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My initial impressions of Seattle were so-so. First of all, it was November and super rainy and chilly. When it rains in Seattle, it really rains, which is why the city often gets a bad rap.
Coming from the airport Seattle also looks very industrial, with lots of shipping containers and factories. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has a factory here and big name companies such as Amazon, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft and Starbucks are all headquartered in and around Seattle. Seattle is a rapidly changing and growing city but is undergoing some issues with homelessness, especially in the downtown area.
As I got to discover more of Seattle though, I really warmed up to it. With attractions such as the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, plus beautiful views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, Seattle actually has a lot going for it.
I returned the following March when the weather was much warmer and spent 3 months staying in West Seattle. When the sun’s out and skies are blue it’s a completely different experience.
People often mention the “Seattle Freeze” but I found the people to be pretty friendly (then again, I’m British and we’re definitely a lot more reserved). Anyway, Seattle’s definitely worth visiting, just maybe in summer and not in winter.
Seattle is quite a sprawling city with lots of different suburbs and areas. Given how much there is to see and do, I’d give yourself around 3 to 5 days in Seattle if you want to experience as much as possible.
A quick overview of your long weekend in Seattle:
- Day 1: Pike Place Market, Gum Wall, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Day2: Georgetown, Museum of Flight, West Seattle
- Day 3: Capitol Hill, Fremont, Gas Works Park
Of course, along with any itinerary I create, there’ll be lots of eating and drinking too!
Here’s how to spend 3 days in Seattle:
Weekend in Seattle Itinerary
Day 1: Pike Place Market, Gum Wall, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass
Pike Place Market
To start your weekend in Seattle you’re going to pay a visit to Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market – a food market filled with fish, meat, artisan products and locally sourced fruit and vegetables. Visitors gather around Pike Place Fish Co. to watch the famous “fish throwing”, where fishmongers throw the fish purchased by customers before it’s wrapped.
The Original Starbucks
At Pike Place Market you can also visit the Original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place, which opened in 1971 (according to Starbucks marketing). Other people say the Original Starbucks is all a sham and it’s not actually the first one. According to this article, the first Starbucks was on 2000 Western Ave but the building was demolished and so moved to its location at Pike Place Market in 1974.
To be honest I feel like people who cry “it’s not the first one!” are being a bit pedantic. It’s still a really old Starbucks and it’s really cool to visit. The modest storefront has been left pretty much untouched and looks almost exactly the same as when it first opened. When you think about it, it’s incredible to think that a global chain with thousands of stores began in this tiny shop in Seattle.
Be aware of “The Line”, which stretches all the way down the street. According to one employee, there has never been a day without The Line.
The coffee tastes just the same as in any other Starbucks, so you’ll have to weigh up whether it’s worth waiting in line or just going somewhere else. Visitors flock to the Original Starbucks because it’s nostalgic and the experience is more intimate than a regular Starbucks. The floors, counters and fixtures are all original. It’s also the only store to hand pull its espresso shots instead of using automated espresso machines.
While Seattle is famous for being the home of Starbucks, the city has an amazing coffee culture and there are plenty of other great coffee shops to explore. If you’re a coffee lover I’d suggest trying a few different ones during your weekend in Seattle.
- Anchorhead Coffee
- Monorail Espresso
- Moore Coffee Shop
- Storyville Coffee Pike Place
- Elm Coffee Roasters
From here it’s a short walk to the Gum Wall, located in Post Alley! The Gum Wall is a brick wall covered in used chewing gum, which started in the 1990s. People waiting for shows at Unexpected Productions would stick gum and coins to the wall and it eventually became too difficult to clean off. In 2015 authorities actually removed all 2,350 pounds of gum from the wall but people just started filling it up with gum again.
The gum stays there year-round, although it is cleaned about once a year. Work of art or incredibly gross? I’ll let you decide. One thing’s for sure, it’s colorful and makes for some interesting Instagram photos. Of course, you can also chew your own gum and stick it to the wall.
