20 Seattle Landmarks

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Starbucks, Boeing and Microsoft, are three icons that pop into mind when you mention Seattle. It’s a lovely city in the Pacific Northwest, and you will find plenty of Seattle landmarks to keep you busy.

From the famous Pike Street Market to the first Starbucks store, Seattle underground and the Space Needle, these iconic landmarks in Seattle will keep you sleepless in this fantastic city.  

Seattle Landmarks

20 Landmarks In Seattle

1- The Space Needle

seattle landmarks space needle at night
The Space Needle is one of the most famous Seattle landmarks that most people would recognise.

The Space Needle is a Seattle landmark that towers 184 m high and is the place where you will find a fantastic view.  

You’ll get a bird’s eye of the Cascades and the Olympic mountains, while the city’s waterways, ports and islands are an enticing contrast below.

Seattle is a waterside city, with 80% of the city surrounded by water connected by 112 bridges.

As the home of many Microsoft millionaires, Seattle has more boats per capita than anywhere else in the USA.

The Seattle Space Needle offers digital and mobile experiences for visitors that transport you to different attractions in Seattle, offering alternate views and is an excellent way to learn more about the city. 

Seattle Space Needle is at 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109.

2- The Columbia Center

seattle landmarks and top instagram spots cityscape
Read our post for the best landmarks in Seattle.

The Columbia Center tower is the tallest building to the west of the Mississippi.

At 937 ft (285 m), it’s the USA’s 20th-tallest building and has 76 stories.

The Sky View Observatory is on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center and has a 360-degree view of the Seattle skyline, including the Space Needle, the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Mountains.

Sky View Observatory is in the Columbia Center at 700 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

3- Museum Of Pop Culture

Try your hand at making music in the Museum of Pop Culture or get swept away with their Artist’s Journey multimedia motion-platform ride.

The interactive cultural museum brings American pop culture to life.

There are 80,000 artefacts, including stage costumes and instruments from popular American music icons such as Bob Dylan and an extensive collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.

Its most unusual attraction is the Sky Church, a dramatic hall with a video screen covering an entire wall.

This interactive and multimedia nirvana is housed within a controversial and wild freeform building.

The exterior has blue and red painted aluminium and stainless steel sections with purple, silver, and golden finishes.

Seattle’s monorail passes through the structure.

Museum of Pop Culture is at 325 5th Avenue N Seattle, WA 98109.

4- Pike Place

iconic seattle landmarks Pike Place market sign
The Pike Place market is an iconic landmark of Seattle you simply must visit.

Pike Place Market is a great spot to wander around for entertainment and shop.

The waterfront market is pretty touristy but still worth a visit as it’s fun and where the locals go shopping for fresh food like Dungeness crabs (giant crabs with white-tip claws), vegetables and salmon.

The fish sellers at Pike Place Fish shop are highly entertaining and have managed to turn selling fish into a Broadway production.

They shout and chant in harmony and throw the fish around the store.

Pike Place is at 85 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101.

5- The Original Starbucks Store

Next to the fish stalls at the market is the original Starbucks store, which opened in 1971, retaining its original rustic charm.

It’s an iconic spot to grab a coffee and a landmark in Seattle that grew to become one of the world’s most recognisable coffee shop brands. 

Millions of people drink Starbucks’ coffee every day, and sipping a hot brew in the first store ever to open is an experience you’ll get nowhere else but in Seattle. 

Starbucks is at 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101.

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6- The Seattle Underground

During the late 19th century, Seattle’s streets were raised to prevent flooding.

As a result, many of Seattle’s old buildings’ bottom levels are beneath the ground.

Buy a ticket to Seattle’s underground tour for a 90-minute tongue-in-cheek, offbeat, entertaining, and adventurous way to learn about the city’s colourful past.

Dispensing quirky titbits, the underground tour guides entertain with stories of significant events in Seattle’s history.

You’ll be taken through secret passageways and dark dungeons at the city’s original level to discover a whole new world.

The tour guides’ vivid imagination brings Seattle’s past to life with imaginative descriptions and colourful storytelling.

7- Ballard Locks

Seattle landmarks ballard locks
Ballard Locks is an engineering landmark of Seattle.

