Originally published July 6, 2017 | Updated May 22, 2019

 

With summer creeping up quick, it’s time to slap on the sunblock, lace up your walking shoes and hit the town in search of some new discoveries! Boasting more than 20 culturally unique neighborhoods, a vibrant arts community, world-renowned chefs and easy access to some of the most picturesque hiking and boating adventures in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle offers an array of activities to suit all interests.

There are certainly more than enough things to warrant multiple return trips to the Emerald City, especially during these balmier months, so you may be wondering where to start. No need to stress! We’ve curated a to-do list with our picks for 50 things to do in Seattle this summer to get your trip planning underway. Call up some friends, plan a quick Seattle trip and make the most of these fine sunny months in the PNW!

In this Guide:

 

Iconic Seattle

1. Space Needle

There’s a reason why the Space Needle is at the top of our list. In addition to being an iconic feature along Seattle’s skyline, the Needle’s recent “Space Lift” freshens the look of the 55-year-old landmark. With a first-of-its-kind rotating glass floor for a peek at the ground below AND floor-to-ceiling glass windows for 360-degree views of the Puget Sound, the Space Needle still offers the classic views you’ve grown to love, but a million times better.

2. Chihuly Garden and Glass

Situated directly under the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass showcases awe-inspiring glass sculptures created by the world-renowned Seattle artist Dale Chihuly. The centerpiece is the 40-foot tall Glasshouse, which is home to an expansive 100-foot long sculpture.

Chasing amazing photos? Stroll through these stunning gardens in the evening during Seattle’s glorious “golden hour.” Then zip 520 feet up to the observation level of the Space Needle to soak in jaw-dropping views of the city at sunset on our exclusive Chihuly + Space Needle Sunset Experience.

Explore an array of vibrant glass gardens at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Credit: Chihuly Garden and Glass
Explore an array of vibrant glass gardens at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Credit: Chihuly Garden and Glass

3. Pacific Science Center

Spend a whole day at the Pacific Science Center! With a tropical butterfly house (there are more than 800 of the beautiful winged insects inside!), a planetarium and hundreds of hands-on science exhibits, there is plenty to keep the whole family entertained. Come nightfall, two IMAX theaters and one of the world’s largest Laser Dome theaters illuminate the Center.

4. Seattle Great Wheel

Take a ride on the breathtaking Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57 and see the city of Seattle like never before as you soar 175 feet over the water. (Inside tip: visit at sunset to catch the sun dip behind the Olympic Mountains in a glowing blaze of color).

Soak in panoramic views of the Emerald City from the too of the Great Wheel.
Soak in panoramic views of the Emerald City from the top of the Great Wheel.

5. The Original Starbucks

While strolling through Pike Place Market, be sure to stop by the 1st & Pike Starbucks store, also known as Seattle’s original Starbucks. You can’t visit the city of coffee without a stop here!

6. Fremont Troll

Hiding under Fremont’s gigantic Aurora Bridge, this concrete monster stands guard, Volkswagen Beetle in hand. Have some additional free time? Stroll around this funky neighborhood to discover other oddities, such as a rocket ship and a 16-foot bronze sculpture of Vladimir Lenin.

Inspired by the folk tale Billy Goats Gruff, the massive Fremont Troll hold court under the Fremont Bridge. Credit: Alex C Chang
Inspired by the folktale Billy Goats Gruff, the massive Fremont Troll hold court under the Fremont Bridge. Credit: Alex C Chang

7. Gum Wall

Just underneath Pike Place Market in Post Alley, the gum wall is just as eccentric as it sounds – one huge brick wall covered entirely in gum. You know the drill, if you visit, you have to leave your own. Chomp, chomp!

8. Gas Works Park

With expansive views of downtown Seattle across Lake Union, there is no better spot to spend a sunny day than camped on the grassy hill at Gas Works Park. Grab one of gas plant equipment-turned tables for a picnic or simply work on your tan and think of absolutely nothing.

The site of of the former Seattle Gas Light Company, the historic Gasworks Park offers stunning views back on the city of Seattle.
The site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company, the historic Gasworks Park offers stunning views back on the city of Seattle.

9. Pioneer Square Shops & Restaurants

Seattle’s founders settled in Pioneer Square in 1852, and many of the city’s oldest buildings still stand in this charming neighborhood. Wander down 1st Ave and find gifts at Fresh Tangerine or grab a bite and a cocktail at Damn the Weather.

