3 Days in Seattle (Itinerary and Unique Things to Do)
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Do you only have 3 days in Seattle? Don’t waste any time doing the boring sightseeing everyone else does!
Instead, try out all of the unusual and weird things to do in Seattle by following our special curated Seattle itinerary; 3 days in the Emerald City!
3 DAYS IN SEATTLE ITINERARY CONTENTS
If you decide to visit this incredible city in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, one thing is for sure – you will never regret that decision.
Seattle is everything a modern city should be: open, inviting, and very diverse. But it also has loads of unique features, from its location which is surrounded by absolutely stunning nature to fantastic architecture. In fact, some of the sights here are famous all over the world.
Three days will be enough to cover most of that without any stress, but the vibe of the city will make you want to stay there a lot longer.
To be more efficient and to experience the city to the fullest, you would do well to make plans ahead of time, and that’s exactly what this Seattle 3-day itinerary will help you with. Read on and see where you should go!
Must-See Things to do in Seattle, Washington
Here are the attractions that really should be on anyone’s list when they come to this great city.
Explore Pike Place Market
One of your three days in Seattle should start at Pike Place Market, one of the oldest markets in the entire country and one of the most famous places in the whole city.
The market first opened in 1907 and has been working continuously ever since, but what really made it famous is the way they treat fish around here. Fish vendors often throw the fish around to each other only and then skilfully wrap it for their customers, and they make quite a spectacle out of it.
This is certainly something you have to experience if you’re in the city for the first time because it’s a quintessentially Seattle activity.
Make sure you don’t miss the legendary Pike Place Chowder, an eatery that is famous for its traditional and specialty chowders. All you foodies out there, make sure you remember the name of this place!
However, the market has a lot more to offer than just flying fish. You can also visit Rachel the Piggy Bank and rub her nose for good luck (a donation there will be greatly appreciated), or check out the famous gum wall – a seriously weird tourist attraction with a great “stick it to the man” story behind it.
Check out the crafts market for some beautiful souvenirs (the market’s lower levels are also a great place for this) and enjoy the wonderful smells of the bars and restaurants that surround you.
Grab some breakfast or maybe even brunch for a fantastic start to your 3-day Seattle itinerary.
≫ Do a Pike Place Market Food Tour
Grab Some Coffee at the First-Ever Starbucks
If you want a cup of coffee, you may want to know that Pike Place Market is where the first Starbucks ever was opened.
It’s a small place, so it’s easy to miss, but you can get the directions at the info booth. In any case, a morning here will send all your senses into overdrive, and you will quickly pick up on Seattle’s vibe and feel full of energy for the day ahead.
Climb the Space Needle
Just three blocks east from Pike Place Market is the Westlake Center, where you can board the monorail and be at Seattle’s biggest architectural attraction within minutes – the Space Needle.
This futuristic tower is something everyone will visit even if they only have one day in Seattle. It was built for the 1962 World Fair and stands exactly 605 feet (184 meters) tall.
It has an observation deck that can be visited if you purchase tickets and provides an absolutely mesmerizing view, but plan ahead for this as the lines can be quite long.
The Needle has a restaurant of its own, just under the observation deck, which has recently undergone a thorough renovation and now features a see-through floor.
It is also not exactly a budget-friendly restaurant, so if you don’t want to spend a lot on lunch there are plenty of fine places scattered just around the Needle, so you definitely won’t be hungry.
≫ Combo Ticket: Seattle CityPASS – Admission to all Seattle’s top attractions.
Relax in Golden Gardens Park
The best way to enjoy some peace and quiet in nature around here is to head to Golden Gardens Park, which is just over a mile (about 2 km) northwest of the locks.
It’s a wonderful (and quite big) patch of greenery where you can thoroughly relax and enjoy some recreational activities.
Or you can just hit the sandy beach there and enjoy the sun and the ocean. Naturally, you can also go swimming here, and there’s even a dog park on the premises if you decided to bring your pooch along.
Ride the Seattle Great Wheel
Head to the piers for some excellent seafood. There are plenty of places to choose from there, but even if you’re not a seafood lover there are still some great choices. Bars, bistros, restaurants… they’re all there, as are many Seattleites who love coming to the waterfront.
Another reason why you should come to the Seattle waterfront is the Seattle Great Wheel. It was only built in 2012, but its popularity sky-rocketed right from its opening, and today this is one of the most visited attractions in Seattle.
It’s a very pleasant ride, as the cabins are all air-conditioned, and the view from the top, especially when you see the distant mountains, is just mesmerizing.
