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Creating a Seattle Itinerary can be quite the task! Seattle is brimming with cool cafes, iconic sights and incredible nature. Spending 3 days in Seattle, Washington is just enough time to get acquainted with the city, visit top attractions and sample the local fare. To help fellow travelers plan their Seattle trip, we designed a perfect Seattle 3-Day Itinerary that features the absolute best of the city.
About Our Seattle Itinerary
Our Seattle, Washington 3-Day Itinerary is comprised of a detailed day-by-day Seattle trip plan. We feature the best things to do in Seattle – including sights, attractions and food. Because there are so many things to see in Seattle in 3 days, we have limited our recommendations to places and experiences that are unique to Seattle.
3 Days In Seattle, Washington
We have outlined how to spend three perfect days in Seattle. However, because we know not everyone has plans to visit Seattle in 3 days, we share our tips for shorter (and longer) Seattle itineraries at the end of the post. Whether you are planning how to visit Seattle in a day, are spending 2 days in Seattle or have a full week, our Seattle trip planner suggestions will help you plan your time in the city. Our itinerary provides a succinct plan for seeing Seattle in three days. In addition to our tips for how to spend 3 days in Seattle, we also offer advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to pack.
This Three Days in Seattle Itinerary includes everything you need to plan your vacation. Save, Bookmark or Pin it so that you can easily access it before – and during – your trip to Seattle!
Day 1 Of Your Seattle 3-Day Itinerary
On Day 1 of your 3-Day itinerary for Seattle visit the city’s most iconic landmarks. After checking into your accommodations (recommendations below!), head straight for Pike Place Market, then wander along the harbor at the Seattle Waterfront Park and make your way to the iconic Space Needle.
Pike Place Market
Opened in 1907, Pike Place Market is a multi-storied farmer’s market and one of Seattle’s top attractions. Covering 9 acres, the expansive 24-building market was established as a place where shoppers could meet the farmers, butchers and bakers face-to-face. In addition to the produce, meat and fresh baked goods for sale, Pike Place Market is home to numerous craft vendors, antique shops and top Seattle restaurants.
Some must-see Seattle sights at the market are the famous salmon-tossing fishmongers at the Pike Place Fish Market, Rachel the bronze piggy bank, the original Starbucks, the infamous Market Theater Gum Wall and the bright red Public Market Center sign. However, the real draw of the market is the food…and there is plenty of it! Nearly impossible to pick just one place to eat, we recommend grazing your way through the market. One thing not to miss, however, is a plate of Seattle’s own Chowder Fries from the famous Pike Place Chowder.
Pro Tip: For the best introduction to the massive market, we highly recommend joining a tour. Local guides will help you navigate your way through the market to the best Seattle bites and shops – all while filling you in on the spectacular market history. Reserve your spot!
Seattle Great Wheel
A relatively new attraction on Elliott Bay, the Seattle Great Wheel is a 175-foot-tall Ferris wheel on Pier 57. Visitors can hop on for a spin and magnificent views – but, personally, we like the view of the wheel, which lights up at night with a dazzling display of 500,000 LED lights.
Waterfront Park Seattle
Originally called the Schwabacher Wharf when it was developed in the late 1800s, the old Seattle docks were transformed into a park in the 1960s. The park consists of several viewing platforms – and there are tables, benches and telescopes for visitors to use.
Space Needle and Seattle Center
From downtown Seattle, hop on the Monorail and ride uphill to the Seattle Center, a 74-acre park built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The landmark Space Needle – standing at 605 feet – is the centerpiece of the park. Visitors can take the elevators up to the observation deck, which offers stunning 360-degree views of Seattle, Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island and (hopefully) Mt Rainier. (Tickets to the Space Needle are included with the Seattle CityPass – which we talk more about later!).
Other top attractions at the Seattle Center include the International Fountain, theaters, museums and art exhibits.
Kerry Park Seattle
After taking in the views from the top of the Space Needle, trek uphill (or grab an Uber) to Kerry Park. Barely more than a narrow strip of land, the elevated park is the place to go for panoramic views of the Space Needle, Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier.
