Curated ideas of things to do in Seattle
October 26, 2018 11:27 AM   Subscribe

We'll be in Seattle next week, where the weather is expected to be dreary (not that that's a bad thing). There are so many "what to do in Seattle" pages on the intertubes, that I'm overwhelmed. Can you help me pare down the list, knowing the time of year and expected weather?
posted by blurker to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
What are your interests? Will you have a car? Are there physical/dietary considerations?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 11:42 AM on October 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: We have no dietary restrictions that need be considered, and will have no car but can use Lyft. Interests are basically all over the place.
posted by blurker at 12:18 PM on October 26, 2018

Best answer: For any out-of-towners, I always recommend the Seattle Underground Tour, which operates out of a Pioneer Square (south end of the downtown core) bar called Doc Maynards, a bar named after one of the few founders of the city who didn't come here to make lots of money (it is said). It's a walking history of Seattle's founding and growing pains, and the hilarious levels of vice and corruption that went with it. It's mostly, as the name says, underground, in the remaining areas of the historic neighborhood that once had streets between 6 and 20 feet below where the streets are now.

For people who live here already, I recommend taking the tour every 10 years or so, as a refresher, followed by reading at least the first of the books on which it is based, "Sons of the Profits."
posted by Sunburnt at 12:24 PM on October 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

You could go to the Meowtropolitan Cat Cafe and carve pumpkins with cats.

The Museum of Pop Culture is having a horror-related exhibition (and lots of other cool stuff to look at all the time).

You could take a cruise in a covered boat around the area.

If you like baseball, go to a Mariners game and have garlic fries and/or deep fried grasshoppers.

See a highly-acclaimed musical at the 5th Avenue.

Check out some vintage computers!

Take a ride on the waterfront ferris wheel.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 12:39 PM on October 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

If you can go on a weekday, Pike Place is actually quite nice and full of interesting things and yummy snacks. Go to Eighth Generation for really nice gifts.

The best view of the city is actually in West Seattle in Admiral, which is across a bridge. Good for family photos. West Seattle is also home to Alaska Junction which has some very delicious restaurants and an award winning french bakery, and Alki Beach which is beautiful to visit on gusty days, and Lincoln Park which is full of old growth trees and rocky beach and gentle trails, and also my house, hi.

I get real pinch-faced about the SAM but honestly it's a great art museum that I would go so far as to say is worth the price of admission. Do not go to the Chihuly glass garden thing, it's an absolute brain-sucking rip off.

The Stranger already curates things to do in and around town for you, just look at their recommended events listings and narrow down by date and maybe neighborhood.

On preview, I did not enjoy the underground tour but my friend did and still brings it up when we have visitors. Pioneer Square is a solid place to spend a touristy few hours, though.

The place I take beer-nerd friends to for incredible food and an extensive and intelligently curated draft list is Brouwer's. It's in Fremont which is a very peculiar part of town that is very much into itself as its own funky special location, but as a tourist it's a solid day of shopping and gawking and eating. Having lived there for years I just go to Brouwer's and get out, but it's a nice place to go spend a day once in a while, and it's right on Lake Union and it's nice to get a variety of watery vistas on your visit.
posted by Mizu at 12:40 PM on October 26, 2018

Best answer: Some of the best views of Seattle come when it's dreary, because the sunbreaks and cloud patterns will be lovely! I would still check out Pike Place regardless of weather--it's also largely indoor, even if it's drizzly. Within the market, my favorite things are the Daily Dozen Donut Company (cute donut-making machine!), Beecher's Cheese (grilled cheese! other cheese!), and the MarketSpice (tea! spices! those sorts of things!)

I always make sure to go to Archie McPhee and see what sort of weirdness has come in recently. While you're in Ballard, check out the Locks, peruse the record stores, etc. Also eat at Cupcake Royale anywhere you can, and have a Caffe Vita coffee.

The Theo chocolate store is fun and has a factory tour (and is indoors). It's near lots of restaurants and small shops, in Fremont, VERY close to the Fremont Troll if seeing that is important to your tourist desires.

If you are in Pioneer Square, there are lots of interesting shops to pop into, including vintage stores, art galleries, and record stores. Intrigue Chocolate does a truffle tasting and also will make hot chocolate, cacao nib drinks, etc. My favorite thing in Pioneer Square is the Waterfall Garden Park, which is a hidden gem and a great place to have a takeaway coffee or just relax away from the sidewalks for a bit.
posted by assenav at 12:55 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The best view of the city is actually in...

Kerry Park
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:25 PM on October 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

I really like the Museum of Flight, which has lots of modern and antique planes, a bunch of historical stuff about Boeing, and some space stuff. Also, if you go on a weekday, it's quiet and a great place to relax.
posted by bq at 1:26 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bring a rain jacket, but don't bother with an umbrella as you'll just lose it.
I suggest monorail espresso near 5th and pike (cash only) for great coffee, also badlam espresso.
avoid third avenue unless you have a really good reason.
crazy good restaurants around fifth and virginia.
parking is free on sunday.
best rule of thumb is don't stop to talk to people while walking around, generally if they are trying to talk to you they are trying to get something from you.
Kexp 90.3 has a nice gathering space with free wifi and great coffee, near the space needle.
posted by evilmonk at 1:28 PM on October 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Weather in seattle is always dreary (152 days of rainfall a year). so grab a rainjacket and get ready to enjoy seattle.

My top things to do in Seattle:
rent a kayak at lake union to get a good view of seattle skyline and gasworks park
Ballard Fish ladder locks
seconding Seattle Underground tour

Food wise
Margaret Kuo's in Pike Place market
Expresso Vivace near REI for amazing coffee
Green Leaf for Vietnamese
Uwajimaya for any japanese goodies.

