Seattle, Washington is known for its rainy weather, but that doesn’t scare off tourists. The city has long attracted visitors with its impressive arts scene, delicious seafood and stunning mountain views.
But those who visit Emerald City for the first time tend to get a few things wrong. We asked locals to share some of the most common missteps they’ve observed.
From getting the wrong coffee to missing out on the best experiences, here are 10 mistakes tourists often make when visiting Seattle — and some tips for avoiding those mistakes when traveling in the Northwest. Peaceful.
Get coffee from the original Starbucks
“Many tourists love to visit the iconic Starbucks location, but I have news for you: it’s just a Starbucks with extra paraphernalia. any means.Seattle is known as the coffee capital of America, so visit one of the many local coffee shops around Seattle.If you’re at Pike Place Market, head to the second level of Storyville Coffee or take a stroll within a block for latte art at the Moore Coffee Shop.If you’re not near Pike Place Market, there are local cafes that make great coffee a stone’s throw from where you’re staying.” ― Nelson Lauco-host of "Seattle Food Podcast"
“Don’t bother going to Starbucks in Pike Place Market. Incredibly long queues are not worth it. Take a photo outside, then go to the Starbucks Reserve Seattle Roast in Capitol Hill. It is about nine blocks away and offers tourists a better in-store experience with food, coffee, merchandise and seeing the coffee production process. You will also be able to explore the rest of what Cap Hill has to offer as it is a very walkable area.” ― Ishea Browndigital creator and associate producer
Missing Alki Beach
“One mistake I see people make is not going to Alki Beach in West Seattle for one of the best unobstructed views of the Seattle skyline. It’s very easy to get there from downtown Seattle by taking the water taxi on Pier 50. It’s less than a 10-minute scenic ride, which is also a fun experience in itself. Once you arrive in West Seattle, you will be greeted by a magnificent sight. And while you’re already there and if the weather is good, I strongly suggest you walk along the beach and explore the restaurants in the area, before returning to the city center by water taxi.” ― Erika Diamacontent creator
“Aliki Beach is a sleepy beach west of Seattle, but worth a visit. Grab a bite to eat at Marination Ma Kai and rent a bike to cycle the way. You’ll have amazing views of the Seattle skyline, water, mountains, and enjoy shopping along Alki Beach. If the weather is nice, you can play beach volleyball or end your evening with a bonfire on the beach. If you’re looking to enjoy local delicacies, you can buy ice cream at Homefront Smoothies and Ice Cream, burgers at Pepperdock, or fish and chips at Spuds. ― Brown
Plan to stay indoors only
“It doesn’t always rain in Seattle. Seattle is one of the best places to visit in the summer due to the mild temperatures, which make for great outdoor dining and evening picnics. Do as the locals do and head to Gas Works Park for a picnic. Grab a poke bowl at 45th Stop N Shop & Poke Bar, then walk a few doors to Tres Lecheria for some of Seattle’s best tres leche cakes. Not into poke? Wallingford also has Dick’s Drive In, Seattle’s home of the burger. Grab a Dick’s Deluxe, fries and a strawberry milkshake, and you’ll be ready for sunset at Gas Works Park. ― Lau
Queue for attraction tickets
"Tourists are queuing up to buy tickets for the Needle or other attractions when they could easily buy them online." ― Karla Ilicicyoga teacher and freelance writer
“Don’t queue for every little attraction and shell out your money to pay for each one separately. The Seattle Pass is the way to reach them all in a short time for less. ― Lauren Baker, Student
Do not anticipate crowds
“The thing to know about traveling to Seattle in the summer is that, unlike many other cities, locals don’t leave here during the warmer months! We love our summers, which not only means it gets a bit crowded from June to August, but you’re competing with the locals for everything from ferry traffic to dinner reservations ― so keep that in mind. mind when making plans. My favorite month here happens to be September when the weather is still great but the crowds drop off a bit. ― Cassandra La Valleeinterior stylist
“Tourists love to visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle while they’re in town, but the truth is, our downtown is pretty generic when it comes to restaurants and shopping. While I would recommend a visit to the Seattle Art Museum, I would focus your daily agendas on other areas of the city. Ballard is one of the most fun and packed things to do – tour the locks, shop, explore the Nordic Museum and make a reservation at one of the delicious restaurants on Ballard Ave (San Fermo is my favourite! ). Pioneer Square, Fremont and Capitol Hill also offer many restaurants and activities. ― The valley
“Downtown Seattle is NOT an eating hot spot. Unlike other metropolitan cities, most locals don’t go to downtown Seattle for a meal. Instead, tourists should take a carpool or the Sound Transit Link Light Rail to foodie districts like Capitol Hill, Ballard, Belltown, or the International District/Chinatown. Whether it’s sushi, seafood, ramen, steak, pasta, or steak, you’ll find better options in all of these neighborhoods than downtown. ― Lau
Not planning nature activities
“I see a lot of visitors coming to Seattle who never take a day to get out into one of the best things our city has to offer: nature! As a city surrounded by mountains, water, and lush national parks, I highly recommend a quick day trip that allows you to experience one of these. Catch a ferry to Whidbey Island and explore Ebey’s Landing or Deception Pass, rent a car for a day and drive up Mount Si, or stay local and check out Discovery Park where trails lead you to a beach and a lighthouse picturesque. ― The valley
“If you have a rental car, get out of town for more fun activities. 30 minutes east of Seattle is plenty of hiking in the town of Snoqualmie with spectacular views.” ― Lau
Lack of new restaurants
"As far as I know, tourists make the mistake of going to the same trendy restaurants when there has been a boom of amazing restaurants all over the city. Definitely worth a visit. ― Ilicic
Prioritize Space Needle
“Do not visit crowded tourist sites, especially on weekends. The top of the Space Needle can be disappointing, and Pike Place Market can be extremely crowded on weekends. Don’t queue. Many tourists love to visit the Space Needle, but locals love to go to Smith Tower instead for a drink and a bite to eat. The Smith Tower is located on Pioneer Square and is Seattle’s original skyscraper. Take the elevator to the Observatory and the bar and be rewarded with a 360 degree view of Seattle without the crowds. Then, enjoy handcrafted cocktails and snacks as you take in the views. It’s the perfect place before going out to dinner or after for a nightcap.” ― Lau
Do not go on excursions
“If you’re not into hiking, go to Woodinville and visit one of the many wineries there. Château St. Michelle is the largest winery in Woodinville, but you can visit any of the many smaller wineries in town. If you don’t have a rental car, take a trip to the Seattle waterfront and hop on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry terminal, it’s a short walk to Main Street for shopping and dining. Enjoy this cute little town with some of the best restaurants in Seattle including Ba Sa, Café Hitchcock, Bruciato and Mora Iced Creamery.” ― Lau