Boredom Buster

Our 50 Favorite Things to Do In and Near Seattle

When it rains, when it snows, when it's sunny, and when everything else blows.

By Seattle Met Staff

How do we love Seattle? We'd count the ways, but then we'd be here forever. Instead consider this our anything-but-complete list of things we love to do in and around our fair city, from boredom-busters bound to please even the most cynical Seattleites to perennial favorites popular with tourists aplenty. Just don't let us hear you call it "Pike's Place," mkay?


Choose Your Own Adventure:

Shop / Explore / Taste / Play / See / Think


Heaven...we mean, Elliott Bay Book Store.

Image: Jane Sherman 

Shop

Browse a Bookstore

Seattle is, no question, a city of literature. And our roster of independent bookstores, from Elliott Bay to Book Larder to Third Place Books, are all stellar. No idea what you're looking for? Most staffers are happy to share their local-lit recommendations. And, ahem, we've got a list too.

Buy Local

Our shops are as quirky as we are, and we like to keep it that way, thank you very much. Blessedly, our city's most essential shops got the memo. We see you, Georgetown Trailer Park Mall.

Search for Records

You can be a Brandi Carlile stan, a Fleet Foxes devotee, or a fan of a band no one's ever heard of (yet). The "Seattle sound" is what you make of it—and at our plethora of record stores, comes in LP, CD, even cassette tape form. 

Shop for Fresh Fits

The "fresh" designation doesn't necessarily mean store-bought new. Vintage and consignment clothing is both sustainable and fun for those who enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Of course, for fashionable menswear and children's clothing, we have lots of choices too. Oh, and Nordstrom Racks? You're welcome.

Smoke Some Weed

Cannabis dispensaries have proliferated here since recreational marijuana became legal in 2014. Even local Sonics legend Shawn Kemp has gotten into the game. Our more than 50 pot shops in and around town have knowledgeable budtenders, a variety of strains, and posh paraphernalia on hand.

Snag a New Plant

Plant babies are the new fur babies, at least that's the trend we noticed during the pandemic. (But if you're very much committed to both, here's a list of the goodest pet shops too.) We've rounded up our 21 favorite plant stores for all your fiddle-leaf fig needs.

The University of Washington campus is a prime place to soak in the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms.

Explore

Chase the Northern Lights

As we found in our Yukon aurora borealis adventures, nature can put on quite a dazzling show, but not always on demand. If the space weather forecast looks promising, we've got a few tips for how to see the northern lights for yourself.

Discover a National Park

National park, you say? We've got three—all within a three-hour's drive. Mount Rainier National Park tends to be the most well-known, with her iconic mountain, but don't count out the coastal beaches, rain forests, and lakes of Olympic National Park. As for North Cascades National Park, it stands out for its rugged, remote beauty.

Explore Every Neighborhood

Decisions, decisions. Do you start with Capitol Hill or Wallingford? The Central District or West Seattle? Rainier Valley and Rainier Beach or Beacon Hill? The beauty of Seattle is you don't have to decide. To get you started, here's a primer on every single neighborhood in a nutshell.

Ferry to the San Juans

First things first: The hype is 100 percent accurate. The San Juans are, unquestionably, the most idyllic locale in Washington. And after you figure out just which ferry boat you're on, we've got a guide for the best ways to embrace this scenic escape. 

Find Your Beach

This is called the Best Coast for a reason. In Washington, the stretches of sand are prime for everything from sunbathing to hiking to swimming. Even winter is beach season.

Go Camping

Pickleball may be the official state sport of Washington, but camping is the OG one. Happily, or maybe predictably, we have fantastic campgrounds—and plenty of guides for first-timers looking to rent gear, reserve a campsite, and plan their first trip.

Hit the E-Bike Trail

Love 'em or hate 'em, e-bikes have gone from fads to must-haves in hilly Seattle. It doesn't hurt that one of the biggest e-bike sellers is based right here. So where to barely pedal with that e-assist bike? We got you

Sunsets at Lake Sammamish State Park are simply sublime.

