier 57, close to the Pike Place Market.

It has 42 gondolas with air conditioning and heating that can seat up to 8 people.

As you go up in the air, you will be able to see the entire city from a new perspective.

Glass-bottomed gondolas are also available, but only for the courageous.

Seattle – Great Wheel – Photo: Felipe Galvan

Seattle Center

The Seattle Center, located north of downtown, is a proud relic of the city’s 1962 World’s Fair.

Tourists are most familiar with the area as the location of the Space Needle. Still, it also houses various cultural events and outstanding museums, including the innovative EMP Museum, created by architect Frank Gehry and sponsored by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.

Visitors will discover high-end hair salons, upmarket apparel boutiques, antique shops, home goods businesses, stylish restaurants, and a fashionable crowd among the pricy residences.

Seattle – Seattle Center – Photo: Fernando Hernandez

Space Needle

The famous “Space Needle,” in the heart of Seattle, is undoubtedly the city’s most well-known landmark and symbol.

The building was completed after 400 days of construction in 1962.

With a height of more than 600 ft. at its highest point, it boasts the best perspective of all, a 360° viewpoint, and a glass floor 525 ft. above the ground; if you are afraid of heights, you may struggle in this section.

Seattle – Space Needle – Photo: Andrea Leopardi

Olympic Sculpture Park

The Olympic Sculpture Park, which opened to the public in January 2007 as part of the Seattle Art Museum, is located on a former industrial site that has been transformed into a unique green place for public enjoyment and outdoor art.

The park’s original design featured environmental rehabilitation initiatives such as developing a salmon habitat and tree planting.

The park, divided into three sections, is connected by a 2,200-foot Z-shaped trail.

Over 20 contemporary sculptures are scattered throughout various typical Pacific Northwest landscapes.

It includes “The Valley,” an evergreen forest like those found in lowland coastal regions, Schubert Sonata, sculptor Mark di Suvero’s towering steel wind vane, and “The Shore,” which includes a beach and a naturally developing tidal garden.

Seattle – Olympic Sculpture Park – Photo: jpellgen via Creative Commons

EMP Museum

Whether it is the greatest guitarists of all time or the most famous film moments, the Museum of Pop Culture will make you enjoy those moments right at the spot.

It welcomes you to know everything about pop culture in depth through various exhibitions.

Seattle – EMP Museum – Photo: Scott Webb

Chihuly Glass Gardens

The Chihuly Gardens and Glass are named after their creator Dale Chihuly, an American artist whose primary medium of expression is glass; all his sculptures are made of glass, and the way he combines it with the environment is incredible.

There are other attractions in the gardens, such as the glass house, which is 400 square meters of a hall filled with his sculptures. The glass house is the outcome of Chihuly’s admiration of life.

Eight galleries and three walls are filled with paintings where the artist’s work can be admired.

There is also a theater where you can watch videos of how the beautiful sculptures surrounding you were created.

Seattle – Chihuly Glass Gardens – Photo: Kalea Morgan

Parks & the Outdoors

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is accessible by ferry from Seattle and is renowned for its nature.

The island is considered a historical and cultural heritage, and it boasts stunning vistas from all sides of the island.

For those who prefer being outside, there are numerous beaches, gardens, and paths to explore, in addition to the various museums, parks, restaurants, and breweries on the island.

Seattle – Bainbridge Island – Photo: Daniel Ramirez via Creative Commons

Park Seward

Seattle has several recreational parks that everyone enjoys because of the beautiful scenery and ease of access.

Seward Park is located within the city boundaries of Seattle and offers 300 acres of pristine wilderness, eagle nests, forests, a 2.4-mile bike route and walking trails, an amphitheater, various gardens, an art studio, beaches, and much more.

Seattle – Park Seward – Photo: Benjamin Massello

Discovery Park

If you’ve spent one or more days seeing Seattle from head to toe and want to feel isolated or away from the city’s craziness, Discovery Park is, without a doubt, your finest option.

