What Can You Do In Seattle In One Day?
When it comes to one-day trips, we usually think about the glamorous bars of Las Vegas and the multitudes of attractions in Orlando. One-day trips are also largely synonymous to panic, because in most cases there is so much to do and so much to experience that one can get completely overwhelmed by the prospect of the limited time one may have. We wrote up another post about how to spend a day in Atlanta, and a very detailed article about how to have a great time in Chicago, but these are cities that you’d be much better off with having more than just one day for exploration. With that said, what if we told you that some cities are meant to be explored in just one day? What if we told you that you’ll be more than comfortable on a one-day trip to Seattle, and that you won’t have to worry about everything you feel you’d need to do, but rather, that you’d be allowed to simply relish in all the amazing possibilities? What if we told you that by the end of your trip, you’d be happy and fulfilled, and like you’d truly made the most of what all was possible? You may not believe it right now, but we’ve done our research. So here we are… Seattle in one day. Enjoy.
Get to Know the City
Before we jump right into descriptions of everything best that Seattle has to offer, let’s talk about what you need to know about the place before you depart for our one-day trip. Seattle might be a gem of a city but you’ll need to know more than just that to appreciate all it has to offer. This is especially true if you are only vacationing for just one day.
This article will try to be a guide for you by bringing you the best tips that experienced vacationers to Seattle have to offer. You’ll also want to know the most common mistakes that first-time vacationers tend to make. Avoiding these will help ensuring your one day in Seattle is as hassle-free as possible. So, let’s get to know the city first!
Situated near the West Coast, Seattle is part of the State of Washington. It’s surrounded by thousands of acres of parklands and evergreen vegetation which has earning it the name of “Emerald City”. Truly a sight to behold, this largest metropolis of the northwest pacific is home to scores of memorable and iconic tourist site.
The city has a deep connection with arts and history. It’s also a premier location for all those looking to partake in leisurely activities or seeking entertainment. Once, Seattle hosted the 1962 World Fair and the remnants of that event are still very much a part of the city’s identity.
To put it briefly, although Seattle might lose out in fame to its southern urban rivals like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, the city with all its entertainment and art facilities is nothing to sneeze at. This means that you shouldn’t take this city lightly, even if you’re visiting this place only for a single day.
Visit Some Popular Tourist Sites During Your One-Day Seattle Vacation
Seattle has a ton of tourist sites each with their own unique experience. To be fair, visiting any of these would be a memory to cherish but remember you have just one day so let’s be realistic.
As a general rule, you should aim for the sites which genuinely pique your interests. If you’re an art buff, Seattle is home to many art galleries. All those seafood lovers reading this article, Seattle will also be a treat for you. Those interested in history can appreciate the fact that the city houses museums dedicated to niche topics, ranging from aviation to music. The Space Needle is also a place you cannot go wrong with.
The point is, there is a large variety of places you can visit and we have included a few of them in our list below. But at the end of the day, you will have to make your choice and head where your heart leads.
You Have to Visit The Space Needle
Undoubtedly the most iconic structure of Seattle for almost 60 years, the Space Needle is the face of Seattle. Back in 1962, it was the tallest structure (158 metres tall) west of the Mississippi river. The top of the needle hosts a rotating glass floor Observation Deck which allows tourists to take in the view of the city, Elliott Bay, and Mt. Rainier altogether.
The deck is accessible by a glass elevator. Having glass walls allows visitors to look out over to more than sixty landmarks while moving up in the elevator as well. It’s a remarkable experience to start your day with and will definitely help you appreciate the beauty of “Emerald City” to the fullest.
Check Out the Pike Place Market – Home to the Original Starbucks
With its story dating all the way back to 1907, this picturesque market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the USA. Pike Place Market houses stalls which sell seafood and other rare and exotic ingredients. It has a ton of eateries and restaurants whose cooks serve mouth-watering dishes, ready to satiate your hunger at all times.
The market also has a crafts section with more than two hundred traders working in craft shops. According to Wikipedia, Pike Place is also where the first ever Starbucks opened, back in 1971. The whole market is kind of a labyrinth so opting for a guided tour might actually be a better option both for exploring it as well as learning more about its history.
