Seattle in One Day

Looking to explore the best of Seattle in one day?  Let’s dive in!

Located in the Pacific Northwest United States, Seattle is Washington’s largest city.  The birthplace of Starbucks and grunge music, Seattle boasts quite the scope.

But the culture of this unique city is so much more than that.  Explore famous blown glass architecture, admire the towering Space Needle, visit lively piers along the Puget Sound, and admire a skyline with, if you’re lucky, Mount Rainier.

Seattle is a great launching point for Pacific Northwest adventurous activities like Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, or Mount St. Helens.  Seattle in one day gives you the opportunity to experience a taste of the city before your outdoor adventures.

Seattle, Washington

The Details

Location: Washington, United States.

When to visit: The Pacific Northwest is known for heavy spring rainfall and lush summer months.  Summer – early fall is Seattle’s high season for great weather.  Winter temperatures can be brutal but bring cheaper prices, and spring weather is unpredictable.  My visit in the spring was lovely- there is no prediction!

How many days: A day in Seattle is perfect to acclimate with the bustling city.  Consider a longer itinerary to experience more of the city or to add iconic destinations like Olympic National Park to your trip.

Getting there: Fly into Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Downtown Seattle, Washington

Classic Things to Do in Seattle

There are LIMITLESS things to do in Chicago, so the following items provide a combination between can’t miss spots, and local favorites.

Space Needle

Space Needle in Seattle via Jose M on Unsplash

That GIANT tower you can see in the middle of Seattle’s skyline is the Space Needle.  Many visitors enjoy admiring the Needle from below (like myself) because it’s expensive to purchase a ticket to the top.  The Space Needle is located at the Seattle Center, which refers to the 74 acre stretch of green space, museums, art centers, festivals, and more.

The closest place to park is paid street parking in the surrounding Downtown Seattle area.

Cost: Free to admire.  Check the website for most up to date ride costs

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Chihuly Garden via Sunira Moses on Unsplash

Footsteps away from Seattle’s space needle is the infamous glasswork of Washington native, Dale Chihuly.

Cost: Check the website for the most up to date costs.  Opening hours change throughout the year, and general admission prices change throughout the day.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Museum of Pop Culture

Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle via Hester Qiang on Unsplash

The Museum’s core values are creative self expression accessible for all.  With new exhibitions and events, things at the Museum of Pop Culture are always fresh.

Cost: $25-$33

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Pike Place Market is WHIRLING with culture!!  Locals and tourists alike enjoy the bustling, full-day market Pike Place has created as a STAPLE of the city.  Locals shop for weekly groceries, and tourists shop for souvenirs, the best grub, and so much more.

Pike Place is HUGE at a whopping 9 acres… easy to see why it’s Seattle’s most visited destination?

Visitors intrigued about the history of Pike Place Market may consider combining a tour of Pike with another part of Seattle.  I personally found exploring the market on my own to be sufficient.

Flower Stand at Pike Place Market, Seattle

I recommend finding street parking BEFORE arriving at the market.  Street parking once at the market is outrageously high (and difficult to come by), and the parking garages at the market are expensive.

Hours: Businesses run independent hours but most of the market is generally open from 9:00am-6:00pm.  Pike Place is open year round aside from Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Accessibility: Majority of buildings and shops within Pike Place Market are wheelchair accessible.

Seattle Waterfront

Chicago’s Architecture tours are highly acclaimed by both locals and visitors.  Budget travelers- consider a free walking tour.  I love getting my bearings set in a new city on a free walking tour.  Alternatively, consider a bike, e-bike, or scooter tour.

Seattle Great Wheel

Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57

Check riding one of the LARGEST ferris wheels in the CONTINENT off your travel list!  Seattle’s 175 ft Ferris Wheel is located along Seattle’s waterfront on Pier 57.  It operates rain or shine!  I chose to admire Seattle’s Great Wheel from the comfort of the pier because a ride did not fit in my budget this time.

Cost: $17 for general admission tickets

Hours: Check the website for most up to date hours

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Random things to do in Seattle

All of these random things are also FREE things to do in Seattle!

Gum Wall

Gum Wall, Seattle

Just past Pike Place is Seattle’s bizarre attraction, the chewing gum wall.  That first person who stuck gum to the wall in the 1990s did not know the hype it would begin!

Troll

It’s so random nowadays to find a troll under a bridge, that this random attraction actually brings a lot of visitors!

Popsicle Sculpture

Popsicle Sculpture, Seattle

Just about as random as you can get, but it’s not every day you see a 17ft bright red popsicle!  Located on the outskirts of Downtown Seattle in its Belltown neighborhood, find this random sculpture at the corner of 4th Ave and Blanchard.  One random itinerary stop- coming right up.