10. Ride the Monorail Through the Museum of Pop Culture

If you’re looking for the quintessential Seattle experience, look no further than the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Hop on the famous Seattle Monorail and ride right through the belly of the Frank O. Gehry designed building, then enjoy an afternoon of experiential exhibits blending music, pop culture and sci-fi.

Cruise through the colorful Museum of Pop Culture, which is said to resemble a smashed guitar from above, on the Seattle Monorail.
Cruise through the colorful Museum of Pop Culture, which is said to resemble a smashed guitar from above, on the Seattle Monorail.

11. Take a Water Taxi to West Seattle

Cruise across Elliott Bay on a water taxi for a day of shopping and beach-bumming in West Seattle. Three dollars buys a 12-minute cruise, just enough time to grab a coffee and make plans for the day.

12. Catch Summer Concerts

It wouldn’t be summer in Seattle without a slew of outdoor concerts to fill your calendar. Dance the night away to a mixture of eclectic indie, dreamy synth and experimental electronic music at the Capitol Hill Block Party or check out the incredible lineup of artists at Bumbershoot, the original Seattle music festival.

The Block Party's shows take place in one of Seattle’s most artistic neighborhoods. Photo: The Capitol Hill Block Party
The Block Party’s shows take place in one of Seattle’s most artistic neighborhoods. Photo: The Capitol Hill Block Party

13. Shopping and Nightlife on Capitol Hill

Looking for fresh threads? With its fashion boutiques, sneaker shops, eco-friendly retailers and thrift stores, there’s no better place than the vibrant, urban playground of Capitol Hill. When night falls, stop by speakeasy establishments such as Knee High Stocking Co., distilleries such as Sun Liquor and all-out parties at Unicorn.

14. Seafair Festival

In its 70th anniversary year, Seafair Festival is back with all of the PNW’s most exhilarating events! Kicking off July 4th with a spectacular fireworks display at Gas Works Park, enjoy a month-long streak of family-friendly fun. Snag a spot along Fourth Avenue for the annual Torchlight Parade, enjoy the goofy ingenuity of the Milk Carton Derby and cheer on the grit and determination of the Seafair Triathalon participants!

The fanfare wraps up during the final blow-out weekend! Between August 2nd and August 4th, prepare to be amazed by displays ranging from a Blue Angels Air Show to a thrilling hydroplane boat race.

Take in a thrilling airshow at the 70th annual Seattle Seafair Festival! Photo: Clemens Vasters

15. Seattle Pride Festival

Celebrate this diverse city’s LGBTQ community during Seattle Pride! Enjoy a full lineup of events throughout the city – from a jubilant parade (featuring hometown hero and RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon) to the splashy return of Elysian’s GLITTERis Pride Ale. The celebration culminates in the Volunteer Park Pride Festival, which offers a full day of live music, arts and crafts, food trucks and show-stopping performances.

Step Off the Beaten Path – Hidden Spots Around the City

16. Gigantic Hat n’ Boots at Oxbow Park

Undoubtedly one of the more unique attractions in Seattle, “Hat ‘n’ Boots” was built in 1954 as part of a Western-themed gas station, and is billed as the largest hat and cowboy boots in America.

Get a taste of classic Americana at Seattle's Oxbow Park. Credit: Seattle Parks
Get a taste of classic Americana at Seattle’s Oxbow Park. Credit: Seattle Parks

17. Olympic Sculpture Park

Find Seattle’s urban slice of Zen tucked along the waterfront just north of the Clipper terminal. The Olympic Sculpture Park features modern art and classic vistas of the Space Needle, Belltown and the jagged Olympic Mountains across the Sound.

18. Seattle Pinball Museum

Transport yourself back to your childhood days of arcades, lights and pinball flippers at this classic pinball emporium. The perfect cure should a little Seattle drizzle blow your way, this amazing museum boasts more than 50 vintage pinball machines that are free to play with admission to the museum.

Relieve your childhood as you play on more than 50 pinball machines. Photo: Maya83
Relieve your childhood as you play on more than 50 pinball machines. Photo: Maya83

Get Outdoors – Seattle’s Nature Areas

19. Kerry Park

One of Seattle’s popular viewpoints, Kerry Park aligns the Space Needle nicely along the downtown Seattle skyline, making for a scenic vista day or night

20. Golden Gardens Park

If you love sandy beaches, seaside sunsets and barbecue pits (who doesn’t?) this park has got all the boxes ticked. Head to the beach and join a spirited game of volleyball or stroll to the northern nature preserve and try to spot the local turtles.

