Weekend Trip to Seattle: How to Spend 3 Days in Seattle
Updated October 2022
When looking for an amazing place to spend some time in the Pacific Northwest, look no further than a weekend trip to Seattle, Washington! This gem of a city offers nature, museums, culture, trendy restaurants, and walkable spaces with modern architecture. Whether this is your first time visiting Seattle or you are a returning visitor, there is never a lack of things to do or see!
Best Place to Stay on a Weekend Trip to Seattle
Just like with any city, the best place to stay depends on who you ask! Since you’re here planning your weekend trip to Seattle, I’m happy to share my favorite areas which are Downtown and Pioneer Square.
Downtown Seattle is filled with modern buildings with unique designs and beautiful aesthetic. Only about a 20 minute walk to the Seattle Center means that you can enjoy getting to the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Museum of Pop Culture on foot.
Check out a few options here:
Pioneer Square has an old-fashioned appeal and reminded us a bit of an older European city with its brick buildings and charm. A cute bed and breakfast would be a sweet place to stay in this part of the city.
Check out a few options here:
If you are ready for luxury, then we highly recommend renting a car and driving about a half hour outside the city to stay at Salish Lodge & Spa which overlooks Snoqualmie Falls. This gorgeous resort was recently renovated, and its beautiful rooms with fireplaces and water views are cozy, romantic, and pure bliss.
Best Time to Visit Seattle
Seattle is famous for its constant rainfall, yet most of the time it is more of a drizzle than a storm. While you could potentially visit Seattle any time of the year, if you would like to experience the outdoors as much as possible as well as see plenty of sunshine, August is your best bet for beautiful days.
We spent our long weekend in Seattle during the second week of September and definitely started to feel fall’s arrival with drizzly days and even an unlikely thunderstorm on our first evening there. The colors were also starting to change in trees outside of the city, which was beautiful.
So whenever you decide to visit, pack your rain jacket and your umbrella – although you won’t see a local carrying an umbrella. They just walk around the streets completely unfazed by the rain!
Getting Around Seattle Without a Car
We followed the signs in the airport toward the Link Light Rail to take the train into the city. Check the map for your stop and purchase a ticket easily from the machines. It cost us $5.65 each to get downtown. You don’t need to show your ticket or validate it anywhere, just don’t lose it in case you are asked to show it!
Upon exiting at our drop off, we had a good mile to walk to our hotel. We debated calling an Uber, but decided to walk and take in city. Luckily our new suitcases handled the sidewalks amazingly well, so walking was no big deal.
To park at our hotel would have cost us $25/day plus the cost of car rental. So we decided to walk and Uber around the city all weekend rather than rent a car. We logged an average of 5 miles a day walking and spent a total of $51.37 on Uber and Lyft for a total of seven trips.
Weekend Trip to Seattle Itinerary
- Day 1: Seattle Center + Waterfront
- Day 2: Pioneer Square + Capitol Hill + Kerry Park
- Day 3: Ferry Ride to Bainbridge Island + Fremont
- Optional Add-On: Snoqualmie Falls
3 Days in Seattle Day 1: Seattle Center + Waterfront
The first day of your long weekend in Seattle is best devoted to some of the popular spots that make Seattle iconic. The Seattle Center is in a beautiful park setting and is home to the Space Needle, among other spots like the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Museum of Pop Culture.
If you wish to visit the Space Needle and at least one other museum, we highly recommend checking out the Seattle City Pass. By visiting just the three locations listed below, you will have made your money back.
Visiting the Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle is viewed from many spots in the city and is Seattle’s most iconic attraction. Tickets aren’t cheap, but if you are a sucker for great views, complete with newly renovated glass floors, then the price will be worth it.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
This gem was one of the highlights of our weekend in Seattle! The masterpieces created by Dave Chihuly were incredible and jaw dropping. We entered the building for and headed straight into the exhibit that highlighted his connection and inspiration with the Native American population in Washington. The next rooms showed his love of the underwater sea. The Glasshouse is the most popular feature of the museum and did not disappoint. The Gardens topped off the morning with art sculptures mixed with natural botanical gardens. We We loved finding reflections of the Space Needle in his art throughout the garden.
Admission for the museum is $32 for adults, $17 for children and worth every penny! I recommend checking their website for Special Closures for the Glasshouse before visiting as this exhibit often closes early for private events, so mornings are usually best if you don’t want to miss out on entering this space.
Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture was not a priority for us on this weekend trip to Seattle, so we decided to skip it. But if it is high on your list of things to do then now would be a good time to visit while you are in the area. It is also included in the Seattle City Pass as well.
MoPOP is open daily from 10am – 5pm (extended hours in the summer) with admission priced at $28 for adults. Exhibitions rotate and currently include Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic, and Hendrix: Wild Blue Angel.
Monorail to Downtown
The Monorail departs from the station right next to the Space Needle and is a super easy and simple way to save a few steps heading Downtown. The monorail departs every 10 minutes, takes 2 minutes to get downtown, and only has one stop – so no fear of getting off at the wrong place! The cost is only $2.50 each.
No Seattle itinerary is complete without some time on and near the ocean, so spend your afternoon exploring this area of Seattle with the smell of fresh fish in the air!
Pike Place – a favorite on a weekend trip to Seattle!
Pike Place is only a few minutes’ walk from the monorail station. The easily identifiable big red sign alerts you that you are near this large market. I had a lot of expectations for this place on our weekend trip to Seattle and feared that maybe I had set my standards too high. Nope! We LOVED touring the array of shops and restaurants that are all set back in time at about 1933.
We toured Pike Place with Eat Seattle Food Tours on their chef-guided tour and it was amazing! John was our guide and he led us through the maze of the market for over 2 hours, explaining the history, and treating us to samples from several highlights in the market. The clam chowder, German sausages, and delish Greek yogurt were our faves!
While lines were pretty long at several of our stops, we were able to step right up for our hearty samples, all while hearing about hidden market gems and how the food is prepared. The samples make up the equivalent of a light lunch (light for my husband, I was stuffed!), so the 12:30pm tour is a perfect choice if available. Tours are also held at 10:00am each day and all are priced at $49.99. We wouldn’t have experienced half of what we did if we had toured the market on our own. We highly recommend a chef-guided tour of Pike Place in your itinerary!
Post Alley Gum Wall
While at Pike Place, it is hard to resist taking at peek at the infamous Gum Wall. Though a major tourist attraction, I would describe it in the words of my 6 year olds as “DEES-gusting!” However, it was those same six year olds that begged me to go and take a picture of it for them, and so I did. Enjoy.
This is about as bad as this wall gets. It is cleaned by people in hazmat suits with power washers and scraping tools every September. We were there just a couple of weeks before it was cleaned.
So this is it at its worst. Er…at its best? Attracting bubblegum blowing tourists every day, it also attracts bees during the day and rats at night, so bubble-blow at your own risk.
The Seattle Waterfront area offers a boardwalk to stroll, a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel ($15/adults & $10/kids), and also an aquarium which would be a great addition to your day with children especially.
The best choice to end the afternoon would be a harbor cruise with Argosy Cruises. $31 for adults and $17 for children, this one hour long cruise will get you out on the water in the beautiful bay and also allow you to view the skyline from the water, which is always one of my favorite perspectives.
Dinner on the Town
Seattle’s food scene offers many options and variety for choosing dinner. We chose Vons 1000 Spirits for our first night and were thoroughly impressed. The hubby chose a hearty Bacon Burger and I ordered the Salmon Quinoa Salad. So flavorful, filling, and reasonably priced. They source their food locally and much of it comes from Pike Place. It is loud and lively tavern setting with tasty food. Servers spin the wheel every half hour which determines the current drink special, so stick around awhile! We left happy and satisfied.
Weekend Trip to Seattle Day 2: Pioneer Square & Capitol Hill
The second day of your 3 days in Seattle will take you to explore the other areas of the city that you have not yet experienced. Pioneer Square is a sweet area of the city with old brick buildings and historical architecture. Hit up Grand Central Bakery for a pastry on the go or sit awhile in the old train station. The front door is easy to miss, but the interior charm is worth the stop.
In order to fully understand and appreciate the history of Seattle, it is important to learn of what came before this modern day city. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour will do just that. Beneath the streets that you currently walk on is a whole underground city that fire destroyed in 1889. Due to major sewer issues, once the city burned down, they built the new Seattle right on top of it to take care of ongoing problems. Bill Spiedel’s tour will educate you on this past life of Seattle’s streets while entertaining you with hilariously funny tour guides the entire time. Make a reservation for a morning tour in order to make the most of your day.
