Planning to spend a weekend in Seattle and need some trip planning inspiration? You’ve come to the right place – read on for all the best things to do, see, and eat on a 2 days in Seattle itinerary!
Seattle often gets overlooked because of its reputation as being a grey, rainy city. But if you can get past that, you’ll discover that it’s a beautiful, green city, with a cool hipster vibe and plenty of amazing food.
And, 2 days in Seattle is the perfect amount of time – while you can certainly see some of the city’s highlights in one day, spending an extra day there will give you a good feel of the city.
I took my first trip to Seattle in 2011 (it was my first solo trip as well) and immediately fell in love! As it is only a 2-hour flight from San Francisco, I returned many more times over the years (like, 10 times) – I just couldn’t stay away! As I’ve gotten to know the city even more, I’ve fallen even more in love with it, and found more things to add to my Seattle bucket list.
To me, Seattle has all those things that I love about San Francisco (good food and a hip, local vibe) but is more laid-back. It’s got all those amazing Pacific Northwest vibes that I adore.
Yes, Seattle can be grey and rainy – but when the sun comes out, it is absolutely beautiful and there is no other city like it! And there are just so many things to do in Seattle, so many beautiful spots (and views), and so much good food that you’ll still have a great time, even if it rains during your 2 days in Seattle!
Looking for the perfect weekend in Seattle itinerary? Keep on reading for all the best of what to do in Seattle in 2 days, what to eat, travel tips + much more!
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Things to Know Before Your Weekend in Seattle
How Many Days in Seattle – is 2 Days Enough?
If you’re wondering how many days in Seattle is enough time, I think that spending at least two days in Seattle to fully experience the best of what it has to offer.
This will give you time to fully explore the highlights, eat some of the best food, and explore some of the city’s unique neighborhoods. Spending a weekend in Seattle is the perfect amount of time to get a good feel for the city and what exactly makes it special.
That said, this Seattle 2 day itinerary is *very* fast paced – I pack it all in so that you can see all the best of what the city has to offer! If you want to explore at a more relaxed pace, I recommend adding an extra day.
While you can see many of the highlights in one day, I recommend spending at least 2 days if you can. However, if you’re pressed for time, one day is better than nothing and I have the perfect itinerary to help you make the most of it!
When to Visit Seattle
There really is no bad time to spend two days in Seattle, as temperatures stay relatively mild, and the city rarely gets snow. However, Seattle is often associated with rain.
But exactly how much does it rain in Seattle?! If you know anything about Seattle, then you’ve probably heard that it’s rainy, grey, and gloomy. Unfortunately, there is some (ok, a lot of) truth to that – there’s only an average of 150 sunny days a year, which means that the remaining 215 days are rainy and/or overcast.
The good news is that when they say that “it rains a lot in Seattle,” they are talking about that drizzly, it’s wet out there but not really rainy kind of rain – which is much easier to work with than the torrential downpour kind of rain. There are really only about 90 days of any measurable precipitation.
Yes, it does get grey and gloomy – but it’s really not that different than the summer fog in San Francisco.
That said, obviously, it’s much more fun and enjoyable to plan a Seattle 2 day itinerary during those 150 days of sunshine. The city really does get infinitely more beautiful!
Here is what to expect when visiting Seattle at various times of year:
- Summer: July and August bring the warmest temperatures and the most sunny days to Seattle. Temperatures usually average in the mid-70s Fahrenheit and is as close to perfect as you can get! Seriously though, there is something special about summers in Washington, and particularly in Seattle. As such, this is also Seattle’s busy season, ushering in the most tourists and the highest flight and accommodation prices to reflect it.
- Shoulder Season (Spring + Fall): Shoulder season is a better time to visit. I have found that May is an excellent month to spend time in Seattle, because the temperatures are starting to get warmer and you get a fair amount of sun, but you aren’t dealing with hordes of other tourists yet. Spring is a beautiful time to visit, as you will see cherry blossoms start to bloom throughout the city. Seattle is gorgeous in the fall, because you can see the red and orange foliage.
- Winter (low season): Winter is by far the least popular time to travel to Seattle. This is when it rains the most, and yes, it does occasionally snow. It’s also the coldest time of year – the lows can dip down into the 30s Fahrenheit. It’s not necessarily a bad time to visit, because there are still so many things to do! It is a perfect excuse to leisurely enjoy a cup of coffee in one of Seattle’s many excellent cafes, check out some of their museums, or hang out in a cool bookstore. Hotel and flight prices tend to be CHEAP as well! It’s also a fantastic time to plan a trip into some of the winter wonderland destinations nearby, such as Leavenworth.
How to Get to Seattle
Most visitors arrive in Seattle via the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), commonly known as Sea-Tac. The airport is located about 13 miles outside city center, and offers flights to many major domestic and international cities.
It is a breeze to get from Sea-Tac to downtown Seattle – here’s how:
- Link light rail: This is a super convenient and cheap option to get into the city. Once you exit the terminal, use the pedestrian bridge to connect to the parking garage. From here, you will find signs leading you to the Link station. The trip to downtown Seattle takes about 30 minutes. Trains run every 15 minutes from about 5am to midnight (with service starting later on weekends). Fares are calculated depending on zones, but it costs $3 to get to downtown Seattle. See here for schedules and fares.
- Uber/Lyft: You can also get from the airport to downtown by ride share – both Uber and Lyft operate in Seattle. An Uber from SeaTac to downtown Seattle usually costs around $35-45, but do note that it can be much higher during rush hour (someone just told me that they paid over $70 recently!).
Other Ways to Get to Seattle
- By Train: You can also arrive in Seattle via train. This is a super scenic option of traveling in the Pacific Northwest – the views along these train routes are supposed to be unbelievable! Seattle is a stop along Amtrak’s Cascades route, which continues to Vancouver in the north, and Portland to the south. The trip takes about 4 hours in either direction. Seattle is also the end of the Coast Starlight route, which starts in Los Angeles. Trains arrive at the King Street Station in Pioneer Square. From here, it is easy to connect to other areas in downtown Seattle and beyond via the Link light rail, King County Metro buses, or using Uber/Lyft.
