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Top 10 Seattle Tours (other than ours, of course)

Let’s get the shameless self-promotion out of the way first – if you’re looking for a great overview of Seattle’s most famous sights and fascinating neighborhoods from the comfort of a tour bus (so you don’t have to navigate our traffic or public transit), our City Tour is perfect for you.  If you prefer to be picked up at your hotel and want a more intimate group size, this tour is just the ticket for you.  If you want to get out of the city, our Mt. Rainier National Park Tour will give you the most comprehensive experience of the park possible in a single day, without having to worry about planning, driving, or trying to find parking.

 

Sometimes you want to experience other sides of the Seattle area, though, and as a small independent tour operator, we can’t offer everything.  So here’s a roundup of our favorite other tours that we would take while visiting this amazing city:

 

  1. Seattle Grunge Redux – For many of us (fellow Gen Xers I’m looking at you), Seattle is most associated with the flannel-clad bands of the ’90s.  This walking tour explores the Belltown neighborhood to learn about where these bands were developing this sound that would take over the world.

 

  1. Argosy Locks Cruise – This boat tour takes you from the Seattle waterfront to Lake Washington (or vice versa) via the historic Lake Washington Ship Canal and Hiram M. Chittenden (aka Ballard) Locks.  As much fun as it is to watch other boats going through the locks, this is the easiest way to experience the perspective of locking through yourself.

 

  1. Ballard Kayak and Paddleboard Tours – If you’d rather paddle your own vessel through the Ballard Locks, that’s one of the many great kayak tours this company offers.

 

  1. Amazon Spheres – This one might take some planning since it’s only open to the public on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month, and the online reservations fill up quickly.  If you’re lucky enough to grab one of those spots, it’s a free self-guided tour of the 40,000 plants housed within these futuristic glass domes.

 

  1. Hola Seattle – These are the only Seattle tours offered in Spanish and Portuguese, and since a language barrier can be a huge impediment to a great tour experience, I’m glad these guides are here to provide what monolingual tour guides like myself cannot.

 

  1. Puget Sound Express Whale Watching Tours – A highlight for many visitors to our region is seeing some of the most famous residents of the Puget Sound (our Orca, Humpback, Minke, and Gray whales).  Of course, if you want a chance of seeing these amazing creatures, you need a way to get out on the water, and Puget Sound Express boasts the fastest and quietest whale-watching boats in the Northwest.  You will need to get out of Seattle to meet at the ports they sail out of, but Edmonds (the closest), Port Townsend and Port Angeles (both on the Olympic Peninsula) are all charming towns worth visiting.

an animal swimming in the water

  1. Beneath the Streets – This walking tour, much of which takes place literally underground Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, while also delving into some of the more underground elements of Seattle’s past.  While Bill Spiedel may have originated this type of tour, we love the smaller group sizes of Beneath the Streets (maximum 25 people), as well as the specialty tours they offer (one focused on queer history, the other on debauchery and vice) in addition to their standard history oriented tour.

 

  1. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour – Theo was the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America, and they offer daily public tours of their bean-to-bar chocolate-making operation in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle (with plenty of samples to make the tour not only educational but also delicious).

 

  1. Eat Seattle Pike Place Market Food Tour – The Pike Place Market, a sprawling 7-acre historic district, is the most popular attraction in Seattle, so you’re probably going to come here regardless.  As much fun as it is to explore on your own, with 220+ independently owned shops & restaurants, 150+ craftspeople, 70+ farmers, 60+ permitted buskers, and over 10 million visitors per year, it can be a bit overwhelming.  That’s why it helps to have a local chef as your expert guide to the culinary treasures of the market with this 2-hour walking and tasting tour.

a large clock mounted to the side of Pike Place Market

  1. Kenmore Air Volcano Tour – Kenmore Air offers many scenic aerial tours from land and seaplanes, but this one takes you from Boeing Field in South Seattle up to as close to the summits of both Mount Rainier and Mount Saint Helens as you’re likely to get without having to climb up there yourself.a view of a snow covered mountain
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