Seattle’s western border ends at the waterfront where the views across Puget Sound to islands and mountains are enhanced by elegant yachts, ships, cruise boats and ferries. Walk along the 2-mile (3-kilometer) stretch and browse quaint shops, explore the public spaces and piers, and enjoy the smells of the ocean air and freshly cooked seafood from the dozens of restaurants along the piers.
The waterfront runs for about 2 miles (3 kilometers) beneath the elevated Alaskan Way from Pioneer Square in the south to Centennial Park and Smith Cove docks to the north. The area has more than a century of history in 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush catapulted Seattle’s waterfront into being the “Gateway to Alaska.” A few years later, the city became a major trading port and the huge port complex, just to the south of downtown, remains a fascinating feature. Grab some food at one of the seafood restaurants — from fast food to elegant — and enjoy superb waterfront views. Everything from oysters and mussels, to crisply battered fish and chips is available along this entertaining stretch of boardwalk. Don't miss the fresh Northwest Copper River salmon when it’s in season.
You can walk the waterfront from end-to-end in about 40 minutes, but allow another couple of hours at least for all the distractions. Browse exclusive stores for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, nautical knick-knacks and atmospheric artworks. Explore the fascinating Seattle Aquarium with its marine exhibits and touch pools on Pier 59. Meander through Myrtle Edwards Park with its peaceful bike and pedestrian trails. The adjacent Olympic Sculpture Park combines the natural beauty of Puget Sound with modern art along a trail that takes about an hour to walk at a brisk pace.
Hop aboard a ferry to Bainbridge Island and enjoy the journey as much as the final destination. The return trip offers some of the best views of Seattle’s skyline. The Seattle Waterfront is directly adjacent to downtown Seattle, and easy to find: just walk to the west, which is generally also downhill.