Seattle Travel Guides

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love the state of Seattle

Why We Love Seattle: The Emerald City is the gem of the Pacific Northwest with gorgeous views of mountains, sea and sky to prove it. Beautiful outdoor spaces and eco-conscious residents, a thriving music scene and diverse craft breweries are just the beginning of Seattle’s appeal. This city is a walker and biker’s paradise and the coffee capital of the United States. Experience each of its distinct neighborhoods and embrace the artful weirdness of it all. Travel to this place of rain and clouds and you’ll find out just how much the city shines.  

Best of Seattle

Things to Do in Seattle

View of people in Pike Place Fish Market
The site of the famous fish throwing at the entrance of Pike Place Market

Wander quirky neighborhoods, check out famous landmarks, relax by the water, and so much more. Seattle is sure to keep you busy.

  • Visit Pike Place Market – Always booming with activity, this year round market is a great spot to sample local goods. 
  • Relax at Golden Gardens Beach – One of the best beaches in Seattle to spend a summer day or watch the sunset.
  • Check out the Speakeasies – From Prohibition to their modern revival, speakeasies are an iconic part of Seattle’s drinking landscape.
  • Go on an Underground Tour – This subterranean walking tour takes you through the remains of the original Seattle before the Great Fire of 1889 decimated the city.
  • Have the Best Coffee Ever – Go coffee tasting, sample drips, espressos, lattes and more. There’s no shortage of great coffee to satisfy your cravings.

👉 Read the full list of 51 things to do in Seattle.

🗺️ Where to Stay

While every neighborhood has its own personality and plenty to offer, these are some of the best to stay in.

  • Downtown Seattle – The majority of hotel options are downtown. Staying here gives visitors access to top attractions and ample public transit options.
  • Lower Queen Anne – A great stay for families and couples, Lower Queen Anne has plenty of good restaurants, bars, and cultural events.
  • Capitol Hill – Young adult visitors will enjoy the Cap Hill experience, especially if they’re looking for nightlife and bar hopping.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay in Seattle.

View of people in the Westlake Park in Downtown Seattle
Westlake Park on a sunny day in downtown Seattle (photo: TS Photographer / Shutterstock)

🛎️ Best Hotels

View of The Inn At The Market in Seattle
The Inn At The Market hotel is just steps from Pike Place Market. (photo: VDB Photos / Shutterstock)

Seattle is full of unique, historic hotels with top of the line amenities. Book early to guarantee your spot in the best of them.

  • Inn at the Market – This cool, contemporary hotel is located in Pike Place Market. Enjoy waterfront views and rooftop access at a perfect location.
  • Fairmont Olympic – You’ll feel transported to another era in this historic, boutique hotel with lavish rooms and a sophisticated hotel bar.
  • Renaissance Hotel – In the heart of downtown Seattle, this stylish, pet-friendly hotel provides easy access to numerous attractions.

🍽️ Restaurants

You’ll find endless options for good eats throughout Seattle. The hardest part is choosing what to try first!

  • Sisters and Brothers – The mouthwatering Nashville hot chicken is the biggest draw here! Order Nashville hot or above… if you dare.
  • Off the Rez – Sample Native American cuisine at their cafe or food truck. Try sweet and savory fry-breads and mouth-watering Indian tacos.
  • Plum Bistro – An elegant vegan restaurant with delectable dishes even meat-eaters will delight in.
  • Cafe Presse – This laid-back French restaurant has the best croque madames and chocolat chaud in the city.
  • Island Soul Rum Bar and Soul Shack – Order jerk chicken, fried catfish, gumbo and more at this family-owned restaurant serving Caribbean-inspired soul food.

🍴 Read the full local list of best restaurants in Seattle.

View of a macaroni and chicken from Sisters and Brothers
A mouthwatering meal from Sisters and Brothers

🚗 Day Trips

View of the Point Robinson Lighthouse and the colorful sky in Seattle
Point Robinson Lighthouse is a serene place to hang out on Vashon
  • Mount Rainier National Park – This breathtaking destination is a must for hikers. The mountain will charm you no matter how often you see it. 
  • Bainbridge Island – A short ferry ride from the city, this relaxed island is full of eclectic spots with plenty of outdoor adventures. 
  • Tacoma – This gritty city south of Seattle is a worthy destination for food, bars, art, and more.
  • Vashon Island – Travel to this sleepy island for cider tastings or to take it easy on one of the many beaches.
  • Poulsbo – This family friendly town has a cute and walkable downtown area with a charming waterfront

👉 See full list of best Seattle Day Trips.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View of the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge
The famous Fremont Troll hides beneath the Aurora Bridge. (photo: Chamomile_Olya / Shutterstock)
  • Capitol Hill – A lively spot with some of Seattle’s best nightlife and home to local gems like Unicorn and Elliott Bay Books. 
  • Fremont – A quirky neighborhood with several unusual attractions like the Fremont Troll and the controversial Lenin statue. 
  • Queen Anne – The bustling lower Queen Anne neighborhood is home to tourist attractions like the Seattle Center and the Space Needle.
  • Ballard – This desirable neighborhood has hip shops, a variety of restaurants and an unpretentious brewery scene.
  • Georgetown – Gritty and eclectic, Georgetown is an unexpectedly fun place to hang out even with all the noise from low flying planes.

