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Seattle Bucket List: What to Do, What to Eat, and Where to Stay (Hometown Series)

Designed to explore exciting destinations around the globe while also encouraging you to take the time to stop and appreciate what is found in your own backyard, the hometown series has taken us around the world to small towns and big cities as travel bloggers highlight the many unique things to do in their hometowns. In recent posts we have visited Dublin, Mexico CityTel Aviv in Israel, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Paris, and Prague in the Czech Republic. Next, we will head over to discover the top things to add to your Seattle Bucket List with Tammi from Wander Healthy.

Seattle, Washington, nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, is an art and outdoor lover’s paradise that captivates even locals with its awe-inspiring natural beauty and vibrant culture.  I’ve lived in the Seattle area for well over a few decades and am still struck by its beauty and charm.

Whether hiking an extensive network of epic trails, climbing in the jaw-dropping peaks of the Cascade Mountains or paddling on the picturesque shores of Puget Sound, there are plenty of things to do outdoors in Seattle.

In addition, Seattle’s neighborhoods, such as Fremont, Capitol Hill, and Ballard, are hubs for some serious creativity, offering an array of independent shops, cafes, and art galleries to explore. The Sunday Fremont Market and the Pike Place Market, with its iconic flying fish and diverse culinary options, exemplify the city’s quirky and lively character.

Whatever you choose to do, Seattle will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on you. Here are some of the best things to do when visiting the Emerald City.

Seattle Bucket List: Things to Do

Hike to Rattlesnake Ledge at sunrise

The Rattlesnake Ledge hike, the most popular hike close to Seattle, is considered an easy to moderate hike and is one of the best things to do outdoors in Seattle. If you’re looking for an unforgettable outdoor experience, this is it. Especially if you go at sunrise.

As it rises, the sun casts a warm and beautiful glow over the mountains, forests, and shimmering waters of Rattlesnake Lake below. The peaceful ambiance of the early morning, combined with the breathtaking natural beauty of the surrounding mountain peaks, creates a truly unforgettable experience.

Local tip – there are no rattlesnakes!

mountains in the background with a lake in the foreground at sunset , Seattle bucket list item
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Rattlesnake Ledge. Photo Credit: Wander Healthy.

Waterfalls near Seattle

There are several waterfalls close to Seattle, but Snoqualmie Falls is the most popular by far.  And for a reason. Snoqualmie Falls, located about 30 miles east of Seattle, is one of the most famous waterfalls in the state, standing at 270 feet tall.

The falls can be viewed from above or below, with a parking lot at either end and a half mile hiking trail between the upper and lower observation decks. Spring is the best time to see this impressive waterfall, as the snowmelt from the mountains tends to make the water simply gush over the falls.

The Salish Lodge and Spa sits overlooking the falls and has two excellent, if expensive, restaurants, but is a pretty good place to find souvenirs specific to the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Falls should be on your Seattle bucket list!

Snoqualmie falls crashing over a cliff with rays of sunshine
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Snoqualmie Falls. Photo Credit: Wander Healthy.

Best Outdoor Things to Do in Seattle: Ferry to San Juans

One of the best outdoor things to do in Seattle in summer is to take a ferry ride to the San Juan Islands and go whale watching. These islands are home to orcas, humpback whales, and other marine life, and there are many tour operators that offer whale watching tours.

The ferry ride from Seattle to the San Juan Islands takes about 2-3 hours, depending on which island you’re visiting, and offers incredible views of the Seattle skyline, the surrounding mountains, and the sparkling waters of the Puget Sound.

The islands are also home to several charming towns and villages, each with its own unique character and history. You can explore local art galleries, boutique shops, and restaurants, or simply relax on one of the island’s many incredible beaches. A visit to the San Juans should be on your Seattle bucket list!

Seattle Underground Tour

If you are interested in Seattle’s history and architecture, or if you enjoy learning about unique urban spaces, then the Seattle Underground Tour may be a great choice for you.  We bring all visitors here and my teen children have never tired of it. The tour offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past and is led by knowledgeable and often hilarious guides.

