Seattle from the local perspective

Wonderguide by

Cheryl Landes

Seattle from the local perspective

I lived in Seattle for a total of 15 years and still visit there a lot. Despite the city's fast growth over the years, the natural beauty still shines. (We call it "the sound-mountain-ferry thing".) There are a lot of things to do as well. My favorites are in this guide.

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City views

There are so many places to enjoy panoramas of downtown Seattle. Here are my favorites.

Image - Hamilton Viewpoint Park
Hamilton Viewpoint Park
Cheryl:This viewpoint is at the northern tip of the peninsula in West Seattle, above Alki Point.
Image - Alki Beach Park
Alki Beach Park
Cheryl:I love taking a 2.5-mile walk, which starts at Salty's on Alki on Harbor Avenue and ends at Alki Beach Park. This flat, paved walk along the Alki Trail follows most of Alki Point. Downtown Seattle views are on the Harbor Avenue side of the trail. As the road curves to the west and changes to Alki Avenue SW, the Olympic Mountains are within view on a clear day. The sunsets are fantastic from the park. The best way to access the trail is to take the West Seattle Ferry from downtown Seattle. The ferry docks near Salty's on Alki.
Image - Dr. Jose Rizal Park
Dr. Jose Rizal Park
Cheryl:This park has a nice view of Seattle looking north.
Image - Kerry Park
Kerry Park
Cheryl:One of the most iconic views of downtown Seattle. This one is photographed the most. There's also a nice view of the West Seattle peninsula and, on clear days, Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains.
Image - Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park
Cheryl:This view of downtown Seattle is facing southwest along Lake Union. Although the view is farther away, it's still beautiful. Gas Works Park is a popular place to take walks, relax, and enjoy the views.
Image - Volunteer Park
Volunteer Park
Cheryl:The views from Volunteer Park are facing toward the west and include downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains on a clear day.
Image - Belvedere Park
Belvedere Park
Cheryl:This is a small park on Admiral Way SW in West Seattle. It has a view of downtown Seattle and the industrial area south of downtown. On clear days, the Cascade Mountains appear behind the skyscrapers. Sometimes Mount Baker near the U.S.-Canada border is also visible behind the Space Needle.
Image - Space Needle
Space Needle
Cheryl:There are two platforms: one with a rotating glass floor at the 500-foot level and a stationery platform at the top. Both have 360-degree views of the city and Puget Sound. The Space Needle is 605 feet high and the second highest viewing point in the city. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair.
Image - Sky View Observatory - Columbia Center
Sky View Observatory - Columbia Center
Cheryl:At 902 feet, this is the highest 360-degree viewpoint in Seattle. The observatory is on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.
Image - Smith Tower
Smith Tower
Cheryl:Another place where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of Seattle. Smith Tower was built in 1914 and is among the oldest standing buildings in the city. Enjoy your favorite beverage at the observatory bar.
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Walks in the parks

Seattle has many parks to explore. If you're looking for some beautiful places to take long walks, here are some of my favorites. Also check out the entries for Alki Beach Park and Volunteer Park in the "City views" category and the gardens listed in this guide.

Image - Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park
Cheryl:The trails at this park in West Seattle meander through forests and along the beach. Bald eagles, sea lions, and whales are often sighted here. The Fauntleroy Ferry, with routes to Southworth and Vashon Island, is nearby.
Image - Discovery Park
Discovery Park
Cheryl:Discovery Park is at the site of Fort Lawton. The old fort was intended to be a major military installation but never used much. Eventually most of the land was turned over to the City of Seattle to create Discovery Park. It's another great place to see birds, deer, and other wildlife. There are miles of forest and beach trails. While you're there, stop at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center to learn more about the tribal cultures in the Pacific Northwest.
Image - Seward Park
Seward Park
Cheryl:Seward Park is on the shore of Lake Washington, southeast of downtown Seattle. On clear days, you can see Mount Rainier appearing to rise from Lake Washington on the southern horizon. The park has one of the few remaining stands of old-growth forests in the city limits. Eagles nest here, and other wildlife sightings are common. Hike miles of forest and beach trails, relax on a beach, launch your boat for a ride on the lake, catch a show in the amphitheater, and visit the art studio.
Image - Camp Long
Camp Long
Cheryl:Camp Long is a combination nature education center and series of hiking trails in West Seattle. It's a nice place to take a nature break without leaving the city.
Image - Schmitz Preserve Park
Schmitz Preserve Park
Cheryl:Gentle trails wind through this old-growth forest in West Seattle.
Image - Carkeek Park
Carkeek Park
Cheryl:Explore forests, meadows, wetlands, creeks, and the beach at this park in northwest Seattle. On clear days, the views of the Olympic Mountains are fantastic. This is also a great place to watch the salmon in the fall.
Image - Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo
Cheryl:I added the zoo to this category, because it's also in Woodland Park. Woodland Park has a nice rose garden as well.


Many of my favorite gardens are located in Seattle. Here's a sampling.

