Home to more than 20 culturally unique neighborhoods, a vibrant arts community, world-renowned chefs and some of the most picturesque hiking and boating adventures in the region, Seattle is hard to beat. With so much to see and do, however, getting around in the city might seem, well, a little daunting.

Yet, with the Emerald City’s walkable downtown core and multiple modes of transportation, traversing the city is easier than you may think. Check out our guide to 20 ways to explore Seattle without a car the next time you need a break from the driver’s seat.

1. See the City from New Heights at the Space Needle

A defining feature on Seattle’s skyline, the Space Needle provides dramatic, 360-degree views of the region. Snap a time-lapse video from the elevator as you whisk 520 feet up to the observation level in a mere 41 seconds.

Gaze out the seamless, floor-to-ceiling glass walls for bliss-inducing vistas of the entire metropolis. Pop down to the 500-foot-level for a bird’s-eye view of the ground below through the first-of-its-kind rotating glass floor. The whole city is at your feet!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 12 minutes

See for miles from the top of the futuristic Seattle Space Needle. Credit: Chad Copeland
See for miles from the top of the futuristic Seattle Space Needle. Credit: Chad Copeland

2. Wander Through the Eclectic Pike Place Market

Introduce your taste buds to a whole new level of culinary goodness on a stroll through one of the Emerald City’s tastiest landmarks, Pike Place Market. See fish fly at the famous fishmonger stalls or peer through the window of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop to watch creamy cheese transform from curd to wheel.

Once you’ve gotten your fill of tasty eats, shop off the calories and explore the collection of handmade wares housed throughout the market. (Insider tip: Not ready to navigate the shops on your own? Hop on the Food and Cultural Tour of Pike Place Market and let an expert guide lead you to their top picks for local artisans and restaurants on a guided walking tour.) Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 15 minutes

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

3. Discover Fascinating Wildlife on a San Juan Whale Watching Day Trip

For a true PNW experience, escape the urban jungle and jump on our San Juan Island Whale Watching Day Trip from Seattle in search of the region’s showstoppers – orcas as well as minke and humpback whales. Clamber outside for top-deck views of our friendly aquatic neighbors as they splash and play in the sparkling waters. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a breach! Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: Departs from Clipper terminal

Catch sight of mammal-eating Transient orca whales such as T137 and T046 as they cruise by Mt. Baker. Credit: Gary Sutton
Catch sight of mammal-eating Transient orca whales such as T137 and T046 as they cruise by Mt. Baker. Credit: Gary Sutton

4. Get Lost in a Glass Jungle at Chihuly Garden & Glass

Nestled underneath the Seattle Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass showcases remarkable glass sculptures created by world-renowned hometown artist, Dale Chihuly. Wander through the museum’s eight incredible exhibits as well as the jungle-like outdoor garden, which brims with a variety of plants to complement the vibrant sculptures. (Insider tip: If you are after amazing photos, stroll through these stunning gardens in the evening to catch them during Seattle’s glorious “golden hour,” when they are illuminated with a rosy glow.)

Don’t miss the museum’s centerpiece – the Glasshouse. At 40-feet-tall, the exhibit feels more like a conservatory than a museum and is filled with a colorful, twisting, 100-foot long sculpture in glowing oranges and fiery reds. With natural light from above shining through the intricate glasswork and dancing across the floor, it’s truly an unforgettable sight.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 11 minutes

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

5. Stroll Beneath the Streets

Learn about the origins of the Emerald City and how it was rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. What once had been the hub of the downtown was buried 20 feet below the streets we know today. Pick up tales of the city’s colorful past and get the scoop on some of Seattle’s eccentric former residents. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 28 minutes

Discover another side of Seattle as you explore the historic underground. Credit: Karen Neoh
Discover another side of Seattle as you explore the historic underground. Credit: Karen Neoh

6. Explore the City on a Ride the Ducks Tour

With gorgeous views and attractions both on land and in the surrounding waterways, hopping on one of the Ducks’ WWII amphibious vehicles is one of the best ways to get a feel for the city. Roll past all of Seattle’s iconic sights such as the historic Pioneer Square, food-filled Pike Place Market and the funky Fremont neighborhood (keep an eye out for the giant-sized troll under the bridge!) by land.

