It’s spring time and for our first spring travel destination this year, we picked Seattle. I had visited Seattle back in 2017 as a student and loved the cool vibe of the city and definitely wanted to come back again. Tons of parks, historic neighborhoods, cute local coffee shops, gorgeous mountains, buzzing waterfront+market, world famous cherry blossoms and more-this city has it all.
Planning a visit to this rainy city can be overwhelming coz this place has tons of popular landmarks, unique restaurants & coffee shops and hidden gems. So I’ve put together this guide with a 3-day itinerary to help you decide what to see, where to eat & drink, and places to explore. Honestly, there is so much to in Seattle, I’m sure this won’t be your only visit – but this guide highlights a few places you cannot miss while you are in the city.
When to visit?
One of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Seattle is rain! Seattle is known for being cloudy and rainy but the rain is more like a mist and it sometimes just adds to the city’s vibe. However, it doesn’t rain everyday of the year…Seattle actually has the best summers in the country and hence makes it a popular travel destination during spring and summer. And if you haven’t seen all those pretty tulip pictures from the Skagit Valley all over social media a million times already – April is also a popular time to visit Seattle.
The summertime gives you the ability to go on endless hikes and see stunning views of Mount Rainier. The prices and crowds will be a lot higher though, so make sure to plan in advance and be prepared to see more people!
If you are planning a trip to the tulip fields near Seattle, read my blogpost on Skagit Valley Tulip Festival for more details.
How to get around the city?
Seattle is wired with great public transportation system, so I wouldn’t recommend renting a car unless you plan to go into the mountains. For a lot of the major tourist attractions, you could easily walk, bike, take public transportation, or Uber/Lyft.
From the airport to get to your hotels or airbnb in downtown you can take the Link Light Rail which links major parts of Seattle to the airport. It is a relatively quick ride (40 minutes) and super affordable ($3.00).
Now that we got past a few important know before you go questions, let’s jump to what you can do in the city. Here’s a 3 day itinerary you need to steal right now.
Day 1 – Space Needle and Chihuly Garden
Check in to the hotel
When trying to find the best neighborhoods to stay close to all the action of downtown Seattle and touristy places to visit in the city, you have a few neighborhood to pick from – Belltown and Capitol Hill. Both these neighborhoods are in the heart of the city and packed with things to do, see, and eat.
If you pick Belltown or South Lake Union, here are a few suggestions for hotels:
CitizenM Seattle – Modern and efficient stay
Motif Seattle – Colorful hotel in a high rise with great views
Palihotel Seatttle – Boutique hotel in the heart of Seattle
Our best pick in the downtown area is The State Hotel – chic artsy hotel with the best waterfront and Pike Place Market views.
We took an early morning flight into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and checked into the Seattle hotel. Centrally located to major attractions in the city, the hotel is set in a historic building but completely remodeled with modern boutique touches(tons of artwork and paintings). Each floor has an elevator lobby with unique painted wallpaper depicting different cultures and experiences of the city, SOO COOL!
Our rooms had a chic and elegant design with stunning views of the Pike Place Market and Seattle waterfront and was set up with all the amenities + toiletries we could possibly need. We were also pampered to a bottle of Champaign and some macaroons as we checked in to our room, which was such a delight.
Lunch at Ben Paris
The State Hotel houses one of the most eclectic restaurants in downtown – Ben Paris. With a unique wall paper decor, bright and airy bar and an open kitchen this restaurant serves the best burgers, delicious craft cocktails and more American treats. They also have an impressive weekend brunch menu, boasting a creative twist of classic American fare. We tried the Fried Chicken Sandwich and Ricotta Pancakes – both were SOO GOOD.
Must Try Drinks: Gin Griffey Juniper, pnw Old Fashioned
3pm – Visit the Chihuly Garden and Space Needle
After lunch head to Seattle’s iconic spot – The Space Needle.
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.
The Chihuly Garden is a glass museum in the Seattle Center showcasing a studio glass of Dale Chihuly. It boasts a glasshouse, garden and interior galleries filled with magnificent, vivid blown up glass artifacts and is such a sight to sore eyes. The floral exhibits and colorful glass works makes it one of the most unique museums in the United States and definitely saves a spot in your Seattle bucket list.
After touring the museum, head to the Space Needle to treat yourselves to some of the best views of the city from up above. The 605-ft.-tall spire at the Seattle Center has an observation deck & a rotating restaurant. Lean into breathtaking views through floor-to-forever glass on the upper level or step onto The Loupe, the world’s first and only rotating glass floor at the lower level, I’m sure you’ll love this spot as much as we did.
There is a fine dining restaurant at the top of the Space Needle that rotates around slowly 360 degrees. If you’re up for it, grab food and drinks at this place while you enjoy some awesome views.
7pm – Sunset and Champaign at The State Hotel rooftop
We had a pretty exhausting day traveling and exploring the city and decided to head to our hotel’s private rooftop to enjoy the golden hour. We popped a champagne bottle and relished some macaroons as the sun painted beautiful shades of pink and lilac in the sky during sunset.
8pm – Dinner at The Pink Door
To round up our epic first day in Seattle, we got a dinner reservation at the Pink Door- one of Seattle’s most beloved restaurant, located at Pike Place Market; A classic Italian restaurant with an outdoor terrace, serving delicious pastas and seafood. We had the Pappardelle al Ragù Bolognese and lasagne and both were so fresh and flavorful. They have live entertainment every night of the week, which adds to the charming ambiance of the place. I’d recommend making a reservation well in advance, as this place is pretty popular!
Day 2 – Starbucks Reserve & University of Washington
9 am – Grab coffee at Starbucks Reserve
If you know me, I’m a coffee lover and this first stop is quite an obvious one. To start our day, we head to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery to do a coffee flight tasting. The Starbucks Reserve is not your average Starbucks – The Reserve Roastery in Capitol Hill is the prettiest and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Seattle.