Image - Kubota Garden
Kubota Garden
Cheryl:This is a beautiful Japanese garden in south Seattle. It's my favorite garden walk any time of year.
Image - Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens
Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens
Cheryl:For longer garden walks, this arboretum is the place to go.
Image - Seattle Japanese Garden
Seattle Japanese Garden
Cheryl:Another beautiful place to explore near the Washington Park Arboretum. Special events are held here throughout the year.
Image - Volunteer Park Conservatory
Volunteer Park Conservatory
Cheryl:This historic conservatory is modeled after the Crystal Palace in London.
Image - UPS Waterfall Garden Park
UPS Waterfall Garden Park
Cheryl:This is a secluded park with a waterfall in the Pioneer Square District of downtown Seattle. It's a nice place to relax in the middle of the day.
Image - Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Cheryl:If you're a fan of Dale Chihuly's glasswork, this is the place to see some of his most amazing work. Dale is a native of the Pacific Northwest.
Image - Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park
Cheryl:This is a one-stop spot for viewing art in an outdoor setting and panoramas of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula.
Image - Seattle Chinese Garden
Seattle Chinese Garden
Cheryl:A beautiful place in southwest Seattle for a stroll


There are so many options in Seattle that they could fill an entire guide. Here are a few to get you started.

Image - Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Cheryl:My favorites at this museum are the marble lions at the base of the grand staircase inside the entrance, the Hammering Man outside the museum, and the collection of Native American art. Many Native American pieces are from the Pacific Northwest.
Image - Frye Art Museum
Frye Art Museum
Cheryl:This is my favorite art museum in Seattle. It has an eclectic mix of pieces and hosts special events throughout the year.
Image - Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
Cheryl:This is the place to go to learn about the history of Seattle and its industries. It's located on South Lake Union.
Image - Nordic Museum
Nordic Museum
Cheryl:Located in Ballard, a neighborhood northwest of downtown with a rich Scandinavian heritage
Image - Pacific Science Center
Pacific Science Center
Cheryl:A fun place for kids of all ages to learn about science and get hands-on with it
Image - Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Aquarium
Cheryl:I love watching the sea otters here, and I think they love showing off for the humans.

Theaters and music

Many restaurants and cafes in the city have live entertainment. Some also host dinner shows.

Image - Benaroya Hall
Benaroya Hall
Cheryl:Benaroya Hall is associated with the Seattle Symphony, because this is its home, but many other shows and events are held here throughout the year.
Image - Moore Theatre
Moore Theatre
Cheryl:The Moore, near Pike Place Market, is the oldest active theater in Seattle. It hosts a mix of theater productions, concerts, and lectures.
Image - Seattle Children's Theatre
Seattle Children's Theatre
Cheryl:This theater hosts many fun shows for the kids and kids at heart.
Image - The 5th Avenue Theatre
The 5th Avenue Theatre
Cheryl:The 5th Avenue was built in 1926 and has hosted theatrical performances, movies, and concerts over the years. Today, its focus is on theater productions. The auditorium and theater has some of the most beautiful architecture in the city.
Image - Paramount Theatre
Paramount Theatre
Cheryl:This theater opened in 1928. Today, it hosts theatrical productions and concerts. Sometimes it presents a series of silent movies backed with live music.
Image - Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
Cheryl:This is my favorite place to see shows in Seattle. Although the focus is on jazz, other types of music is scheduled here. The food from Jazz Alley's restaurant is delicious.
Image - Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club
Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club
Cheryl:This is a smaller venue than Jazz Alley, but it attracts well-known talent. The menu is Mediterranean. All of the meals I've eaten here were delicious.
Image - Town Hall Seattle
Town Hall Seattle
Cheryl:Town Hall was built in 1916 as a church. The church sold the building to the current owners in 1998, and it reopened as Town Hall in 1999. Theatrical productions, panel discussions, lectures, and concerts are among the many events held here.
Image - Seattle Public Library-Central Library
Seattle Public Library-Central Library
Cheryl:I added the Central Library in downtown Seattle to this category, because it hosts lectures and concerts, along with art exhibits. The architecture of this building is a work of art as well.

Restaurants and Cafes

These are my favorites in Seattle.

Image - Salty's on Alki Beach
Salty's on Alki Beach
Cheryl:The seafood and the views are amazing.
Image - Metropolitan Grill
Metropolitan Grill
Cheryl:My favorite local place for steaks in downtown Seattle when I want to treat myself to a nice meal
Image - Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger
Cheryl:This popular restaurant serving Pacific Rim fare has two locations in downtown Seattle near Pike Place Market (the oldest) and Belltown and one in downtown Bellevue, east of Seattle.
Image - Anthony's Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner
Anthony's Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner
Cheryl:Another favorite place to treat myself to a nice meal featuring Northwest seafood
Image - Alki Spud Fish & Chips
Alki Spud Fish & Chips
Cheryl:My favorite place for fish and chips in Seattle. It's across the street from Alki Beach in West Seattle.
Image - Ivar's Salmon House
Ivar's Salmon House
Cheryl:Another favorite place near Lake Union to treat myself to a nice seafood lunch or dinner
Image - Alki Bakery
Alki Bakery
Cheryl:Delicious baked goods, breakfasts, and lunches. Alki Bakery also sells its baked goods in Seattle's local markets. I buy them at the Metropolitan in West Seattle.
Image - Taco Time NW
Taco Time NW
Cheryl:This is my to-go place for fresh food prepared quickly.
Image - Cupcake Royale
Cupcake Royale
Cheryl:Awesome cupcakes and coffee!
Image - Top Pot Doughnuts
Top Pot Doughnuts
Cheryl:Yummy, fresh doughnuts! Top Pot also sells its pastries in QFC grocery stores throughout the Northwest.

