Seattle, Washington is a fun, iconic city in the Pacific Northwest that is only about 2.5 hours drive away from Vancouver so it was one of the first places I visited when I moved to the West Coast.
There is a lot of things to see and do here, and as many of the key attractions are very close together you can easily explore the city in a short amount of time, especially the downtown area. In this post I’m just sharing a few of the best sights and attractions things to do in Seattle if you only have a limited time there.
Read on for some ideas of things to do on a day trip to Seattle. I’ve included details like locations, opening times and time required so that you can easily turn this into an itinerary for your visit.
Taking A Day Trip To Seattle
If you’re heading into Seattle for the day from nearby Portland, Vancouver or anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest, I strongly recommend that you hit the road early so that you get a full day there.
Or if you can stay overnight, it will give you a little more time and reduce any urge to rush around cramming in the sights. In this post I’m sharing everything that I have done on a day trip to Seattle as well as a few other options that may interest you so that you can customize your day.
How To Get Around Seattle
Most of the main sights and activities are within easy walking distance of each other so you don’t need a car to explore.
If you do have a car, just park it for most of the day while you walk to attractions, activities and food places.
If you want to travel to places outside of the downtown area, then there is decent public bus transportation and a really good monorail system as well as Lyft and Uber.
Visit The Original Starbucks
Estimated time: 5 – 30 minutes
Location: 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101
Whether you are a Starbucks coffee lover or not, it is one of the icons of Seattle so stopping at the original Starbucks is a good way to start your day. It is also close to most of the other things to do including Pike Place Market.
The atmosphere is nostalgic, and you will find merchandise and brews that you won’t find elsewhere in the city – but the drinks inside are mainly what you would find at other Starbucks locations. So you can keep to your regular order and just enjoy the history!
And take a picture of the original mermaid logo adorning the entrance.
Fun facts about the Original Starbucks:
- Before it became a worldwide coffee empire, Starbucks opened its first coffee shop in Seattle in 1971. The actual original Starbucks was located at 2000 Western Avenue from 1971–1976 and moved to its current location.
- In 1975, it moved to the Pike Place Market where it’s remained since.
- It is the oldest operating Starbucks.
Go To Pike Place Market
Location: 86 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101 (address to the fish market)
Estimated time: 1 – 2 hours
Pike Place Market opened in 1907, and it’s one of the oldest markets in the United States. It has grown into a multi-level complex with over 500 stalls, shops, restaurants and bars to explore. It’s loud, busy and has a real buzz so it’s an attraction you can’t miss. As there is so much to see, do and eat here it’s worth visiting over and over again.
The best time to go to Pike Place Market is when it opens at 9am because although vendors will be setting up you will have far smaller crowds to contend with.
- Hearty biscuits from Biscuit Bitch
- An egg and ham crumpet from the Crumpet Shop
- Over 20 varieties of handmade sweet & savory Russian pastries at the popular bakery Piroshky Piroshky (there will be a line up)
- Fluffy omelettes and crispy hash browns at Lowell’s
- Flaky croissants and puffy brioche at Le Panier
- Hot mini donuts at the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company
Things to do at the market:
- Visit the original Pike Place Fish Market. Watch them throw fish back and forth to each other. Or ship some fresh back home!
- Shop the market. Flowers, jewelry, home decor and a whole lot more!
- Go to Beechers Handmade Cheese. Made on-site and delicious. You’ll usually find a line out the door.
- Take a selfie with Rachel the Piggy Bank. Rub the nose of the 550-pound bronzed pig and pop in a donation to the Market Foundation for a smattering of good luck! Learn more about Rachel here.
- Grab produce to go. It’s fresh and local. And if you’re hitting the road after your day in Seattle, grab some produce for car snacks.
- Snap your obligatory shot of the historic neon Pike Place Market sign to the
- Go to Post Alley. Go to Upper Post Alley (Pink Door, Kell’s, and the White Horse); Post Alley (Rachel’s Ginger Beer); and Lower Post Alley!
- Watch the street performers
Check Out The Famous Gumwall
Location: 1428 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101
Estimated time: 5-10 minutes
The Gum Wall in Seattle is a bizarre tourist attraction in downtown Seattle located in Post Alley (it’s just under a part of the Market). It is pretty disgusting…but its also colourful and interesting…and more than 50 feet long.
