Your Ultimate 4-Day Guide to Seattle

Pike Place Market, Seattle Pike Place

Primarily known for its grunge music and coffee scene, Seattle is becoming a top U.S. destination. The largest city in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest region, Seattle has plenty to offer such as mouth-watering eateries, epic cityscape views, nature-filled activities, homages to rockstars, and getaways to other cool locations. Here’s a 4-day guide to Seattle, which is the perfect amount of time to see all the attractions while hitting the hidden gems.

I have been to Seattle three times in the past, but only to fly in through the SeaTac International Airport and drive with my family for 2 hours to Vancouver, where our relatives live. Our last time was in 2012, and on the day of our flight, my mom, her friends, and my sister ate at a sit-down restaurant while Cecilio and I got to walk around Pike Place Market and pass by the first Starbucks ever.

For our 5-year wedding anniversary, I booked us a trip to Seattle beforehand. I found some sweet deals and I just figured, it was time after not being to travel far since our Europe trip in 2019.

This time, this trip was all about the Emerald City. And we fell in love. Or at least I did enough to want to live there. Seattle is PNW’s version of San Francisco, which is probably why I fell head over heels (in Cecilio’s case, it’s California or nothing).

I want you to fall in love too.

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Your Guide to Seattle: Know Before You Go

Airport

The SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) International Airport is the primary hub, and all roads (err, I mean planes) lead there. It is about 20 minutes from Downtown Seattle and smack dab in between the city and Tacoma.

Weather

Seattle is famous for constant rain, no doubt. Even during the summer. But there are pauses and bouts of sunshine in between, even during March when we went. Pack accordingly, with a waterproof coat and cardigans to layer with. Don’t forget a scarf and hats!

There’s a reason why it’s nicknamed the Emerald City—the never-ending rain feeds the plants and trees, making it lush and green all year round.

Transportation

No car? No problem. Seattle has numerous modes of public transportation, such as the Link Light Rail, King County Metro Transit, Streetcars, and Monorail. You can purchase the ORCA card for all transit modes (except for the monorail) for $5, and load an all-day pass for $8.

Learn more about the public transportation system at Visit Seattle.

You can also rent a car through the airport, which is what Cecilio and I did, and why we ended up staying at a hotel in Bellevue (a nearby suburb) which had free parking. A car will get you to all the places you want in a short amount of time, but be aware that parking is tricky!

CityPASS

We both purchased the CityPASS which granted us to the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, and three attractions of our choice. The CityPASS is $115/adult, but you save at least 44% on all attractions! And it’s super easy to go to the ticket office and show your CityPASS receipt. For the Space Needle, Aquarium, and Argosy Cruises, you can even make reservations in advance!

Are you going to Seattle soon? You can actually purchase the CityPASS right now 🙂

Your Guide to Seattle: Attractions

Pike Place Market

You may have seen photos of that Pike Place sign in large, bold letters. But that sign is the oldest operated farmer’s market in the U.S. overlooking Puget Sound and Elliot Bay and attracting around 10 million visitors a year. The market is filled with fresh produce, seafood, baked goods, flowers, handcrafted gifts, and casual eats. There are also a few restaurants, gift shops and even a comic book shop!

Pike Place Market is within walking distance from other attractions, or you can grab a bite to eat and chill by the waterfront (if the weather allows).

Pike Place Market, Seattle Pike Place
Pike Place Market, Seattle Pike Place fish market

Original Starbucks

Where the love affair with coffee started.

This post wouldn’t be a complete guide to Seattle without mentioning the world’s most famous coffee franchise.

Across the street from Pike Place Market lies the first Starbucks built in 1971. Today, it is both a cafe and a tourist attraction with a 15-minute line, and people taking photos of the sign and storefront.

Once you go inside, an employee will show you the merchandise and tell you to take photos but no videos (sorry, no TikTok!). The baristas are on the other side, ready to take your order. While you can order the same classic drinks, there are a few specialty ones you can’t find in other locations.

Original Starbucks, Pike Place Starbucks, Original Starbucks Seattle
Enjoying my Oat Caramel Macchiato.
Original Starbucks, Pike Place Starbucks, Original Starbucks Seattle
Original Starbucks, Pike Place Starbucks, Original Starbucks Seattle, Bearista
The Original Starbucks sells “bearistas”. I adopted the one on the left and named him Coconut (the barista gave him a tag and wrote it out). Unfortunately, the tag fell off 🙁
Original Starbucks, Pike Place Starbucks, Original Starbucks Seattle

Gum Wall

A wall filled to the brim with tourists’ chewed gum covers Post Alley in the Pike Place Market. It is one of Seattle’s most Instagrammable (and grossest) spot! It all started in the 90s when people glued coins from theaters and comedy shops with the gum on the wall. While the coins were removed, the gum stayed and officially became an attraction in 1999. Today, the span is about 50-feet long and 20-feet high.

Pike Place Market, Gum Wall Seattle

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is located right on the waterfront on Pier 59. I was a little worried that I would be underwhelmed; after all, I have been super spoiled by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. But I had a fun time taking photos and observing the sea life, puffins, and sea otters. The aquarium is a part of the CityPASS, and I highly recommend it for families with little ones!