The sandy beaches of Golden Gardens are the perfect locale for a picnic or a barbecue on a beautiful sunny day.
The sandy beaches of Golden Gardens are the perfect locale for a picnic or a barbecue on a beautiful sunny day.

21. Walk Around Green Lake

One of Seattle’s most beloved parks, Green Lake offers a newly reconstructed path around its perimeter, perfect for walking, biking or rollerblading. In the summertime, cool off with a dip at the beach, then wander the surrounding neighborhood shops.

22. Alki Beach

On a perfect sunny day, Alki Beach is Seattle’s Santa Monica. Beach volleyball, longboarding and roller skating are activities of choice here, all set to a gorgeous backdrop of downtown Seattle across the water.

Stroll along miles of pristine sandy beach in West Seattle. Credit: Scott Meis
Stroll along miles of pristine sandy beach in West Seattle. Credit: Scott Meis

23. Myrtle Edwards Park

Just minutes north of the Clipper terminal along the waterfront, Myrtle Edwards Park is the perfect spot to watch the sun slip behind the Olympic Mountains. Gaze west across Puget Sound for unobstructed views of ships, marine life, West Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

24. Discover Seattle’s Plethora of Pocket Parks

Scattered throughout the Emerald City you’ll find a wealth of tiny neighborhood gardens and parks, teeming with lush foliage and vibrant flowers. Give your feet a rest during a day of downtown exploration at the wildflower-packed Thomas Street Gardens or seek respite from tourist-favorite Kerry Park at charming Parsons Gardens.

Tidy walking paths are generously shaded by old-growth trees in Parsons Gardens.

25. Washington Park Arboretum

A true hidden gem, the Arboretum showcases 230 acres of diverse plant life, some found nowhere else in the Northwest. Wind your way around its scenic trails or find a bench and soak up the landscape. Our favorite seasons to visit are during spring and summer, when stunning flowers add vibrant pops of color to the grounds.

26. Waterfall Garden Park

This secluded retreat is Seattle’s best-kept secret! A 22-foot waterfall in the heart of Pioneer Square, tucked behind Occidental Square Park on 2nd Ave. It’s the perfect spot to have lunch, read a book or relax to the sound of moving water and forget about the rest of the world for a while.

Waterfall Garden Park provides a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Photo: Basic Sounds
Waterfall Garden Park provides a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Photo: Basic Sounds

See the Sights – Popular Tours & Attractions

27. San Juan Whale Watching

From April to October, enjoy an exciting day out on the water with a whale watching cruise from downtown Seattle! Learn all about the Puget Sound’s beloved local marine wildlife from our expert onboard naturalist and soak in breathtaking coastal views along the way (including the historic Deception Pass Bridge!). Afterward, you will have a stopover in Friday Harbor for a chance to grab a bite to eat or explore the seaside town!

28. Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Tour

Get a taste of the Emerald City with Savor Seattle’s food tours, which specialize in guided walking food tours of some of Seattle’s tastiest neighborhoods. Where better to nosh on delicious eats than at the city’s source for local and fresh food, Pike Place Market. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Not only is Pike Place Market home to amazing eats, but it is also a prime spot to soak in a stunning sunset. Credit: Scott Meis
Not only is Pike Place Market home to amazing eats, but it is also a prime spot to soak in a stunning sunset. Credit: Scott Meis

29. Beneath the Streets Tour

What’s the best way to escape the heat in Seattle? Go underground! The Beneath the Streets Tour is a curious and unusual insight into the history of Seattle’s subterranean storefronts and sidewalks entombed by the Great Fire of 1889. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

30. Boeing Future of Flight Tour

Explore both the Future of Flight Aviation Center and the Boeing Factory on this exciting interactive experience. Meander through the largest building in the world by volume for an up close and look at 747, 777 and 787 Dreamliner airplanes before they take to the sky. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Watch as 747s, 777s and 787 Dreamliners are built on the Boeing Factory floor. Photo: Show Me Seattle
Watch as 747s, 777s and 787 Dreamliners are built on the Boeing Factory floor. Photo: Show Me Seattle

31. Argosy Tillicum Excursion

Cruise across the Sound to the nearby Blake Island and feast on steaming clams and nectar as well as Northwest flavors inspired buffet featuring fish smoked whole over an alder-wood fire. Afterward, delight in a spellbinding performance featuring the Tillicum Village dancers that tells the history of First Nations peoples. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

32. Root on the Mariners and Sounders

The stomping grounds for the Seattle Mariners, Safeco Field features a retractable roof (for that rare Seattle sunshine) and is your source for as many hot dogs, peanuts and crackerjacks you can eat while rooting for our beloved Ms. (Psst, BC folks! They’ll be facing off against the Blue Jays on August 23 – 25!)

