Sharing a new experience together is a fantastic way to bond with the one you love, so break out of your comfort zone while you're visiting Seattle and try something different for date night. We've made a list of some of the best ways to spend time together in the Emerald City. Whether you opt for an out-of-the-box adventure or a classic dinner date, you're sure to create memories you'll treasure long after you leave.
Sing Your Hearts Out
What could be more romantic—and, let’s face it: probably hilarious—than serenading each other with “your” song? At the Japanese-style karaoke bar Rock Box on Capitol Hill, you and your honey can belt out tunes on the public stage near the bar or reserve a private room for a more intimate experience. Boost your confidence with the bar’s signature cocktail, a saké sangria, and feast on charcuterie from next-door Cure, all delivered right to your “box.”
Row With the Flow
Bundle up for bracing water and shove off in a double kayak for an adventure a deux. Located just steps away from the West Seattle water taxi pier, Alki Kayak Tours and Adventure Center offers sea kayak rentals by the hour for experienced paddlers, as well as special guided tours around Elliott Bay at sunset and on full moon nights for those who’d rather explore with a group. Never kayaked before? Two-hour introductory classes are available to help you get on board with this popular Seattle pastime. Dedicated landlubbers may prefer to rent bikes for an easy cruise along Alki Beach instead.
Shuck and Savor
Oysters have a reputation for bringing lovers out of their shells; apparently they’re rich in minerals and amino acids that are known to be natural aphrodisiacs. But science aside, there’s just something undeniably indulgent about sharing a plate of oysters. Combine that with a few drinks and a water view, and you’re in for a special evening. Pike Brewing Company’s recently opened seafood-focused restaurant, Tankard & Tun, is a fantastic place to test the theory. Perched above the brewery and overlooking Elliott Bay, the lively dining room serves fresh, local oysters on the half shell, along with a full menu of small plates and mains and, of course, house-brewed drafts and mixed drinks incorporating Pike’s brews.
Cut a Rug
Love to dance? Grab your partner and head to Century Ballroom to show off your fancy footwork. Set in an elegant 1908 building that was originally an Odd Fellows lodge, the ballroom hosts dances every night for a range of styles, including swing, tango, bachata and salsa. Don’t worry if your skills are rusty: half-hour intro lessons are available before the dances most nights. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head across the hall to The Tin Table for shareable plates like prosciutto, fig and goat cheese bruschetta, and a glass or two of wine.
Why is it that we so often associate Italy with romance? Sure, the mellifluous language and gorgeous scenery are part of it, but it’s the Italians’ pursuit of the “la vita bella”—slowing down and enjoying the company of loved ones—that appeals most. It’s no surprise that several of Seattle’s go-to date night restaurants are those where couples can linger over linguine and other Italian cuisine. Toast your amore with a candlelit dinner at Ristorante Machiavelli, a Capitol Hill destination since 1988, or at Pike Place Market’s underground trattoria, Il Bistro. Another tucked-away spot in the Market, The Pink Door, features burlesque and cabaret entertainment while you dine.
Go Above and Beyond
Share breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience with an aerial tour of Seattle. Board Kenmore Air’s Scenic Seaplane Tour at Lake Union for a 20-minute narrated flight that takes in stately lake- and seaside estates, the University of Washington campus and the city skyline against sparkling Elliott Bay. Atomic Helicopters offers similar tours above the city, as well as a longer flight that soars above Ballard Locks, the Space Needle and Seattle waterfront before heading out to beautiful Snoqualmie Falls.
Raise a Toast
If flights of wine are more your style, make a beeline for Charles Smith Wines Jet City to swirl, sip and savor samples from Washington state's star winemaker. Housed in a stunningly renovated warehouse across from Boeing Field, you can enjoy Smith's award-winning wines while watching planes take off and land through dramatic double-story windows. On Saturdays, the upstairs bar offers a cozy spot to relax with a glass of your favorite while sharing a cheese and charcuterie plate.
