The Emerald City offers its visitors a long-winded list of things to do and neighborhoods to explore. Zoos, museums, and nature all come together in this city that always smells of coffee and rain. With so much to see and do, a trip to Seattle does require a little planning. Outside of the city, you’ll learn that there are a ton of fun day trips and weekend excursions to be enjoyed as well. But let’s start with the city itself. Continue reading to learn more about all that there is to do and see, where to stay, and some other good travel tips while in Seattle.

Choose the Right Season

Your first consideration to make is when to visit. Travel dates that include holidays mean higher prices and more crowds at all the places you want to go. Many airlines and vacation rental services offer lower rates during the slower seasons. Visit Seattle in September and October for great weather, whale watching, and less wait time for the best attractions.

Cold and rainy winters mean adding a raincoat to the suitcase to stay cozy. While the summers require less coverage, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. But no matter what time of year you’re visiting, comfortable walking shoes make all the difference as you roam through Seattle’s city streets.














Consider using a travel agent who specializes in Seattle to help you to get the best rates and a great idea of what lodging and sightseeing choices are available during your vacation dates. Travel agents provide everything from driving directions to reservations and even trip tickets. 

Things to Do in Seattle

Go Whale Watching

Venture out into the ocean on a guided whale watching tour with any number of great companies that provide the service in Seattle. Island Adventures is a great option as they guarantee a sighting between the months of March and November. On many of the tours, you’ll also have the opportunity to see sea lions, porpoises, seals, and a ton of different marine birds, sometimes including bald eagles! 

Shopping Spree

Find yourself a whole new wardrobe downtown. Head to Pacific Place or Westlake Center for a couple of great options. If you’re looking for antiques or hipster boutiques, Ballard is a great neighborhood to shop. You’ll find clothing and home decor here. Head to one of the many outlet malls in the city if you’re looking for some bargain items. And for the person looking to take a little art home from Seattle, we love to suggest the neighborhood of Belltown. Most of the art here is hand blown glass, so transporting it might be challenging. It’s worth stopping in the shop anyways. 

Take a Photo at Kerry Park

It’s quite possible that most of the skyline photos you’ve seen of Seattle were taken from Kerry Park. if your’e looking for the chance to capture all the beautiful scenery of the city, a photo at this park is quintessential to your Seattle getaway.  

Discover Exciting Museums

There are a bunch of museums in the city. We’d suggest you spend time in a couple of them in particular. The first recommendation is the Museum of Pop Culture. The second is the Chihuly Garden and Glass. This installation and icon in the Seattle community are one of the must-sees on this list. You’ll be blown away by the beauty of this magical, hand blown glass garden. 

Tour the Theo Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka has got nothing on this insane factory. Be guided through the entire chocolate-making process, learn about the history of discovering cacao, and get a look at how farmers and chocolatiers interact. And obviously, you’ll get to taste a ton of chocolate! Booking your tour in advance ensures your spot on the day you’ll be there and save you a little money. 

Explore the Space Needle

Originally built for the World’s Fair of 1962, the Space Needle is a Seattle icon that is sure to impress. The structure is 605 feet tall and 520 feet wide at the top. It gives its visitors an incredible panoramic view of the entire city, not to mention all the natural beauty in the area. If your’e staying downtown. Take the monorail to arrive directly in front of the Space Needle.

Spend a Day at the Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo is home to more than 900 different animals, some of which you can interact with personally! Several species of owls and falcons are available for interactive sessions. In addition, many of the reptiles can be taken out of the cages for a bit with the handler present. Think about heading to the zoo for the afternoon and engaging with some of nature’s coolest creations. 

Discovery Park

For the more adventurous looking to do a little hiking and exploring without venturing outside of the city limits, there’s Discovery Park. This is the largest city park in Seattle and is one of the best views of the mountain ranges surrounding the city. Take time to investigate the native cultures that are still present there today. While in the park, check out the West Point Lighthouse, too.

Pro traveler tip: The Seattle CityPASS gives you admission into the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and an Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour for less than $100. 

Where to Stay

Before you finalize your Seattle, Washington vacation, think about these rental tips and what you want to spend your time doing in the city. Looking for a unique lodging option? Learn more about how you can spend your vacation on a houseboat in this complete guide.

Downtown/City Center

The city center is packed with great things to see and do. Choose a rental home, apartment or hotel here and you’ll be within walking distance of The Pacific Science Center, Seattle Children’s Theater, Intiman Theater, the Space Needle, and big park space that hosts community events and festivals. You’ll also find lots of breakfast and lunch spots, plus some great dinnertime options.

International District

The International District also goes by the name Chinatown, in reference to the large Asian-American population. Given Seattle’s position along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, the city has been a popular destination for Asian tourists and immigrants for a long time. Thanks to the influx of outside cultures, Seattle’s International District features various Asian and ethnic restaurants, food markets, and import stores. It’s a great place to explore new foods, pick up some fun imported products and visit the large Hing Hay Park.

The Waterfront

The Waterfront is probably the most popular tourist destination when it comes to Seattle. Because of that, the area is pretty crowded and prices tend to be higher in shops and restaurants. That said, this is a very beautiful area with stunning views and direct access to ferries and boat tours. Walking tours also meet along the waterfront. If you’re willing to battle the crowds, this neighborhood could be right for you. The streets are filled with taffy and T-shirt vendors, so you won’t risk going home without souvenirs.

University District

The neighborhood surrounding the University of Washington, The University District, is the home front for university students, young people, and travelers in search of a lively atmosphere. Costs are low here, but the quality is high. Look here for trendy eateries, welcoming pubs and cafés, plus indie-style shops. In this neighborhood, you can catch a football game at Husky Stadium and join the tailgate party. Yachts and trucks are, of course, welcome here. Meany Hall will keep you entertained with plays, musical shows, and dance numbers, while Lake Union can cater to your outdoor needs.

Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market

Pioneer Square is Seattle’s historic district, in which you will find some of the city’s oldest buildings and urban architecture. Join a tour here to learn about the Great Fire of 1871, the local Gold Rush, and the industrial sites that helped shape the city. At Pike Place Market you can shop for the freshest fish, produce, and bakery items, plus arts, crafts, and specialty items. There are tours available as well that offer a guided food tasting experience in the market.

Take a deeper dive into where to stay with this complete vacation rental guide to Seattle.

Start Planning Your Seattle Getaway!

With so much to do and see in this gorgeous coastal city, it’s easy to understand why you want to go! For more information regarding all that this city has to offer, check out the Ultimate Seattle Vacation Guide. Ready to make the most out of your Seattle trip? Take the first step with VacationRenter today!