As the birthplace of Microsoft, Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, Seattle is one of the USA’s most dynamic cities. A hub of art, design, music and sport, the capital of America’s northwest has something for every interest. Boasting a dynamic backdrop of deep forests and snow-capped mountains, you can easily access some spectacular hiking trails and really get back to nature here. In our guide to Seattle, we explore some of the city’s most popular attractions, bars and restaurants.
What to see
Come rain or shine, there are plenty of things to see and do in Seattle. Head to some of the city’s most recognisable tourist attractions or immerse yourself in local art, sports, food and architecture.
Explore the Museum of Pop Culture
Art and design seem to pour out of every nook and cranny in Seattle. It is fitting, therefore, that it is home to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Opened in 2000, it began life as the Experience Music Project and was dedicated to preserving the impact that Rock & Roll has had on our lives. Now it endorses personal expression and creativity through its vibrant collections, exhibitions and educational programs.
The building itself is an incredible sight. Its exterior is made up of 3,000 panels that are covered with 21,000 stainless steel pieces. Depending on where you are stood and the weather, you will see a number of different colours presented from the museum’s scales. Inside, you can see an array of collections that range from music to film, gaming, art, sport and television. So, whether you’re a film buff or a huge David Bowie fan, MoPOP is the place for you.
Marvel at the Seattle Great Wheel
Standing proudly on the waterfront is the Seattle Great Wheel. It lights up Pier 57, with thousands of lights illuminating the structure during the holidays and sporting events in the city. The Space Needle is the go-to for some pretty impressive views but as Valerie from Maple Leopard says, the wheel can more than compete with Seattle’s most iconic tourist attraction, “If you’re a thrill-seeker, head down to the waterfront and ride the wheel. Incredible views are sure to please here as well.”
Since it opened in June 2021, the wheel has become a go-to destination for locals and visitors. Standing at 175 feet, it is the largest observation wheel on the west coast of America with its 42 gondolas extending 40 feet beyond the pier to offer brilliant views of the area.
Visit the Space Needle
The Space Needle is a dominating figure on Seattle’s skyline. You can choose to climb the steps or hop on the elevator to reach the Observation Deck, a full 520 feet above your head. Just below it sits the SkyCity Restaurant, famous for offering a full 360-degree view of Seattle as it revolves.
Edward E. Carlson, an artist, was visiting Germany and inspired by the Stuttgart Tower, sketched a version of a similar “dominant central structure” for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962. Once the land was purchased, the Space Needle was challenged to be completed in a record-breaking time so it could feature in the World’s Fair. It finished 400 days later and welcomed more than 2.3 million people during the fair.
Watch a game
Seattle is passionate about sport. With professional baseball, NFL, football, basketball, roller derby and ice hockey. There are plenty of live fixtures for you to choose from throughout the year.
Baseball is an American institution. With their intractable roof, the Seattle Mariners are blessed to have one of the league’s most picturesque ballparks. The retro-style of Safeco Field at sunset is a beautiful spectacle that can be enjoyed by anyone, not just sports enthusiasts.
The Seattle Sounders FC and Seattle Reign represent the city in football or soccer, as it is called in America. Sounders are the men’s team whose history may be short but certainly successful. The side has featured in the playoffs in each season since their inauguration into the league. Reign FC play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and have won the NWSL Shield in 2014 and 2015, despite only playing their first match in January 2013.
Super Bowl champions in 2014, the Seattle Seahawks are the only NFL franchise in the Pacific Northwest. Having joined the league in 1976, the Seahawks have won nine division titles, three conference championships and have reached the Super Bowl on three occasions, including that win in 2014.
Where to eat
For those who look forward to sampling the local gastronomy on their cruise holiday, you will adore Seattle. Take your pick from delectable sweet treats, international cuisine and the best fresh northwestern seafood and farm-to-table produce.
Pike Place Market
Home to The Crumpet Shop and Daily Dozen, Pike Place Market is certainly the hub for food in the city. The market is a community and neighbourhood all in itself. Hundreds of farmers, small businesses and craftspeople for their stock in the historic building. As a Seattle resident, Valerie Hansen didn’t hesitate to laud the market, “Pike Place Market attracts over 10 million visitors annually and is the 33rd most visited tour spot worldwide. Here, you can feast on the best of NW cuisine, be entertained by zany street performers and shop very unique gifts - all hand-crafted by local artisans.”
Since its opening in August 1907, Pike Place has become a focal point in the city. It helps to support local businesses and farmers while supplying everyone with award-winning produce. Take your pick from the selection of light bites and casual dining to critically acclaimed restaurants, international cuisine, bakeries and much more.
One of Seattle’s top cheap eat destinations, Daily Dozen Doughnut Stand in Pike Place is the place to be for those driven by their sweet tooth. Head into the market and while your nose will be overcome with a brilliant blend of smells, you’ll be able to make out the distinctive scent of the freshly made doughnut batter being fried. If your cruise has docked in port on a cold and grey morning, these little golden rings are the perfect way to warm yourself up. Available with an array of toppings, the simple but delicious cinnamon sugar is a crowd favourite.
The Crumpet Shop
Locals and tourists alike flock to The Crumpet Shop for the taste of freshly prepared crumpets washed down with a warming cup of tea or coffee. One of Britain’s best-loved savoury snacks, the shop was established in 1976 when Gary Lasater opened the United Metropolitan Improved Crumpet Baking & Punctual Delivery Company. It has since been passed on to his children, Rob and Alison, who have maintained the great attention to detail that has made it so successful.
Where we merely spread some butter onto our crumpets in the UK, the Lasater family cover theirs with everything from walnuts, honey and ricotta to smoked salmon and cream cheese and so much more. All of this, including a pot of tea, will set you back no more than $12, meaning you have no excuse not to pay it a visit.
Where to drink
Sitting in a local bar is a great way to immerse yourself in an area. You get to spend time around locals while drinking fine examples of native drinks. From fashionable craft beer breweries to secret cocktail bars, Seattle is a brilliant city for a tipple.
Foreign National is relatively fresh on Seattle’s drinking scene. Opened in 2016, the inside is dark and ambient, finished with novel features like a spinning ball not too dissimilar to a disco ball and even swan-shaped murals. If you’re after a simply pint and nothing more, then perhaps you should head elsewhere. Foreign National offers a drinking experience to its punters.
Take the whiskey-stir, you’ll be offered a real show as the skilled bartender pours the Sazerac beneath a veil of liquid nitrogen. To soak up the drinks, sample some of the Asian-inspired bar snacks like the pho-noodle wrapped braised beef rolls or egg-yolk finger sandwich which can be topped with salmon, paddlefish or Siberian Sturgeon roe and caviar.
The Nest Rooftop Bar
For a drink with a view, head downtown to the Thompson Hotel. Their rooftop bar, The Nest, is an upscale and classy joint with a menu including fresh oysters and delicious cocktails. It was the place that Valerie recommended, “The Nest is a rooftop bar located in the newly constructed Thompson Hotel. Be sure to have a camera ready, you’ll too be mesmerised by the sweeping, unobstructed views of the Seattle waterfront, a very trendy and friendly atmosphere to grab a beverage and relax.”