Seattle offers a wealth of trippy art and mind-bending spaces to explore, much of them just a short distance from Pike Place Market. 

I’ve been traveling to Seattle every few years my entire life, and it’s hands down one my favorite cities anywhere. It’s cool and dewey, but not as bitterly cold as some East Coast cities, and on a sunny day there’s nothing like a sweeping view of Puget Sound.

There are a few basic destinations any visitor has to hit at least once in Seattle — Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, etc. — and they’re definitely fun. But once you’ve visited the main postcard sights, here are a few places that are just slightly more hidden and way more trippy:

Seattle Central Library

The Seattle Central Library in downtown looks like some sort of computer glitch in SimCity. The building was designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaus and Joshua Prince-Ramus. It opened in 1994.

The entire building is fun to explore, but one of the most instagrammed sections is a portion of red hallway (above) that is so intensely colored it messes with your eyes (or at least it messed with mine.) And when you get tired of the red hallway, venture into the rest of the building (below). It’s free.


“Wake,” at the Olympic Sculpture Park

Via Creative Commons/Geldmond

The Olympic Sculpture Park on the edge of downtown is one of Seattle’s most enjoyable destinations. But among all of its many art works, Richard Serra’s “Wake” is probably my favorite. The piece is made up of five large, wavy slabs of metal that were created via computer imaging and machines that produce ship hulls. The metal towers over visitors, and the imagery changes depending on the time of day and the sun. And best of all, it’s interactive.

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll is famously one of the more whimsical pieces of public art out there. The sculpture was begun after a competition in 1989, and is made of two tons of concrete, along with rebar and wire. It took seven weeks to finish. It’s a fun and surprising stop, especially en route to some of Seattle’s lively northern neighborhoods.

If you go: All of these destinations are free to visit and accessible via public transit.

Related reading:

This Oregon shipwreck is like a ghost from the past

The prettiest beach I visited this year: Cannon Beach

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.


  1. I’ve only been to Seattle once and I can’t wait to go back one day, I just wish the flight wasn’t so expensive! It’ll always be one of my favourite cities.

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