Seattle, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, is home to some of the world’s most well known companies, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon to name just a few. Also famously known as the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and Grunge, music plays a large part in the Seattle scene. Oh, and maybe it’s worth mentioning that for 26 years it was home to yours truly. Yes, I spent my formative years listening to the aforementioned grunge and stomping around town in the unofficial official uniform of the PNW: a hoodie and Doc Martens.
It’s been 18 years since I’ve called the Emerald City home, but family and close connections guarantee that I visit regularly.
By no means a comprehensive list I’ve grouped this Rain City guide by neighborhood. Featuring quirky shops, activities, places to eat, and plenty of street art, I hope you’ll find some fun new ideas and of course there are few old favorites listed here as well.
Located south of Downtown Georgetown was Seattle’s first neighborhood. The area has a vibe, which to me fell somewhere between industrial and quirky Seattle hipster. There are multiple eateries to choose from, a chocolate factory, a record store, and even a trailer park mall to explore.
Our mid-day meal at the Jules Maes Saloon was excellent and I’m still thinking about the delicious French dip I enjoyed there. A return trip to this fun neighborhood is a definite.
The area just south of Downtown (SoDo) though primarily still an industrial district is definitely on the upswing and though it takes a little more effort there are pockets worth exploring.
The SoDo Track
One such place is the SoDo Track a two mile transit corridor leading into the Downtown core. Over the course of the past three years this area has been transformed by over 60 artists from around the world into an outdoor urban art gallery, which is visible via light rail, bus and a bike/walking path.
While the art is worth seeing this area does have quite a long way to go as far as gentrification is concerned. I suggest bringing a friend along if you’re planning to walk the trail, alternatively one could hop on the Metro bus or train.
Tour the Stadiums
Also located in the SoDo neighborhood are two of the city’s sports stadiums, Century Link Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Safeco Field home to the Seattle Mariners. Sports fans will be happy to know that both stadiums have team shops and if time permits both offer group and private tours as well.
Safeco Field is located at 1250 1st Avenue South. One hour tours are available seasonally check the website for availability. Tickets prices are: Adults,$12, Senior/Military, $11, and children are $10
Century Link Field is located at 800 Occidental Avenue South. Check the website for tour times, which vary throughout the year. Ticket prices are: Adults, $14, Seniors/Military $10, and children 5 – 11 $8. Under 4s are free.
Pike Place Market
The Pike Place Market district is a must see when visiting Seattle. Within this historic district you’ll find the freshest produce, bakers, butchers, farmers, specialty food stores, a crafts market with local artisans and over 200 individual shops as well as many restaurants ranging from takeout to fine dining.
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The Gum Wall
What do you do with your gum when you’re finished chewing it? The obvious answer would be, throw it away, but if you’re visiting Seattle you might consider another option, sticking it to the wall. Yep! You heard me; just stick it to the wall! The Gum Wall that is…
I know! You’re thinking its super gross, and it is, but at the same time there is something strangely satisfying about adding your blob of soft sticky chewing gum to the wall along with the thousands of other people who’ve done so.
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The Seattle Waterfront
Views of both Elliot Bay and the City’s skyline, art museums, quirky shops, and dining options make the Seattle Waterfront a very worthwhile destination. Access via the Pike Street Hill Climb makes it an easy walk from Downtown.
The Seattle Aquarium
Families will enjoy a visit to The Seattle Aquarium, which is perched right over the Bay. It’s friendly layout and interactive exhibits make it a wonderful spot for both children and adults alike.
The Aquarium is open 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily with the exception of Christmas Day. Tickets are: Adults $29.50, Youth ages 4 -12 $19.95, and children under 4 are free.
The Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel is just a short distance from the Seattle Aquarium, and an easy walk from Downtown. The gondolas are enclosed and heated, so you’ll be able to enjoy the ride rain or shine, day or night. Picturesque views of Elliot Bay, the Space Needle, and the Seattle skyline are available.
The Great Wheel is located on Pier 57. Tickets are: Adults $14, Seniors $12 and Youth 4 – 11 $9. VIP Tickets are also available for $50.
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Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park, an extension of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), is an outdoor art museum located at the north end of the Seattle Waterfront. Stunning views of Elliot Bay and Mount Rainier make a wonderful backdrop for the 19 acres of art on display.
The Sculpture Park is free and open to the public 365 days a year.
Since it opened in 1991 The Crocodile has played an important roll in the history of the Seattle music scene. An impressive list of bands both local and national have played there including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Everclear, Green Day, The Strokes, Cheap Trick, Yoko Ono, R.E.M., Built to Spill, and the Beastie Boys to name just a few.
The Croc is located at 2200 2nd Avenue. Check their website for concert listings some of which are open to all ages. Full disclosure: the last show I saw at the Croc was the Old 97s in 2000 ish.
Belltown Street Art
The Seattle Center
The Seattle Center, originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, encompasses a large area north of Belltown. The Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, MoPop Museum, Children’s Museum, and the Chihuly Gardens are just a few of the attractions you’ll find there.
The MoPop Museum
MoPop formerly known as The Experience Music Project (EMP) is an interactive museum dedicated to all things pop-culture. No matter your age there truly is something for everyone, making this an excellent family activity, especially on a rainy Seattle day.
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Capital Hill is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood located just east of Downtown. The area is packed with indie shops, bars, restaurants, clubs, and plenty of coffee shops.
Nemos is a mid-sized live music venue with a long Seattle history. Many well known musicians and bands have played here including: The Shins, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Raconteurs, No Doubt and Radio Head just to name a few.
Neumos is located at 925 East Pike Street. Check the official website for shows and ticket prices. Some shows are all ages.
Capital Hill Street Art
Wallingford and Fremont are located a few miles from Downtown. You’ll find multiple parks, restaurants, and shops in both areas. Fremont in particular is known for it’s quirky atmosphere.
Archie McPhee Novelty Shop
We love browsing at Archie McPhee where the store motto is “We Make Weird,” and Bacon dental floss, hand underwear, Moses action figures, baby shooters and pickle bandages are just a few of the bizarre and unusual items you’ll find on the shelves. There simply isn’t another place like it… anywhere!
Archie McPhee is located at 1300 N 45th Street. The Store’s opening hours are:
Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sun. 11:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Wallingford/Fremont Street Art
The Fremont Troll, located under the Aurora Bridge, is 18 feet high and weighs 13,000 pounds. To give you a sense of scale the Volkswagen he is holding is real! Climbing on the troll is encouraged.
The Woodland Park Zoo
If you’re traveling with children consider a visit to the Woodland Park Zoo its one of my favorite zoos, and I’ve been to a few! The Children’s Zoo with a farm and a petting zoo is first rate.
The Woodland Park Zoo is located at 5500 Phinney Avenue North. The Zoo is open everyday with the exception of Christmas Day. Tickets: Adults $20.95, Seniors $18.95, Children 3 – 12 $12.95 and toddlers are free.
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