Photograph by Michael Hipple/
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A slice of life plays out at the Mecca Café, open round the clock in lower Queen Anne.

Photograph by Michael Hipple/

Seattle Must-Dos

Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around Seattle—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.

Pike Place Market

“The biggest and the best; the heart of Seattle.”—Eric Lucas, author, Seattle Survival Guide. At 100 years old, one of the longest running public markets in the U.S.; nine acres of fresh fish, produce, flowers, and arts and crafts. Tip: “Explore Post Alley, a cobblestone street that runs behind the market and contains hidden gems.”—Chris Clayton, arts and culture editor, Seattle Magazine. tel. +1 206 682 7453.

Space Needle

Built for the World’s Fair in 1962, the 605-foot-tall (184-meter-tall) Space Needle offers 360-degree views of downtown, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and Lake Washington. It stands on Seattle Center, a 74-acre (30-hectare) complex of museums and cultural institutions. Tip: “Skip the revolving restaurant and head straight to the lookout landing.”—Chris Clayton, arts and culture editor, Seattle Magazine. 400 Broad Street; tel. +1 206 905 2100; fee.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

“The best free attraction in Seattle”—Eric Lucas. Opened in 1917, the “Ballard Locks” allow boaters to move between Puget Sound and Lake Washington; marine life navigates via a fish ladder; watch through an underwater viewing area. Tip: See salmon June through October, seals year-round. 3015 54th Street NW; tel. +1 206 783 7059.

Discovery Park

“Seattle’s 534-acre (216-hectare) answer to Central Park.”—Maria Dolan, author, Outside Magazine’s Urban Adventure: Seattle. Nearly 12 miles (19 kilometers) of hiking trails and two miles (three kilometers) of beach along Puget Sound; renovated lighthouse; located in the city’s hilly Magnolia neighborhood. 3801 W Government Way; tel. +1 206 386 4236.


Founded-in-Seattle company’s flagship store, open since 1944, with a 65-foot-tall (20-meter-tall) climbing wall, an outdoor mountain biking trail, and brochures on local hiking and bike trails.222 Yale Avenue N; tel. +1 206 223 1944.

Ferry Ride

Washington State Ferries operates walk- or drive-on service across Puget Sound from downtown piers 50 and 52 daily. Tip: Take a 35-minute trip to Bainbridge Island, a charming village with quaint shops and restaurants. Fee. 801 Alaskan Way; tel. +1 206 464 6400.

Olympic Sculpture Park

“Prime waterfront transformed into an art showcase.”—Maria Dolan. 2007 nine-acre (3.6-hectare) downtown park with works including Alexander Calder’s six-ton Eagle. Tip: Bring a picnic and eat at Roy McMakin’s sculpture, which incorporates a table, benches, and a big red ampersand. 2901 Western Avenue; tel. +1 206 654 3100.

Experience Music Project

Monumental rock-and-roll museum housed with the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Frank Gehry’s curvaceous, 140,000-square-foot (13,000-square-meter) building of brightly colored steel and aluminum shingles; mix your own record or have a jam session in the interactive Sound Lab. Permanent exhibits include Sound and Vision: Artists Tell Their Stories, where visitors can listen and view to selections from the museum’s extensive collection of videotaped interviews. 325 Fifth Avenue N; tel. +1 206 770 2700; fee.

Seattle Aquarium

See playful sea otters, giant octopuses, and other Puget Sound marine life; walk underneath a ring full of swimming jellyfish; located on the waterfront at Pier 59. 1483 Alaskan Way; tel. +1 206 386 4300; fee.