35 Famous Seattle Landmarks to Visit (Washington)

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An observation tower next to other skyscrapers and a blue sky
The iconic Space Needle is one of many famous tourist attractions in Seattle

Seattle is the largest city by size and population in Washington State and a popular city break destination. Notably, visitors can find many unique and famous Seattle landmarks to check out during a visit.

These sites range from the iconic Space Needle to Pike Place Market, one of the oldest continuously operating marketplaces in the United States. So if you're planning a trip to The Emerald City, keep reading to discover 35 top landmarks that you must visit!

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35 Famous Landmarks in Seattle, Washington

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A map of Seattle landmarks. Use the map to explore all of the points of interest.

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Houseboats on water docked in a harbor on a bright sunny day
Lake Union is a freshwater lake that's a popular attraction for locals and tourists

Lake Union

Lake Union, which sits entirely within the borders of Seattle, is a beautiful freshwater lake. This famous Washington landmark is popular with tourists and locals due to the many things you can do on and around the lake.

Activities to enjoy include kayaking, paddleboarding, or boating. You can also take a scenic walk around the water, admiring the views and snapping photos of the unique houseboats surrounding the lake's perimeter.

☂️ Visit Lake Union with a tour

Volunteer Park

Volunteer Park is a 48-acre park in the center of Seattle that opened in 1901 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. It's also known for being home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and a conservatory and botanical garden.

In the summertime, the outdoor landmark attracts tourists and locals to view its blooming dahlia garden. Additionally, swimming pools are open for visitors during the warm season, accompanied by picnic spots all around the park.

One of the famous Seattle landmarks is the Space Needle
The Space Needle is one of the most famous Seattle landmarks

Space Needle

The Space Needle is, without a doubt, one of the most famous sites in Seattle. Constructed in 1962, it's viewed as the symbol of the city. It was built in merely 400 days for the 1962 World's Fair and has since been visited by almost 60 million people.

Another interesting fact about this world-renowned landmark is that it's built to survive earthquakes of up to 9.0 magnitude in scale and winds of up to 200 mph. The primary attraction at the Space Needle is its observation platform which sits 520 feet above the ground, providing a panoramic view of Seattle.

☂️ Visit the Space Needle with a tour

Seattle Asian Art Museum

The Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park showcases works of art from multiple Asian countries, including India, China, and Japan. This cultural landmark also has a library and education center.

In addition, the museum building's Art Deco-style architecture is breathtaking. The structure was constructed in 1933 and originally housed the main collection of the Seattle Art Museum. However, when that collection moved, the Seattle Asian Art Museum was opened in 1994.

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A big "Public Market Center" red sign next to a street with people and cars
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmer's markets in the U.S

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is an over 100-year-old marketplace located in the center of Seattle. Opened in 1907, it's one of the oldest farmer's markets still operating in the U.S.

A lot more than just food can be found here, with antiques and collectibles also on offer, along with goods sourced directly from local farmers. You will also find small restaurants at Pike Place Market.

The grounds of the market additionally comprise the seven-acre Pike Place Market Historical District that preserves and protects the area's historical buildings. Additionally, a fun fact about Washington relating to the market is that it's the location of the first-ever Starbucks, which you can still visit today.

☂️ Visit Pike Place Market with an excursion

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is one of the lesser-known famous places in Seattle, WA, that's well worth visiting. Found in the Chinatown-International District, the museum focuses on the culture, history, and art of Asian Pacific Americans.

You can see various exhibits as you explore, which include over 18,000 artworks and artifacts. Interestingly, the museum is the only one in the country dedicated to the pan-Asian Pacific American community.

A cathedral with two towers surrounded by greenery
St. James Cathedral has been in Seattle since 1907

Saint James Cathedral

St. James Cathedral is a beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral that opened in 1907. The church is still operating today, although it has seen some rough days in the past.

For example, in 1916, the 60-foot-high dome crashed under the weight of snow and was never rebuilt. Despite these issues, St. James Cathedral was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1984 and is one of the city's most charming pieces of architecture.

