On our first trip up to Seattle, thanks to the magic of connecting through instagram, we met up and stayed with the Mandagies. They’re Washington natives and have been living in Seattle for over six years, so we got their help in putting together our Seattle bucket list.
One of the reasons we decided to move to Portland was how close it was to a plethora of outdoor destinations and also only a 3 hour drive from Seattle.
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Last Updated: July 29, 2022
The Ultimate Seattle Bucket List (101 Things to Do in Seattle WA)
Pike Place Market
Tons of fresh flowers, food, and a variety of produce. Add your own piece of chewed gum to the Gum Wall.
Hot Tub Boats
Such a unique way to enjoy sunset, the skyline, and Lake Union all from a hot tub boat.
Take a photo with the behemoth.
Visit the Original Up House
The Disney movie is based on the real story of this house.
Take skyline pictures.
See the salmon ladder.
Space Needle Observation Deck
An iconic Seattle landmark that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair .
Smith Tower Observation Deck
The very first skyscraper in Seattle.
Columbia Tower Observation Deck
Sweeping views of the city and mountains. There’s also a cafe for drinks and light bites.
Seattle Great Wheel
42 climate-controlled gondolas, great date night idea.
Seattle Public Library
Impressive 11-story glass and steel building that holds over 1.45 million books.
Great for skyline photos.
Jose Rizal Park
Head here for night photos.
Seattle Center Monorail
Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair to provide transportation between the fairgrounds and the downtown area.
Visit the Original Starbucks
(Near Pike Place) Not technically the original, but the original doesn’t even exist anymore. Expect a line throughout the day.
Starbucks Reserve & Roastery
(Capitol Hill) Try one of their siphon flights or a specialty roastery creation.
Tour Theo’s Chocolate Factory
Free chocolate. You can go dumpster diving in Theo’s Chocolate scrap chocolate bin.
Pioneer Square Underground Tour
Walk through the subterranean storefronts and sidewalks that are now underground after the Great Fire of 1889.
Woodland Park Zoo
Check out their butterfly garden, too.
Beautiful waterfront aquarium.
Study Harry Potter spells.
Take a Ferry to the Olympics
Do the Seattle > Bremerton or Edmonds > Kingston
Japanese Garden at the WA Arboretum
They also have a tea ceremony experience that’s worth checking out.
Museums + Memorials + Monuments
Chihuly Glass Sculpture Museum
Take an audio tour through the museum.
MoPOP / Museum of Pop Culture
(formerly EMP) Quirky, small museum that pays tribute to all things sci-fi and pop culture.
Center For Wooden Boats
Boat rides free on Sundays only! Get there early in the summer, the spots fill up fast.
Seattle Museum of Art
Diverse range of art from the Mediterranean to Aboriginal.
See computers from the size of a small building to the size of a hand-size cell phone.
Seattle Pinball Museum
The largest collection of pinball machines in the Pacific Northwest.
Pacific Science Center
Go early if you want to visit the planetarium.
Have a picnic in the day or watch fire dancers at night.
Visit the Lighthouse at Discovery Park
Note that there are a good bit of of wobbly old stairs. Be cautious when visiting.
Bonfire at Golden Gardens Park
There’s also clean public restrooms, a playground, and volleyball nets.
Rollerblade around Greenlake
Easy, flat trails for rollerblading and biking. Plenty of parking but it does gets full on weekends.
Rollerblade around Alki Beach
Short trail with a stunning view. Plenty of free parking.
Bike around Seward Park
2.3 mi bike loop with a view of Mt. Rainier from the lake.
Bike The Burke-Gilman Trail
From SPU to Matthew’s Beach.
Rent a canoe or paddle boat at the WAC
Rentals are available from spring through fall.
SUP at Ballard Surf
You might even spot some seals from your paddleboard.
Swim at Madrona Beach
There are also some hiking trails and picnic areas to enjoy post-swim.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Great overview of the harbor, unique sculptures spread throughout the park.
Greenhouse in Volunteer Park
Amazing foliage and small ponds in a 100 year old greenhouse.
Kayak around Lake Union / Lake Washington.
Tour the University of Washington Campus
We love the collegiate neo-Gothic architecture.
Discovery Park Loop
2.8 mi loop that is relatively flat and easy. Views of the lighthouse.
Check out the Fin Project, a display of fins from decommissioned nuclear submarines of the 1960s.
They even have an urban forest on store grounds.
Shop at the Nordstrom Flagship
And then grab lunch at their restaurant.
Fresh produced, baked breads, and various diary products.
Shop The Goodwill Outlet
Go early, it gets super busy!
Seattle Antique Market
Tons of watches, plates, furniture, toys, lamps, and more.
Shop at University Village
Seattle’s only outdoor lifestyle shopping center.
Uwajimaya Grocery Store
Get Asian treats.
