While it can be a blast to explore some of Seattle’s famous landmarks, we’re doubling up and giving you the details on the hidden gems, too.
It’s easy to find a guide (or a few hundred of them) to Seattle’s most popular and famous landmarks. But what about the secret side of Seattle? In this roundup of Seattle must-see spots, we highlight not only the famous landmarks but also the insider-only spots within the “Emerald City” that are too good to miss.
Famous Seattle Landmark: Pike Place Market
Located in the heart of Seattle’s downtown, Pike Place Market is the city’s beloved public marketplace. Comprised of hundreds of farmers, craftspeople, small shops, and residents, the nine-acre historic district serves not only as a market but also as an incubator for up-and-coming local artisans and entrepreneurs.
Hidden Gem: Melrose Market
Smaller and hipper than Pike Place Market, Melrose Market is situated at the west end of the Pike-Pine neighborhood. The market occupies a series of historic automotive buildings, which lends a unique industrial feel to this indoor venue made up of award-winning restaurants and retailers.
Famous Seattle Landmark: Kerry Park
The view of downtown Seattle from Kerry Park is nearly unbeatable. Perched on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, the park offers a panoramic view that includes the skyline, Elliot Bay, the West Seattle peninsula, Bainbridge Island, and Mount Rainier. At sunset, the park is often crowded by photographers eager to capture the perfect shot.
Hidden Gem: Parson’s Garden
Also located on Queen Anne’s south slope, the lesser-known Parson’s Garden is a secret garden oasis for non-tourists, as well as an idyllic spot for outdoor wedding ceremonies. Labeled a “prim urban oasis” by Fodors, the park was formerly the private garden for the home of Reginal and Maude Parsons. Donated by the Parsons’ children to the city in 1956, this small but sweet park may not have the crowd-drawing views of Kerry Park, but the relative quiet and view of Puget Sound more than compensate for that.
Famous Seattle Landmark: Space Needle
The iconic Space Needle, a pivotal feature of the Seattle skyline and a landmark of the Pacific Northwest, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The spectacular architectural marvel, once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi, is now a beacon to tourists who line up to ride the elevator 520 feet up into the sky for a visit to the Observation Deck or a bite to eat at SkyCity, the Space Needle’s restaurant.
Hidden Gem: Sky View Observatory
Officially the highest public observatory in the Northwest, the Sky View Observatory offers visitors a less-traveled public viewing area 1,000 feet up in the sky. Located on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center in the Central Business District, the 360-degree panoramic view includes the Cascade Mountains, Mount Baker, Elliot Bay, the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier, the city of Seattle, and, of course, the Space Needle.
Famous Seattle Landmark: Seattle’s Duck Tours
The retro amphibious vehicles that make up the fleet of Ride the Ducks of Seattle are an easily recognizable fixture on the roads and waterways here. This popular way to see the city has been taking tourists on a wacky and wet ride since launching in 1997 – more than three million tourists to date!
Hidden Gem: The Seattle Underground Tour
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour is the only way to get a firsthand look at Seattle’s world-famous Underground – a network of interconnected subterranean tunnels that reveal entombed sidewalks and storefronts that were the first iteration of the city after it burned down in the Great Fire of 1889 before being rebuilt upon itself. The 75-minute tour, led by local citizen Bill Speidel, details the underground’s storied history, including its use during Prohibition and its role in the opium trade.
Famous Seattle Landmark: Canon
Famed spirits bar Canon has several accolades under its belt: In 2013, it won the award for “World’s Best Drink Selection,” from Tales of the Cocktail, likely owed to the fact that it’s home to the western hemisphere’s largest collection of spirits (3,500 labels and counting!). Thanks to Canon’s increasing popularity, it was also a finalist for the coveted “Best Cocktail Bar” title, one of the highest awards in the drink industry.
Hidden Gem: Unicorn Bar
This carnival-themed bar that features arcade games and a stage has been described as “corn dogs meets cocktails.” Located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Unicorn lures patrons with a whimsical offering of fun foods, a magical drink menu, and the opportunity to sip while trying your hand at the claw machine. What sounds cliché is a beautiful nod to folk art traditions, as seen in the hand-painted tables and bar or the circus-themed yet tasteful decor.