Things to Do in Seattle – A Newcomer’s Guide
If you’re planning on moving to the largest city in the State of Washington, you’re probably interested in finding out what some of the things to do in Seattle are. Luckily, this community allows its residents to have a fulfilling life with lots of exciting activities, events, and attractions around every corner.
Whether you’re moving with kids and need some ideas to keep them occupied on a Saturday afternoon or you’re relocating for a fresh start and want to meet new people, this community won’t let you down. What’s more, having a full schedule after you’ve settled down can help you deal with anxiety about moving out and avoid getting relocation depression. There’s nothing like discovering new places to snap you out of a gloomy mood, and that’s only one of the advantages of moving alone to another state.
Take a Tour with the Tourist Info Center
If you’ve never really spent a considerable amount of time here before moving to Seattle, you might want to consider exploring the area like a true tourist. Sure, you’re here to stay, but there’s no harm in taking a tour and learning about all the popular attractions. You will not only get to know your surroundings better, but you’ll also learn where to take your friends and family when they come to visit.
Tourist information centers often organize a fun tour and provide useful information to visitors based on their requests and interests. The Visitor Center is located downtown and is open on weekdays all year round, and on weekends as well during the summer. You can even give them a call in advance and let them help you plan your first couple of days here, but know that summer isn’t the cheapest time of the year to relocate here.
If, however, you’d prefer to do your own exploring, rather than have a tour guide show you around, we’ve got some ideas for you. Read on to find out what our top picks are.
Organize a Museum Day
One of the many great things about this place is that it is brimming with museums. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, airplanes, or toys, you’ll find your new favorite museum without trouble. Given that the cost of living in Seattle is pretty close to the national average, we’re sure you won’t mind spending some money on an occasional educational tour. We’re sure you won’t regret paying a visit to some of the following ones.
Seattle Art Museum
With new exhibitions and installations popping up regularly, SAM is definitely the right choice for all art aficionados. The institution is home to an evergrowing collection of works of art, which currently amounts to over 25,000 pieces from all over the globe. This includes American, African, Ancient Mediterranean, Ancient American, Oceanic, Islamic, European, decorative, contemporary art, and so much more.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Although it is, technically, a part of SAM, the Olympic Sculpture Park definitely deserves a special mention. Spreading on nine acres, it has won numerous awards for its countless artworks. This is also the largest green area in the center of the city and is open every day of the year, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
Museum of Pop Culture
Are you more into the contemporary culture? Then you’ll surely love MoPOP! With fun events such as a Minecraft Exhibition, the Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction Exhibition, movie screenings and festivals, sensory-friendly evenings, and workshops, MoPOP will awaken the geek in you and keep your kids occupied for hours. What a fun activity for a rainy day!
The Children’s Museum
There might be some great Seattle public schools here, but the community definitely isn’t lacking in extracurricular activities either! The Children’s Museum offers various thematic exhibits and programs for kids of all ages and interests. The goal is not only to entertain them but also to educate them. There are also camps you could send your kids, too!
The Museum of Flight
Have you always been interested in airplanes? Then the Museum of Flight might interest you. You will not only get to see some of the most interesting aircraft specimens ever made, but you can also learn what it takes to be a flight controller or a pilot. Have some fun in a flight simulator or enjoy the exciting 3D movie theater. General admission tickets are around $25 for adults.
Are You More of a Park Person?
Would you rather spend your time outside in nature than walking around museums? Not to worry, there are lots of parks where you could spend your afternoon. Whether you want to enjoy a picnic, go for a run, or play with your dog, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here are some suggestions.
Spanning over 500 acres of land, this is one of the locals’ favorites. It encompasses a beach, vast green areas, sand dunes, and even a forest. There is also an educational center here that has the goal of spreading awareness of the importance of environmental protection. While you’re here, don’t forget to visit the West Point Lighthouse – it offers a breathtaking view.
Golden Gardens are the center of all happenings in the summer. They are not as popular among tourists as some other parks are, which means you’ll get to avoid the annoying crowds. If you’re not a fan of lying on the beach all day, you’ll be happy to learn that you can also go hiking here or throw a BBQ party at one of the designated fire pits.
