13 best things to eat, see and do
Have you ever loved a city so much that you booked your return ticket before you hit the road? That’s Seattle to me. I’ve never actually lived there, but every time I visit, the port city feels like home. Even if it was just a weekend trip to Seattle, I found myself completely engrossed.
I suspected that it was the fresh ocean air, vibrant local produce, blooming flowers or verdant nature that made me feel so alive as I explored the city. Or maybe every time I visit, I promise myself to spend more time in nature or by the water. Perhaps, the simple truth is that Seattle has a little bit of it all.
As a resident expert on a recent trip to Seattle, I had the pleasure of acting as the host and crafting an itinerary to highlight the wonders of the city in just one Seattle trip. Fast 48 hour weekend. Here’s what we ate, where we stayed and all we saw on our most recent trip to the city. Get ready to book your tickets as soon as possible.
Things to know about Seattle
When to take the weekend trip to Seattle
I’ve visited Seattle in the spring, summer, and winter, and there’s something to be said for every season in the city. You’ll find beautiful flowers around neighborhoods in spring, a bustling and vibrant city in summer, and dullest weather in winter. To prepare, pack the layers. Although it can be chilly by the sea in the morning, when the clouds clear and the sun comes out, you’ll be taking off your coat. And if you want to enjoy all the good things the city has to offer while driving away from the crowds, choose the cold season. Trust me: Your bravery will pay off.
How to go around
When it comes to planning your weekend trip to Seattle, structure your daily schedule by neighborhood. When you’re in the neighborhood, everything is quick and easy. Also, walking, biking or taking public transport is always a good way to get used to a new city.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Seattle
Thompson Hotel. I’ve stayed at several places in Seattle, and Thompson Seattle is my favorite. It’s centrally located and just a block from Pike’s Place Market, and boasts an incredible interior that speaks to PNW’s iconic cozy weather. Get up early and have coffee in the restaurant. And in the summer, be sure to spend some time on the rooftop bar overlooking the water.
Palihotel. Just a few blocks from Thompson, I was staying at the Palihotel for overnight trips in town. Rooms are a bit smaller, but the restaurant and cafe downstairs are some of my local favorites. Head out into the lobby to enjoy its cozy library feel.
Ace Hotel. Like their locations in other cities, Ace is always on my list of choices any time I visit. The interior is a bit more chic and artsy than you’d expect for a PNW hotel, but the location is close to many great shops and attractions.
Have breakfast/brunch at London Plane
I always return to this beautiful spot in the city at least once on my trips to Seattle. Chances are, you’ve seen this gorgeous restaurant on Instagram and it’s totally worth a visit. After enjoying a casual breakfast, take time to browse through our selection of local goods to make the perfect gift or souvenir.
Explore the neighborhood
Between Occidental Square and the shops of the Pioneer Square neighborhood, spend a leisurely morning after breakfast exploring. We stopped and browsed stores like Clementines and Flora and Henri, which had an incredible range of clothing and merchandise, as well as perusing the shelves at Arundel Books. Grab a coffee from Caffe Umbria and shop at Cassandra LaVelle’s new boutique, Casa di LaVelle for a beautiful collection of vintage items.
Go to Pike’s Place Market
I love a great market and can spend hours wandering around the stalls and exploring. But before you do, there are a few stops to see along the way. Depending on who you’re traveling with, stop by the Seattle Great Wheel, Waterfront Park, and the Seattle Aquarium if you’re traveling with the kids.
Check out Pike’s Place
A truly iconic destination, the market is always worth a visit. You can spend at least 30 minutes here or a few hours if you want. There are many restaurants and cafes in the market and adjoining streets making it a great place to eat while eating. Enjoy ginger beer and piroshki sandwiches, some mac and cheese from Beecher’s, or burgers and sandwiches at Pike Place Chowder. Or, find fruit and cheese and prepare a picnic to eat on the pier overlooking the water.
