Whether you’re here for a day or a week, a tour is a wonderful way to experience the Emerald City. From the biggest attractions to food to history, we’ve highlighted the best tours around Seattle.
Take it all in
If you’re interested in hitting the big sights in one fell swoop, Seattle has a number of options. Ride the Ducks provides an overview of the biggest attractions and Seattle’s topography with a fun trip via land and water aboard a DUKW vehicle. Cruise past the waterfront, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market and the Space Needle before driving into Lake Union to see Gas Works Park and some of Seattle’s houseboats.
If you’d rather explore via your own two feet, Seattle by Foot has a variety of walking tours, including downtown, Fremont, a coffee crawl, a children’s tour and a pub tour. Guides love showing off the city and share history and quirky facts while you walk. Tour packages and private tours are also available.
Water is what makes this city special. Explore Seattle’s waterways up close with a tour from Lake Union Charters and Adventures. Cruise peacefully on a sailboat around Lake Union, where you’ll see marinas, Gas Works Park and the downtown skyline during a day or sunset sail. They also have a new sailing and kayak tour that travels to Blake Island—either one day or overnight.
If spotting wildlife is on your must list, Clipper Vacations is the only company that offers whale watching tours from downtown Seattle. In addition to the whale watching day trips, Clipper Vacations also has overnight excursions and tour packages to the San Juans and Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. Booking at least a few days in advance is recommended.
Combine your workout with sightseeing at Alki Kayak Tours. Explore Elliott Bay in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. There are sunset tours, a Duwamish River tour and an overnight tour to Blake Island. Tours focus on Seattle’s human and natural history. If you want to explore on your own, kayak and stand-up paddleboard and fishing boat rentals are available.
Head to the skies for a bird’s eye view of Seattle with Seattle Helitours. Their three tour options all offer the chance to see downtown, the sports stadiums, the Space Needle, Lake Union and the University of Washington. A half-hour flight includes downtown Bellevue and the luxury homes of Medina, or fly for 40 minutes to also see Snoqualmie Falls and Mount Si. Flights are available for up to three people.
Take a tour via an airplane from the 1930s or ’40s with Olde Thyme Aviation. Passengers don vintage leather jackets, goggles and cloth helmets while getting an overview of the city. Planes take off and land at Boeing Field and capacities vary: One to three people can fly within weight limits. Check their website for flight options.
Want a more leisurely experience? Float above the treetops in a colorful hot air balloon with Over the Rainbow. Tours happen twice daily in July: morning and evening. Launch sites vary, but are on Seattle’s Eastside. You’ll meet the crew in one of two Woodinville locations and then travel to the launch site. While the wind guides your exact path, you’ll see Sammamish Valley, the Seattle skyline, Mount Rainier, Lake Washington and more.
Seattle has amazing food and drinks—and there are plenty of tours that let you try a sampling. Start with a taste of the city on one of Savor Seattle’s walking food tours. The guide’s pink umbrella will lead you to all the best bites the city has to offer: tour Pike Place Market and try more than 16 bites, including seafood and cheese; take the gourmet tour to try bites from Iron Chef and James Beard award winners; or head to Capitol Hill and try more than 15 bites from one of Seattle’s most active neighborhoods.
If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, a tour of Theo Chocolate won’t disappoint. First, learn about how cacao beans are grown, processed and turned into chocolate—and try samples! From there, proceed to a walking tour of the factory, where Theo’s chocolate bars and other products are made—and try more samples! Tours conclude at Theo’s retail store, a great spot to pick up gifts for your fellow chocolate lovers. Tours often fill quickly; check the website to book in advance.
Thirsty? Drink your way through Seattle with Road Dog Seattle Tours. Whether it’s beer, spirits or coffee, Road Dog showcases the stars of Seattle’s scene. Brewery and distillery tours include three stops, while coffee tours include five stops. Private tours are also available for larger parties.
Want a bit of education about the city while you’re here? Start with the Underground Tour, which takes you beneath Seattle’s streets to see where ground level used to be—before Seattle’s great fire burned everything down. Led by funny, knowledgeable guides, the tour gives visitors a humorous lesson in Seattle’s history. Tours begin inside Doc Maynard’s Public House and start every hour between 10 am and 7 pm during summer months. Tours often sell out, so reserve space early via the website.
Learn about Seattle’s rich music history with Stalking Seattle. See the important sights of Seattle’s music history, including Kurt Cobain’s house, the Black Hole Sun sculpture, Jimi Hendrix’s high school and much more. Tours start and end at the EMP Museum beginning daily at noon and 3 pm.
If you love the theater, Seattle won’t disappoint. Go behind the scenes with a free tour at historic theaters: The Paramount Theatre tour takes place the first Saturday of the month, the Moore Theatre occurs the second Saturday of the month and the Neptune Theatre happens the third Saturday of the month. All three begin at 10 am. The 5th Avenue Theatre holds tours most Mondays at noon.
Fans of baseball, football or soccer can tour the stadiums Seattle teams call home. At Safeco Field tour times vary depending on the Mariners baseball schedules. CenturyLink Field, home to both the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders, has two tours daily during the summer months.
Wondering about some of the city’s architecture? A variety of tours are available through the Seattle Architecture Foundation. With concentrations on art deco design, hidden spaces, design details, family-friendly tours and various neighborhoods, it’s hard to choose which tour to take. Tour schedules vary but usually happen Thursday-Saturday: check the website for details.
Pedal through the city on one of Seattle Cycling Tours many rides. Learn a little history, ride through one of the many neighborhoods or try one of their new themed tours, geared toward special interests in bio-tech, public parks, college campuses and public art. They also have an extended tour of Bainbridge Island, for those who wish to explore more outside the city.
Whether you do one or all, Seattle’s many tours will provide insider tips, a bit of history and a memorable experience.