Chances are when you hear the word "tour," you think of something tourists would do, but that’s not always the case. There are plenty of Seattle tours that locals love just as much as visitors.
Tours can be a great way to learn something new about your hometown. In Seattle, a good tour can open up a new side of Western Washington to you, or be a different way to spend a night or day out. If you’re looking for a night out kind of tour, look to a foodie tour or even pair a tour in downtown Seattle with dinner. If you’re looking for a day activity, get out and explore the Puget Sound by going to Blake Island or taking a whale watching tour – you’ll find many locals on board.
Food Tours of Pike Place
Pike Place Market is popular with locals and visitors alike. This massive farmers market has expanded to include local vendors, restaurants and food producers, and more – with an emphasis on the food! Pike Place is home to all kinds of places with everything from fresh, local foods to street food to sit-down restaurants. Sure, you can go on a self-guided tour on your own, but the advantage of joining up with a tour is that you’ll get to try a whole lot of foods for one flat rate versus having to buy meals or snacks on your own. There are a number of companies that offer food tours. Savor Seattle is one of the most popular companies offering foodie experiences at the market. Tours generally last about two hours and you’ll get to try more than 16 tastes of food and drink around the market for under $50.
The Seattle Underground Tour is – make no mistake – very popular with visitors. Located in Pioneer Square, the Underground Tour is also fun for locals who want to see a different side of Seattle up close. Seattle’s Underground features the ruins of early Seattle – store fronts, city streets, hotels and businesses. After the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, when Pioneer Square burned to the ground, the city rebuilt right on top of itself and left this interesting bit of history below. Exploring it on a tour will show you a glimpse of the original Seattle.
For those who like the creepy side of town, especially around Halloween, ghost tours are the way to go. Companies like Spooked in Seattle offer a few different experiences, most of which center on historic Pioneer Square. For a date night out, you might look to one of their haunted pub tours or a ghost hunt on the USS Turner Joy in Bremerton. Another company, Market Ghost Tours, takes you on a historic tour around Pike Place Market…at night.
A cruise out to Blake Island on board an Argosy Cruise is a really fun way to get out on the water. The experience is not overly touristy and features a nice range of activities filled with Northwesty goodness – a boat ride on the Puget Sound, a visit to a local island, a meal with salmon and local produce at the helm, and a show that will teach you a bit about the local tribes. After the show, you’ll have a little time to hike on the island or wander the beach. Just don’t go too far. If you miss the boat, there aren’t a whole lot of other ways to get back to the mainland!
Center for Wooden Boats Public Sails
Not exactly a tour, but still a guided experience – public sails with the Center for Wooden Boats each Sunday are more popular with locals than with visitors (many visitors probably don’t know this exists). Boats range from sail boats to steam boats to paddle boats, but all are wooden, if you can guess from the venue name. To join in the fun, you have to show up in person starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays to get on the list. Show up early as boats can fill up.
Boeing Future of Flight Tour
The Future of Flight tour at Boeing’s Everett factory is pretty awesome, no matter whether you’re into aviation or not. Everything is just so big! Tour-goers get to see the 747, 777 and/or 787 assembly lines up close, from view decks that look down on the factory floor. Seeing how these planes are put together and learning more about flight history and current plane production is a worthy experience. For aviation buffs, there are also exhibits to explore before or after the tour.
Whale Watching Tours
A huge part of what makes Seattle such a unique place to live is its connection to the Puget Sound. That proximity bolsters our fresh food options, gives us some pretty stellar scenery and opens up all kinds of recreational fun. The Puget Sound is also home to all kinds of wildlife, including a number of whales. A few whale watching tours depart right out of Seattle, but these as well as tours that leave out of points north such as Everett or Anacortes, tend to actually do their searching around the San Juan Islands. Many tours will offer you a repeat trip if you don’t spot any whales – ask about this if seeing a whale is your primary goal, or also ask what percentage of tours spot a whale (most companies have pretty good odds). Even without a whale sighting, whale tours are enjoyable since they get out on the water and up close to all kinds of other wildlife.
Kenmore Air Tours
If you’ve been anywhere near Lake Union, you’ve seen sea planes taking off. Kenmore Air uses Lake Union as a runway. Their small planes serve as regional transportation, but also as some of the most unique tours in town. Get a bird’s eye view of Seattle or go on a ride-along to the San Juans or even combine a flight with a whale watching tour.
Winery and Brewery Tours
Seattle is a city that loves its beverages, and joining in a winery or brewery tour is the perfect way to bond with your beverage of choice on a whole new level. Venture to Woodinville a half hour out of downtown and you can take a tour of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, which offers plenty of tastes along the way.