Then, splash into Lake Union for unbeatable views of Gasworks Park, the houseboat made famous by Sleepless in Seattle and expansive views back on the city. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 15 minutes

Glide downtown Seattle on an amphibious vehicle. Credit: Ride the Ducks Seattle Tour
Glide downtown Seattle on an amphibious vehicle. Credit: Ride the Ducks Seattle Tour

7. Soak in Some Culture at Tillicum Village

Looking for a quick escape from the city? Journey across the Sound with an Argosy cruise to Tillicum Village on the picturesque Blake Island. A day-tripper’s dream, the voyage not only serves up spectacular peek-a-boo views of Seattle and Mount Rainier along the way but also offers a taste of Seattle’s native culture.

Dine on steaming clams and nectar as well as Northwest fish smoked whole over an alder wood fire. Delight in spellbinding performances that tell the history of the Northwest peoples, featuring coastal native costumes, dances and clacking masks. It’s a sure hit with the kiddos! Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 20 minutes (to Argosy terminal)

Explore the 475-acre Blake island while learning about the history of Tillicum Village. Credit: Argosy
Explore the 475-acre Blake island while learning about the history of Tillicum Village. Credit: Argosy

8. Discover Some New Beats at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop)

Want to soak in fabulous architecture? Look no further than the reflective, rainbow-colored surfaces of the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Climb on the famous Seattle Monorail and ride right through the belly of the Frank O. Gehry designed building.

Inside, the museum fuses the sci-fi and music communities under one roof. Get hands-on with musical instruments, check out an impressive lineup of iconic rock memorabilia (think Jimi Hendrix’s journal and Michael Jackson’s bedazzled glove) as well as pop culture collections that cover everything from the Marvel universe to horror flicks.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 14 minutes

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.

9. Sample the City’s Finest Eats on a Savor Seattle Food Tour

Embrace your inner foodie with a guided Savor Seattle food tour. Where better to chow down on mouth-watering eats than buzz-worthy Belltown spots or at the city’s source for fresh and local food, the Pike Place Market. Experience how the Emerald City does gourmet on a progressive, 3-hour tasting adventure at the city’s hottest restaurants, featuring cuisine from both Iron Chef winners and James Beard Award honorees.

Or give in to your sweet-tooth on the Chocolate Indulgence Tour and indulge in crave-worthy confections at Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Bakery or sample Obama’s favorite treat at Fran’s Chocolate. If the tours weren’t sweet enough on their own, you’ll also leave armed with insider tips on how to create these tasty goodies at home. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 15 minutes (Orfeo Restaurant) or 17 minutes (Modernist Cuisine Gallery)

Cap your day with sweet eats on Savor Seattle's Chocolate Indulgence Tour. Credit: Savor Seattle
Cap your day with sweet eats on Savor Seattle’s Chocolate Indulgence Tour. Credit: Savor Seattle

10. Peek Below the Water’s Surface at the Seattle Aquarium

Feel like you’re under the sea without ever getting wet at the Seattle Aquarium. Become an expert on the extraordinary life of the Puget Sound as you stroll through the captivating moon jellyfish ring, check out everyone’s favorite 8-legged animal – the giant Pacific octopus or pet a bumpy starfish in the touch tank. Continue to the dreamlike underwater dome, for wrap-around views of the Puget Sound ecosystem. Visit the ever-charming otter and seal exhibits to get your daily dose of cute before you leave!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 17 minutes

Make some new furry friends with an afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium. Credit: Flickr user Our Lady of the Emerald Waters
Make some new furry friends with an afternoon at the Seattle Aquarium. Credit: Flickr user Our Lady of the Emerald Waters

11. Find Your Zen in the Olympic Sculpture Park & Seattle Waterfront

An oasis in the heart of the city, the Olympic Sculpture Park is tucked along the waterfront just north of the Clipper terminal. Stroll past the park’s modern art installations, such as Alex Calder’s The Eagle or Jaume Plensa’s Echo. Want to learn more about these incredible pieces? Hop on a free 60-minute public tour, which breaks down the site’s history and selected sculptures.