👉 See full list of the best Seattle neighborhoods.

🍸 Bars

View of a colorful mural in Twilight Exit
A previous iteration of the mural outside the entrance to Twilight Exit
  • Twilight Exit – A no frills dive bar with reasonably priced drinks, delicious house-made eats, and Sunday karaoke!
  • Bathtub Gin & Co – One of the best speakeasies in the city. A great spot for date nights with strong, creative cocktails.
  • Unicorn – This iconic bar is known for its carnival-themed food and drinks, exciting atmosphere, and the pic-worthy unicorn hat.
  • The Cuff Complex – An LGBTQ bar and dance club hybrid with great vibes, regular performances and taco Tuesdays and Thursdays. 
  • Flip Flip Ding Ding – Come to this neat Georgetown bar to play pinball, sip a variety of beers and eat delicious vegan pizza

⛰️ Best Nearby Hikes

View of the Discovery Park during a sunny morning in Seattle
Discovery Park is huge and beautiful – the perfect place for a hike in any season
  • Rattlesnake Ridge – A popular year-round hike with fantastic views of Mount Si, Rattlesnake Lake and more. 
  • Discovery Park – The largest park in Seattle with trails suitable for every level of hiker. Wander from forests to the bluffs and the beach.
  • Mount Si – This challenging hike takes you up the steep Mount Si. It’s a good workout so be prepared to sweat.
  • Poo Poo Point – Hike to an open clearing with views of cities, forests and mountains. You may see paragliders taking off from here.
  • Snow Lake – A shorter, moderate trek to a gorgeous alpine lake. This hike is best taken in summer to early fall.

👉 Read the full guide to best hikes near Seattle

Coffee Shops

A hand holding a cup of coffee
The lattes at Uptown Espresso are always phenomenal
  • Uptown Espresso – Coffee shop known for their signature velvet foam, well-balanced lattes, and yummy breakfast options.
  • Olympia Coffee – With ethically sourced beans from the finest farmers all over the world, this is a great choice for serious coffee lovers. 
  • Broadcast Coffee – A bright, minimalist space makes this a pleasant space to hang out while enjoying a good brew. 
  • Black Coffee NW – Near the junction of Seattle and Shoreline, this youth-run, community focused coffee shop serves great black coffee and pastries.
  • Herkimer Coffee – This welcoming and modern cafe is a local favorite with friendly baristas, great cappuccinos and delicious espressos.

Read the full list of best coffee shops in Seattle.

🍺 Breweries

View of a pretzel and beers on a table
Pretzels + beer from Good Society are a winning combo
  • Good Society Beer – A newer brewery with a varied beer selection and a commitment to donating a portion of their proceeds to local causes. 
  • Fremont Brewery – A popular, pup-friendly brewery with plenty of outdoor seating among greenery, and an extensive beer selection.
  • Perihelion – This all-ages pub has delicious beer and food. Come for a nice, hearty stout or perfectly hoppy IPA. 
  • Lowercase – This small brewery is a great, uncrowded spot to grab a beer. Go on a weekend to enjoy their weekly croissant pop-ups!
  • Stoup Brewery – Stoup is among the best of the Ballard breweries with plenty of seating and a great core selection of beer.

🍻 Read the full list of best breweries in Seattle.

Seattle Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

As long as you know what to expect from the weather on your visit to Seattle, you can find great things to do during any season.

  • 🍂 Fall –  A cozy time to visit. You’ll experience cooler temps, gorgeous foliage, and early fall is a great time to go to the mountains.
  • 🌞 Summer – Expect warm weather, clear skies, and crowds. This is the best time for hiking, watersports and camping.
  • 🌼 Spring – The weather is unpredictable, but spring is a great time to see flowers, waterfalls and attend festivals.
  • ❄️ Winter –  There will be rain, sometimes snow, and gray skies almost everyday, but there’s still lots to do indoors.

👉 Read the full guide to the best time to visit Seattle.

