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What Seattle is Known For & Famous For

Whether you are planning a trip to Seattle, planning to move their, or it has just come up in casual conversation, Seattle is one of the United States‘ major cities known for many things…

 

Seattle, Washington is best known for it’s beautiful scenery between ocean and mountains with many stunning parks. Some of the city’s most well known attraction include the Seattle Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the gum wall. Seattle is well known as the birthplace of grunge and Starbucks Coffee.

 

Read on to learn in more detail what Seattle is known for.

 

picture of the Seattle Space Needle at night with a dark blue clear sky in the background.

 

The Attractions and Points of Interest that Made Seattle Famous

Situated in the northwestern corner of the mainland United States and only a few miles from the Canadian border, Seattle, Washington has no shortage of exciting attractions and things to do. While most of these activities are common among other similarly large cities, a few of these points of interest are what placed the metropolis on the map. 

 

For instance, you will find a thriving culinary and coffee scene that led to the founding of Starbucks. Seattle has over 2,000 coffee shops across the city that draw in coffee aficionados from around the world. You can take a sip while marveling at other wonders such as the iconic Space Needle or the natural beauty of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. 

 

Seattle also has a thriving music scene, along with a large outdoor lifestyle culture. This list of things Seattle is known for can go on forever; we will only provide a handful to get you started on your journey through the Emerald City. 

 

Space Needle

For something out of this world, you may want to check out Seattle’s Space Needle. Built in 1961 for the 1962 World Fair, the structure is often called Seattle’s Eiffel Tower and stands as the city’s most popular tourist destination. 

 

After recent renovations, the 520-foot Space Needle offers even more breathtaking 360-degree views of Seattle. You can even look down towards the festivals and film screenings going on the streets below through the observation deck’s glass floor. The architecturally impressive tower even sports a sitting area on its roof where you can take pictures of the city and Puget Sound

Seattle’s Coffee Culture

Seattleites drink coffee like the British drink tea. The black gold found its way into every aspect of Seattle life and culture. As such, the city has its fair share of coffee snobs, coffee shops, and coffee festivals. This coffee culture led to Starbucks’ founding, which opened its first location across the street from Pike Place Market. 

 

a photo of a Starbucks coffee with people sitting out front drinking coffee and chatting

 

Media

Seattle is a popular filming location for Hollywood studios who want to base their films somewhere other than New York or Los Angeles. Because of this, many popular television series and films call the Emerald City home, such as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Frasier,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” A few of them were filmed in the area as well. 

 

The city also has several movie houses which show both Hollywood and indie films. Many of these cinemas offer film festivals and other film-watching accommodations. For instance, Seattle Cinerama is one of three theaters that can show three-panel movies. 

 

The Film, Video Game, and Book Festivals

To celebrate the many films located in the city, Seattle developed numerous film and book festivals. These annual events even include video games, comics, and other interactive arts. The more popular ones are:

  • Sakura-Con
  • Penny Arcade Expo
  • Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair & Book Arts Show
  • Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival
  • Children’s Film Festival Seattle
  • The 24-day Seattle International Film Festival

 

The Seattle Music Scene

Seattle has a vibrant independent music scene that hosts multiple music and food festivals throughout the spring and summer in the city’s various parks, and countless craft cocktail bars. This music scene birthed many famous musical acts as well as the grunge music genre and the alternative music label Sub Pop.

 

A photo of a young man with tattoos and dreadlocks playing guitar wearing a white tshirt and black shorts

 

Jazz:

The Emerald City gave the world jazz legends such as Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Ernestine Anderson, Bumps Blackwell, saxophonist Kenny G, Glenn Crytzer, Bill Frisell, Wayne Horvitz, and many others. These performing artists got their start at the many jazz nightclubs located along Jackson Street. 

 

Grunge:

Nirvana is another important Seattle music group. The success of the 1980s rock band pushed Seattle towards grunge, creating the music scene we have today. Other famous Seattle grunge artists include Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and Pearl Jam. 