While you’re on the banks of Puget Sound, don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll along the waterfront. Delight in oceanfront views as you do some antique thrifting at the Seattle Antiques Market or shop at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 6 minutes

The open-air Olympic Sculpture Park features modern art and breathtaking vistas of the waterfront and Seattle skyline. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider
The open-air Olympic Sculpture Park features modern art and breathtaking vistas of the waterfront and Seattle skyline. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider

12. Shop Pioneer Square

Situated in the heart of Seattle, the historic Pioneer Square boasts a variety of fashion-forward boutiques. Head to Velouria for independently-made women’s clothing and delicate, handcrafted jewelry, all sourced right here in the Pacific Northwest. Or stop by the sophisticated Clementines and solidify your rank as one of the city’s well-heeled shoppers with a pair of beautifully-crafted shoes.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 30 minutes

Seattle’s founders settled in Pioneer Square in 1852, and many of the city’s oldest buildings still stand in this charming neighborhood.
Seattle’s founders settled in Pioneer Square in 1852, and many of the city’s oldest buildings still stand in this charming neighborhood.

13. Get Out on the Water at the Center for Wooden Boats

With water being an integral feature of the city’s landscape, getting out on one of the lakes or the Sound is an absolute must! Make your way to The Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) on the shore of South Lake Union to take advantage of their Sunday Public Sail program. Whether you want to check out a spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooner or yacht, the museum’s skippers will be happy to take you on an aquatic adventure around the lake for free!

Afterward, duck inside the museum itself to explore a variety of vessels, hands-on exhibits and unite with other boat-lovers over a shared passion for wooden boats, aquatic skills, history or love of the water.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 33 minutes

Cruise through the city’s sparkling waters by spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooner or yacht. Credit: Mason Bryant
Cruise through the city’s sparkling waters by spirit boat, steamboat, electric boat, schooner or yacht. Credit: Mason Bryant

14. Learn a Thing or Two at the Seattle Center

Sneak in some science AND culture at the expansive Seattle Center located near the base of the Space Needle. Immerse yourself in an indoor jungle full of butterflies and colorful tropical plants, travel back in time to meet dinosaurs through an array of hands-on science exhibits and catch a show that’s out of this world in the Planetarium at the Pacific Science Center. Then, swing by the neighboring Seattle Children’s Museum and let your kiddo’s creativity run wild with interactive exhibits ranging from Bijou Theater to a kid-sized Sound Transit train track.

(Insider tip: If you are visiting in the summer, stop by the International Fountain to watch its 20 spouts cycle through coordinated water patterns, accompanied by recorded world music that changes twice a month to coincide with event programming at the Center.)

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 10 minutes

Located near the base of the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center offers up interactive exhibits the entire family is bound to enjoy! Credit: Courtesy of Pacific Science Center
Located near the base of the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center offers up interactive exhibits the entire family is bound to enjoy! Credit: Courtesy of Pacific Science Center

15. Admire World-Class Artifacts at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

If it’s art you’re after, there’s no better place to find it than at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Home to numerous rotating and permanent exhibits, the museum showcases both ancient and modern art from around the globe.

Check out the eye-catching white, mid-90’s Ford Tauruses suspended from the ceiling. Or duck into the popular Porcelain Room to see more than 1,000 intricate, fragile works of art alongside delicate China fragments recovered from 17th– and 18th-century shipwrecks. (Insider tip: Swing by on the first Thursday of each month for free admission to SAM Collections and Installations!)

