seattle grunge walking tour

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Take a Seattle Grunge Tour

Unearth the history of a local rock movement that defined an era..

BY CORINNE WHITING

Often referred to as the “Seattle sound,” grunge is a distinctive rock genre and subculture that surfaced in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1980s and quickly spread across the globe. And although flannel shirts and unruly manes are less common these days than in the early ’90s, plenty of concert venues, record stores, and other Seattle attractions still maintain their connections to the grunge movement that helped define this creative region and its inspired people. The past and present await you on an informal tour of grunge.

seattle grunge walking tour

Sub-Pop T-shirts at Sea-Tac Airport store Courtesy Spencer Chappelle

If you fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, that’s where you should begin your exploration of grunge, thanks to the Sub Pop Airport Store (17801 International Blvd, SeaTac). By offering music, t-shirts, and plenty of other hip swag designed by local artists, this shop honors not only the Pacific Northwest but specifically Seattle-based Sub Pop Records, the famed independent record label credited for launching the movement after signing megastars like Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden.

seattle grunge walking tour

Guitar Sculpture at MoPOP Courtesy MoPOP

The tour continues at Seattle Center’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) (*325 Fifth Ave N), a shimmering, Frank Gehry-designed shrine to rock music, science fiction, and popular culture. A bronze statue outside commemorates Soundgarden’s late front man Chris Cornell, and museum exhibits include Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses and Pearl Jam: Home and Away , featuring dozens of artifacts, photographs, oral histories, and stage props like handwritten setlists. You can even play a tribute to the greats in the interactive Sound Lab.

Afterward, stroll to the nearby KEXP Gathering Space (*472 First Ave N), the vibrant HQ of Seattle’s beloved indie radio station, 90.3. At this community hub, watch on-air DJs play beats of all backgrounds, sign up to watch live performances in the studio, and learn fascinating history on daily studio tours—they’re free, but online reservations are recommended. You can also dig through crates at resident retailer Light in the Attic Records (472 First Ave N) and sip espresso from attached La Marzocco Cafe (472 First Ave N).

Another place to catch free in-store performances is West Seattle’s Easy Street Records (4559 California Ave SW), a shop and cafe that shares a long history with neighbor Eddie Vedder and his Pearl Jam bandmates. Outside the store, bassist Jeff Ament once painted a mural honoring his pioneering pre-Pearl Jam band, Mother Love Bone; recently, he commissioned another artist to recreate the long-absent artwork there.

seattle grunge walking tour

The Rocket Summer performing at The Crocodile Courtesy The Crocodile

After the sun sets, attend shows at storied venues like Belltown’s The Crocodile (2200 Second Ave), which helped launch acts like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mudhoney. The club has long had connections to famous performers: Original owner Stephanie Dorgan married R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, while one of the current owners is Sean Kinney, drummer for Seattle band Alice in Chains. Nearby, in an alleyway off Battery Street between Second and Third Avenues, look for artwork marking “Black Dog Forge”: In the early ’90s, the basement of this former blacksmith shop allegedly served as a practice space for such bands as Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

For further live music, try The Showbox Market (*1426 First Ave), the Art Deco venue across from Pike Place Market where Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden have graced the stage, or Re-bar (1114 Howell St). This downtown club hosted the 1991 release party for Nirvana’s second studio album, Nevermind , and also appeared in the 1992 film Singles .

True grunge devotees may consider booking the Pearl Jam Suite at the waterfront  Edgewater Hotel   (*2411 Alaskan Way). The space is filled with art and memorabilia, a record player, a library of the band’s best albums, and a replica of Easy Street Records’ Mother Love Bone mural. And the entire fifth floor of Hotel Max (*620 Stewart St) is dedicated to Sub Pop Records, with large-scale black-and-white images, framed poster art, Crosley record players, and a selection of vinyl records curated by the label. You’ll sleep easy knowing that you’ve properly honored the gods of grunge.

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Seattle Grunge Redux Walking Tour

Do the walk that rocks. Immerse yourself in Seattle's grunge-era history. Enjoy leisurely strolls while uncovering fascinating stories. Ideal for music enthusiasts, from the most dedicated to the laid-back.

$300 - Private Group

Capacity - Max of 8

Available At

The edgewater, an over‐water hotel where rock n roll meets luxury.

Seattle, Washington

seattle grunge walking tour

History. Music. Storytelling.

We’ll unearth hidden histories and revisit beloved locales from a musical era still providing fascination to fans of all ages. Connect with this essential global music scene. And imagine a world before the internet and streaming content forever changed the musical landscape.

Walk an approximately two-mile path through Belltown (starting at the historic Moore Theatre and finishing at KEXP's Gathering Space in Seattle Center). The many stops along the way make this an approximately 2.5-hour storytelling journey.

Eric Magnuson is a writer, researcher, and cultural geographer. He developed his signature Grunge Redux tour in 2017. Curious people from over 30 nations and the vast majority of American states have joined the fun. Everyone coming to Seattle with questions about the grunge era share one thing in common - they leave happy if they’re lucky enough to take one of Eric’s tours.

Location Instructions

We'll meet under the marquee of The Moore Theatre (1932 2nd Ave., at the corner with Virginia St. in downtown Seattle). The Moore is a classic, still-hoppin' venue that'll kick off the sights we'll see around Belltown. Hosted by Eric Magnuson.

DISCLAIMER - READ CAREFULLY - Additional terms and conditions may apply. This experience, activity, or event is being offered, sold, and serviced by a third party. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, Curator Hotel & Resort Collection (‘Curator”) cannot guarantee the quality or accuracy of goods and services made available by any third party featured on this site. The third-party providers are solely responsible for the accuracy of the information, the quality of services rendered, and any potential liability arising from the activities offered. Information and descriptions are subject to change without notice. The nature of some experiences or activities may require liability waivers or legal releases. All terms and conditions set by the service provider should be reviewed during the final purchase process.

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8 Places Every Grunge Fan Must Visit in Seattle

Seattle does, in fact, smell like teen spirit 🎸

By Jas Keimig | Published November 30, 2023

Late in the day flowers and notes left on Kurts Bench. This is the 25th anniversary after Kurt Cobain committed suicide in the home just next door to Viretta park. The bench in the park has become a place visited by tourists from around the world, they leave items Kurt would have liked and scribble personal messages to the music icon. Kurt was known to sit on the bench and play his guitar. Seattle still does not have a memorial for the iconic musician.

📸 : The Kurt Cobain Bench at Viretta Park | Photo by 400tmax

For decades, Seattle has been synonymous with “ grunge .”

Birthed in the mid-1980s, the long-haired, flannel-wearing , sludgy guitar genre took the world by force. Big-name Seattle bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney exploded and became rock legends. Although so much of the city has changed since Kurt Cobain asked us to come as we are, there are still spots around town that hold a special place in grunge history .

Here are a few you can still check out today. (Plus, one grunge myth dispelled!)

Viretta Park (The Kurt Cobain Bench)

151 E Lk Washington Blvd, Seattle

📸 Adam Kubota

A note to Kurt Cobain in Seattle, Washington

A bench in this quiet, contemplative park near Denny Blaine in Leschi is  an unofficial memorial  to Nirvana frontman and grunge legend Kurt Cobain. Situated under a giant tree in a clearing, Nirvana fans come to Viretta Park to pay their respects by leaving flowers, stickers,  merch , candles, photos, and knickknacks. Just to the north of the park is the residence where Cobain spent his final days, though it’s a private residence not open to the public.

Museum of Pop Culture 

325 5th Ave N, Seattle

MoPOP in Seattle, Washington

The  Museum of Pop Culture  (FKA The Experience Music Project) certainly wasn’t around when grunge was in its heyday, but it  is  home to a ton of grunge history. Currently, MoPOP has an  ongoing  extensive exhibition dedicated to Nirvana, featuring  200 rare artifacts ,   photos, and oral histories of the germinal grunge band. They also have a  Guitar Gallery  that tracks the instrument’s evolution as it formed the basis of American popular music to round out your understanding of rock history. 

The Moore Theatre

1932 2nd Ave, Seattle

The Moore Theatre in Seattle, Washington

Established in 1907 , The Moore Theatre is the oldest operating theater in the city. And while it’s seen its fair share of all kinds of performances, it’s a recurring character in Seattle’s grunge scene. On June 9th, 1989, $7 would have gotten you a ticket to the raucous Sub Pop Lame Fest, a showcase for early-in-their-career Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad. Famous acts like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains have recorded live albums and music videos on The Moore’s hallowed stage.

BONUS: “Black Sun” at Volunteer Park 

Every Seattleite has heard the rumor that Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” was inspired by  Isamu Noguchi’s 1969 sculpture “ Black Sun , ”  made of Brazilian black granite, at Volunteer Park. The only thing is… it’s not true! Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell  said  he got the phrase when he misheard a news anchor on a broadcast. Still, the sculpture is an  iconic Seattle spot  and the perfect place to post up with your headphones to listen to “Touch Me I’m Sick.”

