A guide to Seattle for the busy body, like me.
Sometimes I wonder if I should have made my blog name “On the GO with Jen”. Seriously, I feel like my life is one constant stream of staying busy. How does the old saying go… no rest for the wicked? 😊 Now don’t get me wrong, I still snooze my alarm more than I’d like to admit, I am guilty of sleeping 10+ hours on the weekends (regularly) and I don’t exactly enjoy getting up early, just so I can shoot my content without other people around. However, when I’m up, I’m up. I carpe diem the crap out of most days and especially do so while I’m on vacation. What if I never come back to this city and didn’t get to see all the things I wanted to see? These thoughts are quite common and totally normal for travel junkies like myself. I want to take it all in. I want to experience each trip its fullest. And if this sounds like you, I think you’ll benefit from reading my busy 3-day itinerary from my trip to Seattle!
I showed up in the Emerald City with almost no agenda. I had a few photos saved to my “archived” section on Instagram and I knew I wanted to see a few cliché Seattle places, but we were winging it the rest of the time. Thanks to some friends of ours that lived in the local area providing some recommendations along with skimming through a couple of other travel blogs, we were able to put together the following 3 days of non-stop action, walking, eating, drinking, viewing, ohh’ing and ahh’ing.
Pike Place Market
If you come to Seattle and don’t go to the Pike Place Market, did you really come to Seattle? It’s almost impossible to miss this famous Seattle landmark. In the heart of downtown, situated right on the water front, Pike Park Market is every tourist’s dream. The individual vendors start setting up by 7 a.m. and the crowds of people swarm in shortly after. If you come here, come hungry. Between the vendors handing out free samples and the places you can dine at, there is no shortage of food to go around. We sampled olive oil, jams, honey, seafood and even snuck in a few sips of wine despite the early time we were here. If the crowds inside get to be too much, be sure to take a break out back and catch some magnificent views of the waterfront.
It was also a lucky day for my boyfriend and I when I coincidentally ran into an old friend who I knew lived in Seattle but had not seen in 3 years. He was working behind the counter at the famous Pike Place Fish Co. right at the front of the market. He offered my boyfriend the opportunity to go behind the counter to catch a fish being thrown from the front display (I graciously declined 😉). What an unforgettable memory. Thank you, Ian!!
The Sports Stadiums
After we were full on samples from the market we wandered down further south to check out the stadiums where the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners play. Of course, my trips don’t always center around this travel bloggers check list. I love going to the see the places my boyfriend wants to see too. We didn’t attend any games, but my boyfriend was just as excited being able to see the stadiums from the outside!
Occidental Square Shopping
As we headed back north towards downtown from the stadiums, we stumbled into the charming neighborhood of Occidental Square. We splurged on a beautiful rock at Agate Design that we got to see the shop owner crack open in front of us in the store. There are several other stores, cafes and restaurants in this area including a park-like area where the public can just enjoy sitting outside.
As it got closer to the mid-day, we hopped the train north to the Capitol Hill neighborhood (I’ll touch more on transit options at the end of this article.) The Capitol Hill neighborhood reminded me so much of my neighborhood at home called Wicker Park. A little hipster vibe, sprinkled with tasty food options, add in a couple nice parks and bam! It felt just like home. We strolled around the area and did some shopping then ended the afternoon with pizza and beers at Big Mario’s.
Seattle Japanese Gardens
From Capitol Hill we took caught the bus 15 minutes north to the Japanese Gardens. The gardens cost $8 per person to enter and while I absolutely loved my visit here, you get the most out of your money during the months when the plants are in full bloom. Luckily since we were there just past full bloom timing, the gardens were almost entirely empty, so my boyfriend and I were able to walk around and enjoy our surroundings without fighting the foot traffic of other people.
Matt’s in the Market
After the gardens we headed back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner downtown. We knew we wanted to experience at least one fancy dinner in the market area, so we decided on Matt’s in the Market which can be found on the 2nd floor of the building just across the street from the famous neon Market Center sign of Pike Place. I would give this place 4 out of 5 on the $ sign rating scale for price. We enjoyed a couple of well-crafted cocktails and then split a cheese board appetizer and a lamb shank entrée that was to die for. This was probably one of the best dinners I’ve ever had but be prepared to spend a little extra cash on this one
Our first day in the city was complete so we headed back to the Motif Seattle where we stayed for the first two nights. Motif was such an awesome hotel, I wrote a separate blog post here where you can read more about it!
I feel like day 2 of traveling is always busier than day 1. You have a feel for the city at this point and have started to gather more recommendations of places through conversation with the locals. We started off our day very early at Pike Place Market again, so we could get a couple photos without a ton of people around. We showed up around 7 a.m. but there were still a handful of people on the streets and inside the market. I would recommend getting here at 6 a.m. if you want photos in front of the sign or surrounding buildings with no one in them or without the delivery trucks driving by.
