Jam-Packed One Day in Seattle Itinerary

Pike Place Market sign at night

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Sea air, mountain views, and Pike Place Market. Seattle in Washington, not to be confused with DC, is a fun city.

A visit feels like a trip to a worn-worn town instead of a tourist stop overrun with visitors.

Our one-day in Seattle itinerary details the best things to do in 24 hours, which will leave you wanting more. 

You may also like our guide to Seattle in the fall, Washington bucket list, and Washington’s coastal towns.

24 Hours in Seattle Itinerary


Belltown: 9:00

Belltown is brightened up by street art and trendy cafes.

Grab coffee or breakfast here if your accommodation doesn’t offer it, but don’t eat too much, as you’ll want an empty belly for the Pike Place Market experience.

Olympic Sculpture Park – Bonus: 10:00

This free park was created and is managed by the Seattle Art Museum. 

Take a quick stroll through the nine acres, walking among the big art sculptures with the mountains in view.

It takes 15 minutes to walk to the park, then 30 minutes to Pike Place Market, going back on yourself, so only do this part of the itinerary if you have spare time.

Pike Place Market, Seattle Downtown: 11:00

If you ask anyone what are the best things to do in Seattle, Pike Place Market always comes out on top.

Since 1907, farmers and consumers have met around this spot to sell and buy wholesome goods.

A wealthy businessman soon created arcades, and this is the space where Pike Place Market stands today.

It isn’t just a market selling food, though.

Pike Place Neighborhood comprises food businesses, drink companies, craft makers, and other services. It’s loud, busy, and has a real buzz.

It’s an attraction you can’t miss, even if you only have 1 day in Seattle.

Pike Place Market sign at night

Pike Place Market: I took this at night as we stayed close

Oldest Starbucks: 11:00

Look out for the first Starbucks to grace the state’s soil.

Can’t see it? Look harder. It blends (boom boom) in.

Seattle has a long relationship with coffee and is also where the photogenic latte art started at Espresso Vivace.

Pike Place Market Food Tour: 11:30*

Food is great, but food with a story is even more filling.

There are a variety of food tours that run in Seattle.

You can even take a tour of the market with a professional chef.

We did the tour with Savor Seattle and ate our way around seven vendors, hearing the backstory to their success and sampling their goods.

The first food stop, Economy Market, is to try some sugary delights at Daily Dozen Doughnuts.

Then, a quick snap of the famous Pike Place Market sign, that has been lit up since 1937!

As the morning progresses, you’ll walk through the different market sections, following your nose, guide, and pink umbrella.

Routes and vendors vary, but if you’re lucky, you’ll enjoy Martha Stewart-endorsed cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Chukar’s coated cherries, and a first for us – (award-winning) chowder.

A vendor even threw in some free hot cider, too.

Pike Place Market is built on this kind of positive behavior.

From the beginning, the Market has encouraged a sense of community among sellers and locals alike.

The market you will meet today was set up to give immigrant farmers a decent wage, removing the power from the big bad businessmen who were abusing it.

In addition, it gave locals quality food, hence the market’s slogan, ‘meet the producer’ – putting the market in the heart of the community.

Your guide will share many examples of this community support; one that has stuck with me is the story of a shop that stood in Piroshky Piroshky’s place.

The original owners of the Russian pastry shop had migrated to Seattle and decided, like many other producers, to set up shop at Pike Place Market.

Being media savvy, the family had contacted the local press and asked them to help advertise their opening day, to which the press obliged. 

As the day grew closer, the family managed to forget about two important ingredients for success – butter and flour! 

In a panic, they called all channels in the hope that they could reschedule their grand opening.

The papers said no, and the owners were destined for failure. 

The day before the opening, a surprise envelope full of money came to the family!

Who would be the likely candidate for this kind gesture? A journalist? A politician?

No, a fellow Russian vendor is thrilled to have another Russian shop at Pike Place Market!

Another endearing fact about Piroshky Piroshky is that they donate leftover food to the local food bank.

Although honestly, I cannot imagine much left, the shop line is massive.

