The Best Things To Do On The Seattle Waterfront

Other than the places we’ve lived—namely South Mississippi, Atlanta, and on the streets of Disney World—the place we’ve spent the most time is Seattle. Even with all the time spent in the Emerald City, we always like to head to the Seattle waterfront, and when we returned this year we made no exceptions. In fact, we went twice.

The Seattle waterfront isn’t a single attraction. Technically, it’s not really even an attraction but a neighborhood. There are quite a few other Seattle attractions, like the Space Needle and the EMP (Experience Music Project), but this blog is about the waterfront. And when we go, here are a few of the things we often like to do.

Take A Harbor Cruise – We’ve taken Argosy Cruises several times. Their boats are large and comfortable, not the zippy cigar boats whose draw is the thrill of spotting Seattle landmarks while approaching the speed of light, and their cruises are reasonably priced ($23 at the time of this blog). Reserve online during the summer season, otherwise just show up at pier 55 about 3 blocks south of the aquarium. For a cheaper cruise option, just hop a ferry to…wherever, then turn around and come right back.

Seattle Aquarium – Speaking of the aquarium, you should go. They have fish there. Naturally, they feature sea life of the Pacific Northwest, including mammals like otters and seals. Fish are cool, everyone loves fish. The only bad thing is that you can’t eat the aquarium’s fish. So once you’ve spent a few hours here working up an appetite, head to…

Ivar’s – The fancy restaurant out over the water is great, and if you’re looking for more of a dining experience, go on in. But we’re really talking about the walk-up fish and chips counter. Grab yourself some of the best fish and chips outside of Britain and find a seat amongst the seagulls. Keep an eye on your fries, or eat quickly, or those giant seagulls are likely to make off with a few.

Pike Place Market, Seattle


Ye Olde Curiosity Shop – The rest of our recommendations are at Pike Place Market, but before you head there, duck into the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop next door to Ivar’s. It’s really a kitschy gift shop, a great place to pick up stuff for friends and family back home. But while you’re browsing the smoked salmon and marijuana-themed t-shirts (“A Friend With Weed Is A Friend Indeed”), keep an eye out for a mummy, a two-headed rabbit (stuffed, of course), a four-legged chicken, and grains of rice with the entire Encyclopedia Britannica incised on them (actually that would be SILLY hahahaha!! But they do have a grain of rice with the Lord’s prayer written on it).

Get Some Fresh Fish at Pike’s Market – Walk uphill any of the streets perpendicular to the waterfront in the vicinity of the aquarium and turn left on First Avenue. You’ll quickly come to Pike Place Market. From this direction, one of the first sights you’ll see is the fish market. The fishmongers are famous, and have even had business books written about them. But don’t just stand around and watch them: buy some fish for dinner. Ask them questions, they really are knowledgeable about their products.

Get Flower Pictures – Continue walking through Pike Place Market. You’ll find plenty of vendors selling veggies and fruits and arts and crafts. But your eyes will also be treated to the bright colors of countless bouquets of flowers. A better picture-taking opportunity is hard to find. Spring for a $5 bouquet and brighten up your hotel room.

Original Starbucks, Pike Place Market, Seattle


Caramel Latte at the Original Starbucks – Toward the end of Pike Place Market, across the street, you’ll find ground zero of the Starbucks phenomenon. It’s the original Starbucks, still sporting the original version of the mermaid logo. Do you remember from high school literature that Starbuck was the chief mate in Moby Dick? Anyway, have a latte or a cappuccino or a double ristretto venti nonfat organic chocolate brownie frappucino extra hot with foam and whipped cream upside down double blended (that’s an actual Starbucks order, by the way).

A final note: Seattle has a bit of a “big dig” style project going on at the moment. Stretches of the road along the Seattle waterfront are dug up and roads and walkways are regularly blocked off and/or rerouted. If you rely on your GPS or mobile maps for getting you places, you might take a few extra minutes to actually study the area before you go, just in case your system takes you to a road under construction and you have to think fast.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Seattle Ferris Wheel
Oh yeah, there’s also a Ferris wheel.

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