12 Best Things to Do in Seattle Cruise Port Before or After Your Cruise

Seattle cruise port guide

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If you’re visiting Seattle on a cruise, you’re in luck. Seattle is a favorite embarkation cruise port for many cruise travelers!

The Port of Seattle in Seattle, Washington, is a common embarkation port for cruises to Alaska, Canada, Asia, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal. Whether you have a few hours to fill before your cruise leaves or are planning a pre or post-cruise stay, there is a lot to explore in and around the Seattle cruise port.

In this post, I’ll share the best things to do in Seattle on a cruise, including shore excursions and inexpensive or free activities. You’ll also learn everything you need to know about visiting the Seattle cruise port for the day and get answers to commonly asked questions. 

Seattle Cruise Port 

Seattle cruise port guide

There are two major cruise terminals in Seattle:

  • The Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal, also known as Pier 66
  • Smith Cove Cruise Terminal also known as Pier 91

The distance between the two ports is less than 3 miles (about a 10-minute drive). However, Pier 66 is much closer to downtown Seattle. 

Both ports have two berths each and are conveniently located within a 30-minute drive of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the Seattle Paine Field International Airport (PAE). 

Many of Seattle’s best restaurants, bars, landmarks, and attractions are within walking distance of Pier 66 and driving distance of Pier 91.

What Cruise Passengers Need to Know About Seattle Cruise Port

Time Zone

The time zone in Seattle is the Pacific Time Zone. 


Seattle is often associated with rain, but the summer months of June, July, and August are the driest and warmest months in this locale. During these months, temperatures reach between 71 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cruise season in Seattle typically runs between April and October. The average high temperatures for the bookends of the cruise season, April, May, and October, are in the upper 50s and low 60s. 

It is considerably rainier in April, May, and October with an average rainfall of 3.1 inches, 2 inches, and 3.9 inches. 

Getting Around Seattle

Both Seattle ports are a short distance from downtown, with Pier 66 being the closest option. While you can walk to many attractions, the availability and convenience of taking a taxi, Uber, or public transit will make getting around this metropolis less stressful. 

On Foot

Many attractions are within walking distance of both ports including the Space Needle (a 20-minute walk from Pier 66), and Pike Place Market (a 10-minute walk from Pier 66). 

Public Transit

Seattle has a fairly robust public transit system including Link Light Rail, Monorail, Metro bus services, water taxis, and Street Cars. 

If you plan to use public transit all day, an Orca Card is a great option allowing you to purchase an inexpensive regional pass for use with almost every transit option. 

Electric Bikes (EBikes)

Seattle has been awarded the Best Bike City in America several times and an eBike is a fantastic way to see the city. 

Whether you choose a guided tour or rent a bike, the protected bike lanes downtown make it a safe and convenient option for getting around. 


Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are plentiful in Seattle and a quick way to get where you want to go. 

Car Rentals

If you are planning to stay in town, walking, public transit or ridesharing is the way to go because not only is parking within Seattle tricky, it’s also expensive. 

If you want to get out of town to explore nature, a rental car can be a good choice. 

Best Seattle Shore Excursions

Seattle is positioned on a narrow strip of land between the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Nestled between the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges, this modern city shows its cultural and economic diversity through museums, art galleries, and restaurants.

There are also many natural wonders to explore just outside Seatle’s city limits. 

If you are here for a few hours or several days, here are some of the best Seattle shore excursions and places to visit

1. Take a Tour of Seattle on Foot

Get an introduction to the downtown area of Emerald City on a walking tour led by a knowledgeable local. There are several tour options (length and location) to choose from. Meet the tour guide at the North end of Pike Place near Anchorhead Coffee (2003 Western Avenue), about a 7-minute walk from Pier 66 and a 12-minute drive from Pier 91.

2. Dodge Fish at Pike Place Market 

Founded in 1907, this Seattle icon is worth a visit! Covering nine acres, this two-level public market has everything from notorious fish throwing to vendors’ stalls filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, meat, souvenirs, and arts and crafts. It is a popular choice for people wanting to get a feel for the local lifestyle. 

Visit here on a weekday morning for smaller crowds and consider doing a food tour.  Pike Place Market is 30 minutes from Pier 91 via public transit and a quick 9-minute walk from Pier 66. If you are coming from the Sea-Tac airport, you can ride a straight shot on public transit to the Market in around 45 minutes. 

3. Get Inspired at Chihuly Garden

Located at the base of the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden includes eight indoor galleries and landscaped gardens featuring the colorful blown glass sculptures of artist Dale Chihuly. It is one of Seattle’s Top Attractions along with the Space Needle. 

Equally as awe-inspiring during the day or lit up at night, this attraction can be bundled with a Space Needle visit to save money. 

4. See 360-degree Views of Seattle on the Iconic Space Needle

You can’t visit Seattle without seeing the Space Needle. Built as part of the 1965 World’s Fair, your ticket to the Space Needle includes a 42-second elevator ride to an observation deck. There is also a level with a moving glass floor, drinks, and some eats. 

