Okay, so I often tell people I’m a Seattle blogger, but the truth is that I rarely ever blog about Seattle. Pfft. I live in this awesome city, yet I’m usually only updating this thing after a trip I’ve taken somewhere else so that I can share my travel photos… Uhhhh, why am I not sharing photos of Seattle?! It’s mind boggling.
I’ve lived here for almost four years now, so I think it’s about time I put together a proper guide for what to do in Seattle… Right?? Right! And not just the obvious touristy spots, but the hidden gems you might not know about if you’re not from here, including how to get around, where to eat, etc. because those are all such helpful things to know when traveling somewhere new. There’s nothing I love more than going to a new city prepared with a list of must-see spots from a local.
So, here we go. I’ll start with the assumption that you’re only going to be in Seattle for the weekend. I hope you’re here for longer than that, but sometimes that’s just how it works out, so with only two days to explore, I’ll try my best to put together an itinerary for where you must go while you’re here.
Depending on how touristy you want to get, and how much time you’re willing to spend walking, I highly recommend buying a Seattle City Pass. The pass is only $79 and includes:
1. Admission to ride to the top of the Space Needle
2. Admission to the Seattle Aquarium
3. An Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
4. Admission to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop – recently changed its name from what used to be the EMP) OR the Woodland Park Zoo
5. Admission to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum OR The Pacific Science Center
When I have visitors, one of the first things we do is head to the Argosy Cruises office on Alaskan Way (down by the waterfront) and purchase City Passes. You can usually use your Argosy Cruises pass right away and reserve a seat on one of their harbor tours. Depending on the weather, that’s always the first pass I use from the booklet. (I include most of the places mentioned above in my itinerary down below because I do think most of what’s included in the City Pass are all worth seeing while you’re here!)
HOW TO GET AROUND:
(Photo via Lee LeFever)
Something I definitely recommend while you’re in Seattle: TAKE THE (LINK) LIGHT RAIL! Traffic in Seattle is awful at times, so depending on where your hotel/Airbnb is, renting a car is totally unnecessary. Parking is also a nightmare, so do yourself a favor and avoid the headache! If you’re not comfortable doing that, I’d also suggest using Uber or Lyft to get around. They’re both big in Seattle, and if you’re with a group, splitting the fare really isn’t too bad. If you want to get real adventurous, open a Car2Go, Reach Now, or Zipcar membership. They’re all popular in the city and are great ways to get around (especially Car2Go and Reach Now for one-way trips! I use Car2Go all the time.)
For using the light rail, Google Maps should give you pretty straight-forward directions, but you can also plan a trip on the light rail website. Buying an Orca card is probably the best/easiest option. It allows you to take the light rail as well as the bus if you so desire. (Our bus system is also pretty good.) The reloadable card costs $5 and you can purchase one at any light rail station. Once you have one, you can just add more money to it as often as you need at any station. Tap the card at one of the yellow stands before entering the light rail, and then tap the card again at one of the same stands as you exit. (It’s easy to forget to do this – so don’t forget! It may also feel tempting to skip the tapping of the card as you exit, but there are often transit police wandering the trains who will definitely check your ticket/card to make sure you’re being honest as you travel. Just follow the rules and you’re good as gravy!)
Now that I have the technical stuff out of the way, here’s my weekend itinerary! If you were a dear friend of mine (and if you’re reading this post for advice then you so are now), these are the places I’d send you to make sure you had the best weekend in Seattle. Enjoy! :)
First thing’s first… You must get breakfast at Glo’s on Capitol Hill. Are you a fan of amazing Egg’s Benedict? I hope so because Glo’s has the best in Seattle (and in the world if I’m being honest). Do you also like crispy, delicious hash browns? Well, you’re in luck. Glo’s has them. Glo’s is a very small, unassuming diner that you might walk right by and never notice if it wasn’t for the large group of people usually congregating outside, all waiting for a table. Don’t let this crowd scare you off, though. Glo’s doesn’t take reservations, but they do allow you to call ahead and put your name down on their list. The wait is never incredibly long, but if you do have to wait 20-25 minutes, just walk across the street to Starbucks and grab a coffee. (Yes, we do have a Starbucks on every corner.) I always get the Egg’s Florentine, but if you’re a meat eater, I’ve heard the Blackstone is the way to go. // Take the light rail to the Capitol Hill Station. Glo’s is just a four-minute walk from the station.
After you’ve eaten at Glo’s, jump back on the light rail and head to Westlake Station. This is the main stop in Seattle since it’s in the heart of downtown. Since you’ll still be full from breakfast, I’d hold off on going to Pike Place Market right away and instead, take the Monorail over to the MoPOP Museum. The Monorail was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, and it hasn’t changed a bit. It only has one stop which is right at the MoPOP Museum. It’s cash only, totally touristy, but so neat! It’s also a cheap and easy way to get from downtown to the Seattle Center where you’ll find not only MoPOP, but the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, and the Chihuly Museum, too. I know I mentioned the Orca card above, but sadly the Monorail won’t accept it. It is strictly cash only! A one-way ticket is $2.25 for adults and $1.00 for kids ages 5-12. // From Glo’s, walk back to the Capitol Hill Station and ride it in the direction of SeaTac Airport/Angle Lake and get off at Westlake Station. From there, walk to the Monorail/Train terminal on 5th & Pine. It’s just a two-minute walk, located upstairs in the Westlake Center Mall.
Once you’ve arrived at the Seattle Center, walk around, explore, and use your City Pass to check out MoPOP, Chihuly Garden, and the Space Needle. The Space Needle lines can get a bit crazy, so I’d suggest heading there first to reserve a spot. You usually have to wait at least an hour before you can ride to the top which gives you plenty of time to walk through the Chihuly Garden and Museum while you wait.