Ballard Locks is a series of locks that connects Ballard and Magnolia.

Watch the boats at Ballard Locks make the transition through the gateway from the freshwater of Lake Washington and Lake Union to the saltwater of Puget Sound.

Between June and October, the salmon make their annual migration. You’ll see them leaping and jumping out of the water through underwater windows.

Hire a kayak and kayak along Lake Union, where Tom Hanks lived on a houseboat in Sleepless in Seattle.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (that’s the locks’ official name) is in Seattle’s Scandinavian neighbourhood.

8- The Friendship Totem 

The San Juan Islands is an archipelago of over 170 islands part of a submerged mountain chain in Puget Sound.

The San Juan Islands sculpture park has a rotating display of over 150 sculptures, trails and a lovely pond.

The Friendship Totem is a famous landmark on the islands, a 30 ft (9 m) installation that provides an artistic connection to park visitors who can engrave their names into the totem.

The central pole has 12,000 signatures, and six shorter poles were added to provide space for more visitors to sign.

The ferry to the San Juan Islands is a fabulous way to enjoy the water and San Juan’s harbour is a charming port with restaurants, shops and galleries.

It’s a great spot to watch orcas, although the islands’ waters are also home to other species like Grey and Minke whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, seals, sea lions, and otters.

Puget Sound and the Georgia Strait are home to some of the world’s highest concentrations of whales and other sea life.

The Friendship Totem is in San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, Washington 98250, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

9- Pioneer Square

Seattle Fallen Firefighter Memorial monument
The Fallen Firefighter Memorial is a Seattle monument in Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square is Seattle’s oldest neighbourhood and a historic district home to art galleries, restaurants and web development companies.

Spend a few hours at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Pioneer Square, where you can join free daily readings and meet well-known authors, who often pop in for special book signings.

After dark, Pioneer Square turns into an entertainment district with one of the city’s liveliest collections of nightspots.

You’ll find sports bars, jazz bars, hard rock taverns and little romantic eateries.

Pioneer Square is at 500 Second Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

10- The Seattle Waterfront

seatlle famous landmarks pier 70
Pier 70 is part of the waterfront and a landmark in Seattle where you can find restaurants and entertainment.

The City of Seattle’s central waterfront project is a $728 million project planned for completion in 2024.

Bell Street Pier is delightful to wander around or you can board the Victoria Clipper catamaran from Pier 69 for a sightseeing tour of Puget Sound.

Browse the shops on Seattle’s waterfront.

A protected cycling lane and landscaped promenade for pedestrians connect the various sections.

There are public spaces for events, including ice skating in winter and concerts.

The Seattle Waterfront is at 2701 Alaskan Way, Pier 69, Seattle, WA 98121.

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11- Seattle Aquarium

Landmarks Seattle aquarium
The aquarium is one of the most popular landmarks in Seattle for families to visit.

The ninth-largest aquarium in the USA offers daily educational talks and is one of the top places to visit in the Puget Sound region.

Spend the day at the Seattle Aquarium (Piers 59 and 60) and learn the secrets of the sea.

Head to the Window on Washington Waters to see the native marine life of Puget Sound, such as sea anemones and salmon.

You’ll see other denizens of the ocean here are sea stars, giant Pacific octopus and jellies.

The Seattle Aquarium is at 1483 Alaskan Way Pier 59, Seattle, WA 98101.

12- Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is one of the world’s largest air and space museums, with over 160 aeroplanes and spacecraft.

Galleries include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, which pays homage to the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, the TA Wilson Great Gallery, the Personal Courage Wing, Red Barn and Space Gallery. 

The Museum of Flight’s Aviation Pavilion is an open-air structure with commercial and military aeroplanes, including Boeing 727, 737 and 747, the 787 Dreamliner, Air Force One, Concorde airliner and the B-17, B-29 and B-47 bombers.

The museum also has some pretty cool 360-degree virtual tours for aviation fans to get a closer look inside classic aircraft cockpits.

The Museum of Flight 9404 E Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108.

13- Ballard Brewery District

Washington State is home to over 250 craft breweries, which is not surprising as more than two-thirds of America’s hops are grown in the Yakima Valley.

