What a great city Seattle is!
Just writing this Seattle itinerary has helped me relive the amazing experience we had in what is now one of our favorite cities in the USA.
It seems at the moment, we are not the only ones that love it as we recently shared in our post on 10 destinations Americans are traveling to this Thanksgiving, Seattle came in at number three!
I am not surprised. Seattle is big on culture, the arts, unique attractions, innovation, musicians and sports. The Seattle attractions and experiences do a fantastic job of telling its unique story.
It is sandwiched between the Puget Sound and the Cascades Mountain so is surrounded by natural beauty and provides easy access to so many incredible regions near to Seattle.
We spent four days visiting Seattle in Washington State. We experienced plenty of Seattle attractions from the big touristy events to the smaller, local experiences. Our Seattle itinerary will save you time by laying out what to do in Seattle in either 2, 3, or 4 days.
You can also get a free printable of this itinerary when you join our free VIP Email community (expect loads of insider tips and bonuses)
- How to use this 2, 3, or 4 day Seattle itinerary
- Don’t visit Seattle WITHOUT a Seattle CityPAss
- When in Seattle, be sure to … taste cupcakes
- Getting around Seattle
- Day 1: Arts and Culture
- Day 2: History & Waterfront attractions
- 3pm Seattle Underground Tour
- Day 3: Beach Culture & Views
- Day 4: Local & Unique
- Free Printable of your Seattle Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Seattle?
- READ MORE:
- Interactive Seattle attractions map
- Share this post
How to use this 2, 3, or 4 day Seattle itinerary
This itinerary guideline targets the biggest Seattle attractions plus local experiences and unique things to do.
I’ve designed this itinerary to be super flexible. If desired, change according to location of hotel, waking hours, specific interests etc. You can easily follow it whether you have two, three, or four days in Seattle.
I’ve organized each day around a certain theme with attractions in fairly close proximity to save time in getting around.
The first two days are where you’ll find the most popular and unique Seattle attractions. This is typically what a person will want to do if limited to a two day trip.
If you only have three days, I’d leave out Day 4.
Four days was a wonderful amount of time for us to enjoy the best of Seattle, soak up the atmosphere, and really get an in-depth experience of it’s cultural diversity.
I didn’t give a lot of choices for eating to give you flexibility to suit your style. We were staying in an vacation rental in a neighborhood east of Seattle and ate around that area. We also did not experience the Seattle nightlife, preferring to enjoy the comforts of a home and a much needed break from a cramped RV!
Don’t visit Seattle WITHOUT a Seattle CityPAss
Out of all the cites in the USA we have visited, the Seattle CityPass is the one that provides the most value out of all their city attraction passes.
We’re not usually going to see all the top attractions in a city to make a CityPass worth it, but all the top attractions in Seattle are unique and worth visiting.
We absolutely loved them and visited almost all of the Seattle attractions on the Seattle tourist card.
It costs $99 for adults and $79 for a child, which will save you 49% on admissions to the Top 5 Seattle Attractions, including the Woodland Park Zoo. Learn more about what is included in the Seattle CityPass here.
When in Seattle, be sure to … taste cupcakes
Throughout your time in Seattle, plan for some cupcake tasting. You will hear about it once you arrive in Seattle. It’s a favorite argument among the locals.
You’ll find their stores all over Seattle so pop into one that is near where you are when you’re out exploring each day.
Cupcake Royal are the pioneers in Seattle cupcakes known for locally sourced ingredients. Trophy are known for the party style designs (they sell ice cream too).
Both have gluten free and vegan cupcakes, but had all sold out when we arrived.
Getting around Seattle
Seattle is a sprawling city with lots of neighborhoods to explore. Be warned, parking can be hard to find and expensive and traffic jams are a thing.
A car will make getting around to all the experiences on this itinerary easier as we do explore further than just downtown Seattle. As we were on our 10 month USA RV trip, we had our car with us. It’s also great if you have even more time and want to explore the many wonderful things near Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, like Mount Rainier and the Olympic National Park.
Having said that, you can get around Seattle easy enough without a car!
You’ll be surprised at how walkable Central Seattle is, which includes downtown, Belltown, Seattle Center, South Lake Union, the waterfront, and Pioneer Square.