With three full turns of the wheel, you will be able to see quite well why this place is also sometimes called the Emerald City – it glitters with green!
You can hit the ride before or after lunch, but the point is that Seattle piers have plenty to offer.
Visit the Pacific Science Centre
Seattle has plenty of cultural venues and museums to offer, and the Pacific Science Centre is one of the best examples of the latter category. You probably noticed it when you were visiting Space Needle because it’s right next to it and it has those big impressive arches in front of it.
This is a great place for the whole family, so no matter if you have toddlers with you or if your kids are in their teens, they will have a blast. From live exhibits to VR experiences, the museum really has it all, including a great laser dome and an IMAX theatre.
On top of that, various events are organized here regularly, so you definitely won’t regret spending a couple of hours on the museum’s premises.
≫ Check out the admission prices here: Pacific Science Center General Exhibit
Explore the Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum is something you certainly don’t want to miss. This fine institution deserves to be on every list of things to visit in Seattle, especially because it got a complete renovation in 2007 and about a billion dollars worth of art to go along with it.
Thousands of pieces of various forms of art are on display here, from Ancient American art to modern and contemporary pieces, from photos to jewelry, there is a whole lot to enjoy. Apart from permanent exhibits, there are always some special exhibitions you can see too, and the museum is generally quite a lively place.
About a mile north is Olympic Sculpture Park, a large patch of greenery with some huge works of art out in the open. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have the time. Oh, and if you happen to come here on the first Thursday of the month, the entrance will be free!
Paint the Town Red in Ballard
In the evening, head to the part of town known as Ballard for a taste of Seattle nightlife. The area is right next to Fremont, so you won’t have to go very far, and this neighborhood is a great place to relax if you want to just chill out and enjoy because it’s quite lively here, but never too crowded.
It’s a perfect combination of a great night out and a great atmosphere. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from, plus Ballard is also quite famous for its microbreweries.
While you’re in Ballard, check out the real-life Up House. The Edith Macefield House is now empty but it remains a tourist attraction after Edith famously refused to sell her house to developers; resulting in the entire house being surrounded by a huge, concrete development that makes the house look almost miniature in comparison!
With a bit of luck, you will stumble upon one of the numerous festivals that are held in Ballard regularly and get another great option for your evening stroll.
Hip, open, lively, and with something for just about everyone, this part of the town is a perfect way to bring a day of your Seattle trip to a close.
Take Your Loved One on a Romantic Cruise
In the evening, you have plenty of great options for a night out in Seattle. One thing to keep in mind though, especially if you’re here with your significant other, is that you can book yourself a dinner cruise and enjoy for a couple of hours as your ship glides across Lake Union and/or Lake Washington.
Great food is usually accompanied by excellent local wines, and getting a good view of Seattle at night when you’re on a boat is really an unforgettable experience.
If you’re looking for a romantic way to spend an evening in Seattle, this is really hard to beat.
≫ Or, how about a day cruise with champagne?
Make a Seattle Day Trip
Day two of your 3-day Seattle itinerary is probably the best time for a day trip if you were thinking of doing something like that.
The Canadian border and the city of Vancouver beyond it can be reached relatively effortlessly, plus the Olympic Mountains are close to Seattle.
But if you’re staying in the city, the best thing to do is to pick up where you left off yesterday.
≫ Check out this Full-Day Olympic National Park Tour with a Naturalist Guide!
Weird Things to do in Seattle, WA
Visits to these places guarantee a fantastically unique three-day Seattle trip.
Meet the Fremont Troll
Your 3 days in Seattle should definitely include doing something fun! But what if you can also avoid all those touristy places? Straight north from the Needle, just across the bridge, is the part of Seattle called Fremont, and there are two main reasons why you should visit it.
The first is the Fremont Troll, a massive statue under one of the bridges (look for Troll Avenue to find it), and a great photo-op for every traveler visiting this wonderful city.
The other reason is called Add-a-Ball Amusements Bar and Arcade (36th Street and Phinney Avenue). This place has loads of great arcades and pinball machines ready for you to enjoy, plus you can get yourself a drink and enjoy the great atmosphere.
Locals often come here to unwind, so you will get a more authentic vibe here, enjoy yourself for just 50 cents a game and get to know Seattle just a little bit better. The only caveat is that you have to be at least 21 years old.
≫ Find out the Fremont Troll History on a Tour
Watch Salmon Climb a Ladder
Ballard has a lot more to offer than just great nightlife, and if the name sounded familiar to you it’s probably because of its famous Ballard Locks.
Spending some time watching the locks work (they are used to help boats cross the canal) can be very interesting, but there is something arguably even more interesting just nearby – a salmon ladder.