Dick’s Drive In
Eating at renowned Dick’s Drive In is a must; Sir Mix-a-Lot even rapped about the city’s burger institution in his 1988 song (no, not that one). The famous Seattle fast-food chain has been doling out “Dick’s Deluxe” burgers – which includes two well-done patties, cheese, lettuce, mayo and relish – since 1954. The Dick’s Queen Anne location opened in 1974 – and is the only restaurant in the locally-operated chain to have indoor seating.
After Dinner Drinks
For after dinner drinks, either go to a classic Seattle dive bar or a modern craft beer bar.
The 5 Point Cafe is a diner-slash-tavern – and exactly the kind of jovial atmosphere you would expect at one of Seattle’s best dive bars. Opened as a greasy-spoon American diner in 1929, the 24/7 tavern serves all day breakfast and features a full bar menu.
Just a block away, TeKu Tavern offers a more polished bar experience. With a gigantic selection of beer and ciders in bottles, cans and on tap – including a large menu of local libations – visitors are spoiled for choice. Patrons who want a taste of several local Seattle craft beers can order a tasting board.
Seattle Live Music
The Seattle music scene is legendary. The birth of Grunge happened in Seattle’s downtown locales. Among the many small venues where grunge bands got their start, there is none more popular than the legendary Crocodile. Opened in 1991, the stage has seen a slew of acts – including Seattle’s own Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, along with R.E.M. and Green Day and many others. The Croc is still an operating club featuring live music – so go check out a show!
Day 2 Of Your Three Days In Seattle
On the second day of your Seattle travel itinerary delve into the history of the city, get a taste of local fare and end the day at a baseball game.
General Porpoise Doughnuts and Coffee
The coffee culture in Seattle is unmissable! In addition to the recognizable (unavoidable?) brands – like Starbucks, Tully’s and Seattle’s Best Coffee – Seattle is home to hundreds of coffee shops and local roasters. In a city where drinking coffee is serious business, where you get your cup of joe will depend on your interest in the craft. That said, we recommend starting your day in Seattle with a combination caffeine jolt and sugar high at General Porpoise (Pioneer Square location), where coffee and doughnuts are perfectly paired.
At the heart of the city when it was founded in 1852, the Pioneer Square district is steeped in history and filled with architectural gems. Wander the streets, pop into the art galleries or embark on the Trail to Treasure to better understand the events that shaped Seattle (pick up your free map at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park).
Seattle Underground Tour
The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 decimated the original city – and, when it was rebuilt, the city planners simply buried the old city and started with a clean slate. By doing so, remains of the first city are preserved underground…and visitors can access the old Seattle streets to explore the fascinating subterranean city, but only on a guided tour. Reserve Your Spot!
Smith Tower Seattle
After navigating the underground of Seattle, soar to the top of the Smith Tower. The 38-story building was opened in 1914 – and ranked as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River at that time. Today, guests can access the 35th floor observations deck and Prohibition-themed bar by taking a ride up on the original Otis elevator. Buy Skip-the-Line Tickets here!
A vibrant, multiethnic neighborhood, Chinatown-International District (or just CID) is a conglomeration of three distinct neighborhoods: Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon. Known for its many Asian eateries, landmarks and festivals, the CID is one of the most intriguing districts to visit in Seattle.
For lunch, try Jade Garden or Honey Court Seafood – two of the more popular Seattle Chinese food restaurants, or check out the goods at the Uwajimaya grocery store where visitors can dine on an array of delectable Asian eats. Unbeknownst to many, one of Seattle’s signature dishes is teriyaki – which is prevalent on many menus in the district.
Seattle CID Sights
While in the CID, there are a few top attractions that you might want to check out. The Wing Luke Museum details the history and culture and Asian Pacific Americans in Seattle. The Panama Hotel dates to 1910 and features a Japanese bathhouse. The Hing Hay Park, Kobe Terrace and Historic Chinatown Gate are other top places to see in Seattle CID. And, for something a little off-beat in the neighborhood, stop by the Seattle Pinball Museum, where visitors can play classic arcade games.
