Seattle Itinerary – 3 Days Planned By a Local + Map (2023)
👉 Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Where to Stay | Map | Getting Around | Tips | FAQ
I’m a Seattle local and I have the best 3-day Seattle itinerary for you!
This guide includes excursions to some of the top things to do and see in Seattle, like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Center. I’ve also thrown in a good mix of activities that will take you off the beaten path to the places locals frequent.
Skip the stress of putting together a comprehensive itinerary yourself. Use this Seattle itinerary to guarantee you have a good time!
📚 Only one day to spend in Seattle? Check out my one day in Seattle itinerary instead to learn how to make the most of your day.
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3 Day Seattle Itinerary
Day 1 – Check Out the City’s Top Attractions
Seattle is the coffee capital of the USA, so it makes sense to begin your 3 days in Seattle itinerary at a coffee shop. There are countless great coffee shops in Seattle. You’ll start your day at Anchorhead Coffee, which is one of the best.
They have multiple locations but go to the one on Western Ave., which is mere steps from Pike Place Market. Order a smooth pour-over or a seasonal latte to enjoy inside or outside if the weather is nice.
Skip the pastry. Your next stop is the famous Pike Place Market and you’ll have more than enough options for a bite to eat when you get exploring.
Once you’re all done, take a short walk to Pike Place Market. Be sure to check out my Pike Place Market guide ahead of time so you have a good idea of what to expect!
The market is usually less crowded in the mornings. Spend some time getting yourself oriented and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of Seattle’s top attraction.
Browse fresh produce in fruit and veggie-laden stalls and admire fresh and dried flower bouquets. Pop into any shop you find interesting. Check out the waterfront views and take pictures at the gum wall.
There are amazing places for food throughout the market. For breakfast, I recommend Daily Dozen Donuts, Three Girls Bakery, or The Crumpet Shop. For snacks and other lunch options, try Pike Place Chowder, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Mee Sum Pastry, or Oriental Mart. Whatever you choose, don’t leave the market hungry!
Once you’ve had your fill of the Pike Place Market (which is likely getting more crowded by now), head to Westlake Station. Next, you’ll take the monorail to Seattle’s other big attraction: the Seattle Center.
The Seattle Center monorail is a fun, cool, and convenient means of getting from downtown Seattle to the Seattle Center. Enjoy the ride on Seattle’s fast ’60s-era ride.
The monorail will drop you off right between two of the Seattle Center’s biggest attractions, the Museum of Pop Culture and the Space Needle. These are also two of Seattle’s major landmarks.
While here, decide if you want to ride the Space Needle to the top or just take pictures from below. Check out the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. To get a good deal on the admission costs for all three attractions, I’d recommend buying a Seattle City Pass ahead of time.
In addition to these Seattle Center highlights, there are other options good for families. Check out the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Children’s Museum, and Artists at Play Playground if you’re visiting with kids.
You may still be full from Pike Place Market. But if you do get hungry, go to the Armory, which has places for a quick bite. During summer, you can also grab a snack from one of the various food carts around the Seattle Center.
When you’ve gotten your fill of the Seattle Center, walk about 10 minutes to the Olympic Sculpture Park. This cool Seattle park has dozens of interesting abstract sculptures and is a part of the Seattle Art Museum.
While you walk through the park, you’ll have views of the Olympic Mountains across Elliott Bay and may see ferries in the distance. The path through the Olympic Sculpture Park will eventually lead you down to the Seattle waterfront.
The Seattle Waterfront has some of the city’s other major attractions and is popular with tourists. The Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Great Wheel, Miner’s Landing, and Argosy Cruises all operate out of the waterfront. Spend a little time here if you want. This is a great place for people-watching.
When you’re ready to leave the waterfront, you’ll head over to Pioneer Square, Seattle’s original neighborhood. You can walk all the way here if you have the energy. Otherwise, there are app-based scooters you can rent to make the trip quicker. You can also call an Uber or Lyft.
In Pioneer Square, you’ll go on the Seattle Underground Tour. This historical tour will take you beneath the streets to see parts of the original city before the Seattle Fire of 1889. Tours last about 75 minutes and are both informative and amusing. You can book tickets in advance online or over the phone.
💰 Budget Tip: If you’re on a budget, but still want to go on a tour, consider booking a free Seattle walking tour! This is one of the best free things to do in Seattle, allowing you to take a dive into the city’s history with a local guide who knows their stuff.
After the Pioneer Square Seattle Underground Tour, it’s time to wrap up a busy day. You’ll conclude your evening with dinner, dessert, and drinks in one of two neighborhoods. Decide which kind of night you want to have and what neighborhood you’re most interested in seeing.