North Queen Anne Drive Bridge

The North Queen Anne Drive Bridge was constructed in 1936 to replace the former wooden crossing. The bridge connects the district of Queen Anne to the George Washington Memorial Bridge, reaching 238 feet in length.

Interestingly, the arch of the bridge is higher than usual and doesn't have many supporting pieces. Because of this unique engineering style, the North Queen Anne Drive Bridge was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1981.

A park with a path and old iron gas plants under a blue sky with clouds
For 50 years, Gas Works Parks was a gasification plant, but now it's a public park

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park is a 19-acre park and one of the most unique landmarks in Seattle, WA. The site was a gasification plant from 1906 to 1956. The area now serves as a public park that provides a stunning view of the Seattle skyline.

Some parts of the former gasification plant have been used to make a playground, and others stand as ruins, reminding visitors of the area's old usage. Although some say it's the strangest park in Seattle, it definitely has its charm!

☂️ Visit Gas Works Park with an excursion

George Washington Memorial Bridge

The George Washington Memorial Bridge, also known as the Aurora Bridge, connects the Queen Anne and Fremont neighborhoods. The bridge, standing above Lake Union, was first opened in 1932, 200 years after the birth of George Washington.

Unfortunately, the bridge has been the site of some tragic accidents. That being said, the nearly 3,000-foot-long bridge is an important historical site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

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A body of water with bridges over it under a blue sky
Ballard Locks was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978

Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks, or Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, is a complex of locks in the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The spot is a notable Seattle landmark as it has more boat traffic than any lock in the United States.

The waterway around the locks is also a path for salmon and steelhead fish. There are even special windows to observe the underwater life found here.

World Famous Giant Shoe Museum

If you like going to the strangest landmarks and attractions in cities you visit, you must check out the World Famous Giant Shoe Museum when in Seattle!

The fascinating landmark is located at Pike Place Market and has exhibits on Danny Eskenazi, who attempted to find the world's largest shoe worn by the world's tallest man. While he never found this piece of footwear, he discovered other giant shoes, which you can learn more about at the museum.

Aerial view of an urban district with modern buildings and ocean in the background
Seattle's downtown is visible from the 902-foot-high Sky View Observatory

Sky View Observatory - Columbia Center

Located nearly 1,000 feet above the ground on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, the Sky View Observatory is the tallest public observation platform in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to providing a fantastic view of the Space Needle, it offers a 360-degree view of the Cascade Mountains, Mt Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains.

The 1.5 million-square-foot Columbia Center skyscraper was finished in 1985 with 76 stories. It includes 48 elevators, six escalators, and as many as 8,800 windows!

Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square is quite literally the birthplace of Seattle. It was the first neighborhood of the city, dating back to 1852. After the disastrous Great Fire of 1889, the district was rebuilt in a late 19th-century style, meaning Pioneer Square got a new brick-and-stone look.

The area notably has some of the best Romanesque Revival-style architecture in the U.S. This legendary neighborhood is now named the Pioneer Square Preservation District and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

☂️ Explore Pioneer Square on a tour

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An oxidized copper bust of a Native American chief engraved with "Chief Seattle"
James Wehn created the Chief Seattle Sculpture in 1912

Chief Seattle Sculpture

The Chief Seattle statue is dedicated to the leader of the Suquamish people. This life-size copper sculpture was created in 1912.

Chief Seattle is known for fighting for the Native people's rights and forming partnerships with the white settlers. The sculptor, James Wehn, used the single picture of Chief Seattle that existed as inspiration for the design.

Lake View Cemetery

Lake View Cemetery is a more unique landmark but one that is important to the city's history. Established in 1872, the cemetery is situated in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and houses the graves of some notable figures.

Just a few of the people buried there include Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Seattle, Bruce Lee, and John W. Nordstrom. The cemetery also features the Nisei War Memorial Monument, a memorial to Japanese American soldiers from Seattle.

