Seattle is known as the Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest for its lush green climate and reputation for rainy weather. The truth is that almost every major east coast city gets more rain than Seattle at an average of less than 40 inches per year. It rarely really pours; you’ll need a baseball cap and windbreaker more often than an umbrella or rainboots. And the nearby Olympic Mountains and the Cascade range keep most of the worst Pacific storms from affecting Seattle.
Home to more than 3.5 million people in the entire metro area, Seattle is known for its technology companies—Microsoft’s world headquarters are nearby in Redmond, Washington; its coffee culture—the home of Starbucks and dozens of other independent neighborhood café; and also its music scene—Jimi Hendrix was a Seattle native and the mid-1990s grunge scene made famous by Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains was centered here.
The iconic Space Needle, built in 1962 for the Century 21 Expo, is Seattle’s most recognizable landmark and a must-see for visitors who want to get a full panorama of the city and Elliott Bay. Seattle is the setting for TV shows like “Frasier,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and the Nickelodeon show “iCarly,” as well as movies like Singles and, of course, Sleepless in Seattle.
Near the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center is a hands-on exploration museum geared toward kids and families, and the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project has lots of activities for music lovers of all ages. The Science Fiction Museum is a cool side-trip within the EMP. Get a view of the city from Elliott Bay on narrated cruises. The ones run by Argosy leave from the pier near the Seattle Aquarium. Art lovers can visit the Frye Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park, which offers great views along a restored area of the waterfront.
CityPass and Go City both offer tourist passes for Seattle. CityPass offers discounted, pre-paid admission tickets to a handful of the most popular places, while Smart Destinations has unlimited admission to a wider variety of Seattle attractions over a specified period of calendar days.
Top Seattle Tourist Passes
Seattle CityPASS: One of the best tourist deals in the Emerald City, this pass gives you admission to 6 attractions, including the famous Space Needle— all for almost 50% off the regular prices.
Go Seattle Card: This is the most flexible way to see Seattle. Pay just one price for the card, and get free admission to 35 different attractions—from museums to gardens to sports arenas to zoos.