Be Bowled Over
If yard games are how you roll, Capitol Hill's Rhein Haus is the place for you. The Bavarian-inspired pub features several indoor bocce lanes as well as a patio with other games. In between turns, you and your liebchen can enjoy beers from the impressive draft list along with giant pretzels, schnitzel sliders, brats and other German-style bites.
Although cats are Seattle’s most common four-legged friends, we’re also wild about dogs.
In fact, pups outnumber children in Seattle by almost 50 percent. The “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) through the end of May 2018 explores the range of roles cats and dogs have played in Seattle, from workers to fur kids. In addition to photos, objects and stories, the family-friendly exhibit also features children’s play areas with pet-themed games, toys and books.
A couple of years ago, a tongue-in-cheek poll revealed that Seattle ranked second only to Portland, Oregon, in its population of single women who live alone with a cat—a.k.a. cat ladies. We’re not sure whether that particular data still holds true, but a new business on Capitol Hill is betting there are plenty of feline fanatics around.
At Neko Cat Cafe, guests can sip coffee, wine or beer and snack on small plates while enjoying cuddles from up to a dozen cats. Best of all, each of the kitties are adoptable, thanks to a partnership with King County's animal services department. Neko's owner, Caitlin Unsell, says she was inspired by the cat cafes she visited while working as a kindergarten teacher in Japan. It’s the latest in a litter of recently opened venues that combine the area’s passions for cats and coffee, including Meowtropolitan in Wallingford, Emerald Kitty Cafe in West Seattle and The Kitty Catfe in Edmonds. Like Neko, each of these cafes features adoptable cats.
Pups and Pints
If you prefer dogs and craft brews to cats and coffee, Seattle has plenty of options. Many local breweries and taprooms—especially those with outdoor enclosures—allow four-legged friends to join in the fun. The Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods are especially good prospects; some of our dog-friendly favorites include Peddler Brewing Company, Fremont Brewing, Reuben's Brews, Lagunitas Taproom and Beer Sanctuary and Norm's Eatery and Ale House (named for its founder's golden retriever.)
Nothing is more comforting than soup on a chilly day, and one of this city’s hottest trends in slurping is ramen. Forget those packets of dried noodles from your student days; we’re talking steaming bowls of silky noodles in rich broth with filling proteins, such as tender slices of pork or a soft-boiled egg. It’s still a long way from eclipsing pho as Seattle’s favorite noodle soup, but ramen’s popularity is clear from the number of newly opened restaurants around town.
Capitol Hill is at the heart of the craze with four new spots opening up since summer 2017: Ooink, Tentenyu, Betsutenjin and Ramen Danbo joining the neighborhood’s already-established Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya.
Other notable noodle shops include Arashi Ramen in Ballard, Ramen Man in Wallingford, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka’s new University Village spot, and star chef Josh Henderson's Kiki Ramen in South Lake Union.
Our handy guide to to deciphering the menus at Seattle's favorite ramen restaurants.
Miso: Thick and rich, this broth is flavored with a savory soybean paste.
Shio: A clear yellow broth, often made from a chicken or fish base, with a salty flavor.
Shoyu: A popular option, typically made by simmering chicken bones with soy sauce and veggies.
Tonkotsu: An opaque, collagen-rich liquid made from pork hock and trotters.
Northern Lights Film Festival: The Nordic Heritage Museum and Seattle International Film Festival (Jan. 11-Jan.14) team up to present four days of contemporary flicks from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Lapland, kicking off with “Borg vs. McEnroe,” starring Shia LaBeouf, on opening night.
"Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect:" This weekend is your last chance to catch Seattle Art Museum’s wildly successful exhibit of more than a hundred of Wyeth’s paintings and drawings, including both well-known and rarely seen works. The collection of portraits and landscapes spans Wyeth's 75-year career, offering insight to his evolution as an artist. One of the exhibit highlights is bound to be Wyeth's last-ever painting, titled "Goodbye," which until now had only been seen by attendees of the artist's 2009 memorial service. The show closes Monday (Jan. 15); online reservations are highly recommended.
