Photo: Visit Seattle

Seattle's Top Indoor Things to Do

Welcome to the great indoors!

Yes, Seattle’s natural outdoor features are truly epic, but sometimes you just want to get inside and breathe in that purified HVAC air. Here are some super things to do without all that pesky sunshine.

Stroll Through Pike Place Market

Open year-round, this is Seattle’s most iconic attraction — and it’s filled with tasty treats. There’s so much to love about Pike Place Market. Aisles of gleaming fruits and vegetables, tables overflowing with fresh floral bouquets, and booth after booth selling all manner of locally made jewelry, clothing and gifts. It’s also a great place to enjoy many fantastic eateries serving prepared dishes. When you’re not sure what kind of food you’re in the mood to eat, just head to Pike Place Market and sample a little of everything or hop on one of several market tours that focus on food, history, or a little of both. There’s also the whole fish-throwing thing, too.

Seattle Central Library Photo: Jan Uy

Check Out the Fantastic Central Public Library

Both an architectural masterwork and a functional library, the Seattle Central Public Library stands as a testimonial to Seattle’s progressive, informed nature. Nearly 10,000 panes of glass fused with over 4,500 tons of steel make this sustainable building a standout for locals and tourists alike. But don’t just admire it from the outside; for wide interior vistas and eye-popping spaces, you’ll want to treat yourself to a self-guided cell phone tour of the building’s highlights by dialing 206.686.8564. Maybe even check out a book!

Pacific Voices at Burke Museum | Andrew Waits

Get Smart at a Seattle Museum

The Seattle area is home to an excellent collection of art, history, maritime, and special interest museums. Here are just a handful of our favorites:

  • Burke Museum – Also known as the Washington State Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Burke is “a place to ask questions, seek answers and be inspired.” The Pacific Voices exhibit is particularly fantastic displaying “art and tradition from different Native American cultures of the Northwest Coast. Learn about efforts to save the Lushootseed language and the tradition of potlach, envision the drama of masked ceremonies, and see the intricate patterns of handmade capes, baskets and hats.”
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass – Tracing the art and career of world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Garden and Glass has, at its center, the stunning Glasshouse: a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space containing an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.
  • EMP Museum – A museum focusing on the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary pop culture, this exciting museum encourages patrons to learn a new instrument in the interactive SoundLab and has permanent exhibits dedicated to Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, horror movies, and science fiction. Check out their latest traveling exhibits, too!
  • Frye Art Museum – A local favorite, the Frye is an always-free art museum located on First Hill. With a magnificent collection (always in rotation) and a constant stream of truly wonderful exhibits from local, national and international artists, the Frye is a wonderful to explore art off the beaten path.
  • Henry Art Gallery – A part of the University of Washington, the Henry is internationally-recognized for bold and challenging exhibitions, and operates under the founding principle: art expands hearts and minds.
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park preserves the story of the stampede to the Yukon gold fields and Seattle’s crucial role in this event. GOLD!
  • Living Computer Museum – Technology at the Living Computer Museum is alive and ready for you to experience. Track the evolution of devices from massive supercomputers through the rise of Microsoft to the phone in your pocket.
  • The Museum of Flight – If you have the need for speed, then you have to see this gem of an aviation museum. On display you’ll discover the Mach-3 SR-71 Blackbird Spyplane, Spitfires, Mustangs, Soyouz space capsules, the supersonic Concorde, a flying car and more than 75 other aircraft. You can also test out multiple flight simulators and even climb aboard one of NASA’s real Space Shuttle trainers.
  • The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) – Bridging the past, present and the future, MOHAI celebrates Seattle’s regional tradition of innovation and imagination through compelling exhibits, scholarship, education, public programs, and community engagement.
  • Nordic Heritage Museum – Features immersive galleries focused on the Nordic-American experience in the Pacific Northwest, and visiting exhibitions showcase contemporary art and design from the Nordic countries.
  • Northwest African American Museum – The Northwest’s only museum dedicated to exhibiting the art, history, and culture of people of African descent. Located n the heart of the Central District, NAAM offers rotating exhibits as well as programs and events that investigate and celebrate Black experiences in the US and promote racial equity and social justice.
  • Pacific Science Center – Yes, you can let beautiful, delicate butterflies land on you in the Tropical Butterfly House, and, yes, you can see a live colony of naked mole rats here, too. You can also set the kids loose in the Science Playground and see IMAX films in either of the two giant IMAX theaters located on-site.
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum – Located in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park in an astoundingly beautiful Art Deco building, this museum’s collections of Asian art remain the single greatest draw for scholars and admirers of art to Seattle. The works span centuries and mediums and come from China, Japan, India, Korea, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
  • Seattle Children’s Museum – A fantastic and immersive experience for the little ones, the Seattle Children’s Museum offers a fun, interactive learning environment for families with exhibits such as a Global Village, Mountain Forest, Imagination Studio and Discovery Bay. Play time!
  • Seattle Pinball Museum – So. Much. FUN. At this small museum in the Chinatown – International District you can play around 50 pinball games (games change regularly). Also, you can purchase classic sodas and snacks on site to munch and sip while you play. FYI: Kids need to be older than 7 years old to play.
  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience – A true Seattle gem and a National Park Service Affilliated Area, the Wing connects visitors to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring exhibits.
The Smith Tower Photo: Wil Taylor

See the Sights from the Top of the Smith Tower

Once the tallest building west of the Mississippi, the Smith Tower has offered Seattle’s best views to the public for over 100 years. Elevator operators whisk visitors in an old-fashioned copper and brass elevator car to the 35th floor where you’ll step into the past as you enter the historic Observatory.

