I spent 1.5 years living on the gorgeous Puget Sound in Washington and I love going back to visit this beautiful area. While living in western Washington, I, unfortunately, didn’t get to spend much time in Seattle. However, since then I have returned multiple times to visit friends and we always hop over for a day trip to Seattle or even to spend one night in Seattle.
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From personal experience and recommendations from Seattle-area friends, I have compiled this perfect itinerary for what to see in Seattle in one day. If you are more of a tour person or have very little time in Seattle, check out this 3-hour Seattle City Tour that will take you to top spots and give you awesome information along the way.
Best Time of Year to Spend a Day in Seattle
The great thing about a one-day Seattle trip is you can make it happen any time of year and you will have a great time. In case you haven’t heard, Seattle is known for rainy weather. So, if you happen to visit on a cold and rainy winter day- you’ll get the true local experience! Temps in the winter range from 40°-50°F and veryyy rarely will you experience snow, but it is possible a few days each winter.
Summers in Washington can be truly beautiful with highs from around 70°F-80°F and sunny gorgeous weather. Depending on if you want the classic cloudy or rainy Seattle experience or have nicer weather for adventuring outside may impact when you want to spend time there.
I lived just a short ferry ride from Seattle on Bainbridge Island for six months and in other areas of the Puget Sound for 1.5 years in total and would recommend any time of year to visit. However, if you want to visit nearby national parks in Washington, along with your trip to Seattle, I would aim for the warmer summer months.
How to Get Around to see Seattle in One Day
I have visited Seattle three times and each time I have had a car. I know this is not the case for everyone, but for us, we were always on some sort of Pacific Northwest road trip or visiting other areas close by in Washington. Therefore, a few of the places on this itinerary you will need a car to get to easily. But no worries if you don’t have a car! Most of the items on this Seattle itinerary are in the same general area and can be easily walked to in a 5-20 minute walk. We always park at the Pike Place Market Parking Garage which has reasonable rates and is a good central location.
If you don’t want to walk 20 minutes or if you want to hit up some of the stops a little bit too far to walk to, you can easily book a Lyft, Uber or taxi to take you there.
A Day in Seattle Itinerary: Quick Look
- Breakfast: Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt and baked goodies from Three Girls Bakery in Pike Place Market
- Experience the fishmongers throwing fish at the Pike Place Fish Market
- Take in the view at the Pike Place Market Sundeck
- Wander and shop among the booths of local craftspeople and farmers at Pike Place Market
- Add some gum to The Gum Wall in Post Alley
- Say hello to and snap a pic with the Fremont Troll
- Lunch: Un Bien
- Take it to the top at the Space Needle
- Evening: Take a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel (ferris wheel) and walk along the waterfront
*Use this interactive map to see where all the top spots are for a great day in Seattle*
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One Day in Seattle In-Depth Itinerary
1. Snap a pic with the super cute Public Market Sign at Pike Place Market
If you are going to see Seattle in one day, I recommend starting it out at Pike Place Market. The market was founded in 1907 making it one of the oldest, continuously operating markets in the US! It is just so cute and full of hundreds of craftspeople, farmers, small businesses, food joints, and shops. I also love the many vintage (or vintage-inspired) neon signs lighting up stands or giving directions to the restrooms. You can explore the market on your own, or book a guided food tour to try tons of tasty food and learn some of the history behind the market.
Pike Place is a great central location to start off your day and if you love wandering through farmer markets, you could spend a couple of hours here (or more). It is also a great place to visit because the market is open 363 days a year (I would know…one of my visits to Seattle happened to fall on New Year’s Day… one of the two days per year the market isn’t open 😅). A few of the next points on this itinerary are specific locations within Pike Place Market that I highly recommend making sure you stop.
2. Eat life-changing yogurt at Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt
When one of my Seattle-area friends told me about a specific Greek yogurt she went out of her way to buy each time she was in downtown Seattle, I thought she must be crazy. However, we decided to listen to her recommendation and swung by Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt within Pike Place Market. And oh.my.goodness. I am not exaggerating when I say this was the best yogurt (Greek or otherwise) that I have ever had.
Ellenos is a family-owned Greek yogurt shop offering handcrafted yogurt in delicious and unique flavors and toppings. Their Pike Place location is their first yogurt bar which opened in 2013 and they have been going strong ever since. You can even find their flavors in stores across the US now! Thank heavens so that you can get a taste of it again after you return home from your trip to Seattle.
If you want to experience even more of the great food Pike Place offers, be sure to book this Pike Place guided food tour that stops at nine locations (including Ellenos) offering up interesting information and history about each stop. There is even a new plant-based Pike Place food tour if that would be more suitable for you or someone in your group.
I recommend stopping by Ellenos for breakfast (or second breakfast) on your way into Pike Place Market along with picking up some baked goodies at the next stop on this itinerary!
3. Pick up delicious baked goodies at Three Girls Bakery
Located very close to Ellenos Greek Yogurt (like a one-minute walk away), you will find Three Girls Bakery. This bakery has been around since 1912 and was the first business licensed to women in Seattle💪! They have a bakery storefront in front (where we stopped) but they also have a small lunch counter in the back where you can order breakfast and lunch sandwiches along with soups if you are looking for a bit more food.