 

Other Famous Seattle Musical Acts:

Seattle’s other famous music acts represent every genre, from collegiate and garage bands to classic staples. These artists include:

  • Macklemore
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot
  • Heart
  • Blue Scholars
  • Harvey Danger
  • The Presidents of the United States of America
  • Foo Fighters
  • Modest Mouse
  • The Posies
  • Death Cab for Cutie
  • Band of Horses

 

Seattle Professional Sports

Like other cities of its size, the Emerald City is a famous sports town. Seattle is home to five currently active major professional sports teams, along with several other professionals and collegiate sports franchises: 

 

Seattle Seahawks

Joining the National Football League in 1976, the Seattle Seahawks are annual Super Bowl contenders. The team even managed to advance to the big game in 2005, 2013, and 2014, claiming the championship title in 2013’s Super Bowl XLVIII. The team currently plays at Lumen Field, where Seattle fans have earned the “12th man” nickname with numerous stadium noise records. 

 

Seattle Mariners

Seattle’s Major League Baseball team, the Mariners, is not the city’s first professional team, but professional baseball would not be the same without them. Despite the support of the fans, the team has never made it to the World Series and currently has the longest active postseason drought in North American sports. 

 

Seattle Kraken

Seattle has the honor of being the first American hockey team to win the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup in 1917 via the now-defunct Seattle Metropolitans. Since then, the Emerald City only had the Thunderbirds of the Canadian major-junior Western Hockey League. However, the city returns to the NHL in the 2021 season in the form of the Seattle Kraken. 

 

Seattle Sounders FC

While not as well-known as the Seahawks and Mariners, Seattle does have a professional soccer team. The Seattle Sounders Football Club joined Major League Soccer in 2008 and has set various attendance records over the years. The team also won the MLS Cup several times during its existence, with the latest win in 2019 against Toronto FC.

 

Seattle Seawolves

The Emerald City also has a professional Major League Rugby team: The Seattle Seawolves. Founded in 2018, the team already has several back-to-back championships to their name. 

 

Other Professional Sports

Seattle has a few other notable teams, including the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)’s Seattle Storm and the NCAA’s Washington Huskies and Seattle Redhawks. The city also hosted the National Basketball Association’s Seattle SuperSonics until 2008, when it became the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

a photo of the beautiful outdoors filled with trees and two hikers wearing rain gear and backpacks climbing up rocks

 

Seattle Parks and Hikes

Often overlooked, Seattle’s natural beauty has a charm all on its own, especially during the summer months. The Puget Sound region contains several great parks, hiking trails, and beautiful beaches that attract tourists and locals alike. You can go to them in person, or you can enjoy them from the sky via seaplane tours offered by Kenmore Air. 

 

Men’s Fitness Magazine labeled Seattle as America’s fittest city in 2005. They made the declaration due to the numerous hiking trails and beaches in the area. You can enjoy camping and volleyball on Alki Beach. You can stroll through the forests, bluffs, and beaches of Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest park. 

 

You can even rent out a boat and sail Lake Washington, The Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Across the region, more trails through nature await around Lake Washington and among the nearby Olympic and Cascade Mountains. 

 

Puget Sound

Seattle is located in Puget Sound, part of the Pacific Northwest region. The sound is made up of flooded glacial valleys, and it has been around for about 6,000 years. It has witnessed every major event in Seattle’s history and is a significant natural landmark.

 

photo at Lake Union, Seattle framing multiple houseboats and a large bridge

 

Lake Union

Right in the middle of the city, Lake Union provides a quick escape from the urban landscape surrounding it. You can take a kayak or an electric boat onto the lake or sunbathe along the shore to admire the Seattle skyline. 

 

photo of Gas Work Park with green grass and trees in the background on a bright clear sky day

 

Gas Works Park

History and nature collide in Gas Works Park. Located directly across downtown from Lake Union, the park offers excellent views of the Seattle skyline, as well as fun and exciting adventures through the preserved remains of an old coal gasification plant from the 1950s. 

 

Woodland Park 

While many people claim Settle’s other parks are better, Woodland Park has the city’s zoo. The wildlife conservation offers many great hiking trails that pass through the park as well as nearby Green Lake. They provide a bit of nature within the dense urban environment. 