Shellfish Showcase: Oysters and clams and mussels, oh my! During this annual event (through Jan. 25), some of Seattle's best-loved restaurants, including Elliot's Oyster House, Il Bistro, Skillet and Coastal Kitchen, are showing off what's fresh and local with special shellfish-driven menus. See the full list of participants and check out their menus here.
"Two Trains Running:" This drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson (best-known for “Fences”), takes the stage at the Seattle Repertory Theatre just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day ( Jan. 12-Jan. 11). Set in a Pittsburgh diner against the backdrop of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, its themes of racial and economic inequality feel just as relevant today.
Georgetown Art Attack: Head to the quirky little neighborhood of Georgetown for its monthly art crawl (6-9 pm, Saturday, Jan. 13). Highlights include glass-blowing demonstrations at The Rainier Glass Studio; works from emerging comics artists at Fantagraphics; artist Indira Allegra’s performance exhibition exploring the choreography of weaving at The Alice; and a pop-up bazaar of jewelry and fashion from local designers at The Conservatory. Click here for a map of participating venues.
Beloved ballets, festive musicals and even quirky cabaret shows are all hot tickets this time of year.
For some, it just wouldn't be Christmas without seeing Clara twirl her way through the magical Land of Sweets. Don't miss the chance to be dazzled by the Pacific Northwest Ballet's George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker" at McCaw Hall (through 12/28). Little ones will especially love the DIY cupcake bar and costumed characters in the "Nutcracker Suite" during the intermission.
On the other hand, adults might be tempted by "Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker" (12/7-28) a cabaret-style take on the classic tale that packs The Triple Door, a cozy dinner theater near Pike Place Market every year.
For more zany merriment, check in to "Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn" at the 5th Avenue Theatre (through 12/31). This is the West Coast premiere of the recent Broadway hit, which features lavish costumes and sets and 20 Berlin songs.
The Emerald City sparkles during the holidays with twinkling light displays dotted around. From one-night celebrations to monthlong displays, these beloved annual events are not to be missed.
SAM Lights On 12/14, the grounds and pavilion of Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park will be aglow with luminaria and colorful light shows. Enjoy live music and sip hot cocoa as you stroll through.
WildLights The annual event at Woodland Park Zoo (5:30-8:30 p.m. nightly through 1/1) features creative displays using more than 600,000 LED lights, carousel rides, faux snowball fights and visits with Santa and his reindeer.
Garden d'Lights Enjoy holiday favorites from local caroling groups and other performers as you stroll through a winter wonderland of more than half-a-million lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden (4:30-9 p.m through 12/31).
Argosy Christmas Ship Festival Naturally, one of Seattle's best-loved light displays takes place on the water. A quintessential tradition for almost 70 years, this parade of illuminated and decorated boats makes two stops each night at more than 45 locations along Puget Sound (through 12/23). Crowds gather at the waterfront to await the ship and its onboard choir, which serenades the shore with 20-minute performances. Book a place on the lead Christmas Ship or one of the follow boats for festive extras like singa-longs, a gift shop and holiday-themed drinks. Or, head to a waterfront stop to await the ship by a crackling bonfire.
This Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, head to Westlake Park for a fun, festive and not-so-silent night at the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition, when dozens of caroling teams will vie for top honors. The event is free, but donations to Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank are appreciated.
Old Saint Nick keeps very busy this time of year, Before his big night of present delivery, he makes several stops around the city. Through Christmas Eve you can ooh and ahh over twice-nightly indoor snow shows and tap your toes to live musical performances in the atrium at Pacific Place while you wait for your chance to chat with the jolly old man himself.
You wouldn't want to sit on Santa's lap when he visits the Seattle Aquarium from noon and 3 pm every Saturday, Sunday and Monday through Dec. 24, 2017, as he'll be swimming through on of the giant tanks. After watching the diving Santa stick around for enjoy special holiday concerts.
Santa is for everyone, so celebrate diversity this holiday season. On Saturday, Dec. 2, Asian American Santa will visit the Wing Luke Museum in the Chinatown-International District. Black Santa will be on call for wish lists and photo opps at the Northwest African American Museum on Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10.