- By Bus: Seattle is also served by FixBus, which is a great option for travelers on a budget – fares start as low as $1 (you better book EARLY, though!). Bolt Bus provides connections to many major cities in the Pacific Northwest.
- Cruise Ship: Seattle is also a popular port city for Alaskan cruises – many of these originate from the cruise terminal at Pier 91.
How to Get Around During Your 2 Day Seattle Itinerary
My favorite way to get around Seattle (like in many other cities) is to walk. The city is pretty walkable for the most part. Many of the city’s popular attractions, especially in the downtown core, can be accessed on foot.
I’ve walked from Belltown to Capitol Hill (which basically covers the first day of this Seattle 2 day itinerary) – it is a loooong walk, but it’s doable and it’s fun to get those steps in (plus it gives you an excuse to eat all that good food!)
While you can walk between the attractions in the downtown area, you’ll need to find a way to get around to the neighborhoods which lie in the outer parts of the city.
Luckily, Seattle has a relatively well-connected and easy-to-use public transportation system. It’s not as extensive as say, New York, but it does a relatively good job of getting you around.
One thing to note is that Westlake is the big transit hub in the city, and many of the transit options connect through here. Therefore, if you plan to rely heavily on public transportation during your two days in Seattle, then I highly recommend staying in a hotel near Westlake.
Seattle has several public transportation options:
- Link Light Rail: You may have taken the Link to get from the airport into downtown Seattle. This also connects you to neighborhoods of interest on this 2 day Seattle itinerary, such as Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square. A one-way fare is $2.25-3.50, depending on distance traveled.
- Seattle Monorail: This will connect you from Westlake to Seattle Center. A one-way adult fare is $3.50.
- Streetcar: Connects Westlake to the South Lake Union neighborhood. A one-way fare is $2.25.
- King County Metro Buses: This is the best transit option to get you out of the main downtown area. Express buses connect you to neighborhoods such as Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle, and the University District, among others. The fare is $2.75
- Water Taxi: Connects the Seattle waterfront (Pier 50) to West Seattle. A one-way adult fare is $5.75.
You can pay for transit on board, or with the Transit GO app, which allows you to pay for your fares using your phone. Another option is a reloadable ORCA card. You can purchase one for $5, and add value at ticket machines at the airport, at Link stations, and other locations throughout the city.
With an ORCA card, you can also purchase a one-day transit pass for $8 – this is valid for all the above options, except the monorail.
Uber and Lyft both serve Seattle. This is the most convenient option for getting around the city if you don’t have a car. These days, I’ve mostly relied on ridesharing to get around the city.
You’ll pay around $10 for shorter trips. Longer trips, for example from downtown Seattle to Ballard, will run you $15-20. However, it is usually the most efficient way to get to those places.
This is also the best option for getting around the city late at night and early in the morning, when public transportation options are limited.
You can easily rent a car from many of the major rental agencies at Sea-Tac airport. For rental cars, I usually recommend looking on rentalcars.com, which allows you to compare the best prices from the top car rental companies and offers a price match guarantee.
I don’t recommend having a car in the city, as parking is challenging. The one time we drove around the city, we found it to be a major annoyance.
However, you may want to have a car if you plan to take day trips around the area.
What to Pack for Your Weekend in Seattle
- Rain jacket: A waterproof shell like this one is super compact and helpful to have for light rain. However, I recently purchased this cute + waterproof rain trench coat and it kept me dry even in pouring rain (and it’s cute too) and it’s perfect if there’s rain in the forecast!
- Jacket: Summer brings sunny days and breezy evenings, so carrying a light jacket (such as a denim jacket) or cardigan is ideal. You might want a fleece zip up for warmth as well. Spring and fall can bring chilly mornings and evenings, so bring a warmer jacket. You’ll need a warm jacket for winter as well. For cooler days, I love my Patagonia down jacket.
- Umbrella: Carry along a collapsible travel umbrella to be prepared for rain.
- Comfortable shoes/boots: You will want to wear comfortable shoes as you will probably be walking a lot! The city is actually more hilly than you would think it is, so you will definitely want a pair of comfortable shoes. Allbirds and Rothy’s are usually my go-to travel shoes! I also love bringing these ankle boots for cooler days (spray them to make them water-resistant!). Waterproof rain boots are also a good idea and I also wish I’d gotten my hands on some waterproof sneakers.
- If you’re visiting in winter, you’ll want boots that keep you warm and dry, because again, rain (and sometimes even snow). These boots are my favorite winter shoes!
- Power bank: Stay connected as you explore Seattle – I always travel with this power bank!
- Reusable water bottle: Seattle is a pretty green city, and makes a conscious effort to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Plus, the tap water is actually pretty good.
Where to Stay for Your 2 Days in Seattle
You’ll find no shortage of accommodation options, to suit any taste or budget. For the purpose of this 2 day Seattle itinerary, I suggest situating yourself in the downtown area – Westlake, Belltown, or the Central Business District are all convenient neighborhoods to stay in. You can look in Capitol Hill and South Lake Union as well.
Hotel Max is one of my favorite places that I’ve stayed at in Seattle! This boutique hotel has a fun vibe with a bit of an attitude, and is catered towards art and music lovers.
The lobby also doubles as a mini-art gallery, and showcases some fun pieces of art – there is even a Warhol piece behind the front desk. Each of the room doors are adorned with rock concert photographs. And, if you happen to stay on the fifth floor, the entire floor is an homage to Sub Pop Records, the iconic independent Seattle record label who has represented such greats as Nirvana (and the Shins, the Postal Service, and Band of Horses, some of my all-time favorite bands!).
One of my favorite amenities at Hotel Max was the nightly craft beer happy hour, featuring a complimentary brew by a local brewery. Our first night there, they had a blood orange IPA and while I usually don’t go for IPAs I loved this one! It was such a fun way to try some of the local beers that I might not have known about on my own!
Other amenities include: complimentary pour-over coffee from Caffe D’arte in the lobby in the mornings, and complimentary bike rentals to help you explore around town.
Hotel Max is just a few blocks from the Westlake station, which is super convenient for using public transit to get around town; plus, you are within walking distance of many of the highlights of the city, including Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, and Capitol Hill.