Central Saloon 

207 1st Ave S, Seattle

The Central Saloon in Seattle Washington on a sunny day in Pioneer Square

Over in Pioneer Square,  Central Saloon  was also a hotbed of grunge activity in the 1980s with its dark interiors and a new call for live music. Lots of bands, like Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, The Melvins, and Soundgarden, played regularly at The Central before  the “Seattle Sound”  hit wider audiences. Central’s stage hosted  Nirvana’s first Seattle show  in 1986, and it was also where Sub Pop’s Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman  spotted  the band, signing them shortly after.

West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park

North of Magnolia, Seattle

The Discovery Park lighthouse in Seattle, Washington.

In 1991, the grunge supergroup Temple of the Dog was formed to honor the passing of Andrew Wood, frontman of Mother Love Bone. For their music video “ Hunger Strike ,” the band filmed around the  West Point Lighthouse  and on the grassy beach at Discovery Park. It’s angsty, gray, and soooo grunge. 26 years later, another iconic Seattle band, Chastity Belt, parodied/paid tribute to the music video with their own equally melancholic track “ Different Now .” Two for the price of one!

472 1st Ave N, Seattle

The KEXP Gathering Space in Seattle, Washington

When KEXP was  owned and operated  by the University of Washington as  KCMU , they were the first radio station to air grunge bands over the airwaves in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the decades following, KEXP has continued to support Seattle musicians past and present through their radio programming and blog. The station is now at the  Seattle Center , where you can chill in the KEXP Gathering Space, sip Caffe Vita coffee, and maybe even slip into  a live in-studio session .

A Sound Garden at Magnuson Park

7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle

A Sound Garden in Seattle, Washington

Public art is important—just ask  Soundgarden . 

The iconic grunge band got their name from an  art installation  created by Douglas Hollis, “A Sound Garden,” located on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Western Service Center campus north of  Magnuson Park . Positioned next to the cold waters of Lake Washington, the sculpture is made up of 12 21-foot towers that have an organ pipe attached to a weathervane at the top—so when the wind blows, it creates a sound. You used to be able to access the sculpture with a government-issued ID, but currently, NOAA has  closed  the campus to visitors until further notice.

Terminal Sales Building

1932 1st Ave, Seattle

Sub Pop Records  played an enormous part in  popularizing grunge  to the masses, signing the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and Screaming Trees early in their careers. For years, the record label’s headquarters were in  a tiny space  on the top floor of the  Terminal Sales Building  in Belltown. Although they’ve moved offices, the building is still a  memento  of Seattle music history.

(Want more Sub Pop? Check out their locations downtown and at the airport .)

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An author pic of Jas Keimig. They have blue braids.

Jas Keimig is an arts and culture writer in Seattle. Their work has previously appeared in The Stranger, i-D, Netflix, and Feast Portland. They won a game show once and have a thing for stickers.

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How We Finally Know We're Old: Grunge Tours Are a Thing in Seattle

seattle grunge walking tour

I t's 10 a.m. on a Thursday, and I'm standing in front of the (recently rebranded) MoPOP Museum waiting for my ride. I'm here to go on Stalking Seattle, a driving tour billed as "A Rock & Roll Sightseeing Tour."

And it's certainly not hard to feel stalker-esque when climbing into an unmarked black Dodge minivan with tinted windows. Two couples, visiting from the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic, sit in the back. It's not what I had pictured—which, to be fair, was some kind of double-decker bus, or maybe a Ride the Ducks "I'm embarrassed for everybody here" type of situation.

"Oh, it's not a real tour," owner and operator Charity Drewery insists, "just a van full of fans." Drewery, who grew up in Seattle, spent her musically formative years "going to shows and chasing boys" in the early 1990s grunge and rock scene.

She starts the tour in a parking lot in front of the Queen Anne apartment where Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone overdosed in 1990, just before the band's debut album was released.

"If Andy hadn't died, Mother Love Bone would have made it. And then of course, after Andy died, Chris Cornell wrote the best album of his life, Temple of the Dog ," she explains to us as we head to the next location. Drewery says she wants to bring up more Seattle grunge-era bands in her tour than "just the big four" who made it, playing bands like Gruntruck, Mudhoney, Green River, Screaming Trees, and Skin Yard on her iPod as she drives.

The highlight of the tour is easily Black Dog Forge. After almost kicking the door in because the key was stuck, Drewery leads the tour inside the blacksmith shop and down some rickety steps to the basement space where both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden used to rehearse.

It's still a practice space for the Briefs, a punk band formed in 2000 that includes Lance "Romance" Mercer, Pearl Jam's former photographer, Drewery points out. Maybe because it's still used, the rehearsal space manages to almost preserve the very smell of the—dare I say it—teen spirit that catalyzed a movement.

Guitars are stacked haphazardly in the corner, piles of PBR cans and ashtrays threaten to fall over. Like the Moore and the Paramount, both spots on her tour, it has life—it is still fulfilling its intended purpose. But, as became obvious from driving past all the new construction sites downtown, few other places still are.

Drewery, for her part, is keenly aware that the Seattle she is stalking on her tours is by now almost a ghost town: RKCNDY, Tower Records, and the Off Ramp are all long gone. As is a cheap bite at the Hurricane, all the record stores, and the bowling alleys.

"This used to be a working man's town," she laments as she pulls into the parking lot of a Madison Park Starbucks after visiting the house where Kurt Cobain killed himself. "Everybody worked at Boeing, or they were loggers and fishermen. You know, that's what your dad did. That's why people wore flannel, because their dad had flannels!"

The Crocodile—since remodeled—is still there, as is Re-bar, where Nirvana started a food fight and got kicked out of their own record-release party for Nevermind . But the parking lot she used has been replaced by construction, so she doesn't even bother stopping there anymore, just points it out from the van. Sometimes, though, tourists will ask her to take their picture in front of the legendary venue.

"If you just look at the building you're standing right in front of, and you don't look to the side at all the new construction, maybe you can feel like you were back there."

LOCATION-CENTRIC

At least one other tour has sprung up around Seattle's explosive music scene in the 1980s and '90s. The Grunge Redux: A Walk That Will Rock tour will be led by Eric Magnuson, who is a "field agent" for Atlas Obscura, a guidebook-styled website and travel enterprise for "explorers" seeking "hidden spots and curious places" around the world.

Unlike Stalking Seattle, which runs daily, Magnuson's tour is a one-off. And like his other tours for Atlas Obscura—the last one was about the Klondike gold rush—Magnuson's approach is as a historian. To him, grunge represents the end of a "location-centric sense of music" coming from a place. "And I don't want to get too deep on it," he says, "but I do feel like we've lost a little bit of that connection that a scene had to a place now."

Magnuson came to Seattle in 1993 ("When people were already saying grunge was dead," he jokes) and soon found a Saturday night route around Belltown with his friend Bob. The route consisted of a few drinks at the Crocodile before walking over to the 5 Point, seeing bands like the Dwarves or the Afghan Whigs play at RKCNDY or the Off Ramp, then playing a round of Donkey Kong at Shorty's before trekking back up the hill to Queen Anne, where he lived. His friend Bob ended up committing suicide a few years ago.

Despite shaping some of the tour locations around this old route, Magnuson wants to avoid the mawkish—what he calls "star-maps nostalgia"—and look forward into the future.

"Grunge has been so, you know, bastardized and delegitimized as a term for a lot of people that I'm titling this tour 'Grunge Redux.' I'm like, let's reclaim it a little bit," Magnuson says. The reclaiming in Grunge Redux is to draw a direct line from Seattle's grungy, angsty past to the institutions—Sub Pop, Bumbershoot, KEXP—that help carve out the city's global musical influence today.

"You know," he adds, "who wants to be stuck with one bumper sticker on your car from 1993? Do you want people to identify you with that? No, you want to be able to evolve. I think everybody wants to be able to evolve."

EVERYONE STARTED DYING

Charity Drewery takes a minute to tilt her head back on the headrest of her car seat. She's tired—she's been running the Stalking Seattle tour since 2010, and full time since 2012. In the summer, she explains, she'll do two tours a day. And sometimes she'll have to make extra stops.

"When I get a die-hard Alice in Chains fan in here," she explains, "I'll drive up to the U-District and go to where Layne Staley died. But usually I try to avoid I-5 and all that."

The Stalking Seattle tour makes Drewery "more money than she's ever had in her life." At $55 per person, and with room for five in her van—"You do the math," she says. Even so, she feels like she's burning out on the rock-and-roll tour biz.