There is also a good bus system, a streetcar that connects downtown to South Lake Union, and a light-rail system that connects Seattle to the airport and makes some stops along the way.
You can get an All-Day Regional Transit Pass for $8, which you can use on all of Seattle’s public transportation services except for the monorail and on Washington State Ferries. Find more information here.
Day 1: Arts and Culture
Seattle is one of the best cities in the country for art and culture, especially music. This day will focus on learning and experiencing that in the Queen Anne Neighborhood where you’ll find the Seattle Center and some of the city’s best museums.
We don’t usually visit museums but we loved the ones in Seattle for their uniqueness.
As seasoned travelers, we think it’s usually a waste of your time and resources to go to generic experiences like playgrounds, aquariums, zoos, natural history and children’s museums. Save that for entertaining the kids (or yourself) at home.
We only choose those that are specific to the area we are visiting and tell a unique story. Seattle is the exception.
8am Starbucks Reserve Roastery
While everyone else is lining up at Starbucks in Pike Place Market, we recommend you instead head to the Starbucks Roastery for a unique Starbucks experience!
This is not your typical Starbucks café. It’s the mega version with a roastery, a café, a coffee library, and almost a museum of the coffee roasting process.
You can get bakery and food items and alcohol here (operated by Princi Bakery), which I felt were a little overpriced. But, you know, Starbucks.
The Experience Bar is a place to sit down and order unique and siphon brewed coffees not found elsewhere. I enjoyed this Seattle experience.
If this is too much of a detour to start off this day (depend where you staying) you may wish to fit it in elsewhere. It was on our way from our vacation rental to Seattle Center so was an easy fit in.
9am Olympic Sculpture Park
The Olympic Sculpture Park is an award-winning nine-acre sculpture park on the waterfront. It is Seattle’s largest downtown green space has paved walkways and nature trails lined with quirky sculptures.
Follow the zig-zag path down to the waterfront and admire the many different sculptures of various sizes and colors.
You’ll have incredible views of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains in the distance.
10am Seattle Center
The Seattle Center is an active civic, arts and family gathering place featuring more than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations in the uptown Arts & Cultural District.
This unique Seattle experience is informative and fun and and the place to experience some of the best art and culture in Seattle. They are showing the rest of the world how to make your art and cultural museums and experiences stand out.
I love how all museums and attractions were in one vibrant fun place with art installations and public places to rest and unwind while you either waited for your next museum tour, or ate lunch, or just hung out by the fountain or at the art and play playground for the kids.
Plan your visit to the Seattle Art Center carefully and book in advance when you can to avoid queues.
Here are the Seattle Center attractions we recommend. You can read more in-depth information and more photos on them in our Seattle Guide.
I was impressed with the Space Needle, it’s one of the iconic attractions in Seattle Washington.
Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the 605 ft. high Space Needle is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and its futuristic design symbolizes the innovative and forward-thinking spirit of Seattle.
The 360 views of the city are spectacular on the two observation decks: the all glass floor and an open-air observation deck above. I especially loved the featured like glass chairs leaning against the glass windows and glass rotating floors to add a little thrill to the experience.
Chihuly Garden and Glass*
I love Chihuly’s innovative glass art and have seem many of his installations across the country so I loved this Seattle Museum the most.
Chihuly has received numerous awards, honorary doctorates and fellowships and The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is dedicated to his life story, influences and inspirations.
Don’t miss the 40 ft. glass house with a vibrantly warm and colorful 100 foot long sculpture. You’ll get great views of the Seattle Space Needle behind this sculpture when you look up. Take a walk through the lush landscaped gardens and admire how well the art sculptures blend with it.
You’ll be amazed at how well the art sculptures blend into the lush landscaped garden.
Museum of Pop Culture*
Another fantastic and unique Seattle Museum is the MoPop Museum, or Museum of Pop Culture. This is a Seattle Center museum dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture, with its roots in Rock’n’ Roll.
Grunge music lovers will love the exhibitions on Nirvana and Pearl Jam. And the design of the building adds to the unique coolness of Seattle – always making things stand out!
