This post was most recently updated on September 22nd, 2020
I’m thrilled to share my five Seattle favorites with you! My childhood was spent in Seattle, and I often miss its beautiful green forests, clean-smelling air, the Puget Sound, and views of majestic Mt. Rainier. I also miss those gray misty days when you don’t really need an umbrella. The moisture just swirls around you and gently rests in droplets on your hair. I also miss picking wild blackberries along the road for blackberry cobbler.
There are so many things about Seattle that have left imprints on my mind and senses. It really is impossible to narrow my favorites down to five. Yet, here I go.
1. Pike Place Market
This farmer’s market has been active in Seattle since before I was born, probably much longer. I have memories of vendors handing me samples of grapes when I was younger than 5. My father took us to watch the flying fish at the fish market (they don’t really fly, but it sure seems like it when the vendors throw your selection to the cashier to wrap it up for you!). I have strolled down the walkways, taking in the beautiful colors and scents of locally grown flowers, organic fruits and vegetables, floral-infused honey, barbecued chicken, and sugar-glazed nuts. The craftsman booths with a myriad of skilled arts lure buyers from all regions. And the energy of hundreds walking through the market is contagious!
After graduating from high school, I worked in downtown Seattle and usually spent my lunch hours in the market, eyeing the crafts and listening to street performers. And possibly purchasing a tart frozen yogurt from the Shy Giant yogurt shoppe. On my second wedding anniversary, my husband brought me to Pike Place Market to choose the makings of our anniversary picnic. And two years ago, I ventured there again with two daughters, two son-in-laws, and a 4-month old granddaughter. Pike Place Market has always held my heart. It feels almost like a part of me.
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
2. The Scenery
Not just Seattle, but everywhere around it, you will find lakes, streams, mountains, forests, waterfalls, hiking trails, and more.
From the underground tour of Seattle to the Boeing Museum of Flight and the Fort Nisqually fur trading post to the Tillicum Village Indian Salmon Bake, the Seattle region has a rich history ready to be discovered (and even re-lived to some degree).
4. The Ballard Locks
I attended college my first year at Seattle Pacific University. Sometimes my roommate and I would wander off to explore or to go shopping on the weekends. Invariably we would end up at the Ballard Locks. It’s so fascinating to watch the water levels change to accommodate boats passing from Puget Sound to Lake Union. There’s also a fish ladder there where you can watch salmon making their way back upstream. It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are because I’ve always enjoyed going to the Locks (actually called the Hiram M. Chittendon Locks). Just another of my Seattle favorites I’m sure you’ll enjoy — such a unique place!
5. The Seattle Waterfront
Seattle is famous for some of its waterfront landmarks: Ivar’s Pier 54 Fish Bar (amazing seafood), Ye Olde Curiosity Shop (think tacky souvenirs, real shrunken heads and a two-headed calf), the Seattle Aquarium, the Waterfront Park, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Seattle ferry terminal. As you walk along the waterfront, you can smell the ocean and feel the salt spray on your face, you can see tourists from all over the world, and you can even imagine what it must have been like during its busy Alaskan gold rush days. When I was in college, I would often ride the ferry back and forth across Puget Sound as I did my homework. I only had to pay the passenger fare once! While I worked as a tour operator for Westours transporting clients to their downtown hotels, I’d always drive along the Seattle waterfront to show it off!
And really, I feel like I’m cheating you because I haven’t talked about all my other Seattle favorites. Perhaps another time…
Bonus: I have added new feature for your convenience…you can download this article to your device free of charge, so you can read it offline and use it as a guide. For a small fee, you can also upgrade it to a GPS-embedded guide for your own exploration of Seattle! If you do, I will receive a few cents compensation.
And to those of you who have visited, what are your Seattle favorites?
If you’re looking for more ideas in the Pacific Northwest, be sure to read about the Enchanted Chihuly Garden at the Seattle Center and the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.
