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Things to do in Pioneer Square, Seattle

By: Andrew Mortier
June 12, 2019

Pioneer Square isn’t just a cool name. As one of Seattle’s oldest districts, it has actually pioneered Seattle life since the 1850s. In fact, it used to be the focal point of Old Seattle!

While King County has way more to offer now than it did in the good ol’ days, make no mistake - Pioneer Square is still a vibrant locale with a mixture of old-timey looks and modern flair. If you’re on the lookout for adventure in Seattle, check out some of what old Pioneer Square has to offer.

Art City

If I had to rename Pioneer Square, “Art City” would be up there on our list things to call it. Galleries are all around in this part of town. If you’re particularly interested in contemporary art, definitely check out the ArtXchange Gallery, featuring cutting-edge exhibitions with a global emphasis.

The Stonington Gallery enjoys a Pacific Northwest Native American influence, showing off bright collections of inspired First-Nation art. In a similar vein, there’s Flury & Co., a gallery dedicated to the vintage work of Edward Curtis. He photographed Native tribes in the elegant, earthy settings of their PNW homesteads.

For something a little different, try Glasshouse Studio: Part museum, part live workshop. Watch the glassblowing process yourself or simply admire (or purchase) the masterworks of local glass artists. Meanwhile, the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum gives visitors a firsthand glimpse of early Seattle law enforcement as it brought order to the budding city we know and love.

Park It!

Pioneer Square’s Waterfall Garden Park is a serene locale in which the city-weary can recuperate by a gorgeous waterfall. It’s got a definite feeling of secrecy to it, though anyone can technically visit.

One can’t talk about Pioneer Square without at least mentioning Occidental Square Park. From its lowly origins as a mere parking lot, OSP has come a long way. Occidental Square is a bustling arena with a classic European feel, including brick walkways, crawling vines, and charming little businesses that line its streets.

And for that historical angle, you’ve got the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. This grand expanse offers guided tours of one of America’s early gold-crazy hot zones, including the famously arduous chilkoot Trail.


What’s a Seattle district without its curiosities? You can start by getting the lay of the land in the Sky View Observatory, a towering 73rd-floor peak within the hurricane-and-earthquake-proof Columbia Center.

Conversely, you can burrow beneath Pioneer Square’s surface with Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour. This is a guided navigation through ghostly old pre-fire Seattle, sunken and silent under the streets where the living walk today. For an even more ghostly vibe, Spooked in Seattle is Pioneer Square’s eerie roundabout, taking visitors through all the most popular haunts as told of in Seattle legend. If you’re really into the archaic, but you need something to put your hands on, check out Arundel Books, a veritable Merlin’s library of antique tomes on everything from science to poetry.

These are some of our favorite things to do in Seattle. What are yours? Let us know by tweeting us @ApartmentList.

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Drew is a contributing author at Apartment List. As a previous Seattleite, he obtained a B. Read More
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