Seattle, WA, USA

 As most of you already know, I visited Seattle over the recent long Memorial Day weekend. This was my first time flying on a plane during the COVID-19 pandemic - I haven't flown on a plane since 2019! Traveling feels a little bit different now with the mask requirements and extra travel security but for the most part, I felt very very safe. This was my fourth or fifth time visiting Seattle but this was my boyfriend's first time visiting so I've compiled a list of things that you must do for first-timers visiting Seattle.      

Downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier


I feel like everyone has heard of Seattle's Pike Place Market and that's what you immediately think of when you think of Seattle - at least that's what I immediately think of. It's always super busy there but there are some great gems. Here are a few of my favorite things you should see when visiting Pike Place Market. 

Pike Place Market
The Gum Wall

My top picks for Pike Place Market:

The Gum Wall - It is absolutely disgusting there but it's also very cool at the same time. It amazes me to think that someone ever thought of this but the gum wall has become a tourist attraction in Seattle. Be warned, it smells horrid and don't stand too close to the wall. 

Ellenos Greek Yogurt - I love love Elleno's Greek Yogurt. I've actually tried all of their flavors. They use real fruit so some flavors can be a bit sour/tangy but they have a great selection of flavors for everyone. I would usually get Ellenos as soon as I get to Pike Place Market and once more right before I leave because that's how much I love it.

Pike Place Chowder - Hands down, the best clam chowder I've ever had! It has the best consistency and protein to soup ratio. The line can get pretty long but it moves fast. If there's one thing you HAVE to try at Pike Place, it's definitely the clam chowder.

Rachel's Ginger Beer - If you're waiting in line for Pike Place's Chowder, you might has well stop by Rachel's Ginger Beer, which is a few restaurants down. RGB has a variety of ginger beer flavors as well as ice cream floats. You can even purchase a jug of your favorite flavor to take home.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese - Seattle's very own handmade cheese. You can literally see them make the cheese right before your eyes. It's super cheesy and really good! They used to have a sriracha mac n' cheese that I absolutely loved but they no longer offer that - boo! You can even purchase the cheese separately on its own to make your own mac n' cheese at home. You have to try their mac n' cheese when you're visiting p

Piroshsky Piroshsky - I love their pastries especially the savory ones. They offer savory and sweet handheld pies from Russia. The line can get pretty long here as well but they're really good at moving the line along. They try to tell you to know what you want to order before you enter the small shop so you're basically in and out once you reach the front.

Starbuck's Original Location - There are Starbucks all over the U.S. and they even opened some locations internationally like in Japan but did you know that the first Starbucks opened up in Seattle? You can visit the original location at Pike Place Market. They offer the same drinks as any other Starbucks location but they sell some unique Starbucks goodies at this location only. 

The Pink Door - The Pink Door is a sit-down Italian restaurant located in the middle of Pike Place Market. They have an amazing rooftop patio with an amazing view of the water. They're known for their seafood dishes and cocktail drinks. They also have great happy hour specials. 


The Space Needle is an iconic landscape of Seattle and can be seen from most places throughout Seattle. It is fairly pricey in my opinion but the views are amazing. I recommend doing a private sunset view or making reservations for the restaurant to get your money's worth. My favorite view is downtown Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the back. They are pretty strict during COVID-19 and do not allow guests to take off their masks for photos even though the observation deck is outdoors. The staff will tell people to put on their masks if they notice that they don't have their masks on so keep that in mind. I didn't take my mask off for any of the photos I took at the Space Needle.

View from Space Needle
Space Needle from below


They added a glass revolving floor in 2018 and it's a great addition to the Space Needle. It's two floors below the observation deck. The revolving floor moves really slow and my boyfriend who is mildly afraid of heights didn't find it scary at all. Basically, you can either sit or stand on the revolving floor and see the various views of Seattle without having to move anywhere. It does get crowded and people aren't really social distancing there so keep that in mind.


Located right next to the Space Needle in the Seattle Center, The Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibit showcasing the studio glass of Dale Chihuly. You can get a combo deal if you book the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass at the same time. It's a cute little art museum and it has some great photo opportunities for the gram. 


The Museum of Pop Culture or MoPOP is located near The Space Needle by the Seattle Center. The museum is dedicated to contemporary popular culture. It's a fairly large museum so you can definitely be entertained for a few hours. If you love museums, you have to check out MoPOP. 


Another museum to add to your list is the Seattle Art Museum (also known as SAM), which is located in downtown Seattle. It operates two other museums: Seattle Asian Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Park. I recommend booking your tickets online in advance as they do get sold out, especially on the weekends. They have an amazing collection of paintings and sculptures on display. 


An alternative cheaper version ($20 for general admission) to the Space Needle is the Sky View Observatory. Sky View Observatory is located on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center. It offers the tallest public viewing area in the Pacific Northwest and includes a 360 degree panoramic view of Seattle. 


Another alternative to the Space Needle is Smith Tower. Smith Tower is a skyscraper in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle. At $16 per person, it's about half the cost of Space Needle. It's not as crowded/busy and you still get amazing views of the city. There's a bar and you can do a talking tower tour. The observation deck is also outdoors similar to Space Needle.


I'm not a fan of coffee but thought that the Starbucks Roastery Reserve is a fun experience to check out (at least once). It reminds me of Porto's Bakery where there's a separate line for drinks and food. There's a lot of unique Starbucks items that they sell there but what I liked most is their unique drinks menu including alcohol infused coffee drinks. 

