From a museum for bad art (yes really) to a ‘sound garden’ to The Wall Of Death - there’s all sorts of quirky spots for you to marvel at.
Not quite impressed with the usual Seattle tourist spots that everyone suggests that you visit?
A bit of a discerning traveler and urban explorer, and want to check out quirky and eclectic Seattle attractions that don’t find a place on most things to do in Seattle blogs?
We got you!
10 quirky and offbeat Seattle attractions for you to explore in 2022
Ghost walks and tours.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.
A Sound Garden.
Seattle’s Official Bad Art Museum Of Art.
Beacon Food Forest.
Blue Moon Tavern.
Orient Express Restaurant.
The Wall of Death.
The Fremont Troll.
Ghost walks and tours
Started off with a bang, didn’t we?
But it’s true. There are quite a few places in Seattle that are rumored to be haunted with ghosts and spirits.
And there are tours available, led by experts like ghost hunters and paranormal researchers. Some of them are said to have been featured everywhere from the Washington Post and the Denver News Journal, to Guests on XM Radio and CBS News.
Makes for one helluva event, at night.
Pro tip: Most of these tours wind through bars and hotels where you can interact with other types of spirits, know what I mean? Choose your tour wisely!
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Founded in 1899 by Joseph Edward Standley, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is both a souvenir shop and a sort of museum housing various kinds of curios…shrunken heads, mummies, natural oddities, taxidermy treasures and manmade wonders from all over the world.
The founder is long gone, but the shop remains family owned and operated, currently by the fifth generation since Joseph.
It’s perhaps the only free place in the world where you can enter for free and gaze at everything ranging from a (preserved) eight legged pig to a 1920’s era military march organ.
It’s located right at the end of Pier 54, overlooking Puget Sound.
Website: Go to website
A Sound Garden
If you had to guess what would you say The Sound Garden is?
Well, it’s a primarily an art installation on the campus of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Western Service Center in Seattle.
Designed by Douglas Hollis, the art installation consists of a series of pipe-like structures that whistle and howl when the wind passes through them.
And located by Lake Washington, it gets windy often.
Try to get there in the afternoon, and grab a seat on one of the benches at the garden. You’ll have a great afternoon with the wind in your face, looking out onto the water, and listening to the music of the Sound Garden.
N.B. To get to the garden you’ll need to pass a checkpoint. Show them a photo ID and tell them you’re there to visit the sound garden; they’ll issue you a visitors’ pass and let you in.
Website: City website webpage (scroll down)
Seattle's Official Bad Art Museum of Art (inside Cafe Racer)
Had too much of Picasso and Monet?
Coveting a more laid back approach to art?
Then you must visit Seattle’s Official Bad Art Museum Of Art (OBAMA).
It’s where works of art like Dog Playing Poker and The Pout find a place, for all to enjoy.
And you’ll find a mixed crowd inside, from art lovers having a laugh to art haters having a blast , musicians, people who just dropped in and so on. You’ll be amazed how many people dress in their ‘Sunday best’ to get that perfect Insta selfie!
Pro tip: If your significant other dragged you to a fine art exhibition despite your not having any interest in it at all, this is where you can pay them back!
And as you marvel at all the bad art, don’t forget to grab a Wonder Wiener from Cafe Racer. This particular item has so many goodies stuffed into it, from grilled bacon to cream cheese, a toasted bun and special sauces…you’ll go ga-ga.
Located on Capitol Hill.
Website: Visit their website
Beacon Food Forest
Located on Beacon Hill, next to Jefferson Park, Jefferson Food Forest is a planned urban forest (technically a garden mimicking a woodland ecosystem) with a large number of edible trees and shrubs.
It’s a godsend for the local community as it provides them with a ready source of fresh, organic produce. A lot of the work is done by volunteers, and anyone from the local community can, in turn, simply go in and pick what they need.