Are you a fan of the band Nirvana? If so, did you know that Viretta is where Kurt Cobain enjoyed spending his days? Yep, you read that right. In fact, Viretta is known among locals as “Kurt’s Bench.” This, of course, also means that it can get quite flooded with tourists and music aficionados, especially in the summer. If you prefer peace and quiet, this might not be the best option for you.
Volunteer Park is definitely on the top of the list of the locals’ favorites. There is a landmark conservatory here, a brick tower you can climb, tennis courts, other playfields, and several spots that offer some of the best views around. It is located in Capitol Hill, one of the best neighborhoods in Seattle, which is good to know if you’re still looking for a new home.
Go out for Dinner in Some of the Best Dining Spots
Would you call yourself a foodie? Then you’re in luck because some of the best restaurants in Seattle offer dining experiences that are out of this world. Of course, finding the ideal restaurant for you depends on your cuisine preferences, the type of the occasion, and your budget, but here are some of our suggestions:
- Pizzeria Credo. You’ll find some of the best Italian food here, and we’re not only talking about pizzas. The restaurant has pretty reasonable prices for the quality of food it offers and is great for get-togethers with friends, or even a date.
- Chan. If you’re looking for a laid-back vibe with tasty Asian food – you’ve just found it. From steak tartare and black cod to Korean chicken wings, this place simply abounds in flavor.
- Nue. Nue puts a whole new twist on street food. Of course, as most eateries in the city, it is both vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. They offer some gluten-free options, as well. You’ll get to try some things you probably won’t find anywhere else.
- Shaker+Spear. Looking for a good seafood spot? Shaker+Spear uses locally-produced fresh ingredients. If you’d rather spend the evening at home, you’ll be happy to hear that they offer takeout as well.
- Fogon Cocina Mexicana. Washington State might not be a popular destination for Mexican food, but Fogon definitely has what it takes. What’s more, this isn’t the usual American take on Latin food – the meals here are as close to authentic as it gets.
Need some help figuring out where to eat? Then you might be interested in partaking in Restaurant Week – a festival that usually happens in April.
Catch a Game
You probably already know that this place is home to a number of sports teams playing soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and even rugby. In fact, as of 2021, a professional ice hockey team is expected to have its first season. With a current total of seventeen national championship honors, these teams are truly thriving.
You’ll adjust quickly to a new location if you enjoy watching sports. Did you know that in 2013, the Seahawks‘ fans set a world record for the loudest cheering crowd? Head over to CenturyLink Field to experience what it feels like to chant along with over 70,000 other football enthusiasts.
If baseball is more up your alley, say hello to your new favorite team – the Mariners. They play in T-Mobile Ballpark, which has a capacity of around 40,000 spectators. It is located in SoDo, which also happens to be one of the best places to live in Seattle – especially if you’re a baseball fan. The ballpark is also sometimes used for amateur events, such as high school championships, or even non-baseball related occasions.
Attend Festivals Throughout the Year
Since you’re not only planning on visiting the Emerald City but sticking around at least for a while, you’ll probably want to know what there is to do throughout the year. There are over 100 festivals here annually, all dedicated to different forms of art, cultures, age groups, or interests. In other words, whatever it is that you’re into, there’s probably a festival for it. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some suggestions:
- Boat Show. Happening in January and on several different locations, the Boat Show features a number of exhibitors displaying their boats and related equipment. Kids under the age of 18 can get in for free.
- Northwest Flower and Garden Show. For everyone interested in the flora and gardening, this festival in February might be interesting. With dozens of display gardens and numerous seminars, the show is both aesthetically pleasing and educational.
- Emerald City ComiCon. Enter the world of galaxies, parallel universes, fandoms, and overall quality pop-culture content. ECCC is usually in March and attracts tens of thousands of visitors.
- Moisture Festival. Moisture Festival has nothing to do with getting wet. However, it has everything to do with getting a good laugh. From jugglers to strongmen, rope acts, tap dancers, and other odd talents, the festival puts a new spin on the classic circus.
- International Film Festival. Usually held in May, the International Film Festival features hundreds of movies and films from all around the globe. Join 140,000 visitors who enjoy watching them every year.
- Festal. Festal is a series of festivals dedicated to various cultural heritages and traditions that make up American society as we know it today. It is a celebration of ethnic diversity, love, peace, and understanding.
- SEAFAIR. SEAFAIR is a series of smaller events happening every summer. This includes parades, parties, races, and so on. Some of the must-visit attractions include the Torchlight Parade and the Seafair Cup.