Best Parks to visit in Seattle

Seattle needs to get more acclaim for its various green spaces.  You can see Seattle’s beautiful skyline (and maybe Mount Rainier if you’re lucky!) from various, relaxing parks to escape the city bustle.

Kerry Park

Seattle Skyline at Kerry Park, Seattle

Kerry Park comes HIGHLY rated… and it’s also my favorite view of Seattle’s Skyline.  This free nature stop could easily be the highlight of your day in Seattle. This green space is free with plenty of free street parking to fit the bill.  Locals and tourists have cameras ready along relaxing benches, and take turns with the binoculars.

Magnolia Park

Magnolia Park, Seattle

Magnolia Park provides a different view, overlooking the Puget Sound.  It is located in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood with free parking lots.

Where to stay in Seattle

Budget

Green Tortoise Seattle Hostel- Located in a prime location directly across from Pike Place Market, Green Tortoise is HIGHLY rated.  Amenities include free breakfast.  Dorm beds are approximately $56/night.

Mid-Range

Ace Hotel- Ace Hotels are located in several large cities throughout the world.  Ace provides options for a shared or private bathroom.  Its location is optimal.  Pets are allowed per request for no extra charge!

Luxury

MarQueen- This historic, charming building is centrally located and has a spa on site with a variety of services.  Bonus- pets allowed!  Valet parking is available on site for a fee.

Mediterranean Inn- Perhaps best known for its rooftop views, the Mediterranean Inn is centrally located 10 minutes from the Space Needle.  Parking is available on site for a fee.

Things to do near Seattle


Olympic National Park, Washington

You can spend MONTHS exploring a Pacific Northwest Itinerary.  If you have just a bit of extra time, consider Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St. Helen National Monument.

Do you have time to venture further out?  Consider swinging by Portland and spending a weekend in Hood River, Oregon.

If you are really tight on time or have a layover in Seattle, consider the free Highline Seatac Botanical Garden.  It’s LITERALLY 5 minutes from the airport!  And it’s especially beautiful in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom!

Seattle Packing List

Here are a couple of can’t-miss items to toss in your suitcase when exploring the best of Seattle in one day:

Supportive Shoes– The Seattle itinerary below has a LOT of walking.  In my book, comfort is ALWYAS key when exploring.

Water bottle– Hydration is ALSO key!

Packable backpack– I love a collapsible backpack because it rolls up easily into luggage and I can easily take it on the go for a day of city exploring.

For Winter weather…

Winter jacket– Bring a collapsible winter jacket because it’s easily packable- don’t make things harder than they need to be!

Boots– Bring a pair of comfortable walking boots so the snowy sidewalks do not limit your exploring!  I enjoy wearing waterproof hiking boots when exploring in snowy weather.

In the spring…

Umbrella– Take a travel umbrella becuase the Pacific Northwest is known for unpredictably rainy spring weather.

Rain Jacket– And for the same reason, pack your rain jacket.  I recommend the same one you use for hiking trips, because versatility!

Rain Boots– Or water resistant hiking boots because they are comfy.

Summer…

Sandals– Bring comfortable sandals

Travel Towel– I recommend this too, for a random beach stop, if it fits in your bag!  It’s so light weight and easy to take on the plane.

Fall…

Fleece jacket– A warm fleece jacket is ideal this time of year.

Layers– Layer up with some packable, light, long sleeve shirts in your bag.

Winter jacket– Check the weather ahead of time.  There is an equally high probability you will need a winter jacket, and equally high that you will not.

Seattle One Day Itinerary

This itinerary is pretty jam-packed.  Slow things down a bit and remove or add activities as it fits your travel style.  Here is your Seattle in One Day itinerary:

Morning

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Begin the morning grabbing breakfast at Pike Place Market.  Take in the aroma of various stands, do some shopping, and explore.  Snap a few photos at the infamous gum wall!

Late Morning

Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57, Seattle

When you are done exploring Pike Place, walk across the street to Sesattle’s waterfront and ride the ferris wheel.

Afternoon

Time for some mid-day relaxation.  Pack a picnic lunch to eat at Kerry or Magnolia Park.  Enjoy Seattle’s views and walk the park.  Then, make your way back downtown to Seattle Center.

Evening

Seattle, Washington

Once at Seattle Center, choose to ride to the top of the space needle, or visit a museum (Chihuly Glass or Museum of Pop Culture are recommended).  Polish the day off with dinner.  Until next time, Seattle!

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).