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Places to visit in Seattle

We are visiting Seattle in the middle of May for just 4 days. No car and we will be using public transport and already applied for ORCA. After reading numerous suggestions we kind of decided for: Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Bainbridge Island Ferry, Seattle Center, Seattle Underground Tour, University of Washington and Seattle Art Museum!

My question: Are we too ambitious?

We also like to experience restaurants at night time and get good breakfast.

Any suggestions or recommendations are more than welcome.

We will be arriving from San Francisco by Amtrak then on the fifth day Amtrak to Los Angeles. 

Ah, any suggestions on shuttle, cabs or Uber or alternative transportations. Shuttles seem to be quite expensive! 

I know, is a long question. Sorry. We are from Sydney-Australia. 

Thank you.


8 Answers

answered by

You can easily do the things on your list and a lot more.  Whenever i travel, i look for things that are unique to that city/location.  That said, here is my list which may have duplicates from other posts...

Chihuly Garden and Glass - located in Seattle Center so it is part of your list.

Experience Music Project - a Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) project that honors his love of music.  Also at Seattle Center.

- International District.  You can eat Ramen (Samurai Noodle), Sushi (Tsukushinbo), Banh Mi sandwiches(Saigon Deli or Seattle Deli), Thai food (Tamarind Tree), and Dim Sum(Harbor City Restaurant), or just dumplings(Dough Zone™ Dumpling House)

- if you like sandwiches like me, go to Armandino's Salumi and get the Porchetta Sandwich!

- Rent a bike and hit the Burke-Gilman Trail.  it goes around Lake Washington and you can go to Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks (see the locks), University of Washington, and Gas Works Park.  or ride along the Seattle waterfront.  On a nice day, nothing like enjoying the sunshine!

- Check out the Capitol Hill Neighborhood restaurants or around Pike St and Pine Street where it intersects with Broadway.  lots of great restaurants and music venues.  I like Spinasse (northern italian with handmade pasta), Taylor Shellfish Farms (Melrose Market Studios), and for a lunch (Little Uncle - thai food).

- The art museums were well covered by S. Rose in another post so i won't repeat those. Downtown has great places to eat too - i tend to go to smaller places to eat that are not that fancy but love Il Corvo (only have 3-4 fresh pastas each day and all great!), and tat's deli for sandwiches.  but did i mention Salumi's.  yes, i did but it is worth it to give a second mention!

- you can also rent kayaks on Lake Union and watch the boats and seaplanes land.

- For dining out, look for any restaurant by Tom Douglas - Etta's (by pike place), Dahlia LoungeSerious Pie for unique pizza, Lola, etc.  Get the Coconut pie - my wife dies for it!)

- hope you enjoy Seattle!!!  it's a great city!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chihuly Garden and Glass (attraction)
  2. Seattle Center (attraction)
  3. Experience Music Project (attraction)
  4. International District (attraction)
  5. Samurai Noodle (restaurant)
  6. Tsukushinbo (restaurant)
  7. Saigon Deli (attraction)
  8. Seattle Deli (attraction)
  9. Tamarind Tree (restaurant)
  10. Harbor City Restaurant (restaurant)
  11. Dough Zone™ Dumpling House (restaurant)
  12. Armandino's Salumi (restaurant)
  13. Burke-Gilman Trail (attraction)
  14. Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks (attraction)
  15. University of Washington (attraction)
  16. Gas Works Park (attraction)
  17. Capitol Hill Neighborhood (neighborhood)
  18. Pike St (attraction)
  19. Pine Street (attraction)
  20. Broadway (attraction)
  21. Spinasse (restaurant)
  22. Taylor Shellfish Farms (attraction)
  23. Melrose Market Studios (attraction)
  24. Little Uncle (restaurant)
  25. Downtown (attraction)
  26. Il Corvo (restaurant)
  27. Lake Union (attraction)
  28. Etta's (restaurant)
  29. Dahlia Lounge (restaurant)
  30. Serious Pie (restaurant)
  31. Lola (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Tracie from Seattle

Hi Paqui,

I'm from Seattle, and being an ambitious traveler myself, I'd say it's totally possible! Maybe skip the ferry if you will skip anything. Bainbridge Island is not very exciting (compared to everything else at least), but the ferry is an experience if that's what you're after. I would actually suggest taking a water taxi to West Seattle and back instead of a ferry. It's the same experience on a smaller scale, plus cheaper, faster, and better views!

Uber is a great way to get around Seattle. I recommend that over anything else, mostly for convenience. The University of Washington is the only place you mentioned that is a little farther away, however, everything can be reached by bus just as easily. You just have to wait and figure out bus schedules. By the way, OneBusAway is a great app for planning when combined with Google Maps.