You’ll get to jump the line since you are part of the tour.

Is food your thing? Check out more top things to do in Seattle and heaps of food tips.

*Choose the best time slot for your itinerary.

Afternoon tours are also available.

Pike Place Market Cheese

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

The Gum Wall: 13:30

Now that you are content and full, it’s time to put off your food.

The Seattle Gum Wall at The Market Theater (1428 Post Alley) has been dripping since the 90s and has only been cleaned once.

During the Steam Clean of 2015, Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority workers spent 130 hours collecting 1.75 tons of gum.

This left a blank canvas for locals and visitors to start leaving their saliva on this Seattle landmark again. Horrid or hilarious? Let me know in the comments below.

Gum Wall Seattle

Seattle Gum Wall, gross?

Afternoon Itinerary 

Depending on your interests, you now have two options for what to do in Seattle.

Option one includes getting high and then very low at the Sky Observatory, then an underground tour.

Option two sends you up the famous Seattle Needle, then playing drums on the ground at the Museum of Pop Culture.

Option three hits the water on a one-hour cruise.

Seattle Sky View Observatory: 14:00

Take the elevator up the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center (933 ft/284 m) and enjoy 360 views of the Seattle skyline, including Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and its islands. 

And since you’re not up the landmark Seattle Needle, you can capture it with your phone.

Feeling peckish yet?

Grab a light bite and drink at the Sky View Cafe.

Expect inflated prices since this is a tourist attraction.

Seattle Underground Tour: 16:00

As everyday bustle goes on above you at Pioneer Square, tour the underground passageways that once made up the city in a swamp.

Learn about Seattle’s history from the 1890s during this one-hour historical yet light-hearted tour, which explores four city blocks underground.

Or, Seattle Cruise: 16:00

Hop aboard this one-hour cruise to learn more about Seattle’s historic waterfront.

The fully narrated cruise sets sail from Pier 55 and powers through Elliott Bay and Seattle Harbor, passing city highlights such as the Port of Seattle, Colman Dock, Pier 90, Alki Beach, the Space Needle, Hotel Edgewater, and the Great Wheel.

Panoramic views include the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Rainier to the southeast, and the Cascade Range to the east.

This tour can be booked throughout the day, so if you’d prefer to cruise in the morning, you can switch the itinerary around.

If visiting during winter, you could move around the itinerary a bit to make this a sunset cruise, which is also featured in our date guide!

Striking sunset over Lake Washington Seattle

Seattle Central Library: 17:30

Head to Downtown via the Seattle Central Library (1000 4th Ave).

How will I know I’m there?

You can’t miss it.

This futuristic 11-story building looks like a shiny house that went wrong but in the right way.

Do you agree that it is one of the US’s top 150 buildings for architectural genius?

Continue along 4th Avenue to Westlake Park.

Option Two

It takes 25 minutes to walk between the Gum Wall and the Space Needle.

If you missed the Olympic Sculpture Park during the morning itinerary, it can be tagged as part of the walking route heading towards the Needle.

Alternatively, hop on the Seattle Monorail from Westlake Center, a 10-minute walk from the Gum Wall to Monorail Seattle Center Station.

It takes just under 15 minutes to ride between the two stops.

Seattle Space Needle: 14:30  

Although not as tall as the Seattle Observatory at 605 ft/184 m high (observation at 520 ft/160 m), this lookout is the most popular and is seen as the icon of Seattle.

Enjoy the 41-second elevator ride to the top.

There are two viewing levels at the Space Needle, including the world’s first revolving glass floor, The Loupe.

The Oculus Stairs connect the viewing levels. 

While the Seattle Needle (400 Broad St) costs more than the Observatory, you can purchase the Seattle CityPASS, which includes many city activities, including the Pacific Science Center and Museum of Pop Culture.   

You may also like must-see areas in Washington State

Seattle Space Needle and skyline

Museum of Pop Culture: 16:00

Who do you have to thank for Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam? Seattle.

Where can you find out more about the birth of the grunge scene in Seattle?

