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Seattle Off The Beaten Path: The Best Things To Do


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ruthann Wanner



Welcome to the vibrant city of Seattle, where there is no shortage of exciting things to do and see. While famous attractions like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market often steal the spotlight, there is a whole world of hidden gems to explore off the beaten path. So, if you’re looking to step away from the tourist crowds and discover a different side of Seattle, this article is for you.


Seattle is a city known for its rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking natural beauty. From quirky landmarks to fascinating museums, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a local resident or a first-time visitor, these lesser-known attractions are sure to captivate your imagination and provide a unique perspective on the Emerald City.


So, lace up your walking shoes and get ready to uncover the hidden treasures of Seattle. From an underground city to a pinball museum, there are plenty of offbeat sights and activities that will make your trip unforgettable. The best part? These lesser-known attractions often boast smaller crowds, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the experience and create lasting memories.


In this article, we will guide you through some of the best off the beaten path attractions in Seattle. So, let’s dive in and embark on a journey to discover the extraordinary wonders that lie just beneath the city’s surface.


Visit the Fremont Troll

One of the most iconic and unique sights in Seattle is the Fremont Troll. Located under the Aurora Bridge in the eclectic Fremont neighborhood, this larger-than-life sculpture is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.


As you approach the troll, you’ll be greeted by its imposing figure, reaching out from beneath the bridge. Sculpted by artists Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead in 1990, the troll has become a beloved symbol of the city.


The Fremont Troll is an excellent example of public art that invites interaction and exploration. You can climb onto the troll’s hand, which holds a real-life Volkswagen Beetle in its grasp. It’s a fantastic spot for unique photo opportunities that will surely capture your friends’ and family’s attention.


Aside from being a quirky piece of artwork, the Fremont Troll also represents a neighborhood effort to reclaim an urban space and transform it into a creative and enjoyable destination. The troll acts as a guardian of the community, preserving its spirit and fostering a sense of pride.


While you’re in the Fremont neighborhood, take some time to explore the vibrant surroundings. Stroll through the Sunday Fremont Market, where you’ll find an array of local vendors offering everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food. Be sure to also check out the Fremont Brewery and quirky boutiques that line the streets.


The Fremont Troll is a prime example of Seattle’s distinct and quirky character. It’s a reminder that art can transform ordinary spaces into extraordinary ones and create a sense of community. So, if you’re looking for an offbeat and memorable experience in Seattle, don’t miss the chance to meet the Fremont Troll.


Explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass

If you’re a fan of mesmerizing glass art, a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an absolute must. Located near the base of the Space Needle, this stunning exhibit showcases the incredible works of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.


Prepare to be awestruck as you step into a world of vibrant colors, intricate shapes, and dazzling designs. The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit features a variety of installations, including large-scale glass sculptures, chandeliers, and delicate glass flowers.


The exhibit is divided into several sections, each with its own distinctive style and ambiance. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of color and light, perfectly showcasing Chihuly’s mastery of glassblowing techniques. The combination of art and nature creates a harmonious and enchanting atmosphere that is truly mesmerizing.


One of the highlights of the Chihuly Garden and Glass is the stunning outdoor garden. Here, you’ll find a magnificent display of glass sculptures nestled among lush greenery and vibrant plants. The interplay between the fragile glass and the natural elements creates a captivating contrast that is visually striking.


Throughout the exhibit, there are also informative videos and displays that provide insights into Chihuly’s artistic process and the inspiration behind his creations. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate craftsmanship and the immense talent it takes to transform molten glass into breathtaking works of art.


Visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass is an immersive experience that appeals to art enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone looking to be inspired by the beauty of creativity. It’s a world-class attraction and a true gem in the heart of Seattle.


After exploring the exhibit, take some time to visit the adjacent Collections Cafe, where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by Chihuly’s unique artwork. You can also take a ride on the Space Needle for a bird’s-eye view of the city and the surrounding scenery.