Discovery Park, Seattle’s “crown gem,” aims to “create an open space of quiet and tranquility away from the stress and activity of the city.”

It is Seattle’s largest park, with over 530 acres of forest, farmland, paths, and even beaches. You won’t believe the park is only a few minutes’ drives from downtown Seattle.

It’s the ideal place to unwind and spend the entire afternoon.

Seattle – Discovery Park – Photo: Graig Durant

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park, located north of downtown, is a recreational park with over 200 acres and many activities to enjoy and connect with nature.

It is well-known, particularly among anglers, because it is home to more than eight different types of fish.

If fishing isn’t your thing, Green Lake boasts a variety of activities for everyone, including basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, paths, and numerous parks.

You will undoubtedly have a fantastic day taking advantage of everything they offer.

Seattle is a fantastic city with a lot to teach the rest of the globe and dozens of parks and tourist attractions. It is a must-see place for anyone who enjoys traveling and discovering new things daily.

Seattle – Green Lake Park – Photo: Yan Liu

Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo, purchased by the City of Seattle in 1899, is one of the West Coast’s oldest zoos and a prominent attraction in the region. Most of the almost 300 animal species in the botanical garden live in conditions like their native habitats.

Unlike traditional zoo models, which group animals by species, Woodland Park’s wildlife residents are divided into bioclimatic zones.

Seattle – Woodland park zoo – Photo: Simpleharmonicmotion via Creative Commons

University of Washington

The University District is eclectic and active due to the solid young culture surrounding a large university campus. It provides for an intriguing half or full-day excursion.

The University of Washington serves as the district’s nerve center. This university is recognized worldwide for its intense research and graduate programs and is the top institution of higher learning in the Northwest United States.

The lovely park-like campus, located on the grounds of the 1909 World’s Fair, is home to almost 43,000 students and 500 buildings in various architectural styles.

Seattle – University of Washington – Photo: Eunice Choi

Where to Stay

Stay in downtown Seattle for the genuine Seattle experience, where you won’t have to worry about driving to most of the city’s essential attractions.

Well, renowned brands and chains, plus a handful of boutique hotels, are among the many options.

The Four Seasons Seattle

The Four Seasons Seattle is one of the most luxurious hotels in Seattle and offers some of the best services in the city. With stunning views of Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, it’s easy to see why this hotel is so popular with guests. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed and feature top-end amenities.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle is another of the best hotels in Seattle. It is in the middle of downtown and has beautiful views of the city skyline and Elliott Bay. This historic hotel has been a popular place since it opened in 1924. It has beautiful architecture and high-end decor.

Lotte Hotel Seattle

The Lotte Hotel Seattle is one of the best and most luxurious hotels in Seattle. It offers guests some of the best amenities and services in the city. The hotel is in downtown Seattle and has beautiful views of Elliott Bay. Its restaurants are some of the best in Seattle, serving delicious Asian cuisine. The Lotte Hotel Seattle also offers a spa where guests can relax and rejuvenate.

W Seattle

The W Seattle has the perfect location. Right in the heart of downtown, with beautiful views of Elliott Bay and the Seattle skyline. The W Seattle’s dĂ©cor and atmosphere; it’s chic and modern without being too trendy or over-the-top.

Inn at the Market

The Inn at the Market Seattle is one of my favorite places to stay in Seattle. The location is perfect, right in the heart of Pike Place Market, with beautiful views of Elliott Bay.

The Inn at the Market Seattle’s dĂ©cor is charming and cozy, with a touch of modernity. The staff is super friendly and helpful, and the restaurants on-site are some of my favorites in Seattle.

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle

The Inn at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco is an excellent option if you’re looking for a luxurious and charming place to stay in Seattle. The hotel is in the heart of downtown Seattle.

Other Areas

Go to Seattle’s other neighborhoods if you prefer something calmer and more private (although you won’t find top-end hotels in these areas).

You can stay at Capitol Hill, a lively neighborhood with plenty of nightlife, parks, and small businesses, or at Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods, where you’ll find a collection of local shops, restaurants, and amusing things to do, like visiting the Ballard Locks or the Fremont Troll.