Jump in a Lake

Not every hike's reward is a stunning view at the top (although that sure doesn't hurt). In this case, it's the chance to go jump in a lake, literally. Not so into the hiking aspect? Skip right to the good part with these swimming holes within a two-hour's drive.

Peep Some Flowers

We're known for our greenery and expanses of water, but the Seattle area is blooming beautiful with flowers too. In March, it's cherry blossoms. In April, it's tulips. And in spring throughout Washington, it's rhododendrons, azaleas, and lilacs.

Pick Your State Park

Before your overachieving self makes it a goal to visit every single state park, let us fill you in on one fact: There are 124 of them in Washington. Here are our 20 favorites.

Highway 101 leads to stunning vistas on the Olympic Peninsula.

Road Trip

The journey is very much the point on a road trip. And in Washington, our road trip game is rife with scenic diversity. We've got mountains, we've got water, we've got beaches, we've got forests, and we've got rolling hills of greenery. Good luck choosing just one.

Run Wild

Our bevy of local activewear brands is just one sign that this is a runner's paradise. We jogged and biked 15 of Seattle's best city trails so you can log some miles and enjoy a fantastic view too.

Ski the Slopes

Local powder hounds, you're in luck. Our area resorts, and smaller ski hills, have plenty to offer come winter.

Stay in a Treehouse

Ground-bound Airbnbs, hotels, and vacation rentals are...fine. But why settle for fine when you can make like a squirrel and overnight in a tree? This is the area that birthed the mind behind Treehouse Masters after all. Of course, you could always build one for yourself.

Take a Hike

Remember when we said camping was the OG state sport? We take that back because it's a tie with hiking. There are plentiful hikes close to town, and options for when it rains (helpful), but these are our 20 favorite ones in Washington.

It doesn't get much better than city views from the Nest.

Taste

Drink Some Beer

We appreciate a good beer, and it definitely shows. Seattle's brewery riches aren't so much an embarrassment as they are a big ole checklist of where to belly up next. Do hard seltzers kinda count? You be the judge.

Drink Some Lots of Wine

Washington has over 1,000 wineries, so it's pretty near impossible to sample pours from every one. Doesn't mean we're not going to try. Hence our various guides to the best wineries in Seattle, Woodinville, Walla Walla, Yakima Valley, Lake Chelan, and along the Columbia Gorge and Southwest Washington.

Eat the Best Everything

Oh, you want some restaurant recommendations? We've got a list for that. Great tacos? Those too. Same goes for sushi, seafood, pizza, steak...you get the idea. Happy eating.

Molly Moon's does ice cream right.

Sample Ice Cream

Coffee toffee crunch. Ube maple. Dirty horchata. If the flavorful offerings from our plethora of local ice creameries says anything, it's that we do frozen desserts right in Seattle. Even if that sweet treat comes soft-serve swirled into a fish-shaped waffle cone. 

Sip Coffee

To state the obvious, we have fan-freaking-tastic coffee around just about every corner here. These standout dozen serve as a caffeinated history, if you will, of our great cafe culture.

Spill the (Bubble) Tea

Boba is about fantastical flavors and, naturally, the array of tapioca, jelly, fruit, pudding, and cheese foam add-ins, all satisfyingly slurped up through a straw. Local outfits and international chains are more than happy to satisfy when your next craving hits.

Relax on a Patio

If Covid gave us anything, it was some amazing new patios in which to safely eat and drink and just be. Thankfully, that stellar patio culture can live on past the pandemic (eventually), even on the rooftop.  

Our gorgeous Seattle Public Library flagship.

Play

Channel Your Inner Child

Don't push any actual children out of the way to make it down the twisty, 30-foot slide at Seattle Center or any of the other draws at these destination playgrounds. You know, wait your turn like a normal person.

Listen Live

Every summer, our city fills with outdoor concert series and destination-worthy fests. Every summer, we remember anew why Seattle has the best music scene. 

Love (or Hate) the Gum Wall

The history and enduring legacy of our Gum Wall is as sticky as the stuff itself. Is it a stinky, disgusting mess or a tangible sign of our fair city's quirky personality and fun-loving nature? We'll let you chew on it for a while.

