* Alki Beach: The closest Seattle comes to a L.A.-style “hang-out” beach, Alki Beach in West Seattle is where the first white settlers set up camp—and packed it up after one wet, miserable winter to move across the bay. Today’s Seattleites don’t let the weather keep them away from this stretch of rocky, sandy beach with its photo-op views of the Seattle skyline, the ever-popular Salty’s on Alki Beach restaurant, and the paved walkway that lets you enjoy it all. You can reach Alki Beach by water taxi from Pier 55.
* Elliott Bay: If you’re in Seattle, you’re going to see Elliott Bay no matter what, because it forms the scenic backdrop to the entire downtown and west side of the city. Part of Puget Sound, a huge island-studded inlet of the Pacific Ocean, Elliott Bay provides a waterway from Seattle to the ocean and is one of the busiest ports in the U.S. You’ll see ferries, sailboats, fishing trawlers, cruise ships, excursion boats, and pleasure craft of all kinds plying its waters. Taking a ferry over the Bainbridge Island is one of the easiest ways to get out on the bay yourself.
* Lake Washington: The main part of central Seattle is wedged between saltwater Elliott Bay to the west and freshwater Lake Washington to the east. The two are connected by the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, a series of historic locks that provide a passing parade of boat traffic. Lake Washington is a major recreational area for Seattle, and its shoreline is dotted with lovely old parks and beaches.
* Mount Rainier National Park: With its glaciers and easily accessible alpine meadows, Mount Rainier is Washington’s favorite mountain. Sunrise and Paradise are the two best vantage points for viewing the massive bulk of Mount Rainier, and in these two areas of the park, you’ll also find some of the best hiking trails.