Immerse yourself in the exquisite world of glass art at the Chihuly Garden and Glass and prepare to be enchanted by the sheer beauty and brilliance of Dale Chihuly’s masterpieces.


Discover the Underground City

Beneath the bustling streets of downtown Seattle lies a hidden world that tells the fascinating story of the city’s past. Known as the Underground City, this network of subterranean passages and storefronts offers a glimpse into Seattle’s early days.


During the late 19th century, the city of Seattle experienced rapid growth. However, several factors, including a devastating fire and the need to raise the street level to combat flooding, led to the creation of an underground city. Today, you can explore this historic underground through guided tours provided by the Underground Tour company.


As you descend into the depths of the underground, your knowledgeable guide will regale you with tales of Seattle’s colorful and sometimes seedy history. You’ll walk through old storefronts, see remnants of the notorious “Seattle Underground” that operated illicit activities, and learn about the challenges faced by the city’s early pioneers.


The Underground City provides a unique perspective on Seattle’s growth and transformation over the years. It offers a glimpse into the challenges faced by the early settlers and the innovative solutions they devised to overcome them. The tour is not only educational but also entertaining, with witty guides who bring the history to life through their storytelling.


One of the highlights of the tour is the chance to see the famous “Skid Road” relics. Skid Road was the steep street down which logs were skidded, giving rise to the term “skid row” for areas of urban blight. The remnants serve as a reminder of Seattle’s gritty past and the struggles faced by the city’s early inhabitants.


Exploring the Underground City is like stepping back in time. It offers a unique perspective on the city’s history and a chance to delve into the stories often left untold. If you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about how Seattle came to be, this is an experience you won’t want to miss.


So, strap on your walking shoes and prepare to journey beneath the surface of Seattle. The Underground City awaits, ready to transport you to a different era and unravel the secrets of the past.


Wander through the Wing Luke Museum

Step into the captivating world of the Wing Luke Museum, dedicated to preserving and sharing the vibrant Asian Pacific American history and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Located in the International District of Seattle, this museum takes visitors on a journey through the stories and experiences of Asian Pacific Americans who have shaped the region.


The museum is named after Wing Luke, the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Pacific Northwest. His inspiring story sets the stage for the museum’s mission of celebrating diversity and promoting understanding among different communities.


As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of historical artifacts, personal narratives, and interactive displays. The museum’s collection covers a broad range of topics, including immigration, labor rights, social justice, art, and cultural traditions.


One of the highlights of the Wing Luke Museum is the opportunity to step inside preserved historic spaces, such as a Chinatown gambling parlor and the childhood bedroom of a Japanese American family interned during World War II. These immersive exhibits provide a unique window into the past and allow visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for the struggles and resilience of Asian Pacific Americans in the face of adversity.


In addition to its permanent and rotating exhibits, the museum offers educational programs, community events, and cultural workshops. These interactive experiences provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures that have shaped the Pacific Northwest and foster dialogue and connection among different communities.


Whether you have a personal connection to the Asian Pacific American culture or are simply interested in learning more about the rich history of the region, a visit to the Wing Luke Museum is a must. It offers a thought-provoking, educational, and inspiring experience that encourages empathy, understanding, and appreciation for our shared humanity.


Immerse yourself in the stories and experiences of the Asian Pacific American community at the Wing Luke Museum and discover the rich contributions they have made to the cultural fabric of the Pacific Northwest.


Take a Stroll in the Seattle Japanese Garden

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find serenity in the enchanting Seattle Japanese Garden. Tucked away in the Washington Park Arboretum, this hidden gem offers a peaceful and contemplative oasis inspired by traditional Japanese garden design.


The Seattle Japanese Garden is a harmonious blend of nature and artistry, carefully designed to evoke a sense of tranquility and harmony. Each element within the garden is purposefully placed to create a balanced and soothing environment.


As you meander through the garden’s pathways, you’ll be greeted by meticulously curated landscapes, including serene ponds, vibrant flowers, and lush greenery. The garden embodies the principles of Japanese horticulture, with meticulous attention to detail and a focus on simplicity and natural beauty.