Seattle Center buzzes with holiday activity during the monthlong Winterfest. Ongoing attractions include a model train wending its way through a charming wintry village, ice-sculpture carving, Victorian-costumed carolers and an ice skating rink. It wraps up on New Year's Eve with a fireworks display at the Space Needle.
Visit the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle to get the warm fuzzies in the plushest room in town at the Teddy Bear Suite, a room packed with cuddly toy bears, then choose your favorite from the elaborately decorated firs and pines at the hotel's Festival of Trees.
The annual Gingerbread Village display (through Jan. 1, 2018) at City Center features sugary structures created by the Sheraton Seattle's culinary team and top local architecture firms. The event is free, but donations to the Northwest Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation are appreciated.
Gallery: Santa and Other Festivities in Seattle
Black Friday draws shoppers to department and big box stores in droves, but the following day, Small Business Saturday is a great excuse to get out, visit your favorite local shops (and discover new ones), and find gifts that stand out from the rest. Check out these small wonders for stylish accessories and stocking stuffers.
Moorea Seal: Seattle-based Moorea Seal is more than a jewelry designer; she's the stylish entrepreneur behind the growing lifestyle brand that carries her name. Seal started making a name for herself as an early pioneer of Pinterest, and it wasn't long before the eye-catching mood boards she created earned her an impressive following. She parlayed her reputation as a tastemaker into a successful online boutique, and later a brick-and-mortar shop. This fall, Seal moved her trove of treasures into new digs in trendy Pioneer Square. In the bright and airy new space, devotees of Seal's style aesthetic can shop for gifts from her own line of jewelry, stationery collection and "52 Lists" journals, as well as handpicked fashion and home accessories from other up-and-coming and established designers.
Baleen: The simple but beautiful jewelry is designed and created in the studio of this Ballard boutique.
Sassafras: This Belltown shop stocks clothing, jewelry and accessories exclusively from Pacific Northwest designers.
Nube: Carefully curated U.S.-made jewelry, accessories and home goods line the shelves at this chic Capitol Hill spot.
Division Road: Along with high-quality heritage menswear, this Pioneer Square shop offers a range of small accessories, including English bridle-leather wallets, key lanyards and wrist bands.
Sharply: Find waxed-canvas shaving kit bags, National Parks baseball caps, woodsy-scented beard balms and more hip goodies at this menswear shop on Capitol Hill.
If you aren't in town for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal, there are still plenty of ways to get your turkey fix, from traditional feasts to offbeat options. Tables are booking up quickly all over town though, so make your reservations pronto.
RN74: Expect holiday classics cooked with French flair dishes at this upscale restaurant in downtown. The three-course dinner offers a choice of main courses including roasted heritage turkey, Lobster Seafood Fantasy and filet beef Wellington served alongside roasted foie gras stuffing and sweet potato gratin with duck confit. Save room for pumpkin pie or rosemary and orange-liqueur chocolate mousse.
Scout: The cozy interior of Chef Josh Henderson's restaurant at the Thompson Seattle is ideal for celebrating with family and friends. During its second-annual Friendsgiving celebration seatings at 1 pm and 4 pm, guests can choose their favorites from the three-course menu. Mains include roasted turkey, roasted trout or roasted squash, each served with sides of truffle mac and cheese, spinach gratin and oyster stuffing.
Red Cedar & Sage: This Pike Place Market fave will serve a traditional turkey or prime rib dinner made with locally sourced ingredients.
Waterways Cruises: Step aboard for an unforgettable holiday cruise with Waterways; their lunch and dinner jaunts include champagne at boarding, a gourmet buffet and 2.5 hours of sightseeing on lakes Union and Washington.
Wild Ginger: Back on shore, Wild Ginger is spicing up the usual with Asian flavors—think turkey and all the trimmings with lemongrass, turmeric, ginger and more.