Thanks to my daughter, Heather Young, for many of the beautiful photos in this post. She is a very talented photographer and a great travel companion! And thanks to my older daughter, Jessica Heaton, who pushed us all to make a “pilgrimage” back to Seattle in 2013 and brought her infant daughter to entertain us all!
I LOVE this post!!! Seattle really is a spectacular place, and I feel that I need to explore even MORE of it! 🙂 Maybe my little family will make it out there again soon.
Also, I loved reading about the things you did there as a child, or in your college years. It really was cool taking a look into your childhood.
Last of all–that PAINTING! Grandma did that? That’s just spectacular. I’m very impressed!
This makes me miss Seattle 🙂 I love that painting by your mom! Didn’t know she was into painting!
I didn’t either. Was surprised and happy to share it with everyone!
I just love Seattle. Nice to see your list. After living there for about four years I still haven’t been to the locks. You’ve made me think that was a real oversight.
This is a great post! I love Seattle! I’ve got family there, and it seems like every time I visit there are new things to discover. A couple of things I enjoy that come to mind are visiting the Fremont Troll and Gas Works Park.
I haven’t actually seen the Fremont Troll! But I love Gasworks Park, where you can almost always see lots of kite-flying. I was there when they first converted it into a park — seemed strange at first to make a park out of some old rusty pipes, but now it’s an icon.
It seems that there is a lot to do/see around Seattle and you have some really beautiful pictures here
Great post. I really need to make it to Seattle. Looks like you’ve found some amazing places to go.
Nope, never been to Seattle but would love to go! I have a lot of friends there (met while traveling) and they’re all telling me I should go! Seattle will be our last stop for our USA roadtrip starting in Cancun! Xx
Loved Seattle while we were there – we were only passing through for a day though so had to cram as much into the 24 hours as we could. A favorite of mine was the gum wall beneath pike place market – most germiest attraction in the world 😀 Lol was so colorful and the perfect mix of fascinating and gross 😀 We had a great time 🙂
Seattle is such a great city! You had some great views of Mt. Rainier! The last time we were there it was so hazy from the fires that we couldn’t see the mountain even when we were right next to it. Hopefully we can catch it next time! The Ballard Locks will have to be added to our itinerary as well–they look like fun!
I have a good friend from Seattle who tells me how amazing it is. I’ve unfortunately never been to America and can’t wait to explore it. I love hiking the most so will most definitely be checking out the scenery! Mt Rainier looks absolutely magnificent!
This post makes me realise how much of Seattle I missed as I cycled through a few years back! Hopefully I can return one day, and do it the justice it deserves!
This is such a great list for next time I’m in town!! 🙂
Visited Seattle twice & loved it. Pike Place is top of my list & Elliott Bay Book Company. Went to Paradise but it was closed; loved the scenery all around there & the trees in the Fall. Green Lake is lovely, Fremont is fun & enjoyed travelling across Puget Sound to Port Townsend. I’ll be back!
You had an awesome trip! I hope you get back soon!
Helpful list and pictures! I loved Pike Place and need to explore more of the city.
So glad you liked my list… Feel free to add any more ideas in the comments!!
I will only be in Seattle for a couple of days and this list is a big help. Do you have a hotel or area that would be good to stay where most everything is in walking distance,
Linda, because I have family in the Seattle area, I haven’t stayed in many hotels. I’m guessing you’d want to stay in downtown Seattle to be within walking distance of the waterfront and Pike Place Market. But if you need something close to the airport, I can recommend the most amazing hotel there called Cedarbrook Lodge. It’s very affordable, the parking is free, you can’t tell you’re close to the airport, and there are lots of extra amenities with an awesome breakfast buffet included. We loved it!
I love all of your pictures! I was excited about seeing the picture I painted.
Most of all I loved seeing myself with the family! Pike Market is the place
I love to visit. If you make it here in Feb we must all go to the Pikes Market.
I hope you and Darren can make it here together. I will have a nice dinner
and get to hug the baby(wesley:) He is such a cute baby. Both Matt and
Heather are so fun and happy so I know Wesley is a happy baby. I am
looking forward to seeing all of you guys!