Right next door at CenturyLink Field you can join a slew of other Rave Green clad fans and cheer on the Seattle Sounders as they pursue another shot at the MLS Cup. Both stadiums are conveniently nestled among post-game bar spots such as Pyramid Alehouse and Henry’s Tavern, so you have plenty of options when it comes to celebrating your win with a frosty pint.

Root for the Mariners and catch a spectacular sunset at Safeco Field! Credit: Trisha Koga
Root for the Mariners and catch a spectacular sunset at Safeco Field! Credit: Trisha Koga

33. International Fountain

Embrace your inner child and cool off with a quick dash through the 20 spouts gracing the Seattle Center’s International Fountain. Keep an ear out for the accompanying recorded world music that changes twice a month to coincide with event programming at the Center.

34. Museum of Flight

Spend an afternoon marveling at hangars full of unique, historic and straight up awesome aircraft at the Museum of Flight! The largest independent museum of its type on the planet, the museum boasts more than 175 different aircraft from each era. Put your flying skills to the test in The Pilot Experience, then grab lunch in the café with a front row seat to the comings and goings of Boeing Field. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

The museum’s Great Gallery is a six-story, glass-and-steel exhibit hall containing 39 full-size historic aircraft. Credit: Chris Blakeley

Take a Bite Out of the City – Sips and Bites

35. Grab Brunch

Is it an early lunch? Late breakfast? We don’t care as long as pancakes are involved. Grab the best bites in the city at Oddfellows on Capitol Hill, The London Plane in Pioneer Square or at Portage Bay Café, with multiple locations around town.

36. Seattle Distillery Tour

Jump on the craft distillery bandwagon and get an inside look at the inner workings and giant glistening stills of small-batch producers such as Sound Spirits, Letterpress and Copperworks on the Seattle Distillery Tour. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Sample everything from whiskey to gin to vodka at Copperworks Distilling Company. Credit: Copperworks Distilling Company
Sample everything from whiskey to gin to vodka at Copperworks Distilling Company. Credit: Copperworks Distilling Company

37. Dick’s Drive-In

Call it Seattle’s version of In-N-Out, the Dick’s burger is just as famous in the Northwest, and it’s still the best deal in town. Sniff out a drive-up location and enjoy a timeless meal (seriously, they haven’t changed their menu since ’82).

38. Salty’s on Alki Beach

No trip to Alki Beach is complete without dinner at Salty’s. Located right on the water and offering some of the freshest seafood around and unbeatable views of downtown Seattle, it’s the perfect spot for a dinner date.

Enjoy fresh, local seafood with an unbeatable waterfront view at Salty’s. Photo: Scott Moore

39. Bite of Seattle

Boasting more than 60 restaurants and pop-up vendors, craft beer and cider tastings, live cooking demos and lots more foodie fun, Bite of Seattle is back and more delicious than ever! Feelin’ the heat? Cool down with a massive selection of frozen goodies from local purveyors such as Cold Plate rolled ice cream, Seattle Pops, Ben & Jerry’s and Snowie shaved ice.

40. Grab Dessert

Looking for a cool-down activity that’s equal parts refreshing and delicious? Head to Molly Moons’ or Full Tilt Ice Cream, to beat the heat with a scoop or two of unique, mouth-watering flavors.

Sample a lineup of sweet scoops at Molly Moon's. Credit: City Foodsters
Sample a lineup of sweet scoops at Molly Moons’. Credit: City Foodsters

Family Fun – For the Young and the Young at Heart

41. Woodland Park Zoo

The perfect activity for the kiddos (and adults, too!), Woodland Park Zoo includes 92 acres of exhibits featuring over 1,000 animals. After a day of critter-watching, head to nearby Greenwood Ave for dinner.

