One Day in Seattle: The Perfect Seattle Itinerary! (2024)

Waterfront of Seattle on a sunny day

Are you looking to make the most of one day in Seattle? You’ve come to the right place!

In this post, I’ll show you the best things to see in Seattle in one day, including some hidden gems you won’t want to miss. 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or an old friend returning to the Emerald City, there’s always something new and delightful to discover. 

Join me as we set out on an exciting 24-hour journey through the heart of Seattle, soaking in its iconic sights, hidden gems, and of course, savoring that legendary Seattle brew!

⭐ Make the most of Seattle with this amazing 2-hour Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market including sampling the best products at 9 vendor food stops!

If you’re planning a visit to Washington State, then spending at least one day in Seattle is a must! Given nicknames like Emerald City and Rainy City, Seattle is loved for many reasons.

This lively city is nestled right along the shores of Puget Sound, just a short drive from the Olympic Mountains, and offers some of the best things to do in Seattle in one day for visitors.

Even with just one day in the largest city in Washington State, you can explore some of the best activities and get a real feel for what they call the Rainy City.

In this post, I’ll share the best way to see Seattle in 1 day, from someone who has extensively explored the city

Ready to make the most of a day in this Pacific Northwest paradise? Let’s dive in!

One Day in Seattle Itinerary

One Day in Seattle Itinerary

If you are wondering what to see in Seattle in one day, you’ll have to choose a few things, since you can’t cover everything. There’re lots of cool things to do in Seattle!

But you can definitely see the best of the city, and if you follow this itinerary, you’ll love your visit!

1. Sunrise at Kerry Park

One of the best ways to start your day in Seattle is to head up to Kerry Park for sunrise. Starting the day bright and early will allow you to get the most out of your visit.

Kerry Park is a small green area located in the Queen Anne district of Seattle. It features one of the best viewpoints in all of Seattle, overlooking the entire city.

Sunrise at Kerry Park

At sunrise, you’ll get to watch as the sky is filled with bright colors and the city of Seattle wakes up. 

The Space Needle and the skyline are the defining features, and on a clear day, you can sometimes spot Mount Rainier in the distance.

Alternatively, if you can’t make it for sunrise, you could also plan to check out Kerry Park throughout the day or watch the sunset behind Seattle.

2. Coffee at the Original Starbucks

Since you’ve been up since sunrise, you’ll probably be ready for a cup of coffee. 

Lucky for you, Starbucks was established in Seattle, and you can still visit the Original Starbucks.

Located just up the street from the popular Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks still has its original sign from when it opened and is just a tiny little building.

But you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the line, that sometimes wraps around the block. Getting there early will help avoid some of this!

Original Starbucks Store at 1912 Pike Place Seattle

Once you’ve made it through the line, you can enjoy all of your favorite Starbucks drinks and experience where the chain all began.

As you may already know, Seattle’s coffee culture is pretty important. Seattle’s coffee shops are more than just caffeine stops – they’re an experience! 

The best places to taste coffee in the city (besides the Starbucks Reserve Roastery) are:

  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Rich flavors and a true indie vibe.
  • Slate Coffee – Minimalism meets quality brews.
  • Espresso Vivace – Celebrating the art of espresso since 1988.
  • Cafe Allegro – Touted as Seattle’s oldest coffee shop.

3. Wander the Seattle Waterfront

The Seattle Waterfront is found on the shore of Elliot Bay on Puget Sound. It’s unmissable, as you’ll see pier after pier, a giant Ferris wheel, and endless restaurants.

Spending some time wandering the waterfront and taking in all of the sites of the water. 

Take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel and enjoy the aerial views of the city, or walk along one of the many piers. 

Boat at the Waterfront Seattle

The Seattle Aquarium is found on Pier 59, and the Olympic Sculpture Park is just a bit further down the road. Just a bit up the road, you’ll find the popular tourist attraction, the Gum Wall. 

For some shopping, head to the Westlake Center, which is just a few blocks up the hill. Pioneer Square is another favorite spot of locals for wandering around.

Many people also love taking a short trip to Bainbridge Island, where you’ll find fewer crowds, hiking trails, views of Puget Sound, and lots of history to be learned.

⭐ You can take this 4-hour All Inclusive Bainbridge Island Winery & Dinner Tour.

While there are plenty of restaurants to stop at, I recommend coming back here for dinner and heading into the iconic Pike Place Market for lunch.

4. Grab Lunch at Pike Place Public Market

What has become one of Seattle’s most recognizable destinations is the Pike Place Market

Located right on the waterfront, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest and largest public markets in the country and one of the best places to travel for food in the USA.