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 20 minutes

Don’t miss the Seattle Art Museum’s rotating collections of ancient and modern art from all corners of the world. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider
Don’t miss the Seattle Art Museum’s rotating collections of ancient and modern art from all corners of the world. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider

16. Go for a Whirl on the Great Wheel

Soar 175 feet over the water on Pier 57’s giant Ferris wheel – the aptly named Great Wheel. See the Emerald City like never before with sweeping, panoramic vistas of downtown Seattle, the waterfront and the Olympics. You may even catch sight of the Washington State Ferries or the Victoria Clipper ferry as they zip across the Puget Sound below. Although the view of the Sound is fantastic any time of day, sunset knocks it out of the park. Watch the sky turn from blue to pink to orange as the sun dips down over Elliot Bay.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 18 minutes

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

17. Cheer on Your Favorite Sports Team

Want to experience the heart and soul of the city? There is no better place to do it than on the field. Join a slew of blue and green-clad fans to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks or Seattle Sounders as they pursue another shot at the playoffs at CenturyLink Field.

Prefer to watch teams duke it out on the diamond? Right next door at T-Mobile Park, you’ll find the stomping grounds for the Seattle Mariners (and the home of Enchant Christmas during the holiday season). Drink in some sun when the retractable roof is open and fuel up on those baseball favorites— hot dogs, peanuts and crackerjacks.

The stadium’s retractable roof is perfect for summer sunshine. Credit: Jordan Rowland
The stadium’s retractable roof is perfect for summer sunshine. Credit: Jordan Rowland

The best part? Both stadiums are nestled among plenty of post-game bar spots like Pyramid Alehouse and Henry’s Tavern. You have plenty of options when it comes to celebrating your win with a frosty pint!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 36 minutes

18. See the City from the Iconic Smith Tower

Formerly the tallest building in Seattle (circa 1914), the historic Smith Tower still boasts phenomenal views. Pop into one of the brass Otis elevators and ride up to the 35th-floor observatory for wrap-around views of the city from the open-air “Bird Cage.”

Stop in the speakeasy-style bar, Observatory Bar, for happy hour and bask in the elegantly decorated room, filled with rich wood and detailed ceiling tiles. Sip on the Emerald City Collins and order up an artisan cheese plate or other shareable dishes full of heavenly goodness. Yum!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 30 minutes

See all the way to the Seattle waterfront from the Smith Tower. Credit: David Lee
See all the way to the Seattle waterfront from the Smith Tower. Credit: David Lee

19. Cruise Across the Sound on a West Seattle Water Taxi

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 soak in stunning views and map out your adventure. Your toughest decision will likely be whether you should first pick up a beach-read at family-owned Pegasus Book Exchange or new tunes at the neighboring Easy Street Records.

Whatever you do, don’t miss the stunning Alki Beach. With wide swaths of sand, ample volleyball nets, smooth pavement for longboarding and roller skating, on a sunny day, Alki is Seattle’s Santa Monica. When you tire of the surf and sand, head to Salty’s for some of the freshest seafood around. Or feast on dishes that seamlessly meld Korean and Hawaiian flavors at Marination Ma Kai. Located right on the water and offering a gorgeous backdrop of downtown Seattle across the water, you can’t go wrong with either spot.

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 27 minutes

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

20. Experience all the Evergreen State has to Offer at Wings Over Washington

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

Dive through (and smell!) the morning mists of the Olympic National Forest and Mt. Rainier, feel the power of the thundering Snoqualmie Falls and see the awe-inspiring beauty of the Walla Walla Valley Balloon Stampede. It is an experience unlike any other!

Estimated Walking Time from Clipper Terminal: 18 minutes

Imagine what it'd be like to fly over Washington's Columbia Gorge on Wings Over Washington.
Imagine what it’d be like to fly over Washington’s Columbia Gorge on Wings Over Washington.

Full of both urban and natural landscapes, Seattle is a city that deserves to be seen from a variety of perspectives. Whether you’re looking to taste new cuisines, discover the region’s history or get outdoors, there’s nothing like an escape to the Emerald City by foot to reinvigorate your spirit of adventure.

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Feature photo: Alex Mertz