17 Fun Indoor Places to Visit in Seattle
Sometimes you need a break from the blazing sun or constant mist, so I put together a list of my favorite indoor activities within a 45 minute drive from downtown Seattle.
INDOOR SEATTLE EXPERIENCES
Pop culture addicts should not miss a trip to the epicenter of pop culture. The world headquarters of Funko collectibles has a 17,000 sf flagship store in its Everett outpost. Note: they are closed on Mondays. For a nearby post-shopping meal, consider The New Mexicans (highly recommended by an Everett local) or Brooklyn Brothers Pizza. For lovely waterfront dining options, consider heading Scuttlebutt Brewing Restaurant or Bluewater Organic Distilling Bistro (kids are welcome at both).
Seattle Spheres - Public tours of Amazon’s biospheres are offered the first and third Saturdays of each month. Online reservations open up 30 days in advance. If you cannot land a tour, it’s still worth a walk-by and stroll into the “Understory” exhibit that is open daily and explains the process of building and plants. If you go, check out General Porpoise inside the Spheres for a sweet treat, or just up the street on 6th is Mamnoon Street (amazing “quick” Lebanese food), Potbellies and Marination (delicious Hawaiin-Korean tacos). For a fancier sit-down meal in the spheres, consider award-winning Chef Renee Erickson’s Wilmott’s Ghost, a Roman-Italian restaurant. Cocktail connoisseurs should not miss the “Bar at the Spheres,” called Deep Dive. The line might be long, but it is well worth the wait to get inside what might be Seattle’s most beautiful and unique bar. Early adopters of technology should also check out the Amazon Go store, which requires that you download an app for shopping before entering. There, you can find freshly prepared food, lots of snacks, beer and wine and ready-to-cook dinners.
Space enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Museum of Flight, especially during the epic 2019 summer Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibition commemorating the Apollo 11 Mission, which includes the Columbia command module. Consider checking out the lunar block party, July 19-21. For a nearby meal, you should consider 2 of our favorite Georgetown eateries: Ciudad Grill or Fonda La Catrina.
Visit one of the late Paul Allen’s pet projects: Living Computer Museum where you can actually use the world’s largest collection of vintage computers, ride in a self-driving car simulator in a full-sized 3D printed car, “take a painting lesson from Bob Ross” in the digital art studio, step into the 1980’s life of a teenager in the “80’s Rewind” exhibit and so much more! Check the event calendar for cool workshops and daily tours. Note: the museum is closed on Mondays. Located in the SODO neighborhood, there are several options for a post-exploration meal. Three great options that are nearby: Starbucks Reserve Store (they have beer, wine, pizzas, paninni sandwiches and salads), Paseo (amazing Caribbean fare), and Derby (gastropub attached to The Shop: a garage for collectible cars, which you can tour).
Visit the Frank Gehry-designed Museum of Pop Culture (aka MoPOP) located on the Seattle Center Campus. This place has something for everyone who has any interest in music, and is a MUST-visit stop for Sci-Fi and fantasy enthusiasts. Our family’s favorite places to linger are the "Sky Church” where recorded live musical performances are projected onto a gigantic screen with an amazing sound system; and the music labs where you can run around and try your hand at “learning” or playing instruments. They even have jam rooms where trios can have fun playing music together. Last but not least, they always have a special exhibition and currently it is “Prince From Minneapolis.” If you go, consider an easy post-visit meal at the Culture Kitchen located inside MoPOP or the Seattle Center food court, The Armory, or take a short stroll down 5th Ave to Denny and dine at Tillikum Place Cafe (reservations highly recommended). Last tip: if anyone in your party needs to get energy out, there is a fantastic climbing playground designed by local artists on the back side of MoPOP, called “Artists At Play.”
Lovers of glass, light and color will be delighted by a late afternoon visit to the Chihuly Glass & Garden at the Seattle Center. This small collection of his work is artfully displayed and truly spectacular. The gift shop is fantastic and the adjacent Collector’s Cafe has delicious lunch items served amidst Dale Chihuly’s personal and quirky collections. If it’s a sunny day, consider visiting the new Space Needle Observation Deck (there is a package price for visiting both) before heading to Chihuly’s, and don’t miss the new lower level Atmos Wine Bar. Although I have not yet experienced it, the website is now promoting a virtual reality bungee jump attraction, which sounds cool for adrenaline seekers!
If you are fortunate enough to have an old-school record player, head over to Jive Time Records in Fremont, which was named 1 of America’s Top 25 Record Stores by Rolling Stone Magazine. Browsing the shop’s vinyl collection is sure to keep any music lover occupied for hours. Shout out to 12 yo Wren R. who recommended this activity! There are a ton of nearby restaurants. To make an entire evening out of your visit to Fremont, make reservations at our favorite seafood restaurant, RockCreek, and then attend a performance at the next door Fremont Abbey Arts Center.
Music lovers should not miss a tour of the KEXP radio station, and should try to experience the behind-the-scenes tour, one of the free in-studio performances and Light in the Attic vinyl store. See my article for details.
Anyone with an interest in graphic novels will love the Golden Age Collectibles comic book store located inside Pike’s Place Market. Afterwards, wander the hallways of the underground area and consider slipping into Pasta Casalinga and having what my Swiss-Italian hair stylist Giulia calls the “best homemade Italian pasta in all of Washington.” You could also try one of the countless eateries in the market, including the famed Matt’s in the Market, or Pink Door.
Jump on the highway and head North to the Lynwood Bowl and Skate. You could spend half a day at this place…bowling, skating and playing arcade games. They have typical grub food, but if you want something healthier, consider heading to nearby Edmonds for a delicious Asian-fusion meal at Bar Dojo (reservations highly recommended).
Have fun trying to solve puzzles to solve a mystery, with your group, at an escape room. We have a lot of them to choose from in Seattle. See my article for details.
Experience the Wings Over Washington attraction. I was really surprised how much I loved it the first time I went. The “virtual reality-like tour” soars over the most beautiful sites in Washington State and does not disappoint (even if the introduction with the park ranger is a little Disney-esque). If money is no object and the skies are clear, continue tacking on a trip on the Great Wheel (which is fantastic, in my opinion). Afterwards, consider a nice seafood meal at Elliott’s Oyster House (Insider tip: if you can’t get a reservation, walk into the restaurant and ask the hostess for a table. They often save some for walk-ins). There are a handful of other less expensive eateries also located along the waterfront.
For an adults-only group, consider visiting several of Seattle’s urban wine tasting rooms. It’s easy to make a tasting afternoon South of the city in the SODO Urban Works complex, which houses 10 wine tasting rooms, 1 beer tap room and Nine Hats Pizzeria. You might also check out my article on visiting the Charles Smith Jet City tasting room.
Tour the Gates Foundation Discovery Center where you can stroll through several interactive exhibits that present Northwest and global issues facing our communities and provide food for thought on solutions. You can join free, guided tours Tuesdays through Saturdays at 2 p.m. Insider Tip: The foundation is close to MoPOP and could be visited in the same day. If you go, consider an easy post-visit meal at the Culture Kitchen located inside MoPOP or the Seattle Center food court, The Armory, or take a short stroll down 5th Ave to Denny and dine at Tillikum Place Cafe (reservations highly recommended).
Visit the vintage Pinball Museum (you can actually play the games) and have an interactive, delicious Mongolian Hot Pot meal afterwards in the International District. See my full article for details.
For couples and groups of friends, consider experiencing a progressive dinner with the folks at Pretty Fork. They tour a different neighborhood each night of the week, and host surprise plane-travel-required dinners in distant places.
Please share your favorite indoor Seattle experiences in the comment section below.