Option one is Capitol Hill, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Seattle. It features lots of restaurants, bars, and nightlife options. If you want a lively evening, choose to spend it in this neighborhood. Go to Nue for dinner, Molly Moon’s for dessert, and then to Capitol Hill Cider for drinks.
Option two is the Central District. Choose this neighborhood if you want to experience a laid-back night spending time at a few local favorites. Go to Communion for dinner, Lowrider Cookies for dessert, and then to Twilight Exit (my favorite dive bar in the city) for drinks.
Day 2 – Day Trip to Bainbridge Island or Hike a Nearby Mountain
Morning & Afternoon Option 1
On day two of your 3 days in Seattle itinerary, you have two choices for how to spend the morning and afternoon.
If you want a more relaxed start to the day, choose a day trip to Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge Island is one of the best places to visit in Washington state. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Seattle and you’ll take a ferry to get there.
In the morning, grab breakfast at Toulouse Petite. This is a Cajun-Creole restaurant with everything from beignets and biscuits to shrimp and grits.
When you finish breakfast, head down to Colman Dock to catch your Bainbridge Island ferry.
If you’re visiting Seattle on a budget, walk onto the ferry. This is the cheapest option at around $10 roundtrip. If you want the ability to explore the island further, take a car.
While riding the ferry, make sure you take in the views from the front and back of the boat. The ferries are some of the best places to see the Seattle skyline.
The ferry crossing takes around 30 minutes. When you finish taking your pictures of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Great Wheel, and Mount Rainier, prepare to disembark.
If you walked onto the ferry, you’ll spend the majority of your time in Winslow. This cute town is a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal. If you drove, you can visit other parks, wineries, and even a reserve on the north end of the island. Chat with friendly locals, and enjoy the slower pace of life and many things to do on Bainbridge Island.
Once lunchtime rolls around, grab a bite to eat at Restaurant Marché. And don’t leave the island before having a beer at Bainbridge Island Brewing or a glass of wine at Fletcher Bay Winery. As the early evening approaches, board the ferry and ride back to Seattle.
Morning & Afternoon Option 2
Your other option for the beginning of the second day is to go on a hike near Seattle. You’ll head to the Cascade Mountains in the morning, so book your rental with Discover Cars before leaving for your trip.
Make sure you get up early to avoid early morning traffic and crowds. Grab some early morning fuel in the form of coffee and donuts at Half and Half Doughnut Co. Bring your breakfast to-go along with a few snacks and lots of water to keep your energy up on the trail.
If you’re a novice to an intermediate hiker, I recommend Snow Lake or Rattlesnake Ledge. Both have amazing payoffs and well-maintained trails. If you’re a beginner or visiting with kids, check out Franklin Falls. Whatever you choose, these are all excellent Pacific Northwest hikes.
After any of these hikes, I suggest making a quick trip to see the nearby Snoqualmie Falls. This is the most popular of Washington’s waterfalls and is an awesome sight to see. In fact, visiting is one of the best things to do in Washington state!
When you finish your hike, stop in North Bend. Have lunch at Twede’s Cafe, which is famous for being featured in Twin Peaks. Munch on burgers, fries, and a slice of pie, then head back to Seattle.
Shower and relax for a bit in your hotel before heading out for the evening.
Your evening will begin with a stop at an epic viewpoint before you visit a couple of cool north Seattle neighborhoods.
First, go to Kerry Park. This little park in Queen Anne has one of the best views of the Seattle skyline. It’s one of the best places to get a gorgeous photo of downtown, Elliott Bay, and even Mount Rainier (on a clear day). It’s a very tiny park so this will be a quick stop. Snap a few photos, then head north to Fremont.
The quirky Fremont neighborhood has great shops, restaurants, and lots of public art. In particular, you’ll find the Fremont Troll here. If you want to get a photo with Seattle’s favorite troll beneath the Aurora Bridge, it’s only a couple blocks from the main drag.
But your stop in Fremont consists of getting some pre-dinner drinks. Go to Add-A-Ball, a fun arcade bar with cheap drinks and plenty of games. After drinks, head to the next neighborhood over, Ballard.
Ballard has tons of options for dining, and you’ll eat at one of the best restaurants in Seattle for seafood. Go to the Walrus and the Carpenter and order oysters, salmon, shrimp, and any of their other yummy menu items.
After dinner, you can grab a chocolatey dessert from Hot Cakes, or head back to your hotel to have a restful evening after a long and busy day.