Disclaimer: I was hosted for a complimentary stay at Hotel Max. As always, all opinions are of my own.
Other Places to Stay in Seattle
Some other options:
- CitizenM Seattle South Lake Union: I recently stayed here, and really enjoyed it! I love that CitizenM strips their rooms to the necessities that you *really* want, and does away with the rest. One thing to know is that the rooms are really small, and the side of the bed is against the wall. However, it’s a perfect choice for a solo traveler! They also have these really high-tech tablets that control lighting in the room, as well as the curtains. The lobby here is super cool as well, and the perfect place to hang out and unwind after a long day.
- Edgewater Hotel: A luxury boutique hotel on the Seattle waterfront, with amazing views of the Puget Sound and beyond. The property has a homey but upscale vibe. It is also a convenient place to stay for exploring the city! Other amenities include free bicycle rentals, and a complimentary shuttle service.
- The Moore: I’ve stayed here a few times and it’s my choice for a convenient, clean place to stay on a budget. Yes, the rooms are basic and a bit dated (it is a historic hotel after all), but they are CHEAP. You are mere blocks from some of the most popular tourist attractions in Seattle, such as Pike Place Market. The rooms are comfortable and clean, and did I mention that you can’t go wrong with the location and price? You have two options here – a room with an en suite bathroom, or if you are REALLY on a budget, you can opt for a room with a shared bathroom (like a private room in a hostel kinda situation).
The Perfect 2 Days in Seattle Itinerary
Seattle 2 Day Itinerary: Day 1 (Belltown, Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill)
How to Save Money in Seattle
Because let’s face it…Seattle isn’t exactly an inexpensive city, and costs for attractions do end up adding up. If you’re looking to save a bit of money, I highly recommend purchasing a Seattle CityPass!
This gives you admission to some of the top sights in the city, many of which are included on this Seattle 2 day itinerary – the harbor cruise, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and MoPOP. It also includes the Woodland Park Zoo
The pass costs $119, but here’s what you’d pay for each of the attractions individually:
- Space Needle day/night ticket: $60
- Chihuly Garden & Glass: $35
- Argosy harbor cruise: $39
- MoPOP: $27
The total for the 4 attractions above is $161 when purchased individually, which means you’ll save over $40 by getting the CityPass!
Another HUGE advantage is that you’ll also get to skip some of the long ticket queues, and having extra time is of the essence when you are trying to see Seattle in 2 days!
Extra cash + extra time…now I’m allllll about that!
Breakfast at Biscuit B*tch
Start off your weekend in Seattle with a hearty breakfast – after all, your two days in Seattle are going to be BUSY, so you’ll need energy to fuel yourself!
I recommend making a stop at Biscuit B*tch, which is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the city. As the name implies, it’s got some delicious biscuits and a whole lot of attitude. The extra sass is worth putting up with, as the breakfast sandwiches here are absolutely DELICIOUS!
Get an early start (I’m talking no later than 8am), as they tend to have a giant line out the door. You’ll also want plenty of time for the rest of the things on your list of what to do in Seattle in 2 days!
You can also order online before you get there to avoid the wait.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Start your morning by exploring Olympic Sculpture Park. This is one of my favorite places in Seattle to go for a walk, and I stop by every time I’m in town! This is also one of the best free things to do in Seattle.
The nine-acre park is owned and operated by the Seattle Art Museum, and features both permanent and visiting installations. It also offers breathtaking views of Puget Sound, and is the perfect spot for experiencing the unique art and beautiful natural landscape of the area.
The park is a favorite of both tourists and locals alike, and is the perfect combination of vibrant public art, open green spaces, and waterfront views.
I highly recommend entering the park from the entrance on Western Ave., near Broad St., then checking out the sculptures and making your way down the hill. This will put you in the perfect place to continue along to the next stop on this 2 days in Seattle itinerary.
When you exit the Olympic Sculpture Park, you should find yourself on Alaskan Way. This is the street that runs along the Seattle waterfront and its piers.
Yes, it’s super touristy and full of kitschy souvenir shops and mediocre restaurants, and is reminiscent of places such as Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and Navy Pier in Chicago. I wouldn’t spend too much time here, but it’s definitely got some nice views of Elliott Bay and of the Seattle skyline!
This is also a great time to go on a sightseeing harbor cruise. One of my favorite ways to see a city is from the water, and Seattle is no exception! This will give you a unique vantage point of the city and its skyline, with plenty of photo ops! You will get gorgeous views of the waterfront, the Space Needle, and downtown Seattle, as well as the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.
Stop by at Pier 66, which has some excellent views of the bay and city, then continue along Alaskan Way and head down to Pier 57, home of the Seattle Great Wheel. At over 157 feet tall, it is one of the tallest ferris wheels on the west coast (and used to be THE tallest until the High Roller in Las Vegas came along).
Unless you really want to go on it, I don’t think it’s worth waiting in line for (you’re trying to do see Seattle in 2 days after all!), but it’s fun to look at from the waterfront.
Arguably the most popular tourist attraction in the city, no trip to Seattle is complete without a stop at Pike Place. By now, it should be close to lunch time and your stomach is probably growling – no problem, because you have many options for lunch here!
I highly recommend taking a chef-led walking food tour, which lets you sample the food at the top 10 vendors (some of which are hidden gems that you’d never discover on your own!). You’ll also learn more about the history of the market. If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s a plant-based tour as well.
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continually operating farmers markets in the United States, and is an absolute foodie haven. The nine acre historical district boasts hundreds of merchants, including produce stands, butchers, bakeries, seafood markets, flower vendors, craftspeople, and specialty food stores.
I just love browsing through the stalls and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of all the wares (it reminds me a bit of the La Boqueria Market in Barcelona in that sense).
While there’s plenty that is worth seeing at Pike Place, here are two things that aren’t (after all, you’ve got to maximize time when deciding what to see in Seattle in 2 days):
- The “first” Starbucks: Except it’s apparently it’s not even the first). Unless you are a huge Starbucks superfan (or a collector of the Starbucks city mugs, because you’ll find one exclusive to this location), I’d suggest skipping it and heading to the Reserve Roastery in Capitol Hill instead. Otherwise, you’ll encounter a GIANT line to get in…and the only thing special about this location is that the logo is different, and that there is a plaque inside commemorating the original location. Otherwise, it is just like ANY OTHER STARBUCKS.