Big Mario’s Pizza: Looking for something completely different? Every year, hip hangout opens late to serve special New York-style slices for the occasion. Don't miss the chance to gobble up their Turkey Trot Pie, with turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Maybe you're jet lagged. Or had theater tickets. Or maybe you're just plain not ready to call it quits for the night. Whatever the reason you're looking for a place to grab a bite to eat after the usual dinner hours, Seattle has a spot that will feed your needs.
Zig Zag Cafe
Its tucked-away position right in the middle of all the action makes Zig Zag Cafe a favorite with locals. Located on the Pike Street Hill Climb, the staircase leading from Pike Place Market to Western Avenue, this cozy venue offers a late-night menu of Mediterranean-inspired food and handcrafted cocktails from 11 pm - 1 am nightly. Try the fried pork skins with harissa-yogurt sauce, or for something more substantial opt for the pastitsio, a Greek version of lasagna.
Open till midnight, Pike Place Market upstairs hideout Radiator Whiskey specializes in house-distilled whiskey, but it's more than just a bar—it's a carnivore’s delight. Don't miss the Buffalo-style chicken livers or the lamb neck sloppy joe.
North of the market, the Belltown neighborhood is still buzzing into the wee hours. Star chef Tom Douglas' Palace Kitchen, open till 1 am nightly, dishes up inspired Northwestern cuisine, and its Palace Burger Royale, with local beef chuck and sweet Walla Walla onion on a bun from Douglas' Dahlia Bakery, is legendary. It's big enough to share, but you probably won't want to give up a bite.
The intimate, candlelit tables and shareable dishes like bacon-wrapped shrimp, spicy meatballs and gnocchi with black truffle cream make List the perfect spot to cap off a late date. Food is half-off during late-night happy hour from 9 pm - midnight.
The next block over, Rocco's serves craft cocktails and gourmet pizzas by the whole, half or slice until 2 am. Try the build-your-own shrub cocktails, which allow you to dial up or down the sourness to your own taste.
You can laissez les bon-temps rouler well into the night at New Orleans-inspired Toulouse Petit. This lively Lower Queen Anne restaurant offers a menu brimming with Cajun and Creole classics like gumbo, jambalaya and fried catfish. Dinner is served until 11 pm, with late-night happy hour specials running from 10 pm to close.
Damn the Weather
If you're ending your evening south of downtown in historic Pioneer Square, Damn the Weather is your go-to. Late night happy hour runs 10 pm to close (midnight on weekdays and 2 am Fridays and Saturdays), with indulgent chicken fat fries, meat and cheese plates and outstanding cocktails to tempt you.
Some locals boast that “true Seattleites” don’t carry umbrellas. Maybe it’s part of the hardy Northwestern spirit—or maybe it’s because we don’t want to distract from our fashionable raincoats.
You'll find plenty of ways to stay dry in style at the flagship stores of Seattle-based outfitters Filson in SoDo and REI in South Lake Union, and if you’re looking for a waterproof jacket that stands out in a crowd check out one of the city’s boutique outerwear designers: The waxed-cotton jackets from Feller (available at Clementine’s in Pioneer Square), including the vintage plaid Modern Topper shown below, mix traditional materials with contemporary style. The quest for the perfect rain jacket led locals Scott and Wendy Freeman to design their own; find their old-school inspired collection at Capitol Hill shop Freeman.
Kent, Washington-based Chooka has been helping folks take a stand against soggy feet since the company was founded in 1891. More than 125 years later, the women’s footwear brand has expanded its line to include a range of styles, including pull-on booties, lace-up duck boots and skimmers, in a rainbow of colors and patterns—all designed to take you from city streets to hiking trails. Try on a pair at the Nordstrom flagship store at Westlake Park or order online.