Check what exhibits are on. When we visited there was a Minecraft exhibition which is great for visiting Seattle with kids.
KEXP – grab a coffee
A cool local experience while at the Seattle Center is to grab a coffee at the KEXP Live Room and Viewing Gallery. It’s an audio and video broadcast studio that has a Gathering Space, which is a community hub and hangout place for music lovers.
It’s definitely worth a peek inside to sit for awhile with a delicious cup of coffee at La Marzocco
You can listen to what is on the radio and see them recording it through the window. Check out the amazing dedication wall to Prince.
To save time, pack a picnic lunch or eat at the Science Center food court.
Your CityPass admission to the Space needle gives you access to return for night time views!
5pm Explore Queen Anne Neighborhood
This much loved hillside neighborhood is named for the elegant “Queen Anne” style of architecture with front-facing gables, balconies, and generous bay windows.
Lower Queen Anne is where you’ll find most of the tourists and major attractions explored above, including the Space Needle, Seattle Center, and Memorial Stadium.
The western portion of Queen Anne Avenue is where you’ll find local eateries and boutique stores. Pick up an ice cream from favorite, Molly Moons.
The highlight of a visit for many to this Seattle neighborhood is the stunning view of Seattle – the space needle (and if you’re lucky Mt Rainier) from the small neighborhood park, Kerry Park.
This was my favorite view of Seattle.
Optional: Amazon Spheres and Understory
Depending on how you are going for time, you may want to visit the Amazon Spheres and Understory, which is not too far from the Seattle Center. It is a popular place to visit with a very unique design, but could be a little underwhelming.
The Understory is in the heart of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Its a free public space with interactive exhibits about flora and design, showcasing Amazon’s approach towards an urban office.
The space outside had bean bags on a grassed area to sit down on and it was surrounded by loads of plants and trees. It was a nice space.
For a tour of the indoor gardens of the Spheres, you have to sign up in advance at Amazon HQ Tour. They run them two Saturdays a month.
Day 2: History & Waterfront attractions
Today on the Seattle Itinerary will be incorporating more of Seattle’s top attractions this time centered around the Seattle Waterfront region and Pioneer Place.
Don’t forget to leave time for some cupcake tasting, and plan in advance what you want to experience at Pike Place Market and your dinner and evening plans.
8am Pike Place Market food tour
Pike Place Market was established in 1907 to connect citizens and farmers.
Its “Meet the Producer” tradition offers a year-round farmers market, owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands and specialty food store across a nine-acre historic district.
My favorite of the things to do in Seattle was the VIP early opening food tour of Pike Place Market, probably the most famous market in the USA.
What I loved about this tour, was not just the delicious sampling of food we had for the entire three hours, nor our funny, friendly and informative guide, Justin, but also all the stories that gave us insight into the history and how this market has shaped the culture of Seattle – and, it is kid friendly!
I loved having Justin take us to all the best and interesting spots like Indi chocolate, maple bacon donuts, spiced tea, Turkish flatbread and locally made chocolate for samples (great for doing Seattle with kids) before all the crowds of the day came to jostle us out of the way.
10am Explore Pike Place more at leisure
I recommend spending time after your tour to explore Pike Place Market a little deeper.
With six levels and more than 200 stores and 80 restaurants, you could get lost in Pike Place for hours.
A highlight will be watching the fish throwers at Pike Place Fish. A tradition since 1986, fishmongers throw fish that customers have purchased, before they are wrapped.
Pike Place Market is also the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee.
While I am not a raving fan of their coffee, I do appreciate the grassroots story turned into global phenomenon. Starbucks devotees may wish to line up at the original store (which really isn’t the original original as that one actually burned down.)
- Honest Biscuits Metl-in-your-mouth biscuits (including gluten free biscuits)
- Grab a creamy coffee from Storyville. If you don’t love it after the third sip, they’ll refund your money. We did not have to use the guarantee.
- Don’t forget to peek at the gum wall (we ran out of time)
- Pike Place Chowder has what is meant to be the best chowder (go early to avoid long lines)f
11am Seattle Waterfront
From Pike Place you can walk along the Seattle Waterfront area located on the Puget Sound which is a collection of lively piers filled with seafood restaurants, souvenir shops and some of the top attractions like the Seattle Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium.