Cat cafes

At a cat cafe, grab a cup of coffee or another beverage and sometimes something to eat (depends on the location) and socialize with the kitties. The cats are available for adoption. These cafes work with local rescue and adoption agencies. Some cafes offer other activities to hang out with the cats, such as yoga and movie nights.

Image - Seattle Meowtropolitan - Seattle's first Cat Cafe
Seattle Meowtropolitan - Seattle's first Cat Cafe
Cheryl:Seattle's original cat cafe in the Wallingford neighborhood, west of the University District, sells coffee and pastries. Appointments are required to visit the cats and can be booked at the Meowtropolitan's website. Regularly scheduled events include Yoga With Cats, Family Day, and Purr & Paint.
Image - NEKO - A Cat Cafe
NEKO - A Cat Cafe
Cheryl:NEKO is located in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Sip beer, wine, sake, coffee, or other non-alcoholic beverages while playing with the kitties. Pastries, soup, snacks, and sandwiches are also available on the menu. Reservations to visit the cats are required; book at NEKO's website.


I'm not into shopping so much, but there are some places I like in Seattle.

Image - Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Cheryl:This is one of the oldest continuously operating farmer's markets in the country. Shop for fresh produce, flowers, seafood, locally produced jams and jellies, handcrafted items, books, and more. My favorite stops are the Pike Place Fish Market (I call it "The Flying Fish Place" because the fishmongers throw the fish over the counter when someone places an order) and Read All About It, probably one of the largest newspaper-magazine stands still in operation.
Image - Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Cheryl:The shop opened in 1899 on the Seattle Waterfront, and it's still there. It's a combination shop and museum with some the quirkiest items you'll ever see.
Image - Archie McPhee
Archie McPhee
Cheryl:When I lived in Seattle, I loved to come here on a winter day to browse. If you need an emergency rubber chicken, bacon bandages, an action librarian figure, or other unusual items, you'll find them here.
Image - Macy's
Cheryl:I'm listing Macy's in this category, because it sells one of my favorite treats that you won't find in Macy's stores outside Seattle - Frangos. These chocolate treats were created and manufactured by Meier & Frank in the late 1800s, until it sold its stores and the manufacturing plant. Eventually Macy's acquired the downtown Meier & Frank store and kept the Frango plant in operation. If you can't make it to Seattle, you can order Frangos online at

My Recommendations

Wonderguide map

  1. Hamilton Viewpoint Park
  2. Alki Beach Park
  3. Dr. Jose Rizal Park
  4. Kerry Park
  5. Gas Works Park
  6. Volunteer Park
  7. Belvedere Park
  8. Space Needle
  9. Sky View Observatory - Columbia Center
  10. Smith Tower
  11. Lincoln Park
  12. Discovery Park
  13. Seward Park
  14. Camp Long
  15. Schmitz Preserve Park
  16. Carkeek Park
  17. Woodland Park Zoo
  18. Kubota Garden
  19. Washington Park Arboretum UW Botanic Gardens
  20. Seattle Japanese Garden
  21. Volunteer Park Conservatory
  22. UPS Waterfall Garden Park
  23. Chihuly Garden and Glass
  24. Olympic Sculpture Park
  25. Seattle Chinese Garden
  26. Seattle Art Museum
  27. Frye Art Museum
  28. Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
  29. Nordic Museum
  30. Pacific Science Center
  31. Seattle Aquarium
  32. Benaroya Hall
  33. Moore Theatre
  34. Seattle Children's Theatre
  35. The 5th Avenue Theatre
  36. Paramount Theatre
  37. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley
  38. Tula's Restaurant and Jazz Club
  39. Town Hall Seattle
  40. Seattle Public Library-Central Library
  41. Salty's on Alki Beach
  42. Metropolitan Grill
  43. Wild Ginger
  44. Anthony's Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner
  45. Alki Spud Fish & Chips
  46. Ivar's Salmon House
  47. Alki Bakery
  48. Taco Time NW
  49. Cupcake Royale
  50. Top Pot Doughnuts
  51. Seattle Meowtropolitan - Seattle's first Cat Cafe
  52. NEKO - A Cat Cafe
  53. Pike Place Market
  54. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
  55. Archie McPhee
  56. Macy's

Like these tips?
High Five Cheryl