It’s also suggested that you plan your day in such a way that your visit to Pike Place falls at a less crowded hour. This is extremely important otherwise you will find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer human traffic at this place. Nonetheless, it’s highly recommended to take a stroll through Pike Place Market just to get a feel of what makes up the soul of Seattle city so make sure it’s part of your itinerary.
Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is one of the most popular and fascinating tourist sites in Seattle. The museum is solely dedicated to celebrate the work of Seattle’s very own famous glassblower, Dale Chihuly. To give a bit of context on what makes this place so unique, we have to understand that the work of Chihuly is famous for its ability to use glass as the sole artistic medium to create iconic sculptures and other pieces.
The museum also has a 100-foot long sculpture, suspended from the ceiling of a glass house which is set up in such a way as to use sunlight to enhance its shades of red, orange and yellow. Truly, all the art pieces here are a sight to behold and we are sure their images will last in your mind well beyond your one-day trip in Seattle.
MoPop is short for “Museum of Pop Culture”. As the name suggests, this entire complex is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of various aspects of pop culture. Established in 2000 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by the renowned Frank Gehry, the museum contains props and artefacts from: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “The Walking Dead”, “Men in Black”, and many other famous movies. It also has exhibitions of video games, in particular those which have indie origins.
In short, anything significant to pop culture is referenced or exhibited here. So if you are a fan of all things pop culture, this place should definitely be on your list.
Discover the Museum of Flight
Seattle’s Museum of Flight contains a massive variety of airplanes and historical aviation-related exhibits. The museum itself is a marvel of a structure. One that is primarily made of glass and steel. The very first Air Force One jet, the likes of which were used by JFK, Johnson and Reagan, is housed here. There’s also an outdoor gallery, renowned for its display of famous aircrafts such as the Concorde (one of the few located outside Europe), B-17F Flying Fortress and other military planes.
The indoor Great Gallery has exhibits of planes being suspended mid-flight which is absolutely thrilling for spectators. Lear and Space galleries focus on the past of space travel and explore what might be its future. As a tribute to the bravery of many brave souls, the “Personal Courage Wing” is dedicated to the remembrance of World War I and II aviators and martyrs. 28 retired fighter planes from the era are also displayed here.
Overall, the whole experience from the gallery is very educational and delightful for aviation history buffs. Displays of personal stories of aviators are thought-provoking and an interactive flight simulator presents tourists completes the educational package.
An interesting bit of trivia about the museum is that it houses the barn that once witnessed the birth of the Boeing Airplane Company. This is one of our favorite sites merely due to the complete and memorable experience the whole tour of the museum provides tourists with.
Experience the Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is something of a paradise in Seattle for those interested in animals. The facility spans over 92 acres and has enclosures with many of the most threatened and endangered species brought from all over the world to this zoo. A very popular destination for families, the zoo pioneered the creation of naturalistic exhibits with specific habitats for different species. Thanks to this, the zoo was able to house three hundred different species which range from Asian and African elephants to snow leopards, jaguars, lemurs, and grizzly bears.
The zoo provides events like animal feedings and informative lectures to educate visitors about the animals. The best part for animal lovers is that they can book an animal experience tour, which means they get to be up close to some of the zoo’s most exotic species. Definitely a place you should head to if you have kids along, or if you yourself love animals over anything else.
Some Helpful Tips for Your Trip
We have given you a quick overview of some of the most popular tourist sites in Seattle. It’s time for the real talk now, how do you make sure your time in Seattle is something you will cherish for a really long time?
What most people forget is that the primary difference between a memorable trip and a forgettable one is the way we navigate around unfamiliar surroundings. Trips to Seattle are no different. Many tourists feel that they’ve missed out somewhat on the experience that the city has to offer simply due to small problems that could’ve been prevented.
In order to save ourselves from that, it’s best to maybe browse through online forums and read up on reviews left behind my expert tourists. Below are few that we stumbled across while researching.