- The fish toss at the Pike Place Fish Co: Pike Place is also famous for the fishmongers at the Pike Place Fish Company, who will throw the fish to each other whenever someone purchases one. You’ll find a crowd gathered in front of the stall (which is at the front of the market), just waiting for this moment. I happened to catch the action when walking by and while it’s entertaining…it’s not worth standing around and waiting for.
Ok, I promised you that this is a great spot to stop for lunch – Pike Place is home to over 80 restaurants. Here are some recommendations where you can satiate that hunger:
- Piroshky, Piroshky: You’ll find a line out the door of people waiting to get their hands on one of these piroshkys, a Russian pastry stuffed with a variety of fillings, both sweet or savory. You really can’t go wrong with anything here, but the smoked salmon is my fave. If you’re in a sweet mode, try the cinnamon.
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheeses: This is one of my first stops at Pike Place. The mac and cheese here is the BEST – but their cheese curds are tasty as well!
- Pike Place Chowder: You can’t go wrong with a bowl of chowder, especially on a gloomy day. They have lots of varieties of chowder here, from the classic (New England, Manhattan) to the unique (i.e. lime and coconut chowder). If you can’t decide, they have samplers here as well (choose 4 or 8). If you’re not in the mood for chowder, they have a selection of other seafood specialties here. Tip: it gets packed here – my suggestion is to get in line 10-15 minutes before they open at 11 so you aren’t waiting forever.
- Le Panier: I always stop for some macarons and pastries here! They also have some tasty sandwiches.
- Biscuit B*tch: Technically just a block outside the market, but it’s super popular and delicious – you can’t go wrong with a one of their biscuit sandwiches!
- Mee Sum Pastry: If you’ve got a hankering for some dim sum, this little takeout stand has some tasty stuff! They are known for their BBQ pork hom bow, which has char siu pork wrapped in a sweet bun. I liked their curry one as well.
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer: Not only do they have dozens of flavors of ginger beer, they also do cocktails and my fave – boozy floats!
- Daily Dozen: The freshly made mini donuts are always super addicting!
- Ellenos Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt like you’ve never had before. The yogurt here is super creamy and decadent, and basically like a dessert! They have some amazing flavors – my favorite is the lemon curd.
- Maiz: I haven’t tried it yet, but I hear it’s amazing! They specialize in Mexican street food made with corn – so think tacos, gorditas, sopes, and tamales.
- Oriental Mart: Another one that’s on my to-try list. It’s an unassuming mini mart, but is said to have some AMAZING Filipino food, which helped it earn an award from the James Beard Foundation.
Tip: While most vendors do accept credit cards, there are a handful that don’t so have a little bit of cash handy!
Before you leave Pike Place, be sure you stop by to check out the gum wall in Post Alley. It is a little bit tricky to find – go down the ramp that’s to the left of the main entrance, and look for the Market Theater sign. Once you get to the bottom of the ramp, go left into Post Alley. If you get lost, ask anyone who works at Pike Place – they’ll direct you to the right place. 🙂
The gum wall is one of two of its kind (the other is in San Luis Obispo in California), and is known as the second germiest attraction in the world (number one is the Blarney Stone). Yes, it’s kinda gross, but yes, it’s also kinda awesome and you must make a stop!
The gum wall kinda happened on accident – people started sticking their gum to the wall as they waited in line outside the box office at the theater here. More and more people just kept sticking their gum here, and no matter how many times they tried to clean it off, the tradition seemed to just stick (heh heh, pun intended). After a while, they just gave up and it was declared a tourist attraction in 1999.
In 2015, all the gum was cleaned off for the first time in 20 years, and over 2000 pounds (!!!) of gum were scraped off. Not long after, it was full of gum again – when I visited in 2016, it seemed like nothing had changed since the last time I was there!
I can never decide if I find it to be super gross, or super fascinating, but either way, I find myself having to make a stop here every time I’m in town because it is one of my favorite spots in Seattle to take photos!
Pioneer Square is Seattle’s original neighborhood – much of the city’s history is centered here. It is full of charming brick and stone facades, and turn-of-the-century street lamps line the streets.
The neighborhood was the hub of pioneer life in Seattle (hence its name), and the city’s first industry, Yesler Sawmill, opened here in 1885. The city’s first landmark, a Tlingit totem pole, was placed here when a group of businessmen returned with it on a business trip to Alaska. You can still see it here today on the corner of Yesler Way and 1st Avenue.
After the Great Fire of 1899, much of the city’s recovery started in Pioneer Square, and the first buildings to be built here. Today, the area is one of Seattle’s bustling districts, full of hip cafes, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries. This is also known as Seattle’s nightlife district, so if you’re looking to party, then this is where you’ll find the city’s clubs.
Note: One thing you may notice about Pioneer Square is that it has a rather large homeless population. It might be jarring, especially if you haven’t spent much time in a big city (especially on the west coast), but they are largely harmless and most of them will leave you alone. Remember that they are human beings too!
Here are some things to do in Pioneer Square. You won’t have time to do them all, so just pick out one or two from this list:
- Seattle Underground Tour: One of the most iconic things to do in Seattle! The tour takes you through the underground passageways built underneath the neighborhoods in 1890. These were the original streets of Seattle, and the tour will give you insight into how the city came out of the swampy grounds, and how new roads were built a few feet above where they once stood.
- Smith Tower: Smith Tower was Seattle’s first skyscraper , was built in 1914. If you want somewhere to get panoramic views of the city that ISN’T the Space Needle, Smith Tower is one of the best spots. Honestly, I enjoyed it more than the Space Needle! I loved the ride up the historical elevators on the way to the observation deck, and the speakeasy type bar at the top – it’s got some of my favorite cocktails in Seattle!