I’m heading to Seattle in April and your post has made me even more excited!!! We are hoping to go kayaking with orca (killer whales) while we are there as well – have you ever tried this?
Thanks for the tips!! 🙂
I’ve kayaked with nurse sharks in San Diego, but never did any kayaking in Seattle. We did rent canoes at the University of Washington arboretum, and that was a lot of fun!
We are going to Seattle in a few weeks. I’m bookmarking this page for when we get there! You have lots of good information.
I’ll be there in a few weeks too! There’s something new — the Chihuly Glass Garden at the Seattle Center — that I want to check out! I hope you have a wonderful visit!
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Pike Place is certainly one of our favorite Seattle adventures. Have you been to the Woodland Park Zoo? – another great place to check out!
Of course! How could I have omitted that? The Woodland Park Zoo and nearby Green Lake are both wonderful highlights of Seattle.
Thank you for this! We are heading there in a few weeks and my question is – where is the best place for photos? I am taking my daughters senior pictures there. Thanks!!
Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill! It’s the best place to have downtown Seattle and the Space Needle in your background. There’s also a sculpture park along the Seattle waterfront if you like modern art as a backdrop. And if you’re into urban ruin backgrounds, go to Gasworks Park.
Ugh this makes me miss Seattle so much! I have yet to see the Ballard Locks in action, but the rest of this is like a postcard from home. Such a great list!
So glad you enjoyed it, Beth!
I really LOVE Seattle.Though I’ve only been there twice, I could actually see myself living there if I decided to move north. I’m always up for a visit to Pike Place or a boat cruise. The scenery is my favorite part of the city, plus the food scene and how green they are. 😉
Farmer markets are very interesting places to go to! They are good fun and I also love spending money at them to keep our hard earned money within the community! That scenery is spectacular, no wonder you miss being home!
I have heard so many great things about Seattle, but i have never been. Your post makes me want to go and discover it. I wish it wasnt so far though.
If you like what you see about Seattle, you should also try to include a loop around the Inland Empire / Spokane. The seasons are more defined, lower humidity makes it more comfortable when either hot or cold, and the geographic features carved by the rivers are spectacular. Not as may notable sites to visit, but a great enroute stop when headed for Seattle.
I love Seattle for so many reasons – especially the food and the scenery. I remember visiting The Ballard Locks and was totally amazed when seeing the water level changes. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the mountains!
Wow so beautiful never imagined Seattle would be that amazing
The Portland-Seattle rivalry (I make a home in the former) sometimes has us Oregonians forget the cool things about our northern rival. Seattle’s pretty pretty cool. Still, go Timbers!
Really don’t know anything about Seattle so this is a cool handy cliffs notes guide. A few low cost carriers will be flying from Europe soon so perhaps we’ll get there sooner than expected.
I visited Seattle this year and without a doubt – Pikes place was my favorite. It’s a great place to walk in the day, shop or just chill. The waterfront is my other favorite and I also enjoyed our visit to the boeing factory tour and a whiskey tour we tour! Seattle is really one of my favorite cities in the US.
I’ve never visited Seattle, I don’t think I realised just how pretty the scenery was! I love the look of the market, markets are my thing and we have so many in London I love to visit some whe I’m away!
Washington is a beautiful state with so many things to do and see. We visited the Chihuly Museum when we were downtown and now we spot his artwork everywhere! We took our nephews to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where we saw his largest installation. We also were able to get out to Olympic National Park and the San Juan Islands. Would love to get back to the area. I’m going to add Snoqualmie Falls and Kayaking on Lake Sawyer to our itinerary thanks to you!
Oh you’ll love it! You’re right — Washington IS a very beautiful state!
Heard of Seattle lots of time from friends and family, however, I have never visited there yet. Now I guess I should get my US visa soon, and hit Seattle soon. I would love to spend time at the waterfront and in the markets.
There’s something for everyone in Seattle!