Seattle is one of the best cities to go on a brewery tour, and the best neighbourhoods to visit craft breweries are SoDo, Fremont and Ballard.

The 2008b Washington State Distillery Law allows smaller distillers to operate with a craft distillery license, allowing on-site tasting, bottle sales and facility tours.

Dozens of new distilleries distil absinthe, whiskey, grappa, gin, rum and vodka.

The Ballard Brewery District has 11 craft breweries, and most restaurants and bars also have local beer on the menu.

14- Pacific Science Center

Seatlle landmarks pacific science center
The Pacific Science Center is one of the Seattle landmarks to visit to open your mind.

The Pacific Science Center is a landmark in Seattle that provides answers to curious minds.

With educational programmes and events, a Live Science Stage, Tropical Butterfly House, Planetarium, Tinker Tank maker space and Dinosaurs, the centre is a perfect place for families to visit.

It began as the United States Science Pavilion for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and is an official landmark of the City of Seattle. 

The Pacific Science Center is at 202 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA.

15- Seattle Great Wheel

famous seattle landmarks Seattle Great Wheel and Pier 57 buildings
The Great Wheel is a landmark in Seattle on Pier 57.

The 175 ft (53 m) high Seattle Great Wheel is a giant Ferris wheel that dominates the Seattle waterfront.

It has 42 cabins that can hold up to eight passengers and provides bird’s-eye views of the city for those who ride it.

Seattle Great Wheel is at Pier 57 – Miners Landing, 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101.

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16- The Spheres

The Spheres is a trio of biospheres that house over 400 plant species sourced from around the world.

It has a four-story living wall and is a tranquil green urban landmark in Seattle created for Amazon’s employees to relax.

With over 40,000 plants from more than 30 countries, this giant indoor garden is housed in a spherical curved glass building.

It’s open to the public twice a month on Saturday.

The Spheres are at 2111 7th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121.

17- Smith Tower

landmarks in seattle Smith Tower from above
Smith Tower is a historic Seattle landmark worth ticking off your to-see list.

Built in 1914, Smith Tower is one of the city’s oldest skyscrapers and was one of the tallest buildings outside of New York City during its heyday.

The historic skyscraper has 38 storeys and is 484 ft (147 m) high.

It was built by firearm and typewriter magnate Lyman Cornelius Smith and has a neoclassical architecture with granite and terracotta on the building’s facade.

Its elevators have brass surfaces, and it was also one of the last buildings to employ elevator operators.

Smith Tower is at 506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104.

18- Fremont Troll

Seattle Landmarks the Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll is one of the most unusual Seattle landmarks and a result of a competition.

The troll is an unusual Seattle landmark, a sculpture created by a local artist group in 1989 as part of a revitalisation of the area under the Aurora Bridge.

Sculptor Steve Badanes and his team won the competition with an entry inspired by the Norwegian folktale Billy Goat’s Gruff.

The 18 ft sculpture has a metal eye and was made from two tons of ferroconcrete, steel and wire.

It has become so famous that songs have been written about the Fremont Troll, and it has featured in films like Sleepless in Seattle, The Twilight Saga and Death Note.

19- Mount Rainier

seattle washington landmarks the city with Mount Rainier in the background
Mount Rainier is not in Seattle but it is part of the landscape.

With the Cascade Mountains to the east and the Olympic Mountain Range to the west, a natural landmark of Seattle is the stunning Mount Rainier.

The 14,410 ft (4392 m) mountain is 86 miles (138 km) from the city, but it looks like Mt Rainier is right there on a clear day.

Mount Rainier National Park is at 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304.

20- Snoqualmie Falls 

A day trip to Snoqualmie Falls is a delightful way to explore the natural landscape around Seattle.

Remember ‘Twin Peaks’? Twin Peaks was filmed in this small mountain town (with a dramatic waterfall).

Snoqualmie Falls is a spectacular waterfall over 80 metres high (almost 30 metres higher than Niagara Falls!).

The sight of gushing water is mesmerising, and it’s easy to see why the Snoqualmie tribe considered Snoqualmie Falls a spiritual place.

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.