Thanks to Amazon’s rapidly growing headquarters, Seattle is the fastest growing city in America. With that growth comes added crowds but also new infrastructure and tourist attractions. In particular, Seattle’s waterfront area has expanded into one of the city’s best areas. By barely leaving the edge of Puget Sound, you can explore the best of the Emerald City – beyond just the Space Needle, the Seattle Center and Pike Place Market.

Looking along the Seattle waterfront at dusk as lights and the Ferris wheel are reflected in Puget Sound; Best of Seattle Waterfront
You can have a spectacular trip to Seattle without leaving the waterfront © Edmund Lowe Photography / Getty Images

Free waterfront shuttle

If you’re thinking of renting a car in Seattle, make sure it will be worth it. It’s easy to pay more in parking fees (and wasted time looking for limited spots) than you would have if you had used a ride-share. In addition, there’s a new Free Waterfront Shuttle: Operating seven days a week every 10 minutes or so, the shuttle allows you to hop on or off at 15 popular stops and is a great way to navigate most of the waterfront.

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Miner’s Landing

In 2012, the Seattle Great Wheel opened on the newly renovated Pier 57. Rechristened ‘Miner’s Landing,’ the area has reestablished itself as a favorite, not only for the view-filled Ferris wheel but also the new ‘Wings Over Washington’ ride. Taking inspiration from Disneyland’s ‘Soarin’,’ this immersive flight simulator comes with its own Pacific Northwest flair and features breathtaking video footage, sounds, and smells of the city and state. While at Miner’s Landing, enjoy an excellent meal at The Crab Pot, followed by a turn on the pier’s intricate and beautifully lit carousel.

A ferry slips through Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle; Seattle Waterfront Activities
Some of the best views of the city come from a ferry in Puget Sound © Pete Saloutos / Getty Images

Bainbridge Ferry

Although you can take a guided, one-hour boat tour of the Puget Sound, you may prefer the much cheaper, roomier, and more laid-back State Ferry, which has even better views en route to Bainbridge Island. The ferry is an important mode of transportation for the city’s residents, and it’s fascinating to watch the loading and unloading of cars (as well as the stellar skyline). Grab some food and drinks from a waterfront shop before you board and take in the city views from one of the best vantage points. Don't forget your jacket!

Hotel with a view

After a full day of sightseeing, take some time each evening to watch the sunset, ferries, and pedestrians maneuver the Puget Sound from a waterfront Airbnb. (If hotels are more your thing, there are also several well-rated waterfront properties to consider.) Try to score some west-facing views and floor-to-ceiling windows, and you can observe how this signature city operates from a bird’s eye view.

CenturyLink Field and T-Mobile Park are seen in the waterfront area of Seattle; Waterfront activities
The NFL, Major League Baseball, and professional soccer have huge followings and centrally-located facilities © simonkr / Getty Images

Bucket-list icons

If this is your first trip to Seattle, you’re probably going to want to see a few of the more popular sights. On the waterfront, you can find the Seattle Center (for the fountains, Space Needle, and Chihuly Garden), Pier 54 (for Ivar’s fish and chips and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop), and Alki Beach (for the relaxing views). In addition, kids will love the Pacific Science Center and both kids and adults will have a blast at the Laser Dome. If you’re a sports fan and the season is underway, you can see the NFL’s Seahawks and MLS’s Sounders at CenturyLink Field and MLB’s Mariners at T-Mobile Park.

Inland fresh water

If you do feel the need to leave the waterfront, visit another nearby body of water: Snoqualmie Falls. Break away from the downtown crowds and enjoy one of the most peaceful and beautiful waterfalls you’ll find in the Pacific Northwest, located just 30 minutes east of the city by car. Water has defined the Seattle area for years, so it only makes sense to focus on what made the place as green as it is.

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