21 Things to Do in Seattle When You’re Under 21

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Getting out of that famous Washington rain and into a bar for an adult beverage to warm you up from the inside out sounds great. But you’ll have to wait until you’re legal. When you haven’t hit 21, sometimes it feels like the cities you explore come with a curfew. Don’t let the lack of bars in your plans stop you from having fun. Seattle has plenty of cool activities that don’t require an ID check.

Hit the Seattle streets to check out 21 things to do in Seattle before you turn 21.

1. Explore the Parks

Can’t deal with the clutter and noise of the urban city anymore? Seattle has some amazing parks. Climb to the top of a hill at Gasworks Park to score a dashing view of Lake Union. Or escape from city living with some peace and quiet at Kerry Park in Queen Anne. Ready to run? Hit Discovery Park, perfect for those who want to get a little bit of physical exercise without getting stuck on a treadmill. Let the natural Pacific Northwest beauty wash away any under-21 concerns.

2. Chill with some cats at Meowtropolitan Café

If you love cats, Meowtropolitan Café should take a top spot on your bucket list. Whether you’re a student, tourist or just cat-obsessed, take an afternoon to de-stress from finals. Chill with some adorable, fluffy kittens will ease your panic in no time. Enjoy pastries, coffee and cats all in one go. Just make sure to plan ahead. You need a reservation at Meowtropolitan in order to visit the fluffy stars of the show.

3. Hitch A Ride On A Water Taxi

Sometimes, the best kind of transportation means not worrying about getting off it. “My favorite thing to do in Seattle is take the West Seattle water taxi from downtown to West Seattle,” says University of Washington junior Lily Rosencrantz. Skip the traffic for a beautiful view of the city as you glide across the water. Check out the skyscrapers looming into the (probably rainy) skies and catch a glimpse of the Ferris wheel along the water. You won’t get that from the subway.

4. Grab a bite At The Marination Station

Water makes you hungry, even if you haven’t gone swimming in it. At least, that’s the excuse we use. “After the water taxi, I like to go to Marination Station,” said Rosencrantz. Marination Station is the place to go if you drool over Hawaiian-Korean food. Even if you haven’t even heard of fusion food, it wouldn’t hurt to try their amazing tacos.

5. Hit the Beach at Golden Gardens

When you think of beaches you probably imagine sun and sand in California, not drenched sand in Seattle. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a beach day with your friends. Seattle has plenty of beaches within city limits to spend the day. Enjoy the ocean breeze at Golden Gardens on a hot, summer day. Build a bonfire at night and kick back with friends while enjoying views of the sound. You deserve it.

6. Get Elegant at the Seattle Art Museum

If you skip visiting the Seattle Art Museum in its own city, what are you even doing? The Seattle Art Museum makes the perfect afternoon for those who love to appreciate art history in silence. Introduce yourself to new cultures by walking around the various collections, which include African Art, Mediterranean Art and more. The Seattle Art Museum also hosts exhibits from acclaimed artists, such as Andrew Wyeth, for weeks at a time. Not to mention, the first Thursday of every month is free—the best news for those of us who live that #brokecollegestudent life.

7. MoPOP Culture

Contrary to popular belief, not all museums set off alarms when you get a little too close to the art. At the Museum of Popular Culture not only can you touch the exhibits, you’re encouraged to. Explore the history of pop culture with an exhilarating experience at the Star Trek exhibit. Test your comic book knowledge (and maybe pick up a few things) at the “Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes” exhibit. Oh, and don’t forget to try your hand in creating sound at the Sound Lab.

8. Chihuly Garden and Glass

If you plan on doing some sightseeing but the weather refuses to cooperate, don’t despair. Visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Filled with many of Dale Chihuly’s breath-taking sculptures, the garden will redefine your concept of art. “It’s a great place of aesthetic photos,” University of Washington junior Xochilt Sanchez said. “And the café is great. Expensive, but great.” Get a firsthand look at the wild expanses of human imagination with these fragile, beautiful sculptures. They take intricately-designed shapes almost beyond comprehension.

9. Check out the Aquarium

Remember what Finding Nemo taught you: fish are friends, not food. Take a trip back to your childhood days and spend the afternoon in the Seattle Aquarium. As soon as you walk into the doors, you’ll step into the marine world of the Puget Sound. With octopi, otters, seals and various species of fish, you’ll see ocean life in action. Just don’t tap on the glass. Don’t forget feedings at the Underwater Dome start each afternoon at 1:30.

10. Take Off at the Museum of Flight

From Kitty Hawk to jets that break the speed of sound, the Museum of Flight is a jaw-dropping gallery made entirely of planes. Catch a glimpse of the engine that took Apollo to the moon. If you’re a space nerd, treat yo’ self and book your spot at a workshop. Try Voyage to the Unknown, where you learn all about Voyager 1’s trip to outer space. Need an extra bonus? You can find the museum near Boeing Field, so after an afternoon of learning about the history of plans you might even get to see one take off.

