My family and I love to travel and explore new places. We have been blessed to travel all over the United States.
For our family vacation in 2018, my wife and I loaded up the kids and drove out to the Pacific Northwest on a 14-day road trip. After spending a day exploring Glacier National Park, we set aside the next four days to spend in the Seattle area before heading down to Oregon. We could have easily spent a week or more exploring all there is to do and see in this beautiful area. Here is a list of the top ten things to do in Seattle.
1. Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is the original farmers market in Seattle and has been there for over a hundred years. It is a unique place that offers fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, beautiful flower bouquets, the original Starbucks cafe, restaurants, and many different artisans selling their goods. Another unique thing to see is the famous Gum Wall, which is an alleyway wall that covered with used chewing gum. Kids will love it. Feel free to leave your own contribution.
I highly recommend checking out the Pike Place Fish Market. They are famous for tossing fish and have a lot of fun interaction with the customers. Pike Place Market is an amazing place with a great atmosphere. It is well worth spending a few hours strolling through it. We enjoyed our visit and had the chance to eat a couple of delicious cookies from one of the shops. This is a must see when visiting Seattle.
2. The Space Needle
The Space Needle in Seattle stands at over 600 feet tall. Originally built for the World’s Fair in 1962, it quickly became an icon on the Seattle skyline. On a clear day, visitors on the observation deck are treated to amazing views of Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Peninsula, the entire city of Seattle and the Puget Sound. The Atmos Cafe offers visitors the chance to dine and take in the amazing views. The 500-foot level has recently gone through a renovation and now has a first of its kind revolving glass floor, which allows visitors to see below them. The views are breathtaking, to say the least.
3. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass is a beautiful museum in downtown Seattle next to the Space Needle. It celebrates the career of artist Dale Chihuly. The museum has a beautiful outdoor garden with glass sculptures, a glasshouse with a colorful 100-foot long sculpture, and eight interior galleries. The glass sculptures are unique and amazing. I highly recommend checking out Chihuly Garden and Glass.
4. Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle waterfront offers amazing views of the Puget Sound. It is a wonderful place to explore and experience all there is to see and do. Miner’s Landing offers a chance to grab a quick snack from one of its restaurants and shop for some souvenirs.
If you want great views, take a waterfront cruise or take a ferry ride to explore either Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. Another terrific way to enjoy the waterfront is to hop on the Seattle Great Wheel, which is 175 feet tall. It offers magnificent views of the Puget Sound as well as downtown Seattle.
The Seattle Aquarium is a good place to take kids to learn about the Puget Sound and experience a 360-degree view of a 400,000-gallon tank filled with fish from the Puget Sound. During our visit, we had a chance to take a nice walk along the water as well as ride the Seattle Great Wheel, which was well worth it. Absolutely beautiful. I recommend lunch at Kidd Valley, where they have the most amazing garlic French fries and good milkshakes.
5. Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is a must see when visiting the Seattle area. On a clear day, Mount Rainier can be seen towering above the horizon at over 14,000 feet tall all over the Seattle area.
As we were driving west into the Seattle area, we were treated to our first view of Mount Rainier. It was breathtaking and spectacular. In all my travels, I have never seen anything like it. The park has many different hiking trails and waterfalls. The two best areas of the park, in my opinion, are Paradise and Sunrise.
Hiking in Paradise
Paradise is a hiker’s dream. There are several different trailheads that start behind the visitor center. We had a chance to hike the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point, which was about 2 miles one way and about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. You can catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier from behind the visitor center, but it comes into full view after the first half mile or so. It is awesome. God’s amazing creation on display. Just awesome.
The trail starts paved and is very steep to start. After about a half mile or so, the trail becomes much more manageable and you can enjoy the great view of Mount Rainier. When we were there in the middle of July, there was still a large snowfield that we had to cross. It was easy to navigate. We even saw a guy snowboarding as we climbed higher. The trail then becomes narrow and begins to climb again, but this time it was not strenuous. The views were amazing. We crossed a small snowfield that was a little more tricky and then reached Panorama Point.
The view from there is tremendous, with mountains in all directions. On a clear day, you can see Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens. It is a hike that I will not soon forget.
Amazing Views From Sunrise
Sunrise is located on the east side of Mount Rainier National Park and is a must see. The drive from Paradise to Sunrise has a few interesting places to stop, but most of the drive is dense forest. The Sunrise access road climbs quickly through the forest. The views of Mount Rainier are indescribably beautiful. I could have spent all day there taking it all in. Praise this amazing creation!
6. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is very beautiful and is located on the Olympic Peninsula, which is about two and a half hours from downtown Seattle. It is made up of close to a million acres of glacier-capped mountains, over 70 miles of rugged coastline on the Pacific Ocean, and temperate rain forests. It is a very diverse area that has so much to see and do. The two best areas, in my opinion, are Hurricane Ridge and Ruby Beach.
Hurricane Ridge is the highest point that you can drive in Olympic National Park. It is nearly a mile high and known for winds gusting over 75 miles an hour, which is why it received the name “hurricane.” There are several hiking trails to explore and wonderful views in all directions.
I was disappointed as we drove to the park because it was overcast and dreary. As we drove up to Hurricane Ridge, the clouds turned in to dense fog as we drove. I was getting more disappointed until we rounded a corner before the visitor center. Suddenly, we were above the clouds. It was amazing.
We stopped at the visitor center and then drove to the trailhead for the Hurricane Hill Trail. It is about 1.6-miles one way, most of which is flat and easy to hike. The last part of the trail has several switchbacks with a good amount of elevation gain, but it is well worth it when we reached the top of Hurricane Hill.
The view was awe inspiring. Mountain peaks were sticking up through the blanket of clouds below. I had always wanted to experience this, and we were blessed with awesome views.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
— Psalm 19:1
Ruby Beach is well worth a visit. It is famous for large rock islands that stick out of the Pacific Ocean. It is a rugged beach that is rocky and has large piles of large driftwood that pile up along the shore. It is a good idea to wear shoes that can get wet as you may have to walk through water depending on how high the tide is. It is almost an amazing place to watch a sunset. Also, bring a sweatshirt or coat as it can be very cold even during the summer months.
7. Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll is unique, to say the least. It is a large sculpture of a troll that looks like it is coming out of the ground under the Aurora Avenue Bridge. It is a fun place to take kids and watch them climb all over it. The best part is it is free. It is well worth a quick visit.
8. Woodland Rose Garden
The Woodland Rose Garden offers a great place for rose lovers to go. It has over 200 different varieties and almost 3,000 roses. It is really beautiful to see all of the different colors of roses in bloom. The garden is free, but you do have to pay to park during zoo hours. We spent about a half an hour taking in all the colors and taking pictures. It is well worth a visit.
9. Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is a 270-foot waterfall and is one of the most popular scenic attractions in Washington. It is about a half hour drive east of downtown Seattle. At the falls, is a two-acre park with a gift shop, Salish Lodge, and an observation deck. At night, the falls are illuminated with lights. The falls are a major source of hydro-electric power for the region. I highly recommend spending some time taking in the power and beauty of the Snoqualmie Falls.
10. Sequim Lavender Farms
The Sequim Lavender Farms grow more lavender than any other area of the Pacific Northwest. The mild-to-cool temperatures and the limited amount of rain creates the perfect climate for growing lavender plants. The farms are normally open between June and the first part of September each year.
We were fortunate enough to have a chance to stop by Washington Lavender Farm. They had several beautiful lavender fields as well as some nice-looking wildflowers. Behind the Lavender fields is the George Washington Inn and Estate which is right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We had the chance to take a few family pictures in front of the lavender as well as to try the lavender ice cream at the gift shop.
I highly recommend checking out the Washington Lavender Farm as well as the other lavender farms near Sequim.
Don't Miss a Visit to Seattle
The Seattle area is amazing and beautiful. There is so much to see and do there. My family and I really enjoyed this part of our trip and will remember everything that we were able to see and do. We cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring the Seattle area.
© 2019 Eric Cramer
Sp Greaney from Ireland on June 16, 2020:
I would love to visit some of the places you have mentioned in this article, they seem great. Maybe one day when the world is not so hectic.
Liz Westwood from UK on January 23, 2019:
This is an extremely interesting, well-illustrated and well-structured article. The photos and information are top class.
Stephen Barnes from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on January 23, 2019:
Great article Eric. Recently my nephew and his girlfriend moved to Victoria, British Columbia, and my wife and I were planning to visit them sometime soon. Now I will have to take a couple of days and cross the border to visit Seattle.
Brian Bissonnette from St Cloud Florida on January 22, 2019:
Wow, this is a really amazing post. I will definitely visit these places with my family. Also, I would share this post on https://twitter.com/bisoneb?lang=en with my friends.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on January 22, 2019:
I want to visit the Fremont Troll.