Best things to do in Seattle

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by Hertz - 19 December 2018

Found in the north-west corner of the US, approximately two hours’ drive from the Canadian border, Seattle is a city worth travelling the extra mile for. This is the largest metropolis in Washington State and is home to some of the nation’s most iconic attractions.

Originally a seaport, Seattle has earned itself a prestigious place on the world map, producing some of the biggest global corporate bodies in existence. Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft were all born in these streets, making it one of the most successful cities in the world.

If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald City, this is your ultimate guide to attractions, restaurants and hotels.

Things to see and do in Seattle

From digital museums to evergreen forests, this city is filled with exciting things to see and do. Find your niche and start exploring.

Space Needle

Seattle is known for being one of the most future-facing locations in the whole of the US. Spearing up through the skyline, the Space Needle has become symbolic of that. It was built in time for the Century 21 Exposition – the world’s fair – in 1962 and, at the time of its construction, the Needle was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

The lift takes just 41 seconds to whisk you to the top of this 605-foot tower, where you’re rewarded with stunning views of the city and the wider Washington State. There’s also a restaurant on the top deck and a revolving glass floor which, though not for the faint-hearted, provides incredible downward views of the city.

Future of Flight Aviation Center

Step inside the Boeing plant and discover the Future of Flight Aviation Center. This is the only place in North America where you can glimpse inside a working jet assembly plant, seeing Dreamliners, 747s and many other world-famous models during construction.


Seattle is widely credited for giving the world grunge music; home to Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. The works of those artists, and many more, are celebrated at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPop) on 5th Avenue. In addition to music, there are exhibitions relating to films and comic strips.

Gum Wall

Perhaps the quirkiest sight in the city, the Market Theater Gum Wall is a multi-coloured wall made from chewing gum. It’s the perfect spot for an Instagram shot, before heading into the nearby Pike Place Market for some of Seattle’s speciality seafood.

Microsoft Visitor Center

Drive 20 minutes to the city of Redmond to discover all things Microsoft. This has been the global HQ of the company since the 1980s. Inside the Microsoft Visitor Center you can learn the history of the business, discover plans for the future and play around with Xbox, Minecraft and Forza.

Amazon HQ

Continue your digital adventures with a tour of the Amazon HQ. The online retailer is renowned for its innovative approach to working, with ground-breaking offices to match. Book your place on a guided tour to get a glimpse of what life is like inside Amazon, including The Spheres – three glass orbs filled with lush green plants, where employees are encouraged to relax and unwind.

Seattle parks

Known fondly as the Emerald City, a visit to Seattle’s vibrant green parks and forests is a must. Around 12 per cent of the city is made up of parks, so you’ll have no shortage of green spaces to explore.

Looking out to the cool blue waters of Puget Sound, Discovery Park is the largest of Seattle’s outdoor community spaces, covering more than 530 acres. Stroll along the trails, let the kids loose on the playground and explore the quaint white West Point Lighthouse.

On the other side of the city, enjoy the exotic landscape at Washington Park, where there’s a beautiful Japanese Garden blooming like an oriental oasis. Have a picnic at Gas Works Park, formerly an oil plant, and indulge your creative side at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Live sports in Seattle

While paying a visit to Seattle, get a front row seat to world-class live sporting action. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a sports fan or not, the atmosphere at these events is incredible.

The city is home to NFL team the Seattle Seahawks, who play at CenturyLink Field stadium. Pull on your team jersey, grab a corn dog and watch them do their thing on the football field, showing you how they won the Super Bowl in 2013.

Catch a baseball game at Safeco Field, celebrated as one of the best ballparks in the country. The Seattle Mariners are the local team here, and #TrueToTheBlue fans regularly pack out the stadium to full capacity. If it starts to rain, the retractable roof ensures that the 47,000-strong crowd can enjoy the game in comfort.

Exploring Washington State

Seattle sits in a region of breath-taking natural beauty, with mountain ranges, beaches and natural phenomena all within driving distance. Organise car hire in Seattle and explore the wonder of Washington State.

Mount Rainier

Among the most stunning natural sites in the vicinity is Mount Rainier. With its summit stretching to more than 14,000 feet, this is the highest mountain in the state of Washington and the 17th tallest in the whole of the US. From near or far, the beauty of this snow-capped peak is simply majestic.

Snoqualmie Falls

Drive 45 minutes inland to Snoqualmie Falls, another incredible natural feature within easy reach of the city. This gushing waterfall measures some 262 feet from top to bottom and is one of the most powerful in the US.

The site is open to visitors during daylight hours and there’s free parking on site. Venture to the viewing platform to watch the white, foaming water surge over the cliff face and plunge into the river below – and remember to wear something waterproof.

Where to stay in Seattle

Seattle has been a popular tourist destination for many years and is well versed in looking after its visitors. There are a number of luxury hotel chains here, as well as boutique venues.

Hotel chains in Seattle

There’s a cluster of well-known hotels in the Downtown area, including Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Crowne Plaza. These high-end hotels offer luxurious hospitality and are perfectly placed to explore the city. You’re around a 10-minute walk from the waterfront, where you’ll find attractions including Pike Place Market and Waterfront Park.

Seattle’s boutique hotels

Discover Seattle’s artistic flair in the city’s boutique hotels. The Kimpton Palladian offers dimly lit grandeur in the happening neighbourhood of Belltown, where trendy shops, restaurants and music venues line the streets.

Just a stone’s throw away, the Edgewater Hotel stands on the waterfront. This is a hotel with great musical significance, welcoming rock ‘n’ roll legends including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin through the doors. Roaring fires create a cosy atmosphere while floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the brilliant blue views of the water and mountains beyond.

Half a mile from the Space Needle, the Maxwell Hotel is a bold and bubbly hotel with a vibrant colour scheme. After a day of sightseeing, using the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus service, you can take a dip in the indoor pool and enjoy a pineapple cupcake – they’re a specialty at this fruity venue.

Where to eat in Seattle

This seaport city is a seafood haven. One of the specialities is Dungeness Crab, a cold-water species found in local waters. In addition, oysters are both plentiful and deliciously fresh.

The best place to catch it all is Elliott’s Oyster House, an eye-catching green and yellow building next to the Seattle Great Wheel. Freshly chucked oysters are served on beds of ice with a wedge of lemon for that tangy kick – all against the backdrop of scenic waterfront views.

Independent and international fare is easy to find in Seattle. Start with Altura in Capitol Hill, which serves mouth-watering Italian cuisine. Around 10 minutes’ drive west, Shiro’s is a Downtown sushi bar that’s taken the city by storm. Make sure you reserve well ahead to get a space at the bar, where sushi masters slice up gleaming seafood dishes ranging from salmon to soft-shell crab.

In Seattle, you needn’t even sit down to eat something delicious. Head to Pike Place Market and fill your cheeks at Market Grill, where freshly grilled seafood is served over the counter.

Not a fan of seafood? No problem. Nearby, the Crumpet Shop is the place to go for homemade crumpets topped with scrambled eggs, jalapenos and everything in between.

Whether you decide to explore further afield or simply opt to stay closer to home, this spectacular American city is a wonderful destination, which combines a historic past with a clear nod to the future. Organise car hire in Seattle to explore the Emerald City to its full.