- Columbia Tower/Sky View Observatory: is also another place in the city for epic views, and just a few blocks outside of the neighborhood. The Sky View Observatory here is on the building’s 73rd floor, and at nearly 1000 feet high, is actually higher than the Space Needle. In fact, it is the tallest viewing platform in the entire Pacific Northwest! However, if you’re deciding between Sky View and the Smith Tower, I’d choose the latter as Sky View is an enclosed observatory.
- Seattle Central Library: Technically a little bit outside of Pioneer Square, but it’s one of the city’s architectural gems and worth a visit. The 11-story steel and glass structure is striking as you look at it from the street, sort of resembling a futuristic diamond and has won numerous awards. The library was designed to be sort of a “modern information superstore” to transform the traditional library experience and present all media forms, not just books, equally and legibly. The inside design echoes this statement, with bold colors and type plastered throughout. Be sure to check out the view from the atrium on the 10th floor!
- Waterfall Garden: A little hidden gem in the middle of Pioneer Square is a man-made waterfall and surrounding garden tucked into the site of the original UPS headquarters at 219 2nd Avenue South. You can hear the roar of the water from the street! This is a little oasis in the middle of a bustling city, and if you need a little break, this is a perfect spot to stop with some coffee or snacks from one of the nearby spots.
- Ghost tours: Pioneer Square is also known to be haunted, so you’ll find ghost tours that go through the neighborhood.
- Art galleries: If you are an art lover, Pioneer Square is Seattle’s artistic hub and home to many of the city’s art galleries. The neighborhood also hosts a First Thursday Art Walk on every first Thursday night of the month, which is actually known as the first of its kind in the nation!
Afterwards, head back north towards South Lake Union.
South Lake Union
This is the center of Seattle’s thriving tech industry and the fastest growing neighborhood in the city. Aside from beautiful waterfront views of Lake Union, you’ll also find an array of hip cafes, bars, and eateries.
Aside from that, here are some of the things to do in South Lake Union. As with Pioneer Square, you won’t have time to do *everything* but pick a few things from this list:
- South Lake Union Park: I love checking out the views of the water and the city from here. A perfect place to go for a little walk. It’s also home to the Center for Wooden Boats, which rents free rowboats to visitors on Sundays.
- Kenmore Air seaplanes: Be sure to check out the seaplanes taking off and touching down on the lake! South Lake Union is home to Kenmore Air, which offers sightseeing seaplane flights, and even flights to Victoria or Vancouver, BC – which also makes it the world’s smallest international airport!
- Get on the water: Lake Union is a popular place to go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding.
- Sightseeing lake cruise: this is a great activity that lets you relax (with cocktail in hand) while you take in all the views! This is one of the few ways to see the houseboats on the lake, including the one that was featured in Sleepless in Seattle. I also loved that my guide pointed out various filming spots – like the building that was used as Sloan-Grey Memorial Hospital in Grey’s Anatomy. So fun- and the views were my favorite part!
- REI flagship store: Seattle is where REI started and the flagship store is quite an experience. There’s trails, a climbing wall, and plenty of opportunities to showcase what to do with the equipment that the store sells.
- Amazon Spheres: Seattle is also home to Amazon and its new, ultramodern Seattle Spheres campus. The Spheres consist of three spherical conservatories, with lush botanical gardens inside. It is intended to serve as an ultra high-tech greenhouse – it’s kind of mind blowing that people actually go to work in a super cool office like this! The only way to see the inside of the Spheres is via guided tour offered two Saturdays a month – you will need to make a reservation.
End your day in Capitol Hill, which has plenty of dining and nightlife options! This is my favorite neighborhood in Seattle, partially for the uber cool, hipster vibe, but mostly for the delicious restaurants and trendy cocktail bars – many of my favorites in the city are located in Capitol Hill!
Capitol Hill is also the LGBTQ neighborhood in the city, so you’ll see lots of pride flags in the storefront windows, and fun rainbow crosswalks on the streets. This is where you will find many of the LGBTQ hangouts in the city.
Aside from the dining and nightlife options, there’s plenty of other fun things to do in Capitol Hill. Depending on how much time you have when you get here, check some of these things out:
- Starbucks Reserve Roastery: As I mentioned earlier, you should make a stop here instead of the “original” Starbucks location in Pike Place. Even if you’re a coffee snob and you usually turn your nose up at the idea of drinking Starbucks coffee, it’s well worth checking out! The Reserve Roastery elevates the Starbucks experience, and you can get tasting flights. They also have specialty drinks, such as a whiskey barrel-aged cold brew, as well as cocktails (including espresso martini flights!).
- Sample all the coffee: Capitol Hill has some of the best coffee shops in town! My all-time favorite latte comes from Espresso Vivace, but there’s plenty of other renowned coffee shops in the neighborhood. If you’re a coffee fiend, I also recommend taking a coffee tour.
- Elliott Bay Book Co.: I literally make a stop here every time I visit Seattle (and can never resist buying a book or two). They have a well curated selection of local books, and it’s also a great place to stop by on a rainy day.
- Go shopping: Shopaholic? I love browsing all the boutiques in Capitol Hill, and I’ve picked up some fun vintage clothing items over the years..
- Volunteer Park Conservatory: This botanical garden and conservatory is housed in a glass Victorian-style greenhouse structure, modeled after the Crystal Palace in London. It’s a great spot to escape for some peace and tranquility – and if it’s raining outside, it’s one of the best places to escape the rain!
- Bruce Lee’s grave: The famous martial arts star is buried at Lakeview Cemetery.
- Cal Anderson Park: Famous for its fountain and long reflecting pool.
By now it’s probably dinner time and you are probably hungry. Luckily, you have plenty of delicious options in Capitol Hill – I’m going to list my favorites here:
- Tavolata: Some of the best pasta that I’ve had outside of Italy! Ethan Stowell is a local legend and has restaurants all over the city, each focusing on a different aspect of Italian food. Tavolata’s focus is pasta, and it does not disappoint. The pappardelle and rigatoni are my favorites here! If you get here early enough (between 4-6pm), they have a happy hour, and it’s basically half off pastas!
- Oddfellows Cafe + Bar: This is a cute, cozy little spot and totally the epitome of a hipster restaurant! Oddfellows is a super popular brunch spot, but they have a solid dinner menu as well. Oddfellows serves classic comfort American food, using locally sourced, organic ingredients. There’s a focus on shared plates here; be sure to get some cocktails as well!