Visit the Historic Sites and Landmarks
The history of the Emerald City dates back to 1851 when a group of immigrants from Illinois settled down in the area. The name comes from chief Sealth, who helped them establish a settlement. In 1868, the settlement was officially incorporated and quickly became the largest city in the state. While its history isn’t that long, the city still offers a couple of interesting historic sites and landmarks:
- King Street Station. Built in 1906, this was the main railway terminal in the area for a long time. It is included in the National Register of Historic Places and features a grandiose waiting room.
- Kurt Cobain’s House. Let’s fast forward to more contemporary history. The house where Kurt Cobain lived with his wife Courtney Love is located here. What’s more, in October 2019, it went up for sale for a steep price of $7.5 million.
- Smith Tower. At the moment it was built, the Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Today, it is an important cultural landmark and it offers unique and interesting activities and tours, including an observatory with a great view and various exhibits.
Are you a night owl who likes to spend weekends partying? Then you’re probably interested to learn more about the nightlife in the area. We think you won’t be disappointed. After all, so many jazz musicians built their careers here, from Ray Charles to Ernestine Anderson. This community is also the cradle of the grunge genre, which comes as no surprise, given that bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam started off here. In other words, Seattleites obviously know how to appreciate music – and they know how to party. Once you settle down and decide to get to know your new home by night, head to the following local gathering spots:
- Monkey Loft. This club features three floors, each with a completely different vibe. The rooftop is great during warm summer months, and the ground floor is a great choice if you’d prefer to chill in a lounge.
- The Underground. One of the top picks for all EDM fans, the Underground offers an experience not unlike LA’s electronic scene. What’s more, there’s a self-service water fountain you can use whenever you need a refreshment instead of having to wait in line just to get a glass of water.
- Havana. If you like to party hard and know what a good college party looks like, you’ll surely love going to Havana. The venue is open every day of the week except for Sundays, which means you don’t have to wait for the weekend to party.
- Kremwerk. Kremwerk is one of the most popular LGBTQ+ spots in the area. It regularly hosts queer events, drag shows, and other kinds of LGBT parties. You simply can’t have a bad time here.
Shopping Spree Time
If a trip to the shopping mall is your idea of fun, we’ve got good news for you – there are numerous shopping options in the area. Whether you’re looking for outlets where you can buy quality stuff for cheap, or need to get the latest brand-name clothes, you’ll find your go-to mall on this list:
- Bellevue Square Mall. With brands such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Aldo, Camper, and Hugo Boss, the mall tailors to everyone’s taste. As a bonus, free parking is available for all visitors.
- Southcenter. This is one of the largest shopping malls in the area. Along with retail stores, it features a wide array of food spots, which is always good after a long day of walking around and shopping.
- Pacific Place. What makes Pacific Place stand out from the rest is that, aside from shopping and dining spanning on five levels, the venue hosts occasional concerts as well.
- The Shops and Bravern. Home to upscale boutiques, this mall includes brand names such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Hermes.
- University Village. Located on the brinks of the downtown area, University Village is definitely worth a visit. Aside from your regular chain stores, it is also home to some locally-owned shops and boutiques.
Enjoy the Performing Arts Scene
Theater shows, operas, ballets – organizing a culture-filled evening for you and your loved ones will be a breeze here. There are several majestic theaters and opera houses you’ll surely enjoy visiting. If you’re moving to Seattle in hopes of having a fulfilled cultural life, you won’t be disappointed. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving into a smaller home when you’ll spend most of your time outside exploring.
Seattle Opera is located on Mercer Street. It was founded back in 1963 and has since grown to become one of the biggest opera companies in the country. Wagner operas are its specialty and what the company is famous for. This was where Of Mice and Men first premiered in 1970, as well as the first full production of Tommy by The Who in 1971. The opera regularly tours schools across the state, giving pupils and students from low-income families the chance to enjoy the production of some of their favorite fairy tales.
