I moved to Seattle in 2014 but it took until 2017, for a few reasons, to really start exploring and investing in this gorgeous city. Since Seattle gets an average of 150+ rainy days a year, there’s a pretty high likelihood that it might be a little grey and gloomy when you visit. While we don’t always have the best sight-seeing weather, there are so many things to do that a little water shouldn’t stop you!
People are always quick to ask for recommendations when visiting, so I kind of designed my ideal weekend (Thursday-Sunday) for first-time tourists in the spring/summer. I would never expect a person or group to get all of these things done over the course of a long weekend, but I tried to include things for various types of travelers.
I obviously live here but if you don’t want to use the great AirBnB options feel free to level up your hotel game! While a bit more expensive than home-stays, there are a few hotels that are in amazing locations and have great amenities.
Inn At The Market– a great rooftop bar with classic views of Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound
Ace Hotel– an inexpensive option in an expensive city, this is a great crash pad in the heart of the city.
The Maxwell Hotel– this cute and quirky hotel is “designed to delight the senses”. This family and pet friendly hotel have got great amenities, including a lobby cupcake bar!
The Edgewater– probably Seattle’s most famous hotel (The Beatles were photographed here) it’s picturesque views are hard to pass up.
The Fairmont Olympic– Looking to splurge? This hotel is a 5-minute walk from Pike Place Market, The Fairmont is centrally located. They usually offer classic afternoon tea but it’s temporarily closed due to renovations. They also have 2 amazing restaurants on their ground floor, Shuckers and The Georgian.
I tried to keep some classic Seattle staples in here but there is so much more to this city than the Space Needle and Pike Place Market (but still worth the trip).
The Seattle Center– this area in lower Queen Ann is home to a few great activities. The beloved, and recently renovated, Space Needle is a classic Seattle landmark is something to check off your bucket list. Be sure to book your times in advance, the lines can get insanely long but the views are beyond gorgeous. Museum of Pop Culture– collectively called MoPop, this museum located relatively close to the Space Neeld. MoPop is dedicated to all things contemporary and has a goal of making “creative expression a life-changing force”. They have some amazing exhibits that are always changing and evolving, it’s a fun and vibrant museum for all the senses. You can’t leave the Seattle Center without stopping in at the Chihuly Glass Museum. This long-term exhibition showcases the studio glass of artist Dale Chihuly, who’s from Tacoma, WA. Split into three sections, this museum is a stunning testament to the beauty of his work!
Pike Place Market– famously second to the Space needle, this large weekly marketplace is always busy regardless of the time of year. The bouquets of fresh flowers, the tossing of fish, the smell of fresh hum-bow buns, the “original” Starbucks, and the historic gum wall, are only a few of the reasons to take a market stroll.
Gas Works Park– you may recognize this as the paintball park from the film “10 Things I Hate About You”, but this park is a great city renovation project for Seattle. This reclaimed coal gasification plan is right on Lake Union, giving you gorgeous skyline views. During the summer this park is packed, back to front, with kite fliers or festival goers. They’ve even painted, repaired and replaced some of the large parts of the plant and turned it into a great play ground for kids!
Elliot Bay Book Company– I had to include my favorite little Seattle bookshop. This is the perfect escape from the bustling city noise. They’ve got 150,000+ books within these walls, they host great author events, and you can grab a delicious coffee at Little Oddfellows on the bottom floor. It’s an amazing place to spend a few hours curled up in the corner with a new book or plotting out your next move in the city.
Ferry Ride– an easy and affordable way to explore some of the best islands Washington has to offer! A few of my personal favorites islands are Bainbridge (great for wine tasting), Whidbey (awesome bike trails), and Orcas (you may even see a few of them on the way).
Hike– there are thousands of trail options, Washington is absolutely riddled with them. If you’re looking for a quick back and forth then I recommend trying Rattlesnake Ledge or Little Si. If you’re feeling more adventurous or that you’d like a challenge, then I’d recommend Poo Poo Point, Big Si (aka Mount Si), or Mailbox Peak.
There is something for everyone when it comes to food in Seattle. We have so many cultural influences that it’s hard to walk a few blocks and not see some kind of culture represented. I’ve tried to include food for every kind of eater and price point ($ out of 5), that way you can try a bit of everything on your weekend away. So come with an open mind and empty stomachs!
Paseo (Sandwiches) $
Dick’s Drive-In (Burgers) $
Piroshky Piroshky (Russian) $
Lost Lake Cafe (American Breakfast) $
Thai22 (Thai) $$
Place Pigalle (French) $$
The Walrus and the Carpenter (Seafood) $$
Spinasse (Italian) $$
Canlis (New American) $$$
Molly Moons (ice cream) $ – unique flavors (earl grey, strawberry balsamic etc
Top Pot (doughnuts) $ – a million times better than Dunkin or Krispy Kreme!
Frankie & Jo’s (ice cream) $ – *vegan
The Fainting Goat (gelato) $$ – rotating flavors and great organic ingredients
Theo’s Chocolate (chocolate) $$ – they offer awesome tours & classes
Capital Cider $ – the largest independent cider bar in the country
Optimism Brewery $ – you can drink and eat directly on the brewery floor
Georgetown Brewery $ – they offer free tasters of all their beers on tap
Damn The Weather $$ – a cozy brick bar in Pioneer Square
Tavolata $$ – great happy hour & their pastas are fantastic too
The Nest $$ – rooftop bar in the Thompson Hotel
Rachel’s Ginger Beer $$ – customizable Moscow mules & yummy ginger beer floats
Radiator Whiskey $$ – nestled in Pike Place, gets crowded quickly
Smith Tower $$$ – better views than the Space Needle without the crowds
Needle & Thread $$$ – a speakeasy you enter by picking up the vintage phone in the back
I gave it its own section because it wouldn’t be a trip to Seattle if you didn’t grab a little go-go juice to keep you moving!
There are so many unique things to do in Seattle, it’s impossible to cram it all into one weekend. My hope is that this will help you get an idea of what you’d like out of your time in The Emerald Isle. If you have things you love to do in Seattle on a quick weekend trip then please leave it in the comments!