11. Get a Bird’s Eye View of Seattle

Why stick to the ground when you can get a bird’s eye view? Visit Kenmore Air and hop on a scenic flight about the city. Check out Seattle’s skyline at the best angle in the city, from the soaring Space Needle to the stunning glass diamonds of the Seattle Public Library. You can even take a seaplane over Lake Union itself for an insane sunset view.

12. Row, Row, Row Your Boat Tour

Just because you’re on vacay doesn’t mean you have to skip arm day. Rent a boat from The Center for Wooden Boats and take to exploring Seattle from the water. If you want to make things even more exciting, sign up for sailing classes. A little practice and one day you can take to South Lake Union as an expert.

13. Venture Into Pioneer Square

If you want a blast from the past, head to Seattle’s first neighborhood. The architecture will really bring you back to the old days. While you’ll see a lot of bars in the area, Pioneer Square also has galleries and shops you can sift through. Pioneer Square held the first-ever Art Walk in the United States on the first Thursday of every month. Sit and relax under the sun (when you can find some) at the Waterfall Park. Or you can add a quirky twist on the classic shop ‘til you drop at Agate Designs. The shop has crystals, gems and fossils to uniquely decorate your dorm room shelves.

14. Go Underground

Sure, lots of people like to explore new cities. But how many can say they’ve explored an underground city? Enter the series of tunnels and passageways known as Seattle Underground underneath Pioneer Square. Grab a spot on Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour to visit the eerie sites of old, abandoned storefronts and sidewalks underneath an entire city. Or test your bravery on the nighttime Paranormal Tour.

15. Museum of History and Industry

MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry, sits right on South Lake Union and showcases Seattle’s history, starting from its foundation and leading to modern day. Both tourists and Seattle natives can discover how Seattle has come to be the city we visit and live in today with exhilarating and informational exhibits. Take the Bezos Center for Innovation, a permanent exhibit at MOHAI. With this exhibit, you get to learn all about the creative innovation within the Puget Sound via interactive exhibits and leading innovators.

16. Late-Night Laser Light

Spend your night visiting a Seattle classic: the Laser Dome. Right next to the Pacific Science Center, you can recline in an enormous, theater-like building as lasers flash above your eyes. They even include some music in the shows. Featured artists include as Michael Jackson, Odesza and Gorillaz.

17. Farmer’s Market

While the UDistrict Street Fair only happens every May, you can still see what the locals have to offer every week at the UDistrict Farmer’s Market. Buy everything from locally made honey to mouth-watering bread each Saturday. Hunker down with the food you picked out, then listen to the music that plays throughout the day. Still hungry for some fresh local goods? Head over to Capitol Hill on Sunday for another farmer’s market.

18. Get classy at Benaroya Hall

Fix your posture and dress up in your finest clothes. The Benaroya Hall, home to the Seattle Symphony, you can listen to the soulful orchestra that will leave you at peace with the world. More of a nature lover? Get up close and personal as National Geographic photographers and filmmakers bring you behind-the-scenes footage with National Geographic Live.

19. Rock Out at the Neptune Theater

Living on a student budget can be tough. If you want to see a performance that won’t break your bank, head on over to Neptune Theater and see what they’ve got lined up for the night. Neptune hosts a wide range of artists such as Matoma, Echosmith and Andy Grammar. The Neptune Theater turns every person you know into your next favorite friend as you bond over the love of music. You are sure to find your favorite genre of music and a new Snapchat buddy here.

20. Catch a film at a local theater

Sometimes it seems like every movie theater you visit only shows the same eight movies until new ones come out. If you’re at the point of considering your third re-watch of whichever superhero movie just came out, you need to start watching different movies. With theaters such as The Egyptian and SIFF, movie-goers can see critically acclaimed independent films such as Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. You can even expand your horizons with foreign films, like the Austrian psychological thriller Goodnight Mommy.

21. Wander Ballard Neighborhood

Some of us just like to walk through quiet neighborhoods with our favorite album queued up. The Ballard neighborhood is both quiet and quaint, allowing you to forget that you live in a fast-growing city. Treat yourself to some cozy sweaters for the chilly PNW mornings. Or snag a new pair of shoes at the hipster boutiques that line the streets. End the day right with something as simple as a bowl of pho. You can also sample a nice, low-key dinner at the many trendy restaurants available in this neighborhood. Plus, insider’s tip: The Goodwill in this area has amazing, cheap finds.

BreAnna Girdy is a junior at the University of Washington studying English and Digital Arts/Experimental Media. Her hobbies include reading, writing, photography, and pretending she is a professional movie critic.

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