One of the highlights of the Seattle Japanese Garden is the Tea House, a traditional wooden structure where tea ceremonies are occasionally held. Its architectural beauty perfectly complements the serene surroundings and adds to the overall ambiance of the garden.


Visiting the Seattle Japanese Garden is not just about experiencing the beauty of nature; it’s also an opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese culture and aesthetics. The garden hosts various cultural events and activities throughout the year, offering visitors a chance to learn about traditional Japanese arts, crafts, and performances.


The garden is also a popular spot for contemplation and reflection. The peaceful atmosphere invites visitors to slow down, practice mindfulness, and reconnect with their inner selves. Whether you’re seeking a moment of solitude or a romantic date spot, the Seattle Japanese Garden provides a tranquil setting to unwind and appreciate the beauty of nature.


When planning your visit, be sure to check the garden’s website for any special events or seasonal attractions. From cherry blossom festivals to lantern ceremonies, these events offer a unique opportunity to experience Japanese culture in a truly picturesque setting.


Don’t miss the chance to experience the serenity and beauty of the Seattle Japanese Garden. It’s a place where nature and art come together to create a truly unforgettable experience.


Experience the Seattle Pinball Museum

Get ready for a blast from the past and experience the nostalgia of arcade games at the Seattle Pinball Museum. Located in the International District, this unique museum offers a hands-on journey through the history of pinball machines.


As soon as you step foot inside the museum, you’ll be transported back in time to the heyday of pinball. The museum boasts an impressive collection of playable vintage pinball machines, ranging from classics to modern favorites.


Unlike traditional museums where you observe from a distance, the Seattle Pinball Museum invites visitors to be active participants. With the price of admission, you gain unlimited access to all the machines, allowing you to relive the excitement of flipping the silver ball, racking up points, and trying to beat high scores.


Whether you’re a seasoned pinball wizard or new to the game, there’s something for everyone at the museum. You can try your hand at a variety of machines, each with its own unique design, theme, and gameplay mechanics. From whimsical themes like superheroes and sci-fi to classic themes like Wild West and retro-inspired artwork, the pinball machines at the museum offer endless entertainment and challenge.


The Seattle Pinball Museum is more than just a collection of machines; it’s also a space for education and appreciation of pinball as an art form. The museum provides information about the history of pinball, including its evolution, cultural impact, and the pioneering designers who revolutionized the game.


While you’re there, take the opportunity to chat with the knowledgeable staff and fellow pinball enthusiasts. They are often more than happy to share their passion, insights, and even tips on improving your gameplay.


For those who fall in love with a particular machine, the museum has a gift shop where you can purchase pinball-themed souvenirs, including posters, shirts, and even small replicas of classic machines.


Whether you’re reliving childhood memories, discovering the excitement of pinball for the first time, or simply looking for a fun and unique experience in Seattle, the Seattle Pinball Museum is a must-visit destination. It’s a place where time stands still, and the joy of arcade gaming is brought to life.


Hike the Discovery Park

Escape the urban jungle and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty by hiking the scenic trails of Discovery Park. Located in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle, Discovery Park is a sprawling 534-acre oasis that offers breathtaking views, diverse ecosystems, and a sense of tranquility.


As soon as you step foot into the park, you’ll be greeted by a rich tapestry of landscapes, including meadows, forests, bluffs, and beaches. The park features over 11 miles of trails, providing ample opportunities for exploration and discovery.


One of the main attractions of Discovery Park is the iconic West Point Lighthouse. Built in 1881, this historic landmark stands proudly at the park’s westernmost point, offering panoramic views of the Puget Sound. It’s a perfect spot to capture stunning photographs or simply soak in the natural beauty.


Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone who enjoys a leisurely stroll, Discovery Park has trails suitable for all fitness levels. The Loop Trail is a popular choice, taking you through meadows, forests, and ultimately leading to the picturesque South Beach. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of wildlife, including birds, rabbits, and even the occasional seal or sea lion.