What to Eat

Seattle is recognized for its fresh and excellent seafood and produce.

Seattle is located on Puget Sound, which links to the Pacific Ocean; thus, it has an abundance of seafood.

The Northwest, in general, places a premium on locally sourced or organic products, and many restaurants include them in their menus.

The Northwest, in general, places a premium on locally sourced or organic products, and many restaurants include them in their menus.

In Seattle, the cuisine combines fresh Pacific Northwest products with Pacific-rim nations’ tastes and culinary skills.

To complement US menu staples, chefs create masterpieces and unique dishes using sushi-grade fish, Kobe beef, ginger- and soy-based sauces, and handmade noodles.

Another delicious dish in Seattle is the Seattle Dog, a local version of the hot dog. Seattle’s classic North American dish is made with caramelized onion, cream cheese, and hot salsa.

Seattle – Food – Photo: Charles Koh

Where to Eat

Restaurants in Seattle are renowned for their high quality and delicious flavors. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, a quick bite on the go, or an all-you-can-eat buffet experience, Seattle has plenty of options.

From classic seafood dishes to trendy vegan cuisine, there’s something for everyone in the Emerald City.

No matter what your dietary needs are, Seattle can accommodate them with ease. In recent years, there have been more vegan and vegetarian restaurants, and Pike Place Market has some of the best ones.

Meanwhile, seafood lovers won’t miss out on one of Seattle’s signature dishes: clam chowder served inside a sourdough bread bowl from Ivar’s Fish Bar.

Ray’s Boathouse

Ray’s Boathouse is the place for a seafood feast. This Seattle landmark has beautiful views of the city skyline and Puget Sound and serves a wide range of fresh seafood dishes. The crab cakes are trendy, but there’s something for everyone on the menu, from clam chowder to salmon to lobster. And don’t forget to save room for dessert—the Key lime pie is a must-try.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

If you’re looking for a unique seafood dining experience, The Walrus and the Carpenter is a must-visit. This Seattle restaurant features fresh, local seafood carefully curated by the chefs. The menu changes regularly to reflect the latest catch, so you can always expect to find something new and exciting.

Whether you go for the oysters, the crab cakes, or the whole grilled fish, you’re sure to enjoy your meal here. And don’t forget to save room for dessert—the pie selection is top-notch.

The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar

If you’re looking for a delicious seafood meal in Seattle, look no further than The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar. This restaurant offers a wide variety of seafood dishes that are perfectly cooked.

The Athenian is also known for its fantastic view of the Seattle skyline, which makes for a perfect backdrop while you dine.

Are you in the mood for crab legs or salmon? You’ll find something you’ll love at The Athenian. And don’t forget to save room for dessert—the pie selection is top-notch.

Merchants Cafe and Saloon

Merchants Cafe and Saloon is a Seattle staple, and it’s easy to see why. This restaurant offers a wide variety of delicious dishes at an affordable price. The menu includes everything from burgers and fries to salmon and steak, so there’s something for everyone.

The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Plus, there’s a free shuttle to the Seahawks games, a bonus for football fans. I highly recommend Merchants Cafe and Saloon for a casual meal in Seattle.

Tom Douglas Restaurants

Tom Douglas Restaurants is the place to go if you’re looking for a delicious and unique dining experience. This Seattle-based restaurant group features a variety of restaurants that serve everything from Thai food to pizza.

The atmosphere is always cozy and inviting, and the staff is friendly and helpful. Plus, there’s something for everyone on the menu, from vegan dishes to seafood.

Final Thoughts

Seattle is a beautiful city with plenty to offer visitors.

Whether you’re looking for great food, world-class museums, spectacular scenery, and exhilarating nightlife or simply want to relax in one of the many coffee shops and parks, Seattle has something for everyone.

The best time to visit depends on what you want to do – the summer months are perfect for exploring the outdoors, while autumn is ideal for seeing the leaves change color.

Bottom line, just don’t forget to put Seattle on your list of destinations.


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