Find the International Fountain, too! It’s fun to watch. Depending on what time you’re through with all of that, you might be ready for lunch. The Seattle Center Armory has tons of food options. I’d suggest MOD Pizza or Plum Pantry. But if you think you can hold off on lunch until heading over to Pike Place Market, then that’s a great option too, because there’s obviously tons of food at the market. // Take the Monorail back to Westlake Station. From there, walk toward the water (the numbered streets get smaller the closer to the water you go!) and you’ll find Pike Place Market. You can’t miss it! For the iconic photo of the Market sign, stand on the corner of Pike and 1st Avenue.
Walking the market can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on how deep you’re willing to go, or how quickly you want to browse. The market area has a lot of fun stuff, including the Gum Wall in Post Alley, the fish market where they throw the fish, Rachel the pig, the original Starbucks, and other cool spots to sit and have a drink, like Rachel’s Ginger Beer, my personal favorite.
If you’re up for more exploring at this point and haven’t already done one of the Argosy Cruises tours, I’d recommend heading down that way after you’ve left the market. The Argosy office is located near the ferris wheel on the waterfront. (If you’re interested in riding the Great Wheel, it’s $14 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3-11.)
For dinner, check out my Seattle City Guide! I have tons of recommendations, but if there’s one place I always tend to steer people toward if they’re wanting a nice meal in a pretty setting, it’s Momiji on Capitol Hill. It’s my absolute favorite sushi restaurant. They’re usually busy, so be sure to make a reservation! // From Pike Place Market, walk back to Westlake Station and take the light rail back to the Capitol Hill Station. Momiji is roughly a 10-minute walk from the station.
If you’re still looking for stuff to do after dinner, check out Rachel’s Ginger Beer for an amazing Moscow Mule (if you didn’t get a chance to visit the one at the market – there’s one located near Momiji on Capitol Hill), get a scoop of ice cream at Molly Moon’s, or head to Rock Box for karaoke. These are all within walking distance of Momiji. Capitol Hill is a great place to explore or bar-hop at night; you’ll find plenty to do!
Depending on how much you didn’t get a chance to do on Saturday (I know it was a lot), fit it in today! There are tons of other places to explore in Seattle besides what’s on the City Pass, too. I used to live in Fremont and it’s still my favorite neighborhood in Seattle. I miss it so much! Every Sunday, the Fremont Sunday Market takes place near the Fremont Bridge. They close the street off and have vendors from all over selling art and produce. There are always tons of food trucks, too. My favorite is Falafel Salam. Get a falafel sandwich, purple style. It’s so good! (Check the schedule, though. They tend to hop around the city.) You can also visit the Lenin statue, the Rocket, the Fremont Troll, the Interurban statue, Theo Chocolate Factory where you can go on a factory tour, or simply stop by their shop for free samples. On your way out, don’t miss the adorable dinosaur carved bush located behind Theo!
Other fun Fremont shops and restaurants include Schilling Cider which is a great spot to enjoy local cider and play board games, Dusty Strings, a fun music shop with instruments from all over the world, Fremont Vintage Mall, Fremont Coffee House, Fremont Brewing, and endless shops scattered all around. You can also walk to Gas Works Park, which isn’t far from Fremont Brewery. You have awesome views of the city there. It’s a popular spot to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July. Walk the Burke Gilman trail and check out the houseboats scattered along the water. // The only downside of Fremont is that there are no light rail stations nearby. You’ll have to bus, drive, or Uber there.
If you’re looking for another popular Seattle spot, head to Ballard and visit Fisherman’s Terminal and the Ballard Locks. It’s fascinating and so fun to watch all of the boats, kayaks, and yachts squeeze their way through the locks. You might also see a seal or two! // Like Fremont, there is no light rail access in Ballard, so you will have to drive, Uber, or bus there.
For the best sunset viewings, you should go to Golden Gardens or Alki Beach. You can even build a fire at Golden Gardens (if you get there early enough to reserve a fire pit!). // Alki Beach is located in West Seattle, so you’ll definitely need to drive, Uber, or take the bus.
Walk around the International District and sample amazing food along the way. My personal favorite restaurant in the area is called Sichuanese Cuisine. Other popular restaurants include Shanghai Garden, Samurai Noodle, and House of Hong. Uwajimaya is a popular Asian grocery store that has an adorable gift shop inside, as well as a handful of awesome restaurants. Drink boba tea and play board games at Oasis. Head to the Seattle Pinball Museum, visit Hing Hay Park, or enjoy a sweet treat at Fuji Bakery. // You can access the International District by taking the Link Light Rail to the International District/Chinatown station. You can ride the streetcar there as well, which is another slower, yet more scenic way to get to and from Capitol Hill.
For shopping, try University Village, an outdoor mall located in the U-District. The University of Washington campus is also really beautiful, and if you’re in town during Cherry Blossom season – the quad is not to be missed! Lots of yummy restaurants and interesting shops line the 1.2 miles of University Way, or what Seattleites refer to as just, “the Ave,” but my favorite Indian restaurant is located on Roosevelt Way NE. // Take the Link Light Rail to the University of Washington stop; the train’s very last stop! Everything in this area is walkable. (Except for Taste of India – that might be a bit of a trek.)
Okay, okay, I’ll stop! As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I could go on and on and on about what to see in Seattle. I love this city so much, and I hope something in this post will help make your visit a special one! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! There are of course a billion other things to do that I haven’t mentioned here. Do check out my Seattle City Guide though, because I update it often! As always, thanks for reading! xo