- Kizuki: A bowl of ramen hits the spot on a chilly, gloomy day, and Kizuki has some of the best in Seattle! The garlic shoyu tonkotsu ramen here is my favorite – it’s rich, garlicky, and delicious.
- Rhein Haus: This biergarten has some solid German specialties, such as weinerschnitzel and bratwurst, and an extensive German beer selection to help you wash it all down. The atmosphere is super fun here and it’s a great spot to hang out for the evening – they have fireplaces and bocce ball.
- Kedai Makan: A bit of a hole-in-the-wall but serves up amazing Malaysian street food. The nasi goreng (a Malaysian fried rice) is amazing here!
- Taylor Shellfish: Oyster fan? Then you’re going to love this spot! Known as one of the best oyster purveyors in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find an excellent selection of half-shell oysters here, along with other seafood dishes.
Got a sweet tooth? Check out these places for dessert:
- Hot Cakes: You can’t go wrong with a super rich, super chocolatey, melt-in-your-mouth molten lava cake. They are absolute HEAVEN. I’m not kidding when I say that they are super rich – but the cakes are absolutely delicious!
- Pie Bar: It’s a bar…with fresh baked pies! What a perfect combo. One whiff of the buttery scent of the pies baking the oven and you’ll be hooked. Everything I’ve had here has been incredible, but if they have the strawberry rhubarb on the menu, order it! Also try a pie-tini, cocktails that are inspired by pie flavors. I’ve recommended this place to many friends and they’ve all come back from Seattle singing praises about it.
- Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream: This ice cream is a local favorite, and features creative flavors made from organic ingredients and dairy from hormone-free cows. Favorites include salted caramel, honey lavender, and rose milk tea, but check out their seasonal flavors as well.
And here are my favorite spots in the neighborhood to grab a nightcap:
- Canon: My favorite bar in Seattle! Canon has also consistently been ranked in best cocktail bars lists, both nationally and internationally, and the accolades are well-deserved – the drinks here are creative, unique, and well-made. You’ll find unique combinations such as bacon, fig jam, and bourbon. I always have to make a stop here every time I’m in Seattle to see what new creations they’ve come up with!
- Needle & Thread: I haven’t actually gone here yet, but I’ve been trying for YEARS. It’s a super secret speakeasy – you must either make a reservation (which are hard to snag), or try to see if you can get in by calling on the payphone located at the entrance next to Tavern Law. One of my friends has been though, and said the drinks are amazing!
- Tavern Law: If you can’t get into Needle & Thread, you should definitely still grab a cocktail at Tavern Law. The drinks are solid and well-made here – they have a great selection of whiskey as well.
- Unicorn: This is a super whimsical carnival-themed bar. You can play arcade games (and win some X-rated prizes) and eat carnival fare (i.e. corn dogs) here. It’s kinda divey, but the atmosphere is super fun!
Afterwards, head back to your accommodations and rest up because next day of this Seattle 2 day itinerary is jam-packed!
2 Day Seattle Itinerary: Day 2 (Seattle Center, Queen Anne, Fremont, Ballard)
You will start off the second day of this Seattle weekend itinerary by exploring Seattle Center, an arts, cultural, and entertainment center in the city’s Queen Anne neighborhood. Many of Seattle’s top museums and theaters, as well as the iconic Space Needle reside within the Seattle Center.
The complex hosts many performances, festivals, and sporting events. You can also find many public art pieces here, such as the popular International Fountain.
You can literally spend an entire day (or more) exploring all of the various attractions at the Seattle Center, but since you are trying to figure out what to see in Seattle in 2 days, I will point out the highlights here. 🙂
Tip: If you plan to go to both the Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass, (both of which I wholeheartedly recommend), book yourself a combo ticket for both. You’ll save a bit of money, and skip the long ticket queues! If you also want to visit MoPOP, then consider getting a Seattle CityPass!
Yes, it’s touristy AF, but visiting the Space Needle (or getting up close to it) is such an iconic experience. This is Seattle’s most recognizable structure, and you can pretty much see it from anywhere in the city. In fact, it’s a great way to orient yourself – I can always tell which direction I’m going in based on which way I can see the Space Needle.
Both the Space Needle and the Seattle Center were created as part of the 1962 Worlds’ Fair. Its futuristic design symbolizes humanity’s aspirations for the Space Age. The Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall, with a 502 foot saucer-shaped “top house” at the top, and a slender body.
To be fair, the Space Needle isn’t the tallest building in Seattle. But it is definitely the most distinctive, and one of the most photographed (if not the most photographed). It’s easy to see why – its unique design always stands out in contrast to the skyline and makes an interesting shot.
Is it worth going up to the top? That depends. Some argue that you can get a better view from the top of Smith Tower or the Columbia Tower, and that it’s not worth putting up with the crowds. If you went to either of these on day 1, then I would skip the Space Needle.
Personally, I think it’s worth going up to the top at least once, especially if it’s your first time in Seattle. However, it is only worth it if you go up on a clear, sunny day – if it’s overcast, then it’s not worth it because you aren’t going to see much.
From the top, you can see panoramic views of downtown Seattle, Puget Sound, the Cascades, and the Olympic Mountains. On a super clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier – those are the best days to go up.
In 2018, renovations to the Space Needle were completed, and an upper level observation deck was added, with open-air glass walls. This gives visitors floor-to-ceiling views, as well as glass benches to sit on. One of the new additions is the Loupe, the world’s first rotating glass floor, where you can literally see Seattle at your feet (sort of like Skydeck in Chicago – but rotating!). This adds a unique feature to your experience!
Chihuly Garden and Glass
You may already be familiar with glass artist Dale Chihuly’s work – his works are showcased in many museums and galleries all over the world. One of his most famous works is on the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Chihuly was born in neighboring Tacoma, and still lives in the area today. Chihuly Garden and Glass consists of eight galleries and three Drawing Walls that feature some of his most significant works.