For a truly immersive experience, venture off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known trails within the park. The Ravine Trail meanders through a lush forested ravine, while the North Beach Trail offers breathtaking waterfront views. These hidden gems provide a sense of solitude and a chance to connect with nature on a more intimate level.


As you hike, take the time to appreciate the park’s commitment to environmental preservation. Discovery Park is home to various plant and animal species, including several endangered and protected ones. The park’s naturalists and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure its delicate ecosystems thrive for generations to come.


Whether you’re seeking solitude, a family adventure, or a romantic escape, hiking through Discovery Park is an unforgettable experience. With the sea breeze on your face, the sound of waves crashing against the shoreline, and the vast expanse of nature surrounding you, it’s a true sanctuary within the city.


So, lace up your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and embark on a journey of discovery in this urban oasis. Exploration awaits at every turn, as you uncover the wonders of nature in the heart of Seattle.


Unwind at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Escape the everyday stresses and immerse yourself in a world of lush greenery and vibrant blooms at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, this botanical garden offers a peaceful retreat where you can unwind and reconnect with nature.


The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a delightful sanctuary that houses a diverse collection of plants from around the world. As you step into the conservatory, you’ll be greeted by an enchanting display of tropical palms, vibrant orchids, and exotic ferns. The air is filled with a subtle fragrance and the sound of flowing water, creating a serene ambiance that instantly soothes the senses.


The conservatory is divided into five distinct areas, each representing a different climate or plant habitat. From the vibrant colors of the Seasonal House to the calming tranquility of the Palm House, there is a unique atmosphere to explore in every corner.


Strolling through the conservatory’s pathways, you’ll encounter a dazzling array of plant life, each with its own unique beauty. From towering giant amazon water lilies to delicate air plants, the diversity of flora is truly awe-inspiring.


Aside from providing a delightful visual experience, the Volunteer Park Conservatory also offers educational opportunities. The conservatory hosts workshops, classes, and guided tours that provide insights into various aspects of plant life, conservation, and cultivation. It’s a great place to learn more about the fascinating world of botany and connect with like-minded plant enthusiasts.


When you’re done exploring the conservatory, make sure to take some time to wander around Volunteer Park itself. This picturesque park offers rolling lawns, tranquil ponds, and a stunning view of the city skyline from its historic water tower. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely picnic or a peaceful moment of reflection.


Whether you’re seeking a moment of tranquility, inspiration, or simply a change of scenery, the Volunteer Park Conservatory provides an enchanting escape from the outside world. Step into this botanical wonderland and let the beauty of nature uplift your spirit.


Enjoy the Views from Gas Works Park

Perched on the northern shores of Lake Union, Gas Works Park offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Seattle skyline, the lake, and the surrounding mountains. This unique urban park combines industrial remnants with green spaces, providing a one-of-a-kind setting to relax, play, and enjoy the beauty of nature.


The park’s centerpiece is the historic remnants of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. What was once an industrial eyesore has been transformed into a fascinating and visually striking landmark. The towering rusted structures give the park a distinctive and captivating appeal.


Gas Works Park is not a typical landscaped park – it retains the industrial elements of the gas plant, incorporating them into the park design. You can climb the grassy hillside with its unique mound and find your own spot to unwind and take in the breathtaking views.


From the top of the hill, you’ll be rewarded with unobstructed vistas that stretch from the downtown skyline to the shimmering waters of Lake Union. It’s an idyllic spot to enjoy a picnic, fly a kite, or simply sit on the grass and watch the boats glide by.


For those seeking a bit more adventure, Gas Works Park also offers a variety of recreational activities. You can find tennis courts, a playground, and even a designated area for model airplane enthusiasts. The park’s waterfront location also makes it a popular spot for kayaking, paddleboarding, and other water-based activities.