Few attractions draw such adoration and disdain as the Gum Wall.

Play Pickleball

A Republican state senator, a cocker spaniel, and a gaggle of bored children start their summer break. No, this isn't a joke. This is the very true story of how Washington's state sport was born. Since that fateful day in 1965, pickleball has only proliferated.

Rent a Boat

We have three words for you: hot tub boats.

Rock Climb

Seattle's swarm of indoor climbing and bouldering gyms have plenty of problems—meaning routes for newbies and experts alike. Out in the fresh air, Washington's natural crags beckon.

Root for the Home Teams

Pick your sport, cause we've got a team and lots of ways to pregame outside Climate Pledge Arena as well as around T-Mobile Park and Lumen Field. Searching for some merch? We've got your team gear too. Oh, and let's not forget about Broccoli Guy.

MoPop meet Space Needle.

Seek Out the Landmarks

Surprisingly, there are several longtime Seattleites who have never ascended the Space Needle, sipped cocktails atop Smith Tower, or even traveled by seaplane. Hint: It us. Don't be like us.

Skate on Ice

With the opening of the Kraken Community Iceplex came a whole bunch of adults who thought they knew how to ice skate. Make like Bambi and use those Zamboni breaks wisely.

Skate on Wheels

When roller skating made a resurgence during the pandemic, a bomb fashion scene also wheeled in. In Seattle, wearing what you feel best in is what counts.

Sniff Out a Dog Park

Have pup, will play. Our region's fine dog parks, big and small, waterfront and landlocked, offer up many ways for pooches and their people to get a good romp in. If public dog parks aren't your thing, may we suggest Seattle-born Sniffspot?

Splash It Up

After Memorial Day, spraygrounds and wading pools pop up once again across the city and suburbs. They're especially hot spots when the weather takes a turn for the sweltering.

Tee Off

From 18-hole courses to playful putt-putt greens, Seattle's golf game makes it easy to get in the swing of things indoors and out. If you want to make a road trip out of it, may we suggest these three Pacific Northwest golf resorts

Try Tide Pooling

Time to get muddy...and slimy...and squishy. A mini saltwater safari to spot all manner of sea life in our area tide pools is a singular Seattle sport. At some beaches, naturalists are on hand to guide first-timers.

Wander the Library

As chief librarian Tom Fay put it, the library is “the one place you can still go in this country that’s free, and you can just simply be.” If not only to browse the Peak Picks, drop by the central branch for stunning architecture and tons of tomes.

It's always game on at MoPop.

See

Attend a Show

Touring musical artists, gallery openings, plays on local stages. New shows run the gamut from performing to visual art, and we round up some of our favorites every single week.

Pause for Public Art

Temporary murals, permanent installations, standout sculptures—our landscape is constantly transformed with the stroke of a paint brush or etching of wood. The stalwarts are as much a part of our city as the trees, but newcomers have made their mark too.

Gawk at Galleries

We've got a museum...or 10. The essential ones continue to surprise and delight with galleries that makes you think, as well as exhibits that celebrate the objects, people, and history that make Seattle what it is.

Watch a Seattle Movie

Our fair city is the backdrop of many a Hollywood endeavor, from Zoe Kravitz in Kimi to, of course, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle. Grab some popcorn and see what other flicks were set here.

The life and death of Playland is one quiet moment in Seattle history.

Think

Lose Yourself in History

Where we've been tells us so much about where we're going. From our greatest inventions to a gay dance club turned church, Seattle's legacy is anything but boring.

Read a Great Story (or Five)

The twisted life of Microsoft's ill-fated assistant Clippy. An oral history of Seattle's deadly heat dome. An essay on love and non-monogamy. A look at reluctant celebrity chef J. Kenji López-Alt. Dive in with some of our favorite long reads about our city.

Win Bar Trivia

There is absolutely no cheating in bar trivia. And if that's not warning enough that we take our trivia nights seriously, well, prepare yourself for quite the challenge. Pencils down and godspeed.

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