Seattle's Top Bucket List Attractions

What to see, hear and do when it comes to pop culture, amusements and the arts

This article appears in print in the June 2019 issue, as part of the 150 Must-Do Summer Experiences cover story. Click here to subscribe.

> Catch an action thriller or a cinematographic masterpiece at the Cinerama, the 1963 movie theater that has seen major upgrades both technological and edible; among the top-notch concession treats is its famous chocolate popcorn. Belltown,

> Channel your inner lumberjack with your crew—or join a team—at one of the several axe-throwing venues, such as Axe Kickers, Blade and Timber and Ninja Axe Throwing, that have cropped up across the city. Times and prices vary. Fremont,; White Center,; Capitol Hill,

> Take a ferry—any ferry. We suggest a voyage to Bainbridge Island at sunset for a gorgeous view of the city, or to Vashon Island, where you might encounter our resident orcas along the way. Times, prices and locations vary.

> Visit The Letter Farmer’s bright red mobile truck and write an old-fashioned “wish you were here” letter to anyone. The truck is often parked at Westlake Park or Occidental Park, and is stocked with pens, stationery and postage. Owner Rachel Weil will even seal your letter with wax. Times, prices and locations vary.

> Travel the SoDo busway between light rail’s SoDo and Stadium stations to scan the SODO Track, a 2-mile stretch of murals by 64 artists from 20 countries in a collaboration that explores motion, speed and progress. (As an alternative to taking a bus, you could walk or cycle along the busway’s bike path.) SoDo,

> Take in Seattle’s renowned houses of culture: a literary lecture at Hugo House (Capitol Hill,; theater, music or dance at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (Central District,; a concert at the 1908 Washington Hall (Central District,; or a screening at Northwest Film Forum (Capitol Hill,

> Check out the city’s lively theater scene by viewing a production by one of its small or experimental groups: Washington Ensemble Theatre (Capitol Hill,; Sound Theatre Company (various locations,; or Book-It Repertory Theatre (Seattle Center,, which features stage adaptations of books.

An everyday scene at Occidental Park. Photo by Alex Crook

> Play pingpong in Westlake Park, chess in Hing Hay Park or cornhole in Occidental Park—Seattle’s urban parks always have something going on, rain or shine (but especially shine). Downtown, Chinatown–International District, Pioneer Square;

> Attend one of the city’s legendary festivals such as the Fremont Solstice Parade and Fair (6/22–6/23. Times vary. Free. Fremont,, iconic folk music fest Northwest Folklife (5/24–5/27.Times vary. Free. Seattle Center, and outdoor music and arts showcase Bumbershoot (8/30–9/1. Times and prices vary. Seattle Center,

> Go record shopping—or catch a free in-store concert—at one of the city’s most beloved record shops, Easy Street Records (West Seattle,

> Cruise the creaky floors of book mecca Elliott Bay Book Company, then grab a pint at Comet Tavern and a seat on Ethel’s stool, named for the woman who co-owned the bar and whose ashes are reportedly in the chair itself. Capitol Hill;,

> Pay homage to the late Bruce Lee (along with city notables Denny, Chittenden, Yesler and Nordstrom) at Lake View Cemetery (Capitol Hill, and Jimi Hendrix at Greenwood Memorial Park (Renton,

New glass floors make a Space Needle visit more essential than ever. Photo by John Lok

> “Top” off your list with a step onto the mesmerizing glass floors of the newly renovated Space Needle (Seattle Center,; take in the 360-degree vantage from Columbia Tower’s 73rd-floor Sky View Observatory (Downtown,; and have a seat in the Wishing Chair, a gift from China’s Empress Dowager Cixi, at Smith Tower’s 35th-floor Observatory (Pioneer Square,

A collection of pieces at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Photo by Alex Crook

Culture Center
Sure, Seattle Center is home to the Space Needle, but it’s also a major arts hub

Zip through the heart of downtown via the monorail ( to what has evolved into one of the most vibrant arts hubs in Seattle. Beyond its grand dame centerpiece, the Space Needle, there’s plenty more to do. Take a pic against MoPop’s ( undulating neon walls and explore its pop culture and sci-fi exhibits. Drop in at the KEXP Gathering Space ( for a cup of coffee at La Marzocco Café or to await a live show. Teens and young adults can take in a weekly concert at the all-ages venue Vera Project ( Get your song and dance fix at McCaw Hall, home to Seattle Opera ( and Pacific Northwest Ballet (, or take in a Seattle Repertory Theatre play at the Bagley Wright Threatre, or a Book-It Repertory Theatre production at Center Theatre. Enjoy the illuminating large-scale blown-glass sculptures inside and out at Chihuly Garden and Glass ( The 90-seat SIFF Film Center ( shows boutique arthouse hits and more. Kids will love Seattle Children’s Theatre (, the second-largest regional youth theater in North America, and the hands-on Seattle Children’s Museum ( Kids also will enjoy exploring the exhibits at Pacific Science Center (, which also features a planetarium, movies in its IMAX theater and weekly Laser Dome concerts. It’s enough to fill your summer calendar—and then some.

Editor's note: This article has been updated since print publication.

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