Yes, with a bit of luck you can see these fish jumping up the ladder to get to the lake beyond it, or you can simply enter the room below the ladder for a close-up view.
All of this is completely free and if you have kids along with you they will love every second of the visit.
≫ Get to Ballard Locks via a Locks Cruise
An afternoon on your three-day trip to Seattle would be well spent if you go on an underground tour. You can find them fairly close to the piers, so once again you won’t have to go very far. You literally go below the surface to see a completely different Seattle!
There is plenty of interesting stuff belowground, and it’s quite interesting to see how well some things are preserved and what Seattle looked like when it was just founded.
Old streets and storefronts will bring you back to a different time, and the fact that you are under the surface will give the whole thing a slightly eerie and dark note.
You will learn about the city’s history this way, but there are several different tours you can book, from purely educational to ghost tours for some really spooky stories.
No matter which one you book, though, you will be in for a treat and quite a fascinating experience.
≫ Explore Seattle’s Underground History on a Tour
Visit a Karaoke Bar
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more energetic and fun(ny), head to Rock Box, a very popular karaoke bar.
It is located about one mile east of Pike Place Market and this is a great way to have loads of laughs if you’re visiting with a bunch of friends, especially since all the tunes can be sung in multiple languages.
The club is modeled after Japanese karaoke bars, which brings everything to a whole new level, so with loads of interesting drinks (including saké) and good company, the night will simply fly by.
Visit One of Seattle’s Most Unique Places
Use one afternoon of your 3 days in Seattle to check out a few more things that make this place so charmingly unique. If you haven’t bought a souvenir already, pick one up at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop back at the piers, a place with loads of cool and weird antiques, including a pair of real mummies.
However, what is certainly my favorite of all weird things in Seattle is The Official Bad Art Museum of Art. OBAMA is located in a cafe called Cafe Racer, so you can enjoy a nice drink and a good laugh as you check out the hideous pieces hanging on the walls.
Yes, it’s a bit longer drive to reach it if you’re eating in Capitol Hill, but the journey is pretty straightforward and you will easily find the cafe.
Just head along the I-5 highway if you have a car with you. But if you don’t; the LINK Light Rail can take you a nice chunk of the way there in minutes.
Explore an Epic Carnival-Themed Pub
A whimsy and macabre off-the-wall paradise of nostalgia that resembles the extremity of the carnival circus atmosphere. The Unicorn Narwhal bar is probably most famous for its claw machine filled with X-rated sex-toy prizes!
But that’s not all you can do at this extremely outgoing adults-only gay bar.
How about a round of strip poker? Or have a try at one of the many arcade games in the basement? Have a mouth explosion with one of the crazy cocktail specials; like the Watermelon Pucker – sure to give you flashbacks of eating warheads at school!
Take some pics to remember your night in one of the photobooths or play one of the best Mrs. Pac-Man cabinets in all the land.
Play Mini-Golf at the Flatstick Pub
You could do a lot worse than spending an evening at the Flatstick Pub, which has several mini-golf holes and a bunch of other huge games like Jenga.
The atmosphere is fantastic as the place can get quite busy and everybody’s here to have a good time.
Add to that a fine selection of craft beers and some great pizza to go along with it, and you’re in for a night of laughter and great fun with your friends.
Without a doubt, this is a fantastic way to wrap up your visit to this incredible city. Surely, you will be back for more.
3-Day Itinerary: Seattle, Washington
Want to know how to fit everything in Seattle in 3 days? This is how to do it!
Sure, it may take getting up early at times, but it will be well worth it. Check this out!
DAY 1 | Cover the Main Attractions
08:00 | Get up early and come to Pike Place Market to see the fish-flinging action. The market bell will sound at 9, but some businesses will be open way before that. Explore the market thoroughly.
10:00 | Stop for a coffee at the world’s first Starbucks.
11:00 | Head to the Space Needle and grab some lunch after checking out the view.
16:00 | Explore Fremont and go find the Fremont Troll.
20:00 | Go for a drink in Ballard after visiting the real-life Up House.
DAY 2 | Enjoy Seattle’s Nature
NOTE: This is a good time for a day trip to Canada to see Vancouver City or the Olympic Mountains. But if you’re staying in Seattle, keep reading.
09:00 | Visit the Ballard Locks and see the salmon ladder.
10:30 | Relax at Golden Gardens Park.
12:00 | Hit the waterfront for some lunch and a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel.
16:00 | Go on one of many underground tours to learn about Seattle’s history.
19:00 | Enjoy a dinner cruise on the water.