On busy days, the line to get in (even with timed tickets) can be a long wait, but the view is worth it. The Space Needle is a 23-minute drive from the Seattle airport, an 11-minute drive from Pier 91, and a 5-minute drive from Pier 66.

5. Earn Your Wings at the Museum of Flight

You don’t have to be an aviation geek to appreciate the largest private air and space museum in the world. Interactive exhibits about the space shuttle Challenger, traffic control towers, and over 50 full-size planes including the first Boeing 747, and the first Air Force One make it easy for visitors to spend hours learning about the history of flight. 

Admission is inexpensive and most exhibits are indoors, making this a great choice for a rainy-day Seattle activity. The Museum of Flight is a 20-minute drive from Pier 66, a 28-minute drive from Pier 91, and an 11-minute drive from the Seattle airport. 

Related: 13 Alaska Cruise Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Cruise

6. Get Pop Savvy at The Museum of Pop Culture

A unique Seattle experience, the MoPop Museum has hands-on, interactive exhibits on popular music and movies. You can try your hand at a sound lab, or see exhibits about Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, horror movies, and more. 

The MoPop is a short walk from the Space Needle, in Seattle Center so it can be paired with several activities. 

7. Touch Sea Slugs at the Seattle Aquarium 

The Seattle Aquarium is located on the historic central waterfront. It is a great place to learn about wildlife native to the Northwest region including river otters, harbor seals, Northern fur seals, salmon, and other Puget Sound fish. The unique underwater dome shows a 360-degree view underneath the pier. You also have the chance to carefully touch sea animals like sea slugs, anemones, and sea stars. 

The aquarium is a 13-minute drive from Pier 91 and a 10-minute walk from Pier 66. 

8. Experience Nature at the Nearby Island of Bainbridge

Take a 35-minute ferry ride to stunning Bainbridge Island. Once you arrive you can hike, bike, or walk at Fort Ward State Park or the Bloedel Reserve. 

Stop by the Farmers’ Market for lunch and go shopping in Winslow. It is easy to fill your day with fun activities on Bainbridge. As a bonus, from this location, you can catch spectacular views of Seattle’s cityscape. 

Purchase your Washington Island Ferry ticket online and hop on the ferry on Pier 50. This is a 19-minute walk from Pier 66 or an 18-minute car ride from Pier 91. 

9. Combine Art and Outdoors at Olympic Sculpture Park

Named for the nearby Olympic mountains, this free sculpture park is an excellent choice for a sunny day.

This offshoot of the Seattle Art Museum is located on the waterfront between Piers 66 and 91. It features several sculptures spread over nine acres.

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10. Try Sushi with a Northwest Twist

Good sushi isn’t too surprising for a coastal town. However, Seattle has a local twist on Sushi you’ll want to try.

The Northwest Omakasse at Sushi Kashiba in Pike Place Market focuses heavily on northwest ingredients. Arrive early to get a table at this eatery popular with locals and tourists.

11. Experience Coffee Culture at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Just blocks from the Starbucks that started them all, this upscale Roastery is one of seven worldwide. 

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is 15,000 square feet and has multiple floors dedicated to coffee. It features rare Starbucks Reserve coffees roasted onsite, delicious food (including pizza), and even adult coffee-centric beverages. 

Located an 18-minute drive from Pier 91, an 11-minute drive from Pier 66, and 25 minutes from the Seattle airport. Starbucks lovers will enjoy the food, coffee, merch, and vibe of this excursion. 

12. Enjoy Native Flora and Fauna at the Washington State Arboretum

With 230 acres, miles of walking paths and over 4,000 species of trees, vines, plants and shrubs,  this arboretum is a gorgeous excursion option. 

Admission to the main arboretum is free, with a separate charge for the Japanese gardens.  Tours are available as well as more active excursion options like canoeing. 

This excursion is a little ways outside of town. About a 30-minute drive from Pier 91 and a 20-minute drive from Pier 66. You’ll enjoy the peace and quiet here as well as a glimpse into the flora and fauna native to Washington state. 

Seattle Cruise Port FAQ:

What is the best time of year to visit Seattle?

The best time to visit Seattle is during the warmer (and drier) summer months of June, July, and August. However, since the Seattle cruise port is a gateway to Alaska, you can visit and enjoy as long as cruises are departing. 

How far is downtown Seattle from the cruise port? 

If your ship is in berthed at Pier 66, you are within minutes (and walking distance) of downtown Seattle. Pier 91 cruisers can get to downtown locations via public transit or car within 20-30 minutes. 

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Final Thoughts On Things to Do in Seattle Cruise Port

The Emerald City of Seattle offers a variety of activities for cruisers departing from, or returning to this port. Whether you want to enjoy the beauty of Pacific Northwest Nature or experience Seattle’s unique art scene, there are activities for everyone.

Have you been to Seattle yet? What was your favorite part of this city?

Happy Cruising!


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