Seattle's more than 6,000 acres of parks earned it the nickname "The Emerald City," but its reputation as a center for tech startups means plenty of green in the city comes from venture capitalists too. In few other places can you find such a confluence of urban and natural wonders, so to read through a full list of things to do in Seattle, you may need assistance from a few cups of the city’s famous coffee, perhaps from the eclectic Bauhaus Books and Coffee on Capitol Hill.
Visitors to the Experience Music Project, on the other hand, should have no trouble staying awake. The museum rejoices in Seattle’s rich history of rock and alternative music. Rotating exhibits such as “Hear My Train a Comin’: Hendrix Hits London” and “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses” pay homage to the city’s native sons, while the adjacent Science Fiction Hall of Fame celebrates the work of writers such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.
The EMP Museum shares the Seattle Center campus with the iconic Space Needle, which would seem right at home in a science-fiction novel. Take an elevator up to the spindly structure’s observation deck for a 360-degree view that looks out on the snow-capped peak of Mt. Rainier to the south and the glassy waters of Lake Union to the north.
From the Space Needle, you might also catch a glimpse of an entirely man-made marvel: the Seattle Central Library. It’s easy to spot the influence of famed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in the building’s striking design, which features nearly 10,000 glass panels. It’s worth visiting the library’s 10th-floor reading room, where views of Elliott Bay make it difficult to pay attention to the books at hand.
Seattleites apparently have a thing for dramatic designs. Back at the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit spills out from a sharply arched glasshouse into an outdoor garden. Inside the glasshouse is one of artist Dale Chihuly’s most impressive designs: a 100-foot-long, suspended glass sculpture that depicts a flurry of red, orange, and amber petals.
If Chihuly’s work inspires you to get out and explore the natural world, Seattle affords countless ways to do so. Forego a map and simply wander through the 534 acres of Discovery Park. True to its name, the park’s untouched shoreline and bluffs provide ample opportunities for discovery. For a more curated encounter with the natural world, the Washington Park Arboretum on the shores of Lake Washington contains a Japanese garden and dozens of plants found nowhere else in the city.