First-timers might as well start off at the quintessential Seattle spot–Pike Place Market–to soak in the city's vibrant culture. Here several hours can be spent wandering among the fish-throwers, talented buskers, hordes of locals and tourists plus vendors of colorful flower bouquets, locally-made arts and crafts and delicious food options (trust us; braving the queues at Beecher's Handmade Cheese and Anthony Bourdain-endorsed Piroshky Piroshky will prove worth the wait).
Pike Place Market — Photo courtesy of Pike Place Market
To stick with the must-see staples on the Seattle tourist trail, head to nearby options like the Seattle Art Museum, the mile-long monorail (which can take you directly to Seattle Center) or the Seattle Waterfront. At Seattle Center, climb to new heights on the Space Needle observation deck, or put your musical talents to the test at the Experience Music Project, a unique museum that examines this city's fascinating musical past.
Space Needle — Photo courtesy of Space Needle
On the waterfront, take a spin on the brand-new Ferris wheel, explore the underwater world at the Seattle Aquarium, or walk along the piers down to the beautiful, spacious Olympic Sculpture Park. If you're up for a day trip across the pristine waters, grab a ferry (with a view) to Alki Beach in West Seattle or Bainbridge Island Ferry. The waterfront also offers a variety of restaurants ideal for enjoying pastel sunsets and feasts of delicious, local seafood.
Once you've checked some of the well-known Seattle sites off your list, hop on a bus (or in a taxi) to explore the charm of the city's distinctive neighborhoods. Capitol Hill is a funky, arts mecca, ideal for live music and perhaps those feeling more young at heart.
Fremont declares itself "The Center of the Universe" and gives visitors plenty of first-time visions like super-sized statues of a troll and Lenin. This a great neighborhood for shopping, food and drinks, as is Ballard, a bustling zone farther west. By day, Ballard is a great jumping-off point to see the locks or Golden Gardens beach, and, after the sun sets, it's the perfect neighborhood in which to enjoy a scrumptious meal and trendy ambiance or to hear lives tunes in friendly spaces like Tractor Tavern.
Queen Anne features a steep hill, upscale shopping, a fantastic lookout point at Kerry Park and cute cafes in which to take a break from it all. Just west of residential neighborhood Magnolia, find Discovery Park, a perfect example of Seattle's ability to mix an urban setting with stunning natural beauty. While this is probably enough to keep you busy during your first trip, we guarantee that you'll need to come back again soon. This is only the tip of the iceberg.