Located in a wide alley way with cool bars and galleries off to either side, the Seattle Gum Wall has been covered in gum since the 90’s. It has only been cleaned once when around 2300 pounds of gum was pressure-washed off the red brick wall.
Do The Seattle Underground Tour
Location: 614 1st Avenue, in Pioneer Place Park, Pioneer Square,
between Cherry and James Street (47.6028407,-122.3341458, Beneath the Streets sign)
Daily Tours: 9am-7pm
Estimated Time: 1.5 hours
Did you know that Seattle has a secret underground city? In 1889, 25 city blocks of wooden houses in Seattle were destroyed in a raging fire. The city was then rebuilt at a higher level using stone and iron, which resulted in a two-level Seattle. Some of the neighbourhoods were elevated as high as 35 feet using dirt from surrounding hills. There was sidewalks and shop windows at the new street level, while shop entrances were at original ground level so people had to use ladders until new sidewalks were built.
Some businesses operated at both levels during this time while ‘other enterprises’ operated on the lower level. Seattle was a Wild West town during this time full of fishermen and loggers. There was around 23,000 people total but only 2,300 women who noted their profession as “seamstress,”. All but 6 of these women lived in the same three-block area, and a subsequent city investigation didn’t find too many sewing machines. You will get tons of nuggets of history like this on the Underground tour which doesn’t take very long but is a fun and unusual experience under Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square.
You will start the tour inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon, a full story above Seattle’s original sidewalk. The tours run on the hour, and you can buy tour tickets here
Lunch Options At Pike Place Market
There are lots of restaurants to try at the Market so it’s an obvious choice for your lunch.
This is just a few of the options:
- A famous Flagship Sandwich from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
- Delicious chowder at Pike Place Chowder
- Local seafood at Jack’s Fish Spot Seafood Bar
- The Pizza and Pasta Bar
- Farm-to-table cuisine at The Pink Door
Post Alley Restuarants
Or try one of the many restaurants in Post Alley. From Italian to Thai, Irish to Mexican, there’s something for everyone here. A few other favorite spots to try are…
Seattle Great Wheel
Location: Pier 57 – Miners Landing, 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101
Opening Hours: Sunday thru Thursday: 11am to 9pm and Friday & Saturday: 11am to 10pm
Estimated time: 1 hour
For great views of Seattle the Seattle Great Wheel is just down the street from the Pike Place Market on Pier 57 which is a refurbished 1890’s Gold Rush pier.
Go To The Space Needle
Location: 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109
Estimated time: 1 hour
Located at the Seattle Center, the Space Needle has been an iconic landmark in Seattle since it was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, and it is recognized all over the world as one of the most enduring symbols of the Pacific Northwest.
If it is top of your list of things to do then buy your tickets in advance to reserve your time especially if you only have a day in the city.
At the top you will get a 360 degree view of the city, Mount Rainer, the Cascades and Olympic mountain ranges from 605 feet above ground. Also check out The Loupe, which is the world’s first revolving glass floor observation deck.
If you just want to see it and not go in its easy to get fun photos of it by simply driving by or walking on the grounds without spending time at the top of it.
Helpful Tip: If you want to visit main tourist attractions like the Space Needle then check out the Seattle CityPass to save on admission costs
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Location: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109
Estimated time: 1-2 hours
Located right near the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Seattle, and features the works from famous glass artist Dale Chihuly.
This glass museum is full of beautiful vibrant colors and designs, that are all breathtakingly spectacular. There are 6 rooms inside the exhibit to explore and an outdoor garden to stroll in. There’s also a theater where you can watch how the exquisite designs are made.
You could easily spend an afternoon here, but as you just have a day in Seattle keep an eye on the time as you explore this place!
Listen to the free audio tour on your phone as you walk around the museum.
If you are planning to see the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden Glass you can get a ticket bundle for the two attractions on the Space Needle website
Or if you are going to do a few attractions during the day then a Seattle CityPass will save you money (up to 44%)
Museum Of Pop Culture
Address: 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Opening Hours: 10am to 5pm
Estimated Time: 1-2.5 hours
If you are a fan of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam then you should visit the Museum Of Pop Culture in Seattle where the grunge scene was born.
At the museum you can learn about the city’s music scene, bash on some drums and visit the ever-changing exhibitions on pop culture.
These are just a few of the things that you can do in a day (or two) in Seattle. Are there other things that you would do (or have done) in Seattle? Let me know!