Get up close to the big cats as they relax in the afternoon sun. Credit: Ruth Hartnup
Get up close to the big cats as they relax in the afternoon sun. Credit: Ruth Hartnup

42. Wings Over Washington

See a different side of the Evergreen State with a ride in Wings Over Washington’s state-of-the-art “flying theater” that will transport you on an aerial adventure high above Washington. 5K Cameras and Mushroom VR make for an immersive and lifelike experience as you soar over the state’s most scenic landmarks.

43. Seattle Children’s Museum

Situated in the heart of the Seattle Center Armory, the Children’s Museum features interactive exhibits for kids of all ages, ranging from the Global Village, to the Mountain, to a kid-sized Sound Transit train track.

The Seattle Children’s Museum features 22,000 square feet of play space with 11 exhibits designed for kids 10 months to 10 years! Credit: Flickr Creative Commons user Richie Diesterheft

44. Watch the Stars Under the Stars

Take advantage of that perfect Northwest summer weather and enjoy an outdoor flick with friends. Locations include Westlake Park on Fridays, Movies at the Mural (Seattle Center) on Saturdays in August and Magnuson Park on Thursdays.

Get Active – Walk, Hike, Bike or Paddle Your Way Around the Emerald City

45. Walk Seattle’s Waterfront

30 minutes Pier 50-Pier 70 – Take a right as you leave the Clipper terminal and enjoy 30 minutes of waterfront views as you wander along toward the Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle Aquarium and Ivar’s seafood.

46. Mt. Rainier Tour

Breathtaking vistas of glacier-carved Mt. Rainier, waterfalls and alpine meadows await on a day trip to this iconic landmark. Pay a visit to Paradise or Sunrise to learn more about the mountain, trek through old-growth forests and delight in stunning vistas of the surrounding Cascade Range. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Wander along scenic alpine trails for stunning views of Mt. Rainier. Credit: Evergreen Escapes
Wander along scenic alpine trails for stunning views of Mt. Rainier. Credit: Evergreen Escapes

47. Go Kayaking at the UW Waterfront

A popular summertime activity in the U-District, head to the UW Waterfront Activities Center and rent a kayak or canoe for the day! After exploring the area’s waterways, head to Agua Verde café for the best Baja-style burritos and margaritas you’ve ever had.

48. Walk or Bike the Burke-Gilman Trail

Beginning in Ballard and following the water along the Lake Washington, through Bothell and Woodinville before finishing in Redmond, the 27-mile Burke-Gilman Trail is the largest of its kind in the city.

Pedal, walk or run along the scenic trail for a tour of the region’s varying landscapes, from suburbs to city, lakes to forests. (Inside tip: Check out the floating SR 520 Trail  across the 520 floating bridge, which opens many more biking options between Seattle and the Eastside.)

Pedal past the breathtaking Matthews Beach Park as you cruise along the Burke Gilman trail. Credit: Scott Meis
Pedal past the breathtaking Matthews Beach Park as you cruise along the Burke Gilman trail. Credit: Scott Meis

49. Rattlesnake Ridge

If you’re looking for an impressive locale to snap a selfie, the Ledge at the summit of Rattlesnake Ridge is one of the best spots around. Rising 2,240 feet above the lake, the views are spectacular. Work up a sweat? Take a quick dip in the lake below as a refreshing reward after a day on the trail.

50. Mt. St. Helens National Monument Tour

Discover Washington’s sleeping giant on an adventure to the heart of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Arrive in the blast-zone of the infamous 1980 eruption and soak in views of the steaming caldera from the Johnston Center Observatory.

Head out on the Eruption Trail where you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the lava dome, crater, pumice plain and largest landslide recorded in human history. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Puffs smoke still rise from the iconic Mt. St. Helens crater. Credit: Evergreen Escapes
Puffs of smoke still rise from the iconic Mt. St. Helens crater. Credit: Evergreen Escapes

From sparkling waters to snow-capped mountains, soaring city skylines to wooded forests, Washington is chock-full of adventure. With sunny weather back in full swing, now is the perfect time to explore Seattle and beyond. Whether you’re trekking around the city with friends or heading out on a weekend escape with the family, Seattle has something for everyone!

With water, mountains and lush forests surrounding the city, Seattle is pretty hard to beat when comes to amazing views. Credit: Scott Meis
With water, mountains and lush forests surrounding the city, Seattle is pretty hard to beat when comes to amazing views. Credit: Scott Meis

Book Your Seattle Trip Now

Featured image: Seattle Space Needle