Space Needle and Mt Rainier at dusk in Seattle

Trips to Seattle: A Complete Guide


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Seattle is an amazing vacation destination for families, for couples looking for a romantic getaway, for active and outdoorsy adventures, or for solo travelers. The Emerald City is filled with unique attractions like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, a fresh local food scene, and outdoorsy pursuits galore.

Planning Your Trip to Seattle

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer, when the weather is warm and dry, and the days are long.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: U.S. Dollars
  • Getting Around in Seattle: Driving is the most common way to get around, but if you want to stay right in the city, there’s a bus system as well as some light rail.
  • Travel Tip: Always pack layers when you travel to the Seattle area. Even in the summer, some days or evenings might be cool so a light jacket is never wrong to bring along. In other seasons, weather can vary day by day or even within the span of a single day and a rain jacket is a valuable item to pack, though despite its reputation, Seattle actually sees less rainfall annually than other cities like Boston or New York.

Things to Do in Seattle

Seattle is known for its major attractions like Seattle Center and Pike Place Market, but it’s also an amazing destination for hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor adventures.

  • Seattle Center: Seattle Center is home to many attractions all in one spot. It’s popular with residents and visitors alike. The Space Needle is within its bounds and offers great views of the city. Festivals and events are common throughout the year and include cultural festivals, Northwest Folklife, Winterfest and more. And there are plenty of individual attractions here too, from the Pacific Science Center and MoPop, to Chihuly Garden and Glass, to KeyArena, to the International Fountain.
  • Pike Place Market: Pike Place Market is an iconic farmers market and the oldest continuously running one in the country. You can buy fresh produce, meats and flowers, but you’ll also find restaurants and eateries galore, as well as shops to explore. Don’t miss the famous Pike Place Fish Market where you’ll see the workers throwing fish, but make sure to wander beyond that as you'll find everything from unique spices to rock shops and artist-made goods within.
  • Seattle Waterfront: Just down a giant set of stairs behind Pike Place Market, the Seattle Waterfront is home to places like the Seattle Aquarium, the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, the Seattle Great Wheel, and Wings over Washington, as well as spots like Ivar’s to stop and eat along the water.
  • Watch the Seattle Seahawks play at the CenturyLink field and join in the cheering—the fans earned a Guinness World Record in 2013 for loudest crowd roar.

Explore more things to do with our full-length articles on the best things to do in Seattle, the best free things to do, or kid-friendly attractions in Seattle.

What to Eat and Drink

From seafood to produce, Seattle is known for fresh and delicious food across the board. Seattle is located right on the shores of the Puget Sound, which connects to the Pacific Ocean, meaning we get seafood galore. Don’t miss locally caught salmon and Dungeness crab! You’ll find no shortage of restaurants in town that take advantage of local ingredients as Northwesterners take pride in all things local. Tom Douglas is one of the city’s star chefs and his restaurants are all centrally located in or near downtown Seattle and include Northwest cuisine (Etta’s), Greek (Lola), Asian fusion and more. The Northwest in general also puts a focus on locally sourced or organic ingredients, and a number of restaurants factor that into their menus, including The Barking Frog in nearby Woodinville wine country.

Seattle is also known for its microbrewery scene. The Ballard neighborhood has a number of microbreweries, and you’ll find larger Pyramid Brewing and Elysian Brewing in SoDo and Capitol Hill respectively. If you’re not a fan of beer, there is lots of local wine to try due to both Eastern Washington, but also Woodinville Wine Country right outside of Seattle.

Explore more places to eat and drink with these pieces about the top affordable upscale restaurants, view restaurants and where to eat seafood in Seattle.

Where to Stay in Seattle

For the quintessential Seattle experience, stay in the heart of downtown where you won’t need to worry about driving to get to most of the city’s key spots. Options include the Hyatt Regency, Four Seasons as well as a number of boutique hotels. There are also plenty of budget hotel options, too. However, staying downtown means dealing with parking (you’ll pay for parking just about everywhere), traffic and crowds. If you prefer something quieter and more intimate, look to Seattle’s other neighborhoods. Capitol Hill is a fun part of town for nightlife, parks and local shops. Likewise, Ballard, Fremont, and Wallingford have local shopping and fun things to do like the Ballard Locks or going to visit the Fremont Troll.

Explore more about where you can stay in Seattle with this list of the city's best hotels or the top budget hotels.

Getting There

Seattle is easy to get to via Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is less than a half hour south of the city. You can take light rail from the airport to the city, and then use Metro Transit buses to get around, but it’s best to rent a car so you can get out of the city core. You can also get to Seattle via Greyhound or Amtrak.

Money Saving Tips

  • Explore Seattle’s museums on the first Thursday of each month as many open their doors for select hours for free.
  • Seattle’s parks are amazing and all free to visit.
  • Use the light rail for some local trips and skip paying for parking in the downtown core.
  • Buy a CityPass to save on admission to the top attractions if you plan to do more than one top attraction during your visit.
  • Learn more about the cheapest ways to have fun in Seattle with this list of free things to do.
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Visit Seattle. "Seattle Facts."

  2. Visit Seattle. "All About Pike Place Market."

  3. Guinness World Records. "Seattle Seahawks Fans 'Cause Minor Earthquake' With World Record Crowd Roar." December 4, 2013