"It's just so repetitious. I'm just driving around in circles, saying the same thing, answering the same questions. And seeing the same tattoos. God, I've seen at least 8,000 Pearl Jam 'Stick Man' tattoos! And I want to go, 'I saw one yesterday, guy,' but you can't make these people feel bad for being like an überfan or whatever."

We're sitting in the van waiting for the tourists to take their photos at the "Black Hole Sun" sculpture in Volunteer Park. Drewery tells me that though the sculpture's name, which is actually Black Sun , is unrelated to the song, the lyrics, "hanging your head and drowning your fears," have a connection.

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The Perfect Self-Guided Walking Tour of Seattle

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Table of Contents

The Perfect Self-Guided Walking Tour of Seattle

Seattle, Washington. The heart of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a city renowned for grunge music, Starbucks Coffee, and rain. With an abundance of awesome sights, from the (kinda icky) Gum Wall at Pike Place Market to the towering Seattle Space Needle, the best way to admire all of these iconic landmarks is on a self-guided walking tour of Seattle !

As I was born and raised in Vancouver, I’ve frequently embarked on a weekend trip to Seattle. And in all my time there, I’ve never gotten bored of a few key areas: the Pike Place Historic District, Seattle Center, Pier 57… and with all these spots being within easy walking distance, the best way to visit them is by foot.

A Public Market sign at the edge of Pike Place on a sunny day, an essential stop on every walking tour of Seattle

Needless to say, you’ll be visiting all of these top Seattle spots on this walking tour . So without further ado, let’s begin: this is my self-guided Seattle walking tour.

Before we dive into all the stops on our walking tour of Seattle, remember that you can make whatever changes and modifications you’d like. That’s the best thing about self-guided walking tours ; you have the ultimate freedom to decide where to go!

With that being said, according to Google Maps, this Seattle walking tour covers 1.9 miles (3.06 km) and will take 40 minutes to complete. However, it doesn’t include all the time (and steps) you’ll spend browsing around. So, I recommend taking a full day out of your itinerary to complete the tour.

Now, once again, let’s begin!

First, let’s start our free walking tour of Seattle at Pier 57.

Home of the Seattle Great Wheel and Miner’s Landing , Pier 57 is the perfect place to start our walking tour. Filled with unique retails shops, stunning ocean views, various family entertainment, and several popular restaurants including The Crab Pot and The Fisherman’s Restaurant, Pier 57 is a vibrant, fun-filled wonderland perfect for those traveling with family and friends.

Ocean view of the Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle skyline, and Miner's Landing Pier 57; stops on my walking tour of Seattle

Here are the three best things to do at Pier 57 in Seattle:

  • The Seattle Great Wheel : Offering panoramic views overlooking Elliot Bay, the Seattle Great Wheel is a relatively new yet iconic Seattle landmark. Adult tickets cost $15, and it’s typically open from 11 am to 10 pm.
  • Miner’s Landing Pier 57 : Housing the most popular restaurants in addition to Wings Over Washington, Salish Sea Tours, and the Carousel, Miner’s Landing is filled with entertainment (perfect for kids!).
  • Seattle Aquarium : For those interested in the diverse sea life of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Aquarium is the best educational resource . Adult tickets cost anywhere from $24.95 to $34.95 (depending on the day you’re visiting), and the aquarium is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm.

A clown fish at the Seattle Aquarium, near some sea anemone and two other clown fish - a possible stop on your Seattle walking tour

  • Pier 57 Address : 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, United States

Next, walk along the waterfront to Pier 62. The first completed section of Waterfront Park, Pier 62 offers breathtaking views of the Puget Sound, as well as some delightful art installations and a floating dock. Admire the incredible ocean scenery before heading to our next stop: Pike Place!

  • Address : 1951 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, United States
  • Time to Get Here : It’ll take 5 minutes to walk from Miner’s Landing Pier 57 to Pier 62.
  • Hours : 6 am to 10 pm, open daily.
  • Website : https://waterfrontparkseattle.org/pier-62/

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Pike Place Market

Next, it’s time to explore Pike Place Market. One of the most popular Seattle tourist attractions (and an essential stop on all walking tours of Seattle), Pike Place Public Market is my absolute favorite district in Seattle.

The "Public Market Center" sign at Pike Place Farmer's Market, the best stop on the walking tour of Seattle!

Historic and vibrant, Pike Place is filled with life. First opened in 1907, Pike Place remains one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the USA . From comic book stores, antique dealers, fresh fish and produce, artisan crafts, and more, Pike Place Market offers a plethora of goods.

While visiting Pike Place, don’t forget to check out these key sights:

  • The Gum Wall : While I personally find it a bit gross, Seattle’s Gum Wall is a prominent local landmark worth checking out. On the side of the Post Alley’s Market Theater, it’s one of the most popular Seattle photo spots!

A section of the Gum Wall at Pike Place Farmer's Market in Seattle, with small bits of the brick wall visible under several colorful gum pieces

  • Rachel the Pig : Located under the iconic red Public Market Center sign, Rachel the Piggy Bank is a bronze sculpture based on the 1985 Island County Fair prize-winning 770-pound pig. Here, you can take some photos and donate some coins to help support Pike Place Market.
  • The Original Starbucks : While the Starbucks located in Pike Place Market is commonly referred to as the Original Starbucks, it is actually the second store that opened. Nevertheless, as the first Starbucks no longer exists, the Starbucks located in Pike Place is the closest we can get to the original. Drop by for some souvenirs and great photo ops!
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese : While I’m not a huge cheese enthusiast, I still adored having some of Beecher’s macaroni and cheese. Stop by to try some handmade artisan cheese!

A crowd of people huddled around a fresh fish stand as a fisherman throws fish onto the display of ice at Pike Place Public Market in Seattle

With so many sights to see in Pike Place Market, don’t rush this part of our walking tour of Seattle. Take your time and explore the shops and restaurants, before heading to our next stop!

  • Address : 85 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101, United States
  • Time to Get Here : It’ll take 7 minutes to walk from Pier 62 to the Pike Place Public Market.
  • Hours : Most businesses are open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • Website : http://pikeplacemarket.org/

Two women walking by a produce stand at Pike Place Farmer's Market on a walking tour of Seattle

Victor Steinbrueck Park

Next, walk from Pike Place Market to Victor Steinbrueck Park. A small but charming park offering pleasant ocean views, it is worth visiting en route to our next destination. However, there are occasionally some sketchy characters hanging around, so be aware and stay safe!

  • Address : 2001 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, United States
  • Time to Get Here : It’ll take 3 minutes to walk from Pike Place to Victor Steinbrueck Park.

Olympic Sculpture Park

From Victor Steinbrueck Park, walk for 14 minutes to Olympic Sculpture Park. Spanning nine acres and associated with the Seattle Art Museum, this award-winning park is a great place to relax, offering clean amenities, enchanting views, and interesting sculptures. And with no entrance fee, it is one of the best cheap things to do in Seattle.

A view of the Seattle Space Needle and a red sculpture from the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle

  • Address : 2901 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, United States
  • Time to Get Here : It’ll take 14 minutes to walk from Victor Steinbrueck Park to Olympic Sculpture Park.
  • Cost : Free
  • Website : https://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/olympic-sculpture-park

Seattle Center

Finally, the last stop on our walking tour of Seattle is Seattle Center, which includes four key museums and sites: the Seattle Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Pacific Science Center.

While this free walking tour of Seattle is officially over, you can easily spend hours exploring the museums around Seattle Center, especially since they all offer something different and unique. So, make sure you have enough time!

  • Address : 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, United States
  • Time to Get Here : It’ll take 8 minutes to walk from Olympic Sculpture Park to Seattle Center.
  • Website : http://www.seattlecenter.com/

The Space Needle

A view of the Seattle Space Needle from down below in the Seattle Center on a sunny day, an essential stop on a Seattle day trip

One of the most popular and exalted tourist attractions in Seattle, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and stands at 605 feet (184 m) tall. While tickets aren’t cheap, there’s no better place to admire the breathtaking panoramic views of Seattle!

  • Address : 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109, United States
  • Cost : General admission tickets for adults costs $35 (but you can buy a combined ticket with Chihuly Garden and Glass for $57!).
  • Hours : Their core hours are from 12 pm to 5 pm, but additional hours will be added 2-4 weeks in advance.
  • Website : https://www.spaceneedle.com/

Chihuly Garden and Glass

A mainly yellow glass art sculpture in the outside portion of the Chihuly Garden and Glass, my favorite spot on the Seattle free walking tour

One of the coolest art galleries I’ve ever visited, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum showcases the fantastic glass blowing sculptures and art pieces of Dale Chihuly, a celebrated artist from Tacoma, Washington.

With eight galleries, three Drawing Walls, and the Glasshouse and Garden offering fabulous views of the Seattle Space Needle, you won’t be bored at Chihuly Garden and Glass!

