It’s no wonder that the Seattle area is booming – from quirky neighborhoods to jaw-dropping scenery, there is never a shortage of things to do and places to see. And while it’s fun to take in the view from atop the Space Needle or be among the hustle and bustle of Pike Place Market, it’s not always fun to fight through crowds of tourists or out-of-towners.
With so many things to do in and around Seattle, those new to the area might not know where to begin. That’s why we surveyed our local experts to come up with a list of their favorite lesser known places and activities to check out – where social distancing is still possible.
- Hiking Issaquah’s Poo Poo Point
This trail is popular among locals, located on the west side of Tiger Mountain. It’s a 7.5 mile out and back trail that’s categorized as difficult, according to AllTrails, but many think the views at the top are worth it. The end of the trail is also a popular spot among hand gliders and paragliders, who use the peak as a launch point. The trail is accessible year-round, and dogs are welcome – as long as they are leashed. It can be accessed from the Issaquah Alps trailhead and parking is free. If the lot is full, there is also free parking options at Issaquah High School.
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the most popular wineries in the area, for good reason. Not only known for its tasty wines, it’s also a popular destination due to its annual outdoor summer concerts. Unfortunately, due to COVID, the 2020 Summer Concert Series has been postponed until 2021, but the tasting room and other unique experiences are currently happening Thursdays-Sundays by reservation only.
- Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
The Theo Chocolate Factory in Fremont is a unique Seattle experience that you can’t get anywhere else. Normally, tours of the factory will only set you back $10, but due to the pandemic, the team at Theo has had to get creative. While in-person classes and tours are currently on hold, they have started to offer Virtual Chocolate Tasting Classes via Zoom! All you need to do is order your supply kit online and have it delivered before logging into the virtual experience. The flagship store is currently open with some changes – only 6 people are allowed in the store at one time and masks are required.
- Columbia Center Skyview Observatory
Less popular than the Seattle Space Needle, with just as good a view, the Columbia Center Skyview Observatory boasts 360-degree views at 902 feet tall. From the top, guests can see everything that makes Seattle so great – including Mt. Rainier and the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. The observatory is currently closed to the public due to COVID, but you can still book private experiences on its website.
- Farmers Markets
Fresh fruits and veggies are in abundance in the summer and fall, and the perfect place to find local produce is at an area Farmers Market. Each market is unique, and most cities have one (if not more!) It’s also a nice idea to support the local economy. You can find a full list of 2020 Farmers Markets, many of which are held year-round, by clicking here.
- Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area
About an hour’s drive east of Seattle will bring you to Rattlesnake Lake, a small, picture-perfect lake that is surrounded by hiking trails. For stunning aerial views of the lake, head up to Rattlesnake Ledge (currently closed due to COVID). In addition to hiking and biking, visitors can also boat, fish, and swim in the lake, as well as picnic on the grounds.
- Alki Beach
West Seattle is home to Alki Beach – a water-lover’s paradise. Swim, kayak, play volleyball, SUP and more at this Puget Sound oasis. All down the beach are popular restaurants and bars with ample patio seating, in addition to watersport and bicycle rental companies so visitors can stay active. While this beach tends to get crowded on the weekends during summer months, it’s easy to see why. Alki Beach has something for everyone.
- Ballard Neighborhood
One of our team’s favorite neighborhoods to explore is Ballard. Located in North Seattle, Ballard is a treasure trove of unique shops, diverse restaurants, and outdoor havens. Ballard is quite large for a neighborhood – stretching far and wide from Shilshole Bay to 3rd NW, and up to 85th Ave. NW. The Ballard Locks are the nation’s busiest, as they navigate boats of all sizes through the canal from Lake Union to Puget sound. Golden Gardens Park on the northwest side of town includes water rentals, the Burke-Gilman Trail, and an off-leash dog park. Need to fill your belly or quench your thirst? Take a stroll down trendy Ballard Ave. and its surrounding streets – home to award-winning restaurants and innovative breweries.
- Seattle Public Library
The downtown location of the Seattle Public Library on 4th is worth visiting just to check out its impressive modern architecture. Be sure to take the escalators all the way up for impressive views of the library and city, for free.
- Bainbridge Island
To escape the chaos of downtown Seattle, take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island. There, you can explore places such as Storyville’s Coffee Shop and Roastery (currently closed), Bainbridge Brewing, and a number of different local wineries. Head north on the island to the Bloedel Reserve, a nature preserve filled with 150 acres of forests, landscaped gardens, and a reflection pool. Tickets to the reserve must be booked in advance, due to Washington state health and safety protocols.
With so many options to explore in and around Seattle, you’ll start to feel like a local in no time at all! For any questions about different Seattle-area neighborhoods or housing options, our team is happy to help.