Where would Seattle be without Elliott Bay? Originally the lifeblood of the city as the gateway to Puget Sound and the Pacific, the bay is still central to Seattle life, from the bars and restaurants lining the waterfront to the bustling ferries that take commuters back and forth across the water.
It's the only place where you can really appreciate Seattle's natural splendor in all its glory, as well as the best place to see the city's diverse marine life, and the inspiration for much of Seattle's best art and architecture. Whether you're lucky with the sunshine or it's typical Pacific Northwest weather, there's always something to keep you entertained.
Come and stay in one of our Seattle vacation rentals and see the extraordinary sights of Elliott Bay for yourself.
Start your day at the top of the Space Needle
If you're staying with us at Stay Alfred on Wall Street or Stay Alfred on Western Avenue, you've probably already seen some knockout views from your apartment, but we've got to admit there's one place that has them beat. An icon of the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle soars 520 feet above ground and has breathtaking 360-degree views around the city and across Elliott Bay. Stand on the world's first rotating floor and watch the city laid out under your feet, or get a great vantage point from the tilted glass walls of the open-air deck.
Take a sightseeing cruise around Elliott Bay
Get an alternative perspective on Seattle's historic waterfront on a cruise around the bay. Most boat trips are 1- or 2-hours and include lectures on the city's maritime history and – if you're lucky – a close encounter with the orcas, harbor seals and California sea lions that call the bay home. A full-service bar with beer, cocktails and snacks is usually available, and some boats even offer on-board wine tastings. Plus, the panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains at sunset are definitely not to be missed.
Explore under the sea at Seattle Aquarium
There's so much more to Elliott Bay than just what you can see on the surface. Start exploring Seattle's underwater world at Seattle Aquarium with the 'Window on Washington Waters' exhibit in the lobby, which is home to lots of local wildlife and has a diving show three times daily. Adults and kids alike will fall in love with the adorable river otters, tufted penguins and colorful triggerfish, and there are plenty of hands-on exhibits where kids can touch starfish and sea urchins. The giant Pacific octopus always draws crowds – learn more about this fascinating creature and watch it being fed every day at noon.
Grab a snack at Pike Place Market
One of the oldest operating farmers markets in the United States, Pike Place Market is a lively, eclectic and totally unique place to shop. The fish market here is justly famous for its sustainable, world-class king salmon and Alaskan halibut, but Pike Place offers everything from traditional vegetable stalls to artisan chocolate stores and handmade jewelry and musical instruments. The market is just steps away from Stay Alfred at Pike Place, and a great option for grocery shopping if you're staying in the area.
Admire the art in Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park is set on the shores of Elliott Bay, and the spectacular views of the water are rivaled only by the fascinating monumental sculptures on display. The award-winning 9-acre park is built on land reclaimed from a former industrial site, and features more than 20 sculptures by both local and international artists as well as visiting installations. Winding trails through the park let you view the sculptures at your leisure, or there are 1-hour public tours which explore the park's landscape design and dynamic artwork.
Get closer to the action on a sea kayak tour
If you're feeling adventurous and don't mind a bit of paddling, a kayaking tour is a great alternative to a boat cruise. You're able to get to places a boat can't reach, with a better chance of spotting wildlife like cormorants, sea otters and possibly even the occasional dolphin. Explore up the mouth of the Duwamish River or along the shore of Centennial Park, and take in outstanding views of the Seattle waterfront and Mount Rainier in the distance.
End your day with seafood on the Pier
Seattle's waterfront is lined with dozens of restaurants serving local, freshly-caught seafood every evening. Your options are endless, from stunning modern restaurants serving innovative cuisine to down-home family eateries. The clam chowder at The Fishermans Restaurant comes highly recommended, as do the pan-fried oysters at Elliott's Oyster House. If you feel like splashing out, Aqua by El Gaucho was named one of the top seafood restaurants in America by Gayot in 2012. Finish up with a delicious coconut or huckleberry ice-cream from Seattle Bay Creamery on Pier 57.