Seattle is a major seaport town in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington. With a population of just under 621,000, it’s also the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region.
Seattle is known for turning out some of the most famous names in music and also some of the most popular genres of music. Jazz has deep roots in the city, which launched the careers of Ray Charles and Quincy Jones. You can also thank Seattle for ‘grunge’ music, indie dance and the legendary Jimi Hendrix.
Although the active music scene is a big tourist draw for Seattle, it isn’t the only thing that brings tourists back year after year. We’re going to show you the top ten things to do as a tourist in the city.
1. Go whale watching – Pacific Coast area
If you’re ever in Seattle between April and mid-October, a whale watching excursion must be on your to do list. There are a variety of charter tours that take you where the whale action is so you can experience these magnificent creatures in an up close and personal kind of way. Tour times and fees will vary so call ahead to make your arrangements in advance to any one of the local reputable tour companies.
2. See the city from the air – Various points in the city
Seattle has a number of air tour companies that provide aerial tours of the city aboard sea planes. The sea planes are able to land in the water along the coastal regions, where most of the flights arrive and depart. There are a variety of tours to choose from – some are air only while others take you on day long excursions that include the aforementioned whale watching. This is a great kid-friendly activity, too – that children of all ages will enjoy.
3. Go berry picking – Various farms around the city
Summertime is berry picking season in the Pacific Northwest and the only thing better than farm fresh berries is picking them yourself. You can do that at one of the many farms around Seattle during the summer months. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries – they’re all here. This would be a great activity for the whole family and a healthy one, too. Admission is usually free, but you’ll have to buy the berries you pick.
4. Shop at the Floating Farmer’s Market – Lake Union, Seattle
You’ve probably been to many farmers’ markets before, but you’ve likely never been to one that’s housed on a boat. The FarmBoat Floating Farmer’s Market is located in a vintage wooden steamboat named the Virginia V. You can find all kinds of fresh produce and fruits there, just like at any other Farmer’s Market, but you can also have lunch on the deck, tour the boat and learn about the history of Puget Sound while you’re there. The Floating Farmer’s Market is open on Thursdays from May-October during daylight hours. Admission is free.
5. Learn how to square dance – Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW
Even if you’ve never danced a step in your life, learning how to square dance with the locals at Tractor Tavern is something you must attempt. It’s a unique experience that let’s you experience a little bit of Seattle like the locals do and perhaps learn a new skill to take home with you! Square dancing happens every second and fourth Monday of the month.
6. Witness the birth and evolution of computers – Living Computer Museum, 2245 1st Ave S
The Living Computer Museum, founded by one of the founders of Microsoft, is a graveyard for vintage computers where they are restored to their former glory to function as they normally did. They are then put on display to show people where computers came from, how the early machines functions and how far they have evolved since their inception. This museum is a must see for any tech buff or modern day computer user. It’s open Thursday-Sunday from 10am-5pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for students, military and seniors and free for children aged 12 and under.
7. Peruse the curious things – Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, 1001 Alaskan Way
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop have been entertaining visitors since 1899. It’s part museum, part gift shop, part whatever else you can imagine. You’ll find trinkets, gifts and souveniers of all kinds. Weird little things that make you wonder as well as obscure movie posters. And where else can you find shrunked heads for sale alongside homemade fudge? It’s just one of those places you have to experience for yourself. They are open daily from 9am-9pm.
8. Skydiving – iFly, 349 Tuckwila Parkway
If you always wanted to skydive, but never wanted to jump out of a plane soaring at 20,000 feet, iFly is perfect for you. It allows you to get the same skydiving experience and feeling from just a few feet above ground in a specialized wind tunnel. Ifly is open daily from 9am to 9pm and ticket prices range from $60 per person to $250 for a family pack.
9. Climb the stairway to heaven – Various points around the city
Seattle is home to some 428 stairways that wind through the hilly areas and different levels of the city. In all, they cover some 100 miles. You can find guides at various points in the city that will lead you through walking tours where you will encounter the stairways. It’s a great way to see and explore the little known parts of the city.
10. Walk the shore at low tide – Puget Sound, year round
Exploring the shoreline at low tide can yield some amazing finds. Sea cucumbers, starfish and clams are just a few of the creatures you’ll encounter. You can choose to go with one of the local nature groups or you can just go on your own whenever you’d like. Either way, it’s a fun and educational outing and completely free!
Peak travel time in Seattle is June-September so that’s when you can expect to find the best weather, the biggest crowds and premium rates on hotel rooms. In fact, you may find you have to book your stay up to six months ahead of time in order to get the room you want.
Off season in Seattle is from November to April. This is when you can expect to find the best prices on lodging and such and smallest crowds, but you’ll also find the worst weather. May to October is known as the “Shoulder Season” in Seattle. and is really the ideal time of year to visit the city. The rates haven’t gone up to peak fully and the weather hasn’t totally bombed out.
Regardless of when you decide to visit, Seattle is full of enough fun things to do that you can surely find plenty to occupy your time, regardless of the weather or season.
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