In the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is known as the emerald city. Having bred both grunge music and Starbucks Coffee, Seattle blends nature, art, and innovation; there’s truly something for everyone.
Indeed, with the stunning sea to sky landscapes, towering skyrise buildings, wicked cool art museums, and breathtaking evergreen forests, there’s an abundance of things to see and do in Seattle. I’ve visited Seattle a handful of times, but there’s still so much I have yet to experience. So how do you decide what to do on a timeline? Say, 48 hours?
Well, to help you out, here is my guide to a fabulous weekend in Seattle. Enjoy!
The Best Time to Visit Seattle
Seattle is infamous for its ever-constant rain, and some travellers are deterred by this prospect. While I personally love the rain (I mean, Washington is called the evergreen state for a reason), I can understand how it discourages sightseeing.
For those hoping to avoid Seattle’s rain, the best time to visit is during Seattle’s high season: from June to August. With average high temperatures ranging from 22°C to 26°C (71-79°F), the weather is warm, sunny, and dry. However, there are several cons to travelling during the high season, like higher costs, lower accommodation availability, and larger crowds.
For those reasons, I believe the best time to visit Seattle is during the shoulder season: from April to May, and September to October. While there is a greater risk of rain, the weather is still lovely, with average high temperatures ranging from to 15°C to 22°C (59-71°F). The shoulder season is additionally great for saving money and avoiding crowds.
The low season is from November to March. This is when the weather is the worst, being both cold and wet. However, this is a great time to visit if you love visiting museums, or if you want to go skiing.
How to Get to Seattle
The easiest way to get to Seattle is by plane. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is 17.7 km (11 miles) from downtown, but the airport is fairly easy to access through train, taxi, and Uber.
Seattle is also accessible by car, bus, and even train. The Amtrak Cascades train line stops in Vancouver (Canada), Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland, so it is a great method of transport if you plan on exploring more of the west coast of the northern United States and southern Canada.
About to leave on a trip? Click here for a comprehensive list of things to do before you leave!
How to Get Around Seattle
Once you have arrived for your weekend in Seattle at the Sea-Tac airport, it is fairly easy to get to downtown Seattle. The cheapest way is to take the link light rail. It is open until 12 to 1 am, the train takes 40 minutes to get from the international airport to downtown, and it costs $3.00. Other options include taking a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or renting a car.
Once you’re in Seattle, it is pretty easy to get around. My favourite way of getting around is by foot, and walking is a great way to explore Seattle’s downtown. However, if the weather is unfavourable, or if you wish to explore more of Seattle’s neighbourhoods, you can also cycle, use public transit, rent a car, hail a taxi, or call an Uber.
For those keen on public transportation, Seattle has a variety of options. A quick tip if you plan on using public transport often: buy an ORCA card. Costing $5, it will allow you to buy an all-day regional transit pass, and it is overall really convenient for hopping on Seattle’s numerous public transport options. These include:
- The Link Light Rail: This can take you all around Seattle, from the Sea-Tac airport to the University of Washington. Tickets typically cost $2.25-$3.25 per trip.
- The King County Metro Transit: This bus service can take you around downtown Seattle, and to the King County neighbourhood. Tickets typically cost $2.75-$3.25 per trip.
- Streetcars: With both a South Lake Union and First Hill line, streetcars are a convenient way of exploring more of Seattle’s neighbourhoods. Tickets typically cost $2.25 per trip.
- The Monorail: Finally, the monorail is a quick and convenient way of getting from downtown Seattle to the Seattle Center. Tickets typically cost $3.00 per trip.
Budgeting for Seattle
Your budget for a weekend in Seattle is completely dependent on how much you’re willing to spend.
On the cheap, backpacking end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay around $180 USD for a weekend (not including flights). This is if you stay at the cheapest accommodation, use public transport, eat cheap food, but still visit some of the attractions (which I recommend). However, you can go cheaper by skipping the museums and costly activities. And hey, if you want some tips on how to travel on a budget, click here!
At a mid-range budget, you can expect to pay around $320 USD for a weekend (not including flights). This is if you stay in a cheap, private room, eat out, pay for the tourist attractions, but still use public transport.
Top 10 Things to Do in Seattle
- Wander around the Pike Place Market. First opened in 1907, the Pike Place public market is the #1 place to go in Seattle. With cute boutique shops and fresh produce, it is a great area to browse around! Other things to do include taking a picture at the gum wall, and visiting the “first” Starbucks (it is actually the second Starbucks, but the first one no longer exists).
- Marvel at Seattle from above from the Space Needle. One of Seattle’s most distinctive landmarks, the space needle symbolizes Seattle’s innovative spirit. Visit its saucer-shaped top for 360° views of Seattle.
- Explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. One of the coolest art museums I’ve visited, it showcases the beautiful and brilliant glass blowing work of Dale Chihuly.
- Visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). With exhibits on the Seattle Sound (aka grunge music), science fiction, and horror films, this museum is truly dedicated to pop culture. Furthermore, with fascinating, in-depth displays on both Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, it is a great stop for all rock music-enthusiasts.
- Stop by Pioneer Square. The heart of old Seattle, Pioneer Square is a rustic neighbourhood showcasing Seattle’s early history. With cute shops, delicious eateries, and beautiful murals, this is a great place to peruse around after a long day of sightseeing.
- Have a photoshoot at Kerry Park. While the park itself is tiny, its allure is the incredible views you can get of the Seattle skyline, Elliot Bay, and even occasionally Mount Rainier.
- Enjoy the views from the Seattle Great Wheel. While the space needle also offers incredible views of Seattle, the Seattle Great Wheel is perfect for admiring the water. I also recommend taking this time to explore pier 57, which houses a vintage carousel and a game arcade.
- Peruse around The Museum of Flight, the world’s largest, non-profit air and space museum. Housing the original Boeing Aircraft factory, flight simulators, and a NASA Space Shuttle trainer, this is a great stop for everyone who’s fascinated with flight!
- Relax in South Lake Union. A lake in the middle of Seattle, it is a great place to kick back and watch the boats and seaplanes. With a few museums littered around the lake, and the ability to rent a paddleboard or kayak, it is easy to spend a whole afternoon in this scenic neighbourhood.
- Take a Day trip to Mount Rainier. While this technically isn’t in Seattle, this majestic volcano is an unmissable sight. It only takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive from Seattle to Mount Rainier, and with so many adventurous activities you can embark on year-round, it is well worth the cost!
Top Places to Eat in Seattle
With Seattle being a multi-cultural port city surrounded by ocean, lakes, and fertile soil, it boasts an incredible food scene. These are must-try places during your weekend in Seattle.
Here are a few suggestions for where to eat:
Porkchop and Co.: For a relaxing brunch, Porkchop and Co. is the way to go. A café with a neighbourhood feel, their food is handcrafted and made from scratch. I recommend trying their bagel sandwiches and poached eggs.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: With a few locations scattered around Seattle (but the most prominent one being in Pike Place Market), Beecher’s is renown for their incredible cheese. While there’s no dine-in service, their macaroni and cheese are spectacular. I also recommend trying their grilled cheese sandwich.
The Pink Door: An Italian restaurant with incredible seafood, fresh ingredients, charming décor, and a welcoming atmosphere, The Pink Door is a complete gem. Remember to reserve in advance!
Top Places to Drink in Seattle
– The Pine Box: Nestled in Capitol Hill, The Pine Box is a cool bar with an extensive beer list, housed in the former funeral business. With cathedral ceilings and a relaxing atmosphere, it is a great place to sit back after a long day of sightseeing.
– Revolver Tavern: A cool, relaxing bar in Capitol Hill, the Revolver Tavern is a great place for music lovers. With a wall of vinyl records, good booze, a laid-back atmosphere, and friendly staff, I definitely recommend checking out this bar.
– Sunset Tavern: If you prefer listening to live music, then the Sunset Tavern is the place to go. A laid-back bar that hosts a variety of bands, this tavern has friendly staff, decent drinks, and an upbeat atmosphere.
– Unicorn: Another bar nestled in Capitol Hill, Unicorn offers something completely different. With carnival-themed decorations and food, it features an arcade, a photo booth, a claw machine, and awesome weekly events (including live music). Unicorn is definitely the bar to check out!
There are some amazing bars and pubs to explore during your weekend in Seattle.
Where to Stay in Seattle
With so many neighbourhoods scattered around Seattle, there are a variety of areas to stay in. While the downtown and waterfront areas are the best, both location-wise and scenery-wise, it is more expensive. Other areas to stay in include Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and the University District.
Here are a few accommodation options, and their price points:
– Hostel: Stay in a mixed dorm room at the Green Tortoise Seattle Hostel for $34 a night.
– Airbnb: The average cost for 2 people per night is around $180. However, it is fairly easy to find a cheaper room, based on location and amenities.
– Hotel: For a double room, the price can go as low as $90 a night.
Thompson Seattle – £190
Inn at the Market – £185
Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Seattle – £142
Seattle Marriott Waterfront – £151
The Westin Seattle – £119
The State Hotel – £97
Historic loft in Pioneer Square – £110 per night
Enjoy your weekend in Seattle!
Author Bio: Mia is a Canadian with a passion for hiking and exploring the world on foot. She is currently working abroad in Japan and runs the successful travel blog Walk a While with Me, where she shares her tips and guides for travelling around the world. Follow Mia adventures on Instagram too!
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
To book flights, I always use flight search engine Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals.
For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through Booking.com. I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up with Airbnb already, you can use this link to get £25 off your first visit!
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