 

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is a 268-foot (82 m) waterfall in the northwest United States, located east of Seattle on the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie and Fall City.

Most of the river is diverted into power plants, but at times it’s high enough to flow across the entire precipice.

High water occurs following heavy rains or snow followed by warm rainy weather.

Snoqualmie Falls is central to the culture, beliefs, and spirituality of the Snoqualmie People.

It was first nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1992 as a Traditional Cultural Property for its association with the beliefs of the Snoqualmie people.

 

a photo of a street sign that reads: "Historical District" "Pike Place Market." The sign is a brown color with white text and a white outline. There is a blurred out building in the background

 

Pike Place Market

No list about Seattle’s famous places would be complete without mentioning Pike Place Market. Opened in 1907, the market is among the oldest continuously running public farmers markets in the United States. Usually open most weekday mornings, the market is Seattle’s hub for food, drinks, and the famous Pike Place fish toss, especially the monkfish. 

 

picture of the Seattle Gum Wall, a wall completely covered in gum.

 

Seattle Gum Wall

If you are looking for something different, then you may like the Gum Wall. This classic Seattle art formation began in 1993, when the staff of Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresport theater stopped cleaning a wall on which patrons stuck their used gum. Declared a tourist attraction in 1999, Seattleites still keep the tradition alive to this day. 

 

Fremont Troll

Situated under George Washington Memorial Bridge is a troll. Built-in 1990, the Fremont Troll is a sculpture of the Norwegian legend of the troll under the bridge. It is the centerpiece for the self-proclaimed Center of the Universe, Fremont, a local cultural hub filled with counter-cultural amenities, including the best coffee shops in the area. The troll also hosts a Sunday farmer’s market. 

 

Artisan Cheeses and Chocolate

Along with its extensive coffee culture, Seattle boasts world-famous cheese and chocolate scenes. Numerous boutiques line the city’s streets, though you will find Seattle best from a few key outlets. 

 

Cheese lovers must visit Beecher’s Handmade Cheese at least once. Beecher’s cheese artists take fresh milk from local farms to create handcrafted, preservative-free, and additive-free masterpiece cheese. You can even stop by to watch them do their magic as well. 

 

If cheese is not your thing, you can take your Seattle coffee from one of the city’s many chocolate shops. The Emerald City is also home to Fran’s Chocolates, which produces salted caramel chocolate candies with lovers worldwide, including former President Obama. Afterward, you can try Seattle’s famous sustainably sourced, organic chocolate from the Theo Chocolate Company. 

 

Seattle’s Craft Beer

While Seattle is world-famous for its coffee scene, the city also has a sizable craft beer culture. Several independent brewers call the region home, such as Rooftop Brewing Company and Fremont Brewing Company. 

 

You can find their ales anywhere in the city, but you will find the best selection of Seattle’s best brews in the Belltown neighborhood. Young crowds gather in the small community’s bars and clubs that host local indie musicians and national acts such as R.E.M. and Cheap Trick.

 

Seattle Hot Dog

While drinking a cold brew, you also want to try Seattle’s famous dish. You can get a Seattle dog from any bar or grill, or the many hot-dog carts outside. This hot dog takes the classic American dish and adds cream cheese and fried onions. 

 

Seattle Seafood

With Puget Sound just next door, Seattle developed many seafood dishes, especially the world-famous Seattle clam chowder. You can grab a cup at Pike Place Chowder or Pier 54, the first Ivar’s restaurant. 

 

The region’s Nordic influence comes alive in Seattle’s many salmon dishes offered at the many shops, cafes, boîtes, and boutiques that line the streets in the Ballard neighborhood. 

 

You can try a bit of salmon with your Ballard Coffee Works’ craft espresso. You can also join the many fishermen in the area and try to catch the fish yourself. 