I suggest you get a car since Pacific Northwest has fantastic hiking spots that are not accessible from public transportation. has great list of hikes depending on your physical condition.

Mt Rainier National Park, Snowqualmie falls, Rattlesnake lake are worth the drive outside Seattle.
posted by radsqd at 1:31 PM on October 26, 2018

Hop on a ferry, right downtown.
posted by sammyo at 1:40 PM on October 26, 2018

Stellar Pizza in Georgetown is..well, stellar

The Seattle Antiques Market is pretty fun.

The Fremont Troll is pretty damn cool too

I also like to go to Grocery Outlet just because..hey don't judge me folks.

Central Cinema is a quirky and fun movie theater

For more food, Le Pichet is always charming to me

Bop Street Records and Sonic Boom Records are right across the street from each other

Finally, the Federal Way Community Center is bad.ass.
posted by nikaspark at 2:13 PM on October 26, 2018

> rent a kayak at lake union

The place I'd look to do this is NWOC. Parking there is free after 4PM and on weekends (all day), which is an exception.

Also right there, next door, is the Electric Boat Company, which is another great way to get a look around Lake Union on a rainy day. Boats are covered and have sides, and since the lake gets pleasantly empty on a rainy day, it's good boating. BYO food, drink.

Electric boat will run you a minimum of $200 for 2 hours, while Kayaks are $18-$35/hour per boat, with the more expensive boats holding more people, so two options for different budgets or activity levels.

While we're offering our best view of the city, I like the top of Bhy Kracke Park. It's allegedly named after a real person, and not euphamistically for the bike racks or any crack sales going on there. It's on the shoulder of Queen Anne Hill, due north of downtown, but also overlooks Like Union from the west. It's a fairly vertical park, I suggest going to the top end, off of Bigelow Ave. Queen Anne hilltop is a maze, so fire up the GPS.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:15 PM on October 26, 2018

Best answer: I live in Seattle and, like all Seattleites, take great pride in showing off this amazing city - and one thing no one tells you is that it's kind of better in ways when it's dreary out. Way fewer tourist crowds, and since grey and drizzly is Seattle's natural state, it's really beautiful here in that weather. The sky gets all silvery, the greens get really deep green, and the sunbreaks are stunning. We're even having a good year for fall color.

Here are some of the things my guests have loved:

Touristy/Site-seeing things

- The Chihuly museum: I actually haven't been yet but my whole family loved it.
- The underground tour: undeniably touristy but really fun. Do it at night when they'll tell you about all the brothels.
- Pike Place Market
- Kerry Park
- Ferry to Bainbridge

Parks if the weather allows:

- Golden Gardens in Ballard (beach with mountain views)
- Gasworks Park (literally old gasworks on Lake Union)
- Volunteer Park
- Discovery Park

- Sushi almost everywhere
- Vietnamese almost everywhere
- Molly Moon's ice cream
- Top Pot for cakey donuts, Mighty-O for sweeter donuts
- The aforementioned Brouwer's

Neighborhoods for browsing around if the weather is bad:

- Fremont, Wallingford, Ballard: all near each other, all have a mix of restaurants, coffee shops, and indie stores. All feel pretty "neighborhoody." Wallingford has great sushi.
- North end of Capitol Hill, around 15th and Thomas (great coffee shops and restaurants, and a lovely little bookstore/cafe called Ada's)
- The Pike/Pine corridor in Capitol Hill, south of Cal Anderson Park: the traditional center of Seattle's gay/artsy/punk communities, very gentrified now but still a lot of really interesting places to check out, including Seattle's best bookstore (Elliot Bay Books).
posted by lunasol at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I like the Seattle Pinball Museum.
posted by darchildre at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you're in Fremont by Theo (the chocolate factory), make sure you go near the water to the Burke-Gilman trail, where the Fremont Dinosaur Topiary (aka Fremontosaurus) stands.
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:23 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would consider doing a boat ride or boat tour because Seattle is pretty to look at from the water. The view from the ferry to Bainbridge is nice, but Bainbridge is nothing special at all.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:03 PM on October 26, 2018

It's a bit of a small thing, but the walk through Myrtle Edwards/Centennial Park is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Start at the huge sculpture of a head at Alaskan Way and Broad St, and go all the way past the grain terminal to where the fishing huts are. (You can go further but because of trail re-routing, it's a considerably less nice walk right now.) It's not terribly long -- a ramble rather than a hike -- but you can pootle around and marvel at how lovely the Sound and Bainbridge Island are, and enjoy the tiny beaches and the salmon net pen and's a really lovely, delightful, easy walk. Also at no point are you trying to walk up a near-vertical surface, Kerry Park.

(Kerry Park is a breathtaking view. But jiminy, you earn it.)
posted by kalimac at 7:56 PM on October 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

OH AUGH I completely forgot my other recommendation -- Seattle Central Library. If you have any interest in modernist architecture at all, it's a brilliant visit. It was designed by Rem Koolhaas, and is incredibly cool to wander through.

(Other stuff, since I've got the tab open -- I very much liked SAM, and I very much refuse to pay the frankly insulting entry fee the Chihuly Garden thing charges honestly I like Chihuly but not that much. I think SAM still has pay-what-you-want days, if you want to do it on a budget. Oh, and I took the monorail today for the first time, because technically I can take it partway to work. It's...fine? It's probably the fastest way to get downtown/to the Space Needle complex if you're already close to a station, I'll give it that. Just be aware that it's $2.50 for about 90 seconds of retro-futurist enjoyment.)
posted by kalimac at 8:01 PM on October 26, 2018

Go to see something at the cinerama. It's the most gorgeous cinema I've ever been to.
posted by kelper at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

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