How to have a packed two days in Seattle without overdoing it.
I was ecstatic as I left the city of Portland behind me. I had two days in Seattle and the city was calling me to its shores. I was happy to oblige for a weekend away exploring more of the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle was one of those spur of the moment decisions. It wasn’t until about a week before that I decided I was definitely going to head further north and check out a new city in the Pacific Northwest. The simple joys of having a car again after mostly living abroad without one.
The drive up to the city was three hours in total, and I was surprised to find sunny and, dare I say, warm blue skies welcoming me as I drove toward the skyscrapers in the distance. The nice weather would last throughout my two days in Seattle, clouding up again on the day I left.
Without having much planned, I was astounded at the number of sights I was able to fit into my two day Seattle itinerary. It didn’t feel overly rushed, I guess because I knew I didn’t want to fit everything into this trip, so I still managed to have a relaxing time.
The reason I was able to see so much of Seattle in two days, and the aspect I like so much about Seattle, is the walkability and convenient proximity of the city’s most popular attractions.
I was able to squeeze in A LOT around the city because I stuck to two main areas – Pike Place Market & the Seattle Center. I enjoyed the best activities in a short amount of time without overdoing it or feeling overwhelmed.
Here is a good overview of what to do in Seattle in two days!
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Pike Place Market
Perhaps the most famous attraction of all in Seattle, besides the Space Needle – Pike Place Market. The market is popular for good reason with its never-ending stalls and attractions. Pike Place Market is a must see in Seattle.
The market opened in 1907 and is one of the oldest continuous farmer’s markets in America, with multi-levels of kitschy shops, fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, and every souvenir you could imagine. You could easily spend a whole day here if you’re so inclined.
Recommended Experience: Food and Cultural Walking Tour of Pike Place Market
It’s a great place to start out a weekend in Seattle and do some people watching.
The guys that work behind the fish market have to be the most hilarious people at Pike Place. They’re constantly joking with customers and trying to scare people with dead fish. They do their famous fish tossing routine on a regular basis.
Mariner’s Baseball Game
The hostel I was staying at, the Green Tortoise, was hosting an outing to a Mariner’s game my first night in Seattle, so of course I had to join in on the fun! The only professional baseball games I’d been to previously were at AT&T Park to watch the San Francisco Giants because I grew up going to the games with my dad.
It was a nice change to experience a different ballpark and cheer on a new team (even though I’m a Giant’s fan for life).
Sadly, the Seattle Mariner’s lost to the Houston Astros that night, but it was such an all-American outing, with garlic fries included. It was hard not to have a good time.
The Original Starbucks
Did you know that the founders of Starbucks were inspired by Peet’s Coffee to open their own store? They even bought beans from Peet’s when first starting out.
I know this because I used to work at Peet’s and I’ve never been a huge Starbucks fan. That is until I moved to Portland where you can’t help but be inundated with Starbucks on every single corner. It has grown to be an endearing spot for me to work now, especially with their quality WiFi.
Anyway, I digress. Starbucks, as any fan of the chain should know, started in Seattle in 1971. Visiting the “original Starbucks” is a great activity to add to two perfect days in Seattle.
Although this location across from Pikes Place Market is called the “Original Starbucks” there was actually an even earlier location north of the waterfront. That place no longer exists; however, so technically this is the oldest Starbucks still standing.
There was a constant line out the door while I was there, but I decided to brave it my second morning just to buy a drink from the semi-original location. It’s easily one of the most popular things to do in Seattle, and one of many proud points of the city’s successful history.
Recommended Experience: Seattle’s Coffee Crawl
Piroshky Piroshky Bakery
The name of this Russian bakery kept popping up everywhere when I read a few blog posts on Seattle before I left. Located right next to the original Starbucks, Piroshki Piroshki is meant to be the best bakery in the city and a must try if you have a couple of days in Seattle.
I had never been to a Russian bakery before this trip, but I was pleasantly surprised with their sweet and savory choices and friendly staff, even with the huge line out the door. This is a great place to come for a light and unique breakfast to try favorite Russian delicacies.
The Pike Brewing Company
I had to get in at least one brewery during my two days in Seattle. I was bummed I didn’t get to try more, but I’m happy I was at least able to get to the popular Pike Brewing Company, right next to Pike Place Market and across the street from my hostel.
It was recommended to me from local blogger, Marissa at Postcards to Seattle, and I was not disappointed.
The interior was huge and funky and the beer refreshing and just unique enough.
With such a large space, they use a gravity-fed brewing system to brew their beer. It’s not something you come across often, and it was cool to be greeted by the gravity brewing system as you walk into the foyer.
Museum of Pop Culture
My favorite attraction during my two days in Seattle was the Museum of Pop Culture (previously known as the EMP Museum). It’s a huge interactive complex filled with music & film history and new exhibits all the time.
As you walk in, there’s a huge screen that fills up the auditorium sized-wall behind it and plays a random mix of media. It’s impressive to say the least.
My favorite piece of art at the museum is the Trimpin Guitar Sculpture. It goes up multiple stories and is made out of more than 500 different musical instruments.
You can actually listen to music played by the sculpture through headphones at the base. It’s an amazing feat of creativity and ingenuity and only sets the tone for the rest of the museum.