 

Tillicum Village

Tillicum Village is just off the shore of Seattle, its a Puget Sound area visitor attraction located on Blake Island, Washington State Park accessible only by boat. It was founded in 1962. It is now operated by Argosy Cruises that operates Tillicum Excursion, four-hour cruise from Pier 55 to Tillicum Village and back. It was founded in 1962 by Bill Hewitt. Control of Tillicum Village was sold to Argosy Cruises in 2009. Summarize the above content.

 

The Chihuly Garden and Glass

The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit is a studio glass exhibit showcasing the work of Dale Chihuly, a well-known glass artist. It is located in Seattle Center next to the Space Needle, and includes three primary components: the Garden, the Glasshouse, and the Interior Exhibits.

 

There are also significant secondary spaces including a 90-seat café with additional outdoor dining, a 50-seat multi-use theater and lecture space, retail and lobby spaces, and extensive public site enhancements beyond the Garden.

 

The 100-foot-long installation inside of the Glasshouse is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. The exhibit was awarded LEED silver certification from the USGBC.

 

a photo of Seattle at night time with the city lights shining bright.

 

Local Favorites You May Not Have Heard About

While the usual tourist traps are great, Seattle offers many other sights and sounds for the weary traveler. You might not be aware of these attractions, but they are essential parts of the local Seattle culture. For instance, Seattle is home to one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the United States. 

 

Art and Heritage Museums

The region is also home to several nationally accredited museums, including the first public art museum in Washington, the Henry Art Gallery. Other famous Seattle museums include:

  • Olympic Sculpture Park
  • Seattle Art Museum
  • Frye Art Museum
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum 

 

When it rains, you can pass the time at the Chihuly Gardens & Glass Exhibition. Established by world-class glass sculptor Dave Chihuly, the gardens provide color and happiness through Chihuly’s best work. The corridors are filled with vibrant and striking shapes and colors.

 

If history is more your thing, you can stop by Seattle’s numerous history museums and parks. You can learn about the region’s gold rush days through the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. You can then learn about the local environment at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. You can even learn about Seattle’s industrious past through the Museum of History and Industry and the Museum of Flight. 

 

The Museum of Pop Culture

MoPOP is home to Earth’s largest collection of artifacts belonging to both the musician and band. Visitors can find clothing worn by John Lennon, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, or Cher; handwritten lyrics penned by Kurt Cobain; Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster, the first guitar he ever bought; items ranging from Tupac Shakur’s first high school poetry book to Michael Jackson’s glove; and so many other gems.

 

Seattle Aquarium

Located on Pier 59 on the Elliott Bay waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium opened in 1977. The aquarium’s main exhibits include:

  • Window on Washington Waters
  • The Crashing Waves Exhibit
  • Life on the Edge
  • Life of a Drifter
  • Pacific Coral Reef
  • Ocean Oddities
  • Birds and Shores
  • The Marine Mammals
  • Puget Sound Fish
  • The Underwater Dome

 

Seattle Great Wheel

 

Seattle Great Wheel

Along the waterfront, you will find the largest Ferris wheels in the US. Opened in 2012, the Seattle Great Wheel offers fantastic views of the city and the city’s Pier 57 marketplace.

 

Underground Tunnels – The Buried City

Located in the Pioneer Square neighborhood of Seattle, the Seattle Underground is a network of underground passageways and basements. When the city was built in the mid-19th century, they were located at ground level, but they fell into disuse after the streets were elevated.

 

They have since been brought to life as a tourist attraction with guided tours taking around people visiting there. However, only a small portion has been restored and made safe for public use on guided tours led by Bill Speidel that continue from Pioneer Building and adjacent buildings passing disused storefronts, artifacts, and multiple tunnel entrances.

Alaskan Cruises

If you want to see Alaska, you may want to stop in Seattle first. Several Alaskan cruise lines start in the city, serving about 900,000 passengers annually. These world record numbers make the city the best place to start your Alaskan trips. 

 

The Amazon Spheres

The Amazon Spheres are three spherical conservatories that comprise part of the Amazon headquarters campus in Seattle, Washington. The complex opened to Amazon employees and limited public access on January 30, 2018. The spheres are reserved mainly for Amazon employees, but are open to the public through weekly headquarters tours and an exhibit.