Gallery: Staying Dry in Seattle
Choose your own adventure this Halloween: Do you prefer screaming "Don't go in there!" at gruesome horror movies or feeling the hairs at the back of your neck stand up upon hearing a subtly spooky ghost story? Or do you like to pass on the scary stuff altogether in favor of good old-fashioned fun like trick-or-treating? Brave grown-ups only or family-friendly—however you like to celebrate the season, Seattle has an event for you. Check out a few of our favorites:
Ghastly Ghost Stories
With these long, chilly nights, there's no better season to curl up with your favorite scary novel or to queue up the horror blockbusters on Netflix. But if there's one thing we should all know from that genre it's don't go it alone. Join fellow thrill-seekers to listen to spooky stories at local bars as part of Seattle Public Library's annual Booktoberfest, which features events such as "Ghastly Tales and Cocktails" at Lottie's Lounge (10/24) and The Conservatory (10/26), and "Ales from the Crypt" nights at Floating Bridge Brewing (10/28) and Tippe & Drague (10/29).
Rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Seattle, Hotel Sorrento will celebrate its reputation this month with "Sorrento Curiosities," a series of spirited events that include Tarot Tuesdays weekly card readings and two talks by noted paranormal researcher Neil McNeil (10/11 and 10/25). Both events take place in the century-old hotel's intimate Fireside Room, where you can also order a hot toddy and ask the bartender to tell you a tale about strange happenings.
Break the tension with laughs at the Thursday night "Campfire" shows by Unexpected Productions, at the theater located behind the Gum Wall at Pike Place Market. The company's improv troupe will use true stories from the audience as the basis for their skits, which promise to be both scary and hilarious.
Love scary movies? You won't want to miss the new "Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film" at MoPOP. Recommended for ages 13 and up, visitors will learn about some of the genre's greats while experiencing first-hand the chilling sensations of cinematic terror in a series of galleries, such as a vampire's lair. You can also catch a screening of "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3" on the big screen in MoPOP's SkyChurch (10/26) as part of the Campout Cinema series—don't forget to bring a blanket to sit on.
A hidden world of abandoned storefronts and sidewalks lies beneath the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, buried when the area was regraded and rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1889. Hear about paranormal activity as you're guided through the subterranean passageways said to be haunted by the souls who perished there on one of the Underground Paranormal Experience tours running at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays this month.
Back above ground, Spooked in Seattle's nightly walking tours takes brave souls through Pioneer Square for more stories about the ghosts who are said to haunt the city's oldest neighborhood.
Nothing to Fear
Halloween doesn't have to be horrifying; there are lots of family-friendly goings-on that offer thrills without the chills.
Don your costumes and head to the "Museum of Fright" event at the Museum of Flight (10/29) for G-rated aviation-themed ghost stories, a mad-science lab, spooky craft sessions, and the chance to fly witches on broomsticks through a giant pumpkin.
The Halloween fun at Seattle Aquarium (10/28-29) will include underwater pumpkin carving and mad scientist demonstrations, face-painting, games and more.
Capitol Hill's annual "Hilloween" event (10/28) features old-school Halloween fun including a kid's carnival, costume parade and trick-or-treating.
When the Denny party, pioneers from the Midwest, arrived in 1851 to settle this area, they first built their cabins at Alki Point. The location proved less than ideal for establishing a waterfront to support the settlement though, so they moved it to the more sheltered harbor of Elliott Bay.
Over the years, Seattle's position on Puget Sound was key to its role in the shipping and logging industries as well as the gold rush, and the waterfront was a rough-and-tumble collection of boarding houses, taverns and gambling halls. Much has changed since then, but the waterfront is still a prime destination for those visiting Seattle.
Choose Your Own Adventure
These days, the entertainment options on and around the docks are family-friendly but just as exciting.
Get an idea of the awesome yet challenging landscapes that greeted those early explorers at Wings Over Washington. Part theater, part ride, this unique experience pairs cutting-edge technology like virtual reality, laser projection and drone photography with seats that change direction and pitch synchronized to the film. Once you're buckled in, you'll feel as if you're flying high above Washington's mountains, rainforest, cliffs and more.
From virtual views to the real thing—the Seattle Great Wheel. The 175-foot wheel's glass-walled gondolas allow passengers 360-degree views during the slow, smooth ride. After dark, the wheel itself becomes a sight to see, thanks to its almost 500,000 LED lights. For holidays and special events, such as Seattle Seahawks games, the lights are programmed with colorful, pulsating displays.