A lake surrounded by grass, trees, and a house under a blue sky
Lake Washington is King County's largest freshwater lake

Lake Washington

Lake Washington is a renowned natural landmark located adjacent to Seattle. The freshwater lake is the largest in King County and the second largest in Washington state.

The best time to visit Seattle to go to the lake to appreciate it to the fullest is in the spring or summer. During these periods, you can enjoy the lake under the sun, whether you go for a lakeside walk or partake in watersports.

☂️ Explore Lake Washington on a tour

Bruce Lee's Gravesite

The gravesite of Bruce Lee is a renowned landmark in Seattle, WA, and is located at the famous Lake View Cemetery. The graves of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon sit side by side in the cemetery.

The father and son both passed away terribly early and now rest next to each other while being visited by thousands of fans every year.

Interestingly, due to the high number of visitors to the cemetery because of these gravesites, Kurt Cobain, the frontman of Nirvana, was not allowed to be buried in Lake View.

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A modern silver and purple building next to a path and benches
Opened in 2000, the Museum of Pop Culture covers various topics like music and movies

Museum of Pop Culture

Founded in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the Museum of Pop Culture has become an iconic landmark in Seattle over the last 20-plus years.

Exhibits focus on various pop culture topics, from music to horror movies and science fiction. Various events and workshops are also hosted at the museum, and it's an interesting landmark for visitors of almost all ages.

☂️ Discover the Museum of Pop Culture on a tour

Pacific Science Center

At the Pacific Science Center, you can learn about an array of science topics and will find out new things no matter what your age! The educational landmark opened in 1962 with the mission to fuel a passion for discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking.

Just a few of the exhibits to see include those on dinosaurs and paleontology, ecosystems, and even laser technology. You can also go to an on-site planetarium and IMAX theater.

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A red sculpture on the grass next to trees, buildings, and an observation tower
Eagle by Alexander Calder is one of the most famous statues in Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

Going to Olympic Sculpture Park is one of many fun and unique things to do in Seattle. The landmark comprises a nine-acre space filled with artworks. It's also the largest green space in the city of Seattle. After seeing the park's various sculptures, you can walk to a beach area within the park to enjoy views of the Puget Sound.

☂️ Join a tour to see the Olympic Sculpture Park

The Seattle Center

Located in the Downtown Seattle area, the Seattle Center covers 74 acres and was constructed for the 1962 World's Fair. It's now used as an arts and entertainment center.

During a visit, you have the opportunity to see art exhibitions and watch a range of performances. The center grounds also house museums, including the Museum of Pop Culture and the Seattle Children's Museum.

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A tall tower with a pointed roof next to other buildings, greenery, and a blue sky
You can marvel at the views with a drink from the bar in Smith Tower

Smith Tower

Smith Tower is another famous building to see in the city. The 38-floor tower opened in 1914 and today features offices as well as an observation deck. There's even a bar with a rooftop deck that offers stunning views over Seattle.

Tropical Butterfly House

A fun and family-friendly landmark to visit in Seattle is the Tropical Butterfly House. Located at the Pacific Science Center, this unique attraction is home to hundreds of butterflies. You can also see tropical plants, including cocoa trees and voodoo lilies. As you explore, you'll likely see butterflies in the cocoon stage as well.

A museum with a "Seattle Art Museum" sign, banners, and a silhouette statue
The Seattle Art Museum has a collection of around 25,000 works

Seattle Art Museum

Art lovers can't miss going to the Seattle Art Museum. This cultural landmark was established in 1933 and houses a collection of almost 25,000 pieces that date from antiquity to the present. Along with being from various eras, works on display are in many mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and fashion pieces.

☂️ Visit the Seattle Art Museum with a tour

Lake Washington Ship Canal

Another interesting landmark is the Lake Washington Ship Canal. This waterway connects Lake Washington to the Puget Sound and was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Work on the canal began in 1911, and it was completed 23 years later, in 1934.