Waterfall Garden Park
If you are ready for a short break before moving on, head down the street from the Underground Tour to the Waterfall Garden Park. This small oasis is a treasure hidden in plain sight on the busy city streets.
Sky View Observatory – Don’t miss this on your 3 days in Seattle!
Located in the Columbia Center Building (enter on the right side of the building rather than the main entrance for the easiest route), the Sky View Observatory is the best view of Seattle!
We even traded climbing the Space Needle to climb this majestic skyscraper instead on our weekend trip to Seattle, as it is the highest building in the city with 73 floors. Upon purchasing your tickets from the machines in the lobby, you will be escorted to the line for the elevator. A staff member will take a few souvenir photos for you in front of a green screen for optional purchase. Images include a Seattle skyline and even a Sasquatch!
The elevator takes almost 5 minutes to reach the top, but videos playing in the elevator will keep you entertained. The top of the building offers 360 degree views of the city, the bay, and if you are super duper lucky, even a gorgeous portrait of Mt. Rainier in all its glory.
Beautiful graphics adorn the walls with information about the city and the major sights that you can see below. Touch screens also offer interactive guides to help you plan your trip around Seattle and email you the list (super helpful if you hadn’t taken the time to read this Seattle Long Weekend Itinerary already!)
A café is available for those of you who wish to partake in lunch here. Cocktail tables are placed around the building to enjoy your view while you much your sandwich or salad.
Day and Night tickets are also availableif you wish to return on the same day to photograph the lights of the city in contrast to its daytime views.
The Seattle Roastery
There is a reason that I did not recommend visiting the Starbucks in Pike Place with the gigantic line. That is actually not the first Starbucks location, it was just a storeroom and the first one is no longer there. The Seattle Roastery Starbucks Reserve is a MUCH cooler place to visit – and we aren’t even coffee drinkers! You can watch the coffee roastery process inside, take in the hip copper and wood interior, grab a coffee from the tasting bar, and enjoy some of the pizza that made our mouths water.
Rumba – Jamaican Cocktail Bar
Rumba is open for Happy Hour from 4:30-5:30pm daily is just around the corner from the Roastery. Head here and pull up a turquoise seat for some delicious empanadas and fresh fish tacos. Just $3-4 each and you can’t eat just one. Get there early enough that you can order seconds before Happy Hour is over because I promise that you’ll want to! So tasty!
Molly Moon’s Ice Cream
If you haven’t yet stopped at Molly Moon’s on your Seattle weekend trip, now is the time! Head down the street about a half mile and pop into this sweet-smelling shop for a giant cone or two. We tasted a few (hint: taste even if you know what you want; they are all too delicious to miss out on) and we settled on a double scoop waffle cone to share made with Thin Mints minty ice cream and Cookie Dough (think snickerdoodle dough). It was SO filling and such a sweet way to celebrate our weekend.
Grab an Uber or call a taxi and head to Kerry Park about a half hour before sunset. This small strip of grass (hardly large enough to call a park!) offers stunning views of the city’s skyline. The bay, skyscrapers, Space Needle, Great Wheel, and ships are all visible as the sun sets and the sky begins to change colors. You won’t have the place to yourself as it is a popular spot, but you might witness two proposals like we did!
Seattle Itinerary Day 3: Ferry to Bainbridge & Fremont
Ferry to an Island
One of the magical things about this Pacific Northwest city, is the ability to check out one (or more!) of its islands off the coast, which makes for an amazing addition to your weekend in Seattle.
The most popular island to visit in Bainbridge due to its proximity to downtown Seattle. Ferry rides are frequent and only take about 35 minutes. Once on Bainbridge, fill as many hours as you please with hiking trails (there are dozens!), wine tasting, historical museums, bike riding, kayaking, and adorable playgrounds.
Bainbridge Gardens are charming and relaxing as you stroll through the flowers. Their gift shop is a great place to stop and pick up some seeds for a sustainable souvenir.
Bainbridge Island Historical Museum is the perfect place to learn some history about the island in the old historic schoolhouse from 1908. Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial is a much more solemn look at history recognizing the thousands that were taken from their homes during World War II.
For a peaceful activity, head to Halls Hill Labyrinth & Lookout for a stroll through the forest with a natural stone mosaic. Point White Pier is an ideal spot for fishing and Fay Bainbridge Park offers beautiful views of Puget Sound and a perfect picnic spot.