Pike Place Starbucks
If you Google, “the original Starbucks”, this is the location that will come up in every search result. However, it is not technically the first location. The first location was at a different address and moved to 1st and Pike Street in 2005. The store looks more modern than the photos you will find of the original location, but I guess being in the heart of the market still makes it a cool spot to visit.
The Famous Seattle Gum Wall
If you have done a little research on Seattle, you’ll know that the great Seattle Gum Wall is another popular tourist destination. It’s located right in the market area, underneath the famous neon sign – just follow the down ramp on the very left-hand side of the market if you’re facing it. Like most Seattle tourists, we purchased our gum at the target right by the market and then headed down to the wall!
Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room
If the caffeine from the first Starbucks wasn’t enough to get you through your morning, head straight north on Pike to the other side of the highway and you’ll find the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. We chose to split an artisan sandwich, a pastry and a flight of 3 different coffees which was more than enough for 2 people. I was excited when one of the workers told me that they’re putting a 4-story Starbucks tasting room on Michigan Ave in Chicago, so you can bet I’ll be making a lot of visits to this location in the future!
As we left the tasting room all energized to seize the day, we left to take the bus to the other side of the water in the Freemont neighborhood. On the way, we passed by the famous Amazon Spheres which are just outside of the corporate headquarters. Unfortunately, since it was the weekend, the offices were closed for the day, so we didn’t get to the see the spheres from the inside, but the outside view was just as great.
Troll Under the Bridge
Onward to the Freemont neighborhood. Our first stop after getting off the bus was to the famous Troll Under the Bridge (ie: the highway). The exact spot comes up on Google Maps so no need to stress about finding it. There were probably 30 other people there when we showed up, all looking to get their solo-shot with the troll, so be prepared to pose in front of everyone else and to shoot very quickly. I had about 10 seconds of awkward solo photo posing while everyone else watched from behind the camera.
Right as we wrapped up at this location it started to rain. It was our first and only rain we experienced over the weekend, so I won’t complain. My boyfriend and I headed to Freemont Brewery and split a beer flight and some complimentary pretzels while we waited for the rain to pass. This brewery does not serve food so don’t come hungry. My favorite beer in the flight was the Dark Horse Nitro Stout. I’m not usually a stout drinker so that might say something about how good it was!
Salmon Bay Cafe
After throwing back a couple of beers, we were ready for some lunch. Since we were already in the same neighborhood that our friends live in, we met up with them for a quick lunch at the greasy spoon Salmon Bay Café. The food and drink were on par with what you can expect for a diner. I got the cowboy burger and a spicy Bloody Mary – which is exactly what I needed after the brewery.
Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar
After a quick rest at our hotel and shooting some hotel-focused content for the blog, we headed back out for a causal dinner. Thanks to a quick Google search, we landed on Taylor Shellfish & Oyster Bar which was back in the Occidental Square neighborhood we had walked through the day before. We saw more than one location of this restaurant around town throughout the weekend and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for delicious oysters that aren’t overpriced. I love Oysters, but I don’t really like paying more than $4 a piece, especially when you slurp them down in 1 second 😊 Taylor Shellfish & Oyster bar had a very reasonably priced menu and great cocktails to pair with. I definitely recommend this spot!
Seattle Great Wheel
We were done with dinner before sunset, so we headed back downtown to the pier by the Ferris wheel. I’ve always said that nothing beats a west coast sunset and Seattle’s did not disappoint at all. We enjoyed an ice cream cone while we watched the sky turn from blue to purple and orange and eventually nighttime in the city before heading back to our hotel.
Are you exhausted just reading our agenda yet? It was the last full day we had in the city so we had to take full advantage of the time. On Sunday morning we moved to The Sound Hotel in Bellview. Even though this hotel was only a 10-minute walk from where we had stayed the first two nights, I was excited to be staying on another side of downtown that we hadn’t explored yet.
Top Pot Donut Shop
The Sound Hotel was conveniently located a couple blocks away from the monorail that goes to and from the Seattle Center. On our way to the monorail we stopped by Top Pot Donut Shop for a quick breakfast treat & coffee. I highly recommend the Cookies & Cream donut if you’re into a sweet breakfast option. The donut shop has 2 floors of seating so there’s plenty of space to relax once inside.
Seattle Space Needle
The Space Needle is another Seattle staple. Tickets cost around d$45 for a pair. The views from up above are incredible and if you’re lucky enough to go on a clear day you can take in views of Mt. Rainier. Even if you don’t choose to spend the money to go up top, checking out the Space Needle from the ground level outside is just as fun. There is plenty of grassy park space around the area that you can relax in.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
The Chihuly Glass Gardens can be found right next to the Space Needle in the Seattle Center. Tickets can range from $22-$32 for a pair depending on the time of the day you go. Plan to spend 30-60 minutes walking through the various exhibits which are both indoor and outdoor. You may be familiar with the very Insta-famous photo I shared here on the right-hand side, but there are other awesome parts of this exhibit like you see on the left-hand side.