  • Cost : General admission tickets for adults cost $32 (but you can buy a combined ticket with the Space Needle for $57!).
  • Hours : 9 am to 6 pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 9 am to 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Website : https://www.chihulygardenandglass.com/

The Museum of Pop Culture

An art display of guitars and other string instruments hanging upside down at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington

If you’re a music or film enthusiast, you have to visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) on your Seattle free walking tour. A nonprofit museum focused on contemporary popular culture, they offer exhibits on the Seattle Sound (with a focus on Nirvana and Pearl Jam), science fiction, and horror films.

  • Address : 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, United States
  • Cost : Adult tickets cost anywhere from $26.75 to $34.50 (depending on the day you’re visiting).
  • Hours : 10 am to 6 pm from Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 6 pm on the weekend.
  • Website : https://www.mopop.org/

The Pacific Science Center

A nonprofit museum perfect for those traveling with young children, the Pacific Science Center offers fascinating educational experiences and exhibits focused on science and discovery.

  • Address : 200 2nd Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, United States
  • Hours : Temporarily closed
  • Website : https://www.pacificsciencecenter.org/

A streetcar in New Orleans

Thinking of visiting New Orleans, Louisiana? If so, check out my 3-day New Orleans itinerary , for ideas on where to go and what to see!

Other Fabulous Things to Do in Seattle

Now that we’ve finished our walking tour , you’re probably looking for an extra couple things to do in Seattle. So, here is my list of 10 additional awesome places to visit:

  • Kerry Park : Seattle’s best photo spot, Kerry Park is located on Queen Anne Hill and offers breathtaking views of the Seattle skyline, Elliot Bay, and Mount Rainier. It is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Seattle!

Viewpoint of the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier from Kerry Park at dusk, one of the best things to do at night in Seattle!

  • Seattle Art Museum : Located near Pike Place, the Seattle Art Museum offers a wide variety of gorgeous art pieces completed by artists from around the globe.
  • South Lake Union : A scenic lake located in central Seattle, South Lake Union is the perfect place to relax and people-watch. It also offers some great Seattle outdoor activities, with both paddle board and kayak rentals!
  • Gas Works Park : Located on the north shore of Lake Union, Gas Works Park is the former site of a Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant. With fascinating remains and delightful views, this unique park is one of the best in Seattle.

The Seattle walking trails at Gas Works Park, with views of a green field, Pacific Ocean, and distant Seattle suburbs

  • Pioneer Square : A rustic and charming neighborhood in the heart of old Seattle, Pioneer Square is a delightful historic area with cute boutiques, delicious restaurants, and striking murals.
  • The Smith Tower : Located in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower, built in 1914, is Seattle’s oldest skyscraper. With charming architecture and stunning views from the observatory and bar, the Smith Tower is one of the best things to do at night in Seattle.

View of the Smith Tower in Pioneer Square in Seattle on a sunny day

  • Chinatown-International District : The epicenter of Seattle’s Asian-American community, the Chinatown-International District can be split into three sections: Chinatown, Japantown, and Little Saigon. Regardless of the area you’re exploring, the Chinatown-International district will offer the best Asian cuisine in Seattle!
  • The Museum of Flight : The world’s largest nonprofit air and space museum, the Museum of Flight is a fascinating spot that will enthuse all flight enthusiasts, holding both the original Boeing Aircraft factory and a NASA space shuttle trainer!

A display of a couple old airplanes, including a green propeller plane, at the Seattle Museum of Flight - one of the best indoor activities Seattle

  • Seward Park : Offering some of the best Seattle walking trails, Seward Park holds 300 acres of enchanting forests, lovely beaches, and a delightful native plant garden.
  • Day Trips from Seattle : From Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, Snoqualmie Falls, and Mount Saint Helens, there are numerous incredible day trips from Seattle; I’ve even written an article about it! Click here to read my article on the most amazing day trips from Seattle .

View of Mount Rainier off a trail in the summer, with some clouds in the middle and dark trees in the foreground - one of the best day trips in Seattle

Or, if you’re looking for a Seattle day trip that takes you out of the US and into Canada , check out my articles on Vancouver and the Gulf Islands:

  • 18 Spectacular Weekend Getaways from Vancouver
  • The Ultimate Self-Guided Vancouver Walking Tour
  • The 15 Best Hikes in Vancouver
  • 22 Incredible Hikes near Vancouver
  • 6 Epic Whistler Hikes
  • 11 Fabulous Things to Do in Salt Spring Island

The Best Time to Visit Seattle

To avoid Seattle’s infamous rain, one of the best times to visit Seattle is in the summer, from June to August. With average high temperatures ranging from 71°F to 79°F (22°C-26°C), the weather is warm and sunny.

However, as this is Seattle’s high season, the crowds are consequently bigger and accommodations tend to cost more (so it’s not the best time for budget travelers ).

Large crowds in front of the Public Market Center sign at Pike Place in July, one of the best times to visit Seattle

In my opinion, the best time to visit Seattle is in the shoulder season (spring and fall), with either September or October being the best month to visit Seattle. It’s also a great time to go on some walking tours in Seattle, as the weather isn’t too hot!

And That’s It for our Walking Tour of Seattle!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and I hope you’ll love this walking tour of Seattle. Remember, as this is a self-guided walking tour , you have the final say in where you go and what you do. Best of luck, and happy travels.

Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.

Mia

Photos by Mia and Pixabay.

The Perfect, Self-Guided Seattle Walking Tour

Planning a Oahu vacation, and wondering what to do? If so, click here for my list of the best hikes in Oahu , and click here for the best Oahu waterfalls .

About to embark on a trip? Here are some helpful articles to make your trip as awesome and stress-free as possible:

  • How to Travel Without Breaking the Bank
  • 15 Things to Do Before a Trip
  • How to Start Hiking: 15 Beginner Hiking Tips
  • 15 Incredible Day Trips in Seattle

And here are some additional helpful links:

  • Click here for my walking tours
  • Click here for my hiking guides
  • Click here for more posts on North America
  • Click here for more posts on destinations in the US
  • Click here for more resources

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Mia is the founder of Walk a While with Me, a travel blog dedicated to sharing the best self-guided walking tours, travel itineraries, and hikes for destinations around the world. A keen traveler, she has visited more than 20 countries in the past six years. She is excited for you to follow along on her adventures!

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Thanks for the awesome walking guide! We followed your advice and ideas from our cruise ship port and through city center! Great fun facts and sites! Thank you!

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A Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle – 12 Spots You Can Still Visit

Posted by Brian Cicioni | Sep 9, 2019 | Music , Pacific Northwest | 33 |

A Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle – 12 Spots You Can Still Visit

A Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle

Of the original “big four grunge bands,” Pearl Jam is the only one still touring with more than half of its original members. Here are 12 spots which will help you design your own Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle. This list has some obvious places like MoPOP and the Showbox, but also includes hotels, parks, and record stores, that require the type of deep digging that Eddie Vedder accused the music industry of failing to do in the 1996 film, Hype!

Stops are arranged in chronological order as much as possible. When a location is near a light rail stop, the corresponding station is listed. 

Benaroya Hall

Coryell apartments, easy street records, the edgewater, the moore theatre, museum of pop culture, the showbox, west point lighthouse, the crocodile, coryell court apartments (the apartment building from singles).

The first time we see Cliff’s band (Citizen Dick), they are jamming inside one of the apartments. Jeff Ament is on bass and Eddie Vedder on drums. In the same scene, an unenthusiastic-looking Stone Gossard puts down his guitar and says, “yea, we got that show,” trying to cover for his forever philandering bandmate Cliff. Not long after, Jeff Ament tells him to move his truck.

Nearest light rail station: Capitol Hill

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Brian Cicioni (@brianmayroam) on Aug 22, 2019 at 8:07am PDT

El Corazon (the former Off Ramp Cafe)

On October 22, 1990, Mookie Blaylock played their first show at the Off Ramp Cafe. The following year, they opened for Alice in Chains on their Facelift tour, signed a deal with Epic Records, renamed themselves Pearl Jam , and released their debut album, Ten , in honor of Blaylock’s basketball jersey. The building is still there, but it’s been renamed El Corazon . If you search for it on Google Maps and find Funhouse, it’s the same building.

