Best Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center

A High-Energy Buzz Extends Beyond the Walls of KeyArena at Seattle Center

Since the KeyArena at Seattle Center opened its doors in 1995, the popular venue has hosted more than 17 million guests at sporting events, concerts and other family-friendly gatherings. Think basketball games, roller derby bouts and high-energy concerts showcasing rockers from Paul Simon and Cher to Kings of Leon and Alt-J. Located north of downtown Seattle on the 74-acre entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, there is always buzz going on inside KeyArena.

The energy, however, expands far beyond stadium walls. Nearby attractions include museums of science and music, galleries of art (indoors and alfresco), family-friendly green spaces, even iconic Seattle sites like Pike Place Market and its nearby brewery. Local flavors abound downtown, making the Seattle Center a great jumping-off point for exploring the city. The unique architecture and perks like public art and a dancing fountain make walking around the Seattle Center an activity unto itself. 

Visitors will find what they need, whether they crave indoor culture offered on galleries walls and gargantuan screens, or whether they're looking for some urban Zen that can be found at tucked-away parks and beaches amazingly located within city limits. Seattle has much to offer; it's time to get a move on. 


A 48-foot Hammering Man sculpture marks the outside of this vast museum, and adjustable steel panels flank the glass walls and allow light to enter the innovative front space known as the Brotman Forum. Upon entering, visitors encounter an extraordinary display of nine sculpted white cars hanging in the air at different angles. The galleries house displays of Native American, African, and European art. To showcase particular events, each gallery within the spacious building is given an identity corresponding to its specific exhibit. Along with the wealth of art available for perusing, visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy regularly-scheduled lectures, classes, and live performances. Two museum shops are available.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Head a bit farther into the downtown region to view world-class works at the Seattle Art Museum.

Corinne's expert tip: Called simply SAM by locals, the museum is known for its extensive and well-curated collections of Pacific Northwest Native American and Asian art. SAM also has been known to land exclusive international touring exhibitions, including Monet and Gauguin. Check out the website for free entry days--like the first Thursdays of each month, which are free to all.

Read more about Seattle Art Museum Downtown →

Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, this expansive urban park--the largest in Seattle-- offers two miles of beach trails and nine miles of winding footpaths. Ostensibly a bluff-top reserve, Discovery Park protects a remarkable urban wilderness and is a great place for nature-watching. The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center, which features art and cultural exhibits, is also located at the park, as is a marine reserve. An 1881 lighthouse, the oldest in the area, can also be found here. Offering breathtaking views of both the Cascade and the Olympic mountain ranges, the park's remote site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets, and streams.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Those needing to find an urban oasis, head to Discovery Park, where visitors find hiking trails, a pristingebeach and a lighthouse.

Corinne's expert tip: The park occupies the grounds of the former Fort Lawton military base, and there is interesting interpretive history here about the park's past and information on its pioneering role in the national military base re-use program that began in the early 1980s. The park's Fort Lawton Historic District includes "Officers' Row," military buildings surviving from the park's days as a fort.

Read more about Discovery Park →

1.4 acres in east Queen Anne, with open grassy spaces, playground equipment including regular and baby swings, a wading pool, softball field, and a half-court basketball area. Originally purchased in 1910 and converted to a park, the area originally housed tennis courts and a comfort station along with the play area and wading pool. The park underwent a major restoration in 1970 as part of the Forward Thrust program, and today it has the refurbished wading pool, bathroom facilities, a soccer field, a sandbox and comfortable benches for parents and grandparents to sit on while the kids enjoy the swings and slides!

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: East Queen Anne Playground features refurbished a wading pool, bathroom facilities, a soccer field, a sandbox and comfortable benches for supervising adults.

Corinne's expert tip: Cool off here in warmer months; the East Queen Anne Wading Pool is located between two playgrounds, just north of the shelter house.

Read more about East Queen Anne Playground →

Olympic Sculpture Park
Photo courtesy of SAM-Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park: Stroll through the grounds and admire the fascinating large-scale works on display at this nine-acre green space. Extensive landscaping enhances the park's beauty, and a walkway, extending from the beach to Belltown, provides views of the Puget Sound and of downtown landmarks. Among the pieces on view along the way view is "Eye Benches I, II, III" by Louise Bourgeois, a series of functional carved-granite benches that take the form of giant eyeballs. Also here is a work from the height of famed sculptor Alexander Calder's career, "The Eagle" from 1971, a huge abstract steel sculpture in bright orange. Free public tours of the park are offered, and times and topics vary by season.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: The Olympic Sculpture Park brings beautiful modern art to a scenic, alfresco setting with views of the mountains and water.

Corinne's expert tip: Although it's mostly an outdoor experience, the sculpture park features the PACCAR Pavilion, within which the Seattle Art Museum operates the SAM Shop at Olympic Sculpture Park. The shop offers a delightful and distinctive collection of artist multiples and art objects that serve as tasteful souvenirs of your visit here.

