Between April and October, Seattle’s port is teeming with glimmering cruise ships gliding up and down the Pacific Coast, heading to Alaska’s glacial wilderness or setting their compass for Hawaii’s picture-perfect beaches.
Before or after your cruise, don’t glaze over Seattle – a Pacific Northwest jewel-of-a-city that has everything you need in spades. When the clouds clear, there are lakes, trails, quirky neighborhoods, world-class menus, and views for days to explore. This is the ultimate local bucket list to get the most out of your weekend — without the tourist traps.
Instead of the Space Needle, visit the Sky View Observatory
The Space Needle is the backbone of Seattle’s iconic skyline, but it’s not your only way to catch those mountain and Puget Sound views. Skip the crowds here and head to the Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center. At 902 feet up, it’s actually the tallest public viewing spot in the Pacific Northwest, and on a clear day, you’ll spot the Cascades, the Olympics, Elliott Bay, and of course, Mt. Rainier.
Bonus: The observatory is within walking distance of downtown versus needing to navigate Queen Anne’s wicked hills and parking situation. If you want to avoid tickets altogether, Kerry Park and the Water Tower Observation Deck at Volunteer Park are both free and offer similar panoramic views.
Instead of the Pike Place Market, check out a Neighborhood Farmers Market
Just kidding, we would never tell you not to visit the Pike Place Market. It’s practically mandatory to watch the fishmongers toss salmon to and fro, pick up an insanely affordable bouquet of blooms, and IRL meet the artisans making your next favorite ring.
If you have some time though, head into the neighborhoods for even more hyper local goodies. One of our go-to’s is the Ballard Farmers Market, open year-round every Sunday, rain or shine. Build your own picnic basket and dine al fresco along the waterfront, Ballard Locks, or Golden Gardens for epic sunset views.
Instead of the Original Starbucks, go to its Reserve Roastery
The original circa 1971 Starbucks in Pike Place Market is more symbolic than factual as it’s the second iteration of its market location. It’s cool to swing by to snap a picture of its vintage logo but don’t be surprised if there’s a line out the door.
Head 9 blocks away to Capitol Hill where there’s another first Starbucks: The first reserve roastery. Here, coffee is elevated to its well-deserved art form — you’ll see the hoppers and mechanisms behind the magic along with a reserve-only menu of seasonal beans, delicious pastries, and unique tasting menus.
Instead of the Seahawks, take in a Rat City Roller Derby Game
The Seahawks are legendary but if you still want the excitement of fan stands and a taste of competition, roller derby is where it’s at.
Founded in 2004, Rat City Roller Derby prides itself on inclusive sporting and features an active league of 100+ skaters skimming along a flat track. Bouts run December through May and there are four home teams with cheeky names like Grave Danger and Throttle Rockets.
Instead of Chihuly Garden and Glass, visit the Seattle Glassblowing Studio
We know, we know, Dale Chihuly is the GOAT when it comes to the art of glass but there are countless artisans who deserve the love too. Put that admiration into action by booking an in-person class with the Seattle Glassblowing Studio. (It’s open to folks 11+ so take the older kids with you!)
If your artistic bone is lacking, shop to your heart’s content and take home souvenirs in the form of one-of–a-kind glass-blown tumblers, plates, vases, sculptures, and knickknacks.