Whidbey is another option for a day trip from Seattle and welcomes visitors seeking delicious food, immersion in the arts, and outdoor adventure. Located just a 20 minute ferry ride away, visitors can hop for a full day or just for lunch!
Don’t miss the Admiralty Lighthouse, Boeing Future of Flight Museum, and walking Fort Ebey State Park. Deception Pass is a gorgeous area that definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary as the bridge that separates Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island is an amazing stretch of architecture and engineering and is also surrounded by natural beauty.
While you can take a boat to Camano Island, most visitors travel by car. This makes the area easily accessible, but it also feel miles away from the city. Camano offers beautiful trails at Camano Ridge, a ziplining adventure at Canopy Tours Northwest, and dining and shopping at Coupeville Wharf.
If you have headed back into the city with daylight to spare, head to Fremont without a second thought. Visit Gas Works Park for its unique structures, say hello to the troll under the bridge if that’s your thing.
Head to Theo’s Chocolate Factory for some locally produced delicious chocolate. We unfortunately did not make it to Fremont, but would have if we had just a few more hours. We DID however spot Theo’s chocolate in some small shops and picked some up as thank you gifts for the grandparents who were caring for our kiddos. Yum!
If you have more than 3 days in Seattle:
If you have more than three days in Seattle, or just really love waterfalls (yes, please!), we highly recommend taking the time to rent a car and get out of the city to experience more of what the state of Washington has to offer in terms of natural beauty.
We rented a car for one day to head out of the city. We picked up from a location in downtown Seattle with the plan to return it at the airport when we flew out that evening. By doing this, our car rental only cost us $12! Had we rented a car at the airport, we couldn’t find a price under $35 for one day. We hope this trick works for you too!
Olympic National Park is a wonderful choice filled with mountains, hiking trails and gorgeous vistas. Mt. Rainier is also a few hours away and offers the quintessential Washington view. Had we more time, we definitely would have headed out to one of these gorgeous spots, but since we only had three days, we chose a closer option instead and it did not disappoint.
Snoqualmie Falls is located about 30 miles from downtown Seattle and is a gorgeous gushing cascade with perfect views. The parking lot costs $7 for two hours, but directly across the street, is free parking with a pedestrian bridge to get you safely across.
There are four waterfall look out points that are easily accessible from the parking lot with different vantage points of the gorgeous view.
If you would like to view the falls from the ground level, then you have two choices. Either take the .5 mile path down to the river level (lovely, but steep on the way back up) or drive down the road a few minutes to the lower parking lot (maps available at the upper lot). From the lower parking lot, you follow the path from the parking lot to the left, and walk on the adorable wooden boardwalk along the river until you reach the end.
I would have LOVED to go down to the bottom of the falls and dip in my toes, but it is definitely a no-no. While were there, an apparel company had made arrangements with the staff and they were letting them down to the riverbed for their photo shoot. Not gonna lie, I was a wee bit envious. But in the meantime, we thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful view from the safety of the boardwalk. We then followed the path back up and took the fork to the right to get down to the river. There isn’t a view of the falls from this river spot, but it still makes a peaceful spot for a rest or a picnic.
We then made our way to Snoqualmie Falls Candy Shoppe for lunch where we had delicious French dip and toasted turkey club sandwiches. Ice cream cones are also available along with several varieties of old-fashioned candies. We picked up some taffy for our kiddos here.
With a bit of time remaining, I did a quick google search and found Snoqualmie Point Park with its picturesque mountain views and we made a quick stop. I am SO glad we did! Had we the time, we would have explored down on of the many hiking paths. It is definitely on the list for next time!
Ready to Plan Your Weekend Trip to Seattle?!
We had an amazing time visiting Seattle for a long weekend and hope that our weekend trip to Seattle itinerary helps you plan your own getaway! The blend of nature, city, coffee, beautiful vistas, and fresh fish makes Seattle a lovely place to take in a variety of activities and flavors. Enjoy your time exploring the Pacific Northwest!
A special thank you to Chihuly Garden and Glass, Bill Spiedel’s Underground Tour, and Eat Seattle Food Tours for hosting us during our stay. As always, all opinions are our own, honest feedback so that we may pass our experiences on to you.