We previously wrote a guide detailing 5 incredible things to do in Seattle for families. The places and activities in that blog were fun and vibrant, showing off Seattle’s lighter side. Today, we’d like to mix it up, offering up some of the quieter, off-the-beaten-path destinations in Seattle.
If anything in this guide inspires you to explore the city, consider one of our Private Guided Tours in Seattle. And if you’d like to push it to the next level, our Specialty Seattle Tours include yachts, helicopter rides, and ferry rides to nearby islands.
Whether you explore the Emerald City with us or on your own, we hope this guide inspires you to have a relaxed and enriching experience in Seattle.
1) Have a Picnic in UPS Waterfall Garden Park
The UPS Waterfall Garden Park is a beautiful hidden enclave of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood that was constructed in 1977 at the original UPS building in downtown Seattle to commemorate James Casey, the company’s original founder.
At 19 years old, Casey started “The American Messenger service” with co-founder Claude Ryan in a cellar located under Ryan’s uncle’s tavern in the rough Pioneer Square. The year was 1907 and Casey kicked off his package delivery company with a borrowed $100 bill as his initial capital investment.
It wasn’t until the company expanded to Oakland in 1917 that it became known as the United Parcel Service. Casey remained active in the management of UPS until his death in 1983.
The park part of the UPS Waterfall Garden Park is gorgeous and tranquil (thus earning its place on this guide). A bit of an oasis in the often chaotic streets of @downtownseattle. It is a wonderful place to enjoy a coffee and read or book or order takeout from one of the many great restaurants nearby to have an urban picnic.
2) The Suzzalo Library at the University of Washington Campus
This is the central library on the UW campus and one of the more recognizable buildings on campus. While it looks like an ancient gothic building, construction started in only 1926 and it was completed in 1963.
It is named after University of Washington president Henry Suzzalo who stepped down in 1926, but it wasn’t named after him until 1933, the year of his death. It is built in the collegiate gothic architecture style by Charles Bebb and Carl Gould. The collegiate reading room is one of the most impressive spaces on campus and is always quiet and peaceful.
On a Custom Seattle Tour, we can certainly come check this spot out — especially if we are visiting the quad to see the cherry blossom trees in bloom. If that sounds like a lot of fun, read our guide to seeing Seattle’s cherry blossom!
3) Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center
In a pre-covid era, Totally Seattle Tours ran a Northwest Native Art and Cultural tour. But today, the main stops on that tour are closed to the public. The hope is that one day we can offer the opportunity to our guests to learn more about the original inhabitants of this land.
The Duwamish Longhouse celebrates the tribe of the Duwamish, the First Nation people who inhabited the land that is now the city of Seattle when the first settlers arrived. Humans started inhabiting this area starting at the end of the last glacial period about 10,000 years ago.
The chief of the Duwamish was named Si’ahl, (aka Chief Sealth, aka Chief Seattle) for whom the city is named. Seattle is actually the largest city named after a Native American. The Duwamish is also the largest native tribe that is still not recognized by the United States Government.
They forfeited their lands along with all other tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the 1855 treaty of Point Elliott in exchange for reservation lands and fishing rights. At one point, the Duwamish had been driven to the brink of extinction but the culture is now being nurtured within the city and the walls of this cultural center. You are able to support this displaced culture by donating to their Real Rent initiative.
4) Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is a 9-acre, free-admission open-air park at the northern end of Seattle’s seawall (Pier 70.) It is owned and maintained by Seattle Art Museum and contains several permanent sculpture exhibits as well as some rotating sculptures.
The “Olympic” part of the name is a nod to the incredible views of the Olympic Mountain range to the west that the park proudly displays. The park opened in January of 2007 and is one of the many beautiful and free parks our city has to offer.
The park welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is one of our favorite places to enjoy a picnic or simply a cup of coffee while taking in the view. We pass by this park on most Totally Seattle City driving tours but would recommend taking your time to explore the park and the Myrtle Edwards Park directly to the north.
5) The Seattle Wishing Tree
Do you want your dreams to come true? Why not visit the wishing tree?
We often swing by this hidden gem when exploring the old homes at the Northern end of Capitol Hill neighborhood, near Volunteer Park. The owner of the tree is a local resident who not only has made the board on which to attach your wish, but also a table, tree stumps as seats, a table, markers, and cards.
After you have written your wish or words of gratitude on your card, you are to place it in a small gold jar on the table and the owner takes time out of her day to laminate your card (to ensure rainy Seattle Weather doesn’t destroy it) and she adds it to the board.
There is nothing commercial going on here — just a homeowner who, since 2014, has provided an opportunity to everyone in Seattle to put something out into the universe in the hope it will one day be answered. It is a great representation of Seattle Culture at its finest. Images of the cards are posted on The Wishing Tree Seattle’s Facebook page.
If anything on this list has inspired you to visit Seattle with Totally Seattle, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d like to help plan your perfect Seattle experience.