Copperworks Distilling Company
Fancy an alcoholic beverage? Head on over to Copperworks Distilling Company, where you can sample spirit flights, which include whiskey, gin and vodka. Tasting flights cost around $15 or $20. The distillery is open 7 days per week, with tours on Fridays and Saturdays. The one-hour tour costs $15 per person and includes a thorough behind-the-scenes look at Copperworks’ stills, fermenters and barreling area, followed by a guided tasting.
Seattle Waterfront Park
Next up on your Seattle itinerary; take a walk along the boardwalk in Seattle’s Waterfront Park. One one side you have the Seattle Aquarium, while on the other side you’ll see Miner’s Landing at Pier 56, which is home to The Seattle Great Wheel – an iconic ferris overlooking the waterfront.
There are several seafood eateries on the pier, including The Fisherman’s Restaurant and The Crab Pot. About a 3-minute walk from Pier 56 you’ll find Ivar’s Fish Bar and Ivar’s Acres of Clams, which in my opinion, serves the best clam chowder in Seattle. If you’re feeling hungry, definitely order a cup of chowder for lunch!
After exploring the waterfront area, order an Uber or the Seattle Center Monorail to the Space Needle, which is Seattle’s most iconic landmark. Dominating the skyline, this observation tower was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and stands 605 ft (184 m) tall.
Take the elevator to the observation deck for views of downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. There are also two indoor levels; The Loupe boasts the world’s first rotating glass floor, while Skyrisers features floor-to-ceiling windows and glass benches. Definitely take a spin in The Loupe Lounge, where you can enjoy cocktails and light bites while soaking up the views.
Address: 400 Broad St. Seattle, WA 98109
General Admission: $35 Regular (13-64), $30 Senior (65+) and $26 Youth (5-12)
Buy tickets here.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Across from the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass. This is an attraction you must NOT miss. It’s easily my favorite thing to see in Seattle. The museum showcases the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly, who was born in Tacoma, Washington in the 1940s. You won’t be looking at your run-of-the-mill vases; the eight galleries here are filled with very colorful and elaborate installations. I particularly love the Glasshouse – a large 40-foot conservatory covering 4,500 square feet of space. The ceiling is covered with glass flowers in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.
Dinner & Drinks
Once you’ve finished your day of sightseeing, head back downtown. If you want to catch sunset from a rooftop, I’d suggest hitting up Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails, which has a stylish rooftop with heaters.
For dinner, here are some options:
Noi Thai – Restaurant with an upscale interior serving authentic Thai cuisine. Every plate is beautifully presented and prepared with the freshest ingredients.
The Pink Door – Italian American restaurant on Post Alley with an outdoor terrace overlooking Elliot Bay. Since 1981 guests have been entertained with nightly entertainment including cabaret, trapeze, music and tarot.
2120 – Just a few blocks from the Space Needle you’ll find 2120, a modern restaurant serving New American fare. Ingredients are sourced from farms in the Washington countryside, with dishes include house-made pastas, small plates and a variety of entrees.
Aerlume Seatte – Airy restaurant steps from Pike Place Market with sweeping views of Puget Sound. Aerlume partners with local farmers and providers to create dishes with flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Entrees include Seared Scallops, Wild Alaskan Black Cod and Filet Mignon.
Le Pichet – Small French bistro which opened its doors in 2000. The dinner menu features charcuterie, cheeses and a variety of French dishes including Lyon-style caramelized onion soup and steak-frites. Try their free-range chicken for two, which comes with jambon-dried fig bread pudding, wild mushrooms, squash and thyme.
Day 2: Georgetown, Museum of Flight, West Seattle
On the second day of your 3 days in Seattle you’ll be exploring the neighborhoods of Georgetown and West Seattle.
Museum of Flight
If you’re an aviation geek like me then you’ll love the Museum of Flight! The museum documents the history and future of flight with an interesting collection of aircraft, spacecraft, artifacts and exhibits. On display you’ll see all sorts of different types of aircraft and you can even step inside Air Force One, as well as a British Airways Concorde!
It is DEFINITELY worth the $25 entry fee.