Pier 62 is one acre of flexible public space that will be programmed year round with cultural, recreational, and educational programs that celebrate all communities and cultures.
We rode the Seattle Great Wheel, the giant Ferris Wheel offering superb views of Seattle waterfront and downtown.
This ride will last about 30-minutes in a full enclosed gondola so can be worth it on a clear day if you love city views and photography. Kids will love this!
12pm The Crab Pot for a famous Seafest
Time to get your hands dirty as you devour a Seafest: a giant steamed bucket of seafood dumped directly onto your paper covered table. Enjoy your delicious locally fresh caught seafood that includes steamed clams, Pacific Mussels, Dungeness Crab, Snow Crab, Shrimp, Salmon, Corn on the Cob & red roast potatoes.
It’s probably the best seafood I’ve had in the US and reminded me even more of Sydney. Even better that it was paired with a glass of chardonnay on a warm summer’s day.
A table on the wharf would be best for Seattle views and outdoor ambiance.
Walk to Pioneer Square or Cruise
Plan your timings well here depending on how you are getting around and how much time you want to spend at the waterfront area verse exploring the cobblestone streets of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood.
There isn’t a great deal to see here but it is very pretty. The best way to do it is on the Seattle Underground Tour below. It’s recommended to book ahead. It will give you the best overview of the area and then with any remaining time you have, you can just wander around the Pioneer Square.
If you want an alternative, since you are in the Seattle Waterfront area, you could take a cruise of the Puget Sound. Argosy cruises of the Puget sound with views of the Seattle skyline are included on your Seattle CityPass.
Or, for $7 per person round trip (check current prices) you can take a Washington State Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. It takes 30 minutes each way and it will give you those magnificent views of Seattle’s skyline. It isn’t out of the ordinary to see whales on the journey.
We caught the ferry over from Bainbridge Island with our car and it was beautiful!
3pm Seattle Underground Tour
Time to head below Seattle for a fascinating insight into the beginnings of Seattle as a settled city.
The Seattle Underground Tour will take you underneath the streets of the historic Pioneer Square lies a network of undergrounds passageways. They were once the alleys leading into shopfronts as the city was being raised out of the swamps.
Some of those tunnels can be accessed now either through bars, comedy clubs, or retails stores. You can also tour them with a guide who will take you places you normally can’t go and share the stories of this Seattle world in the late 1700s early 1800s.
Notice small purple color glass squares on the pavements of Pioneer Square, they are actually skylights for the underground.
Seattle Mariners baseball game and pregame dinner drinks at Pyramid Alehouse. This is not too far to walk form Pioneer Square, or you can add it into the end of tomorrow’s day as it is also close to the Smith Tower. We loved this Seattle sports experience!
Day 3: Beach Culture & Views
Seattle is a city surrounded by water, which means beaches are all around the shorelines. The salty Elliot Bay and Puget Sound borders the city to the west, while the massive Lake Washington offers freshwater to the east. (we stayed near here. It’s beautiful!)
One of the most popular beaches (and easiest to get to from downtown) is Alki Beach. So on Day 3 of our itinerary for Seattle, you’ll experience a more local taste of Seattle beach culture. We’ll end it with some gorgeous Seattle views form above.
8:30am Breakfast at Arthur’s Cafe
If you are driving to Alki Beach we recommend breakfast at Arthur’s Cafe, an Australian cafe!
I was delighted with my flat white and smashed Avo: heirloom tomatoes, poached eggs on top of avocado mashed with lemon, mint, basil and parsley on (gluten free) toast. And of course, it was vegemite for the girls’!
If you’re catching a water taxi to Alki Beach, you might want to consider breakfast at a place near your hotel before you leave.
10am Alki Beach
Alki Beach stretches for two and a half miles from Alki Point to Duwamish Head in West Seattle. It’s where the first modern pioneers landed in Seattle in 1851.
You can catch a water taxi from downtown Seattle to Seacrest Park Pier (enjoy the views of Seattle when you arrive.).
