If you like to take historic walking tours of the places you visit, you absolutely won’t want to miss this unique opportunity. Seattle, like many of the world’s great cities, has a surprising and fascinating history, and in its case, a lot of that history is buried underneath the city streets less than a half mile away from downtown. In fact, there’s sort of a whole other city down there!
In 1889, the Great Seattle Fire destroyed 31 blocks of the Pioneer Square neighborhood, which was originally built on filled-in tidal flats, and often flooded. The decision was made to rebuild after the fire at a street grade of one to two stories higher than the original, resulting in an underground level of the city that was essentially left untouched. Business was still conducted on this level until the early 1900s, when it was condemned by the city, becoming an illicit hideaway for opium dens, speakeasies, and flophouses. But lucky for you; today it’s a popular and unusual tourist attraction and one of the best things to do in Seattle!
Fun for the Family (and More!) at One of the Best Things to do in Seattle
A walking tour of the Underground is sure to be remembered by everyone for years to come. It’s not too strenuous of a fun things to do in downtown Seattle, yet you must dress for comfort and weather (no high heels, please!). Underground tours are not wheelchair-accessible, and they might be a bit challenging for those with very young children. You’ll look at the city sidewalks in a whole new way once you’ve been underneath them!
Several companies offer tours of the Underground, so you’ll have to decide which one works best for your group. The oldest is Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, which started operating in 1965. They offer the standard experience, which is a 75-minute tour, and includes plenty of history. They also have a few specialties, including the Underworld Tour, which focuses on Seattle’s Old Red-Light district (and all the naughty things that went on there!). Must be 21 & over with a valid ID; a cocktail is included.
Likewise, intrepid visitors might want to check out the Underground Paranormal Experience, a ghost-hunting tour offered in the evening hours. Participants get to use the same equipment that trained paranormal investigators use in their search for ghosts, all while hearing stories of the long-lost souls that supposedly haunt the Seattle Underground. The tour is recommended for guests 13 & up. Make sure you’re really prepared, as it may disturb your sleep for a long time to come!