Last Fall I visited Seattle, Washington for the first time for a little more than 48 hours. There is so much to explore in the city, but even in just a day you can get a feel for all the city has to offer. From the food to the views you can take in it all. You might end up with more calories than planned, but this perfect day in Seattle for a first-timer also involves a lot of walking.
Breakfast at Lowell’s in Pike Place
Start your morning off with breakfast overlooking the harbor. Lowell’s is tucked right into Pike Place Market and offers everything from breakfast tacos to eggs Benedict. You’ll want to start your day off well with all the walking you’ll likely do.
Either sit on the second floor where you can have full service, or order on the first floor and take it up to the third. Both options have great views of the Harbor.
Food Tour of Pike Place Market
One of the unique things about Seattle is Pike Place Market. It was developed to remove the middle man between the producers and customers and has now provided over 100 years of high-quality local products. You should explore the market on your own but to get an opportunity to try some of the best food it has to offer and meet the people working in the market it is well worth the tour.
My favorite thing I did on my trip to Seattle was taking the Savor Seattle Food Tour of Pike Place Market. Their guides had endless knowledge on the market, from the history to the current producers in the market. You’ll get to taste a little bit of everything from donuts to salmon to clam chowder. The tour allows you to look past the surface level of the market and get to know the people and what they are offering.
Sail the Harbor
You can’t really see Seattle until you get out on the water to view it. There are two ways to accomplish this. The first is taking the Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, it’s a $23 ticket and you get a one-hour narrated ride around the harbor. I really enjoyed having the guide to point out what you’re seeing and learning a little more about the history of the region. It might seem like a lot for an hour, but it is one of the items on the CityPASS, which if you’re going to hit some of the other tourist spots will save you a bundle. It’s only $69 and includes five different attractions, and really if you hit three you’re already covering the cost.
If you don’t end up going with the CityPASS, the affordable option is taking the ferry ride out to Bainbridge for about $8 and you’ll get the same view as the harbor tour.
Late Lunch Back At The Market
I’d be surprised if there wasn’t somewhere you saw on your tour of the market that was calling you back. Whether it is a full serving of Mac & Cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese or a spot you wandered by but didn’t get to try on the tour like Piroshky-Piroshky or Steelhead Diner.
Explore Seattle Center
After you’ve filled up head over to explore the Seattle Center. Developed for the 1962 World Fair, the center is home to parks, museums and the Space Needle. The easiest way to explore the different parts of the Seattle Center is by purchasing a CityPASS. The pass includes two trips up the Space Needle and access to most of the museums without having to pay admission to each.
You can buy your CityPASS before your trip or at any of the attractions. So just head over to the EMP Museum, where you can explore the music history of Seattle, special Science Fiction and pop culture exhibits. If you’re a music lover you’ll enjoy exploring the Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana exhibits. Or if you’re into Sci-Fi you’ll appreciate the costumes and props from just about every TV show and movie. My favorite was a Dalek from the original Doctor Who series.
Once you get your fill of pop culture it’s time to enjoy some artwork. Wander over to the Chihuly Garden and Glass where you can explore the different installations of breathtaking glasswork by Dale Chihuly. He blew glass on a level beyond anything I’d witnessed before. Take a tour to learn more about the history of each piece, from the chandeliers to floating boats to gardens both of glass and plants. It is truly a one of a kind exhibit.
You, of course, can’t make it to Seattle without visiting the Space Needle. And a perfect time to do so is at Sunset. On a clear day, you can get some beautiful colors, but even on a cloudy day it is still breathtaking to see the city from such heights. Relax and take in the view of the harbor, surrounding city, and as the sun sets and the lights begin to come on the downtown itself.
Dinner at Pink Door
After a long day of exploring it’s time to sit down, grab a glass of wine and relax. The perfect spot to do this is at The Pink Door. A local favorite and bit of a hidden spot, you’ll almost miss it when you wander down the alley and see nothing but a pink door to show you the way.
If you’re looking to eat in the dining room make sure to have a reservation since the spot is popular. If not ask to sit in the lounge, the bar area where you can get the full menu and even enjoy some live music.
Relax and choose from their homemade pasta and delicious sauces. You’ll find character in every inch of the places from the lavish decorations to their house wine served in adorable green bottles.
Rest Up At A Quirky Hotel
At the Palladian Hotel in downtown Seattle, you’ll find a comfortable place to rest your head, but that pillow just might have Russell Crowe’s or Dave Matthews’s face on it. The hotel is dressed up with Seattle’s royalty and they will treat you like one too. From a room stocked with amenities to their in-house bar and restaurant, you’ll find everything thing you need to relax after a long day exploring the city.
Lowell’s (206-622-2036; 1519 Pike Place)
Savor Seattle Food Tour (206-209-5485; 1916 Pike Place)
Argosy Cruises (206-623-1445; 1101 Alaskan Way)
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (206-956-1964; 1600 Pike Place)
Piroshky-Piroshky (206-441-6068; 1908 Pike Place)
Steelhead Diner (206-625-0129; 95 Pine St)
EMP Museum (206-770-2700; 325 5th Ave N)
Chihuly Garden and Glass (206-753-4940; 305 Harrison St)
Space Needle (206-905-2100; 400 Broad St)
The Pink Door (206-443-3241; 1919 Post Alley)
Palladian Hotel (206-448-1111; 2000 2nd Ave)
Note: Some tours, passes, and meals were provided at no cost to the author. All opinions remain her own.
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Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the political world in California, but on evening and weekends spends time exploring the West Coast and more. All while encouraging others to join in on the adventures.