Visit the Troll

The Fremont Troll is a famous public sculpture located in the Fremont neighborhood. It’s a large, concrete sculpture of a troll crushing an actual Volkswagen Beetle with its hand. The troll is situated under the north end of the George Washington Memorial Bridge, also known as the Aurora Bridge.

The sculpture was created by artists Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead, and it was installed in 1990. It was built as part of a competition sponsored by the Fremont Arts Council to rehabilitate the area under the bridge, which was previously a dumping ground.

The troll quickly became an iconic symbol of the Fremont neighborhood and has attracted people from around the world. It has a whimsical and slightly comical appearance, adding to its appeal.  

the large freemont troll statue holding a volkswagen under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle
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Freemont Troll. Photo Credit: Wander Healthy.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is one of the best museums in Washington and features the works of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, who is known for his innovative and colorful glass sculptures. The museum is in the heart of Seattle, next to the iconic Space Needle, and offers a unique and immersive experience that is sure to impress.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass consists of several indoor galleries that showcase stunning glass sculptures in a variety of shapes and sizes. The galleries are designed to highlight the beauty and intricacy of Chihuly’s work, and you can view the amazing sculptures up close and from multiple angles.

Additionally, the museum has a stunning outdoor garden, my favorite, that is filled with Chihuly’s glass flowers, trees, and other botanical-inspired sculptures.

glass sculptures in a canoe at the Chihuly garden and glass in Seattle.
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Chihuly. Photo Credit: Wander Healthy.

Space Needle

As one of the most iconic landmarks in the city, the Space Needle has unbelievable views of Seattle’s skyline and the surrounding mountains and should absolutely be on your Seattle bucket list!

Additionally, the Space Needle has several restaurants and cafes on site, including the SkyCity Restaurant, which offers fine dining with panoramic views of the city. The Space Needle also hosts several events and activities throughout the year, including concerts, holiday celebrations, and special exhibits.

Pike Place Market

Lastly, Pike Place Market is the single most must-see attraction in Seattle.  Located in the heart of the city, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States.

One of the most iconic attractions is the Pike Place Fish Market, where fishmongers famously toss fresh fish to each other as they fill orders from customers. You can watch the fishmongers in action and even have a fish tossed to you if you’re brave enough!

The market also has a variety of other vendors, including farmers selling fresh produce and flowers and artisans selling handmade crafts. There are 7 statues of pigs scattered throughout the market as well, if you’re in the mood for a scavenger hunt.

the pike place pig, golden statue, Seattle bucket list attractions
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Pike Place Pig. Photo Credit: Wander Healthy.

Seattle Bucket List: Where to Eat

Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge in the Queen Anne District of Seattle is known for its exceptional cuisine and lively atmosphere, truly a delightful dining experience. The restaurant is renowned for its New Orleans-inspired dishes, including delectable seafood, mouthwatering brunch options, and an extensive cocktail menu.

The Pink Door is a unique establishment with a one-of-a-kind dining experience that combines delicious food, live entertainment, and a charming atmosphere. The restaurant features Italian-American cuisine with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Their menu includes a variety of pasta dishes, seafood, and flavorful meat options.

The Pink Door is also known for its signature burlesque shows and live music performances, adding an entertaining and lively element to your visit. This combination of great food, unique entertainment, and ambiance makes The Pink Door a truly memorable and enjoyable dining experience.

For more conservative dining, you can’t go wrong with Matt’s in the Market. Unless you don’t make reservations first. Located at Pike Place Market itself, the menu changes depending on available, fresh, local ingredients. The menu at Matt’s in the Market features a variety of seafood dishes, as well as options for meat and vegetarian eaters.

Where to Stay in Seattle

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel is a luxurious and upscale hotel, and a fantastic choice for a memorable stay.  The Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s central location in downtown Seattle provides easy access to popular attractions, shopping areas, and dining opportunities.  

About the Author

Tammi Kaeberlein is the owner and author of Wander Healthy, a travel and lifestyle blog that provides practical tips, inspiration, and motivation to move more. To learn, grow and make simple choices in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, so that you can adventure as far and as long as you want to.

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Discover the top indoor and outdoor things to do in Seattle, places to eat, and where to stay that you should add to your Seattle bucket list #hometownseries #seattle #washington
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