Seattle Scheming: Natural Beauty, Urban Cool

Forget the plaid shirts, the grunge rock and the overpriced coffee. Seattle is SO much more than that. Drop your preconceived notions and enjoy the surprises in store for you in this cool urban center shaped by art and culture, technology and innovation. Add in the Jet City’s breathtaking natural beauty and…what’s taking you so long? Get registered for the 2016 SEGD Conference: Experience Seattle June 9-11!

We know you’ll want to add a couple days onto your trip, so we checked with the locals about the best things to do and see while you’re there!

Explore Downtown

The Seattle Centercampus includes the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project, Chilhuly Garden and Glassand Seattle’s own people-powered radio station KEXP.A great way to spend the afternoon or the day!

Pike Place Market is not only one of the world’s most famous food venues, it’s also used by the locals. For a special dinner, experience Matt's in the Market.

Space NeedleWell, you just have to, right? Not only is this one of the most iconic attractions in the U.S., it offers unparalleled views and a big bonus—an amazing (and SEGD Global Design Award-winning) interactive experience designed by Belle & Wissel.

Seattle Public Library The Rem Koolhaas gem is definitely worth the trip!

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation(also an SEGD Design Award winner) is worth a look and it’s right across the street from the Space Needle and Seattle Center.


Great EGD Projects

Allen Institute for Brain Sciencebuilding (in Seattle’s burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood). Studio SC designed the environmental graphics program, including a 150-ft.-long lightbox on the exterior that features an installation called Pathways. It interprets the brain’s neural activity and alludes to the institute's big science approach.

Starbucks Roasteryis within walking distance of the conference hotel.

There are a number of fantastic murals throughout the city (including the Cinerama Mural) and you can find them sorted by neighborhood here.



Experience Music Project Museum What?? Nirvana and Hello Kitty, plus an original manuscript page from Game of Thrones??

Seattle Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Garden Walk to the waterfront, then to the park and have lunch on the way. The garden is free and open to the public 7 days a week.

Frye Art Museum always admission free, with a great gift shop

Living Computer Museum

Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and the Bezos Center for Innovation (another cool EGD project)

Pinball Museum (has beer and pinball…what else do you need?)



Downtown Seattle’s 5th Avenue has a number of great retail windows--fun for walking. You can start at the Nordstrom flagship at 5th and Pine and work your way down the street.

Get your outdoorsman on at the REI flagship store and maybe do some indoor rock climbing.

The newly renovated Nike Seattle store (downtown on 6th Avenue) includes an awesome neon ceiling installation fabrication by Western Neon that took 600 man hours, 700 feet of glass, 2,700 pounds of steel and 15 transformers to complete.

Elliott Bay Books--not as famous as Powell’s Books in Portland but definitely worth checking out (across the street from Cal Anderson Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood)

Uncle Ike’s (When in Seattle…)

Peter Miller Bookstore (great selection of design books)

Kobo (Int’l district and Capitol Hill)


Nube Green

Drygoods Design


Eats and Drinks (and some music too!)

Zig Zag Café (awesome cocktails, specialize in reviving old recipes,) located on the Pike Hill Climb which is a quirky walking experience.

Chophouse Row is just a really cool spot to walk through with a number of great restaurants

Shorty’s is a Coney Island-themed bar with pinball and strong drinks

The Unicorn (what else do you need to know?)

Crocodile Tavern Live music. Some notables of the past include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Cheap Trick, R.E.M., Mudhoney and Yoko Ono.

Deimitrious Jaz Alley They have someone amazing almost every night.

In China Town, Dim Sum at Harbor Cityand Green Leaf Vietnamese are local favorites.

In Capitol Hill, some local favorites include Canon (intimate atmosphere and great craft cocktails); Rhein Haus Seattle for beer and bocce ball; Garage for the bowling, billiards and beer; Mamnoon is a favorite and its abbreviated version across the street from the Westin on 6th is good too.

Dicks drive-in is a Seattle icon, especially at 2 a.m.!

Alibi Room – Off the beaten path, but still not too far from the conference hotel.

Kell’s – Landmark Irish pub in Post Alley

Bizzaro Italian Café – unique décor

RN74, great for dinner and near the conference hotel!


Outdoors and More

For cheap and fun entertainment, ride the Washington State Ferryto Bainbridge Island, have some lunch and explore! It’s a short walk to The Pub for microbrews, fish & chips and margaritas… or rent a bike right off the ferry. )

Alki Beach (via King County Water Taxi)-- At the Water Taxi port on the West Seattle side there is a super awesome restaurant called Marination Ma Kai. You can dine in or grab to go.

Lake Washington Blvd — walk, car or bike. Paddleboard rental

Lake Union (houseboats) kayak and paddleboard rental

Rent a canoe at UoW WAC

Magnolia Bluff walk in Discovery Park. Can’t beat the views on a nice day.

Mariners Baseball The Mariners are playing the Rangers at home June 10 and 11 at 10:10 pm and Sunday June 12 at 4:10 pm (we’re just sayin’…).

If you’re a film buff (and even if you aren’t), the Seattle International Film Festivalwill be going on during conference time. 25 days, 400 films from 90 countries, 150,000 attending.

Underground Seattle. Yes, it’s very touristy, but actually pretty cool.

Greenlake(Ballard) When the sun comes out, Seattlites jump at any chance to capture some of that fleeting moment.  The park has a very pleasant 3.2-mile walk and if you’re feeling adventurous you can kayak, paddleboard or swim.

In Old Ballard, check out Un Beinfor Caribbean take-out and head to Golden Gardens for a beach picnic.

At Gasworks Park, you’ll get a great view of the city looking from the north across Lake Union. Good restaurants just 5 minutes north in the funky town of Fremont, home to Adobe. Favorites/landmarksinclude the Red Door and the Triangle Tavern.

Paddle the the spectacular Nahanni River. Here are ten tips for your trip.


And a couple of hidden gems...

Fremont Troll. If you venture north of downtown to the Fremont neighborhood (aka “the center of the universe”), the Troll is not-to-miss! You’ll find him nestled under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.  The actual VW Beetle in the troll’s hand gives you an idea of the scale of this 18-ft.-tall public artwork.

Tenzing MoMo(super cool apothecary shop hidden in the Pike Place Market)


Thanks very much to Michael Courtney Design, Studio SC, CREO Industrial Arts and Mind Opera!!

New Member Offer

Click to access the 2020 "Never been an SEGD member before" $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

2023 SEGD Academic Summit
2023 Wayfinding and Placemaking
2023 Experience Washington D.C.