The canal remains a shipping channel to this day and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, along with the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

A brick wall covered in colorful chewing gum with a green bike in front of it
The Gum Wall is one of Seattle's most unique and quirky landmarks

The Gum Wall

The Gum Wall is one of many quirky Seattle, WA, landmarks that you can't miss seeing! The initial gum wall has grown to cover a lot of Post Alley with colorful chewing gum. It's thought that there are over 250,000 individual pieces of gum on the wall, and this spot is one of Seattle's most popular photo backdrops.

Puget Sound

The Puget Sound is a well-known natural landmark in the Pacific Northwest that's an inlet of the North Pacific Ocean. The waterway runs past Seattle and is a popular place to take boat rides and go whale watching. You can also see over the Puget Sound from various buildings in the city, like the Sky View Observatory.

☂️ Visit Puget Sound with an experience

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An orange building with a "Miners Landing" sign and a Ferris wheel next to the water
Miners Landing Pier 57 features harbor views, souvenir shops, and a Ferris wheel

Miners Landing Pier 57

Miners Landing Pier 57 is a popular tourist attraction located on the waterfront on Alaskan Way. The bayside wharf is home to souvenir shops, bars, and restaurants, including those serving local seafood dishes like clam chowder. The area is also home to the Seattle Great Wheel and is a fun place to explore during the day or at night.

Museum of History & Industry

Located in the South Lake Union neighborhood, the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) opened in 1952 and remains one of the best places to learn about Seattle's industrial history.

You can learn more about important companies and industrial developments in the city and see exhibits on the general history of Seattle and events that made it the city you know today.

A Ferris wheel next to buildings, a pier, and a body of water under a blue sky
You can enjoy stunning views from the Seattle Great Wheel

Seattle Great Wheel

As mentioned, Miners Landing is home to another famous landmark, the Seattle Great Wheel. The 53 meters tall Ferris wheel was opened in 2012 and was the largest Ferris wheel on the West Coast when it opened. While visiting Miners Landing, riding the Seattle Great Wheel is a must and offers a fantastic view over the surrounding area.

Columbia City Landmark District

The city has eight historic districts, with the Columbia City Landmark District being one of the most interesting historical landmarks in Seattle, Washington. This neighborhood dates to around 1891 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Visitors to the district can see a range of architecture, including Mission Revival, Colonial Revival, and Spanish Revival buildings. Within some of these buildings, you'll find unique independent shops, while others remain residential. Other landmark districts in the city include the Ballard Avenue Landmark District and the Fort Lawton Landmark District.

A large sculpture of a troll under a bridge
The Fremont Troll has sat under Aurora Bridge since the 1990s

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll sits underneath the Aurora Bridge on North 36th Avenue. As the name suggests, this sculpture is of a troll-type character, and it has been under the bridge since 1990.

There's also a park next to the statue called Troll's Knoll, and the Seattle Kraken NHL team introduced a mascot in 2022 inspired by the Fremont Troll.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is one of Seattle's oldest and strangest landmarks. Operating in the city since 1889, the shop today sells souvenirs along with housing an array of unique and weird items. Just a few of the odd things to see at the Miners Landing store include Bigfoot figurines, skull decor items, and taxidermy.

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A glass sculpture of flowers next to a large glass window and observation tower
Chihuly Garden and Glass features fantastic artworks by Dale Chihuly

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass is definitely one of the best places to visit in Seattle for people that love art. The beautiful attraction is part botanical garden and part art gallery and features colorful glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

You can also see some paintings and light displays, and certain parts of the gallery and gardens offer excellent views of the Space Needle.

☂️ Explore Chihuly Garden and Glass on a tour

In Conclusion

This list of the top Seattle, Washington, landmarks should have given you an idea of how many amazing historical, cultural, and natural attractions there are to see in the city.

Whether you visit just a few of these famous sites or see several of them, you'll have a fantastic time exploring this Pacific Northwest destination!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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