Delicious pasta and clam dishes with bread and olive oil at the The Pink Door Seattle

You’ll find everything from fresh fish to blooming flowers and delicious eats. There are also handmade crafts and fresh produce from local farmers.

For lunch, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. A few of the best include: 

  • Pike Place Chowder
  • Jack’s Fish Spot, and 
  • Beecher’s Mac & Cheese

Also next door to the Pike Place Public Market you can eat at The Pink Door, which serves Italian-American cuisine, with charming décor and live entertainment, making it a must-visit culinary destination.

5. Walk Along Alki Beach

After you’ve filled up on lunch, head just slightly south of the Seattle waterfront to Alki Beach

This sandy beach is known for being a great place to relax in the summer and enjoy the sunshine.

It’s a long stretch of sand that lines Elliot Bay on Puget Sound. 

Include Alki Beach in your 1 day Seattle itinerary

There are times throughout the year when you can spot whales in the water, and sometimes seals and sea lions lounge on the beach.

This is a great spot to take your lunch and enjoy it as a picnic, or escape from some of the crowds down in Downtown Seattle.

6. Taste Seattle’s Best Ice Cream

If you’re ready for some dessert after enjoying lunch and time on Alki Beach, then you have to try out some of Seattle’s best ice cream.

Most people refer to ‘Seattle’s best’ as coffee, but why not check out the ice cream? 

salt and straw is one of the best ice cream places in Seattle

There are many local shops, including Frankie & Jo’s which features 100% vegan ice cream, and Salt & Straw which has unique creamy flavors. 

Both of these can also get very busy, so be sure to plan ahead and be prepared to wait.

7. Wander Around Capitol Hill

Next on this one day Seattle itinerary is to head to Capitol Hill, which is known for its nightlife and trendy places to shop and eat.

Here you’ll find the Washington Park Arboretum, where you can enjoy the beautiful flowers growing throughout the seasons, or visit Volunteer Park for even more green space.

Capitol Hill Block Party in E Pike St is one of the top things to do in Seattle in Seattle in one day

In Capitol Hill, you’ll find all sorts of boutique shops to stop into, trendy restaurants to eat at, and a unique epicenter of the neighborhood.

If you like dancing, why not take the opportunity to try a Salsa lesson on Capitol Hill?

Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned dancer, the neighborhood offers the perfect opportunity to dive into this passionate dance. 

Drop in for a lesson at one of the many local studios, where skilled instructors teach both traditional and contemporary salsa moves. 

8. Dinner on Seattle’s Waterfront

Now that you’ve seen some of the best places to see in Seattle in one day, it’s time for dinner and to start winding down.

Make your back down to the Seattle Waterfront to enjoy a nice dinner as you admire the views of Puget Sound.

Dining at Seattle’s Waterfront Restaurant

If you’re a fan of fresh seafood, you’ll be in Heaven here, since there are so many delicious places to order it at. 

A few of the most popular places to eat are: 

  • Elliott’s Oyster House, 
  • The Crab Pot, 
  • AQUA by El Gaucho, and 
  • Marination Ma Kai.

All of these places are sit-down and will provide you with a gourmet, delicious meal. 

I love food, so, I think it’s one of the best things to do in Seattle for a day!

9. Visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass

Next on the agenda is to head to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is a unique museum found right below the towering iconic Space Needle.

This museum features work from Dale Chihuly, who was a Tacoma resident who lived his life to create stunning pieces of glass art.

Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle

At the glass museum, you can wander through a glasshouse that features some of the most amazing artwork

🤑 You can save money by buying this Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass Combination Ticket.

You can then head into the garden which houses more artwork that is uniquely complemented by a lush garden of plants.

It’s really a unique place to visit for your time seeing Seattle in a day.

10. Watch Sunset in the Space Needle

Your last stop on this Seattle 1 day itinerary is the famous Space Needle. This 605-foot tower features 360-degree views of the Seattle area.

What would a trip to Seattle be without seeing the famous needle? 

sunset in Seattle Washington with amazing views of the Space Needle

And as the sun is starting to go down, you can head up into the Space Needle and watch the sunset.

There are two ways to experience the Space Needle:

  • The first is by sitting on the glass benches and enjoying the view, and 
  • another is by walking along The Loupe, a rotating floor.

This is the perfect way to end your day in Seattle with some of the most amazing views.

More than 24 hours in Seattle?

If you have just a day in Seattle, but have found a bit of extra time and want to add some extra fun to your one day in Seattle itinerary, then check out these places:

Hike Rattlesnake Ledge and Olympic National Park

If you’re a hiker, then you may be interested in embarking on one of the best hikes in the Seattle area– Rattlesnake Ledge.