The Museum of Pop Culture (325 5th Ave N).

Since then, Seattle has produced some of the best bands, such as Death Cab For Cutie/Postal Service, Band of Horses, and Fleet Foxes.

Learn about the city’s music scene, bash on some drums, and visit the ever-changing exhibitions on pop culture.

Reinventing itself as many times as Bowie, the Museum of Pop Culture was formally called EMP.

Head back the same way to Westlake Park before 18:30 to enjoy some food truck dining.

Museum of Pop Culture Seattle_

Museum of Pop Culture

Dinner and Bar Hopping: 18:00+

Some iconic Seattle restaurants include Canlis, The Pink Door, Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar, and Sushi Kashiba.

Altnertiavley, Pioneer Square has “catch-all” bars, Irish pubs, and restaurants, or neighborhoods Capitol Hill and Fremont have options too.

Food trucks are a massive part of the Pacific Northwest culture and a great way to squeeze more time into this 24-hour Seattle itinerary.

Westlake is a food truck park, meaning different trucks sell meals.

Heading to Portland next? Here’s our three-day itinerary.

Things to Do in Seattle at Night

Evening itineraries are trickier to create because not everyone has the same idea of a good night out.

Here’s a list of activities to consider:

  • Eat chocolate popcorn and see a movie at Cinerama in Belltown.
  • Brewery hop, there’s no shortage of taprooms and craft beer breweries in Seattle.
  • Catch the sunset from Golden Gardens Park in the cool Ballard neighborhood. 
  • Do a haunted pub crawl.
  • Check out the evening events at the Pacific Science Center.
  • Enjoy an evening cruise.
  • Get a couples massage and stay over at a spa.
  • See a show at the 1920s Neptune Theater.
  • Watch the city from the Space Needle, closes at 8pm.

There’s a whole section on nighttime activities in our Seattle date ideas guide.

Practical Information

Getting to Seattle

The main airport in Seattle is Seattle–Tacoma International Airport.

The airport and Downtown are connected by Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail.

Uber and Lyft from the airport to downtown are expensive at around $35-50.

Getting Around Seattle

Seattle has a multi-city transport system, including buses, monorail, streetcars, and light rail trains. 


Our top tip is to be smart about where you stay!

This will help you pack as much in during your Seattle day trip.

Be warned, Seattle accommodation is expensive.

Hotels in Seattle

Hostels in Seattle

Apartments in Seattle

Seattle has several self-contained apartments for rent. You can book an entire apartment averaging $250 but going as low as $150. Private rooms can be found from $65.

Spas in Seattle

Are you visiting Seattle with your partner? Why not rent out a spa for the night?

Yes, you heard that right.

We stayed at the Little Red Day Spa (3200 Airport Way) on our second night.

Quite the contrast to the night in the dorm, I might add.

We enjoyed a couples massage.

The staff then leaves, and the spa is yours to use.

There is a hot tub, lotions, potions, and comfortable beds.

It was a really special night in Seattle.

Man lying down on massage table at Little Red Day Spa Seattle
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Final Words

There are so many things to do in Seattle one day is not enough time to explore everything the city offers. On a positive note, the energy from all the food consumed will keep you going; you just have to hope your feet can keep up.

Thanks to Visit Seattle, Savor Seattle, and Little Red Day Spa for hosting us. Our own opinions, as always.

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34 thoughts on “Jam-Packed One Day in Seattle Itinerary

  1. Local Nomads says:

    Which hostel did you stay in? We’ve had excellent experiences at the Green Tortoise, right next to pike place. Everyone there was super friendly, theres not much you can do about the other guests unfortunately.

    • TwoScotsAbroad says:

      We were at the other one! It wasn’t the hostel’s fault in all honesty, just dorm life! Green Tortoise suggested I called the hotel for overnight storage, much respect to them for that!

  2. Shannon says:

    Love Pike Place Market! The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory nearby also does the most AMAZING milkshakes. I enjoyed the booths in the EMP museum too until the staff member in charge came by and caught me belting out a Heart number most likely off-key….

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