Seattle Craft Beer
Just like many of the best party cities in the United States – like Denver, San Diego and Portland – the craft beer revolution in Seattle is in full swing. There are dozens of craft breweries operating in the city, but we recommend popping into Elysian Fields – one of the first microbreweries established in Seattle.
For real bar nostalgia, however, head across the street to Seattle’s Historic Triangle Pub. Once a brothel, the small corner bar now serves up cheap beer – including classics, like Rainier, along with a selection of Seattle craft beer.
Seattle Mariners Baseball Game (Or Other Seattle Sporting Events)
Seattle may not have a deep-rooted history of baseball – like New York, Boston and Chicago – but they do have an awesome ballpark. If there is a game during your visit, it is a must for your Seattle Itinerary!
While the team is not known for their successes (the Mariners have never played in a World Series), a night at the ballpark is still quite the experience. In fact, the Mariners proudly boast one of the most unique dining menus of any team in Major League Baseball. With a selection of ballpark classics and local eateries, having dinner at a Seattle Mariners game is half the fun!
That said, before going into the stadium, seek out Al’s Gourmet Sausage (he has a yellow tent!) outside the stadium for an epic Seattle Dog. Al is often credited for starting the strange Seattle tradition of topping hot dogs with grilled onions and cream cheese (yep, cream cheese) – and they get rave reviews from fans!
Best Seafood Dinner In Seattle
If there is no game during your visit, instead settle into a classic Seattle seafood meal at nearby Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar. Taylor shellfish farms have been operating in the region since the late 1800s – and the company is committed to fresh seafood and sustainable farming.
Day 3 Of Your Seattle Trip Itinerary
On the last day of your Seattle Three-Day Itinerary, spend time in the beautiful outdoors!
Starbucks was born in Seattle – and while it is now available anywhere in America (and nearly every country in the world), getting a taste of the successful coffee chain’s coffee in its home city is a must. Visitors can fight the crowds at the original Starbucks location (near Pike Place Market) or visit a Starbucks Reserve Roastery, where guests get a coffee experience like none other. There are multiple coffee bars, tasting flights and even liquor-infused coffee drinks.
Seattle is dubbed the Emerald City for its year-round evergreens and abundance of nature – so spending some time in the outdoors is essential during your Seattle 3-Day Itinerary. There are heaps of choices when it comes to parks in Seattle, so we are highlighting just a few of the best.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Located near the heart of the city, the waterfront 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park is part of the Seattle Art Museum. Once an industrial site, the land was transformed into a green space in the early 2000s. The park, which is free to enter, contains a permanent and rotating exhibition of artworks.
Gas Works Park
The former site of the Seattle Gas Light Company, the Gas Works Park is a unique outdoor space. The park contains remnants of the coal gasification plant, combining industry with nature in an intriguing way. Beyond the plants remains, the other top attraction is a 60-foot hill that offers stunning views of the city. Visitors who go to Gas Works Park might also want to check out the nearby Fremont Troll (who lives under the highway) and Fremont Brewing Company.
Situated in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Volunteer Park, was established in 1901. Marked by gardens, ponds and trails, the park features a conservatory, amphitheater, water tower, statues and sculptures. Nearby is the Lakeview Cemetery, which is where Kung Fu master Bruce Lee and his son are buried – and their graves attract visitors from around the world.
Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Garden
Washington Park Arboretum is a lush park maintained jointly by both the University of Washington and Seattle Parks and Recreation. Visitors can join a guided tour or use the trail maps to explore the park on their own. On the south end of the park, the inviting Japanese Garden is a beautifully landscaped green space that was planned with impeccable detail.
Outdoor Excursions In Seattle
In the afternoon, continue your discovery of the city’s great outdoors by either hopping on a ferry to Bainbridge Island or spending time on Lake Union.
