Though not on a par with Seattle's nationally lauded Woodland Park Zoo, the aquarium – situated on Pier 59 in an attractive wooden building – is probably the most interesting sight on the waterfront, and it's a handy distraction for families with itchy-footed kids.

The entry lobby instantly impresses with a giant fish-filled tank called 'Window on Washington Waters'; background music is sometimes provided by live string quartets. The aquarium houses harbor seals and resident sea and river otters, who float comically on their backs. An underwater dome on the lower level gives a pretty realistic glimpse of the kind of fish that inhabit the waters of Puget Sound, and the daily diver show here is probably the best of the aquarium's live events. For kids there are plenty of hands-on exhibits, including a pool where they can stroke starfish and caress sea urchins.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

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