You might have heard of the phrase ‘sleepy Seattle’, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Contrary to what many people think of the place, Seattle is actually one of the most interesting cities to visit on the West Coast, with lots of amazing food, nightlife, and tourist attractions to visit and explore. All you need is an insider guide from a local — or from this curated list of the top 8 things to do in Seattle. Let’s get started!
1. Try a Seattle Dog
Philadelphia has their Philly Cheesesteaks, Chicago has its Deep-dish Pie, and Seattle has its Seattle Dogs. It’s a tasty combination of a toasted bun with a hot dog, sautéed onions, bell peppers, and a generous serving of cream cheese to top it all off. Admittedly, the cream cheese bit sounds a little odd, but any local will swear by it.
A tip is to get it from street food vendors that are dotted around the city, not in restaurants or cafes that are likely to mark up the price. In any case, Seattle Dogs was created by street vendors, so that’s where the authentic experience is.
2. Have a General Porpoise Doughnut… or two
You’ll spot any of the General Porpoise’s three public stores from a mile away, with its snaking queues. And no, the patrons aren’t crazy, they just really love General Porpoises Doughnuts, and for good reason too.
With Renee Erickson, one of Seattle’s top chefs in charge, the store sells some of the best doughnuts in Seattle. They’re made with fresh ingredients all year round and come in classic flavors like lemon cream and strawberry jam. There are also seasonal flavors to enjoy, such as matcha cream and rhubarb.
While you’re there, have a cup of their famous coffee as well. It’s on par with their doughnuts, and half the reason why the queue is as long as it is.
3. Go for a spin on the Great Wheel
If you haven’t seen it on the postcards, then you’ve seen it on Grey’s Anatomy. This waterside Ferris wheel is synonymous with Seattle, and it definitely lives up to its name. You can’t miss it, but just in case, it’s located at Pier 57 overlooking Elliott Bay. It’s a great way to get a good view of Seattle’s skyline. For the most stunning views, try to make it in time for sunset.
Tickets cost $15 each for adults which you can purchase online beforehand. However, if you want cheaper tickets for Seniors ($13) or children ($10), you’ll have to go to the physical ticket booth.
4. Chill on a rooftop bar
Seattle is known for its unpredictable weather, but fortune really does favor the brave. Getting up on a rooftop bar will get you some of the most remarkable views and vibes that the city has to offer. Imagine just lying back, beer in hand, and watching Seattle from the top.
If you need a recommendation, try mbar. It offers sweeping views of Lake Union, a freshwater lake that sits entirely in Seattle. You can even see seaplanes taking off or landing from afar. Don’t forget to have a drink! Try anything on their in-house cocktail menu; from the olive oil-infused Sipsmith gin to Toki Japanese whiskey, for an unforgettable visit.
5. Visit Pike Place Market
Another must-see in Seattle, Pike Place Market is known for being the best farmer’s market in not just Washington State, but the entire country. The nine-acre public market has been in Seattle for over 100 years and is a hallmark of any visit.
It’s split up into several sections, including the farmer’s market, crafts and buskers section. For visitors, you won’t need fresh produce or fish; so if you’re pressed for time, we’d recommend skipping to the crafts or collectibles section. There you can see and buy unique jewelry, comics, books and more.
Whip your cameras out in the Buskers section as well, with street performers lining the streets. The ambiance is great to enjoy with the entire family. The kids will love the specialty sweets and confectionery from the bakers, cafes, and stalls at Pike Place Market as well.
6. Indulge in chowder fries
We’re not stealing Boston’s claim to the best clam chowder, but Seattle’s chowder fries hit a different level altogether. It sounds simple enough — just chowder poured over freshly fried, golden fries. But this dish is not to be underestimated, as it has taken the city by storm.
Pike Place Chowder’s version of chowder fries, in particular, is a real treat. When you order the “Poutine o’ the Sea”, you’ll get an amazing dish with chowder poured over fresh clams, bacon, and of course, fries. For something a little more bougie, order chowder fries at All Water Seafood and Oyster Bar. Their version has the essentials, plus salmon cubes and tender crab meat for a slightly elevated touch.
7. Sip coffee at the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room
Another thing Seattle is known for is being the birthplace of Starbucks — evident by the crowds that gather at the first and original Starbucks outlet, located in Pike Place Market. If you’re up for something a little more exciting, head to the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
There, you’ll get to actually see the beans being roasted, a far cry from just watching the barista make your drink. Smell the freshly-roasted beans for yourself, and try new things like whiskey barrel-aged cold brew. It’s a whole sensory delight, especially if you’re a coffee-lover.
8. Slurp up Asian dumplings
If you haven’t heard of DTF’s world-famous dumplings, it’s time to write them down in your to-do list. They’re known all around the world, but you can only find them in two places in the U.S. — one of which is Seattle.
You won’t just be excited by the perfectly shaped xiao long bao dumplings, but also by the close-up look you’ll get at the chefs making each one by hand. The dumplings taste heavenly, and you’ll know just who to thank.
So Seattle might be one of the less popular destinations compared to places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, but as you know by now, there’s plenty to do. It’s definitely worth a trip down to this city for the food, sights, and incredible experiences it has to offer. And if you’ve already decided to drop by sometime soon, be sure to head to some of the best hotels in Seattle for a comfortable stay!