Ferry to Bainbridge Island
Located on Puget Sound just across from the city of Seattle, Bainbridge Island is a perfect half-day destination. With the ferry, Bainbridge is easily accessible. Once there, guests can either walk into town – where there are museums, shops and winery tasting rooms along Winslow – or rent a bicycle to explore the island’s ample gardens and parks.
Visitors who would rather a guide lead the way can join an all-inclusive tour of the island from Seattle. Get the details here!
Lake Union Seattle
A large freshwater lake just north of the Seattle city center, Lake Union is a popular destination for outdoor recreation. There is an abundance of options for getting out on the water – from renting luxury boats to paddling around in kayaks to taking a cruise.
Visitors looking for a unique Seattle water expedition should look into renting a Hot Tub Boat – where participants…well, it’s self-explanatory.
However, for a truly spectacular experience, take off in a seaplane for a flight over Lake Union. The scenic tours offer the most breathtaking views of Seattle, surrounding islands and mountains. Get the details!
Our Seattle map of attractions highlights the locations of the sights from Day 1 (BLUE), Day 2 (RED) and Day 3 (PURPLE).
More Seattle Things To Do
We outlined our three perfect days in Seattle – but there is so much more to do in the city! Consider adding or substituting (we won’t be offended) some of the following attractions to your Seattle, Washington Itinerary.
As wonderful as the city’s nature is, the weather in Seattle doesn’t often cooperate with outdoor adventures. Thankfully, Seattle has a slew of excellent museums and indoor attractions.
The Museum of Pop Culture, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Aquarium and Pacific Science Center are a few of the top-rated museums in Seattle – and they are all included with the Seattle CityPass.
Other places to visit in Seattle are the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Museum of Flight and the Museum of History and Industry.
University Of Washington
Home of the Huskies, the University of Washington was founded in 1861 – and is just a short jaunt from the Seattle city center. Campus visitors will not want to miss Red Square, the Drumheller Fountain or the Suzzallo Library. If your visit happens to be in the springtime, check to see if the Yoshino cherry trees are in blossom on the Quad.
Amazon HQ Tour
Headquartered in Seattle, Amazon has built an urban campus in the center of the city – which features The Spheres, three glass-dome conservatories. Tours are available on select days.
Although the Puget Sound waters may be too cold to swim in, the Alki Beach is a top summertime destination for walking, sunbathing and hanging out with friends. Additionally, there are a few points of interest that are fun to seek out – like the Statue of Liberty replica, Alki Point Lighthouse and the Birthplace of Seattle Monument.
More Parks In Seattle
We highlighted a few top parks in our 3-Day Seattle Itinerary, but there are a several more notable Seattle parks – such as Kubota Garden, Green Lake Park and Discovery Park – that are also worth checking out on nice days.
The Seattle Space Needle isn’t the only architectural stand-out in the city! In fact, there are numerous buildings in Seattle that architectural gems. Some of the uniquely designed Seattle buildings include the Seattle Central Library, Rainier Tower, Seattle City Hall and King Street Station.
Seattle Day Trips
While there are certainly enough city center sights to fill 3 days in Seattle, there are ample regional attractions that visitors might want to include in their Seattle itinerary.
Boeing Factory Tour
Interesting to more than just aviation geeks, the Boeing Factory, which is housed in the largest building in the world, is a phenomenal place to learn about the history and engineering of airplanes. On half-day expeditions from Seattle, participants will tour the Boeing Factory, enjoy interactive exhibits at the aviation Center Gallery and get an educational learning experience at the Future of Flight Aviation Center Museum. Book it now!
Mount Rainier Tour
Mt. Rainier stands as the tallest mountain in Washington State – and it can be reached on a day trip from Seattle. On a popular day tour, visitors are led by a guide to spectacular waterfalls and amazing viewpoints. Depending on the season, the day may also include snowshoeing, sledding and wildlife watching. Get the details!
Olympic National Park Tour
A UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, Olympic National Park features both coastline and forests and has multiple ecosystems. Visitors can plan their own Olympic National Park Itinerary from Seattle – or join a tour the includes convenient pick up and a gourmet lunch. Learn more here!
