Photo Essay | Seattle, through the eyes of a tourist

Over the past two months, photographer Amanda Snyder documented Seattle's most sacred visitor hotspots.

a group of people with the Seattle skyline behind them

Visitors enjoy the views at the Space Needle on Friday, May 20, 2022. It took approximately 400 days to build the Space Needle, which officially opened to the public on April 21, 1962 for the World’s Fair. Roughly 1.3 million guests visit the Space Needle per year, according to the Space Needle website. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

When you first move to or visit a new place, experiencing it for the first time is a special feeling that can be awe-inspiring. Encountering new places. Trying unique foods. Connecting with complete strangers. Seeing new views. When you become a local, you can lose that almost childlike feeling.

I’ve lived in Seattle for several years now, so I have missed that feeling. I'm not alone. Thanks to the pandemic, not many people have been discovering Seattle; COVID put most travel and tourism on hold until this summer. Now tourists are back, enjoying Seattle’s vibrant attractions.

This story is part of a Crosscut focus on Tourism: Open for Visitors

AAA predicts Seattle will be the second most popular domestic destination for July 4th. People are itching to explore, and I wanted to be there to capture it.

I convinced my editor to let me “play tourist” and reclaim some of the curiosity I had when I moved here. For the past two months, I’ve explored some of Seattle’s sacred tourist sites littered with selfie sticks, scenic panoramas and lengthy lines. I captured visitors tasting their first Piroshky Piroshky, taking gravity-defying photos on the Space Needle, climbing the colossal Fremont Troll and discovering what makes Washington a special place to visit. 

Ryker Wold runs past the Fremont Troll after climbing around the sculpture on June 7, 2022. In 1989, an art competition asked artists to submit ideas for an installation under the bridge, according to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. Sculptor Steve Badanes won the competition with a public sculpture inspired by “Billy Goats Gruff,” a Scandinavian (Norwegian) folktale of a troll living under a bridge. An Elvis time capsule was even briefly contained inside the Volkswagen Beetle. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Janali Gonzalez, left, and Katalina De La Cruz take in the views with a ride on The Great Wheel on Wednesday, June 16, 2022. The Great Wheel, built in 2012, is the largest observation wheel on the West Coast, standing almost 200 feet tall. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Michelle Silva rides Rachel the Piggy Bank at Pike Place Market on Friday, April 29, 2022. In 1986, the 550-pound bronze pig was installed on the corner by the Pike Place Market Foundation to raise money for social services at the Market. The pig was created by Whidbey Island sculptor Georgia Gerber and named Rachel after a real 750-pound pig who won the 1985 Island County Fair, according to Pike Place Market Foundation. Now, many visitors touch (or ride) the pig for good luck. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)


Visitors take in the panoramic view of Seattle at Kerry Park, located on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, on Friday, May 16, 2022. If you can find your way there, it’s one of the best views of Seattle. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Stella Horton, left, and Darlene Ramsey walk through Pike Place Market on Friday, May 6, 2022. Rain didn’t stop these two from having fun on Horton’s celebratory birthday trip and exploring the city. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)


Henry DeRose puts a coin in the souvenir coin machine along the waterfront on Wednesday, June 16, 2022. The Seattle waterfront has several souvenir coin machines scattered among the tourist attractions. One thing is certain: Pressed coins are the cheapest souvenirs you can find. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

A line forms outside Starbucks at Pike Place Market on Friday, April 29, 2022. The first Starbucks store, also known as the Original Starbucks, served its first cup of coffee here in 1971. The original brown logo still hangs in the store, including a full-body picture of the company's iconic siren, which has now changed to the iconic green-and-white logo.(Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Hong Truong bites into a savory treat from Piroshky Piroshky out on the pavilion at Pike Place Market on Friday, April 29, 2022. For the past 20 years, the Eastern European hand pies have been supplying sweet and savory aromas to the market. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Visitors collect Seattle-branded souvenirs at Pike Place Market on Friday, June 17, 2022. The market is home to more than 500 shops, vendors, bars and restaurants. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Jennifer Brown browses through Grey’s Anatomy shirts at a souvenir store along the waterfront on Wednesday, June 16, 2022. The hit ABC drama, heading into its 19th season, is set against the scenic backdrop of Seattle. While the majority of the filming takes place in a Los Angeles studio, the show features many exterior shots of the skyline and other well-known Seattle destinations. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

About a dozen florists sell fresh flowers from their farms at Pike Place Market on Friday, April 29, 2022. The flower selections are seasonal, and bouquets can range from $10-$40. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Tourists capture the flying-fish spectacle as a Pike Place Fish Market worker throws a fish from the display case to back behind the counter on Friday, June 17, 2022. The Seattle landmark has been around since 1930. It’s become a staple for fresh Pacific seafood, and of course for its famous fish-throwing. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Visitors navigate signs on First Avenue and Pike Street near the market on Friday, April 29, 2022. Before the pandemic, Pike Place Market saw around 10 million visitors a year, according to Visit Seattle. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Tour guide Joe Koenen with Seattle Free Walking Tours leads a group from Victor Steinbrueck Park on Friday, June 17, 2022. Many tour groups show visitors through the market, the waterfront and downtown, rehearsing Seattle’s renowned history and fun facts. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

A visitor carries their luggage around Pike Place Market on Friday, April 29, 2022. Tourist areas see a summer uptick as cruise ship passengers disembark and spend their money around town. For the 2022 cruise season, Port of Seattle expects 296 planned sailings, with an estimated 1.26 million passengers passing through Elliott Bay. In comparison, 2021 saw 82 ship calls as COVID safety protocols were implemented. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

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