With underground street tours and sky-high towers, craft ale tasting sessions and breathtaking boat trips – there’s so much to pack in to your Seattle itinerary.
The Pacific Northwest is the United States’ latest travel trend, with gorgeous forests, wild coastline and some of the country’s coolest cities. Of these, Seattle ranks high, known internationally for its pioneering coffee culture, edgy museums, vibrant cultural scene and delicious gastronomy.
Are you looking for ideas for your Seattle itinerary? This city offers something for everyone, whether you’re a culture vulture or an outdoor adventurer. Each neighbourhood of Seattle has its own unique character, from the upmarket vibes of Queen Anne, to the grungy artistic scene in Fremont. You’ll find soaring landmarks, great shopping, and some of the best fresh seafood in the country.
Take the link light rail to Columbia City and enjoy the amazing farmer’s market, or hang out downtown in Pioneer Square and simply watch the world go by. Once you’ve tired of the city lights, the glorious forests and beaches of the Pacific Northwest await you – the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature.
Whether you’re planning a long trip, or simply looking for ideas for a quick 1-day Seattle itinerary, I’ve got plenty of ideas for you! Coming up is my guide to all the best things to do in Seattle.
Top Things to Do In Seattle
1. Wander Around Pioneer Square
Seattle’s oldest neighbourhood, and the heart of the city – Pioneer Square is perfect for a leisurely wander and the ideal place to kick off your Seattle itinerary. This part of town is named for the earliest settlers in Seattle, but today it’s a thriving, bustling quarter packed with art galleries, bookshops, and trendy bars.
There are plenty of sights to see, including the Totem Pole, the Smith Tower Observatory, and Occidental Park. You can even take a tour of all the secret underground passages that run underneath the city. Don’t forget your camera, as the turn-of-the-century buildings are gorgeous .
2. Take The Ferry To Bainbridge Island
One of the most popular things on any Seattle itinerary is a trip to Bainbridge Island. This beautiful natural spot is just a short ferry ride away from the city. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy a fabulous view of the Seattle skyline as you make the 35-minute journey.
There are plenty of picturesque trails that run along the beach and through the woods, offering a real breath of fresh air after a day or two in the city. For those with a taste for the great outdoors, it’s possible to rent kayaks and paddle boards to enjoy the water on hot days, or simply kick back with a picnic and admire the views. Bliss!
3. Take A Ride On The Seattle Great Wheel
Located on Pier 57, the Seattle Great Wheel is one of the biggest of its kind in the United States, and offers phenomenal views at its 175ft apex. Enjoy magnificent panoramas of the city skyline, Lake Union, the Pacific Ocean and even as far as Mount Rainier.
The wheel is lit up beautifully at night, but I think it’s best enjoyed at sunset, when you can admire the last rays of the day with a glass of champagne in your hand in one of the VIP carriages! This is an absolute must for any Seattle itinerary, especially if it’s your first time in the city.
4. Visit The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Klondike Gold Rush was a turning point in Seattle’s history, when tens of thousands of people flocked to the fledgling city, hoping to use it as a base from which to launch gold prospecting expeditions near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon territory.
The Seattle branch of this fascinating national historical park is located in downtown Pioneer Square, and includes a wonderful museum where you can learn about the story of the people who flocked to Canada in the hope of changing their destiny.
You can even try your hand at gold panning with specialist tours run by the park rangers! This is a really fun activity if you’re planning a longer stay and looking for things to do on a 3-day Seattle itinerary.
5. Have Lunch At Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is a Seattle institution, and one of the most visited attractions in the whole city. The original spot was an open-air fish market, founded in 1930, and is best known for its fish-flinging stall vendors, who still entertain customers today by hurling the fish from the display case prior to selling them!
Pike Place Market has expanded over the last century, and is now a fantastic place for a slap-up lunch, whether you fancy tasting an authentic clam chowder (I’d recommend Jack’s Fish Spot) or the iconic Seattle Joe’s Scramble served at local favourite Lowell’s.
