From Savor Seattle to the Seattle Obscura Society, these are the most fascinating, delicious, heady, spooky and downright cool tours of the city. Check out a breakdown of Seattle’s best tourist attractions here.
HISTORICAL & CREEPY TOURS
Started in 1997, these true-crime van tours have been featured on TV shows including the BBC's The Last 48 Hours of Kurt Cobain. The company offers 2.5-hour scenic and historical tours of Queen Anne Hill and surrounding areas (which covers the 1995 warehouse arson fire and Seattle's worst mass murder in Chinatown) and Capitol Hill and surrounding areas (which covers Kurt Cobain and Ted Bundy). They also offer ghost tours and a recently added "Booze, Broads & Jazz Tour," where you'll end at a cocktail bar after visiting the sites of Prohibition-era clubs, brothels, and gambling houses.
"Real ghost hunters" guide these 90-minute tours of what they claim to be the city's most haunted sites, focusing on "actual paranormal investigations." Their offerings include the Pioneer Square Ghost Tour, a "Haunted Pub" tour, a "How to Murder" tour (where you'll see crime scene photos), and actual underground ghost hunts. Your tour ticket also gets you into the Seattle Death Museum, featuring coffins, embalming tools, and vintage mourning jewelry.
FOOD & DRINK TOURS
During the spring and summer, Ethnic Seattle offers food tours of Little Saigon and Japantown. On the 2.5-hour tours, you'll learn all about the history and culture of two unique neighborhoods, taste delicious food (including a visit to a tofu factory on the Little Saigon tour), and get to meet special guests in the international food industry.
Select dates through August, $65
Choose from tours of Pike Place Market during regular hours or early in the morning before it opens; a "Chocolate Indulgence" tour (stops include Dahlia Bakery for local mogul Tom Douglas's famous coconut cream pie and Fran's Chocolates, a reported favorite of the Obamas); a "Gourmet Seattle" tour; a seafood-focused progressive dinner; a tour of Capitol Hill's restaurants; or the "Booze 'N Bites" tour, during which you'll get five cocktails. Tours range from two to three hours and include anywhere from 12 to 18 food and/or drink samples.
Learn about the city's most important beverage on Seattle by Foot's signature tour, the Seattle Coffee Crawl. During the 2.5-hour walking tour, you'll stop at cafes for at least six different samples, and you'll learn about different brewing techniques, types of roasts, and the philosophies that make each coffeehouse unique.
The Wing Luke Museum offers two regular tours of its neighborhood—the busy International District, known for its complicated history and incredible restaurants—both of which include admission to the museum itself. On the three-hour Bruce Lee's Chinatown tour, you'll learn about the famous martial artist who lived and was buried in Seattle, see highlights including his first martial arts studio and first practice space, and eat a meal at a local restaurant featuring some of his favorite dishes. Take the comprehensive 90-minute Touch of Chinatown option and you'll learn about the neighborhood's history, sights, and smells from a local guide. On Friday afternoons, carefully curated neighborhood food tours are also available, with different themes throughout the year: "The Rice Stuff" (through June), "Grilled Things and Chicken Wings" (July through September), and the "Twilight Noodle Slurp" (October through December).
Learn about windows, building materials, public parks, urban history, and other parts of Seattle you might not have noticed otherwise. SAF's schedule changes often, but their unique two-hour tour options include several downtown offerings, like "Diamonds & Gold: The Art Deco Skyscraper Northwest Style," "Greatest Hits: Chart Toppers and Heart-Stoppers" (which includes the impressive Central Library), and "Design Details: Lions, Griffins & Walruses, Oh My!" They also offer neighborhood tours of places including Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.
OTHER UNIQUE TOURS
Stranger pot writer Tobias Coughlin-Bogue calls this one of the best ways to see behind the scenes of the legal weed industry, as it grants you access to facilities that would otherwise be closed to the public. On the 3.5-hour tour, you'll start at swanky Diego Pellicer, watch a glassblowing demonstration, learn how cannabis oil is produced, visit a grow operation, and end at more recreational stores.
The Seattle Obscura Society (a local chapter of Atlas Obscura, an online magazine devoted to the weird, wondrous, and underappreciated) hosts one-off events around the city that celebrate unique, offbeat locations and experiences. Past events have explored the artwork at a former Naval Air Station and current park, a distillery focused on producing unique liquors, and the cemetery where many of Seattle's pioneers are buried. Check their website for future opportunities to explore unique parts of Seattle.
Various dates, $25
These "rock & roll sightseeing tours" play up the nostalgia for Seattle's early 1990s grunge and rock scene. Stops on the 2.5-hour van tour include the space where Pearl Jam and Soundgarden used to rehearse, the bar where Nirvana played, the home where Kurt Cobain died, and more.