Space Needle

I like to call the Space Needle the “Eiffel Tower of the Pacific Northwest”. At 605 feet tall, it is Seattle’s most famous icon. It has an observation deck covered with glass, and a floor below features a restaurant and a few bars revolving with glass floors 500 feet above ground.

This space-themed building was constructed in 1962, resembling something you would see in the Jetsons. It is also a part of the CityPASS! It is also within walking distance near the Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).

Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Right next to the Space Needle is a museum and garden featuring Dale Chihuly’s blown glass art. As a designer and an art lover, I appreciate seeing the magnificent works he has done and reading the statements and process behind it. His art mimics nature and life forms, such as a life-sized indoor glass garden dedicated to his mother.

His museum is like a little maze that leads you to a glass house with his art hanging from the ceiling underneath the Space Needle. There is also a garden outside featuring more of his art alongside plants and flowers.

The Space Needle and Chihuly Garden are both a part of the CityPASS. If you want to do both of them and not the other activities, you can purchase them as a bundle, which saves $10!

Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)

All things dedicated to music, video games, movies, and entertainment can be found here. There are permanent exhibits like the Hip Hop collection, featuring music, photos, film contact sheets, merchandise and lyrics from hip hop entertainers like Tupac, Jay-Z, Biggie, and Kanye West.

MoPOP also has a guitar gallery featuring guitars played some of the big classic rock artists like Slash, Nancy Wilson from Heart, Eric Clapton, and Dave Grohl.

There was also a temporary exhibition dedicated to all things Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, which was just fitting for this guide, which leads me to my next point…

Museum of Pop Culture, MoPOP, MoPOP Hip Hop Exhibit
A section featuring Aaliyah in the Hip Hop exhibit
MoPOP Guitar sculpture, Museum of Pop Culture Guitar
MoPOP’s Guitar Sculpture
MoPOP Nirvana exhibit
Display of one of Kurt Cobain’s many sweaters worn while performing
Seattle Aquarium
Nirvana memorabilia, such as photos and backstage passes

Kurt Cobain’s benches in Viretta Park

Two benches in Viretta Park became a memorial to Kurt Cobain, the late lead for Nirvana. The park is located near his house where he died by suicide. There are flowers, artifacts, and regalia dedicated to the rockstar. For a while, fans have been wanting to change the name to Kurt’s Park.

Viretta Park is a little hard to get to and to park, but you can park in the residential area behind and take a few moments to pay your respects.

If you are a music lover and if you take one thing away from this guide to Seattle, I would recommend visiting the benches and/or scoping out MoPOP.

Viretta Park, Kurt Cobain benches

Kerry Park

Kerry Park, located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, offers some of the best views of Seattle’s skyscrapers and Space Needle. It’s a bit of a steep drive to get you, but once you’re there, you’re rewarded with the most picturesque views. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see Mt. Rainier (we didn’t get to).

Kerry Park, Kerry Park Seattle

Smith Tower

Space Needle isn’t the only iconic landmark with an observatory. Give Smith Tower a visit, which is one of Seattle’s oldest buildings built in 1914 and inspired by Art Deco design. General admission is $19/person, and you’re lead to some of educational and interactive things before you head to the elevator, leading you to the 35th floor where the bar and observatory are. The observatory offers 360 degree views outside the bar, overlooking Puget Sound, Elliot Bay, and Downtown Seattle. Treat yourself to a drink while soaking in the view! I recommend the Pike Street Peppermint drink. There are also mocktails for those who don’t drink!

Smith Tower observatory, Smith Tower Seattle
Pike Street Peppermint,Cornelius Cooler, Smith Tower bar
Left: Pike Street Peppermint. Right: Cornelius Cooler (mocktail).

Argosy Harbor Cruises

You can buy tickets separately or make reservations through the CityPASS. The Argosy Harbor Cruises deck is right next to the Seattle Aquarium and takes you on an hour-long tour all across Puget Sound and Elliot Bay. Your guide shares the history of Seattle while pointing out each building, landmark, and ship, talking about what makes them unique. You also get a chance to walk around the deck and take photos. The 2nd floor has a bar where you can order drinks and snacks.

@justhannaheunice The Agrosy Cruises tour gives you stunning views of Seattle’s cityscape #agrosy #pacificnorthwest #seattletiktok #seattle #traveltiktok #travellife #exploremore #pugetsound #washingtonstate ♬ Somewhere – Surf Mesa

Looking to book separately? Click below!

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Coffee fans, you are in for another treat! A few blocks away from the Original Starbucks, the Seattle Starbucks Roastery offers elevated drinks and foods that you can’t find in a regular franchise such as the Irish con Crema (so good!). They even have an aperitivo bar serving alcoholic drinks. I of course, had to get the espresso martini. It was so cool seeing the roasters and silos right next to the bar.

It’s pretty packed during lunch hour, so I would recommend going after (around 1:30) or in the morning. And after you get seated feel free to sit back, enjoy your cup of Joe and people watch!

Starbucks Reserve roastery seattle
Starbucks Reserve roastery seattle, starbucks espresso martini

Pin this guide to Seattle at the bottom for reference and inspo for your next PNW trip!

Have you been to Seattle or surrounding areas of the Pacific Northwest? (PS–if you have time, you can take a day trip to Portland!)

ultimate guide to seattle
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Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.

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