Nearest light rail station: Westlake

El Corazon (the former Off Ramp) Seattle

Black Dog Forge

Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues off Battery Street in Belltown, there’s a narrow alleyway with back entrances to some of the buildings along the main avenues. Behind the Vue Lounge (Rear 2nd Ave), you’ll see a gray door surrounded by a painted black wall.  Above the door, there’s an eerie painting of an arm holding an oil lamp. To the left of the door, you’ll see “Black Dog Forge” outlined in red. In the early 1990s, the basement of this former blacksmith shop served as a 30×30′ practice space for bands such as Soundgarden and a then up and coming band called Pearl Jam. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Brian Cicioni (@brianmayroam) on Aug 27, 2019 at 8:53am PDT

This is the lighthouse you see in Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” video. Just months before Chris Cornell broke his Rusty Cage and Eddie Vedder let the world know that he’s still alive, Temple of the Dog released their only album. It started as a tribute to Mother Love Bone (Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard’s pre-Pearl Jam band) frontman, Andrew Wood. The project started with two songs, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down” and eventually was released as an album featuring Chris Cornell and the Pearl Jam lineup from 1998-present. 

Both the lighthouse and the beach they perform on are part of Discovery Park , which is situated on the Puget Sound.

West Point Lighthouse Discovery Park Seattle

Seven months after they released Yield , Pearl Jam took a break from headlining arenas and stadiums to play this 550-capacity Belltown venue. Like Nirvana did seven years earlier, Pearl Jam also shunned their most popular songs for the intimate setting. Mike McCready’s side project, Mad Season, played their first live show here as The Gacy Bunch. Perhaps a reflection of frontman, Layne Staley’s dark sense of humor?

Crocodile Cafe Seattle Grunge

The Moore Theatre

Dating back to 1907, the Moore is the oldest Seattle theatre that is still in use. Some of the concert footage you see in Pearl Jam’s video for “Even Flow” was taken from a live performance at the Moore. Mad Season (a Seattle supergroup with Mike McCready on guitar) recorded their only concert film, Live at the Moore in the same venue. 

The Moore Theatre Seattle Washington

The Showbox

The legendary Showbox dates back to 1939. Jazz legend Duke Ellington played here as did blues guitarist Muddy Waters. The Ramones played here before their Seattle offsprings like Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden made it a household name. 

In 2003, Pearl Jam released a limited edition DVD of their 2002 performance here called Live at the Showbox . The show is notable for the unveiling of the George W. Bush mask during “Bushleaguer,” as well as an Eddie Vedder anti-war improv at the end of “ Daughter .” Both would make regular appearances during their 2003 world tour. 

Nearest light rail station: University Street

Showbox Seattle

Benaroya Hall is home to the Seattle Symphony. On October 22, 2003, Pearl Jam played a mostly-acoustic show here to raise money for Seattle-based charity YouthCare. It was released the following year on vinyl and as the two-CD set, Live at Benaroya Hall . The show marked the live debuts of “Man of the Hour,” the B-side “Fatal,” and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “25 Minutes to Go.” 

The building sits directly above the Great Northern Tunnel. The Sound Transit Light Rail runs through the tunnel and stops under the venue.

Benaroya Hall Seattle Washington

Easy Street Records

Dating back to 1988, when CDs started to replace vinyl and cassette, Easy Street is an independent record store located in West Seattle. It also serves as a cafe and sometimes performance venue. Yes, this densely packed music store has hosted more than 500 in-store performances. Pearl Jam even released Live at Easy Street,  an EP of their April 25, 2005 in-store performance.

Easy Street Records West Seattle

At the Hotel Max , each 5th-floor room door features a black and white Charles Peterson photograph of a Seattle grunge icon. Of the 19 rooms, five have doors which feature Pearl Jam photos from the 90s. Three of the five are from the 1996 Pearl Jam tour of Europe. Each 5th-floor room has its own Crosley record player with a small Sub Pop vinyl collection along with some books about the “grunge” era.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Brian Cicioni (@brianmayroam) on Aug 11, 2019 at 11:40am PDT

The Edgewater Hotel

Only two bands have suites named in their honor at The Edgewater . One is The Beatles and the other is Pearl Jam. 50 years after the Edgewater became an iconic landmark for music fans and nearly thirty years after songs like “Jeremy,” “Even Flow,” and “Alive” were first heard around the world, Pearl Jam gets the same treatment in their home city as the most iconic rock band in world history. 

If you can shell out at least $1,000 per night, you can stay in room 464 with your own guitar,  Marshall amp, mini library, record player and curated vinyl collection. As you enter the suite, you’ll see dozens of concert flyers from past Pearl Jam shows on your right. A replica of the famous Mother Love Bone mural hangs above the king-size bed, while there are framed, hand-written setlists to the right. The bathroom wallpaper is an audience shot from an outdoor Pearl Jam show. Unlike the Beatles suite, the PJ suite has a balcony, offering panoramic views of Elliot Bay.  

The Edgewater Hotel Seattle

MoPOP (the former Experience Music Project)

The MoPOP’s Pearl Jam exhibit has enough band memorabilia to be a separate museum by itself. Most items are encased behind glass. They include Eddie Vedder’s George W. Bush mask from their 2003 tour as well as Stone Gossard’s Devo costume from when Pearl Jam played the final show at the Philadelphia Spectrum on Halloween 2009. The walls are lined with concert posters spanning the bands entire carrer and there’s even a separate room where you can watch clips from the band’s numerous concert DVDs.

Nearest light rail station: Seattle Center Monorail (connection from Westlake)

An Alice in Chains Tour of Seattle - Museum of Pop Culture

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This post was sponsored by Visit Seattle . All pictures were shot with a Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera with the exception of any Instagram pics . I stayed at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel , which is conveniently located across the street from the Moore Theatre and within walking distance of many other Pearl Jam landmarks. 

Planning a trip to Seattle? Any Pearl Jam Tour spots I missed? Feel free to leave a comment below!

About The Author

Brian Cicioni

Brian Cicioni

Brian enjoys exploring different cities along public transit lines and writing about it on his blog, IMayRoam.com. He also writes about food tours, layovers, and exploring movie and musical landmarks. You can find some of his work on Fodor’s, Insider, InsideHook, Travel + Leisure, and USA Today. Brian has traveled to more than 50 countries as well as every state. On weekends, he leads music and film-focused tours of New York City. His five-star rated Goodfellas Tour of NYC has been featured in Airbnb Magazine. Always happy to offer tips to aspiring travel writers and tour guides, Brian has spoken at events, including the Travel & Adventure Show, TBEX, and the New York Times Travel Show.

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33 Comments

Joanna

I think it’s pretty cool that you went around Seattle, looking for places related to Pearl Jam. This will help so many of the band’s fans to locate them as well. I have never traveled for music, but I did stumble upon some iconic places where big bands have started, when visiting London.

Brian Cicioni

Hi Joanna. Yes, London might be my favorite city for musical landmarks. Wish I could visit more often.

Cristina Petrini

The tour that was missing! Different from the usual it’s brilliant, rock and absolutely interesting! Thanks for bringing me with you!

Hi Cristina. Happy to have you along on this unique tour!

Tara Pittman (@momknowsbest15)

So many places that I would love to check out. This town looks so exciting.

Hi Tara. Possibly my favorite west coast city!

Amber

How cool! I would love to do this one day. I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle. I might not only do Pearl Jam stuff though. I don’t listen to a lot of their music.

Lol, it’s an exciting city whether YOU ARE a Pearl Jam fan or not!

Chelsea Messina

How cool! I had no idea these were in Seattle. Next time i visit i’ll make it a point to see some of these

Hi Chelsea. Yes, I’m glad I was a teenager when these bands were on their way up.

successunscrambled

This looks very exciting for someone who is into this kind of scene. I find it difficult to get my head around it all. The town does look quite authentic and I would like to give the light rail a try.

Yes, you have to use the light rail when in Seattle!

Krysten (@WeirdGirlBlog)

SO COOL! I have always wanted to visit Seattle and seeing Pearl Jam would be the cherry on top! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

You’re welcome Krysten. Hope you get to visit!

Kelli Avery

Wow so many amazing places! Is it weird that I’m loving the graffiti lol Looks like a city made for the night life!

Hi Kelli. Not familiar with the night life, but I love the graffiti!

Kam

Cool! I didn’t know that the band still go on tour.

HI Kama. Wow, they play stadiums to this day.

Cindy Ingalls

One of these days I’ll make it to Seattle. I’ve only heard great things about the city and it would fun to walk in the footsteps of Pearl Jam and other inspiring bands from the area.

Hi Cindy. I have a more general Seattle grunge list you can use as well.

thecoffeemom0617

How cool is this! I love Pearl Jam and I would love to go see all of these places. Totally a trip I need to plan

Hope this guide helps!

Amila Wickramarachchi

Al these spots sounds interesting to visit.If I get a chance,I like to visit the lighthouse.Beautiful photos…

monidipa51

Next time I’m in Seattle you need to give a tour. The spots here looks amazing.

Hi Moni. Great idea. Heading to Spokane next week!

arun

Love pearl jam. I would love to visit these hotels, Moore theatere and light house. Seems so much fun..

Hi Arun. Yes, I loved the lighthouse!