22:00 | Head to a Japanese-inspired karaoke bar.
DAY 3 | Explore Seattle’s Cultural Institutions
10:00 | See the Pacific Science Centre.
12:00 | Visit the Seattle Art Museum.
14:30 | Lunch. With institutions like these, the morning will simply fly by, so you will be looking for a place to have lunch by now. If you don’t want to go back to any of the places you visited yesterday and the day before but want to try something new, Capitol Hill (the neighborhood in which the previously mentioned Rock Box is located) is close to Olympic Sculpture Park and offers a variety of great restaurants. As a matter of fact, many consider this to be the best place to eat in the city.
16:00 | Explore some seriously unique places in Seattle.
The Best Time to Visit Seattle, WA
The best time of year to travel to Seattle is between July to October if you’re after sunny skies without the rain. During these months there are loads of outdoor events and festivals.
If these peak travel times don’t tickle your fancy; April and May are also mild and offer great sightseeing weather.
Transportation Around Seattle
LINK Light Rail connects all central locations and the airport in Seattle. Tickets can be purchased from $2.25 to $3.50 depending on how far you travel (round trips aren’t cheaper). The Link Rail generally operates 365 days per year between 5 am and 1 am.
The Monorail provides transport between downtown Seattle and the 1962 Seattle Worlds Fair (Seattle Center). It takes 2 minutes and costs $3.00 for the ride.
The King County Metro has 220 routes that cover pretty much the entire city. Tickets cost around $2.75 one way.
The King County Water Taxi connects riders between Downtown Seattle, West Seattle, and Vashon Island across the waters. One ride costs $5.75.
Best Places to Stay in Seattle, WA
Want somewhere memorable to stay in the Emerald City? These are the best places to stay in Seattle for travelers on a budget or wanting unique accommodation in Seattle.
Overlooking Lake Union
Get amongst the way of life in Seattle. Stay in this beautiful 4 bedroom family home, 1.5 miles away from the center of Seattle, which overlooks Lake Union. Complete with all the amenities and a patio to entertain whilst looking over the water.
Ace Hotel Seattle
This minimalist chic style hotel is just a few blocks from Pikes Place Market located in Belltown amongst funky restaurants, attractions, and downtown Seattle. With loft-style ceilings, trendy white-painted brick walls, and original artworks from local artists, this hotel has a bit of extra pizzazz.
It’s almost a cross between a cool hostel and a luxe hotel with the cheapest rooms having a shared bathroom. It has a great atmosphere and would very much suit a solo traveler or a pair who like to socialize.
This gorgeous 1918 historic hotel comes equipped with everything you’d need for a short stay in Seattle, including a kitchenette with a refrigerator (it actually feels like a small apartment the rooms are so big). The hardwood floors look original and the interior makes you feel like royalty!
The staff is exceptional and the free breakfast is great. There’s an on-site gym and the Space Needle is only minutes away. MarQueen Hotel is seriously good value for anyone wanting to stay in a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price tag!
Tours in Seattle
That’s a Wrap!
There are so many fun and weird things to do in Seattle that we think you’ll have a great time.
If you need to know anything more when putting together your own 3-day Seattle itinerary, just as us in the comments section below and we’ll try our best to answer.
Seattle 3 Day Itinerary FAQs
Seattle’s unique geographical location means that there are plenty of unique things to do in the city. For example, visitors can explore the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, a museum dedicated to the Klondike Gold Rush that helped populate the areas that are present-day Seattle. Or, if you enjoy wildlife, take one of the whale watching tours. They claim that there’s a 90 percent chance of seeing a whale on each tour! The nearby San Juan Islands are the perfect places to watch orca whales as well!
If you have more than 3 days in Seattle, there are still plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Consider taking a day trip to Bainbridge Island, an island and city in Puget Sound. The island is surrounded by salt water and is known for its pure natural beauty. Other options include visiting Mount Rainier National Park, or just hanging out in Seattle and visiting Pioneer Square at the end of the waterfront, exploring Seattle Center, or checking out the gorgeous Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
No! Thanks to Seattle’s excellent public transportation system, a car is rarely needed when visiting Seattle. That means you can save some money and spend that enjoying some of the finer things in the Emerald City. However, if you plan on taking day trips in Seattle (which we recommend), then hiring a car is a necessity. You can even do a road trip to Canada if you want!
No Seattle trip is complete without trying some of its local delicacies. Since the city is located next to the Pacific Ocean, seafood is a big hit! Enjoy fresh oysters, sushi, the famous Seattle dog, and some top-notch Asian cuisine in the city!
WHERE NEXT? Weird Things to do in New York City
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