Take a 3 hour drive down I-5 to Vancouver, Washington! We completely enjoyed our recent stay in the city and you can read all the details in our Best Things To Do In Vancouver, WA article!
Snoqualmie Falls and Wine Country
On a relaxing day trip from Seattle, tour participants see the beautiful Snoqualmie Falls and then travel to Woodinville – Washington’s wine country. In addition to the famed Chateau Ste. Michelle, one of the most famous wineries in Washington, tours also stop at a family-run winery for tastings. Before returning to Seattle, there is one more stop at Boehms Candies, a local chocolate factory. Find out more!
Seattle Itineraries: How Many Days In Seattle
We shared our top tips for what to see in Seattle in 3 days – but what if you have more – or less! – time? No need to worry! We have ideas for how to spend a half day to a week in Seattle!
Half Day In Seattle
Travelers constrained to visiting Seattle in half a day will need to limit their Seattle sightseeing to just the city highlights. An ambitious visitor might be able to plan a Seattle itinerary that includes Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. However, for a more leisurely half day, we recommend seeing Pike Place Market then going to Waterfront Park.
Seattle 1-Day Itinerary
Visitors creating a 1-Day Seattle Itinerary will still need to be detailed in their sightseeing plan. For us, an ideal Seattle in One Day Itinerary would basically follow our outline for Day 1 in our above 3-Day Seattle Itinerary. That said, visitors most interested in the history of the city might want to create a 1 Day in Seattle Itinerary using our outline for Day 2 instead.
If the weather is unsavory, it is also possible to spend most of the day indoors at museums. In fact, it is possible to create a 1-Day Seattle City Pass Itinerary. After exploring Pike Place Market, use the City Pass for the following sights (in order): Elliott Bay Cruise, Seattle Aquarium, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Museum of Pop Culture and Space Needle.
One more way to plan a day in Seattle would be to leave it up to a tour guide! Skip all the hassle of planning what to see and how to get around and join a wildly popular One Day Seattle Tour. Book it now!
Seattle Itinerary 2 Days
Spending two days in Seattle allows a lot more time for city exploration! To plan a succinct Seattle 2-Day Itinerary, we recommend following Days 1 and 2 from our Seattle 3 Days Itinerary.
Seattle Weekend Itinerary
A Weekend in Seattle Itinerary – utilizing 2.5 days – is a fabulous opportunity to include just a bit more sightseeing into your trip. Assuming that you arrive on Friday afternoon, get settled into your accommodations, then kick off your Weekend trip to Seattle Itinerary with a fun Haunted Pub Tour. Then, use our advice for a Seattle 2 Days Itinerary for Saturday and Sunday.
Alternative Seattle Itinerary 3 Days
While our outlined Seattle 3 Days Itinerary is a fantastic introduction to the city, we know that some visitors have other interests. For example, touring the region may be more interesting than city sights. Visitors not keen on exploring Seattle’s history may instead want to take a full-day trip to Rainier National Park on Day 2.
In fact, travelers who want to mostly experience nature can book a 3-Day tour of Seattle and the surrounding region that includes Seattle, Olympic National Park and Mt Rainier National Park. Get more info!
Seattle Itinerary 4 Days
Visitors planning a 4-Day Seattle Itinerary will have ample time to see the city sights – and more! To create a 4 Days in Seattle Itinerary, use our Seattle, Washington 3-Day Itinerary for the first three days, then on the last day, go on a Seattle day trip – either to the Boeing Factory, the Cascade mountains or Washington wine country.
Seattle Itinerary 5 Days
Travelers with 5 days in Seattle can easily fill their days with fascinating sightseeing! Start by using the above Seattle 4-Day Itinerary as a base. Then, on the final day of your 5-Day Seattle Itinerary, venture out to see the optional parks and sights listed on Day 3 of our original 3-Day Seattle Trip Plan. For example, if you spent Day 3 at Volunteer Park and Bainbridge Island, then on Day 5, go to Gas Works Park and Union Lake.