At the ferry terminal, rent some roller blades and skate from Harbor Ave around the bend along the 2.5-mile paved path that parallels the beach and takes you to where the Alki Beach cafes and restaurants are.
The views of Seattle skyline along the path were beautiful. It reminded me of my small beach home town. If roller blading is not your thing you can also kayak or paddle board.
Apart from swimming in the beach, there are beach volleyball courts here. Stop to play awhile either after (or before) lunch. Sunsets are also meant to be beautiful here.
12 pm: Lunch at Dukes Seafood and Chowder
One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle was Duke’s Seafood and Chowder House, an independent locally owned restaurant since the late 70s.
They are strict in ensuring the food is 100% sustainable and free from chemical nasties. There’s plenty of fresh, sustainable, wild-caught seafood and gluten free options, including their delicious clam chowder, a meal I rarely get to enjoy – thank you Dukes!
Dine on the upper deck to enjoy the beautiful views of the Sound backdropped by the Olympic Mountains.
West Seattle Brewing Co
Fancy a local craft brew with a beach view?
That’s what you’ll find at West Seattle Brewing Co’s Tapshack which sits just about 20 steps from the beach. It has the laid back beach bar you hope for in a location like this and serves pizza for the peckish.
This Seattle brewery doesn’t just draw the crowds for their award winning beer or sprawling patio with people watching Adirondack chairs, but for their dog-friendly vibe.
You’ll find seltzers and ciders too!
You may want to stay here for sunset, or if you’ve had enough head back over to Downtown Seattle to enjoy our next recommendation.
5pm Smith Tower Observatory Bar / Sky View Observatory Columbia Center (Views + drinks)
Head to the Smith Tower Observatory for an early 19th Century vibe. You can sip on Prohibition infused craft cocktails while enjoying superb Seattle views and the eclectic mix of 20s with Chinese inspired décor.
The Wishing Chair is a popular seat for selfies and single people hoping its magic will rub off on them to be married within a year.
We did not make it to the Sky View Observatory at Columbia Center, but many recommended it to us as having the best views of Seattle.
You’ll climb 73 stories for panoramic Seattle views and the tallest public viewing space in the Pacific Northwest.
Views include Mt. Rainier, Bellevue, the Cascade Mountains, Mt. Baker, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, the Space Needle and the city of Seattle.
Day 4: Local & Unique
We’re so glad you could visit Seattle for four days!
Here’s a chance to explore some cool unique Seattle neighborhoods north east of downtown Seattle and north of the city on Lake Union and Salmon Bay. This is your more local feel. An ambling pace will suffice.
8am Explore Capitol Hill neighborhood
Seattle’s coolest neighborhood and LGBTQ epicenter, Capitol Hill is packed with hip bars, eateries, laid-back coffee shops and indie stores. Wander the streets and soak it up – or return here at night if you want a little nightlife.
Volunteer Park, atop the hill in a historic mansion district, has walking trails, a plant conservatory, panoramic city views and the art deco Asian Art Museum.
Depending how early you like breakfast, you could explore Volunteer Park, or nearby Washington Park (if you have a car) before our breakfast and coffee ideas.
Joe Bar for breakfast crepes
Who doesn’t want crepes for breakfast, especially when it’s served in a cute, grey-stone historical Tudor style building?
Crouch down low and head up the creaky stairs to eat, drink or tap away in their unique balcony area designed for hobbits. Green walls display art from high-caliber arts, mostly local.
Since 1997, Joe Bar has been focused on community, coffee and art, and delicious crepes (including gluten free!) paired with friendly and accommodating service.
Joe Bar one of the unique Seattle places to eat and their smoked salmon and goat cheese, gluten-free crepe was delicious.
Coffee at Espresso Vivace
After your breakfast at Joe Bar, walk around the Corner to Espresso Vivace, their flagship café in Capitol Hill location. Grab your favorite cup and a window seat and watch the world go by.
11am: Discovery Park
We briefly visited Discover Park on our way to the Ballard Locks. Decide if you have enough time or not and it depends on whether you have your own vehicle (makes it much easier)
Located on a bluff, the 500 acre park has features grasslands, sea cliffs, forest groves, and skyline views of Cascade and the Olympic Mountains. There is a three mile loop and the trail to reach the West Point Lighthouse is known as one of the best hikes near Seattle.