Drinks and pastries at the Starbucks Roastery Reserve


If you know me, you know that I'm a HUGE dog lover. I wish dog cafes were more popular here in the U.S. but cat cafes will do for now. We have the first Southern California cat café here in San Diego but I haven't been to it yet. Neko's Cat Café was a few blocks down from the Starbucks Roastery Reserve so we thought we'd check it out since it was close by. Make sure you book your reservations online in advance as they do get full and there is a limited amount of space for each session. The kittens/cats were so cute and they're super friendly. Some are more shy than others but they loved all of the attention they were getting. You don't have to hang out with the cats so you can just order a drink or grab some bites at the café and hang out.

Cutie relaxing at Neko's Cafe
Casper the cat


Honestly, the Fremont Troll is nothing special but it does make a great photo opportunity. You can get creative and make it look like you're picking the troll's nose or running away from it as if it was attacking you haha. They decorate the troll during the holidays and give him a Santa Hat to wear so if you're visiting during the holidays, don't forget to stop by and check it out. It was really busy there when we went during Memorial Day weekend so expect to wait a little bit to get your pictures taken. Parking in the area is a little trickery so keep that in mind. 

The Fremont Troll


Did you know that Bruce Lee is from Seattle? If you're a big Bruce Lee fan, you should pay him a visit. People usually bring him flowers and take pictures with his grave. It's kind of creepy to think about but if you're a fan of his, this is the closest way for you to get to meet him/be in his presence.


Parking in this area sucks but Kerry Park has one of the best views of Seattle. You can see Space Needle and Mt. Rainier in the back. It's a great place to watch the sunset and people would sometimes have a little picnic there overlooking downtown Seattle. Sometimes you'll even see groups of photographers set up their cameras to get the perfect sunset photo with the sun, mountain, and city view all along the horizon. 

View from Kerry Park


Gas Works Park is in the Fremont area of Seattle so if you're vising the Fremont Troll, you should stop by Gas Works Park. The park is the location of an old gasification plant so you'll see some very old structures that were never taken down. It's right next to Lake Union so the views are beautiful all around and it's a great place to have a little picnic.


Just minutes outside of downtown Seattle is the International District (aka Chinatown). You'll find lots of Asian food and desserts here. Some of my favorite places in Chinatown are:

Dim Sum - Chinatown Seattle has one of the most dim sum I've had. Their prices are so affordable and they're SOOO good! On weekends, prepare to wait a little bit so I recommend getting there early if you can. My favorite is Harbor City Restaurant.

Uwajimaya - Similar to Mitsuwa and H-Mart, Uwajimaya is an Asian supermarket with lots of Asian snacks and goodies. 

Dochi - Japanese donut mochi (but I prefer calling them mochi donuts since it sounds better lol). You've probably seen these everywhere as there are many places that sell mochi donuts now. But they're basically donuts that are chewy with mochi texture. They're really good and really really sweet. They're pretty light though so they can be eaten as snacks or dessert. They have a variety of flavors but my favorite one is the matcha and strawberry.  Dochi is located inside Uwajimaya 's food court area.

Kinokuniya - Also located inside Uwajimaya is a bookstore known for for its collection of Asian books, magazines and Anime novelty items. 


If you're in Seattle on a Sunday, you must check out Fremont Sunday Market. If you've been to the Rose Bowl Flea Market or Long Beach Antique Flea Market, then it's very similar but much much much smaller. There are a lot of vintage clothes, furniture and other items. Admission is free and I find it really fun to look through other people's stuff that they're trying to get rid. 

Fresh flowers at Fremont Sunday Market


If you're walking or driving around downtown Seattle, you can't miss the unique irregular shaped building that seems to stick out. Seattle's library is designed so that it can utilize as much natural light as possible. 


Located right on the pier, Seattle Aquarium is a great place to spend time with your family and children. It's a pretty small aquarium compared to others that I've been to but it has your typical sea creatures such as sea otters, octopus, and jelly fish. 


My former housemate who lives in Seattle recommended us to check out Seattle Chocolate Factory and take a tour of the factory. Think Willy Wonka but much much smaller. If you like chocolate and candy, it's definitely a must. Great for groups and children. Make sure you book your tours in advance. 


Molly Moon's Ice Cream is a Seattle local ice cream shop. It carries a variety of unique flavors and their ingredients are sourced from the Pacific Northwest. I always make sure to stop by Molly Moon's every time I'm in Seattle. 


Salt & Straw first opened in Portland, Oregon but have opened several locations along the west coast and in Miami, Florida. Salt & Straw is known for their unique ice cream flavors such as Fish Sauce Caramel with Palm Sugar, Arbequina Olive Oil, Mint & Sea Urchin Meringues, Pear & Blue Cheese, etc. If you don't have a Salt & Straw near you, you must stop by the Salt & Straw in Seattle to try their unique ice cream flavors. 


Seattle is one of my favorite cities on the west coast. It's the one city (other than San Diego and the SF/Bay Area) where I keep coming back to visit because I love it there so much. I could definitely see myself living there if I wasn't living here in San Diego. Seattle always has something new and different to explore and I love how it's so close to everything - Vancouver, Portland, the mountains, the forest, and the beach. I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Seattle.

*Disclaimer: All views expressed on this post are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. 

I hope you enjoyed my list of 20 things you must do in Seattle (for first-timers). If you're planning on heading over to Seattle after reading this, I hope you have a wonderful trip! :)