Your Guide To Seattle's Overlooked Must-See Attractions

When it comes to striking a balance between nature and innovation, Seattle stands out. Whether you are a shopaholic, adventurer, adrenaline junkie, history buff, or music lover, there's something special for you in this city. You can discover a lot in museums, art galleries, aquariums, ultra-modern buildings, and historic structures.

Seattle is also a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts because it features spectacular natural scenery. You'll be spoiled for choice if you are looking for places to go for hiking, water sports, outdoor snow activities, sightseeing, and wildlife watching. If you are a foodie, you can practically go on a culinary tour as you try out popular foods in the city such as a traditional Seattle hot dog, teriyaki, and geoduck (via Eater Seattle). Geoduck is a snail-like sea creature that's chewy and crunchy when cooked. One Seattle visitor on Reddit said, "Hot dogs with cream cheese ... I've never seen that before." Another Reddit user commented, "Teriyaki is about as close to you're going to get to a 'Seattle signature food' ... every two blocks ... teriyaki."

Like most places, tourists flock to Seattle in droves during the summer, and this means an increase in accommodation costs and crowded attraction sites. Unfortunately, winter can be too cold and windy to be favorable for most activities. So the best time to visit this awe-inspiring city is between September and October (per Travel US News). With that in mind, here are must-visit attractions in this magnificent city.

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

Opened in 2000, MoPOP is a futuristic museum in Seattle that features awe-inspiring artifacts and comprehensive exhibitions of popular culture. If you'd like to learn about video games, sensational films, Rock 'n' Roll origins, fashion trends, cartoons, sports events, and other aspects of pop culture in detail, touring this museum will be life-changing. You'll not only get a detailed analysis of each subject but will also get hands-on experiences, which are both educative and entertaining (via Inexhibit).

Before you even get inside the museum, you'll be mesmerized by the exterior design of the 140,000-square-foot building, which comprises approximately 4,000 multi-colored aluminum and steel skins. The striking colors of sky blue, red, silver, bronze, and gold on the panels create awe-inspiring views because they change when light hits at various angles (per SAH Archipedia). The museum features six programs, which include Sound Lab, Crossroads, Electric Library, Sky Church, Artist's Journey, and Ed, where each program focuses on a unique concept. For example, the Artist's Journey program entails stories of the music careers of iconic artists, while Sound Lab establishes the connection between technology, music, and science. The other sections of the building that you can visit include the Culture Kitchen and MoPOP shop (via Parametric Architecture).

Gas Works Park

As the name suggests, the Gas Works Park was once a coal gasification plant that became obsolete when the importation of natural gas began. Since the site was heavily polluted, converting it into a park was the ideal way of reclaiming the land, and architect Richard Haag took that responsibility (via History Link). Today, this 20-acre park features a man-made hill, a kids' play barn, a picnic shelter, and remnants of the machines that were used initially (per The Cultural Landscape Foundation).

If you're looking for a family-friendly spot in Seattle to spend the afternoon, this is the place to be. You can hold a picnic at the boiler house that has a sitting area and fire grills, enjoy flying kites at the Great Mound, or take selfies at the sundial with stunning views of Seattle as your background. Alternatively, you and your partner can relax on the grassy slopes as you take in the sun. Music lovers will have a good time here since concerts are held in the summer, but remember to check the calendar of events (per Songkick). To avoid breaking the rules and for your safety, don't swim or fish (via Seattle).

Snoqualmie Falls

At about 268 feet, Snoqualmie Falls is a fascinating attraction you shouldn't miss on your visit to Seattle. Whether you are a novice or an experienced hiker, this place offers both challenging and easy trails to put your skills and endurance to the test. While hiking, you'll come across interpretive plaques that provide local names of plants such as vine maples, Douglas firs, alder, ferns, and western redcedars. Other signs describe the history and the numerous ways the falls benefit the local community. Additionally, visitors are rewarded with impressive views of the topography when they follow the boardwalk or get to the observation deck (via Washington Trails Association).

When you're done hiking, relax and enjoy sumptuous meals at the Salish Lodge & Spa. From the dining room, you can savor the cuisine served with the Snoqualmie River and Snoqualmie Falls serving as the backdrop. Getting some massage therapy at the spa in the hotel to relax after a long day of hiking will be a worthwhile experience (via Snoqualmie Washington).

