3 Days in Seattle Travel Guide
Seattle, Washington, located in the pacific northwest of the United States, is a widely traveled destination. This isthmus located between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington. It makes it the perfect city to explore for a long weekend. This post here is my 3 Days in Seattle Travel Guide to help you make the most of a long weekend in Emerald City.
This fast-growing city is the origin of Starbucks, the hub of tech industries, famous for Pike Place, located near plenty of outdoor activities, and so much more. Many people travel here to see various sites, Seattle has a little bit to offer for every type of traveler. Whether you’re exploring the neighborhoods of Seattle, or taking day trips to whale watch or hike, you can always find endless things to do.
While you can spend a whole month discovering Seattle and the surrounding areas, in three days you can explore the popular neighborhoods that make up Seattle and see some of the top sites that drive visitors year round. Hitting landmarks like Pike Place Market, seeing skyline views at the Space Needle, and eating your way through the delicious foodie spots, are all that are musts for your first time to this city. If you’re able to take a day trip, there are National Parks and different islands to visit and explore.
Whether you’re coming for the sites or as a base for another destination, I highly recommend taking the time to see the sites in Seattle. Check out this post for when to go, where to stay, how to get around, what to expect, and what to do when planning your trip to 3 days in Seattle!
Here is my Ultimate 3 Days in Seattle Travel Guide to start planning your trip!
When to go...
It’s important to know that weather can be unpredictable in Seattle. Rainy days are often, but don’t let it stop you from exploring! When I visited during March, it was more often a light drizzle throughout the day rather than a downpour.
Summer is a popular time for tourists to visit with summer vacation. Even though hotel prices are higher, and restaurants are filled, I think this is a great time to visit Seattle. The weather is warmer with minimal rainy days. It is also the best time to go whale watching and visit the national parks for florals.
Fall is another great season to visit Seattle. Prices for hotels and tourist traffic drops from the high season of summer. Weather can vary from warmer sunny days to cooler rainy. Fall foliage in certain areas are a gorgeous place to visit.
Spring along with fall has lower prices for hotel and less tourist traffic. The weather is overall cooler than fall with more overcast skies in the beginning of Spring. Cherry blossoms begin and tulip season is gorgeous in April and May.
Winter is often cold and rainy, with shorter days. This time of year will offer a different energy of visiting Seattle if you want to enjoy the seasonal holidays and cozy activities.
Where to stay...
There are many different neighborhoods to stay in Seattle. Each neighborhood offers a different vibe and energy. Below are the three neighborhoods I would recommend for your first visit!
We stayed in Seattle Center which is in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood when we visited Seattle for the first time. Right next to the Space Needle are popular tourist attractions, and plenty of hotel options to choose from. As a plus, the Seattle Monorail takes you from the Seattle Center to Westlake Station near Pike Place. We chose this location as we had a better option for budget friendly hotels rather than downtown.
Downtown Seattle is another popular location for tourists to stay in Seattle. It’s close to Seattle’s popular Pike Place Market and restaurants. I recommend Downtown simply because it offers the best options in terms of variety of hotels.
Capitol Hill is a trendy LGBTQ friendly neighborhood with a vibrant nightlife. This is perfect neighborhood if you enjoy nightlife, and you won’t find yourself bored. I also found some delicious restaurants in the area.
How to get around...
The airport that most fly into when visiting Seattle is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport SEA. It is a little under 15 miles from the airport to Downtown Seattle.
Our hotel offered an airport shuttle which made it easy for us to get from the airport to our hotel.
Another option is to ride the Light Rail, which is the cheaper, but will take longer. Or you can use Uber which is more expensive but can get you into town quicker.
While staying in Seattle, I would resist renting a car. Parking at the hotel can be very expensive, and public parking can also be expensive and limited. The only time we rented a car was for the day with our preplanned trips to the islands and National Parks.
As I mentioned before, there is the Seattle Monorail that takes you from the Seattle Center to the Westlake Center Mall which is only a couple blocks from Pike Place Market. We used this as we stayed in Seattle Center, and this was an easy and cheap way to get to that side of town.
The Seattle Monorail only has two stops, the Seattle Center, and the Westlake Center Mall. It is an easy way to travel between these locations.
Other than using the Seattle Monorail, we walked around to most of our destinations. Walking is a great way to see the city and get a great work out. Seattle has tons of hills, make sure to wear good walking shoes. Another option we did was rent a bike (and sometimes a scooter) that they have around the city to get around.
Biking is a way of life in Seattle, and the city very bike friendly. Be sure to make way for some of the faster bikers in the bike lane!
If our destination was a little father, it was easy to grab a ride-sharing app like Lyft or Uber.