The waterfront also offers a launching point for discovering the Puget Sound area as many early explorers did: by water. Argosy Cruises offers daily cruises of the harbor year-round. For a glimpse into the lives of the area's original inhabitants, opt for the Tillicum Village cruise. The half-day excursion takes passengers to Blake Island State Park to tour a longhouse, stroll beach and forest trails, dine on clams and alder-roasted salmon and enjoy Native American dance and music performances.
For longer excursions, Clipper Vacations offers daily departures to Victoria, British Columbia, where historic buildings, formal gardens and high tea services are all part of the city's colonial charm.
If sea life intrigues you, set aside some time to visit Seattle Aquarium at Pier 59. Its permanent exhibits highlight the underwater wildlife of Puget Sound and the Northwest, including octopi, sixgill sharks, and salmon. Be prepared to fall in love with the sea otters and their playful antics.
Try Today's Catch
Long before the Seattle Aquarium was built, another, smaller aquarium attracted visitors to the historic waterfront. It was opened in 1938 by Seattle icon Ivar Haglund, who charged curious customers a nickel to view his collection of sea life. He soon added a fish 'n' chips stand to his attraction, which proved a great success. He later opened a standalone restaurant called Ivar's Acres of Clams—it's still at Pier 54 delighting visitors with fresh catches and great views more than 70 years later.
You'll never be short of dining options on the waterfront. If it's shellfish you're after, check out a few of our other favorites: Elliott's Oyster House, a Pier 56 favorite since 1975; or The Crab Pot on Pier 57, where "sea feasts" of steamed crab, baked clams and more are served family-style on butcher-paper covered tables. Expect to get messy!
While Seattle is known for its seafood, that isn't the only option on the waterfront. Pier 55 boasts a location of a nationwide burger restaurant you might not have realized originated in Seattle: Red Robin. The chain got its start near the University of Washington in the 1940s as Sam's Tavern, but was soon rechristened Sam's Red Robin after its founder's favorite song. Of course, you'll find the usual menu of gourmet burgers and bottomless fries at the waterfront location—but the bay views are one-of-a-kind.
Kidd Valley, a local favorite that's been serving up burgers and hand-blended shakes since 1975, opened a location on neighboring Pier 54 last month.
Find The Perfect Souvenir
Seattle owes much of its success to its position as a gateway to the Klondike gold rush, when expedition outfitters and other businesses sprung up to cater to the needs of the 30,000-40,000 prospectors who passed through the city on their way to Alaska to find fortune starting in 1897.
Some of those businesses still exist today, including Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Part shop, part museum, the venue houses a collection of oddities like shrunken heads, mummies and taxidermied mythical creatures, along with Northwestern souvenirs that range from the quirky—Sasquatch action figures—to the classic—Native American art prints.
For more traditional reminders of your visit, head to Simply Seattle for T-shirts, "rain globes" and gift baskets of locally produced artisan foods, or to Pike Street Press, where you'll find letterpress postcards, prints and more designed by Seattle artists.
Outdoorsy pursuits are a common interest among many of Seattle’s locals and visitors, whether it's opportunities to be active or just to relax and enjoy nature. Luckily, you don’t have to leave the city limits for any of that. Seattle boasts dozens of urban oases, each with its own distinct flavor.
Just a short walk from downtown, the 22-foot waterfall at tiny and secluded Waterfall Garden Park helps drown out the nearby hustle and bustle.
Cal Anderson Park in the heart of Capitol Hill is a prime spot for posing and people watching—keep an eye out for the impromptu bike polo matches that pop up on the park’s tennis courts.
Set on a bluff above Puget Sound, Discovery Park—the city’s largest at more than 500 acres—rewards visitors with sweeping views of both the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, and features a three-mile looped trail that passes the historic West Point Lighthouse.
Green Lake Park
A popular destination for boating and swimming, the nearly three-mile path that curves around the lake also draws plenty of joggers and cyclists.
Gas Works Park
The industrial structures of the old city gas plant make for dramatic scenery on Lake Union's north shore. Kids will love the play barn, and the park's big hill is perfect for flying a kite.