When you arrive for your tour, you’ll be able to browse the new Smith Tower Provisions general store, and indulge at Smith Tower Temperance café and bar. Enjoy ‘The Legends of Smith Tower’ self-guided tour, or make your way ‘Straight Up’ to the Observatory. From every angle you’ll see the best of Seattle, including the Space Needle, Great Wheel, Columbia Center, sports stadiums, Pioneer Square, Chinatown-International District, as well as our natural surroundings, including Mount Rainier, the Cascade Mountains, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound.

Seattle Aquarium Photo: Joe Mabel

Get Down Deep at the Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium features a stunning 40-foot, 55,000-lb. viewing window that looks into a 120,000-gallon aquarium filled with salmon, colorful rockfish, vibrant sea anemones, and other native Washington marine life. Three times a day, divers take to the waters wearing specialized masks that allow them to interact with and answer questions from the audience. Other exhibits include two touching tide pools filled with sea anemones and sunflower sea star, a pacific coral reef exhibit, marine mammals and an underwater dome, the aquarium’s largest exhibit. The aquarium is located on Seattle’s waterfront at Pier 59.

Seattle Great Wheel Photo: Nicola

Go for a Spin on the Seattle Great Wheel

The Seattle Waterfront’s newest attraction, the Seattle Great Wheel sits 175 feet above Pier 57 and extending nearly 40 feet over Elliott Bay. A view from the top offers sweeping panoramas of the city skyline as well as Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains beyond. Each of the gondolas is fully enclosed and climate controlled to allow for year-round riding, regardless of the weather.

Photo: NBBJ

Take In a Show at Our World-Class Theaters

Seattle’s lively theater scene is second to none, and with so many different sorts of theaters to choose from, you’ll find everything from bold, new premieres to inventive interpretations of the classics. Here’s a short list of just a few of our favorites:

  • The 5th Avenue Theatre – Seattle’s premier home for touring Broadway hits, The 5th Avenue Theatre also produces Broadway-caliber shows of its own, including Hairspray, Shrek the Musical, Memphis and Lone Star Love. Also, one of Seattle’s most beautiful theaters.
  • ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) – Located in the heart of downtown Seattle and serving a population of curious, open-minded, and brave audiences, ACT is the only local theatre dedicated to producing contemporary work with promising playwrights and local performing artists since 1965.
  • Annex Theatre – In addition to new plays by living playwrights, Annex produces radical reinterpretations of classic scripts, ensemble-generated non-linear spectacles, and dynamic solo performances, as well as our monthly late-night variety show Spin the Bottle, now in its 14th year.
  • Book-It Repertory Theatre – Founded more than a quarter century ago as as an artists’ collective, Book-It adapts short stories for performance and tours them throughout the Northwest.
  • Moore Theatre – With over 100 years of performing arts history, the Moore continues to be a venue to present a broad spectrum of performing arts, such as musicals, dance,concerts, comedy, lecturers, and variety shows.
  • Neptune Theatre – This fantastic theater in the University District programs concerts with a broad spectrum of musical genres, independent film, comedy, lectures, Fine Arts performances, education and community programs and many free public events.
  • The Paramount Theatre – A thriving landmark theatre.  An annual season of KeyBank Broadway at The Paramount season accompanies a performance series of dance, jazz, live concerts, speakers, comedy, special events, and family shows. The Silent Movie Mondays Series draws thousands to experience a taste of the past accompanied by the original Mighty Wurlitzer Organ.
  • Seattle Repertory Theatre – Founded in 1963, Seattle Rep has become a Tony Award-winning flagship theater in Seattle and the region that produces both classics and world premieres.
  • Seattle Children’s Theatre – Seattle’s professional theatre for young audiences, SCT performs September-June and provides children of all ages access to professional theatre with a focus on new works and theatre education.
  • Teatro ZinZanni – If cirque and magic is more your style, don’t miss the unique Teatro ZinZanni experience. Housed in a stunning antique cabaret tent, it has delighted audiences with a fine blend of comedy, cirque and cuisine since 1998.
  • Theater Schmeater – Since its inception in 1992, the Schmee’s mission has been to produce great plays simply and foster a love of theater as an art form in future audiences.
  • Theatre Off Jackson – This intimate, underground theater in Seattle’s International District presents work by locals (both promising and established) and serves as a rental/co-production house for smaller companies around the city. It also hosts the annual SPF (Solo Performance Festival), which draws actors and storytellers from around the country.
Space Needle Photo: David Newman

Ride to the Top of the Space Needle

Most definitely a bucket list item for many, the Space Needle is certainly Seattle’s most iconic structure. Journey skyward for amazing views, fine dining and an experience you’ll never forget. At a height of 605 feet, the Space Needle boasts fabulous 360 degree views that include Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, the beautiful city of Seattle and beyond.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Photo: Angela Sterling Photography

Be Whisked Away at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Long acclaimed for its outstanding Balanchine repertoire, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is equally noted for its contemporary edge and regularly electrifies audiences with new works. Widely recognized as one of the country’s premiere regional dance companies, PNB delights audiences under the artistic leadership of Peter Boal, a well-regarded former dancer with a distinguished 22-year career with the New York City Ballet. The sheer brilliance of the choreographers and dancers will leave you captivated.

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