🚌 Getting Around

There are a lot of transportation options for Seattle visitors, so you can easily cater your trip to your needs and budget.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Seattle’s walk score is 74. It’s very walkable, but there are lots of hills involved.
  • 🚗 Driving – A car makes it easier to traverse some parts of the city. Parking isn’t bad, but traffic gets congested during rush hour.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Easily reach most places in the city via bus or light rail.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Catch an Uber or Lyft is easily in this rideshare ready city, though it can get costly pretty quick.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in America! There are plenty of bike lanes and rentals to accommodate riders.
  • 🛴 Scooters – Link and Lime scooters are readily available throughout the city.
  • ⛴️ Ferries – Reach places like Bainbridge Island and Bremerton by utilizing Seattle’s ferry system.

👉 Read the full guide to getting around Seattle.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • ☂️- Most locals don’t use umbrellas – Bring a raincoat to stay hands free! If you do pack your umbrella, just be careful not to whack people with it on narrow sidewalks.
  • 🥶- You may find the locals a bit “icy” – The “Seattle Freeze” is real, and some may find Seattlelites standoffish, but most locals are friendly and polite, especially if you are.
  • 🌧️- Don’t be afraid of the rain – Venture to breweries, cafes, bookstores, and visit the best museums in Seattle for rainy day excursions with fewer crowds.
  • 🐕- Seattle is incredibly dog friendly – All pups are welcome here! It’s hard to go on a walk anywhere in the city without seeing numerous furry friends.
  • 🌲 – Seattlites love getting outside – Whether it’s hiking, city parks, live music events, farmer’s markets or baseball games, you won’t find most locals staying inside

👉 Read our full list of Seattle travel tips.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 👕 Layers – The weather changes in seconds here, especially during spring and fall. Pack and wear layers to stay comfortable in any situation.
  • 🥾 Waterproof Shoes – Avoid wet socks by packing waterproof shoes with good traction that can hold up to puddles and the occasional muddy patch.
  • 🕶️ – Sunglasses – When the sun comes out, you’ll be surprised at how bright it feels. Sunglasses are a must for spring and summer visits.
  • 🧥  – Raincoat – Skip the umbrella and grab a raincoat! It’ll be your best protection against the rain. 
  • 🛍️ – Reusable Bag – Seattle is plastic-bag free and charges for paper bags. Bring a reusable bag when shopping to save a few cents.

👉 Read our full Seattle packing list.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 737,015 (city), 4.01 million (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Pacific Standard Time (UTC -8 / UTC -7 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 206, 564
  • Airports – Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Nickname – Emerald City
  • Demonynm – Seattleite
  • StateWashington
  • CountryUnited States of America

🤓 See the full list of facts about Seattle.

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $94-$190/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $88-180/night
  • Rental Car – $30-$70/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – $2.75-$3.50 (~$11 to airport from center)
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $40-$55
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $40-$60
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $50-$100
  • Draft Beer – $6-12

FAQs About Visiting Seattle

Is Seattle safe for tourists?

Seattle is generally safe for tourists. It’s still a major city so make sure to walk in well-lit places at night and avoid wandering around alone. Visitors should note there is an increase in the population of people experiencing homelessness – particularly in downtown, Pioneer Square and Belltown. The city has an extremely high vaccination rate. As of December 2021, 81.6% of residents 5 and older in King County are fully vaccinated against covid-19.

Is Seattle Worth Visiting?

Seattle is absolutely worth visiting if you want to check out a laid back, slower-paced major city with a delightful culinary scene, art-loving locals, and amazing access to the outdoors. 

What’s Seattle Best Known for?

Seattle is best known for its rainy weather, beautiful outdoors, fresh seafood, its distinct coffee culture and being the birthplace of Starbucks. Grunge music got its start in Seattle and the city is currently home to many large tech companies.

How many days do you need to see Seattle?

Three to four days is best for an initial visit to Seattle. This would give visitors enough time to see the downtown area and major attractions, visit a few interesting neighborhoods and venture out on a day trip to a nearby city or go for a hike.

With that said, if you are short on time, you can follow my 1 day in Seattle itinerary to make the most of it.

What months are sunny in Seattle?

The sunniest months in Seattle are July and August. The sun also makes more of an appearance during May, June, September and early October.

Do you need a car in Seattle?

You don’t need a car to get around Seattle. You can get to most places, including select hiking trails, via public transit. However, a car is helpful for day trips and for getting from north to south Seattle quickly if you have limited time in the city.

📰 Washington Travel Guides

All set to start exploring Seattle and the surrounding areas? You’ll find helpful information for planning the trip of your dreams with these guides–all created by a local!:

Meet Our Seattle Travel Experts

Chelsea Booker

Chelsea Booker is a Seattle-based freelance travel writer and storyteller who loves discovering places that stimulate her imagination. Her adventures around Washington and the Pacific Northwest have inspired her to show others just how much there is to explore in their own backyards. She writes about more of what she loves – creativity, personal development, and joyful living – on her lifestyle blog, Chelsea Figures It Out.

👉 Read Chelsea’s Articles

🗺️ Seattle Map