Take a stroll along the Waterfront
The Waterfront was once the hub of Seattle’s maritime activity. The Port of Seattle runs a cruise ship dock, ferry terminals, and a fireboat dock. There are also several parks, an aquarium, and an over-water hotel all placed on piers that remind visitors of the waterfront’s past.
Pier 52 is the operating terminal of Washington State Ferries. Ferries carrying both vehicles and passengers run from Pier 52 to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. Read more about taking a ferry ride. Pier 53, is the site of Seattle Fire Station No. 5 and its two fireboats, “Alki” and “Chief Seattle”.
Pier 54 is home not only to Ivar’s Acres of Clams (a famous Seattle seafood restaurant), but also to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop which has been on the Waterfront since 1899. Besides the usual tourist souvenirs, it sells a variety of Northwest Native Art; the store prides itself on dealing directly with the artists. They also carry Russian lacquer boxes, matreshka dolls and porcelain figurines, copper and wooden postcards, music boxes, and a variety of other unusual items. The store also has curiosities (hence the name Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe), which are not for sale: “Sylvester” the mummy, fetal conjoined twin calves, a number of shrunken human heads, a woven cedar bark hat worn by Chief Seattle, whale and walrus oosiks, and a number of items that appeared in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”.
Between Piers 55 and 56, Argosy Cruises offers Harbor Tours on their tour boats “Royal Argosy”, “Spirit of Seattle”, “Lady Mary”, “Goodtime II”, and “Sightseer”. One of its most popular tours takes visitos to Tillicum Village on Blake Island where native American dances are performed and an authentic salmon dinner is served.
Pier 57 is known as the “Bay Pavilion”. Its main attraction is the Seattle Great Wheel, a 175 foot tall ferris wheel that affords stunning views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. The Bay Pavilion also has restaurants, shops, an amusement arcade, and an early 20th century carousel. Pier 58 is the site of Waterfront Park. Pier 59 is the site of the main building of the Seattle Aquarium. Pier 66 facilities include a marina, a cruise ship terminal, a conference center, the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center, restaurants, and marine services.
Pier 67 is the The Edgewater hotel which is built entirely over the water. It boasts that you can “fish from your window”, and it has hosted numerous celebrities over the years, most famously the Beatles who came to Seattle in 1964 during the height of Beatlemania.
Pier 69 is the Seattle terminus of the Victoria Clipper, a foot passenger (walk-on only) ferry with regular service to the Inner Harbour in Victoria, British Columbia.
Here’s what you’ll see:
The Seattle Waterfront is a great place to get a feel for Seattle. It has just about everything you could want – sea air, piers, seagulls, boats, ferries, shops, restaurants and some unique views of the city, Puget Sound, and Olympic mountains. You could spend hours just wandering around the waterfront. Right below the Pike Place Market, you will see the Seattle Aquarium, so we’ll start there with our guide to the Seattle Waterfront.
Seattle Aquarium – Seattle has an excellent aquarium right in the middle of the Waterfront. It boasts an underwater domed viewing area, numerous touch pools complete with sea urchins and starfish, an actual great white shark skeleton, a surreal glowing jelly fish arch, octopii, and lots of playful seals and sea otters.
Argosy Cruises – Argosy Cruises offers a 1 hour narrated harbor tour on Elliott Bay that affords excellent city views and a look into the operations of one of the busiest ports in the world. You can also take a longer tour that goes through the locks into Lake Union that would take about half a day. One of the most popular cruises is the Tillicum Village cruise, which takes you to Blake Island for their world famous Native American salmon bake and spectacular dance show.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop – Be sure to spend at least a few minutes browsing this tourist trap. Not only is it an excellent place to buy souvenirs, but you can also see various “curiosities”, like real mummies and shruken human heads!
Ivar’s Fish Bar – Have a fantastic fish & chips lunch (or dinner) at Ivar’s Fish Bar located right next to the fireboat station and the ferry terminal. Order your meal and have a seat at the outdoor tables that extend down the pier. Watch the ferry boats come and go and throw your leftover french fries into the air and watch the seagulls catch them mid-flight. You will never see fatter seagulls. If you want to have more of a fine dining experience, you can go into the “Acres of Clams” sit-down restaurant and have a full-service meal.
The Seattle Great Wheel is a new addition to the waterfront that you should not miss! The Seattle Great Wheel is the largest observation wheel on the west coast at 175 feet tall and has 42 fully enclosed gondolas that hold up to 8 people so you don’t have to worry about getting wet on those occasional rainy Seattle days! The ride last for 3 revolutions and you will enjoy great views of Seattle Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains. Local restauranteur Hal Griffith, inspired by the London Eye in England, constructed the large ferris wheel on the Seattle waterfront to add yet another attraction so people would stay and enjoy the fine shops and restaurants on the Seattle piers.