I walked through everything from an indie video game revolution exhibit, to various historical memorabilia from some of the most popular musical greats that came from Seattle, such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, the whole grunge-era groups, and, of course, Macklemore.
I also made sure to see the fantasy, horror and sci-fi rooms with costumes, themes, and interactive videos from some of the most influential movies over the years from those genres.
If you are trying to experience Seattle in two days or you only have one day in Seattle and only want to experience one museum while you’re in the city, this would be the one to see, especially if you’re into music or film.
Both the International Fountain and the Museum of Pop Culture are part of the Seattle Center, as is the Space Needle.
I didn’t actually pay the extortionate price to go to the top of the Space Needle – there are better views of the city at a lesser price and I had already been on a previous trip – but walking to the International Fountain from the Museum of Pop Culture was the perfect way to get every angle of the Space Needle from below.
The International Fountain is simply a fun place to hang out on a nice day. The fountain was built for the World’s Fair, but it has since been completely replaced and expanded on.
Sometimes the water is timed to music and it’s a hoot to run through it and dance in the sunshine, especially if you have little ones with you or you’re just a kid at heart.
Speaking of the best views in the city that don’t cost a dime, Kerry Park is one of those spots. As a bonus, you actually get the Space Needle in your pictures, which is great since it’s the most iconic feature in Seattle.
Kerry Park is a bit of a hike to get to if you’re walking from the city, but once you get to the top you’re rewarded with a 180-degree view of the expansive city, Mount Rainier, and the harbor.
It was the most stunning view I found in Seattle, and I just happened to time my arrival for sunset. It was a pretty perfect moment.
Olympic Sculpture Park
On my last night in Seattle, after enjoying the view at Kerry Park, I walked down along the waterfront on my way back to the hostel.
I soon found the Olympic Sculpture Park, which is part of the Seattle Art Museum. It’s a free park to walk through and a great place to watch the sunset.
I tried to spot as many unconventional sculptures as possible before I was kicked out of the park at sundown.
I love how the colorful and artsy sculptures only make the stunning surroundings looking out over the harbor that much more attractive and beautiful.
What To See Next Time
- Gum Wall – I can’t believe I forgot to check this out! The gum wall is located just under Pike Place Market and is exactly what it sounds, a wall full of used gum. Yeah, kind of gross…but kind of cool too, right? They took it down at one point, but apparently it’s back in action!
- Capitol Hill – The alternative, slightly hipster part of Seattle. Capitol Hill has some of the best local hangouts, nightlife, and boutiques in the city. I finally had a chance to see it a year after I originally wrote this post, and it quickly became one of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods.
Recommended Experience: Capital Hill Neighborhood Tour
- More Breweries – I only went to Pike Brewing Company, but there is such a great craft beer scene in Seattle. The major ones I missed that I would love to drink at would be Elysian, Pyramid, Epic, and Fremont.
- Chihuly Garden and Glass – I went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum when I was in the city once before, looking at colleges with my dad, and I remember it being a really beautiful and interesting museum of blown glass. It would be worth going back to as I wasn’t the best traveler at the age of 17 and probably missed out on some of the best aspects.
- Bainbridge Island Ferry – I’ve heard this is one of the best day trips from Seattle and also provides you with a great view of the city from the harbor. It’s at the top of my ‘weekend in Seattle itinerary’ for my next time!
- Short Road Trip around Washington State – Once I get my fill of Seattle, I’d love to spend a few days traveling to less well known destinations around Washington. One example – Mel’s Hole. About an hour and 45 minutes outside of Seattle, Mel’s Hole is shrouded in mystery and is a great little road trip stop to see a random chasm that’s in the middle of a sleepy town called Ellensburg. That’s just one example, but there are many unique attractions to be found around Washington that I’d love to experience for myself.
Where to Stay in Seattle
Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons stunning 5-star downtown hotel is the perfect luxury accommodation in Seattle. The rooms are styled with modern Northwest decor and have marble bathrooms with rain showers.
The hotel offers guests a full spa, gym, hot tub, steam room, rooftop pool, and outdoor fireplace. Guests can indulge at the on-site restaurant, the Goldfinch Tavern. The hotel is a five-minute walk from Pike Places Market and the Seattle Art Museum.
Staypineapple at The Maxwell Hotel
The Staypineapple at The Maxwell Hotel is located within walking distance of the Seattle Space Needle and has easy access to downtown Seattle. The Maxwell Hotel is a colorful, unique hotel that embodies the spirit of the city.
Rooms are decorated in bold colors and come with designer toiletries, walk-in showers, and iHome Bluetooth docking station. The hotel offers guest bike rentals and complimentary coffee and cupcakes in the afternoon.
HI Seattle American Hostel
The HI Seattle American Hostel is a great budget-friendly accommodation in Seattle. The hostel is located in Chinatown-International District of Seattle and is two blocks from a convenient bus stop.
All of the dorm-style rooms have lockers to place your belongings. HI Seattle offers guests a shared kitchen, library, TV room, WIFI, and free continental breakfast. The hostel is open 24-hours.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR SEATTLE
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your Seattle Travel Guide here.
Discover more fun activities that you can enjoy on your next trip to Washington with these blog posts!
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