It’s huge, with several different bars, one serving coffee cocktails and one serving fancy coffee drinks. We got their famous Nitro Cold Brew Float and relaxed sipping our coffees and enjoying the whimsical atmosphere.
11am – Take an underground tour
Go on an underground history tour and learn about Pioneer Square, Seattle’s first established neighborhood. The city was built up after the great fire of 1889 and under all of these beautiful brick and stone buildings is an underground that’s almost been forgotten. The guided tour will take you on underground pathways that have existed since the 1890s, and you’ll learn all about Seattle’s history.
Lunch at Ba Bar
After exploring the Pioneer Square, head to the University Village area for a taste of the college culture. There are plenty of awesome places to eat in Seattle, but I had heard raving reviews about Ba Bar from my Seattle friends, so decided to try it out. A cool Vietnamese spot with vibrant decor and utterly delicious Pho, I loved the vibe of the place + food!
Must try: Sài Gòn Chicken Wings, Sài Gòn Miến Gà, Spicy Pork Belly
4pm – Visit the University of Washington
Head to the University of Washington, to checkout the famous quad with cherry blossoms. UW has about 100 cherry blossom trees on campus which were originally planted in the Washington Park Arboretum around 1939, but then transplanted to UW in the 1960s, due to 520 floating bridge construction. They now line The Quad at UW making it one of the most popular places to view the trees in spring. Quad cherry blossoms are expected to peak end of March and even if you miss it the campus has tons of blooms and unique architecture worth checking out during spring and summer.
Coffee & wine at Mr West
Seattle has tons of popular local coffee shops and one of the reputed one is – Mr West. The University Village location is my fave – Ultramodern coffee bar with an open airy interior + a plant bar serving coffee, drinks and small plates. It’s a popular hangout spot among college students to grab coffee or meet for drinks.
Checkout Capitol Hill
The bustling, artistic, colorful, and LGBTQ hub of the city, this is one of the most fun places to visit in Seattle!
Filled with great bars, artsy shops, cute cafes and colorful rainbow crosswalks, this spot is definitely worth checking out for dinner + late night drinks. A few restaurants/bars we loved are: Unicorn famous for their colorful cocktails, Spanish-influenced flavors at Herb & Biter Public House, Malaysian food at Kadai Makan and Spinasse(romantic trattoria).
Day 3 – Pike Place Market & Kelly Park
Sunrise views at the Kelly Park
It’s your last day in the city so I suggest to make the most of it. Wake up early and make your way to Queen Anne to checkout the Kerry Park. Take a relaxing stroll and enjoy incredible views of Seattle’s skyline at sunrise. Walk down Highland drive to the other overlook for a great view of the Olympic mountains and a glimpse of the beautiful mansions lining the street.
If you really want to explore more of the outdoors, you might also enjoy visiting Gas Works Park, which was formerly a plant for the Gas Light Company.
9am – Visit the Pike Place Market
No Seattle itinerary is complete without a visit to the famous Pike Place Market. Tip: Get there between 9-10 AM to avoid the crowds! Opened in 1907, not only is this the oldest public market in the United States, it’s also the place to go for the best food in the city!
Savor Seattle offers Pike Place Food Tours which hit up most of these spots. The tours are two hours long and $42, which includes the food. You could also skip the tour and explore the market by yourself. The impressive flower shops with fresh tulips, sweet smelling bake shops, a buzzing fish market with a throwing fish show and tons of food stalls – it is definitely an experience you cannot miss while you are in Seattle.
We easily spent a few hours here just wandering and tasting our way through the market. Some of our favorite stops were The Daily Dozen mini doughnuts, eating all the beef & cheese at Piroshky Piroshky and world’s best New England chowder at Pike Place Chowder.
Checkout the Gum Wall in Post Alley
After the Pike Place Market tour, head down a ramp to the left of Pike Place Market’s iconic “Public Market Center” clock sign to check out the iconic Gum Wall . A brick wall covered in thousands of pieces of used chewing gum is one of the coolest places to visit in Seattle.
The gum wall has been gathering gum since the early 1990s and a few spots in the wall have gum several inches thick. This unexpected and colorful display is an intriguing representation of Seattle’s unique charm and character. Gross or Art? What are your thoughts?
Lunch at Di Fiora
For the last spot of our trip we found the prettiest restaurant in Seattle with an Asian-European menu. Adorned with tons of blooms, eclectic artwork and floral aesthetics, this place feels like a secret garden and is super instaworthy. The food features Asian dishes with a twist of world cuisine and when paired with their signature cocktails, you are in for a treat. It is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle and would recommend for a brunch with your girls!
Must Try items from their Menu: Malaysian Coconut Soup, Crab fried Rice, Garlic Pork over rice
Favorites from the Cocktail Menu: The Dark Night and Spicy Margarita
Other things to do:
Amazon Spheres – The spheres are a part of Amazon HQ, and for the most part, it’s reserved for employees for lounge/workspace. It is open to public two Saturdays out of the month, so if your trip happens to match up with one of those dates, it’d be fun a addition to your trip.
Seattle Public Library – An architecturally significant building in Seattle great for photo shoots.
Olympic Sculpture Park – Created and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, is a public park with modern and contemporary sculpture in downtown Seattle.
Alki Beach – Beach in Seattle with cityscape views. While the water may be a bit too cold to plunge right in, you can still enjoy soaking in some Vitamin D and being next to the shore here. Hit the Marination Ma Kai(Hawaiian Korean fusion restaurant) while you’re there.
Thank you for reading along and if you have any questions shoot me a DM at @preksharaj.