Day 3 – Explore Discovery Park and Other Neighborhoods
On the morning of the last day of your Seattle itinerary, go to Herkimer Coffee, another one of the best coffee shops in Seattle.
I recommend going to the South Lake Union location and grabbing a pastry to take with you as well. Once you’ve got your snack and coffee, drive to Discovery Park in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood.
Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park at 540 acres and spans forest, bluff, and beach. There are plenty of trails throughout the park, making it perfect for a scenic morning walk. Listen to birds sing, check out West Point Lighthouse, and admire the bluffs that will help you understand why this is one of Seattle’s best parks.
When you finish your walk through Discovery Park, you’ll go get a more filling meal for brunch.
Go to Tilikum Place Cafe for brunch on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Make sure you make reservations in advance. This lower Queen Anne Restaurant is well-known and highly regarded for its dutch babies.
If you’re visiting during the week, head down to Geraldine’s Counter in Columbia City. This is a classic brunch spot in a cute neighborhood. It’s a no-frills restaurant with great eggs, pancakes, and other standard brunch items.
When you finish brunch, you have two options for how to spend your afternoon.
Afternoon Option 1
Georgetown is your first afternoon option for the last day of your Seattle Itinerary. Georgetown is a fun neighborhood with a slightly edgy vibe. Don’t let its industrial location along train tracks and near an airfield fool you. There are plenty of awesome places to visit in this cool neighborhood.
Drive or take the bus down to Georgetown’s main commercial district along Airport Way S.
If you like beer, visit some of Georgetown’s best breweries. These include Machine House Brewing, Jellyfish Brewing Company, and Lowercase Brewing.
If you want to go shopping, check out Barn Owl Vintage, Fantagraphics, and the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall. For food, grab some delicious vegan sandwiches at Georgetown Liquor Company or flatbreads from Ciudad.
Oh, and don’t leave before you get dessert from Matcha Man Taiyaki and Ice Cream.
Afternoon Option 2
Your second option for your final day in Seattle is to spend the afternoon in West Seattle. Specifically, you’ll be hanging out at Alki Beach, Seattle’s relaxed little “beach town.”
If you’re visiting Seattle in the summer, expect a lot of activity around Alki. You’ll see people rollerblading, jogging, and biking along the main trail. If you want to get in on the activity, rent a bike from Wheel Fun Rentals or hop on an electric scooter.
If you’d rather get on the water to take in the views from Puget Sound, rent a kayak from Alki Kayak Tours.
Alki Beach is the perfect place to spend a relaxing beach day sunbathing, playing in the chilly waters, reading a book, or people-watching. So if you need a little break from the past two days of activity, this could be a good option.
Getting hungry or thirsty? Check out some of the restaurants along the strip. Get lemonade and boba tea from Natalie’s on Alki or cider from Locust Cider. Enjoy fish and chips from Alki Spud Fish and Chips or get some delicious Mexican food from Cactus.
When you finish your Alki Beach adventure, make your way back to downtown Seattle.
Your final evening will be spent sipping cocktails on a high rise.
Make sure you make a reservation in advance to The Nest Rooftop Bar. This bar is at the top of the Thompson Hotel. Lounge around on comfy couches or tucked-away seating. If you’re traveling with a partner, you’ll see why this made the list of my best Seattle date ideas.
Enjoy sipping wine or expertly-made cocktails while you reflect on a well-spent 3 days in Seattle. The Nest has delightful drinks, awesome service, and tasty small plates, but the real treat when coming here is the incredible view.
You’ll be able to see the downtown waterfront park, including the Seattle Aquarium and the Seattle Great Wheel. You’ll also see the Olympic Mountains from across Puget Sound. Enjoy the pretty sights. Time your visit with the sunset to see Seattle at its prettiest.
Once you’re all finished, head back to your hotel. And that concludes your full 3 days in Seattle itinerary!
Where to Stay in Seattle
I have a full and very detailed guide to where to stay in Seattle, but here’s the quick summary:
Best Seattle Hotels
There are plenty of hotels suitable for 3 days in Seattle. You can find options that are budget-friendly and others near Pike Place Market. There are also options for a perfect romantic getaway.
Want a quick choice for when you visit Seattle? Here are a few of my picks:
- Budget – The Maxwell Hotel
- Mid-Range – State Hotel
- Luxury – Four Seasons
- Boutique – Inn at the Market
- Historic – Hotel Sorrento
- For Couples – Edgewater Hotel
Best Seattle Neighborhoods & Areas
For 3 days in Seattle, choose to stay close to the downtown area, or select a few Seattle neighborhoods that are further out, but along the light rail line. Here are several options:
- Downtown Seattle (Search apartments in Downtown Seattle) – Downtown Seattle is the central part of Seattle. Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium, and other top attractions are all easily accessible here. Most hotels are in downtown Seattle, and it’s easy to get to other parts of the city from downtown.