Finally, this is obvious, but I would recommend seeing all of the things in one area before moving to a different area. I actually designed an interactive map for this if you want to check it out. It's got other sites on there too, but it should help.

Have fun!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Seattle (city)
  2. Bainbridge Island (attraction)
  3. West Seattle (attraction)
  4. University of Washington (attraction)
2 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Amit from Seattle

Hi Mate, 

Wellcome to the evergreen state. I encourage good rain gear, not the monsoon rain but the slow drizzle. 

Bikes are a good way to do most of the sites: 
a. Pioneer Square  (dinner at Wild Ginger and show at The Triple Door)
b, Pike Place Market (lunch at Pink Door and enjoy shopping at Zebraclub)
c. Chihuly Garden and Glass: Big ticket visit in the evening before sundown and stay late: good photos. Way better than the Space Needle, combine with the Experience Music Project and hang out with. I say Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center is really the place to get a flavor of Seattle. They represent the good of this state.
d. Kerry Park (dinner at The 5 Spot and view the sun down) 
e. Walk the University of Washington (suggest light rail and bike) (breakfast at Voula's Offshore Cafe
f. Bainbridge Island: rent a bike and use the ferry. The roads will be out (breakfast on the island)
g. The locks and walk Ballard Ave NW at night for live entertainment:  The seafood at The Walrus and the Carpenter for happy hour.

Uber, Sound Transit (light rail) and of course bikes: 

Breakfast: Voulas. 
Dinner: Wild Ginger 
Pink Door
India House Restaurant & Bar

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pioneer Square (attraction)
  2. Wild Ginger (restaurant)
  3. The Triple Door (restaurant)
  4. Pike Place Market (attraction)
  5. Pink Door (restaurant)
  6. Zebraclub (attraction)
  7. Chihuly Garden and Glass (attraction)
  8. Space Needle (attraction)
  9. Experience Music Project (attraction)
  10. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center (attraction)
  11. Kerry Park (attraction)
  12. The 5 Spot (restaurant)
  13. University of Washington (attraction)
  14. Voula's Offshore Cafe (restaurant)
  15. Bainbridge Island (attraction)
  16. Ballard Ave NW (attraction)
  17. The Walrus and the Carpenter (restaurant)
  18. India House Restaurant & Bar (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Thomas from Baltimore, Maryland

You are in luck. Seattle is a transit-friendly town.  Catch the light rail from SeaTac International Airport to Downtown.  From there you can catch buses or streetcars around.  You can even right the light rail to University of Washington.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. SeaTac International Airport (amusement park)
  2. Downtown (attraction)
  3. University of Washington (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

We are from out of “town”, but have family in go a fair bit. Last we heard, the Space Needle was not going to be open for going up the Observation Tower or Restaurant until this summer, like July...August. But, another poster sugg you do Chihuly Garden and Glass and that is my sugg as well, tixs online are so easy & bypass the long lines. It is literally, in the shadow of the Space great photo ops! There’s a little Cafe inside too.  

We never miss the Seattle Art Museum when coming to town, the Monorail at Seattle Center takes you pretty close to Pike Place Market, and the SAM is just at one end near a great brewery called Pike Brewing Company - we love the food there, esp the seafood chowder!  

The piers are just a Lotta steps down the waterfront from there, home of the Seattle Great Wheel, an enclosed ferris type wheel & Wings Over Washington which is a newer virtual experience near there that is thrilling & a can see “ALL” of Washington state in just a few moments, strapped into roller coaster type seats they raise & lower you up over Mt. Rainier, the tulip fields, roaring rapids, very fun! There’s loads of good restaurants down there too - Crab Pot Restaurant, or more casual Ivar's Fish Bar & great ice cream! There are street cars, the Seattle Aquarium & then you gotta walk thise stairs back to the Monorail! Or, you could Uber or Lyft! The Experience Music Project, is a fun hands on place back at the Seattle Center full of music stuff, horror movie trivia & memorabilia, and a little cafe/gift shop in there too. Don’t forget about Pacific Science Center, home of the IMAX movies, the Butterfly house & tons of hands on stuff...TONS of fun stuff at Seattle Center area...there are also “day cruises” that go from there called Argosy we took one thru the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks - saw houseboats from famous movies, crab boats from Deadliest Catch, all kinds of fun things!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Space Needle (attraction)
  2. Chihuly Garden and Glass (attraction)
  3. Seattle Art Museum (attraction)
  4. Pike Place Market (attraction)
  5. Pike Brewing Company (attraction)
  6. Seattle Great Wheel (attraction)
  7. Wings Over Washington (attraction)
  8. Crab Pot Restaurant (restaurant)
  9. Ivar's Fish Bar (restaurant)
  10. Seattle Aquarium (attraction)
  11. Experience Music Project (attraction)
  12. Seattle Center (attraction)
  13. Pacific Science Center (attraction)
  14. Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

