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Seattle Hidden Gems: 5 Must-See Secret Spots

Stunning vistas, mouth-watering cuisine, world-famous attractions…Seattle has it all! Now that you’ve checked off the Space Needle, Monorail, Experience Music Project, Pike Place Market, Seattle Aquarium and maybe a Mariner’s game from your list, there’s even more to explore if you know where to look. A quick ride aboard the Victoria Clipper will land you in the heart of Seattle, where you can head off the beaten path and discover a side of the city you didn’t know existed with our insider’s guide to Seattle’s best kept-secrets!

1. Smith Tower

One of Seattle’s most iconic landmarks, the Space Needle, gets all the buzz for its spectacular views (and they are indeed amazing), but it’s not the only building in town that offers a bird’s-eye view of the city. Originally the tallest building in Seattle (circa 1914), the historic Smith Tower offers 360-degree views of downtown Seattle, Space Needle, stadiums and the waterfront.

Pop into one of the manually operated, brass Otis elevators and ride up to the 35th floor observatory to soak in views from the open-air “Bird Cage.” Be sure to stop in the newly opened speakeasy-style bar, Temperance, to sip hand-crafted cocktails and feast on shareable plates full of heavenly goodness.

2. Center for Wooden Boats

Seattle may be known as the Emerald City, but the sparkling sapphire waters surrounding the city are another one of the region’s precious gems. Tempted to get out on the water yourself? Head to one of the city’s favorite aquatic playgrounds, the Center for Wooden Boats for one of their special Sunday Public Sails. Cruise around Lake Union for free on a steamboat, schooner or yacht. Just be sure to come early, as the sailing tours are popular and often sell out.

While you wait for your ride, wander through the hands-on maritime museum for an inside look at more than 100 unique vessels and learn a thing or two about local boat history. Or, play with the dock toys (interactive exhibits right on the docks) and discover the how to tie knots, use signal flags and absorb the history of lake.

3. Needle & Thread Bar

Remember when you were a kid and had a secret password or knock to enter your best friend’s clubhouse? Well, Capitol Hill’s trendy Needle & Thread Bar is kind of like that, but 100 times cooler. Pick up the old-school rotary phone tucked away next to the old bank vault door inside Tavern Law Bar and ask to get buzzed into the cozy, prohibition-style space. The joint doesn’t have a menu, which adds to the fun, so just let your talented bartender know your favorite spirit and flavor and they’ll work their magic to whip you up a flavorful concoction – you won’t be disappointed!

4. Theo Chocolate

Want to get your caffeine fix (sans coffee) while tantalizing your taste buds? Discover the sweeter side of Seattle on a behind-the-scenes tour of the renowned Theo Chocolate Factory in Fremont. Wander through the inner-workings of the building and receive an excellent education on the history of chocolate as well as a peek inside the “confection kitchen” where tasty ideas are born and tested. Of course, the tour wouldn’t be complete without the chance to nibble on everything from caramels to coconut curry chocolate bars. Talk about deliciousness in every bite!

5. Pinball Museum

Pinball enthusiasts and lovers of all things retro rejoice! Situated in the heart of Chinatown, the Seattle Pinball Museum is a labor of love created by two pinball fans and is dedicated to the “preservation of pinball for future generations.” The perfect cure for a rainy day, the amazing museum boasts more than 50 fully-playable, vintage pinball machines that are free to play with admission to the museum. Grab an old-fashioned soda or craft beer and spend the afternoon clinking and clacking on the machines to your heart’s content.

Whether you spend the day basking in the sun on a wooden boat or cozied up in a back-room bar, Seattle holds an array of secret spots worth unearthing. After a day of soaking in the vibe of these hidden gems, you may just start feeling like a local!

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