Seattle has been one of the fastest growing cities in the country for the past 10 years, and for good reason! The locals appreciate Seattle’s natural beauty and easy access to both the mountains and the sea. The city is also known for its art, culture and fresh, innovative cuisine. Beyond downtown, Seattle’s unique, quirky neighborhoods are each worth exploring. Here are our top recommendations, including fun, must-see attractions and our ultimate INNSider tips.
Day 1: Explore Downtown Seattle
Downtown Seattle is home to cultural icons, unique shops, and delicious, fresh seafood. Spend a day in this gorgeous area along the waterfront, where city skyscrapers meet the crisp blue Elliott Bay.
What to Do in Downtown Seattle
Pike Place Market
You can’t visit Seattle without a stop to the historic Pike Place Market, so that’s #1 on our list.
Embrace your tourist dreams with a stop at Pike Place Fish to watch the employees toss the salmon. Sample top-rated local cuisine, like Pike Chowder and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, shop for locally made arts and crafts, and buy amazingly fresh and inexpensive local blooms from Pike Place Flowers.
INNSider Tip: Stop and get a selfie with your chewing gum at Seattle’s weirdest attraction, the Gum Wall in the Post Alley at the Pike Place Market.
Elliott Bay Waterfront
From the Market, it’s an easy walk down the steps to the bustling waterfront along Elliott Bay. Visit the Seattle Aquarium or take a narrated cruise along the harbor and through the Ballard Locks. Ride high in the sky in your private car on the Seattle Great Wheel. Finish the day with dinner and a view at Matt’s in the Market or local seafood icon Ivar’s.
Cheer at a Pro Sports Game
You can’t beat taking in a baseball game at scenic T-Mobile Park, formerly Safeco Field (and possibly already called something else when you’re reading this). Even if the Mariners lose (which happens often), the views of downtown and the waterfront are incredible from the stadium’s upper level. Moreover, the food stands have lots of local and unique choices, and there’s even a huge retractable roof that can be closed if it starts to rain.
Not a baseball fan? Seattle has lots of professional sports to enjoy, including the Seattle Seahawks football team and Seattle Sounders soccer team. In 2022, the new Climate Change Arena at Seattle Center opens with a brand new hockey team, Kraken, as well as the top-ranked WNBA team Seattle Storm.
Day 2: Queen Anne & Capitol Hill Neighborhoods
Located close to downtown, Capitol Hill & Queen Anne are two of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Queen Anne is famous for its beautiful views of downtown and Puget Sound, while Capitol Hill is home to mansions and the historic Volunteer Park. These neighborhoods provide a perfect mix of famous Seattle attractions and lesser-known local favorites.
What to Do in the Capitol Hill Neighborhood
Start the day with a visit to the Willy Wonka-esque Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Next, explore Volunteer Park and stroll around one of the city’s oldest, prettiest neighborhoods.
INNSider tip: Duck into Elliott Bay Book Company for respite from the hustle and bustle of Seattle.
What to Do in the Queen Anne Neighborhood
Head to Queen Anne to gaze at the view from the Space Needle, the symbol of Seattle built for the 1962 World’s Fair. At the base of the Space Needle, ogle the beautiful works of art at local legend Dale Chihuly’s Garden & Glass.
After that, soak in the view at Kerry Park, a tiny park with a famous view of Seattle as seen on TV’s Frasier, and wrap up the day with an incredible dinner. Choose a meal on a Capitol Hill rooftop garden, like Terra Plata or Manmoon, or enjoy the expansive menu at Queen Anne’s Toulouse Petit.
INNSider Tip: Check out our top 10 bucket list day hikes from Seattle if you’re interested in tackling challenging trails with rewarding views!
Day 3: Neighborhoods North of Downtown – Green Lake, Fremont, Woodland Park, and Ballard
In the late 1800s, downtown Seattleites escaped the city to northern neighborhoods via the popular cross-town trolley. Most of the area was developed by 1920. Located 5 miles north of downtown, Green Lake is one of Seattle’s most beloved parks. In fact, it was created by the Olmsted Brothers, who developed Central Park in New York City. From Green Lake Park, you can easily walk right over to Woodland Park.
Originally the site of homesteaders, Woodland Park is now the site of a large, impressive zoo. Funky Fremont, also known to locals as “the Center of the Universe,” is located next to Ballard, along Seattle’s ship canal. West of Green Lake, Ballard is a former fishing village with Scandinavian roots. Now, the area is a trendy waterfront neighborhood with popular restaurants, bars, and craft breweries.
INNSider tip: Woodinville, a city just northeast of Seattle is another great spot to visit. The area boasts more than 100 wineries and opportunities for outdoor adventures, like hot air ballooning, bicycling, and hiking. Check out our Woodinville page for more information!
What to Do North of Downtown
Stroll the 2.8-mile loop around the park with the locals at the beautiful Green Lake Park. Then, head to the top-rated Woodland Park Zoo to see jaw-dropping animal exhibits. Stop by the “Funky Fremont” neighborhood, and stop to see the Fremont Troll statue under the Aurora Bridge. Then, snag a pre-lunch sample at the locally owned, organic and fair trade Theo Chocolate tasting room.
Take a picnic lunch from your inn to watch boats go through the historic Ballard Locks from the terraced lawn. Then, walk under the locks to the fish ladder viewing window to see salmon. Wander through the beautiful, blossoming Botanical Garden as well. To round out the day, go window shopping and grab a bite to eat on historic Ballard Avenue.
INNSider Tip: Looking for more movement? Rent kayaks or stand up paddleboards on a guided tour at Ballard Kayak at Shilshole Bay.
Day 4: Pioneer Square & Ferry to Bainbridge Island
Visit historic Pioneer Square, the birthplace of Seattle. Located along the waterfront and known as the first neighborhood of the city, Pioneer Square offers many points of interest and easy access to the city’s ferry terminal.
What to Do in Pioneer Square
Go back in time to the Gold Rush on the Beneath the Streets Tour, where you’ll see what was underground the streets over 100 years ago. Slow down and window shop in historic Pioneer Square.
Next, hop on one of Seattle’s iconic car ferries, and travel to nearby Bainbridge Island while enjoying views of downtown. From the ferry landing, stroll through downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island or drive to the gorgeous Bloedel Reserve Estate and Gardens for a stroll through nature.
INNSider Tip: If you don’t plan to drive around the island, pedestrians are also welcome on the ferry. The boat comes about every 40 minutes and takes about 30 minutes each way.
Day 5: Southwest Seattle
Explore the Southwest
The world-class Museum of Flight never disappoints. With a variety of airplane galleries, the original red barn where Boeing began, and a space shuttle trainer, there is something for everyone.
INNSider Tip: After the museum, drive just 7 minutes to the beautiful Kubota Japanese Garden.
Wrap up the day soaking up the sun and sand at Alki Beach. Rent bicycles, enjoy views of the city, and swim in the crisp Puget Sound. There are many delicious, local dining options in the neighborhood, including Salty’s on Alki, Marination Mai Kai, Duke’s Seafood, and Alki Spud Fish & Chips.