 

Microsoft

The Microsoft campus is the corporate headquarters of Microsoft and is located in Redmond, Washington. The campus has undergone multiple expansions since its establishment and presently covers over 8 million square feet with over 50,000 employees. There are additional offices in the Eastside suburbs of Seattle located in Bellevue and Issaquah. The visitor center on the campus contains interactive exhibits and a store that are open to the public.

 

Boeing

Boeing is an American multinational corporation that manufactures airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites & missiles worldwide. It has several plants within the metropolitan area of Seattle where it was originally headquartered.

 

It was founded by William E. Boeing in Seattle in 1916 and has since been a key part of its history; it is known as Jet City.

 

After moving its corporate offices to Chicago in 2001, it still remains the largest private employer in the metropolitan area.

 

Weed Culture

The city of Seattle has had a strong presence in “weed culture” since the ’90s and Washington was among the first states to legalize marijuana in 2013. This culture is very much alive today, evident by the annual Hempfest festival and other weed festivals that take place.

 

There is a strong presence of weed culture all along the West Coast of North America.

 

Rain

Seattle is known for its rainy skies. It’s not uncommon to see it raining heavily in Seattle on most days of the year. The rain is intense and hard to withstand for anyone unprepared. It doesn’t just rain in Seattle, it POURS down. Everyone’s focus seems to shift because of the wet weather. The streets are usually empty on rainy days. It’s not because people are at home, but more likely because they’re all holed up somewhere safe away from the storm.

 

Emerald City – Green

Seattle is known as the Emerald City as trees line the majority of streets and there are over 450 parks in the city that cover 25km². In addition, 80% of Seattle’s electricity comes from hydroelectric sources alone.

 

Seattle is a green city in terms of its many parks and abundance in vegetation. Amongst other accomplishments, it holds the title for the city with the most parkland of any major U.S. city at 11% of its total area. In addition, over 80% of the electricity used within Seattle is from hydroelectric sources alone.

 

The Hills 

The hills of Seattle are a big part of the city’s landscape.

One of the reasons it is said to be like San Francisco is because it is hilly.

A lot of downtown was regraded a century ago, which made the hills even steeper.

The views you get from going around a corner or up a steep hill are fantastic.

 

 

Performing Arts

A regional center for performing arts for decades, Seattle hosts several award-winning musical performances such as the century-old Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Seattle Opera, which is world-renowned for performing the works of Richard Wagner. Seattle is also the home of the PNB School, one of the top three ballet schools in the country and the largest symphonic youth organization.

 

The city is also famous for its poetic prowess. Seattle sends teams to the National Poetry Slam every year. Many of these teams include champion poets such as World Poetry Slam Champions; Buddy Wakefield and Danny Sherrard, and National Poetry Slam Champion Anis Mojgani. Seattle also hosts the slams on occasion during its biennial Seattle Poetry Festival.

 

The Seattle Skyline

Seattle is crowned by majestic Mount Rainier and an elegant skyline of skyscrapers that would give any other city a run for its money; however, if you take a closer look at the unique culture and lifestyle here in this dynamic city, there’s so much more to it.

 

Bold Architecture

Seattle is a city with a great architecture that is always in the spotlight. It has been featured in many movies and series for this very reason, such as “House of Cards”, or “The Killing” (see below). The neighbourhoods are full of life and shops (specially Capitol Hill), where you can get lost just walking around. Being a very rainy city, it is full of buildings with interesting shapes to protect themselves from the rain.

 

 

Conclusion

Seattle, Washington is well known for its rainy and gloomy weather, but the Emerald City is so much more. It is the home to several national professional sports and musicians, as well as a unique culture that mixes coffee, art, and the sea.  

 

The next time you fly out to this incredible town, try to go off the beaten tourist path, at least for a little while. There are plenty of local gems you just don’t see on a Frasier episode.

 

It’s also worth noting that many of the world’s big tech companies and major corporations have got their start in Seattle. Microsoft, Amazon, and Boeing started out in Seattle.