Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific North-West; a seaport city surrounded by lush evergreen forests and deep bodies of water on every side.
An isolated location makes Seattle more obscure and less populated than other Northern cities in the United States like Chicago and New York City; but location is also the reason that The Emerald City is filled with delicious regional food, and a unique Seattle Culture.
Three days in Seattle is more than enough time to get a taste of the city’s trademark cuisine and explore the archetypal landmarks and attractions.
Here’s our guide to Spending Three Days in Seattle; an itinerary of travel tips that includes iconic Seattle landmarks, local culinary attractions and other activities to get the most out of a short visit.
THREE DAYS IN SEATTLE – DAY ONE
Start the day off with Starbucks Coffee.
It’s not hard to run into a Starbucks in any major city, but Seattle boasts three of the most unique Starbucks outlets in the world.
The most popular coffee chain in the world was actually founded in Seattle. The first store, generally called The Original Starbucks maintains it’s vintage appearance thanks to design guidelines that govern architecture at the Pike Place Market.
There’s also Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a third wave coffee joint where select coffee is sourced from around the globe, and master roasters unlock the inherent flavor and characteristics from these beans onsite.
Visiting these iconic Starbucks locations is part of the ultimate Starbucks experience in Seattle that we’ve written about previously.
While near the waterfront, it’s a great idea to get acquainted with the landmarks of the city by taking an Argosy Cruise.
On this guided tour, it’s easy to identify the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, Queen Ann Hill, and the Seattle Ferris Wheel. The guide also points out much more and explains the significance of several landmarks in the history of the city.
Once you’re back on land, head to one of the many stalls selling clam chowder near the harbor like Pike Place Chowder for a quick lunch on the pier, or make a reservation for a dinner of an entire fresh Dungeness Crab or grilled Sockeye Salmon at Ivar’s Acres of Clams.
Ivar’s has become world famous for their classic North-West seafood dishes, and they offer fare across a wide price-range; from the street side Ivar’s Seafood bar to their flagship restaurant Ivar’s Acre of Clams.
Just nearby at Pier 59 is the Seattle Aquarium, the ninth most popular aquarium in the United States. Their exhibits focus on Pacific marine life; from the coral reefs of the Tropical Pacific, to the mammals and birds that reside in the Puget Sound waterways.
The Seattle Aquarium is involved in many areas of conservation including sea turtle rehabilitation, and protection of the elusive Pacific Giant Octopus in Puget Sound.
They even have a Pacific Giant Octopus on display, these creatures are actually known to recognize humans that they come into contact with often enough.
There are also river otters, harbor seals, six-gill sharks, and an interactive exhibit that include the creatures found in the tide pools of the Puget Sound’s inland sea.
THREE DAYS IN SEATTLE – DAY TWO
Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Center is a bustling collection of parks, landmarks, stores and museums in the Lower Queen Ann district, an area just North West of the downtown area.
Head there to explore the constantly rotating collection of art installations on exhibit, and some of the museums located there.
The EMP Museum is a non-profit emporium of pop culture exhibits.
Permanent exhibits include Hendrix Abroad, an exhibition that celebrates the fact that from the height of his fame, Jimi Hendrix was rarely in one place for more than a month. Walk through and look at his personal travel items as well as photographs taken from 1966 to 1977, during which time he traveled to over fifteen countries and played 500 shows.
Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses is a visual tribute to the 90s grunge band Nirvana that brings together the most extensive exhibition of memorabilia surrounding the Seattle band.
Visiting shrines to these local musical icons needs to be on your Seattle Bucket List.
There’s more than just music memorabilia at the EMP Museum. There are exhibits on science fiction movies, fantasy realms, and pop culture phenomenons like Hello Kitty, Star Trek, and Star Wars.
Next door to the EMP Museum and the Space Needle you will find Chihuly’s Garden and Glass.
Dale Chihuly is a Tacoma-born glass sculptor who crafts large-scale glass sculptures inspired by oceanic lifeforms and flora.
Walking through the scenic gardens and exhibitions and seeing the light play with the blown-glass art is a perfect way to usher in the evening in Seattle and relax before dinner.
Access to fresh seafood as well as a vibrant Japanese population means that Seattle is home to creative and delicious sushi and sashimi.
Spots like Japonessa incorporate Latin American flavors in their American-style sushi rolls, while places like Shiro’s follows the traditional Tokyo methods of preparing sushi while focusing on local fish.
Seattle has some of the best seafood in the United States, so enjoy as much as you can while you’re in the city.
The Space Needle is one of the most iconic buildings in the United States and it’s one of the first landmarks noticed by anyone visiting Seattle. Now it’s time to pay a visit!
It’s not as tall as other observation decks like the Top of the Rock in New York City or the Willis Tower Sky Deck in Chicago, but it makes up for this with short lines and a ticket option that allows you two entries within 24 hours.
Make the upward journey during the day to get an expansive view of downtown Seattle when it’s bright.
Head back up after dark to look at the moonlight reflecting off the waters of Elliot Bay.
THREE DAYS IN SEATTLE – DAY 3
The third day in Seattle is about getting a deeper appreciation for the character of the Emerald City.
Starbucks was founded over three decades ago, but coffee culture has evolved since then and Seattle has always been on the cutting edge of third wave coffee. Ghost Note Coffee is one of many cafes in Seattle that focus on simplicity and letting expertly roasted single origin beans stand out.
Spend some time exploring the Pike Place Market. It’s one of the oldest continuously operated farmers market in the United States and it’s filled with free samples of organic snacks, creative craft and gifts, guys that throw fish back and forth, and fresh seafood.
All major cities in the United States are now meccas of craft beer so choosing a brewpub is sometimes hard, but while you’re in Seattle pay a visit to the Pike Brewing Company, a craft beer emporium that serves up a variety of brews from hoppy IPAs like “Pike Space Needle Golden IPA” to the Sweet and Smokey “Pike Kilt Lifter”.
They have a Microbrewery Museum within their dining area that you could explore while sipping a smooth and creamy “Pike Post Alley Porter”.
Post Alley has been called Seattle’s most charming street and it’s home to one of the germiest attractions in the world; the Gum Wall.
The Gum Wall received it’s first wads of gum in 1993, and by 1999 it was declared a tourist attraction. The Pike Place Market Ghost Tour start at the Gum Wall. Taking in that tour or some of the other nearby nightlife options is a great way to end the final night in Seattle.