This moderately challenging trail is just 40 minutes outside of the downtown area and gives you some of the best views around! 

Rattlesnake Ledge in Seattle

You’ll hike about 5 miles roundtrip through the forest to a stunning overlook of Rattlesnake Lake. From the top, you can see for miles and miles into the distance.

You’ll be looking out at Mount Si and Mount Washington, which are two of the most famous mountains within a short distance of Seattle.

There are lots of day hikes near Seattle that you’ll love. Personally, I always recommend Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks and Rattlesnake Ledge.

Day Trip to Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is the most beautiful waterfall within just a short distance of Seattle

It drops 270 feet into the Snoqualmie River and sees over 1 million visitors per year. 

The viewing deck is just a few steps from the parking lot, but you can also take a steep path down to the base of the falls to get a better viewpoint.

⭐ Make the most of the falls by taking this amazing 6-hour Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle Winery Tour!

Snoqualmie Falls Waterfall View Washington near Seattle

Visit the Fremont Troll

Another unique thing to see if you have some extra time in your Seattle one day itinerary is the Fremont Troll.

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, this giant troll was made back in 1990 by a group of local artists. They built him as part of an art competition in the city.

Fremont Troll is a must if you visit Seattle in a day

The Fremont Troll is an 18-foot sculpture of a troll holding a Volkswagon Beetle. 

You’re able to climb up on him, snap a few pictures, and admire the work that these artists put into building him!

Visit Discovery Park

Located right along Puget Sound, Discovery Park is a large, open green area to spend some time at while in Seattle.

Don't forget to include this beautiful beach at Discovery Park on your One Day in Seattle Itinerary

It’s the largest park in the city and offers visitors a space for things like biking, hiking, exploring tidal pools, and for kids to play on the playground.

It’s just a short distance from the Seattle center, so it makes for a nice place to escape from the busyness if you’re looking for a way to spend some time outdoors during your 1 day in Seattle.

Visit a Museum

There are plenty of museums in Seattle to explore if you have extra time during your visit. 

One of the most popular is the Museum of Pop Culture, which is home to an immersive museum full of exhibits from music and movies of all sorts of genres.

Seattle, Washington The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

Other museums include the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Pinball Museum, and the Seattle Children’s Museum.

Visiting some of the museums is the perfect way to spend a rainy day in Seattle since we all know that there is no shortage of rain!

Ballard Locks

Located in Seattle’s Ballard district, the Ballard Locks, or Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, is a marvel where man-made ingenuity and natural wonders converge. 

This system aids boats in transitioning from the Ship Canal’s freshwater to the saltier Puget Sound. 

As fascinating as the boat passages are, an equally enthralling sight is the fish ladder, aiding salmon during their upstream migration. 

Ballard Locks is one of the best things to do in one day in Seattle

Through viewing panels, witness these tenacious fish as they navigate their spawning journey. 

Coupled with beautiful surrounding gardens, Ballard Locks offers a glimpse into Seattle’s maritime culture and the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant ecosystem.

⛵ Take this 3-hour Seattle Ballard Locks, Gas Works Park, and Houseboats Tour, Including a visit to Hiram Chittenden Locks, exploring Gas Works Park with overhead float planes, and a peek at Lake Union’s houseboat communities.

Discovering Seattle’s Seafood and Beyond

A bowl of the city’s clam chowder, dense and creamy, becomes a comforting embrace on a chilly day, best complemented with fresh sourdough

Then there are the oysters, fresh from the Pacific, embodying the city’s dedication to premium seafood with their crisp, briny taste. 

🍴 For those keen on diving deeper into Seattle’s gastronomic wonders, consider taking this 2-hour Pike Place Market Tasting Tour, including tastings from 8+ of the best in the Market!

Sourdough Bowl of Clam Chowder, one of the most delicious dishes to try in Seattle

🍩 And if you’re a donut lover, don’t miss this 2-hour Underground Seattle Donut Tour, where you’ll taste the most delicious donuts from some of the best donut shops in town!

Where to Stay in Seattle for One Day

Here are my top picks for hotels in Seattle:

If you’re planning to stay in Seattle for one night, selecting the right neighborhood is essential to maximize your experience. 

Downtown Seattle is an excellent choice as it places you right in the heart of the city, allowing easy access to iconic landmarks like Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the historic Pioneer Square. 

Proximity to major transit lines, including the Link Light Rail, ensures you can traverse the city efficiently. 

Plus, with the waterfront nearby, a morning or evening stroll along the piers becomes an easily achievable delight. 