Jason Scherley

Great article with accompanying pictures! My wife and I have been to Seattle twice so far, and I’ve seen most of these and some others as well. Thanks for the interesting read, I’d love to work with you on expanding this to include even more that Seattle has to offer!

Thanks Jason. I’m working on Alice and Nirvana, but COVID put a stop to that.

Jason James Scherley

I am looking forward to that! Just saw Alice in Chains on the opening show of the most recent tour. Shoot me an e-mail if I can contribute anything to your next work! I’m a huge fan of Grunge and it was the most influential music of the end of my high school time and college years. Layne, Kurt, Chris and Mike Starr are gone but their music continues to resonate today.

Thanks Jason. Are you in Instagram?

Jason scherley

Im not active on any social media.

Sarah Samith

Haven’t heard about this place, but my husband would love to go here! Thank you for sharing!

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seattle grunge walking tour

6 Places In Seattle You Need To Visit If You’re A Nirvana Fan

Pay homage to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana at these spots around Seattle that played a part in the history of grunge.

Emma Colosia

Did you know about these iconic Nirvana places in Seattle?

Here we are now, entertain us!

Fans of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain have flocked to Seattle for years to pay homage to the band. Bars, museum exhibits, and even Cobain’s house can all be found here. This self-guided tour through Seattle will give you an intimate look into the story of the iconic grunge band, Nirvana. Local or tourist, you’ll want to stop by these historic corners that still hold an aura of talent and tragedy.

1. Kurt Cobain’s house

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Where: 171 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle

In 1994, Kurt Cobain decided to settle down in a surprisingly normal and elegant residence in the affluent neighborhood of Denny-Blaine in east central Seattle. This is the place where the singer spent his last months and where he ultimately took his life. The house has been completely remodeled since and is not open to the public. However, plenty of Nirvana fans stop by anyway to pay homage and get a photo outside of the gate.

2. Viretta Park

Where: 151 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle

Make a quick visit to Viretta Park, just south of the Cobain’s former residence, where you’ll find a lonely bench covered in messages and flowers for the singer. The haunting memorial overlooks Washington Lake.

3. Museum of Pop Culture

Where: 325 5th Avenue N, Seattle

Don’t miss the ongoing exhibit Nirvana: Taking Punk To The Masses at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture. It includes more than 200 rare artifacts and photographs of the band. Take a look at Kurt Cobain’s Fender Stratocaster, Dave Grohl’s drum kit and even a casting call flyer for the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video.

4. Screwdriver Bar

Where: 23201st Ave

Also known as the “Rock N Roll Utopia”, Screw-Driver Bar was once a rehearsal space for the band, specifically between the release of Bleach and Nevermind. After they decided not to renew the lease, the space sat empty until a group of friends rented it with the intention of turning it into a bar where people could drink and enjoy music, which is occasionally live. They are open to this day!

5. Central Saloon

Where: 207 1st Ave S

Nirvana played their first Seattle show at Central Saloon in 1988, which led to their relationship with Sub Pop Records. In fact, many other grunge artists played there such as Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, giving Central Saloon the right to claim the title of “the birthplace of grunge.” It’s still open today in Pioneer Square.

6. Linda’s Tavern

Where: 707 E Pine St

Finally, the last stop on your tour should be Linda’s Tavern. This laidback bar and restaurant in Capitol Hill was frequented often by Kurt Cobain. It was also the last place he was seen in public before his death. The so-called “grunge Cheers” is still open today and you can visit it to sit in the booth that Cobain was last seen in.

seattle grunge walking tour

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“Come as You Are”: 5 Sites Any Grunge Fan Needs to See in Seattle

In the early to mid-90s, grunge and the Seattle music scene were at the top of the charts. With the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, the popularity of the musical style declined, but its influences are still felt today. Because Seattle is so far from other musical meccas such as L.A., New York or Chicago, the music scene did its own thing. The Seattle you visit today has gotten much of its flavor thanks to its grunge scene.

Grunge in Seattle

Before we get into where to go while you’re visiting, a short discussion on the origins of grunge is in order. The Seattle area is famously rainy, which makes it the perfect setting for grunge music — an alternative form of rock music that is influenced by hardcore punk and metal. Grunge music typically has an angry or melancholic tone. As another point of interest, vintage clothing and thrift stores contributed to the aesthetic of the grunge movement because the starting-out musicians didn’t have a lot of money at the time.

Now that you’ve got a feel for the era, here are five sites that any grunge fan or music historian should visit.

The Kurt Cobain Memorial

Viretta Park, in one of Seattle’s most elite neighborhoods, is the site of the unofficial Kurt Cobain Memorial. This small park has a few pine trees, some stairs and four graffiti-laden park benches. You won’t find any plaques or portraits here; it’s really just a simple park. But perhaps an unkempt, minimalistic park is fitting for the father of grunge music. And when you look a little closer, you’ll see that the benches are covered with music lyrics, pictures, love letters and other offerings to Cobain.

Why exactly is this unassuming spot so popular? The frontman’s former residence, house number 171, is located immediately to the right of the park. A visit to this site is free, and you can enjoy a walk through the neighborhood while you’re there.

EMP Music Museum

seattle grunge walking tour

This museum, formerly known as Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Famer or EMP/SFM, is a museum dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction and pop culture. The “Northwest Passage” exhibit is dedicated to the history of Seattle music including Jimi Hendrix, Heart and grunge music. One of the exhibits within the “Northwest Passage” focuses on Nirvana and features rare and unseen artifacts and photography from the band, their crews and families.

There is an area where you can play electric guitars, drums and keyboards, and you can learn to play short riffs from famous songs with computer screen guidance. You can also view the first guitar Kurt Cobain smashed on stage. The curvy, metallic design of the complex is inspired by electric guitars. The museum is open daily and is located next to the Space Needle.

Pike Place Market

This market is home to the original Starbucks, and it’s also where a man named Artis the Spoonman used to perform by playing the spoons. The grunge band, Soundgarden, wrote a song about him called, “Spoonman” which is included on their “Superunknown” album. Pike Place has fresh fish and artisanal cheeses, breads and vegetables, as well.

The Showbox at the Market

You can see live music at this venue, which has been around since the late 1930s. About 200 concerts are held here each year. Many grunge artists have played on its stage. The building is an art-deco gem located near the Pike Place Market.

London Bridge Studio

At this major recording studio bands such as Soundgarden, Blind Melon, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains have recorded albums. You can take a tour to view the control room, live room, the lounge and overdub suites. You must buy tickets in advance to the studio as your visit will be a guided tour. During the course of your tour, your guide will fill you in on the goings-on for the past 25 years. The studio tour will be a highlight for any music lover.

Image by Flickr’s Creative Commons

About the Author: Carl Williams is a Seattle resident and a lover of grunge music. He attends live music concerts whenever he gets the chance.

seattle grunge walking tour

About Seattle Dredge

Seattle is Lake Erie born, Lake Ontario educated, and is now living on Lake Huron. And no, she's never been to Seattle. After studying geology in Toronto, Seattle spent several years travelling the world on a full time basis, from Colombia, Morocco & Iceland, to Nicaragua, Jordan & the Philippines--and just about everywhere in between. Eventually, Seattle settled in Southampton, ON, and now spends her days going on local adventures, while continuing to pursue photography & videography around the Bruce Peninsula, and of course regular trips abroad.

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April 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I love the Seattle music scene! The last time my wife and I visited we enjoyed Seattle grunge and an incredibly romantic Seattle hotel.

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May 10, 2013 at 3:33 am

This is also a great Rock and Roll Tour you can take. You will see all of the spots listed above and so much more. The guide knows everything there is to know about the Seattle music scene and Jimi Hendrix. stalkingseattle.com

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September 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Music museum seems really cool. I live in Seattle so will go visit it.