I don’t recall what goodies we picked up, but I remember them being delicious and that( along with Ellenos yogurt) was a perfect (second) breakfast. You will find both sweet and savory options in their case for purchase.
4. Watch the fishmongers toss fish at the Pike Place Fish Market
I remember being in grade school and watching a short documentary about workers at a specific fish market. Every time a fish was purchased, they would toss the fish to one another to package all the while singing/yelling. For some reason, this documentary has been engrained in my memory ever since and when I showed up at the Pike Place Fish Market for the first time and realized this was the place I had seen in grade school so long ago- I was stoked.
It’s so fun to see the workers throwing huge fish to each other and playing tricks on the crowds. It made me want to buy fresh fish just to get them to do it some more (even though I’m not a huge fish person). However, Seattle is a great place to buy some with their catch coming wild and fresh from Alaska.
5. Get some fresh air on the Pike Place Market ‘ MarketFront’ viewing deck
I always like to take a step outside of the market onto their viewing deck to get some fresh air and take in the surrounding industrial views. From here you can see the Puget Sound, huge white and green ferries launching and docking, factories and shipyards plus the giant ferris wheel (The Great Wheel) which I recommend visiting later in the day!
There are also many great restaurants and booths near the viewing deck. On a warm day, you can sit outside and relax under the Pacific Northwest sun.
6. Wander the market and buy from local craftspeople and farmers
One of my favorite things about Pike Place is just wandering and looking at all the awesome goods people are selling. There are hundreds of local craftspeople, shops, beautiful flowers, yummy produce, restaurants and more that you can experience within the market.
You may want to set aside a little bit of your budget to give yourself permission to pick up some of these local goods/crafts to help you remember your trip to Seattle.
7. Add some bubblegum to the gum wall in Post Alley
The Gum Wall started in the 1990s and is, you could say, an art installation hidden very close to the main entrance of Pike Place. The wall is located in Post Alley, sort of under and to the side of the main entrance. What started as just a few chewed pieces of gum is now both sides of the alley covered in colorful, chewed pieces of gum.
To some, I’m sure The Gum Wall is an entirely disgusting concept and not anything they’d be interested in seeing. However, I find it kind of fun and cool (also a little gross). Be sure to bring some gum along with you to blow bubbles and add to the wall!
8. Say hello to the Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll is an awesome piece of art that is located basically in a neighborhood under an unassuming overpass. In 1989 the troll was created as part of a competition to rehabilitate the area under the bridge that was becoming a little too dicey. The artist, Steve Badanes, created this 18-foot tall troll made out of ferroconcrete and rebar steel inspired by the tale of Three Billy Goats Gruff.
This is mostly just a quick photo op while in Seattle, but it’s definitely fun and a cool thing to see. You would need to drive, bus or take a Lyft or something similar to reach this area from Pike Place as it is a bit out of the way.
9. Pick up lunch at Un Bien
Un Bien is a fun Caribbean joint serving sandwiches, bowls, and salads with lots of meat-heavy options but also vegetarian options. Our friends who live in Seattle took us here plus we have heard it’s a must-visit (but hidden gem) in Seattle. It’s a down-to-earth establishment that started with the owner’s father’s original recipes. The exterior is a cute and colorful pink and green with hanging twinkle lights which also make it a great spot for those of you chasing the perfect Instaworthy meal.
10. Take it to the top of the Space Needle
The Space Needle is obviously one of (or the most) common things that come to mind when thinking of Seattle. The structure was created as part of the 1962 World’s Fair and is a great spot to go for lovely Seattle and Puget Sound views. I’m a sucker for a good view, so we had to take it to the top of the Space Needle and I do recommend it.
If you are looking to experience a few other attractions while in the city, you may want to purchase the Seattle CityPASS. The CityPASS gets you admission to the Space Needle plus four other popular Seattle attractions and can be a great way to save money if you plan on hitting a lot of these sites.
11. Take a ride on The Great Wheel
Like I said before, I’m a sucker for a good view. So, of course, we also took a ride on Seattle’s ferris wheel, The Great Wheel. The Great Wheel is 175-feet tall and offers great views of both the city of Seattle and the Puget Sound. The ride rotates about around the circle 3-4 times and the seats are (thankfully) fully enclosed. I am actually very scared of heights but rode The Great Wheel (with only some trepidation😅). It definitely helped that our seats were enclosed and I made sure my group didn’t rock our cabin too much.
If possible, this would be super fun at sunset or at night when the city is all lit up.
Additional Things to See in Seattle in a Day
If you are lucky to have more than one day, you like more options or you just really like to pack in as much as possible to your one day in Seattle itinerary, here are additional great things to add to your Seattle itinerary:
- Gasworks Park
- Chihuly Glass Museum
- Museum of Pop Culture
- Ferry ride to Bainbridge Island to stroll and shop along the cute main street
- Seattle Underground Tour (I’ve never done this but I have *almost* booked it like 3 times
- Capitol Hill Area
- West Point Lighthouse
- Golden Gardens Park and Beach
And that is my recommendation on what to see in Seattle in 24 hours! Please let me know if you have any questions about other things to do in Seattle in one day. I’m a real person that loves to talk travel and I’ll be sure to get back to you!
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