I was in Seattle for two weeks at a class for work, so I only had after work hours to actually see Seattle - that is only a few hours at the end of the day.  I was by myself and did not have access to a car. I did most of the things you mention.  One Saturday I took the bus out to the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks and then from there went to the University of Washington  I also had dinner in the Space Needle one night, and I did that again the next time I visited Seattle with my husband.  We took the monorail from our hotel to the Space Needle and had dinner.  One night I took the ferry out to one of the islands for a salmon dinner done by the Indians. And one night (I think Friday)I took the dinner train out to a winery.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks (attraction)
  2. University of Washington (attraction)
  3. Space Needle (attraction)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
S. from Vancouver

I don't think you are too ambitious for a four-day trip. Many of the attractions you mention as close to one another, such as Space Needle and Seattle Center. Taking the ferry to Bainbridge might burn more time than it's worth, though. The Virginia V is a better way to see the waterfront.

Public transit in Seattle is good by North American standards but not great by world standards. Besides a single light rail line (which has a stop adjacent to where Amtrak will drop you), there are buses. Having an ORCA card increases the convenience, so that's smart, though you can easily buy one after you arrive. Besides that, there are various dockless bike share systems that allow users to grab a bike on the street for an inexpensive, short trip - for that, you pretty much need a smartphone with an installed app. Lime Bike and Ofo are two of them. Besides ride-share services such as Lyft and Uber, there are several car-share (you drive the vehicle) systems such as Car2Go and ReachNow (which have agreed to merge but have not yet), which also require smartphone apps.

Seattle is a great food town. One good resource is the Eater Seattle Eater 38, which was just updated - no clunkers on that list. Excellent breakfast is definitely a thing in Seattle. Hi-Spot Cafe is an outstander but not easy to get to.

For museums, besides Seattle Art Museum, which is close to Pike Place Market, there is the Henry Art Gallery and Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington and the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) on South Lake Union. Also the Experience Music Project/Museum of Pop Culture at the Seattle Center.

Many tourists like to visit the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks, right across from Red Mill Totem House for lunch.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Space Needle (attraction)
  2. Seattle Center (attraction)
  3. Virginia V (attraction)
  4. Hi-Spot Cafe (restaurant)
  5. Seattle Art Museum (attraction)
  6. Pike Place Market (attraction)
  7. Henry Art Gallery (attraction)
  8. Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (attraction)
  9. University of Washington (attraction)
  10. Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) (attraction)
  11. South Lake Union (neighborhood)
  12. Experience Music Project (attraction)
  13. Seattle Center (attraction)
  14. Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks (attraction)
  15. Red Mill Totem House (restaurant)
1 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
hope from Seattle

Your list doesn't sound too ambitious - I think it's a good amount to see and do, and leaves you room to relax and eat! Space Needle/Seattle Center can easily be one day, Pike Place/Art museum can be combined (very walkable) and could take less than a day. You could do the underground tour that same day. 

If you have extra time in Seattle Center, visit the Museum of Pop Culture - sometimes there are fun exhibits. Even if you don't go in, you can get great photos with the metallic/iridescent walls as a backdrop. 

Getting around the city, just use Uber or Lyft. In the Seattle core area you'll usually get a car in 1-2 minutes. 

There is so much to eat in Seattle. Don't be afraid to take Uber outside of the downtown core to get to other neighborhoods - Seattle is relatively small so outside peak rush hour you can take a 10-20 min ride to most places you'd want to be. FYI is the most widely used reservation system in the region. 

Go to the Ballard neighborhood for food one night. The core area has a few cute brick-lined streets full of great food and drinks and local boutique shops. There are many cocktail bars and breweries too if that's your thing. Start with drinks somewhere like Percy's & Co.  or The Gerald then go for dinner - there are way too many to choose from but I like Staple and Fancy Mercantile (gotta get the tasting menu) or Barnacle for fresh oysters (I'm biased, but the west coast has pretty amazing oysters) or Ocho for tapas... wrap up with dessert at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery or Pie Bar Ballard

Also will second that does a good job of restaurant recs for the city - good inspiration list!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Percy's & Co. (restaurant)
  2. The Gerald (attraction)
  3. Staple and Fancy Mercantile (restaurant)
  4. Barnacle (restaurant)
  5. Ocho (restaurant)
  6. Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery (restaurant)
  7. Pie Bar Ballard (restaurant)
1 thankscomments (1)

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