- South Lake Union (Search apartments in South Lake Union) – South Lake Union is north of downtown Seattle on the shores of Lake Union. It’s a great place for business travelers. It has great lakeside restaurants and easy access to other popular neighborhoods.
- Queen Anne (Search apartments in Queen Anne) – Stay in Queen Anne to be close to the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, and Chihuly Garden and Glass. There are both budget-friendly and family-friendly hotels in Queen Anne. It’s a charming neighborhood with plenty of dining options, cafes, and bars.
- University District (Search apartments in University District) – The University District is in north Seattle and is home to the University of Washington. It has budget-friendly hotel and dining options and a youthful vibe. Because it’s on the light rail train line, it’s a good option for being away from downtown while being able to reach it easily.
- Capitol Hill (Search apartments in Capitol Hill) – Capitol Hill is east of the city center and it’s probably the most popular neighborhood in the city. The Hill is super walkable and dense with restaurants, shops, and nightlife options.
These are just a few of the options for where to stay in Seattle, but there are plenty more to choose from. Check out my guide to get a more in-depth run-down and find the perfect area for you.
Seattle Itinerary Map
Here is a Google Map with all the stop, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.
How to Get Around in Seattle
You can utilize a number of Seattle’s transportation options for a 3-day Seattle itinerary. I recommend a mix of public transportation, walking, and driving.
Use the link light rail to get from the Seattle Tacoma International Airport into downtown Seattle. It’s reliable and runs often. You’ll also use it a lot if you book a hotel in Capitol Hill or the University District.
Seattle is a walkable city and many neighborhoods you’ll want to be in have dense commercial areas. Walk places when you’re able, especially while downtown.
I also recommend renting a car. If you’re spending 3 days in Seattle, it’s fun to take one of the best day trips from the city. Driving is the easiest way to do this. For an easy and reliable car rental option, book with Discover Cars so you don’t have to worry about any hassle.
Check out my guide on getting around Seattle if you want to run through even more of your options for traversing the Emerald City.
Seattle Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip #1 – Decide on Your Transportation Ahead of Time
What you can do and how much you can fit into 3 days in Seattle will depend on your transportation choices. If you plan on using public transportation, stick to Seattle itinerary options that are close to public transit. If you want to explore further and go on a hike, make sure you’re willing to rent a car.
Tip #2 – Bring the Right Gear for the Season You Visit
Seattle is known for its rainy weather, so make sure you plan for this when making your Seattle packing list. Pack a rain jacket, especially if visiting in spring, fall, or winter. If you plan on going on a hike, make sure you have appropriate footwear and other hiking essentials.
Tip #3 – Use this Seattle Itinerary as a Guide, Not a Rule
If there’s something you’ve been dying to do in Seattle and you don’t see it on this Seattle itinerary, adjust it as needed! There are more things to do in Seattle than can be tackled in 3 days. Make sure you’re always prioritizing your interests to make your trip suit you.
Tip #4 – Get an ORCA Card
If you’re using public transportation, make sure you get an ORCA card for your stay. This will allow you to use buses, the light rail, streetcars, ferries, and more. You can easily add money to them, and they’re available for purchase at the airport kiosk, in stores, and in plenty of other places.
Tip #5 – Make Reservations and Buy Tickets Ahead of Time
Make sure you book any tours you want to go on ahead of time, especially if you’re visiting during the busy summer season. To cut down on wait times, I also recommend making reservations for super popular restaurants. This will make your trip feel more seamless.
📚 Related Reading: Don’t miss my article on other Seattle travel tips! You’ll definitely want to read this before your trip to Seattle.
FAQs About Visiting Seattle
How many days do you need for a Seattle trip?
You should aim to have at least 3 days for a Seattle trip. This will allow you to fully enjoy what the city has to offer.
How do you spend 3 days in the Seattle area?
You can spend 3 days in the Seattle area by dedicating some time to seeing the major attractions on day one. On day two, you can go on a day trip to a nearby city or go on a hike. On the third day, you can spend your time exploring fun neighborhoods off the beaten path.
Now you know how to spend your 3 days in Seattle! Feel free to adjust this Seattle itinerary for your specific needs to fully enjoy your trip to Seattle. For other options on what to do when visiting the Pacific Northwest, see our ultimate Washington travel guide.
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