The perennially overcast city of Seattle has been on the destination radar for those in the know for some time now. If a trip to this northwestern US hot spot is on your short list take advantage of some of these less well-known, but still fabulous activities and locations.
Seattle Farmers Markets
Everyone visits Pikes Place Market, and for good reason – it’s a great place to shop and eat! But did you know that Seattle has some of the country’s best farmers markets? The Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance is a non-profit that operates seven farmer/food only markets in Seattle neighborhoods. Not all seven markets run year-round but their webpage is updated regularly with times, locations, and what’s in season.
Seattle Outdoors: Beaches, Parks & More
If you’re into outdoor activities there is nowhere better than Seattle. There are numerous parks, hiking trails, and biking paths all over the city and in surrounding areas. The Washington Park Arboretum is 230 acres of natural beauty. They also have canoe and kayak rentals available. At the south end is the Japanese Gardens, a 3 ½ acre traditional Japanese garden often lauded as the most beautiful park in Seattle. While the Arboretum charges no fee, there is a small fee to enter the Japanese garden.
Seattle’s location on the Puget Sound and Pacific Ocean means there are also some impressive beaches. Alki Beach is a long strip of beach in West Seattle and is flanked by restaurants, small shops, and a great beach area. It’s also a historical marker as the landing spot of the first white settlers of Seattle in 1851.
The largest park in Seattle, Discovery Park, is a 530+ acre natural wonder overlooking Puget Sound. It includes tidal beaches, sea cliffs, forests, and streams.
Did you know you can scuba dive in Seattle? Edmonds Underwater Park is home to 27 acres of tide and bottom lands created with manmade reef structures and sunken vessels. If you’re a trained scuba diver, this is a must have experience.
Getting Around Seattle
Seattle’s geographic position means that a lot of people are dependent on ferries to get around. Even though technically outside of Seattle proper, it’s easy to visit the islands surrounding the city. Whidbey, Bainbridge, and Vashon Island are short ferry rides away. If you have a vehicle, drive 90 miles north of Seattle to Anacortes and board a ferry (with or without your car) to the San Juan Islands for a day or overnight trip. Ferry rides, even with a vehicle, are very inexpensive and are a fun way to experience the city and greater Seattle area. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of whales and other marine life in Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. There are lots of charter boat trips that operate whale and marine life watching tours. They’re quite expensive and your chances of spotting wildlife on those tours is the same as on the ferry, so keep this in mind if you are considering taking one of these types of tours. The Washington Department of Transportation’s website is a great resource for schedules and fares.
Tastes of Seattle
Finally, if cultural enrichment is your style, Seattle is home to large Asian diaspora populations. From the Japanese Gardens to a vibrant Chinatown, as well as the Asian Art Museum and Wing Luke Museum of Asian Pacific American Experience, a visit to Seattle should include paying homage to its Asian roots.
If you like pan-Asian cuisine you’re in the right spot. Amazing Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Fillipino, and Malaysian food can be found around almost every corner and at every price point. (SeattleMet put together a great guide to Asian food in Seattle – worth consulting before digging in!)
Whether rain or shine, you are sure to find some amazing experiences in Seattle! Have you visited Seattle? What’s your favorite best-kept secret to visiting?