There is also an outdoor garden that features his works against a backdrop of lush flowers, trees, and plants. A theater also puts on short videos about Chihuly’s process, and commentary about the inspiration behind his work. It also sometimes hosts lectures and demonstrations.
The highlight here is the glasshouse, which features an expansive 100-foot sculpture of cascading red, orange, and yellow florals. The 4500-foot space was inspired by Chihuly’s love of conservatories. The look of the flowers change based on the light that streams through from outside. It is absolutely breathtaking – I am always amazed by the glasshouse every time I stop by.
This is one of the places I have to visit every time I make a trip to Seattle, even though I’ve been so many times, and even though it’s kinda expensive. I have always been a fan of Chihuly’s work, and have always been blown away by his use of color and shapes. His best works are showcased here, I leave inspired after every visit.
MoPOP is short for the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly known as the Experience Music Project). It is dedicated to contemporary pop culture, and strives to make creative expression a life-changing force.
It is an interactive museum full of hands-on exhibits about music, movies, video games – anything pop culture (hence the name). There’s everything from an indie video game exhibit, another about tattoos, and several that are dedicated to Seattle music greats such as Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix. There’s also a great sci-fi and horror wing, which is usually not my thing, but I found it fascinating!
At the center of the museum is the giant Timpin Guitar Sculpture, which is made up of over 500 musical instruments that tower up multiple stories. It’s cool to see all those instruments, of different sizes, shapes, and colors, but what’s even cooler is that you can listen to music played by the sculpture through a pair of headphones – awesome!
If you are a pop culture fan, then you will LOVE MoPOP! While there is a collection of permanent exhibits, they also have tons of rotating exhibits that are always changing based on what’s popular. On one of my visits, I got to see and sit in the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones which I found to be super cool!
At the very least, you need to also admire the outside of the museum, which is designed by Frank Gehry. The building is covered in thousands of panels that change color depending on the light and at what angle you see them at. It’s the perfect backdrop for all your Instagram photos!
After exploring the attractions at the Seattle Center, head north towards Ballard to continue on this Seattle 2 day itinerary.
Ballard is one of Seattle’s trendiest neighborhoods, with lots of hip eateries, boutiques, and trendy bars. But because Ballard is a bit further out from downtown, it’s got a bit of a sleepy, laid-back vibe. It’s the perfect neighborhood to stroll through and explore on a relaxed afternoon.
The neighborhood was founded by Scandinavian immigrants in the 1800s, and you can still still see those influences today. You can find restaurants that serve traditional foods such as utefisk and lefse, and you can find Scandinavian trinkets in all the specialty boutiques and home decor shops. There’s even a Nordic Heritage Museum.
Ballard is fun to explore just by wandering around. The main commercial streets in the neighborhood are Market Street, and Ballard Avenue. Here, you will find stylish clothing, home decor, and specialty gift shops in charming brick storefronts. The area is actually included on the National Register of Historical Places!
Here are some of the highlights of Ballard:
- Hiram M. Chittendam Locks: The most well-known attraction in Ballard. This series of locks lowers the water levels of the freshwater Lake Union and Lake Washington, reverses the river flow, and levels it off with the water levels of the sea water of Elliott Bay. It handles the most ship traffic out of all the locks in the United States. You can watch the ships go through the locks, observe the fish try to climb up the salmon ladder, or walk through the surrounding park and gardens. For a unique experience, I recommend taking a cruise through the locks.
- Taste craft beer: Did you know that Seattle is home to 174 craft breweries, the most in the nation (yes, more than even Portland)? Ballard is home to many of these breweries, including some of the city’s best. You can take a brewery tour or hop around to a few on your own. Some of the best include Stoup, Reuben’s (recently named one of the 10 best in the US), Populuxe (named Washington’s best small brewery in 2018), Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, and Hale’s Ales.
- Eat seafood: This area is also full of hip restaurants. As Ballard was once the center of the city’s maritime history, you can find some of Seattle’s best seafood restaurants here. Chinooks, and Ray’s Boathouse are supposed to have some of the best. If you stick around for dinner (or are an oyster fan), be sure to dine at the Walrus and the Carpenter, one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Seattle!
- Ballard Farmers Market: If you’re spending a weekend in Seattle and are in town on Sunday, there is also a Farmer’s Market on Ballard Avenue from 9am-2pm. You’ll find everything from farm fresh produce, to arts and crafts (which make some excellent souvenirs), so be sure to browse if you happen to be in the neighborhood while it’s going on.
After you are done exploring Ballard, make your way over to neighboring Fremont.
Fremont is Seattle’s artsy, bohemian district, and the self-proclaimed “center of the universe,” according to a sign that stands in the center of the neighborhood. Much like Ballard, Fremont is full of unique independent shops, restaurants, and bars, with a laid-back vibe.
Fremont once used to be its own city, but was annexed into the city of Seattle in the late 1800s. You can still sense a bit of that individuality here, with its carefree, quirky vibe.
Here are some things you can check out in Fremont:
- Snap a photo with the Fremont Troll: Residing under the Aurora Bridge, the Fremont Troll is the most famous attraction in the neighborhood and one that you can’t miss on your 2 day Seattle itinerary. The 18-foot tall troll sculpture was created as part of a competition held in 1990, to help revitalize the area under the bridge. It’s super quirky and unique – and I was blown away by how massive it is!
- Theo Chocolate: Have a sweet tooth? Fremont is also home to Theo Chocolate, which specializes in organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate. You can sample some chocolate, pick up some products as souvenirs, or even schedule a tasting and/or class,
- Check out the public art: Fremont is known for its public art pieces. Some of the other notable works are the giant 53-foot rocket sculpture and Vladimir Lenin sculpture at 36th Street and Evanston Avenue North, and the aforementioned “center of the universe” sign at North Fremont Avenue and North 35th Street.
- Woodland Park Zoo: Fremont Canal Park is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, where you can watch the ships go by. At the edge of the neighborhood is also Woodland Park, which is home to the city’s zoo (although you likely won’t have time to visit on this busy two days in Seattle itinerary).
- Shopping: In the mood for some retail therapy? You’re in luck, as Fremont is home to tons of quirky, independent retailers. This is a great neighborhood to shop for some vintage goods, boho home decor, and unique gifts.
