Long road trips and simple drives might be a nice opportunity to catch up with your copilot. But, they don’t help you really get to know a place. And Seattle is a place you want to get to know.
Smack dab in the middle of mountain ranges, lakes, and ocean bays, the Emerald City is a green wonderland of viewpoints, epic restaurants, and diverse culture. So ditch the car. These seven car-free Seattle tours will introduce you to the best of our remarkable city.
By Boat on a Water Adventure
More than 40% of Seattle’s topography is made up of water. The rolling hills of the downtown corridor flow into Elliot Bay. Its city neighborhoods bud up against Lake Union, Salmon Bay, and the Mercer Slough. Some even float on the water! Suburbs sit on the opposite shores of Lake Washington and rest on islands just a ferry ride away.
In essence, water is part of the city’s very heartbeat. Some might even say an aquatic experience is as quintessential as the Space Needle or Pike Place Market. Argosy offers a variety of cruises. From the Ballard Locks and Lake Washington, you’ll have the chance to see an angle of Seattle from the water.
Interested in manning your own craft? Located on Lake Union, The Electric Boat Company offers rentals. Their 21-foot long boats fit a maximum of 10 adults. They come equipped with a sound system, tables, and cup holders. There’s even a heater for cold days!
Want to go old school? The Center for Wooden Boats offers sailboat rentals and free sailboat rides on Sundays. Headquartered at the south tip of Lake Union, this unique attraction is a hub for hands-on learning.
By Plane on a Seattle Scenic Flight Tour
Call us biased, but what list would be complete without a Seattle Scenic Flight Tour? From the thrilling water takeoff and graceful landing to the epic views and fun narration, these tours offer fun facts and awesome picture taking opportunities.
Get a bird’s eye view of Seattle’s sports arenas and houseboat communities. See the numerous parks that dot the city, including Discovery Park. Wave at visitors atop the Space Needle and the Great Wheel. This is one Seattle experience you won’t soon forget.
By Foot on a Self-Guided Urban Hikes
What isn’t water is mostly hills. To conquer the steep hillsides, Seattle’s early settlers built stairways from street to street. Today these pedestrian-only byways create the ideal setup for calorie burning urban hikes. Scattered with views and pocket parks, they make for a unique way to get to know the city.
From a Perch at one of Seattle’s Top Viewpoints
Seattleites are suckers for a good view. Perhaps that’s what comes from having so many natural ones throughout the city. Hilltop perches have long been a favorite for many locals, especially the iconic view from Kerry Park.
In 1962 we constructed the most well-known viewpoint of all. Towering at an impressive 605 feet, the Space Needle was built for the World’s Fair. Its SkyCity Restaurant revolves, offering diners a 365-degree view.
More than 20 years later, the Needle earned a slightly taller brother. Completed in 1985, the Columbia Center was (at the time) the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Today, visitors are welcomed to the 73rd floor. At its 902-foot perch, the Sky View Observatory’s allows you to peer into Smith Tower, the city’s top sports stadiums and more.
Beneath the Ground on an Underground Tour
Seattle was originally built at sea level. The roads and plumbing were often at the mercy of the tides. Following the Great Fire of 1889, city officials decide to take the issue of flooded streets and backed up toilets into their own hands. By raising the streets an entire level, they hoped to master the waters of Elliot Bay.
The only problem was, not all the business were keen on moving upward. In Pioneer Square, remnants of stubborn storefronts still rest beneath our feet. So too do the shards of chunky glass skylights seen in many of the sidewalks. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour takes you beneath the surface to meet the original city face-to-face.
By Taste on a Tasty Restaurant Crawl
Salmon. Crab. Calms. Nettles. Blueberries. Apples. The Pacific Northwest is a veritable paradise of flavors. Here, chefs embrace the seasons from both the land and the sea. They continue to push the boundaries, taking the farm to table craze and making it their own with a sea to plate mentality. The results are tasty indeed.
But how can you choose just one restaurant to visit? Savor Seattle offers four distinct food tours. From gourmet comfort food to booze and bites, each features several stops for a sampling of Seattle’s best.
And if you’re looking to infuse your dining experience with intrigue, the folks at Pretty Fork offer secret dinners. Sign up ready to explore. The who, what, and where is a closely guarded secret – until you sit down to eat.
Open Air Tours
Unlike a stuffy tour bus, open-air tours allow you to get up-close and personal with Seattle’s sights, sounds, and smells. Ride the Ducks unique amphibious tours take you throughout downtown, past Gas Works Park, and even on Lake Washington! Throughout the ride you’ll learn about local folklore, historical information, and a few of the city’s more hilarious moments in time.
Do you enjoy hoping in and hoping out of your tour? Emerald City Trolley offers two routes with more than a dozen stops. At each stop you can jump off, explore, and catch the next trolley that comes by.
Or...you could always get out of town for a whale watching adventure.