Seattle travel guide

A complete guide for a fantastic trip to Seattle

Snowy peaks poke up behind Seattle’s skyline, calling locals and visitors to the hundreds of acres of parks in town and the Cascade foothills, just 45 minutes from Downtown. Seattle’s natural beauty has long drawn the world’s best and brightest, and the mark of innovative entrepreneurs shows in many ways – like how hometown company Starbucks cemented Seattle as coffee country. My version of a quintessential Seattle day, to introduce a newcomer to the city, starts with a traipse through old-growth evergreen trees, followed by a morning cappuccino and taking a boat through one of the city’s major waterways. It finishes with a seafood dinner and a live show in one of the clubs that once nurtured the famous grunge scene of the 1990s, and still books cutting-edge local acts. It doesn’t necessarily cover the tourist hotspots, but Seattle’s laid back appeal shines best through these types of everyday activities that show off what it’s like in a city where people obsess over whether “the mountain is out” – if clouds are obscuring Mt. Rainier. After decades of living here, we all still gasp at the majesty of Mt. Rainier peeking out from the southern horizon and laugh at ourselves for wearing identical REI coats. The best way to understand Seattle is to don your own fleece jacket, practice reciting your coffee order (double tall oat-milk latté, anyone?), and read on to learn about Seattle’s unique brand of Pacific Northwest culture.

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Table of contents

Must-see in Seattle

Every museum, park, and tourist attraction to see in Seattle

Seasonal events in Seattle

The seasonal events Seattle waits all year for

Once you're in Seattle

Getting around Seattle

The crystalline waters and spiky peaks that crown the city with impressive views also squish the navigable geography, rendering getting anywhere dependent on a pretty, though imperfect, collection of bridges. While not robust, the hub-and-spoke public transportation system works well for visitors, who tend to mostly be based in the hub – Downtown.

Hot Global Flavors, Chilled Local Seafood

Perched between the Pacific Coast’s bounty of seafood and the mushroom-covered Cascade mountains, Seattle feeds its chefs an ever-changing array of edible inspiration.

Renting a car and driving in Seattle

It’s possible to make it out to the alluring mountains and famous wineries just outside Seattle without your own car, but not easy. Renting a car in Seattle unlocks the freedom to operate on your own schedule, see the unspoiled forests just outside the city, and visit small neighborhoods within it.

Things to do

Seattle’s Best Playgrounds, Museums, and Sights for Families

Seattle’s many kid-friendly museums, state-of-the-art playgrounds, and ample park space in every neighborhood make it an easy and fun place to tour with kids in tow.

Music Makes Seattle Nights Come to Life

Where to Shop in Seattle and Find the Best Seattle Souvenirs

Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market is the first stop for any shopping in the city and a great place to find unique and special local souvenirs, but there are a few other options out there.

The Best of the Northwest Sits Just Outside Seattle

To fully understand the city, visitors must leave Seattle and get out into the small towns, big mountains, and beautiful islands that pepper the rest of the Pacific Northwest. Drive into the wild nature of Washington’s three national parks, taste the pristine seafood on the beach, and buy from the local shops, and then come back to the buzz of the city for the night.

What to pack for Seattle

Bring plenty of layers and nothing fancy for a trip to Seattle