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If you’re heading to Seattle for a cruise, you’ll want to take advantage of any extra time you may have before or after your cruise and explore this unique city. And now that you can enjoy Seattle luggage free with Port Valet, there is no reason you can’t experience some of the best food, activities, and culture Seattle has to offer.
This insider’s guide to five Seattle neighborhoods will provide plenty of options on what you just can’t miss while you’re in Seattle.
Downtown Seattle near the Pike Place Market is the center of the hustle and bustle of this fast-paced city and a great way to experience the most popular attraction in a short time. It’s the soul of Seattle and just celebrated its 110th birthday in 2017 — the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in the country!
Perhaps one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in Seattle, Pike Place Market lives up to the hype. Graze and grab a locally produced snack at the many food stalls in the arcade, pick up some beautiful fresh and local flowers, take a selfie by the bronze piggy bank sculpture, and stop for a few minutes to watch the famous fish flying through the air.
For an arts and culture break, head over to the Seattle Art Museum. The museum is home to global art collections, temporary installations, and special exhibitions from around the world that bridge culture and centuries. And, SAM also has an outdoor sculpture park with epic views of the waterfront and mountains where you can watch Seattle’s working waterfront in action with cruise and container ships coming and going.
While you're at the sculpture park, take a walk in the Port of Seattle's Centennial Park with some of the best views of the Seattle waterfront, mountains, and ship traffic.
Take a 10-minute boat ride across Elliott Bay and take in spectacular views of the Seattle skyline as you travel to a place that feels a world away. Head over to Pier 52 on the Seattle waterfront and pay the $5.75 to board the King County Water Taxi.
If you’re lucky enough to see the sun in Seattle, water activities may be in order. Rent a kayak, cruiser bike, longboard, or inline skate rentals and cruise down Alki Beach, a little slice of Venice Beach in Seattle. Turn around at the mini Statue of Liberty, a historic monument where the first non-native settlers arrived.
Alki Beach has a fun summer vibe with a walking trail along the water to iconic views of the city skyline and the Port’s container terminals. From Alki Beach, it’s a two mile walk to one of the city’s gems, Jack Block Park. This Port of Seattle park features a walking path along the shoreline, which passes by a play area and a walkable pier before terminating at the park's observation tower. The tower overlooks Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle, and also offers a view of port operations at Terminal 5 and Vigor Shipyards.
Hop on the Link light rail and ride to Columbia City. This vibrant historical neighborhood is a diverse and bustling mix of restaurants, bars, and shops, surrounded by charming neighborhood streets and is the perfect place to spend a few hours exploring. Wander the streets, catch some music or a film, visit an art gallery, grab a bite, or sit in a café and watch the world go by.
Take the light rail to the Chinatown-International District and enjoy authentic Asian fare, eclectic shops, and learn about Asian culture and more than a century of history in Seattle.
Visit the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, browse the exhibits, and take a neighborhood walking tour to get an insider look at the historic and culturally rich district. If you’re a pinball fan, check out the Seattle Pinball Museum, where you can play on over 50 vintage pinball machines.
Take the D Line bus from Downtown or hop in an Uber or Lyft to explore Ballard, a neighborhood with Nordic and maritime roots that offers laid-back eateries, a thriving craft beer scene, and locally-owned shops.
Head over to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks for a unique look at the ship canal that is on the National Register of Historic Places and carries the most boat traffic than any other lock in the country. Stroll through the botanical gardens and watch boats of all sizes pass through between the Puget Sound and Lakes Washington and Union. Or go to the fish ladder for an underwater view of salmon making their heroic leap back home.
For a closer look at Ballard’s Scandinavian roots, check out the National Nordic Museum, which collects and preserves the values, traditions, art, and spirit of the Nordic people.
And don't forget historic Fishermen's Terminal, the first Port of Seattle property in 1914, and the home to the North Pacific Fishing Fleet. Stroll the docks to see commercial fishing in action and have a fresh seafood dinner.
Wander down historic Ballard Avenue and pop into one of the 30 eateries. Or check out more than a dozen hyper-local breweries and taprooms within a one-mile radius.
Need more ideas on what to do in Seattle?
Top photo credit: Visit Seattle/Alabastro Photography
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