The Ballard Locks are a series of locks that link the Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Boats as large as 760 feet in length and as small as a kayak can travel through the locks. You can watch the action through a series of swinging walkways or from a boat on an Argosy tour.
On the tour, you can experience the rising and falling of the water (up to 26 feet) as your boat moves from one level to the other.
You may want to eat in nearby downtown Ballard. (Where we ate is now closed) there is a cool Australian bar here though called Kangaroo and Kiwi where we enjoyed a pint and a taste of home.
There are also plenty of places to eat in Fremont, if you decide to go there next.
Golden Gardens Park
If you have time (and a car) you may want to visit Golden Gardens Park northwest of the Ballard neighborhood. We did not get time but it was on my list!
Golden Gardens is one of the most popular (And biggest) beaches in Seattle. The beach overlooks Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Golden Gardens has access to swimming, beach volleyball, and forested hiking trails.
Sunset beach campfires here are a THING!
3pm Explore Fremont
Fremont is a quirky neighborhood filled with creatives, artists and foodies.
When in Seattle with kids, stopping into see the Fremont Troll is fun for them. You’ll find the 18 ft. troll sculpture under the Aurora Bridge (of course). The troll is grasping a Volkswagen beetle in its hand. Be careful when crossing the bridge!
Also in the area is a huge bronze Lenin statue in the main street, and a sign declaring Fremont as the center of the Universe.
While in this area, be sure to walk along the riverfront trail from Fremont down to the Gas Works.
Start with some samples of delicious locally made Theo’s Chocolate. You have probably seen them in supermarkets around the country. You can sample loads of different flavors – the chili chocolate won me over – another of the cool things to do with kids in Seattle!
Then walking along the water the Burke Gilman Trail Fremont Cut, past the blue and orange Fremont Bridge to the Gas Works Park on Lake Union. What was once home to Seattle Gas Light Company’s gasification plant is now a place to fly kites and enjoy a stunning view of the Space Needle and the Puget Sound.
Return to the walk and finish at the Fremont Brewery for a wide selection of craft beers and ciders
This a family-friendly and dog friendly brewery with a large beer garden filled with gorgeous flowers.There is no food served here but you can bring in food from outside.
You can upgrade your Seattle CityPass to the Argosy Ballard Locks tour for an extra fee.
Free Printable of your Seattle Itinerary
Where to Stay in Seattle?
If you don’t have access to a vehicle, staying in downtown Seattle will save you time and help you enjoy all the unique experiences shared in this Seattle itinerary.
Kimpton Palladian Hotel
Stay in the heart of Seattle 1,000 feet from Pike Place Market and 0.6 mi from the Space Needle. Kimpton is one of our favorite hotel brand for their boutique style quirkiness.
The guest rooms here feature pop-art pillows while certain units have a claw footed bathtub.
An evening wine hour is held every night from 17:00 to 18:00 at Kimpton Palladian Hotel. Free bikes are also available.
Past guests rave about the modern décor, spacious and comfortable rooms and location. Check rates here
Located within walking distance to the Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market, and the Space Needle is the Belltown Inn.
Rooms have a kitchenette and the inn has a furnished rooftop terrace.
Previous guests rave about location, price and clean well sized rooms Check rates and reviews here.
- For more Seattle accommodation options, including vacation rentals click here to see what is available on Booking.com.
- Check more Seattle vacation rentals on VRBO.
Helpful posts on places to visit near Seattle.
- 33 Cool Things to do in Seattle with Kids
- 6 Places to visit in Washington State on a road trip
- 13 Small Towns in the USA we love
- 17 Cool Places to visit in the USA
- 16 Incredible Things to Do in Olympic National Park
- 12 cool things to do in North Cascades National Park
Interactive Seattle attractions map
Click for full version of the interactive map where you can navigate between things to do in Seattle, places to eat and drink and stay. You can make a copy and any extra experiences you have discovered and create directions between each!
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Comment: Would you add anything to this Seattle Itinerary? Any questions on what to see and do in Seattle?