Address: Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Garden City, NY 11530
Ticket Prices: Child (4 and under) FREE, Youth (5-17) $17, Adult (18+) $25, Senior (65+) $21
Buy tickets here
Sisters and Brothers + House of Jet City Winery
After learning about the history of aviation, head over to Sisters and Brothers in Georgetown. This casual restaurant serves cold beers and Nashville Hot Chicken on white bread with pickles and choice of side. Other items on the menu include a chicken sandwich, chicken and waffles, tenders, wings and a wedge salad.
Next door is House of Smith Jet City Winery, a large tasting room that occupies a former Dr. Pepper bottling plant. Here you can sample wines while enjoying views of the runways at Boeing Field. The lower floor has a rustic feel, while the design of the upper floor gives a nod to the 1960’s and the aviation industry.
Address: 1136 South Albro Place, Seattle, Washington 98108
Alki Beach, West Seattle
Iriana Shiyan – stock.adobe.com
In the afternoon it’s time to visit Alki Beach in West Seattle. It’s best in the summer months when you can sunbathe on the beach but it’s also a great place for a walk any time of year. If you’re feeling hungry, stop for tacos and margaritas at Cactus Alki Beach or seafood and Happy Hour drinks at Duke’s Seafood.
Dinner & Drinks
For dinner I’d recommend eating at one of my two favorite restaurants in West Seattle.
Raccolto – Located in The Junction part of West Seattle, Raccolto is one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve eaten at in the US. The Italian-inspired menu focuses on house-made pastas, vegetables and seafood and the dishes are beautifully presented. The menu is small but each dish is delicious and the pasta is always al dente, as it should be. If you’re feeling adventurous try the chef’s tasting menu for $59, which includes starters, pasta, protein and dessert.
New Luck Toy – Fun bar serving Chinese-American food and tiki cocktails. This is a casual spot with communal karaoke and various games.
Day 3: Capitol Hill, Fremont, Gas Works Park
Your final day of your long weekend in Seattle will be spent in 2 of Seattle’s hippest neighborhoods; Capitol Hill and Fremont.
Capitol Hill is one of Seattle’s hippest neighborhoods and is filled with bars, restaurants, coffee shops and gay clubs. The area plays host to many events throughout the year, including Seattle PrideFest in June and Capitol Hill Block Party in July.
If you need you caffeine fix, start your day with a cup of coffee at Victrola Coffee Roasters, a light-filled coffee shop housed in an old 1920’s auto row building between downtown and Capitol Hill. The cafe has its own roastery, training facility and cupping room, and on select Fridays patrons can enjoy free cuppings at 11am.
For a good breakfast, visit Glo’s, which serves a variety of eggs benedicts, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches and specials, plus sweet things such as buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles and French Toast.
After you’ve had your breakfast, walk east to the Elliott Bay Book Company, which is Seattle’s equivalent of Powell’s Books, found in Portland. Established in 1973, this large book store is family owned and even has its own café so you can sip a cup of coffee while reading a good book.
While you’re in Capitol Hill it’s also worth checking out Volunteer Park; a 44-acre park with a beautiful Victorian glass conservatory filled with bromeliads, ferns, palms, cacti and succulents.
Dick’s Drive In
This is the best burger I’ve ever eaten in my life. In fact I wish I could hop on a flight to Seattle right now so I could go get me a burger from Dick’s Drive In. Established in 1954, Dick’s is a fast food chain serving a simple menu of burgers, fries and milkshakes. Today there are 8 locations, although the original one is on N.E. 45th Street in the Wallingford District of Seattle. Head here for lunch to try a cheeseburger – you won’t be disappointed.
It makes me sad that Dick’s didn’t become a national franchise because I would love to be able to get one of these in New York, but I totally get their reasons why. According to their website, the owners were family men, not traveling types, so they wanted to keep the growth of the business in the Seattle area.
One thing’s for sure, their formula works and the quality of their burgers keeps locals coming back for more.