It’s a lovely place to visit in Seattle, with the peace you can expect in a garden (even if it’s in the middle of a city) and benches spread all around for you to sit and stare.
If you’re interested, they often organize events, tours and classes on various topics.
Website: Visit their website
You might laugh at the notion of thousands of pieces of chewed chewing gum being taken as ‘public art’ but that’s exactly what the Gum Wall is. People’s chewing gum, thousands of pieces of them, stuck on a wall.
Located in Post Alley next to Pike Place Market, it is definitely worth a peek. Especially if you’re heading towards the market anyway.
The ‘installation’ started in the 1990’s, from people waiting to get into the Market Theater sticking their discarded gum pieces on the wall. Over the years it grew.
In 2015 the city pressure-washed and scraped the wall clean (no doubt at significant expense) but within a week we (as in Seattleites) were out there, regrowing the display.
Might sound disgusting, but go ahead and have a look. Snap a selfie if you feel like it, and walk away. Pike Place Market, with all kinds of interesting sights and smells, is right next door!
Website: Pike Market’s webpage on it
Blue Moon Tavern
There’s nothing immediately unique about Blue Moon Tavern. Right now, it’s just like any other pub, with maybe a little quirkier interiors than most.
What makes this tavern an offbeat Seattle attraction is its past.
Built in 1934, it was a Godsend for students at the nearby UWash campus. You see, even though Prohibition had been repealed, local laws made it illegal for booze to be sold within a mile of the campus. Guess how far this tavern was from the campus…
Partly drawing on that, and partly otherwise, it became a place where numerous individuals associated with the ‘counterculture’ movement, like Theodore Rothke and Dylan Thomas.
Despite changes over the years, the place has maintained its counterculture and vintage feel.
Website: Go to website
Orient Express Restaurant
A great place to grab A-grade Chinese and Thai cuisine, coupled with martinis while listening to karaoke…but that’s not why this is on our list of 10 quirky Seattle attractions.
It started out in 1949 as Andy’s Diner, with a novel idea - it would be located inside a disused train car.
It proved a popular concept, especially among the locals and people who came to the area for work and pretty soon they had to add more train cars to keep up with the demand.
But its main claim to fame came around the 1990’s, when it purchased the car used by FDR to tour the nation for his 1944 re-election campaign. It still maintains some of the original hardwood wall paneling and fixtures, and has a number of photos from its famous past.
Website: Go to website
The Wall of Death
Follow the Burke-Gilman Trail and under University Bridge you’ll find a giant orange track supported by lavender spikes and metal chairs attached to the bridge’s support columns.
This is an art installation known as the Wall of Death.
Inspired by the tracks used in motordrome sports, it was put up by Mowry and Colin Baden in 1993.
While opinions on its artistic value vary, it’s universally acknowledged to be eye-catching and definitely an offbeat feature in our city.
The Fremont Troll
Unlike the spirits you may or may not encounter on your ghost walks and tours in Seattle, the Fremont Troll is real.
Erm, that is it’s a real piece of sculpture. The brainchild of UWash architecture prof Steve Badanes and his students, it’s a concrete sculpture of a huge troll rising from within the earth, clutching a VW Beetle in its left hand.
Unfortunately, the troll is often spray-painted, which can’t be removed. So fresh layers of concrete are added from time to time to cover the paint which has sort of disfigured the troll from its original form.
Visit it, don’t spray-paint, but by all means climb over it and get yourself some great selfies!
Visiting Seattle in 2022?
As you can see, Seattle has more than its fair share of quirky, offbeat and eclectic attractions for the discerning traveler and urban explorer who wants to explore beyond the usual list of tourist spots.
If you’re looking for a more active thrilling adventure in Seattle, drop in at Seattle’s best escape room.
If you’re a Seattleite who’d rather have a peaceful weekend getaway, check out the 10 best weekend getaways near Seattle.
And finally, if you found this post useful, bookmark Seattle’s best travel, events, and activities blog.
Featured image by David Mark from Pixabay.