Staying Safe in Seattle
Seattle is quite safe when it comes to travelling on foot. Most areas are safe to explore, especially those for tourists, but there are some places that you should avoid as they have crime rates much higher than the national average. But again, we’re trying to cover Seattle in one day, so only walking, may not be ideal for this day.
Be a bit wary of secluded places and try not to limit your exposure to outdoor places after the sun goes down. Heralding this piece of advice should keep you safe for the most part.
Also, keep your belongings especially wallets or purses close to you at all times. Petty crimes especially pickpocketing is very common in crowded tourist areas. Your intuition is your friend. If someone seems shady or is acting suspicious, it’s best to distance yourself from them. Be wary of seedy hotels and buildings as well. Making copies of your passport and ID are a good idea.
Be sure to remember the golden rule: don’t do in Seattle that you wouldn’t do at home. Follow this and you’ll be fine.
The Off-Season is the Best Time to Go to Seattle
Adventuring to Seattle would be more of a hassle than fun if you pick the wrong time of the year to make the trip. Tourist sites get extremely crowded when the influx of tourists is on its yearly high. This means popular destinations like the Space Needle, Chihuly Glass and Garden and Pike Place Market won’t be able to properly leave their mark on your experience of Seattle.
Choose the time of the year when you know tourists are less. Remember that making a one-day trip gives you a unique flexibility. You can avoid peak times a lot more than those looking to stay in the city for over a week can. We suggest you make the most of it, and opt for a suitable time when you wouldn’t have to worry about crowds and traffic and whatnot.
The same goes for visiting the destinations on the trip itself. Choose to visit them at times you know the number of visitors would be less. For example, leaving early for Pike Place Market means you can explore it without bumping shoulders with other tourists. Time yourself, and the rest will be taken care of.
Walking (sometimes) is the Way to Go
Seattle is plagued with some of the worst traffic in the USA. The congestion problem rivals that of LA, New York or Las Vegas. However, the good news for tourists is that Seattle is a very pedestrian-friendly city.
Thus, save yourself some precious time by opting to walk instead of hailing a cab or driving a car. This means you should pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes and carry a bottle of water during your travel between tourist sites.
Public transit or using a bicycle are also pretty effective ways to get around the city. At the end of the day, choose what suits you the most but we do recommend walking as the best option.
The weather in Seattle can turn gloomy with low-hanging grey clouds pretty quickly. The city is one of the places in the USA that receive the most rain. Nearly 150 days of the year have a good chance of rain. As a precaution, maybe carry an umbrella or raincoat with you while you’re out exploring. Also, summers in Seattle are relatively cool so having a light upper with you even in summers can make your one-day trip way more comfortable.
Common Tourist Mistakes
After going through a number of bad reviews about making trips to Seattle, you can almost see a pattern of mistakes that people made. These mistakes were mostly the result of the fact that people didn’t seem to plan their trip out. A big mistake that you can make is planning a spontaneous trip to Seattle. You can end up losing precious sightseeing hours on trying to make up for the lack of preparation e.g., not confirming what the opening/closing times of destinations are, not booking a reasonable hotel prior to arriving in the city, etc.
These shortcomings on your planning can also mean a more expensive yet less enjoyable trip. So take a day or two to plan out your trip. Think about which sites you’d want to visit and chart out a course for the day. When vacationing, you don’t have to plan out every next step. Just having a rough idea about your day should do the trick.
Another piece of advice – avoid booking hotels located in the suburbs. While they may be cheaper, the consequence is that you’ll also have to spend more time travelling to your destinations and back to the room. Buying a Seattle City Pass can also give you discounts and avoid making the mistake of paying for tourist attractions separately so just being cognizant of where you’re saving and where you’re spending will keep you happy on your budget.
Conclusion: Is the Trip Worth It?
Definitely yes! Seattle has fairly sites even for a one day trip. You’ll find the city well worth your time and money. As a parting note, just try to absorb all that the city has to offer. Gaze upon its magnificence from the Space Needle and by the time you’ll reach home, even if thoughts about your next trip to “Emerald City” would not be coursing through your head, you’ll be satisfied and content. And there you have it! You’ve just conquered Seattle in one day!