Green Lake Park

Green Lake Park is a great pick if you are on a tight budget and you want to engage in water activities. Green Lake, which originated from a glacier about 50,000 years ago, provides an excellent spot for swimming during the summer. You can either swim at the West Green Lake Beach or East Green Lake Beach, and your kids can have fun in the play areas provided nearby. If you feel more adventurous, you can try boating to take in the cool breeze as you interact with water birds such as waterfowls (via Expedia).

For fitness enthusiasts, there's a 2.8-mile path suitable for walking, biking, and running. On that trail, you'll be lucky to spot various animals such as raccoons, turtles, coyotes, woodchucks, and mink (per the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation). The park also boasts numerous playing grounds, so you can try out games like soccer, tennis, and baseball.

Melrose Market

Go on a culinary tour at the Melrose Market, which was opened in 2010. This indoor food market has a rich history since it was once automotive buildings that date back to the '20s, but now it features top-rated restaurants and suppliers of farm produce such as Rain Shadow Meats, Still Liquor, Homegrown, and Marseille. At these joints, you can buy fresh farm products, eat local foods, or enjoy drinks as you bond with your friends or better half. It's not just food, you can buy unique clothes and accessories from available retailers like Butter Home and Glasswing (via Melrose Market Seattle).

One reviewer on Trip Advisor said, "There are a good variety of healthy options to choose from. I ate at Homegrown Sandwiches. The smashed hummus sandwich and carrot and sweet potato soup were excellent." Another reviewer added, "This market is absolutely fantastic! Homegrown has delicious, healthy and tasty food!" With such positive reviews, visiting this market will be worth every penny.

Center for Wooden Boats

There's a lot to learn about maritime history at the Center for Wooden Boats, which now features a myriad of historic water vessels. Interestingly, it was started by Dick and Colleen Wagner, a couple that rented out old boats. Over time, their collection grew and more people started streaming in to seek their services (via Expedia). Today, this place is a museum that focuses on educating people and taking care of old water vessels, such as the 1906 steam launch Puffin (per History Link Tours). Take this opportunity to learn the intricacies of the construction of water vessels and proven skills such as boating and paddling through available programs like lectures, workshops, and field trips (via Greater Seattle on the Cheap).

If you're curious to know how it feels to handle an old vessel, rent a traditional boat and enjoy the ride with your family. Solo adventurers can also join others to form a group of six people and try out a pedal boat. Lovers can paddle in a vintage canoe to create profound memories, especially since this is an experience that's hard to encounter in other places (per Expedia).

Jose Rizal Park

Jose Rizal Park is an incredible spot to capture Instagram-worthy photos of the Olympic Mountains, Elliot Bay, and skyscrapers. The name of the park honors Jose Rizal, a Filipino who made significant contributions to the Philippines before he was executed. This magnificent park in Seattle now boasts his sculpture and a play area (via History Link).

People gather at this park for a wide range of exciting activities, including photography and sightseeing. For example, you can enjoy bird watching or take stunning photos with the Seattle skyline as your background. You can take pictures with sculptures of dragons and other mythical creatures, or you can relax and enjoy the beautiful view of the gardens. Kids will have a lot of fun here with swings, slides, and fountains, but you can still bring your furry friends. Better still, this park is free for everyone, you get free parking, and it's walkable from downtown Seattle, meaning you don't have to spend money to have a fun-filled day (per NW Maids).

Discovery Park

Whether you are an avid explorer, nature lover, or history buff, Discovery Park boasts a 534-acre area with a diverse natural environment that comprises beaches, dunes, a forest, and meadows. If you love taking nature walks, you can adventure down a 12-mile path. Bird watchers should bring their cameras or binoculars to challenge themselves to capture the majority of the 270 bird species that can be found here (via Seattle Times). If you are not familiar with the trails and other attractions, downloading a map of the park will help avoid inconveniences.

Although you don't have to pay any fees to get to this park, it's important to understand the best time you can visit to get the most out of your adventure. Like most attractions, visiting this park during the weekends in the summer can be hectic due to overcrowding, so try to plan your visit on a weekday. Early fall and late spring are also favorable times to be here (per Mapquest).