If you’re looking for an awesome view of the skyline from a distance, Kerry Park is the place to go. We walked here from the Space Needle which took around 30 minutes but there are buses that go that direction if you’d rather take public transit. It’s located on Queen Ann hill and has a brick wall lining the park that you can sit up on to enjoy the view. We showed up in the middle of the day and it was fairly crowded so plan accordingly!
Olympic Sculpture Park
We ended our weekend sightseeing at Olympic Sculpture Park which is a massive, free-to-the-public, area along the waterfront. The park offered chairs and benches for the public to sit out in, but it also had a trail that lined the water where many people were walking, running and biking on. We watched the sun set over the ocean and enjoyed a couple minutes of people watching.
WHERE WE STAYED & DINED ON DAY 3
We chose to move hotels on day 3 so that we could experience staying in a different part of downtown. We moved to The Sound Hotel which was on the opposite side of Pike Place Market from where we stayed at the first two days.
The Sound Hotel is a new, contemporary hotel located on 4th street, less than a 10 minute walk away from Pike Place Market and Westlake transit station among several other spots on my list above. The décor of the hotel is inspired by music and art around the city and our room offered a fantastic view of Seattle’s skyline.
I’m a huge music lover myself and loved how on-theme the entire hotel was from the lobby, to various lounge areas and even inside our room. When we walked in, we were greeted by a gorgeous view of Seattle from our window which faced the south. There was music decoration on the wall and even our lamp fixture was designed to mimic an instrument. So cute!
The bed was extremely comfortable and offered a spacious, relaxing spot for us to unwind on our final night in Seattle. I love a hotel that can provide a mix of that at-home comfort while also providing me with a high end escape. The Sound Hotel delivered on both of these.
I’ll admit I don’t write about hotel bathrooms very often because they don’t always “wow” me but I was very impressed with the bathroom at The Sound Hotel. I feel like most hotels offer these great rooms with tiny bathrooms that make you feel crowded but that was not the case at The Sound Hotel. The bathroom had a his and hers sink, enough space to actually spread our toiletries out and a beautifully designed shower space.
The hotel also has an outdoor terrace on the 7th floor where we enjoyed an evening glass of wine while we watched the sun set behind the city. There is indoor seating as well where you can enjoy the same view in case the weather isn’t as nice. A bonus perk is you can also see the Space Needle from the terrace!
I loved that this hotel was on a quieter street but still walking distance to everything we wanted to visit. We walked to every location that I wrote about in “DAY 3” above, which helped me feel not so guilty about all the delicious food we ate.
The hotel has a restaurant called Currant Bistro on the first floor where we enjoyed dinner and breakfast on our final evening and final morning in Seattle. The environment of the restaurant was laid back and casual, but the food felt like fine-dining. Both the breakfast and dinner menus have something for everyone on it but the hotel concierge suggested we try the Mediterranean flatbread for dinner which I highly recommend! My boyfriend and I also split their classic cheeseburger which I’ll admit rivaled with some of my favorite burger places in Chicago.
I love having a cocktail with my dinner so we went with a Moscow mule for me and an Old Fashioned for my boyfriend – we also enjoyed a couple of dessert cocktails at our servers recommendation. This made my sweet tooth very happy! Of course we had to save room for dessert and I’m so glad we did! Our server also recommended the crème Brûlée which was heaven on my taste buds.
For breakfast on our way out of town, we split the avocado toast and a breakfast sandwich. (If you’re an avocado lover, don’t skip out on the toast! This was next level delicious). The restaurant also offers a variety of specialty coffee drinks so don’t forget to grab a latte on your way out the door! Overall our server did a fantastic job with all of his recommendations and the food blew me away. I will definitely be eating here next time I’m in Seattle.
We took an Uber on the morning of day 1 and quickly realized we didn’t want to spend that kind of money the rest of the weekend. Surprisingly the public transit in Seattle is easy to navigate and Google Maps was always spot-on with the time estimates of the train/bus arrivals. You can purchase an ORCA card from the Westlake transit center which is good for the both the train and the bus. We took the bus almost everywhere the whole weekend and then took the train back to the airport when we were on our way home. If public transit doesn’t totally freak you out, I would recommend this option!
I’ll admit I had high expectations for Seattle and this city lived up to each and every one of them. The food, the people, the hotels – everything was exactly what we were looking for in a long weekend away. We already can’t wait to come back to this beautiful city. Seattle, you will be seeing us again soon!
*All opinions are my own. The Sound Hotel provided me with a complimentary stay along with dinner and breakfast at Currant Bistro in exchange for this post.