a First Timer’s Weekend in Seattle Itinerary

Boats docked in Seattle, Washington

Hello everybody! You know what, after having already explored as far north as Canada’s Banff National Park and Anchorage, Alaska, I figured it was time to tiptoe down to the American Pacific Northwest. So, what better place to start than Seattle, Washington? I’ve put together a Seattle Itinerary that showcases all that this awesome city has to offer.

Don’t let this city’s rainy reputation get you down, just pack an umbrella and hit the town! It’s easy to get around, thanks to the monorail, Link light rail, buses, and Uber. Better yet, put on your walking shoes for the best views! I loved meandering around the Seattle area, peeking into art galleries, and warming up with a cup of joe from a local roaster.

And if you’re looking for the best place to stay in Seattle, I would HIGHLY recommend The Maxwell Hotel! It’s a contemporary, art-filled hotel and is a 10-minute walk from the Space Needle and 2 miles from Pike Place Market. The rooms are super clean and it’s fairly cheap (for Seattle).

Now that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing what this city has to offer, allow me to share with you my best 3-day Seattle itinerary!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post, like hotel links, are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I make a little bit of money if you click through and book. That being said, I would never recommend something to you that I don’t stand behind 100%.

Skyline of Seattle, Washington with Denali in the background and the Space Needle in the foreground.

Day 1: Seattle Center and the Space Needle

Come on, you can’t visit Seattle and miss out on the Space Needle! It’s a must-see for first-time visitors. First things first, though, let’s get some food in our bellies.

In the nearby Belltown neighborhood, you can enjoy fresh vegan options at Bang Bang Cafe or decadent comfort food at the rather colorfully named Biscuit Bitch. I had one of their sausage and cheese biscuits and felt full all morning!

The Space Needle opens at noon, so depending on how early you started your day, you should explore the Pacific Science Center before you go. This is a great science museum for kids, complete with a laser dome and IMAX. 

Once you’re ready, stroll across the Seattle Center to that attraction you’ve been waiting for: the Space Needle! I’d recommend buying tickets in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit the Chihuly Gardens  as well. You can grab one ticket for both at a reduced price! Once at the top, you’ll marvel at breathtaking views of the city, especially on a clear day. With a glass floor 520 feet off the ground, this magnificent observation deck certainly isn’t for the faint of heart!

Back on solid ground, you can take an easy walk to see Dale Chihuly’s stunning permanent display at the Chihuly Gardens, or the MoPOP, AKA the Museum of Pop Culture, for creative exhibitions on anything from Minecraft to tattoo culture. Pretty cool!

I don’t know about you, but after all that museum exploring, I was about ready for a rest. Put your feet up and enjoy a hot drink at one of the cool cafés near the KEXP Studios.

To finish out your day, check out the nightlife scene in Capitol Hill – full of gay-friendly bars and clubs – or take the family down to the Seattle Waterfront along the Puget Sound. Running alongside the Elliott Bay neighborhood downtown, the Waterfront is home to the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Great Wheel and plenty of food stalls for dinner!

Day 2: Pike Place Market and an Underground Tour

Today’s all about Pike Place Market, so whenever you’re ready to roll out of bed, we’re going to head straight there. It’s open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, which leaves you plenty of time to explore. If you’re hungry, grab something to eat at one of the restaurant stalls, or pick up some farmers’ market produce to take back to your Airbnb!

Vendor standing in Pike's Place Market in Seattle, Washington amongst crowd of people.

Beyond the typical foodie delights to explore, you can also grab your morning coffee at the original Starbucks, or even visit the gum wall for something disgustingly intriguing…but don’t forget the hand sanitizer! 

Once you’ve had your fill of Pike Place Market, meander down to Pioneer Square, the heart of downtown Seattle. From here, take an Underground Tour of Seattle’s subterranean stores and sidewalks, which were buried after the Great Fire of 1889. It’s cool, creepy, and fun, all at once!

To round out your day, I’ll give you a couple of choices: explore the modern South Lake Union neighborhood or indie-friendly Queen Anne. Both are a short 10 minute drive from the Pioneer Square or a 20 minute ride via Seattle’s easy public transportation options. 

In South Lake Union, the Amazon headquarters created a boom in this neighborhood that led to posh bars and restaurants for an elegant evening out. You can enjoy a dinner at a cool rooftop bar or grab a lakeside view at White Swan Public House.

In Queen Anne, you’ll enjoy a more residential, family-friendly area, with cozy local bookstores and even a board game store for families trying to unplug and connect the old fashioned way! Try out some delicious ice cream and finish things off with dinner at Toulouse Petit or Bounty Kitchen.

Day 3: Exploring Ballard and Fremont

It’s the last day! I’d suggest taking this day a bit slower, after all that touring around on days one and two. We’ve got to savor every moment!

Depending on how much time you’ve given yourself before that flight out, you can explore one or more of Seattle’s less central neighborhoods, each with its own quirky personality! If you’re looking for a trendy, maritime area, take a stroll around Ballard, or pick Fremont for a bohemian, artsy vibe.  Better yet, visit both!

In Ballard, there’s an excellent farmers’ market on Sundays, the Ballard Locks to explore, and, of course, plenty of coffee shops to get your caffeine fix. You can’t visit Fremont, without taking a peek at the Fremont Troll, a huge statue with a Volkswagen Beetle in its hand, glaring at you from under a bridge. Up your fashion game in Fremont’s boutiques (by the way, I’ve got great boho and summer outfit tips!), or pick up another vinyl for your record collection at Jive Time. You can even fill out your tea collection at an artisanal, steampunk apothecary.

There you have it! Plenty of activities to fill up your three day trip to Seattle, from start to finish. It’s a great weekend getaway from Portland or any nearby city in the USA–or Canada! I’m looking at you, Vancouver. 

For other travel and road trip ideas, check out my blog! How about a warm stay in Texas or San Diego? Either way, happy travels!

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