If you have just one night to spend in the Seattle area, book a stay at one of these great hotels:

The Edgewater Hotel

Located right on the waterfront of Seattle, a stay at The Edgewater Hotel gives you easy access to all of the best things to do in Seattle in one day.

The Edgewater Hotel in Seattle

Enjoy views of Puget Sound, an on-site restaurant, rental bikes, and more. It’s a luxury hotel, so if you have enough to splurge, this is where to stay.

▶️ Check Rates & Availability here

Hotel FIVE – A Staypineapple Hotel

Another unique place to stay for one night in Seattle is the Hotel FIVE, which has a pineapple theme to it. It’s dog friendly, has pineapple treats, and a free welcome drink.

Plus, it’s still close to all of the best attractions in Seattle.

Hotel FIVE - A Staypineapple Hotel in Seattle

▶️ Check Rates & Availability here

Best Time to Visit Seattle, Washington

Planning your 1 day in Seattle itinerary should definitely include deciding on the perfect time to visit. 

While Seattle doesn’t get much snow, it certainly does get a lot of rain.

The best time to visit Seattle is during the summer months, from June until September. 

summer in Seattle

While this is peak season, you’ll experience less rain and warmer temperatures. Check out my post about the best things to do in Seattle in Summer

To avoid some of the crowds during peak season, get an early start to your day.

Getting Around Seattle in a Day

Navigating Seattle in just one day might seem daunting, but with the city’s efficient transportation options, it’s quite feasible. 

The city is known for its walkable neighborhoods, complemented by a robust public transportation system

If you’re aiming to truly experience the city’s vibrancy, here’s a quick guide:

Walking

Downtown Seattle, Pike Place Market, and the waterfront are all within comfortable walking distance of each other. The city’s scenic beauty is best appreciated on foot.

Link Light Rail

Connects downtown Seattle to SeaTac Airport and other major points, such as Capitol Hill and the University of Washington.

Metro Buses

Seattle’s bus system covers the city extensively. Grab an ORCA card for seamless transfers between buses and the Light Rail.

Seattle Streetcars

With routes in South Lake Union and First Hill, it’s a scenic way to move around some parts of the city.

Water Taxi

From Downtown’s Pier 50, you can hop onto a water taxi for a quick trip to West Seattle, offering stunning views of the city skyline.

Bike Rentals

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a bike! Seattle’s expanding bike lanes and the scenic Burke-Gilman Trail offer a delightful ride.

FAQs about A Day in Seattle

  1. Is Seattle worth visiting for a day?

    Absolutely! Seattle is worth visiting for a day, as it offers a rich blend of culture, sights, and cuisine perfect for a day trip.

  2. How do I spend a day in Seattle?

    To spend a day in Seattle and enjoy it to the fullest, explore Pike Place, visit the Space Needle, and stroll through Pioneer Square.

  3. How many days to spend in Seattle?

    Ideally, spend 3-4 days in Seattle to fully experience the city.

  4. One day trip to Seattle is enough?

    One day trip to Seattle is tight but can give a taste of Seattle's charm.

  5. What to do in Seattle for a few hours?

    In a few hours in Seattle, you can visit Pike Place Market or take a short ferry ride for stunning views.

  6. Is one day enough in Seattle?

    One day in Seattle is not enough time to see all Seattle’s tourist attractions but can highlight major attractions.

  7. How can I visit Seattle in one day?

    To visit Seattle in one day, start early, prioritize top sights, and wear comfy shoes!

  8. What is there to do in Seattle for a day trip?

    For a day trip to Seattle, try the waterfront, Chihuly Garden, and local cafes.

  9. How do I spend my day in Seattle?

    Prioritize key attractions and enjoy local eateries.

⭐ Make the most of Seattle with this amazing 2-hour Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market including sampling the best products at 9 vendor food stops!

Wrap-Up: Seattle One Day Itinerary

If you’re making a trip to the Pacific Northwest and have just one day in Seattle, one of my favorite cities in the United States, there is plenty to do to add to your itinerary.

From enjoying the waterfront to eating delicious food and even heading slightly out of town to go on a hike, Seattle is packed with fun things for everyone to enjoy.

Seattle street art

With all of these activities, you’ll be able to enjoy the best things to do in Seattle in one day, but you’ll definitely be wanting to come back and enjoy more of Washington’s largest city.

There’s always more to explore and discover. So, if you find yourself yearning for more, check out my posts on the best things to do in Seattle for free and what to do in Summer in Seattle


Looking for more Seattle travel inspiration? Read these posts:

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One Day in Seattle

Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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