After several trips to Seattle, I’m finally putting together a complete Seattle itinerary travel guide! I love visiting this city for its fab foodie scene, iconic Pacific Northwest views, and all the fun things to do in Seattle. If it’s your first time visiting, three to four days is the perfect amount of time to see and do all the top things, and this Seattle itinerary is for a full three days. Here are all my best travel tips and recs for Seattle! And here’s a custom Google Map with all of my restaurant and sightseeing recs represented visually.
Seattle City Pass: If you’re going to be hitting up a lot of Seattle’s top sights, it might make sense for you to purchase a Seattle City Pass. There’s a ticket price comparison chart on their site, but I did the math for you and essentially if you’re going to visit one more sight in addition to the Space Needle + Chihuly Garden (which you definitely should not miss those two), you might as well get a City Pass and enjoy a Harbour Cruise tour during your trip. Here’s what’s included in a Seattle City Pass, priced at $99 for adults and $79 for kids:
1 Space Needle
2 Seattle Aquarium
3 Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
4 Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) OR Woodland Park Zoo
5 Chihuly Garden and Glass OR Pacific Science Center
Where to stay in Seattle:
On our most recent trip to Seattle, we stayed at the Four Seasons, and it has completely ruined me for any future Seattle trip. The location in downtown Seattle could not be more perfect, and the same goes for the service. You can read more about our trip in detail in this Four Seasons Seattle Review post, but suffice it to say we loved our stay here.
If you’re traveling with a group or prefer an Airbnb over a hotel, be sure to check out my Best Airbnbs in Seattle guide!
Getting around in Seattle: Seattle has several public transportation options, including the Link Light Rail, Metro Transit bus, and Seattle Street Cars (which connect the South Lake Union neighborhood to downtown), Seattle Center Monorail, and water taxi. Lyfts/Ubers are also plentiful.
Three Day Seattle Itinerary
Seattle Itinerary: Day 1
Olympic Sculpture Park: Start your trip off by grabbing a coffee and strolling through the beautiful Olympic Sculpture Park along the water. You’ll be greeted with views of the Space Needle, and modern art and sculptures throughout the park.
Pike Place Market: After the park, continue walking south and after about fifteen minutes you’ll hit one of Seattle’s most popular attractions, Pike Place Market. There are tons of stalls and restaurants to check out at the market, but a few things you shouldn’t miss are the original Starbucks, Beecher’s Cheese, and the indoor/covered stalls where all the seafood is and the dudes that work there throw fish around when someone orders something.
Lunch at Pike Place: There are plenty of awesome places to eat at Pike Place, and a couple of suggestions would be Matt’s in the Market or Steelhead Diner. If you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive lunch at Pike Place (and don’t mind waiting in line), head to Beecher’s Cheese for their mac and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches. So. Good.
Gum Wall: At this point, you’re right by the gross but also kinda fun and very colorful gum wall, so you might as well go see it, snap a pic, and add your own gum to the wall.
Chihuly Garden: Head over to Seattle Center to visit a couple more Seattle highlights to round out your epic first day in Seattle. The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit may not be as widely-known as Pike Place or the Space Needle, but it is awesome. The exhibit features glass blown works of art by Dale Chihuly and his pupils, and its all truly remarkable. Be sure to bring a charged phone and headphones with you, because the exhibit offers a free audio guide that you can access from your smartphone.
Space Needle: The Space Needle was recently renovated, and the top is now surrounded by glass walls rather than mesh metal, making the views and experience even more incredible. The Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden are right next to each other, and hopefully by this time you’ve timed it to ascend the Space Needle right before sunset, so you can enjoy the views while watching the sun go down. I highly recommend booking your tickets online ahead of time and doing the Chihuly + Needle combo pass, or getting a Seattle Citypass. The line to buy tickets can get long, and then you have to wait in another line to go up the elevator. If you don’t buy tickets ahead of time, at least stop by to buy tickets on your way to Chihuly, so you can pick the time slot you want, otherwise, you may buy tickets and have to wait another hour before you can go up to the top.
There used to be a fine dining restaurant at the top of the Space Needle that rotated around slowly 360 degrees. The food was great and of course, the views were awesome, but sadly with the renovation, they also got rid of the restaurant. You can still grab food and drinks at the cafe up top, but it’s not a fine dining experience like before. The website says there may be new plans in the future though for a restaurant.
Dinner at Black Bottle or No Anchor: Since you’re in the Lower Queen Anne area, grab dinner at Black Bottle or No Anchor. Or, hit up both and grab a beer or cocktail at No Anchor, and then head around the corner to Black Bottle for dinner. No Anchor won a James Beard Award for its beer selection, but the food is really great too. And Black Bottle is really delicious and serves trendy small, shareable plates. This is probably the only time you’re ever going to hear me say this while talking about eating out, but do not miss their broccoli!! It’s so good.
Seattle Itinerary: Day 2
Hit up one of Seattle’s Museums: SAM, Museum of Pop, or the Pacific Science Center. Doing a little choose your own adventure here based on your preferences—depending on what exhibit the Seattle Art Museum has on while you’re in town, the SAM would probably be my personal choice. A couple of years ago when I was in town they had one of Yayoi Kusama’s super famous exhibits happening and I managed to snag tickets. It was SO fun. So definitely check out the SAM’s website to see what’s happening while you’re there.
