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Top 10 things to do in Seattle

Recently named among the top cities in the U.S. by readers of Condé Nast Traveler in their 2018 Readers Choice Awards, Seattle offers superb urban and outdoor experiences, and provides the perfect point of departure point for a luxury cruise holiday to Alaska. You’ll find many of the city’s top attractions located close to the historic waterfront, including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pier 59 and of course, Seattle’s famous coffee shops. The city makes a perfect pre- or post-cruise stay with plenty to see and do. Here’s our top 10 things to do in America’s Emerald City. The Space Needle This dominating landmark was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and provides stunning views over Seattle, and on clear days Mount Rainer can be seen in the distance. The Space Needle is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city and is 184 metres (603 feet) tall.  Do plan a visit to the observation tower as well as the rotating Space Needle Restaurant. Museum of Pop Culture The Museum of Pop Culture features the history of popular culture, music, and science fiction, and was designed by renowned architect Frank Ghery. A variety of outstanding exhibitions, oral histories and interactive installations, containing a remarkable collection of more than 80,000 artefacts, costumes and musical instruments, showcase the careers of some of the world’s most influential pop and rock musicians. Pike Place Market Pike Place Market first opened its doors in 1908 to provide the consumer direct contact with the producer. Ironically, while branches of popular chains are now not allowed, this is where Starbucks was born, although the Pike Place branch sells only coffee and espresso, in line with its original concept. The only way to ensure you don’t miss anything is to join one of the many guided tours operating each day around the market place. Pioneer Square & Underground Tour Pioneer Square is the historic centre of Seattle, home to the first settlers who arrived in the city in 1852. Within this atmospheric district, you’ll find an array of art galleries, museums, cafes and even a portion of the Klondike Gold Rush National and Historic Park. For a more unusual look at this old section of Seattle, an underground tour gives you the chance to explore the complex maze of subterranean passages that lie beneath the city’s historic streets and sidewalks. Seattle’s Waterfront and Ferris wheel The old quays and piers of the city’s waterfront provide some of Seattle’s most iconic sights. Some of the highlights along this bustling district include the Seattle Aquarium, Myrtle Edward Park, the Olympic Structure Park and many shops, bars, arcades and restaurants. Be sure to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel, located at Pier 57, which provides some great views of the Seattle skyline. Seaplane from Lake Union Board a seaplane for a bird’s eye view of one of the most attractive cityscapes in America. Scenic flights depart from Lake Union and take you on a grand tour around the Emerald City, passing above the Ballards Lock, Gasworks Park, The Space Needle, Bill Gates’ Estate, the University of Washington, the Floating Bridges, the historic downtown and beautiful Lake Washington. Fremont, Belltown and Ballard Although downtown Seattle is fairly small, the surrounding city is home to over thirty neighbourhoods, all of which have their own distinct character and atmosphere. Two of the most famous neighbourhoods – Ballard and Fremont – are located in the north of the city, and are renowned for their upmarket shops, coffee houses and panoramic views. Alternatively, head to Belltown, located close to the Pike Place Market. This up-and- coming district is home to a number of cafes, bars and music venues, as well as one of the most famous restaurants in the city: the wonderful Flying Fish. Blake Island Breathtaking coastal scenery, five miles of breathtaking beaches, and almost 14 miles of hiking and biking trails can be found on Blake Island: a 475-acre marine park, where visitors can dive, fish and learn about native culture. Shopping in Seattle If you’re planning on indulging in some retail therapy, there are plenty of global chains and designer shops to choose from in the city centre. For independent boutiques, head out of the centre to neighbourhoods like Belltown. Areas like Capitol Hill, Pike Place Market and the Waterfront are the places to go if you’re hoping to pick up some local souvenirs, including a jar or two of that famous coffee. Beyond Seattle The landscapes surrounding Seattle are spectacular, with the Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Olympic national parks all within a two-hour drive. Alternatively, you can take the scenic ferry to San Juan Islands and discover rugged coastline framed by dense rainforest and spectacular alpine peaks. Cruise lines that depart from Seattle include Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Oceania Cruises. Scott Anderson is General Manager at The Luxury Cruise Company. The Luxury Cruise Company is your port of call for incredible cruise holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Scott Anderson

Scott is one of the most well-travelled people, having visited more than 70 countries and counting. He has worked in the cruise industry since he was 19 years old, beginning as a cruise ship photographer and duty free shop manager, and knows more than most how enjoyable cruising can be.

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  1. Sadly, I’ve not made it yet to Seattle. It’s probably the only great American city that I’ve never visited. From reading this post I can see why it places so highly in the Condé Nast rankings. It’s got something for everyone. Personally, I feel that I’d need a stay of five or six days to do the city justice.

  2. I know that I’m going to upset a lot of people in San Francisco and Los Angeles but I’ve always seen Seattle as the epitome of West Coast cool.

    For me the fact that it’s got The Museum of Pop Culture designed by the radical Frank Ghery makes Seattle such an icon of West Coast chic.

  3. As a native, I’d suggest steering AWAY from a couple of these recommendations. First of all, the Space Needle is very much overpriced and can get very crowded, and it’s not even the best viewpoint in the city. As an alternative, I would suggest heading to the SkyView Observatory at the Columbia Tower on 4th Avenue. It is located on the 76th floor of the highest building in the city, and on a clear day affords great views from which you can see further in all directions. Best of all, it’s much more affordable than the Space Needle…and it allows you to actually include the iconic tower in your photos.

    The waterfront. Few restaurants, and otherwise mostly overpriced activities. Skip the wheel. It doesn’t go high enough to see much of anything. Instead, hop a ferry to Bainbridge Island. The retail area just a bit away from the terminal includes decent restaurants and galleries. Time your trip back around late afternoon, and get the skyline reflecting the sunset. This is a view you can’t get from the wheel. Also a fraction of the cost.

    1. Chris, very many thanks for all the tips. It’s absolutely brilliant to get such useful advice straight from the horse’s mouth.

      You’ve taken a lot of time and trouble to pass on years of experience.

      It would be good if other natives could pitch in with their priceless local knowledge.

      Thank you,


  4. Never done a seaplane. I don’t think that there are many of them about nowadays. They just seem to belong to a different era, maybe a time that was a little more romantic. So, I’d definitely have to book up for that.

  5. Thanks for the sharing this blog with us. I like it very much.Keep it up.Avail your Seattle cruises packages from Gardant Travel if you want your trip to be filled with memorable and life changing experiences. With us, your experience will be more than a trip as we have been planning family vacations for many years.

  6. Very funky design for the Museum of Pop Culture, which I guess you’d kind of expect given what it’s home to. I’d love to take a look around there! There’s so much in Seattle I wouldn’t really have thought of, so this has opened my eyes a bit to the place. Aside from travelling there, I think it would be quite a nice place to live, and it’s good to know there’s plenty to be reached outside the bounds of Seattle, too.

    1. Hi Claire – yes plenty to see that is close by – Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Olympic national parks are easily accessible plus its a great city to explore before or after an Alaskan cruise.

  7. Born in Ballard Washington before it was annexed.
    Had a family business started 1907.
    The best thing to do in Seattle? Avoid it. The elected city officials should be terminated.

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