September 23, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Another good place to visit in Seattle is the GREAT WHEEL. Very fun and very nice views. Thanks for this post. Proficient Limousine recently posted.. Proficient Limousine – Airport Transportation

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October 27, 2016 at 12:44 am

I really love Seattle music and Grunge in Seattle because according to me its best for couples. group of our friends visited there before three years ago. one of my friend propose me and we became husband and wife.. really memorable place and such a wonderful information you shared………

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May 12, 2021 at 3:49 pm

A day in the life of a SEATTLE Grunge Fan! It was that fantastic and amazing time in one’s life that you are very lucky to have lived. Picture Seattle Washington in the early 1990’s, the music scene was getting into full grunge mode in my city of Seattle. These were the days when you could see grunge bands in small night clubs. We are talking Green River, Mudhoney, the Melvins, TAD, Screaming Trees, Hole, L7, Mother Love Bone and later we had Soundgarden, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam! The Clubs back then were Rock Candy, DV8, Sit & Spin and others. What a glorious time to be able to be right upfront rocking out to this incredible new sound, the new sound of Seattle. Yea BABY! One night we saw The Presidents at the DV8 club, during intermission the lead singer came into the crown and visited with us fans! He was a small unassuming guy that was very kind. What I loved about that time is how the grunge bands all helped each other, they were a large family and very supportive joining one another on stage whenever possible. You never knew who you would see that night in a club. It was so much fun! Another love was when Soundgarden and Pearl Jam recorded Temple of the Dog, I would play that CD over and over. If you have not heard it do so right away! Then we had many festivals like End Fest and Bumpershoot where a variety of bands would play for hours and hours. Another memory is when Green Apple Quickstep played at Rock Candy, damn the lead singer Tyler was charismatic, you could tell that singing was his passion, he swept you away in his song. When his set was over, he too would go out into the crown to be with the fans and watch the next band up on stage. These guys were so kind, not competitive, just wanting the best for each band member. Then there was the time when we saw Danzig sitting next to us at a festival all in black leather and chains. He commanded attention! There are so many memories and I am afraid I have forgotten some. Then the Nirvana thing happened, sad and dreadful day for fans when Kurt went away. However, we still had Dave Grohl the drummer from Nirvana. What did he do? He started his own band called the Foo Fighters. Hell YES, that guy can drum but who knew he was such a great guitar player? So Foo Fighters became one of my new favorites! Their live concerts were crazy, the fans were in a frenzy. Dave can go on and on and on………….what a treat to experience this energy. Picture 1996, cool small record stores were booming with the Seattle Sound! Swung into Everyday Music store on Capitol hill to look around. And there on the wall was this awesome Foo Fighter Poster! I told my husband that I had to have it! Do not remember the purchase price but it was mine. So, I figured it would be collectible in the future and socked it away in a drawer. Kellie Conn the crystal deva at avaloncrystals

[…] city, Seattle will always be known as the birthplace of the unique musical style that is grunge. Awesome grunge landmarks of Seattle range from buzzing nightclubs to simple, unadorned spots like Viretta Park, so there is […]

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seattle grunge walking tour

A Guide to Seattle Grunge

Coffee shops, hot dogs, rock clubs, and just plain weirdness

  • Featured Trip Guides
  • Weird Guides

Created by Roadtrippers - August 22nd 2016

Seattle has such a distinctive personality. It's the birthplace of grunge... which, for most people, conjures images of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but applies to so much more than just a musical style that really came from the city. The style and the attitude of grunge can be found all over Seattle, from its coffee shops and bookstores to its hotels and museums. Grab your best flannel and head to the Emerald City to immerse yourself in the city's grunge culture.

Photo of Market Theater Gum Wall

94 Pike St, Ste 32, Seattle, WA, US

Market Theater Gum Wall

I know, Pike Place Market seems more touristy than authentically grungy, but the city's most literally grungy attraction happens to be located here. The Market Theater Gum Wall has some pretty humble origins: employees of the Market Theater just started sticking their used gum on the wall of the building, and it spiraled way out of control: when they scraped it clean in 2015, they removed over 200 pounds of gum... and within hours, people started adding their ABC wads of bazooka back on the wall. Bring a pack of gum and add to the oddity yourself; Just be warned... it kind of smells pretty putrid.

Photo of Vain

2018 1st Ave, Seattle, WA, US

If you're in the market for an edgy new haircut, Vain is the salon to go to. If you're not looking to change up your style quite that drastically, it's also a boutique where you can find accessories, jewelry, candles, makeup, and tons more. Bonus: one of the locations used to be a music venue called The Vogue, where Nirvana played one of their first shows.

Photo of The Crocodile

2137 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA, US

The Crocodile

The Crocodile is one of the city's most iconic music venues. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and more have played here, and they maintain their reputation as a place to see up-and-coming acts that might just be the next big thing. Plus, as far as music venues go, it's pretty well laid out and makes for a pleasant and intimate spot to hear some killer music. It's every bit as low-key and fun as you think it'll be... plus they now have a back bar with a wood-fired pizza oven.

Photo of Shorty's

2316 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA, US

Shorty's

Seattle-style hot dogs are a hidden gem. It's a Polish sausage that's been split in half and covered in cream cheese, grilled onions, sauerkraut, jalapenos, and a squirt of mustard. As if that isn't grungy and greasy enough for you, Shorty's serves them up in a delightfully weird clown-themed dive bar atmosphere, with lots of vintage pinball machines to add to the fun.

Photo of EMP Museum

325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA, US

Seattle's EMP Museum is easily one of the coolest and most fascinating museums in the country. Its main focus is pop culture, with an emphasis on music, games, and sci-fi. They have massive collections of Hendrix and Nirvana memorabilia, along with special galleries dedicated to topics like Star Trek, indie games, horror movies, and more. Plus, they have a hip hop artist residency, maker faires, film festivals dedicated to sci fi shorts, and tons more cool stuff that really sets them apart.

Photo of Hotel Max

620 Stewart Street, Seattle, WA, US

Click to discover a great deal!

Hotel Max is easily the most effortlessly cool lodging in the Emerald City, which isn't something to scoff at when the city in question is highly regarded as one of the coolest in America.

For starters, there's a Pillow Menu. Each guest gets a special menu where they can choose from six different pillow options ranging from "soft" to "extra firm", with extras like neck and body pillows delivered to your room as well. There's also a Spiritual Menu, where you can have books on every religion, from Taoism, Christianity, Islam, and more, sent directly to your room. Heck, they've even got a Spiritual Menu for your pet, complete with inspirational books on everything from dog massage to pet psychology.

And you won't find the same, mass-produced painting of fruit bowls and sailboats in every room. Hotel Max also doubles as a kind of local art gallery, showcasing a wide variety of incredible works from area artists on each floor. You can easily spend a few hours wandering the halls just to see all the great pieces on display. In a way, you're sleeping in an art gallery.

Oh yeah, and when you're in a city synonymous with some of the most influential music in history, you'd probably expect Hotel Max to give a nod to the local music scene, but as is their style, they've gone ahead and dedicating an entire floor to honoring Sub Pop Records, the label that launched bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden into pop-culture orbit. The entire fifth floor of the hotel is crammed with Sub Pop paraphernalia, from posters of beloved Pacific Northwest bands adorning each room, to racks of curated vinyl records in the halls, to a looping rotation of Sub Pop music on every television.

Photo of Haunted Soda Machine

918 E John St, Seattle, WA, US

Haunted Soda Machine

When it comes to grunge, there isn't always a lot of rhyme or reason to anything... and that seems to be the case with the mysterious Haunted Soda Machine. The antiquated machine sits alone on a sidewalk, wrapped in dents and faded graffiti, and you wouldn't be faulted for thinking it didn't actually work. But upon closer inspection, it's clear to see that the machine is plugged in, its yellowing backlights still flickering. What makes this machine so mysterious doesn't lie in its appearance, but in its stock. For seventy-five cents, the machine randomly conjures up a rainbow of bizarre flavors, many of which don't even exist anymore, but even stranger than the mystery flavors is where they come from. In almost two decades, no one has ever seen someone stock the machine. In fact... no one even knows who it belongs to, just that is never seems to run out.

Photo of Bronze Statue of Jimi Hendrix

1604 Broadway, Seattle, WA, US

Bronze Statue of Jimi Hendrix

Jimi didn't play grunge music per se but he was a rock legend, and he hailed from Seattle. Bring a guitar pick or a little souvenir to leave on this bronze statue as a tribute.

Photo of Elliott Bay Books

1521 10th Ave, Seattle, WA, US

Elliott Bay Books

Something about the rainy weather in Seattle just makes you want to curl up with a good book... and you'll be able to find the perfect title at Elliott Bay Books. The indie store is huge (big enough that you can truly get lost among the shelves) and has a great mix of new books, classic reads, magazines, and other bookstore-ish items.

Photo of Neumo's

925 E Pike St, Seattle, WA, US

Neumo's

Originally opened as Moe’s Mo’Roc’N Café in 1992 and re-launched in 2003 as Neumo's Crystal Ball Reading Room (BKA Neumo's), this is another great place to catch a live show. Bush, Oasis, Better Than Ezra, Goo Goo Dolls, and Garbage played early shows here, and their calendar features tons of indie acts worth checking out.

Photo of Tougo Coffee Co.

1410 18th Ave, Seattle, WA, US

Tougo Coffee Co.

Coffee shops are another huge part of Seattle's culture. Tougo is a classic that checks all of the Seattle coffee boxes: great espresso, local art, good music, an Instagram-ready atmosphere, baked goods, and just a touch of pretentiousness.