Cheaper ways to get around include using the light rail or bus system. Make sure to check the King Country Metro bus schedule as they can vary.
What to expect...
Seattle is a fast-growing city. In my opinion the city is not only a great place to visit in the U.S., but one I can live in as well!
1. Seattle is a rainy city. While we were there, the skies were overcast and there was a constant drizzle. However, depending on the time of year you come, it might not be as rainy. The light rain didn’t bother us much, just be sure to walk around with a light rain jacket for the unexpected drizzle.
2. In addition to packing for a rainy city, there are also plenty of hills. Seattle has many hills, make sure to pack good walking shoes for getting around the city.
3. If you’re able to bring your pup on a road trip, Seattle is incredibly dog friendly. Even Amazon is known for its pet-friendly policies.
4. Speaking of Amazon, Seattle is home to Amazon as well as other big name tech industries. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for us to run into a local that worked at one of these high-tech companies.
5. Seattle is very progressive in terms of environment, health, and politics. Locals are conscious of their environment, and you will find the city quite clean. It is also an active city, with plenty walking or biking the city.
6. If you’re a foodie, look no further. Seattle has a diverse population, and we got a taste of great food here.
7. The homeless situation has gotten worse in Seattle. In certain areas tents overrun the sidewalks, and in certain neighborhoods the homeless population is more prominent. It is important to be aware of the situation and where it is more prominent in Seattle.
Things to Do
There are many different things to do in Seattle. Two to three days is the perfect amount of time to explore the city. That’s what makes visiting Seattle perfect for a long weekend. The city is made up of different neighborhoods that each have their own uniqueness, making most of them worth seeing! You can easily get through the top sites in a couple days.
If you have a little extra time, Seattle is a great base for day trips. There are three national parks in Washington. I got to visit two on another trip and they were worth the day trip. There are also different islands you can take the ferry to like the San Juan Islands. And if you come during the high time for whale watching season, I highly recommend going out to see them.
Pike Place Market (Morning Day 1)
Pike Place Market was probably the area with the most bustling activity during my visit to Seattle. I consider it a “must-do” on your trip and is a popular thing to do in Seattle.
This market has been continuously running since 1907, making Pike Place Market the oldest continuously running farmer’s market in the U.S. It’s the perfect foodie’s dream with all sorts of delicious bites. Make sure to come hungry as there are many different items to try.
I recommend coming early as later in the day it tends to get busier and lines will form. You can spend a good part of the day eating, touring the shops, and walking around this area. If visiting the First Starbucks is on your list, make sure to stand in line for that first as the line continues to grow as the day goes on.
You can sign up for a food tour around Pike Place, or you can even do a DIY one. Below are some of the popular places to try:
Ellenos Greek Yogurt – Great yogurt, was sweeter than I thought it would be, making it taste almost like a dessert.
Piroshky Piroshky – This ended up being my favorite food item I got from Pike Place!
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – I bought their handmade cheese to take back home and eat with bread and crackers.
Daily Dozen Donuts – We didn’t make it here, but many people suggested it as well!
Three Girls Bakery – Grabbed a cookie from here to satisfy my sweet craving.
Le Panier – I was full by the time I got to this place, but I grabbed a sandwich to take back to the hotel, and I was glad I did!
Ghost Ally Espresso – Great place for coffee if you didn’t get your coffee fix at the First Starbucks, or even if you just want something more. You can buy gum here to add to the Gum Wall if that is something you’re looking to do!
Pike Place Clam Chowder – We loved the clam chowder here, it’s a great way to end your Pike Place if it is getting closer to lunch time!
I didn’t get to make it to Rings-N-Things, but it is supposed to be a popular souvenir shop.
Queen Anne (Evening Day 2)
Queen Anne is located northwest of downtown and is a much larger neighborhood. You will find luxurious homes here as it is a wealthier neighborhood.
On the southern side of the Queen Anne neighborhood is the Space Needle. This is a popular tourist spot to get great views of the city.
If you’re coming from Pike’s Place, you can take the Seattle Monorail which brings you right to the Seattle Center where the Space Needle is located.
About one mile away from the Space Needle is a park with great views of the city. Kerry Park has a lookout point where you can see the city. It’s perfect to come here for a sunset picture, or even to come back for a nighttime view of the city. This park is a good spot to walk around as well.
Queen Anne is a nice place to walk around and just browse the houses as well. The housing is gorgeous in this area and Victorian architecture is one to admire.
If architecture is your thing, there is the famous Coleman House in the area. The house looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland. If you happen to pass by, make sure to be respectful as there are current residents that live in the house.
