Marvel at the natural beauty of Seattle — from the waterfront of the glistening waters of Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains framing the west and Mount Rainier framing the southeast. Team all this beauty with iconic landmarks such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, where the sights, smells, and fishmongers delight your senses. Spend an afternoon admiring the glass creations of nationally famous Dale Chihuly and then explore history at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Learn about the 380 species of birds, fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals of Washington State by visiting the Seattle Aquarium. Add in fine dining and luxurious accommodations, and you have the recipe for 14 ways to spend a perfect weekend in Seattle.
Note: My visit was sponsored by Seattle Grand Hyatt, Hotel Sorrento, Seattle CityPASS, and Eat Seattle. All thoughts and reflections are my own.
Seattle is Washington state’s largest city and is known as “the city of spectacular views.” The city is easily accessible by plane, train, and car. You can fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) or the newest airport, Paine Field, located just north of Seattle in Everett. If you choose to drive, Seattle is situated at the convergence of the I-90 (east-west) and I-5 (north-south) Interstates. Amtrack services Seattle and the King Street Station is conveniently located just off the downtown.
Pro Tip: We chose to leave the driving to someone else and took Amtrak to Seattle. Driving and parking can be problematic in the downtown area. Amtrak trains are well maintained and very clean. The trip is about 3 hours from Portland and has stunning views of the Columbia River and the Puget Sound. We took public transportation — monorail, light rail, streetcars, and Uber in the city. We walked to all the major downtown sites. It was a great way to visit.
1. Enjoy Panoramic Views Atop The Seattle Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle is the #1 tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest and the city’s most iconic landmark. Constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and has three viewing areas: an indoor observation deck, an open-air viewing area at 520 feet, and the world’s only rotating glass floor at 500 feet. Take the outside elevator to the top for jaw-dropping views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, and the city itself. Glass benches invite you to tarry a while and enjoy!
Pro Tip: I recommend purchasing the Seattle CityPASS. You can save about 50% off five of Seattle’s major attractions, including the Seattle Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Argosy Boat Tour, Seattle Aquarium, and MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture). Tickets are valid for 9 days from the first visit. They also have an excellent website with recommendations.
2. Admire The Works Of Dale Chihuly
Chihuly Garden and Glass highlights the glassworks of American artist and Pacific Northwest native Dale Chihuly. Located at Seattle Center right across from the Space Needle, the complex includes eight galleries, a glasshouse, and a 26,000 square foot garden where his glass creations are interspersed with native plants and shrubs. Chihuly was invited to showcase his work and has chosen specific works from his career to highlight his journey as he changed the nature of blown glass. Enjoy also the hourly glass demonstrations in the courtyard.
Chihuly Garden and Glass provides several accessibility support services for all. Plan to spend between 2 and 4 hours here.
Pro Tip: Read more about my 4 Favorite Pieces At Chihuly Garden And Glass.
3. Enjoy The Views From The Water With An Argosy Boat Tour
The 1-hour narrated Argosy Boat Tour leaves from Pier 55. Learn more about Seattle history and enjoy the views of the Seattle skyline, Elliott Bay, and the Olympic Mountains. View the harbor activity with ships in dry-dock and massive container ships waiting to be unloaded. There is a full-service bar with drinks and snacks.
4. Explore Marine Life At The Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is located at the Waterfront at Pier 59. Spend several hours learning about the marine life of Washington State. Highlights include the 400,000 gallon Underwater Dome, the Window On Washington exhibit, tidal pools with touch zones, and pools with harbor seals and otters.
Plan to spend several hours enjoying the Aquarium. Be sure to greet Licorice, the resident giant Pacific octopus.
5. Learn About Seattle’s Role In The 1890s Gold Rush
Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, a little-known gem in Historic Pioneer Square within walking distance of downtown and close to the Amtrak King Street Station. Seattle was a hub where thousands of gold diggers congregated to prepare for their journey to Canada and Alaska. Begin your journey watching the historical film in the auditorium, then wander the museum with the many exhibits and artifacts from the period. Allow 1 to 2 hours.
