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Things to Do in Seattle: Before or After Your Cruise

An Alaskan cruise may be a signature item on your travel bucket list, but Alaska isn’t the only port of call on your itinerary. When you choose a cruise that departs from Seattle, you can extend your vacation by exploring this incredible city before or after you sail. When you schedule an extra day or two on either end of your cruise to Alaska, you’ll have time to explore everything that makes Seattle–and the Pacific Northwest–truly special.

Need some inspiration? Consider these ideas to round out your itinerary for the vacation of a lifetime.

aerial view of downtown seattle during the sun set

Shopping in Seattle

Whether you forgot to pack a windbreaker or just want a special souvenir to remember your cruise from Seattle, this vibrant city has plenty of places to shop:

  • Downtown Seattle: The heart of the city is also the heart of shopping in Seattle. Hit the Pike Market neighborhood for delicious local produce and take a look at the country’s oldest continually operating farmers market. You can also find local antiques and art galleries at the historic Pioneer Square.
  • Ballard Avenue: Ballard Avenue is a hip shopping destination filled with unique boutiques. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, furniture or a dress, the choices in this historic neighborhood are one of a kind.
  • Belltown: Just a few blocks from the Pike Place Market, Belltown is Seattle’s most popular place to shop, thanks to its array of trendy eateries, hip stores and water views. Once you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, take a break in one of the area’s famous coffee shops.

man tossing fresh fish in the local farmers market in the pike market neighborhood

Dining in Seattle

Seattle is a great place for dining out, especially if you love seafood. Its proximity to the sea makes it a hub for fishermen who bring in salmon, oysters and just about any other seafood you can imagine. The city also has a vibrant Asian population, so it’s a great place to sample Japanese sushi, Vietnamese pho and a Chinese treat known as a hum bow — curried beef or pork encased in a fluffy pastry crust.

man preparing japanese sushi rolls in a seattle restaurant

Of course, no one should travel to Seattle without stopping at one (or several!) of the city’s outstanding independent coffee shops. The city that exported the coffee culture to the world has lots of local roasters and shops that cater to caffeine fiends and slow sippers alike. Try a small, local cafe to get a real taste of the Seattle lifestyle — there’s at least one in every neighborhood.

man and his father drinking coffee in a local independent coffee shop in seattle

Not sure where to start? Head to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for a wide range of excellent restaurants designed for every budget. The International District is a great choice for a variety of Asian cuisine, while the Queen Anne neighborhood is great for fancier fare.

visitors cooking food in a local korean buffet in seattle

Sightseeing in Seattle

If you spend a day or two in Seattle, you’ll have time to explore some of the local places that make this area so special. From landmarks to local art, there’s something here for everyone:

  • The Space Needle: Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle remains the architectural icon of the Pacific Northwest. Ride the elevator to the top for panoramic views of the city and region.

seattleā€™s space needle overseeing the city

  • Local Aquarium: Learn about Puget Sound’s diverse marine life while you get up close and personal with puffins, sea otters and a host of colorful fish. The local aquarium works to conserve natural resources while educating and entertaining visitors from around the world.

siblings looking at sharks in the local aquarium in seattle

  • Great Ferris Wheel: Located at the end of Pier 57, there is an oversized ferris wheel that lights up the sky at night. Ride it during the day to take in the city skyline, then return at night to enjoy the wheel for its own unique beauty.

huge ferris wheel at the end of pier 57 in seattle

  • Beautiful Gardens: Seattle and the surrounding area has more than its fair share of gorgeous botanical gardens to explore. With plentiful rainfall and mild temperatures, the Pacific Northwest is the perfect place for many plant to thrive. Stroll through garden devotes to native plants, Japanese stylings and even blown glass art.
  • Great Local Museums: Seattle is a major cultural center, so it’s no surprise that there are several top-notch museums here. Whether you enjoy high art, pop culture, history or science, you’re sure to find your interest represented in the city’s eclectic collection of museums.

carnival cruise ship heading to alaska from seattle

Seattle is one of the country’s great cities, with a diverse culture, eclectic cuisine, and vibrant art scene. Taking advantage of all the city has to offer will turn it into more than just a launching point for your cruise. You’ll be able to explore Seattle with the attention that this world-class port of call deserves. Book a few extra days before or after your trip to make the most of your cruise to Alaska, and you’ll have a vacation you’ll remember for a lifetime.