- Craft breweries: If you haven’t had enough craft brews after sampling all the ones in Ballard, well, Fremont has its own scene as well. Sip a beer on the patio at Fremont Brewing (arguably the most popular craft breweryin the Northwest), grab a hard cider at Schilling, get some Belgian brews (and fried) at Brouwers Cafe, or enjoy a brew while watching football on the telly at George & the Dragon.
- Fremont Sunday Market: This is Seattle’s answer to a European style market, with over 200 vendors selling street food, antiques, vintage clothes, handmade jewelry, crafts, and more. The market has been run since 1900, and is continually held year-round. A great spot to shop for some unique local souvenirs, and to support local businesses!
Gas Works Park
On the outskirts of Fremont is Gas Works Park, one of Seattle’s most unique green spaces. It’s one of the best places to visit on a sunny day – tons of locals hang out here when the sun and blue skies are present. You’ll realize how beautiful the city is!
The park stands on the site of what used to be a coal gasification plant for the Seattle Gas Light Company, which once provided gas and energy to the entire city of Seattle for 50 years. It is the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the United States.
After the plant ceased operations, it was turned into a public park. You can still see the remains of the plant today. Grassy green hills line the park, and the combination of the greenery and the super industrial ruins gives the park a super unique vibe!
Gas Works Park also has one of the best views of the city. Climb to the top of the hill for the best views. From here, you can see the Seattle skyline spread out from the distance, with the space needle at the edge of the view.
If you’re like me and can’t get enough epic views, then lucky you – this will be a highlight of any Seattle weekend itinerary! Located on top of a hill in the historic Queen Anne neighborhood, the view from Kerry Park is picture perfect and quintessentially Seattle.
If you’ve ever seen that view of the Space Needle perfectly positioned in front of the Seattle skyline on all of the Seattle postcards (or, you know, the opening credits of Grey’s Anatomy) and wondered where it was taken from, then you’re in luck because this is the spot!
Ideally, you’ll want to time your visit to happen around sunset, on a clear day. Even better if you happen to be here on a day when it’s clear enough to see Mt. Rainier. Seeing the skyline against the orange sky, with the majestic peak peeking through is one of the most breathtaking sites in all of Seattle!
Even if you don’t make it for sunset, or come on an overcast day, it’s still worth coming – the view is still iconic and it will still make for an excellent photo op!
It does tend to get crowded, but you will still get an excellent shot if you’re patient.
Belltown used to be the super gritty, super industrial neighborhood in the city. It was not where you wanted to be. Today, it is the complete opposite – it’s hip and happening and it’s got nightlife galore. It’s a perfect place to spend an evening, which is why you will end your weekend in Seattle here.
You’ll have plenty of dining options here – I’m listing some of my favorites for you below:
- Tavolata: Yes, I mentioned this earlier when I listed dining options in Capitol Hill, and yes, it’s worth mentioning again since there’s a second location in Belltown. You cannot go wrong with the pasta here – some of the best outside of Italy! If you can get here for happy hour (5-7pm), then even better…but it is still well-priced and still worth it otherwise.
- Sushi Kashiba: If you’re looking to treat yourself and you want some of Seattle’s finest sushi, then get the omakase here. Sushi Kashiba is helmed by Shiro Kashiba, one of Seattle’s legendary sushi chefs. Kashiba once trained with Jiro Ono of the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi, so you know that his craftsmanship is unparalleled.
- Umi Sake House: A good choice for solid, fresh sushi at good prices. It is an especially good value if you come for happy hour – they have both an early one (4-6pm) and a late night one (10:30-close). They have an extensive menu of happy hour specials, with everything from nigiri combinations to small plates.
- Serious Pie: Tom Douglas is a local legend, and you can’t go wrong with any of his restaurants. For a casual dinner, grab some wood-fired pizzas at Serious Pie, which has among the best in the city. The sausage is a favorite here!
- The Pink Door: This is a wildly popular spot inside Pike Place Market. I haven’t been, but it has been on my list forever and all my friends who have been have raved about it! Unfortunately, it is popular and reservations are hard to snag. They serve fresh, seafood and produce-driven Italian food in a super fun, lively atmosphere – you can even watch a trapeze or burlesque show with your dinner!
In the mood for a nightcap? I’m going to leave you with these spots!
- Bathtub Gin: One of my favorite bars in Seattle! This speakeasy is kinda hidden and kinda tricky to find (don’t follow the directions, use the entrance in the alley between 1st and 2nd Avenue), but their drinks are well made, creative, and STRONG. The bartenders know what they’re doing here, and are fun to talk to. It’s a tiny spot, so it can get a bit packed at times. Order the dealer’s choice here – pick a spirit and if you’re feeling sweet or sassy, and see what the bartender comes up with.
- Rob Roy: It’s kind of clubby and loungey (not usually my kinda place), but you can find some of the finest cocktails in Belltown here. When I came here, I met tons of loyal fans who have been coming here for YEARS! They have a well curated cocktail menu, featuring both classics and a rotating seasonal selection. They also have an extensive spirits selection, and also serve small plates.
- Zig Zag Cafe: This is inside Pike Place Market and is known to make some of the highest quality cocktails in Seattle. If you ask any bartender in the city where to go for the best cocktails (we have at several bars), they will all recommend this spot!
Have you ever been to Seattle? What would you pick for your weekend in Seattle itinerary?
You might also like:
One Perfect Day in Seattle
Seattle Bucket List
Most Instagrammable Places in Seattle
Incredible Views in Seattle
The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Seattle
12 Things to Do in Seattle
2 Days in Portland, Oregon
The Ultimate Winter Guide to Leavenworth, WA
The Ultimate Guide to Olympic National Park
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Caroline is a Southern California based traveler, writer, and photographer. She travels all around California, the US, and the world in search of the most colorful places, the most delicious food, and bucket-list adventures. Her aim is to inspire other travelers discover how to add more adventure and joy to their lives. On Pictures & Words, you’ll find detailed guides + itineraries, along with vibrant photos to help you plan the the most epic trips. When she’s not traveling, Caroline also runs half marathons.