1. Ride the ferry. There are several options. From Seattle at Coleman Dock, you can ride to either Bremerton or Bainbridge Island. If in West Seattle, you can ride to Southworth (Port Orchard). These are the Washington State run ferries. There are also city water taxis (seasonal runs) and private companies that ferry to beautiful Victoria, B.C., Canada. (One of my favorite locations in the world). Nothing compares to the ride over the magnificent waters of the Puget Sound with Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier in the background.
2. Visit Seattle Waterfront. The Seattle Waterfront is a span of parks, piers, ferry and ship terminals stretching from Pioneer on the south to Shilshole Marina on the north. I love walking along the pier, and visiting the unique shops and restaurants along the way. If looking for a quick bite to eat, I highly recommend Ivar’s Acres of Clams. Their clam chowder cannot be beat. Other highlights along the waterfront include the Seattle Aquarium and the newest attraction the Seattle Ferris Wheel. In addition, Pike Place Market is just a short climb away, as well as, downtown Seattle and the Seattle Art Museum (which is free the first Thursday of every month).
3. Visit Seattle Center. It’s gone through some growth and changes over the years; however, I love visiting the Pacific Science Center and have enjoyed cultural exhibits from King Tut to Titanic to Harry Potter. The science center is very hands-on and the Tropical Butterfly House is worth the price of admission. I also enjoy watching movies in the IMAX Theater on their six-story screen. Of course, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the world famous Seattle Space Needle. Enjoy the stunning 360-degree views from every direction on the observation deck. My only complaint is the ticket price, which is now up to $22 dollars. It's almost worth going up to the SkyCity Restaurant for breakfast or lunch instead.
Other Seattle Center attractions include the shops and restaurants of the Center House, The Children’s Museum, Seattle Children’s Theater, the Experience Music Project, The Science Fiction Museum, Intiman Playhouse, International Fountain, SIFF Cinema, Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Seattle Center also hosts hundreds of festivals each year. Finally, hop on the Monorail for a ride to Westlake Center. Once there you are walking distance to several attractions including the Washington State Convention and Trade Center (where Emerald City Comicon is held), Nike Town and Game Works. Also tons of places to shop and eat. If looking to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Seattle without paying Space Needle prices, visit Columbia Tower’s Observation Deck.
4. Bill Speidel's Underground Tours. Did you know there is a buried city underneath today’s Seattle? In 1889, Seattle was consumed by the Great Seattle Fire. When rebuilding the decision from the planning commissioners were to build over the destruction and raise the city. The tour is located in the historical Pioneer Square District.
5. Seattle Japanese Gardens and Washington Park Arboretum. Located within the Washington Park Arboretum, near the University of Washington, there is a 3-acre formal garden designed and constructed under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juki Iida. It’s a fantastic place to get your “Zen” in a hectic world. Although not a very big garden, I find the changing season colors vibrant and the Koi fish are huge and always hungry. Whether visiting the Japanese Gardens first or later, be sure and spend time walking through the arboretum and park. A great way to spend the afternoon.
Finally, I highly recommend the Seattle CityPass to catch multiple attractions at a discounted rate. Included in the admission price is the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo, and Pacific Science Center or Chihuly Garden and Glass.