6. Stroll The Pike Place Market
Another iconic Seattle location is Pike Place Market. Begin your journey by picking up a map at the Market Information Booth just east of the neon sign, or download a visitor’s guide at this link. The Market is home to more than 500 businesses over a nine-acre site. Allow several hours to hear the fishmongers calling out their catch, smell the aromas from the bakeries and delis, admire the fresh farm produce and flowers, and shop craft markets and unique gift stores.
Coffee lovers: Stop at the oldest operating Starbucks — this is where they started. There is something for everyone. Allow 2 to 3 hours.
Pro Tips: Try to visit in the morning on a weekday. The Market gets very crowded on weekends. And watch for my upcoming article, A Unique Food Crawl Through Pike Place Market.
7. Taste PNW Treasures Through The Tour By Eat Seattle
Eat Seattle offers chef-led food tours through Pike Place Market. We recommend the 2-hour tour. You will enjoy hearing the unique stories of the vendors and tasting samples of their PNW culinary treats.
8. Enjoy The View From Above On The Seattle Great Wheel
Located at Pier 57 on Alaskan Way, the Seattle Great Wheel is located at Pier 57 on the Waterfront and across from Pike Place Market. At 175 feet, it is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast and one of the largest in the U.S. It reaches 40 feet over Elliott Bay.
You may purchase tickets through this link.
9. Enjoy The Serenity of Waterfall Garden Park
Waterfall Garden Park commemorates the birthplace of UPS (United Parcel Service) at the location of the original site. Constructed to celebrate the 100th anniversary in 2007, the park features a beautiful 22-foot waterfall, native shrubs, and benches and tables. Located in Historic Pioneer Square, the park is a step away from the bustling downtown.
10. Cheer On Your Favorite Professional Sports Team
Seattle has several professional sports teams, including the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Sounders, Seattle Storm, and the newest NHL Expansion Team: Seattle Kraken.
11. Enjoy Live Music At the Downtown Summer Sounds
The Downtown Seattle Association offers free year-round activities, including the 42nd annual Downtown Summer Sounds, July through September, with over 100 live performances. Check the link for a schedule of events.
12. Watch for These Annual Events
- July: Bite of Seattle Food Festival
- July – August: Seattle Seafair
- September (Labor Day): Bumbershoot: Seattle’s Music & Art Festival
- November – December: Argosy Christmas Ship Festival
- February: Northwest Flower and Garden Show
13. Enjoy Fine Dining In The Downtown Area
The Grand Hyatt features an upscale steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris, and a gourmet-to-go deli with New York-style sandwiches and subs.
Check out Tidal+, the place for locally sourced seafood. We recommend the ceviche duo, crab dip, and Tidal flat oysters. Save room for delectable desserts like salted caramel hazelnut or blackberry & pistachio mousse.
Andare Kitchen & Bar is the go-to place for trattoria-style dining with delicious Italian dishes like meatballs and calamari.
Stella at Hotel Sorrento offers both indoor and luxurious outdoor dining. We enjoyed the linguini and clams and tagliatelle Bolognese served with specialty olives and endive salad.
14. Sleep In Luxurious Accommodations
The first 2 nights, we enjoyed our luxurious accommodation at Grand Hyatt Seattle, in the heart of downtown and within walking distance of the Convention Center, Seattle Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens & Glass, Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, and the Waterfront. We enjoyed our room on the 23rd floor with harbor and skyline views. The artwork in the hotel is stunning with “Stand in Light” glass panels, Italian onyx lights and murals, and artwork by various American and Canadian artists.
We enjoyed a queen suite at the historic boutique Hotel Sorrento on our second two nights, dating back to 1909. Be sure to admire the mahogany woodwork and Rookwood ceramic tiles in the Fireside Room. The hotel is on the National Historic Registry. Some folks think that the ghost of Alice B. Toklas occasionally visits on the fourth floor.
The City of Seattle has put on a new coat! The streets are beautifully clean and safe with numerous lower pots decorating the lampposts. We were delighted with the friendliness of the residents. Folks stopped to help us find various locations five times. One weekend isn’t enough for all that Seattle has to offer. We concentrated on the downtown area for this time. Now we are about to plan another long weekend around the Seattle Waterfront and Bainbridge Island. Plan your visit soon. I am confident you will be as delighted as we are!