For our first day we did Pike’s Place in the morning and ended with Queen Anne. If you’re feeling for a luxurious dinner in Queen Anne, try Canlis. This upscale restaurant has small bites and gorgeous views.
Pioneer Square (Morning Day 2)
Pioneer Square contains lots of Seattle history. It is the perfect place to start your morning with a cup of coffee in the square and people watch. We were lucky to have a sunny morning to browse around the coffee shops and bookstores before beginning our site seeing.
The nightlife is also vibrant here if you are looking for a night out!
Make sure to book an Underground Tour while here. It is a great way to learn more about Seattle history and what went into building the city. Plus, we got to go underground! It was a tour I really enjoyed.
The United Parcel Service (UPS) started in 1907, with the first office near Pioneer Square. Now it’s the Waterfall Garden Park, it’s nice to take a walk over there and see a little bit of UPS history.
One of my favorite views of the city is at the Smith Tower. At the time of its completion, it was the highest skyscraper outside New York City. If you’re able to get there when it opens at 3 PM, make a reservation and head to the top and an old-time elevator. At the top, you can get swanky drinks in the trendy bar and enjoy views of the city.
If you need to kill time to get into Smith Tower (sometimes there might be a wait depending on when you go), the International District is nearby where you can indulge in ethnic dishes.
One thing to note is that there are noticeably more homeless in this area than some others.
Capitol Hill (Evening Day 2)
Capitol Hill is the more laid back, LGBTQ friendly, diverse neighborhood of Seattle. It’s the perfect place for a night out with hip bars and trendy restaurants.
Whether you want coffee or a drink, Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a place to start at in Capitol Hill. Keep in mind that it gets busier towards the evening.
After the Starbucks Reserve, start walking down and grab dinner at one of the trendier restaurants. While there, we tried Stateside, a French and Vietnamese fusion of dishes. The ambiance combined with dinner provided a great experience for our evening dinner.
Spend the rest of the night bar hopping through the hip bars through the neighborhood.
Fremont (Morning Day 3)
Fremont is the bohemian neighborhood of Seattle. This area is also great for bars, restaurants, and shops.
While there, we got a photo op with one of the top tourist sites in Fremont. The Fremont Troll. It’s located under the bridge and an iconic picture for Seattle.
If you’re into breweries, there are a couple good breweries in the area. A popular brewery is Fremont Brewing. As a plus, it’s kid and dog friends, and offers free pretzels!
If you happen to be here on a Sunday, there is the Fremont Sunday Street Market. You can browse around the market for antiques, art, clothes, and food trucks.
Amazon/Waterfront (Afternoon Day 3)
I thought it was cool to walk around Amazon’s urban campus in downtown area. If you happen to be there on a Tuesday or Thursday, there are tours at certain times of the day. The Spheres have beautiful greenery inside, and right next door is a dog park
Hidden in the Sphere is an amazing bar called Deep Dive. The atmosphere and drinks are top notch.
Spend the afternoon walking along the waterfront. You can ride the Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57 and get more views of the city.
Alki Beach (Evening Day 3)
This was the only thing we couldn’t do due to time constraints. However, it is popular tourist site for those visiting Seattle.
From the downtown Seattle Ferry Terminal, you can take the West Seattle Water Taxi to Alki Beach. Based on what my friends and family who live in Seattle and been to Alki Beach, it’s different from most northwestern beaches. There’s actual sand to layout and enjoy the beach along with beach activities.
Enjoy the view of Seattle and Puget Sounds with a drink at Salty’s on Alki Beach. A dining option with drinks at the beach.
If you have some extra time, venture out of the city of Seattle to see other sites in Washington. From national parks, to islands, to other cities, there are plenty of mini road trips you can take. I’ve gone to visit San Juan Islands, and two national parks on my other visits to Seattle
During the summer, it is the perfect season to whale watch. You can whale watch right from Puget Sounds or venture out to one of the islands to do so. When I was there, I got to take a day trip to San Juan Islands. It was a long day trip, but worth it to see the island and whale watch.
Olympic National Park – Olympic National Park is around 115 miles. You can take a rental car or tour to visit this park. This park contains several different ecosystems, and if you’re a Twilight fan, has the town where Twilight filmed!
Mount Rainier National Park – Mount Rainier National Park is the second most visited national park in the state of Washington. This glacier-capped park will have winter sport activities like show shoeing and skiing during the season. The highest point of the park is reachable by car!
San Juan Islands – San Juan Islands is a long but rewarding day trip from Seattle. (If you have two days, you can spread out some of your activities by staying on the island). It’s a great place to whale watch, hike, and enjoy cozy lodging.