6. Explore the Olympic Sculpture Park
Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park is one of the city’s most unusual attractions. Constructed on an industrial wasteland close to the downtown waterfront, this incredible art museum is now one of the nicest green spaces in the city.
The Sculpture Park covers 9 acres and is filled with impressive works of art, and the views over Puget Sound are wonderful. This amazing and unique museum is a must for art fans, and will allow you to see another side of the city.
7. Go For A Hike In Seward Park
A short drive from downtown Seattle takes you to one of the most beautiful natural spots in the region: Seward Park. Located on the Bailey Peninsula, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean, this stunning park is covered with forest.
It’s the ideal place to take a breath of fresh air on your Seattle itinerary, with lovely forest trails, pretty beaches and plenty of outdoor activities like mountain biking and boating on offer. An afternoon out in this pretty location is one of the best things to do in Seattle.
8. Admire The View From The Space Needle
Seattle’s hills provide plenty of scope for awesome views, but for the best panorama in the city, head up to the top of the iconic Space Needle. This immense tower stretches 605 feet up in the air and is topped with a rotating viewing platform.
The view from up here is second-to-none, and the revolving glass floor will leave you with your heart in your mouth as you literally see the city unfold beneath your feet!
Located in Lower Queen Anne, the cultural hub of the city, the Space Needle is a must-see attraction, even if you‘re only planning a 1-day Seattle itinerary.
9. Catch A Show At The Triple Door
Seattle has a lively music and entertainment scene, and one of the best venues in town has to be The Triple Door. This popular joint offers good food, excellent cocktails and some truly fabulous acts, attracting talent from all over the world.
Housed in a 1920s movie theatre, Triple Door oozes old world charm, and offers an impressive range of performers, ranging from burlesque and jazz music, to world music, folk and indie rock. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for evening entertainment on your 4-day Seattle itinerary, this is the place to come.
Where To Stay In Seattle
The Edgewater Hotel is arguably the best-located hotel in downtown Seattle, perched on the waterfront overlooking Elliot Bay. This is the only hotel in the Seattle centre where you’ll have a beautiful waterfront view, cosy rooms with rustic furniture and roaring fires, and your very own in-house barista for that perfect morning cup of coffee!
The Beatles famously stayed here, dangling their legs from a bedroom window as they fished in the waters of Puget Sound. Come here for a little slice of music history and enjoy some live music in the wood-panelled bar. The Edgewater is a luxury lodge with a difference.
As the name suggests, this superb hotel is located in the heart of Seattle’s iconic market: Pike Place. You’ll be at the centre of the action, with access to the hustle and bustle of the market, but once you’re tucked up in one of the beautiful rooms, you’ll enter a cocoon of tranquillity.
Each room is decked out in luxury furnishings with plenty of personal touches, and you can order room service direct from Café Champagne, one of Seattle’s best French restaurants. The Inn At The Market is one of the best places to stay in Seattle, and the perfect romantic retreat for couples.
If you’re looking for something a little different during your stay in Seattle, look no further than the Kimpton Palladian Hotel. Located in Belltown, and surrounded by lively bars and boutiques, this stunning hotel is an ideal jumping off point to explore the cultural side of the city.
Enjoy the Olympic Sculpture Park, visit the Aquarium, or take in a show at the Moore Theatre – you’ll be perfectly placed to get in on the action. Back at the hotel, the rooms are spacious, and comfortable, with quirky furnishings including their famous pop art pillows! Make sure you don’t miss the chance to sample fresh seafood at the highly rated Shaker + Spear restaurant.
I hope that this list has given you plenty of ideas for your Seattle itinerary. There are so many amazing things to do in Seattle, I’m sure that the Emerald City will win you over in a heartbeat, and no doubt you’ll be planning your return trip very soon!
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