Read more about Olympic Sculpture Park →

The Pike Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of The Pike Brewing Company

Sipping local brews in one of the city's most historic and iconic spots: Who could say no to such temptation? Enjoy lauded beers from the Pike Pale and the Pike IPA to the Kilt Lifter and the Pike Naughty Nellie in a vibrant setting where the antique-covered walls are a feast for the eyes. (Can't make up your mind on which beer to try? Better yet, grab a sampler tray!) Also enjoy tasty pub eats in this bustling subterranean space; try the fish 'n' chips, the Ploughman's Platter, the Pike Poutine or the Puget Sound platter of mussels and clams.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Enjoy local hops at The Pike Brewing Company, just steps from the vibrant market.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out one of the brewery's free behind-the-scene tours! Ask the host/hostess about tour times.

Read more about The Pike Brewing Company →

Pike Place Market
Photo courtesy of Magic in the Market/Richmond Public Relations

Sights, smells, and sounds make Pike Place a head-spinning whirlwind for first-time visitors. Fishmongers near the main entrance entice buyers with loud hawking and dexterous salmon throwing antics, the briny smell of fresh seafood filling the air. Countering that are the rows of vibrantly colorful flower stalls, which emit their pleasing perfumed aromas to passersby. Farm-fresh produce is mounded high along the aisles, and local artisans display their art and wares unique to the Northwest. Restaurants, a brewery, and specialty shops for everything from antiques to movie ephemera fill the multi-level maze. To help visitors find their way, the Market Foundation offers fun and informational tours Wednesdays through Saturdays, starting at the Market Heritage Center at 1531 Western Avenue. Once you have your bearings, pick out a favorite spot and enjoy some of the best people-watching around in this eclectic and progressive environment.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Pike Place Market is a feast for the eyes (and mouth); take in the city's many flavors at this bustling bazaar.

Corinne's expert tip: Across the street from the main market building along an arcade of shops and restaurants, the original Starbuck's Coffee remains in its unassuming original location.

Read more about Pike Place Market →

If you could go to just one place in Seattle to visit, the Seattle Center would be it: 74 acres of parks, sculptures, fountains, cultural venues, restaurants and entertainment for all ages. This is the site of the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 also known as Century 21 Exhibition and it has celebrated its 50th anniversary. Today, Seattle Center is an exciting eclectic mix of 1960's "futuristic" structures alongside seemingly incongruent objects such as a Native American Totem pole, Modernist art mural, gigantesque Calder abstract Eagle sculpture and extreme architecture by renowned Frank Gehry. In good weather free concerts are held outdoors here at the Mural Amphitheatre which was built for the Seattle World's Fair. On a clear day, you see all of Seattle and beyond from the top of the 1962 World's Fair Space Needle.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Simply wandering the grounds of the Seattle Center proves an activity in itself; check out the fountain and alfresco public art.

Corinne's expert tip: If you're visiting Seattle in the month of August, be sure to check out the Concerts at the Mural summer music series (Friday nights).

Read more about Seattle Center →

Pacific Science Center

The Pacific Science Center is a great place for the entire family to learn about the natural world in an entertaining way. Children love games and demonstrations about physical science; exhibits displaying dinosaurs, insects, computers and robots, and the human body will bring science and natural history to life right before your eyes. Animal exhibits, which tend to be everyone's favorite, let visitors watch animals such as the naked mole rat, which is the only known cold-blooded mammal. In the butterfly house, museum-goers are surrounded by thousands of butterflies, who often land on those wearing bright colors and standing very still.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: The Pacific Science Center proves an ideal place to pass an afternoon--playing interactive games, watching an IMAX ad exploring educational exhibits.

Corinne's expert tip: Calling all film buffs! The Pacific Science Center is a great spot to catch IMAX films (arrive early, though; the Center has a no-late-seating policy for both theaters).

Read more about Pacific Science Center →

Space Needle

Well, we still don't have jet packs and flying cars, but the most iconic symbol of that 1960's space-age promise – the Space Needle – still stands as Seattle's most-recognized tourist attraction. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the forward-looking theme of which was "Century 21," the 602-foot Needle looks like a huge flying saucer on a towering tripod. At the 520-foot level, the observation deck provides panoramic views of the area's surrounding bays, lakes, mountains, and other points of interest. Just below, at 500-feet, diners enjoy a 360-degree view in the revolving Sky City restaurant. On the way up to, entertaining and comedic elevator operators rattle off fun facts and invite visitors to test their Needle knowledge.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: No visit to Seattle is complete without ascending to the top floor of the Space Needle. Enjoy panoramic views and perhaps a fine meal.

Corinne's expert tip: The fine-dining space atop the Needle is one of the few revolving restaurants in the world. The 360-degree view is spectacular, and the food isn't bad either.

Read more about Space Needle →

If you're ever going to visit a venue dedicated to the magic of music, Seattle is THE place to do so. This intriguing museum celebrates the history of rock and roll. Over 80,000 American music mementos are showcased in the ultra-modern Frank Gehry-designed building, which resembles a smashed guitar. Among the displays are Janis Joplin's floral bell-bottoms and a leather jacket once worn by Elvis Presley. Sky Church, a performance arena erected to host concerts by world-renowned musicians, is also part of the complex. After viewing the exhibits, guests may unwind in the museum's Turntable restaurant or Liquid Lounge bar.

Recommended for Attractions near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: The Experience Music Project is a family-friendly space that explores the past, present and future of some of the world's greatest talents.

Corinne's expert tip: Warm up those music-playing hands; interactive exhibits here at the EMP (what locals call the site) allow patrons to practice their own tunes in mock studios and even on a simulated concert stage.

Read more about Museum of Pop Culture →


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne