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Top Things to Do in Seattle

The World of SAM

Downtown's Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is known for its collection of modern and Native American art. A sleek addition to the original building—complete with a stylish café and gift shop—is the proper modern aesthetics for Picasso and Warhol. SAM'S Olympic Sculpture Park, in Belltown, overlooks Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains and showcases works by Calder and Serra amidst lovely green spaces. On Capitol Hill, peruse the Seattle Asian Art Museum's fascinating collection of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean art before venturing into surrounding Volunteer Park.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle's homage to its marine habitats and inhabitants sits, fittingly, on one of its piers. This small but delightful aquarium has a well-rounded selection of Northwest-focused exhibits, from river otters to a salmon ladder. Watch divers feed fish in a replica of Neah Bay, then pay a visit to a Giant Pacific Octopus.

Discovery Park

Well off the radar, on a peninsula in a residential neighborhood called Magnolia, this park always feels like a serendipitous discovery. Though the city has many other impressive green spaces, none of them has such variety: densely forested trails spill out onto beaches with jaw-dropping vistas of Puget Sound.

Seattle Center, the Space Needle, EMP, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and more

Almost every trip, especially an inaugural one, includes a stop at Seattle Center, which was built for the 1962 World's Fair and is home to the Space Needle, museums, and performance halls. Most of the city's major events are held here, but even on quiet weekends there's something for everyone: Pacific Science Center and Children's Museum, Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum, a Skatepark, the SIFF Film Center, and the brand-new Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. You can catch opera or ballet at McCaw Hall and theater performances at Intiman Theatre.

Local Farmers' Markets

A tour of the Northwest's seasonal bounty should start at glorious Pike Place Market. Then visit smaller neighborhood markets in the University District, West Seattle, Columbia City, and along historic Ballard Avenue, and Broadway on Capitol Hill.

The Burke-Gilman Trail

This major cycling corridor stretches from Ballard all the way around the northern tip of Lake Washington into the Eastside suburbs. Along the way it skirts the canal and Lake Union, goes through the UW campus, passes lakeside Magnuson Park, and spends its last leg along the shore of Lake Washington.

Washington Park Arboretum

From autumn's effulgent colors to the tiny pink petals of spring, the Washington Park Arboretum is a 230-acre reminder that Seattle is a city with seasons. Easy-to-navigate paths include the Shoreline Trail. One of the many highlights is the beautiful Japanese Garden.

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

Also called the Ballard Locks, this attraction is an important passage within the Lake Washington Ship canal, connecting Puget Sound to Lake Washington.

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