3 Underrated Seattle Attractions You Cannot Miss

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Surrounded by sea, rivers, forests, lakes and fields, Seattle is in the midst of some spectacular natural scenery. Today, I am sharing with you some of the best city attractions that will bring you closer to understanding Seattle’s ecology, geography, and history. 

Ballard Locks

The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, known to Seattleites as the Ballard Locks, is one of the most popular attractions during the summer months.

ballard locks

The Locks facility is connected to the fish ladder and botanical garden. Admissions to all sites are free! In the summer (May – September), free one hour guided tours to the Locks are offered daily at 1 pm and 3 pm. On the weekends, an additional tour is provided at 11 am. It is a fantastic way to learn all about the Locks, the history behind it and salmon!

To get to the Locks, you have to walk through part of the botanical garden. On your way, you will see a wide array of tree and beautiful flowers.


botanical garden seattle

If you are not sure where you’re going, just follow the small bronze salmon medallions on the ground. It will eventually lead you to the fish ladder, but the Locks is just on the way.


If you see boats ahead of you, that means you have arrived the Ballard Locks!

ballard locks seattle

That morning, we arrived just in time to see the boats head west out to Puget Sound! Woo hoo~

Here is a little history about the Locks – the Locks is built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer in 1917 to move boats between Puget Sound and the Ship Canal, which connects eastward to Lake Union and Lake Washington. By adjusting the Locks’ water level, they enable all kinds of vessels (sailboats, motorboats, tugs, barges and yachts) to pass through.

All the boats were getting ready in the lock chamber and waiting for the gate to be opened.


Before the gate was opened, the water level in the Locks needed to be dropped.

lowering the water level

lowering the water level

After 10 minutes, the valve and the gate were finally opened, allowing the boats to leave the lock chamber.

ballard locks seattle 3

Opening the gate and valve

Bon Voyage~~

ballard locks seatle 5

Next, we passed through the spillway dam, which regulates the water levels of the Ship Canal and lakes.

dam ballard locks seattle

Walking to the other end of the dam, you will find the fish ladder, which was constructed to allow salmon pass around the locks and dam so that their vulnerability to predation and boat injury would be greatly reduced.

fish ladder seattle

Small amount of “attraction water” is released to aid the fish in finding their way to the ladder.

fish ladder seattle 2

An underground viewing gallery makes it possible to see spawning fish head into freshwater and young fish swim towards Puget Sound.

fish ladder seattle 3

Young fish heading towards the ocean

fish ladder seattle 4

Spawning fish climbing towards the freshwater

If you are interested in knowing the best times for viewing salmon migrating upstream in the ladder, here is the “schedule”:

  • Sockeye: July
  • Chinook: last 2 weeks of August
  • Coho: last 2 weeks of September
  • Steelhead: last 2 weeks of February and March

Don’t be too upset if you miss the best times for salmon migration. You might find it very interesting and educational to see the salmon eggs hatching process through the display of translucent tubes at the gallery 🙂

salmon eggs hatching


After touring the Locks and fish ladder, Kev and I strolled along the Seaview Avenue. It is a fantastic location for couples to spend time listening to the splashing waves and seagull-screams, breathing the salt air and letting the sea breeze gently blow across your face. How romantic! Needless to say, the view was gorgeous 🙂

seattle puget sound ocean view

Fremont Troll

Nothing is more bizarre than finding a giant monster statue underneath a bridge. In Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, a statue of an ugly creature clawing out of the earth beneath the Aurora Bridge has turned the location into a tourist attraction. Clutching in its left hand was an actual VW beetle with a California license plate.

fremont troll seattle

“Why was it here?” In 1989, the Fremont Arts Council wanted to clean up the space underneath the Aurora Bridge, which used to be the campsite for local drug dealers. So they called for a national competition to select the most imaginative solutions to this neglected space. Isn’t it cool to find the monster from the Norwegian folktale “Three Billy Goats Gruff” dwelling under  the bridge?

Gas Works Park

Not too far away from Fremont Troll lies the 19.1 acres public park, on the north shore of Lake Union. Gas Works Park contains massive, rust-coated gasworks plant that operated from 1906-1956 to provide energy to Seattleites.

gas works park seattle

Import of natural gas in 1950’s made the plant obsolete. The city then purchased the property and opened the park to public in 1975. Covered with expansive green lawns, it is now a great place to walk the dog, cycle, take a nap, fly a kite or have a picnic 😀

Besides the plant was a man-made knoll called Kite Hill. Following the path to the summit, you will have a magnificent panoramic view of the city presented in front of you!


seattle 2

Unsurprisingly, it is one of the favorite spots for Seattleites to watch the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks!

Now, you know what other attractions you can visit in Seattle besides Pike Place Market 🙂 Coming next is my experience at the biggest video game convention in North America. Head over here and embrace your nerdy side!

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7 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. I’ve been to Seattle a few times but haven’t gone to these three attractions. Apparently, we seem to visit the same places repeatedly. I have heard of Ballard Locks but didn’t know too much about it. What an interesting tour especially seeing those translucent tubes. Thanks for the ideas and inspiration for our next visit.

    • Hey Mary, thanks for visiting my blog! Those attractions are one of my favorites in Seattle. I still couldn’t believe that there are such amazing attractions in the city. The views at gas works park were spectacular 🙂

  2. I have visited Seattle quite a few times but I have never visited the Freemont Troll – looks like a fun adventure!

  3. Haha, I love that troll under the bridge. So funny. I’m also awaiting your article about the video game convention! 🙂 I love video games!

  4. Nice little tour! I have always wanted to take the Lake Union ferry. Looks fun!


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