After filling your stomach, head over to Fremont; a bohemian neighborhood located northwest of Lake Union. Have your photo with the Fremont Troll – a giant sculpture of a troll that sits beneath the Aurora Bridge. There’s also The Fremont Rocket, which is a 53-foot sculpture of a Cold War rocket fuselage that’s been mounted on top of a building
If you fancy a drink, Schilling Cider House has over 30 craft ciders on tap and in bottles, while Outlander Brewery and Pub serves small batch beers including a variety of rotating beers on tap. The brewery has an outdoor patio which is great for the summer months and serves a variety of pub food including sausage plates and savory pies.
If you like chocolate, visit Theo Chocolate, a Seattle company that makes a wide variety of fair trade and organic chocolates. The factory offers a one-hour interactive experience, which allows you to discover the origins of cacao and see how the chocolate is made. You’ll also get to sample some of the chocolate for yourself!
Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is a 19.1 acre park that occupies the site of the former gasification plant owned by Seattle Gas Light Company. Sitting on the shores of Lake Union, the park offers panoramic views of the lake and the city skyline. Landscape architect Richard Haag converted the towers, pipes and sheds into facilities that can be used by the public.
Is 3 days in Seattle enough?
3 days in Seattle is a decent amount of time and you should be able to cover all the things to do that I’ve listed in the article. Seattle’s a big place though, so if you had 4 or 5 days you could explore more neighborhoods and perhaps squeeze in some hiking or adventure activities.
If you have more time, I’d recommend taking the ferry over to Vashon Island, where you can explore beaches, art galleries, boutiques and eclectic restaurants. Seattle is surrounded by nature, parks and forests, including Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, which are perfect for hiking.
Being the gateway to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle also makes for a great starting point if you’re planning on taking a road trip. You could start in Seattle and then work your way down to Portland, before driving all the way down the West Coast to Los Angeles or San Diego in California. Alternatively you could also drive across the border to Vancouver in Canada.
Seattle Travel Tips
How to get from Seattle Tacoma airport to downtown
Seattle’s airport is called Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA), affectionately known as Sea-Tac. The city is known for its heavy traffic, so if you arrive during rush hour then definitely take the Link Light Rail.
Your other option is Uber or taxi. Ubers usually cost between $35 to $50 depending on the time of day and the journey can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.
Getting around Seattle
If you’re flying into Sea-Tac I recommend you rent a car from the airport for your 3 days in Seattle. As I mentioned previously, the city is spread out and some of the destinations I’ve recommended in this Seattle itinerary require a car to get there. For car rentals, check out Kayak.com and RentalCars.com.
You could also get around by walking and using Uber/Lyft. If you’re just planning to stay in the downtown area for a couple of days then this option would work and probably be cheaper. There are also ferries and buses if you need to get around by public transportation.
However, if you’re staying for a longer period of time and you want to explore the forests etc then I’d definitely hire a car.
Packing for Seattle
Seattle is super casual, so in the winter/spring/autumn I’d pack jeans and a pair of Chelsea boots or something similar. In winter you’ll definitely need a sweater and thick puffy jacket and in autumn/spring maybe a lighter windbreaker.
In the summer months you can wear more summery clothes such as dresses or shorts and tees, but I’d still pack a light jacket or a sweater in case it gets cold in the evenings.
FAQs about Seattle
What is the biggest company in Seattle?
Tech giant Amazon is the biggest company in Seattle.
What is Washington’s nickname?
Washington is nicknamed The Evergreen State due to its abundance of evergreen forests.
What is Seattle known for?
Seattle is known for its coffee culture and for being the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee. The best known attractions in Seattle include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
The city serves as the headquarters for companies such as Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon and is a leading center for the aerospace industry. It’s also well known for its forests and outdoor activities.
What is the biggest thing in Seattle?
The biggest thing in Seattle is The Space Needle. It measures 605 feet tall and was the tallest building in Washington state from 1962 to 1969.
What famous companies are in Seattle?
The Seattle Metropolitan area is home to famous companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Alaska Airlines, T-Mobile, Philips, REI, Expedia, Costco, Zillow and Rover.
A final word…
So that concludes your 3 days in Seattle! Seattle is perfect or a long weekend with lots of sightseeing, coffee and yummy food. Just remember to dress for the weather and pack a raincoat or an umbrella in case it rains.