As the sun sets, Gas Works Park takes on a whole new enchanting ambiance. The city skyline lights up, and the park’s industrial remnants become illuminated, providing a backdrop for a romantic evening stroll or a gathering with friends.


Gas Works Park truly showcases Seattle’s commitment to preserving its industrial past while creating beautiful green spaces for the community to enjoy. It’s a place where modernity meets nature, where history blends with recreation, and where stunning views await at every turn.


So, grab a blanket, admire the views, and soak up the serene atmosphere at Gas Works Park. It’s an urban oasis that offers a unique perspective on Seattle’s landscape and invites you to create lasting memories in a truly remarkable setting.


Be Amazed at the Pacific Science Center

Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery and wonder at the Pacific Science Center. Located in the heart of Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, this interactive science museum offers a captivating experience for visitors of all ages.


The Pacific Science Center is a hub of exploration, showcasing a wide range of engaging exhibits, immersive experiences, and hands-on activities. From astronomy to biology, physics to technology, there’s something for everyone to discover and learn.


One of the highlights of the museum is the Planetarium, where you can embark on a mesmerizing journey through the cosmos. Sit back and marvel at the wonders of the universe as you’re transported to distant galaxies, witness breathtaking celestial phenomena, and gain a deeper understanding of our place in the cosmos.


The Pacific Science Center also offers a variety of rotating exhibits that cater to a diverse range of interests. From interactive displays on dinosaurs and natural history to cutting-edge technologies, there’s always something new and exciting to explore.


For those seeking a more adrenaline-fueled experience, the center’s IMAX theater offers larger-than-life films that transport you to the most incredible landscapes and adventures. From soaring over majestic mountains to diving beneath the ocean’s surface, these immersive films are a feast for the senses.


One of the most popular features of the Pacific Science Center is the hands-on exhibits that allow visitors to engage directly with scientific concepts. From building structures with construction toys to experimenting with light and sound, these interactive displays encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.


In addition to its exhibits, the Pacific Science Center also hosts educational programs, workshops, and live demonstrations led by knowledgeable educators and scientists. It’s a place where learning becomes fun, and discovery becomes an adventure.


While you’re at the museum, don’t forget to visit the Tropical Butterfly House, a lush and vibrant sanctuary filled with hundreds of exotic butterflies. It’s a serene and magical experience, watching these delicate creatures flutter about as you immerse yourself in a tropical paradise.


Step into a world of scientific marvels, curiosity, and boundless imagination at the Pacific Science Center. It’s a place where learning knows no boundaries and where the wonders of the world are brought to life.



Seattle is a city that never fails to captivate with its vibrant culture, stunning natural beauty, and a wealth of off the beaten path attractions waiting to be discovered. From the whimsical Fremont Troll to the captivating Chihuly Garden and Glass, the city offers a plethora of unique experiences that will leave you with lasting memories.


Exploring the underground city and wandering through the Wing Luke Museum will provide you with a deeper understanding of Seattle’s rich history and diverse cultural heritage. Taking a stroll in the Seattle Japanese Garden and experiencing the Pacific Science Center will allow you to connect with nature and expand your knowledge and appreciation of the world around you.


Unwinding at the Volunteer Park Conservatory and marveling at the views from Gas Works Park will give you a much-needed respite from the city buzz, offering moments of tranquility and breathtaking vistas. And finally, experiencing the Seattle Pinball Museum and being amazed at the Pacific Science Center will ignite your sense of wonder and curiosity, reminding you of the immense joy of discovery.


Seattle is a city that embraces its quirks and treasures its hidden gems. So, whether you’re a local resident looking for a new adventure or a visitor seeking an authentic and memorable experience, be sure to explore these off the beaten path attractions that Seattle has to offer.


Step away from the crowds and immerse yourself in the unique and captivating world that awaits you. Create memories, expand your knowledge, and discover a side of Seattle that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for this remarkable city.


So go ahead, embark on your off the beaten path adventure, and let Seattle’s hidden treasures surprise and delight you.