Seattle’s Waterfront Fun Rolls On as the Viaduct Comes Down
The Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market and fresh seafood are among the biggest crowd-pleasers along Seattle’s evolving waterfront. But the area’s greatest attractions are the views that opened up as the Alaskan Way Viaduct came down. Demolition crews removed the double-deck elevated highway between downtown Seattle and its waterfront in sections throughout 2019. With the tear-down completed and redevelopment construction ongoing, here are the top things to see and do along the waterfront.
Watch History Being Made
The viaduct’s removal is a major step in the ongoing transformation of the waterfront into a dynamic gathering space (pictured above) that will soon seamlessly connect to downtown. Some of the projects that have already been completed include the renovation of the cruise terminal at Pier 66 and the construction of the salmon-friendly seawall along Alaskan Way. Ongoing projects include the new Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock (bring your patience, and try to walk on if you can leave your car behind).
Future work will bring public green spaces, bicycle trails, pedestrian bridges and a major aquarium expansion. So when you visit the waterfront this summer, take a moment to admire the changes that have already taken place. And get ready for more.
Know Before You Go
The most important thing to remember is that all the attractions along the waterfront’s main surface streets — Alaskan Way and Western Avenue — are still open. The city of Seattle and Washington state have been working with waterfront businesses to minimize disruptions. This includes creating a free waterfront shuttle that provides daily service from downtown to Seattle Center and Pioneer Square with 14 stops at or near most major attractions. The state also created an online parking guide to help find downtown garages with the best rates, with some charging $3 to $4 an hour, comparable to metered street parking. Pike Place Market’s garages are among the best options.
Revel Along the Water
As summer heats up, so will the dockside action at Waterfront Park, between the aquarium and the Great Wheel. The nonprofit Friends of Seattle Waterfront started putting together a robust calendar of concerts and events, beginning with KEXP Rocks the Dock in July 2019 and including free concerts and performances every Saturday and Sunday and on select weekdays.
Go To Market
Before the viaduct closed, those driving north passed right by the patio and pavilion of Pike Place Market’s MarketFront expansion (pictured above), which opened in 2017 and later provided a front-row seat of the demolition. Its establishments include Old Stove Brewing Co.’s brewpub, Honest Biscuit’s bakery and café and Indi Chocolate’s factory and shop. All three provide tasty refreshments to enjoy while taking in the views from their shared patio.
Feast on the Waterfront
If you haven’t been to the Crab Pot or the Fisherman’s Restaurant & Bar in a while, you’re in for a treat. Chef Nick Novello took over the kitchens of both Miner’s Landing restaurants last fall, and they now have new menus. This includes the Crab Pot’s new Royal Crab Feast (pictured above), which showcases Alaskan bairdi crab alongside established favorites, incuding Alaskan king crab and Dungeness and all the “fixins.” Novello’s new Fisherman’s menu includes seasonally driven non-seafood dishes and tasty non-alcoholic oyster shooters, including one accompanied by a Buffalo sauce. Other top spots for seafood include Elliott’s Oyster House, which has $1.75 oysters during happy hour (weekdays, 3–6 p.m.), Matt’s in the Market, and Ivar’s Acres of Clams and its fast-casual Fish Bar next door. Aerlume, by James Beard Award–winner Jason Wilson, brings refined Northwest cuisine to an airy Western Avenue space with stellar waterfront views.
Enjoy the Attractions
The shops and attractions along Alaskan Way are open even during the viaduct demolition’s partial road closures. This means that you’ll still be able to marvel at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop’s curios and souvenirs.
Make time at the Seattle Aquarium to explore the fascinating world of Northwest waters, including fish, shorebirds, seals, otters and more, and visit the Underwater Dome (pictured above) at 1:30 p.m. daily to see a diver feed wolf eels and other sea dwellers.
Views from the Olympic Sculpture Park can stretch to the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, just as stunning as the larger-than-life works you’ll see along the walking path, with or without construction crews working nearby.
– Written by Rob Bhatt, last updated in October 2022.