seattle locals: where to take visitors

it's been a while since i had a good seattle locals post on here, so i thought we'd jump right back in with a subject my friends & i discuss frequently: where to take seattle visitors. now that it's summer and we've got our two-month window of sunshine, it seems like family members and friends come to visit us in droves. my husband's grandparents were here last weekend and they'd never been to seattle before, so we played tour guide and showed them a few favorite spots (aka the most touristy destinations for PNW newbies).

if you're looking for ideas on where to take your visitors (or if you're an out-of-towner looking to visit seattle for the first time), here's what we recommend.

start down by the waterfront. ooh and ahh over the ferries, the ships and all the random shops near the piers. grab lunch at ivar's, a seattle institution (we like their chowder) -- it's right on the water and you can feed the seagulls.

we always like to stop in at ye olde curiosity shop, such a weird divey place. they've got random stuff like shrunken heads, a mermaid skeleton, a bunch of dead animals and a fudge shop. a fun visit if you've got time to spare.

you can also check out the great wheel of seattle, a giant ferris wheel that just opened up last month on pier 57. it's one of the biggest ferris wheels in the country and takes you right out over the water! such a fun way to see the city.

from the ferris wheel, hike up the stairs to pike place market -- a MUST-see for anyone visiting seattle, of course! it's the father of all farmers markets -- fresh fish, fruits & veggies, beautiful flowers, local honey, artisan crafts and (my favorite!) fresh doughnuts. we get a 1/2 dozen of the cinnamon sugar ones every time we visit :)

we were there on a sunny saturday and the market was PACKED. my husband took our guests through while i stayed outside on stroller duty, but no matter -- walking the cute cobblestone street in the middle of pike place is just as entertaining. i love all the pretty flowers lining the road, the silver pig, all the people. plus, you get to see two local landmarks -- beecher's cheese (they're famous for their mac & cheese!) and the original starbucks.

from pike place, we took a scenic drive up 1st avenue and drove through queen anne and ballard to show our guests some of the sights. we stopped off at the ballard locks (a canal system that allows boats to travel between the salt water of the puget sound & the fresh water of lake union) -- an interesting little attraction and a good time-killer if you need one. :) on a nice day, you can walk around the gardens or have a picnic on the lawn and watch the boats roll through. it's really peaceful and pretty. (there's also a visitors center & museum if you just can't get enough of the locks.)

finally, we ended our day at ray's boathouse. the food is tasty and the view just can't be beat -- you dine while overlooking elliott bay. it was my husband's 30th birthday so we indulged a bit, but if you want cheaper prices there's a cafe upstairs with a bit less ambiance and a bit less expense. :) it was the perfect end to our seattle day.

[all photos by me]

there you have it! twelve hours of entertainment for your next seattle visitors. if i'm missing any of your favorite visitor activities, feel free to leave a comment below!


  1. the olympic sculpture park is our most favorite place in seattle! such a great view of the olympics and the space needle.

  2. ok, I know it's not Seattle, but today we went to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma and it was awesome! We love the zoo down there, but then we went to the beach and it was just a perfect day. I can't wait to take some friends there that are visiting this month. But I know it's not Seattle.... In Seattle, we love Seward Park and Alki for visitors. I can't wait to ride the ferris wheel!

  3. thanks, feelincrafty! i have actually never been to tacoma, i will have to check it out.