Photo of Kurt Cobain's House

171 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle, WA, US

Kurt Cobain's House

Many rock fans make a point to make a pilgrimage to Kurt Cobain's house on a trip to Seattle. This is home where Cobain and Courtney Love lived, and where Cobain ended his own life. Love stopped making payments on it and it was eventually auctioned off, so it's on private property. The new owners, however, don't seem mind if you want to check out the house from the street (respectfully, of course) and there are some memorials to Cobain in next door Viretta Park.

Photo of The Fremont Troll

3405 Troll Ave N, Seattle, WA, US

The Fremont Troll

Seattle has some pretty cool public art, too. The Fremont Troll was built underneath the George Washington Bridge as a way to help clean up the area. Trolls have been kind of a motif in the Fremont area for decades, and the massive sculpture pays tribute to that history. He's pretty big (as you can see, he's holding a vintage VW Beetle for comparison) and you're encourage to climb up!

Photo of Mike's Chili Parlor

1447 NW Ballard Way, Seattle, WA, US

Mike's Chili Parlor

Seattle's trendy foodie scene is respectable, but they also have some no-frills classic restaurants that are worth trying, too. Mike's Chili Parlor is a standard dive that's been around since the 1920s, serving up burgers, beer, and chili. It's cash only, and has outdoor seating... and let's be real, it's the perfect meal for a cold, grey Seattle day.

Photo of Sonic Boom Records

2209 NW Market St, Seattle, WA, US

Sonic Boom Records

You can't leave this music mecca without at least browsing some vinyl. Sonic Boom is an indie shop with a huge selection of new and used CDs, LPs, books, DVDs, and more. They also put on some rad live shows and events, so plan your visit accordingly.

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IMAGES

  1. A Seattle Grunge Tour

    seattle grunge walking tour

  2. A Seattle Grunge Tour

    seattle grunge walking tour

  3. A Seattle Grunge Tour

    seattle grunge walking tour

  4. Relive the Grunge Era: Seattle Grunge Redux Walking Tour

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  5. Relive the Grunge Era: Seattle Grunge Redux Walking Tour

    seattle grunge walking tour

  6. A Seattle Grunge Tour

    seattle grunge walking tour

VIDEO

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  4. Walk With Me Around Downtown Seattle and Pike Place Market, Jan. 2024

  5. usa SEATTLE WALKING DOWNTOWN TOUR THIRD AVE-SEVENTH AVE & PIKE STREET + SPACE NEEDLE AREA HIGHLIGHS

  6. [4k] SEATTLE Walk : What Seattle is like now 2024

COMMENTS

  1. Seattle Grunge Redux

    The only walking tour of Seattle's grunge era. All ages and kinds of fans will learn from the real places and deeply researched stories unearthed from the last great pre-internet music scene.

  2. A Seattle Grunge Tour

    Here are 25 places where Seattle grunge icons worked, ate, played, lived, and died. This list also includes parks and other places that inspired the music.

  3. Take a Seattle Grunge Tour

    The past and present await you on an informal tour of grunge. If you fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, that's where you should begin your exploration of grunge, thanks to the Sub Pop Airport Store (17801 International Blvd, SeaTac). By offering music, t-shirts, and plenty of other hip swag designed by local artists, this shop ...

  4. 9 places in Seattle that every grunge lover needs to visit

    No matter if you're a fan of grunge or not, appreciate the growth that the genre has led Seattle to and check out these eight spots in music history.

  5. Relive the Grunge Era: Seattle Grunge Redux Walking Tour

    Step back in time and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the grunge era in Seattle. Explore iconic landmarks and relive the music that defined a generation.

  6. 8 Places Every Grunge Fan Must Visit in Seattle

    So much of Seattle has changed since grunge went worldwide, but there are still spots around the city that hold a special place in grunge history.

  7. Stalking Seattle, A Music History Sightseeing Tour

    She has a thorough knowledge of the Seattle grunge scene and we were thrilled to be walking in the footsteps of our music heroes across the city. We highly recommend this tour for music fans interested in the the city's rich history.

  8. Tour

    Day In Day Out (Day 1) Grunge Redux Tour. Friday, August 12, 2022. 3:30 PM 6:00 PM. Belltown USA (map) Surprise return. Sold out. NOT AFFILIATED WITH SEATTLE'S NEWEST MULTI-DAY FESTIVAL. However, I'm a huge fan of many bands in the line-up. This tour will take place on the first day of the Day In Day Out Festival.

  9. Tour

    Eric's Grunge Redux tour was a refreshing and thoughtful tour that reflected the era in an honest and real way. Eric has such broad knowledge and gave me great insight to life in Seattle during the 80-90's. He has an incredible gift of storytelling and has a fun approach to experiencing a slice of real Seattle. Strolling through the area with him and hearing stories about everything from Sub ...

  10. Seattle Grunge Redux Walking Tour

    Seattle - We'll walk an approximately two-mile path through Belltown and finish up at KEXP's Gathering Space in Seattle Center. The many stops along the way make this an approximately two-hour storytelling journey. I've dug deeply for places where the essential music of the era was both created and consumed in Seattle. The course of a few hours gives us time to explore a workable overview of ...

  11. How We Finally Know We're Old: Grunge Tours Are a Thing in Seattle

    The Grunge Redux: A Walk That Will Rock tour will be led by Eric Magnuson, who is a "field agent" for Atlas Obscura, a guidebook-styled website and travel enterprise for "explorers" seeking ...

  12. A Soundgarden Tour of Seattle

    I stayed at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel, which is conveniently located across the street from the Moore Theatre and within walking distance of many other Seattle grunge landmarks. Here's a more general list of rock and roll landmarks in Seattle.

  13. The Perfect Self-Guided Walking Tour of Seattle

    Seattle, Washington. The heart of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a city renowned for grunge music, Starbucks Coffee, and rain. With an abundance of awesome sights, from the (kinda icky) Gum Wall at Pike Place Market to the towering Seattle Space Needle, the best way to admire all of these iconic landmarks is on a self-guided walking tour of Seattle!

  14. A Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle

    A Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle. Of the original "big four grunge bands," Pearl Jam is the only one still touring with more than half of its original members. Here are 12 spots which will help you design your own Pearl Jam Tour of Seattle. This list has some obvious places like MoPOP and the Showbox, but also includes hotels, parks, and record ...

  15. 6 Places In Seattle You Need To Visit If You're A Nirvana Fan

    This self-guided tour through Seattle will give you an intimate look into the story of the iconic grunge band, Nirvana. Local or tourist, you'll want to stop by these historic corners that still hold an aura of talent and tragedy.

  16. Tour

    Click through to begin planning a unique Seattle experience with the earnest help of local expertise. Open Form. Eric's research is ongoing and this storytelling experience draws from a deeply-rooted love for Seattle's history. He prides himself on personalized service and a commitment to digging for rare gold nuggets of historical truth.

  17. TOP 10 BEST Grunge Tour in Seattle, WA

    Top 10 Best Grunge Tour in Seattle, WA - June 2024 - Yelp - Stalking Seattle The Rock & Roll Tour, Beneath the Streets, Museum of Pop Culture, Bill Speidel's Underground Tour, Marco Polo Motel, Emerald City Trolley.

  18. "Come as You Are": 5 Sites Any Grunge Fan Needs to See in Seattle

    Before we get into where to go while you're visiting, a short discussion on the origins of grunge is in order. The Seattle area is famously rainy, which makes it the perfect setting for grunge music — an alternative form of rock music that is influenced by hardcore punk and metal. Grunge music typically has an angry or melancholic tone. As another point of interest, vintage clothing and ...

  19. A Guide to Seattle Grunge

    The style and the attitude of grunge can be found all over Seattle, from its coffee shops and bookstores to its hotels and museums. Grab your best flannel and head to the Emerald City to immerse yourself in the city's grunge culture. 4.0. 94 Pike St, Ste 32, Seattle, WA, US.

  20. Seattle Grunge Music Tour

    Seattle Grunge Music Tour. By. Saint Greg. on. June 10, 2022. One of my goals on my two day trip to Seattle was to visit as many 80's-90's Seattle Grunge music landmarks as possible. In the interest of time I tried to limit myself to sites between SEATAC airport and the cruise port at Pier 91. That ruled out Kurt Cobain's house and ...

  21. Seattle Free Walking Tours

    Free Walking Tour Community. The Best free walking tours around the world (including us!) have joined together in one place to showcase 85 cities in 43 countries around the world. We are incredibly proud of our cities, and it's our mission to help you discover them from a local's point of view. We deliver top-rated, quality-oriented free ...

  22. walking tour

    Tags: seattle history, grunge redux, nirvana, pearl jam, soundgarden, alice in chains, lame fest, moore theatre, studio x, kexp, bad animals, walking tour

  23. Visiting Seattle for work..looking for recs and best grunge tour

    Posted by u/This-Translator-7411 - No votes and 4 comments