Get a “Seattle Dog” in Capitol Hill
Check out two local favorites: Dog In The Park and the hot dog stand in front of Neighbors.
Bar Hop in Capitol Hill
Favorite spots: Cider and The Unicorn.
(Central District, Greenwood) Esther + Jacob’s fave beer spot. They now have two locations.
(Kirkland, $, Italian) Try their Oxtail Risotto.
(Ravenna, $, New American) We suggest grabbing a seat outside at the counter by the sidewalk if you want to avoid the louder dining room.
(Waterfront, $$$, Seafood) Great selection of oysters and sustainable seafood with a view.
(Columbia City, $, Hawaiian) The Spicy Salmon is our favorite.
(International District, $, Japanese) keep an eye out, this place is a hidden gem. Fresh and quality sushi.
(Capitol Hill, $, Seafood) Some of the best oysters I’ve ever had.
(U District) Comfy neighborhood vibes, visible roastery where you can see how they roast their coffee beans.
(U District) Ask for a Colombian pour over in a Kalita Wave.
(U District) Quiet workspace upstairs.
(Fremont) Grab a Horchata Cruffin with your coffee.
(Wallingford/Fremont) They also serve beer and wine.
(Pike Place + Queen Anne) Great lattes and breakfast sandwiches.
Funky decor, good coffee and a wide selection of pastries.
(Capitol Hill) Try all their donuts! So good!
(Capitol Hill) Italian specialty coffees.
(Wallingford) Extensive coffee and food menus.
(Greenwood, Greenlake, Wallingford) Their hot chocolate is a must-try.
(U District) Coffee, tea, and a darn good lavendar chai.
(Ballard) Grab a coffee, hang with adoptable kitties.
(Queen Anne) Permanently Closed. Sleek space, specialty coffees and fresh pastries.
(Downtown) Their East African drip is very popular.
(Central District) Breezy and bright cafe.
(Fremont) Old house converted into a coffee shop. We love their fun latte art.
(Central District) Conveniently located inside the Washington State Convention Center.
(Greenlake) Permanently Closed. We recommend the Cold Brew Fog Latte.
(Capitol Hill) Buy a couple pounds of the Empire roasted beans to take home.
Attend a Sports Event
Plenty of options: Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners, Huskies.
Go Sailgating before a UW Husky Game
The vessels are open 45 minutes prior to kickoff until halfway through the 4th quarter.
Bumbershoot Music Festival
Labor Day Weekend every year.
St. Mark’s Cathedral
Listen tot he choir practice on Sundays at 9pm.
Local block parties, parades, and neighborhood activities. Get ready for 2021.
5th Avenue Theater
Catch a musical.
On the National Register of Historic Places.
Hiking + Outdoors
Poo Poo Point
(19 mi / 26 min away, Tiger Mountain) You can go paragliding here.
(26 mi / 29 min away, Snoqualmie) Moderate trail with stunning views of the Snoqualmie Valley. If you don’t want to hike, you can also SUP or kayak around the lake.
(29 mi / 34 min away, Snoqualmie) Bring a rain jacket! You will get sprayed by the waterfall.
Big Si + Little Si
(33 mi / 36 min away, Snoqualmie Pass) These foggy trails can take up to an entire day. If you’re lucky, you can see Mt. Rainier.
(35 mi / 35 min away, Snoqualmie Pass,) Dog and kid-friendly trails can get crowded.
(37 mi / 43 min away, Snoqualmie Pass) We only recommend this hike for expert explorers.
(52 mi / 53 min away, Snoqualmie Pass) Well developed trail and a beautiful waterfall.
(47 mi / 53 min away, Stevens Pass) Popular spot for picking wild mushrooms.
Gold Creek Pond
(55 mi / 58 min away, Snoqualmie Pass) Great trail for snowshoeing.
(53 mi / 1 h 5 min away, Stevens Pass) Visit early! Lake area surrounding the trailhead is very popular.
Seattle Bucket List City Map
Map here. Click on Text Tab and insert google maps code.
- Peak season is July and August and is the best time to visit if you don’t want gloomy weather. Summer is the sunniest and there are a plethora of outdoor activities then.
- May-June and Sep-Oct is shoulder season. You may get lucky with weather and not have to deal with the crowds.
- If you’re looking for the classic, moody PNW vibes come in Sept – Nov, and head to the mountains for some fog envy! Expect lots of time in the car, but the end destinations are always worth it!
- Many of the museums are free on the first Thursday of the month and some are free year round.
- A rain jacket is always a good idea! (this one is currently our favorite and has insulation)
- Looking for a Rental Car? Check out this link.
What to Pack for Seattle
Best Places to Stay
All accommodations listed below have Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and at least 4 stars on both Yelp and Tripadvisor.
What are your favorite things to do in Seattle? What would you put on your Seattle bucket list?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust