12 Must-See Seattle Sites

Do you know why Seattle is such a must-see city? Despite all the rain Seattle gets (surprisingly it’s only in the 50th percentile nationally!) it’s a hit with tourists and residents alike. The list of reasons for this is long — from parks (one with a Space Needle) to outdoor spots like Lake Union. Let’s take a look at 12 from the list. Vashon Island — Okay, I know, Vashon isn’t technically Seattle. But the Vashon ferry travels between the southwest Seattle neighborhood of Fauntleroy and Vashon (only about 3.5 miles) all day, so some consider it a distant neighborhood. And no list of “Must-See Seattle Sites” is complete without Vashon.

After leaving Fauntleroy, the ferry docks at the north end of the Island. From there, Vashon town is approximately 5 miles south. If you keep driving, you’ll reach the Point Defiance-Tahlequah bridge, and Tacoma (a very friendly small city and home of the Tacoma Dome). Vashon has been compared with the San Juan Islands in far northwest Washington. While it’s so close to Seattle, it’s similar in many ways to that paradise: small community, lots of forest, relatively small island. When you get there, drive around and just enjoy the beauty. Then you can stop at Cafe Luna for delicious local and organic treats.

Bainbridge Island — While we’re on the topic of incredible islands that aren’t technically in Seattle, we should include Bainbridge, also west of Seattle but a little farther. It’s about the size of Vashon, and a little more developed in some areas. But for a day trip, you’ll want to stick to the town — more of a village — where the ferry docks. Once there, it’s a short walk to the thoroughfare Winslow Way, where you can find Blackbird Bakery, Mora Iced Creamery, and the Eagle Harbor Book shop. There’s also the Bainbridge Cinema around the corner on Madison Avenue. It’s perfect for an afternoon jaunt. Take a late morning ferry and you’ll be back in time for a late lunch. Lincoln Park — Just north of the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal (to Vashon) is Lincoln Park. If you’re in the mood for hiking in the city, this is a great place — full of trails, meadows, ball fields, beaches, and scenic views of Vashon. Did I mention there’s a heated saltwater pool at the beach? Yes, it’s true.

Alki Beach — Moving north, still in southwest Seattle, is Alki Beach, along Alki Avenue. It’s also been known as Battery Point and Prairie Point. The name Alki comes from the Chinook, meaning “eventually.” Alki faces Bainbridge Island, so on clear nights you see twinkling lights across the water (of Bainbridge and Seattle). The sand is less fine than you’ll see in Southern California but people still set up their towels and umbrellas for beach days. When you tire of that, cross the Avenue for a bite at award-winning Duke’s Chowder House or Pegasus Pizza & Pasta. Or go inland a few blocks to Schmitz Park for some hiking on the Schmitz Park to Alki Trail. Waterfront — Downtown Seattle is built along the Elliott Bay waterfront. The city’s invested a lot of money in shipping and tourism in that area. South of downtown are docks for container ships, and cranes to load and unload them. But downtown, along Alaskan Way, is where you’ll find the cruise ship docks, the ferry terminal for Bainbridge Island, and various tour boats that sail the

Bay on sightseeing and romantic on-the-water escapes. The Seattle Aquarium’s on the waterfront as well, as is the seafood restaurant Anthony’s Pier 66. One of the most popular attractions is the Great Wheel, a 175-foot observation wheel — the west coast’s tallest. Pike Place Market’s just a short hike up the hill opposite the waterfront.

Pike Place Market — We’ve covered the Market in a previous post here in detail. 108 years old in 2015. A cherished market that’s home to local vendors selling fresh fish, flowers, produce, sculptures, jewelry, clothing, magic tricks, and thousands of other goods. Check it out!

Pioneer Square’s about ten blocks south of the Market, on 1st Avenue. It’s an eclectic neighborhood that’s improved a lot during the past two decades. Among its residents are the recently (and beautifully) restored King Street train station, two stadiums for the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders FC. There are also more art galleries than in any other Seattle nieghborhood. And here’s something many Seattleites don’t know: A family lives in the penthouse of Smith Tower! Go to Pioneer Square on the first Thursday of the month for the art walk and enjoy open studios, gallery exhibits, and artists selling their works on the sidewalks.

Starbucks Headquarters are one-and-one-half miles south of Pioneer Square. If you’re a coffee aficionado, be sure to see it (it’s the huge building with the famous logo on top — hard to miss).

Madison Park’s an incredibly charming and affluent neighborhood on the shore of Lake Washington, east of downtown. Bring your bathing suit for a dip, then enjoy the Lake view and walk around a little. There’s a park along the beach that’s perfect for picnics. Then head into the neighborhood for tasty Mexican food at Cactus Madison Park — classy and friendly. (Bathing suits probably not suitable attire…)

Space Needle — Does this need any introduction? Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s become a world-famous landmark at Seattle Center. Even if you don’t sit at the restaurant on top, ride up to the observation deck to view the city from above. Your friends and family will want pictures.

Lake Union — This is a freshwater lake that several neighborhoods touch: South Lake Union, Westlake, Eastlake, University District, Fremont. On a given day, there are people rowing (see the Lake Union Crew), boating (there are marinas), playing at Gaslamp Park, dining on shore and on cruises, and kayaking. Fremont — This little neighborhood on the shore of Lake Union bills itself as the “Center of the Universe.” Many of its shops are locally-owned and unique, from Stone Way Café to Cobbler Dave Page’s shop. Dave’s shop is an absolute must for serious backpackers and anyone who appreciates mastery. There’s even a seven-ton sculpture of Lenin in Fremont. And be sure to ask someone about the troll under the bridge.

As you can see, Seattle’s full of wonderful sites to visit. And this list is just a handful of them. Stay tuned for a few more!

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