Seattle Rep is a repertory theater and the largest such institution in the Pacific Northwest. It was founded in 1963, and not even thirty years later, it won the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. The institution organizes educational programs that help teachers integrate performing arts into their classrooms. It features two stages – Bagely Wright and Leo Kreielscheimer, as well as a general-admission forum with the capacity of 99 seats.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
It has been estimated that Pacific Northwest Ballet has the highest per-capita attendance in the whole country. That is surely an unambiguous indicator that the institution offers high-quality production that simply makes you want to come back again and again. Aside from breathtaking ballet shows such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella, they also host dance classes and programs, along with regular auditions. Have you always wanted to be a ballet dancer? Now’s your chance!
Other Things to Do in Seattle, Washington
The list of fun activities in this community could go on forever. There is simply never a boring day here. If you ever run out of ideas for what to do on a day off, here are some more suggestions.
Visit Seattle Center
Seattle Center is a gathering venue that features dozens of organizations in the domain of sports, culture, entertainment, and education. A wide range of programs and events year-round make every visit to this venue exciting. Each time you come here, you’ll get to experience something new – an art installation, a skating rink, a poetry evening, a fitness event, a lecture on important societal issues, or maybe a theater performance for kids.
Take a Tour of Pike Place Market
Ask any local, and they’ll tell you right away that they’d recommend a visit to Pike Place Market to everyone. Along with the usual market stuff – stalls, locally-owned shops, fresh produce, and eateries, Pike Place actually hosts a series of fun events, such as comedy nights, storytelling, cabaret shows, and so on. The establishment is comprised of a farmers market, where you can buy fresh, mouthwatering, homegrown produce, a crafts market where local artisans display and sell their handicrafts, a specialty foods department, as well as a number of cafes, bakeries, and eateries.
Organize a Weekend Getaway
It doesn’t take long to get tired of the hustle and bustle of a big city. When that happens, a weekend getaway to a peaceful destination surrounded by nature is exactly what you need. Luckily, the State of Washington abounds in such hidden gems. A visit to one of these places will surely help you recharge your batteries and get ready for another work week:
- Lake Crescent. Located in Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent boasts beautiful emerald water that can parallel Lake Tahoe. Whether you like kayaking and canoeing, or you simply want to sit down and enjoy the scenery, you’ll surely love it here. Choose between a comfy rusting lodge or a camping site as your accommodation for the weekend.
- Langley. Located on Whidbey Island, this little village is thought by many to be one of the best weekend escapes in the country. Although you won’t necessarily be away from civilization, you’ll get to enjoy beautiful nature, wine-tasting events, walking trails, and picturesque antique shops.
- Port Townsend. Port Townsend is located on the Olympic Peninsula, and it offers its visitors easy access to a wide variety of activities, including hiking, paddle-boating, wine tasting, picnicking, and so on. It is truly a destination straight out of a fairy tale.
See Thousand of Animals in the Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is more than just your regular zoo. It is an organization that helps save wildlife animals through a series of programs such as Living Northwest, conservation partner programs, wildlife survival programs, compost production, conservation breeding, and so much more.
The zoo itself is home to over a thousand animals and 300 different species. This includes several ambassador animals – animals with unique and inspiring stories and engaging personalities. For example, Lucy the Raccoon was found as a baby and raised as a house pet. Once it was time for her to be released into the wild again, she was so used to people that this mission failed. That is why she found her new home at the Zoo in 2016.
Visit Space Needle for a Breathtaking View
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Space Needle. This observation tower is over 600 ft tall and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. The elevators take around 40 seconds to reach the top of the tower, where a restaurant is located. Just imagine dining with such a magnificent view!. Ever since the tower was built, six parachute jumps were executed from here. However, this is only possible with prior authorization.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibit honoring the artist Dale Chihuly. It consists of three main parts: the beautifully arranged colorful garden, the glasshouse, which is the centerpiece of the whole project, and eight galleries where Dale Chihuly’s works of art are on display. There is also a theater where you can watch short videos of the process of making some of the pieces you’ll see in the galleries.
You’ll Never Get Bored in the Emerald City
With so many things to do and places to visit all around, you won’t have a single day of boredom here. It’s a shame not to find the cheapest way to move out of state, plan your moving budget, and become a resident here. If you get reliable moving services, you can focus on creating a detailed plan of your activities post-relocation, while professionals are handling all your household belongings. If the company you chose offers auto transport, see how car shipping works, and bring your four-wheeled friend with you because it will come in handy. Figure the best time of year to move, free up your schedule, get some comfortable walking shoes, and prepare for some of the best experiences of your life!