I like to linger around the different stalls to check out produce in season and visit the fresh fish market before shopping. Yes, it’s a tourist attraction, but it’s one of those places that is absolutely worth a visit.
Going out for dinner
The restaurant scene in Seattle is one of my favorites in the country, and if you only have a few days to dine, don’t miss these places.
Homer. The pedestrian only restaurant was highly recommended by friends. As we sat down at Homer’s bar for dinner, the conversations about each dish never stopped. We stuck to ordering a handful of small plates and sharing and were thoroughly appeased by the careful consideration of every flavor combination and ingredient choice.
I walk away from dinner with lots of new ideas for creating delicious and creative vegetable dishes at home. If it’s on the menu when you visit, order raw apple salad and smoked kohlrabi. And don’t leave without ending the night with their rotating menu of flavors served lightly for dessert.
Boat Bar. This highly unlikely location is more than just a pretty sight for dinner. Food is absolutely delicious. Whether you choose oysters to share at the table, chicory and apple salad, or grilled cauliflower, the menu created by chef Renee Erickson is absolutely divine. One of our recommendations apart from everything else we’ve shared? Get more frites and aioli orders. Just trust us on that.
Frankie and Jo’s. Is there a more perfect way to shutdown at night? While vegan ice cream might not be your first choice, when it comes to this sweet spot, you just have to trust it. While there’s Salt and Straw in town which I love, I’m impressed with Frankie and Jo’s ice cream. Their menu changes with the seasons, and I promise you’d never guess the ice cream was vegan if you didn’t. Try the Strawberry Milk Supercookie and Chocolate Tahini for a perfect night out.
Start the morning with a walk down to Olympic Sculpture Park
There’s nothing better than fresh air from the ocean, and an early morning walk in the park with a cup of coffee in hand is the perfect way to start the day. The road gives you a glimpse of some of the city’s beautiful natural paths. It is especially beautiful in spring or summer.
Going to Seattle Center
If you’re a first-time visitor to Seattle, walk from the sculpture park to the Seattle Center. Including the Pacific Science Center, the Chihuly Glass Garden, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Space Needle, almost every box you could hope to check out is in one place. I recommend you pick and choose the attractions that will be the most fun for you. Having visited each of these sites, I’ll skip the Space Needle and visit the Glass Garden and one of the museums.
Late Brunch at Oddfellows and Neighborhood Shopping
One of the most iconic cafes in Seattle, Oddfellows is located in the Pike Quarter south of Capitol Hill. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast before heading out to shop. The neighborhood is full of shops to visit such as Glasswing, Standard Goods, Station 7 and Chophouse Row, which has a collection of retail stores and local eateries.
Rest and prepare for dinner
For your second night, I have two more dinner recommendations for you:
The Conversation at Thompson Seattle. Our dinner at Conversation was one of my favorite meals of our trip. Chef Kaleena Bliss approaches fine dining with an engaging approach to every ingredient used on the menu. Think local produce that accentuates PNW’s flavors combined with new techniques that keep us coming back for more. The burnt cucumber salad with tamarind vinegar and nettle pesto gnocchi is divine, and the eggplant miso and strawberry burrata are delicious.
Willmott’s ghost. I ended up dining here after my flight got cancelled, and I’m glad it doubles as an opportunity to check Amazon Spheres off my list. Willmott’s Ghost’s menu focuses on Roman cuisine with seasonal salads, grilled vegetables and thick crusts, Roman-style pizza reminiscent of the softest focaccia. The bar menu is delicious — it would make a nice stop for a gala trip.
Make time for an early breakfast. Drop by General Porpoise Donuts or Union Coffee for — you guessed it — donuts and coffee before going to the airport. General Porpoise might be some of my favorite donuts. Classic with vanilla beans or swap with lemon donuts. And Union Coffee is an incredible cafe that also has an excellent wine collection. Get the cardamom latte and a bottle of vino to go.
Do you have a suggestion to add to our City of Seattle guidebook? Drop your tips and favorite places in the comments!