Granted, the Seattle waterfront is very nice and gives you something to do, there are a lot of tourist shops here that are really overpriced. Just watch the prices of things.
Fun Alternatives An alternative would be to buy things in downtown, around 4th, 5th, and 6th ave, things are cheaper and more locally priced.
The only reason to visit the Seattle waterfront is to catch a ferry, which is a fabulous and cheap way to get a great, romantic view of the city. (Bundle up, even in the summer). Otherwise, the waterfront has nothing to offer except a few restaurants (not all bad, but a restaurant is not s tourist attraction) and a couple of crappy souvenir shops. One "attraction" is the Maritime Museum that allegedly celebrates Seattle's seagoing traditions. Please! It was so imbecilic that I can't remember a single display--I only remember feeling ripped off.
Unique Suggestions Get on the ferry! Walk-on passengers can sail across the Puget Sound and back for a few bucks, and the views of the city are spectacular. You also get a nice visit to rural Washington on the west side of the Sound, if you want to take an hour and walk around, catching a later ferry home. The tourist traps are not as bad on the west side because they are actually frequently by the locals--there just aren't enough tourists to support the Seattle-style scams.
Fun Alternatives The Olympic Sculpture park at the north end of the waterfront is worth a visit. The quality of the art is dubious, but it's infinitely better than the Maritime Museum. And there are a couple of legitimately cool art pieces, like the stainless steel tree and the giant typewriter erasure. (for those of you who remember typewriters).
There is here not much to see. So The Russian Cobra Submarine I would give a miss.
Unique Suggestions Go on a Harbour Cruise.
Fun Alternatives Take a Harbour Cruise and see the Seattle skyline and you will see this city at it's best.
Ye Olde Oddity Shoppe down by the piers. It's a great place, don't get me wrong. Where else can you see a whale.. *cough* reproductive organ hanging from the ceiling? But it -is- a tourist trap. Uses their oddities and antiques to lure you in under the claim of being a museum when all it really is in actuality is a gift shop with lots of unusual displays (such as a two-headed calf, an Arizona desert mummy, antique clockwork games and more).
They are filthy scavengers that are agressive and carry diseases. Some people think they are cute. I worked offshore for a number of years and grew to hate them. No matter what we had to work on had seagull crap all over it. No matter what we installed they crapped on. Yuck!
The Seattle Aquarium was a complete rip off and waste of time for me. I was expecting so much more. Not worth it. If you have kids they will probably want to see it, but if you are an adult or couple going on your own and if you have seen aquariums in the past, don't bother it is nothing special.
Unique Suggestions Stay there as long as you can, use the restrooms, drink the water and get your money's worth somehow!!
Fun Alternatives Don't go!!