Hot Tub Boats

For ultimate relaxation, here is a one-of-a-kind experience to add to your bucket list. Now imagine yourself in a hot tub, but you're still being able to navigate in a larger body of water. In case you're wondering how this happens, the experience comprises a boat built with the design of a hot tub containing water that's about 104 degrees Fahrenheit (per Hot Tub Boats). Typical spa therapy is great, but this idea of spa therapy is beyond amazing because you get to enjoy the stunning Seattle skyline views and take in a cool breeze while still getting in a good soak.

For about two hours, you can soak in the warm water with your friends since the boats can accommodate up to six people. The fun doesn't end there — you can make it a small party by carrying on your favorite snacks and drinks. The boats have Bluetooth-enabled speakers so you can float around singing and dancing to music (via Lake Union Hot Tub Boats).

Olympic Sculpture Park

The pieces of art found in this nine-acre slice of paradise will blow your mind. But the story behind it all is that it was once a polluted area that had to be reclaimed to create the magical beauty of art and nature. Once you get to this spot, you enjoy mind-blowing views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound (via Architect Magazine).

Unlike most museums where art pieces are indoors, this park adopts a revolutionary design where sculptures are outdoors. This open-ended design is not only unique but also helps you interpret the environment, art, and urban structures in new dimensions (per Arch Daily). The Olympic Sculpture Park provides amazing backdrops to capture those Instagram-worthy photos. One Reddit user who visited Olympic Sculpture Park commented, "Stunning ... That park is a gem and that pic is truly awesome." Another Reddit user, Delcattie, said, "I moved from Washington to Iowa a few years ago and couldn't agree more. Sunsets here just aren't the same."

This park is open throughout the year, plus you don't pay any fees to enter. However, you'll part with a few dollars for parking, which doesn't exceed $22 if you spend the entire day at the park. Bike racks are also available for those who prefer cycling (via Seattle Art Museum).

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass, which features breathtaking artworks by Dale Chihuly, comprises three sections that include a sculpture garden, an exhibition hall, and a glass house (per ORA). You get to understand the inspiration behind most of his art pieces because this spot also features his sketches and personal collections (per Chihuly).

What's available for guests? Well, you can enjoy a live glass demonstration, check out striking displays of suspended glass artwork, go for an audio tour if you have a smartphone, or attend gallery talks. Outdoor lovers can go for a garden tour to enjoy a wide variety of spectacular glasswork. If you feel hungry, visit the Collections Café to grab a piece of pizza or a beverage of your choice (per Viator).

Reddit user named  Monoarvatic said, "10/10 would recommend, sometimes they also have a mobile glass studio doing glass work right in front of you." Another Redditor, AlpineSeaHorse, who also visited this place, said, "I tell everyone that my favorite museum in many places traveled is the Chihuly. I've started to recognize his works elsewhere and am so glad." Chihuly Garden and Glass is definitely the place to be if you want to see the unimaginable when it comes to glass artwork.

Whidbey Island

For amazing seafood, Whidbey Island is a must-visit stop because you'll enjoy the freshness and authenticity of delicacies. However, you need to take an hour-long car drive or catch the ferry from the city to get to it. According to Trip Advisor, some top-rated seafood restaurants you can visit in this locale include Seabolt's Smokehouse, Ivar's Mukilteo Landing, Anthony's Homeport, Front Street Grill, Doc's Marina Grill, and Silverwater Café, among others. Besides food, there are miles of alluring coastal scenery to enjoy while engaging in water activities such as boating, whale-watching, kayaking, and cruising.

The island boasts many local breweries, so you can enjoy a cold brew to bring down summer temperatures. Some breweries you can visit to sample local brews include Wicked Teuton Brewing Company, Penn Cove Brewing Company, and Double Bluff Brewing Company (Via Exploring Whidbey Island). If you want to take the fun a notch higher, this island hosts many spectacular events such as the Whidbey Island Area Fair, Penn Cove Mussel Festival, Tour de Whidbey, and Wag'n'Walk, all with unique themes and taking place at different times of the year (per Whidbey Island).