Seattle Itinerary 6 Days
Planning 6 days in Seattle is no problem! Use the above Seattle 5-Day Itinerary as a base for your plans. Then on the last day (or any rainy day during your stay!), use the Seattle CityPass to explore the city’s excellent museums.
Seattle Itinerary 7 Days
Visitors planning a week in Seattle will find that there is plenty to see and do! To create an ideal Seattle One-Week Itinerary, use our tips for the above Seattle 6-Day Itinerary and then on the last day either take a second day trip, explore the University of Washington campus or relax for the day on Alki Beach.
Portland and Seattle Itinerary
Because of their proximity, many travelers will want to create a Seattle–Portland Itinerary. In fact, the cities are only about 3.5 hours apart – and visitors can easily get between the two cities by renting a car or using a bus or train. To plan your time in Portland, be sure to use our Portland Itinerary!
San Francisco to Seattle Itinerary
A popular road trip route is from San Francisco to Seattle (or vice versa). While we do not have specific details on the route, travelers making this trip can use our tips for what to see in SF in our San Francisco Itinerary.
Top Tips For Your 3 Days In Seattle Itinerary
Now that you know what to do in Seattle for 3 days (or longer!), we have a few final tips and packing hacks for your vacation.
How To Get To Seattle
An essential consideration for your Seattle vacation itinerary is how to get there! Seattle can be reached by car, bus, boat, train or plane! Our preferred method of travel is by plane – we are JetSetting Fools, after all! When we start looking for the best flights and airfare, we start our search on SkyScanner.
Seattle Airport to Seattle
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) – or SeaTac – is located about 15 miles south of the city center. SeaTac offers loads of flights from around the world, including international services from Amsterdam, London and Tokyo as well as direct flights from major US cities like Chicago, Phoenix, Boston, NYC, and Washington DC to name just a few! Visitors can easily hop on the Light Rail to get from the SeaTac airport to the city, but Uber is also available at the airport and private transfers are also available and can be booked online.
Where To Stay In Seattle
Choosing where to stay for your 3-day trip to Seattle can feel overwhelming – there are so many accommodation options to choose from! We have stayed in various hotels in Seattle – and are featuring our top pick.
The Arctic Club Seattle
The Arctic Club Seattle (which is part of the DoubleTree by Hilton collection) is an ideal hotel for three days in Seattle. Located in the Central Business District, the historic hotel was once a social club for the elite, mostly used by men who struck it rich during the Alaska Gold Rush. The rooms are gorgeously decorated and the staff is absolutely superb. Check rates and availability!
Start your search for the best hotels in Seattle on Booking.com – like we do!
Seattle Airbnb Apartments
While there are numerous hotel choices in the downtown area, Seattle hotels are notoriously expensive. Airbnb apartments are an alternative to pricey hotels in Seattle. We have stayed in Airbnb Apartments around the world and have found that they are affordable options in most cities. If you are new to Airbnb, use this link to create your account and save money on your first stay!
What To Pack for 3 Days In Seattle, Washington
These are our top tips for what to pack for your trip to Seattle – but you can find more of our packing advice on our Ultimate Packing List post.
When visiting Seattle in 3 days, you are going to need good walking shoes! Seattle sights are spread out across the city and, while there is good public transport and Uber, you will want to wear comfortable city walking shoes for your sightseeing adventures. I like to wear these shoes by Columbia and Kris prefers wearing Merrell trail shoes.
Seattle is a rainy city! Make sure you are prepared for wet days with a travel umbrella and a packable raincoat. Of course, the summer sun can be intense, so make sure you bring sunscreen and a wide-brimmed travel hat if you are visiting during summer months.
Seattle is beautiful – so bring an actual camera to capture the stunning landscapes and city sights! We use a Canon Rebel with an everyday 18-135mm lens. The camera takes excellent photos – and comes bundled with tons of great accessories that are perfect for beginner photographers!
We think travel insurance is essential! Trip insurance can protect against trip cancellations, flight delays and lost luggage. Check rates and coverage at World Nomads.
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