If you’re not going to pay an actual visit to the Museum of Pop, I’d recommend at least strolling by the Museum of Pop to see it from the outside (it’s a really cool building designed by Frank Gehry) when you’re at the Seattle Center visiting the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden.
The Pacific Science Center is a modern science museum with an IMAX theatre, planetarium, and VR experiences.
Lunch: Continuing with the choose your own adventure theme, grab lunch in downtown. I’d recommend choosing from Goldfinch Tavern, Dahlia Lounge, or Serious Pie. Goldfinch Tavern is the new American restaurant at the Four Seasons, and we had a to-die-for brunch there that we absolutely loved. Dahlia Lounge is Tom Douglas original and a lovely spot for lunch (save room for the coconut cream pie for dessert). And Serious Pie is seriously good if you’re craving fancy pizza.
Starbucks Reserve: After lunch, head to the Starbucks Reserve to do a coffee flight tasting. The Starbucks Reserve is definitely the prettiest but also most overwhelming Starbucks I’ve ever seen. It’s huge, with several different bars, one serving coffee cocktails and one serving fancy coffee drinks. While I wasn’t very good at picking up the different notes and flavors in our coffee flight tasting, it was still fun to do.
Amazon Spheres: Next up, if the stars align check out the Amazon Spheres! This new space part of Amazon HQ, and for the most part it’s reserved for employees as a fancy-ass lounge/workspace. But The Spheres are open to us plebes two Saturdays out of the month, so if your trip happens to match up with one of those dates, it’d be fun to check these out. Definitely do not miss General Porpoise inside for doughnuts!
Seattle Public Library: If you can’t get into The Spheres (or you can and you just want to see more architecturally significant buildings in Seattle), check out the central Seattle Public Library. It’s a really beautiful building and the upper levels are great for an architecture or outfit shot. 😉
Underground Tour: Go on an underground history tour and learn about Pioneer Square, Seattle’s first established neighborhood. This tour will take you on underground pathways that have existed since the 1890’s, and you’ll learn about Seattle’s history.
Great Wheel: Take a ride on Seattle’s Great Wheel—the giant ferris wheel at Pier 57. As with the Space Needle, it’d be ideal to time your ride on the Great Wheel to be just before or at sunset for those gorgeous views and beautiful light.
Dinner at Bangrak: For dinner, head to Bangrak for some incredible Thai food! We just tried this relatively new restaurant and I think it’s the best Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to. Seriously SO GOOD. All the dishes we tried were fabulous and had such bold, delicious flavors and spices. Definitely get their pad see ew, green curry, and coconut rice cakes.
Seattle Itinerary: Day 3
Choose your own adventure: Alki Beach, Hot Tub, or Sailing. Depending on the time of year and what the weather is like when you’re visiting Seattle, I’ve got a few hot tips for ya. If you’re in Seattle when it’s warm and beautiful outside, first count yourself as #blessed. Second, get to Alki Beach for a beach day! Relax by the water, do some stand-up paddleboarding, or play beach volleyball.
If it’s on the chillier side in Seattle, rent a freaking hot tub boat and take it out on Lake Union. Yes, a hot tub boat!! You’ll have views of the Seattle skyline while soaking in a hot tub out on the lake. The hot tub boats can hold up to six people.
Your third option is to book a private sailboat and go out on the Puget Sound! If you have a group of around six people you get can the costs to be pretty reasonable, and I can think of few things better than having someone else worry about sailing your ass around the sound while you sip mimosas with friends and take in the beautiful views.
Lunch at Marination Ma Kai: For lunch, head to Marination. If you’re having a beach day at Alki Beach, Marination Ma Kai is right there, and it has a great outdoor space with drinks. If you’re closer to downtown at this point, you can either take the water taxi over to the Marination Ma Kai location (it’s a pleasant ride and on a nice day sipping lychee margaritas there on the patio with the Seattle skyline in front of you is just too tempting), or head to their downtown Marination spot.
Kerry Park: Make your way to Queene Anne and go to Kerry Park for a relaxing stroll and incredible views of Seattle’s skyline.
Fremont Troll: If you want to check out the Fremont Troll who lives under the Aurora Bridge, now would be the time to head a little further north to Fremont.
The Walrus and the Carpenter: If you do make it up to Fremont to see the Troll, your next destination should be The Walrus and The Carpenter. It’s a super popular oyster bar that is walk-in only, so expect a wait unless you’re able to get there early. You could do oysters and drinks (they have great cocktails), or make a full dinner out of it with their other small veggie and meat plates.
Dinner at JuneBaby or Downtown: Looking for a dinner spot? I’ve got you covered. If you’re up for a little bit of a trek, head to JuneBaby for upscale Southern food. Edouardo Jordan has won two Beard Awards for this new-ish spot, and their handcrafted cocktails and smoked meats have locals raving about them. JuneBaby is walk-in only (but they do take a couple of reservations for groups of 8 – 12). If you’re looking for a dinner spot closer to downtown, check out Bateau for a unique French-style whole-animal steakhouse or The Pink Door for great Italian food with a side of burlesque show!
That’s my ultimate three day Seattle Itinerary! If you have more time and are looking to do some day trips, I’d recommend heading to wine country or Mt. Ranier! Any other spots I should add to my Seattle list for the next time we’re in town? Let me know!