Last Updated on June 4, 2023
While Seattle may be known for its rainy weather (and for being the birthplace of Starbucks), there’s so much more to the Emerald City than meets the eye! Seattle is truly a gem of the Pacific Northwest and a fantastic vacation destination for solo travelers, couples, and families. With lots to offer in the way of outdoor adventures, delicious food and coffee, and a vibrant arts and culture scene, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy in Seattle. This Ultimate Seattle 2 Day Itinerary highlights all the top sights and experiences that you can find throughout the city in just one weekend.
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Table of Contents
How Many Days Do You Need to See Seattle?
Two days is plenty of time to experience some of the best that Seattle has to offer. You can easily visit a number of iconic sights and explore some beloved Seattle neighborhoods in just two action-packed days. However, if you’re hoping to explore more of the Pacific Northwest outside of the city, you’ll want to plan for a longer trip. Washington is full to the brim of beautiful landscapes and hidden gems, and you could truly spend weeks exploring this beautiful area and still not see it all!
What Is the Rainy Season in Seattle?
As we mentioned earlier, one of the things Seattle is best known for is its typically very rainy weather. While it does rain a good bit in Seattle, there are certain times of the year that tend to be much less rainy than others. If you want to avoid excessive rain and cloudy weather, avoid visiting from November to March. These are the coldest and wettest months of the year in Seattle!
What Is Worth Seeing in Seattle?
Of course, some of the top sights in Seattle include the iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Both of these landmarks are popular destinations for visitors to Seattle, and for good reason! Seattle is also known for its incredible coffee scene, countless local breweries, and delicious restaurants.
How to Get Around Seattle
There are a number of distinct neighborhoods in the Seattle area, and each is very walkable, or even bikeable. However, if you plan to travel between neighborhoods, you’ll probably want to catch an Uber or a taxi. With how bustling the city of Seattle is, you shouldn’t have any issues using rideshare services to get around.
When traveling to and from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Link Light Rail system is a great option for transportation to the downtown and Capitol Hill areas. There are also buses available in the downtown Seattle area that are convenient and easy to use.
If you only plan to visit Seattle and not go on longer daytrips or road trips in the region you really don’t need to have a car for visiting Seattle for a weekend. Parking can be expensive, and traffic is not great, so our recommendation is to save yourself the headache and catch an Uber instead!
The Ultimate Seattle 2 Day Itinerary: Day One
For your first day in Seattle, we recommend heading into the heart of the city to explore downtown Seattle. The tourist-focused area of downtown Seattle is a busy and energetic area that is home to numerous parks, museums, and restaurants, and it’s a great area to get acquainted with the city and familiarize yourself with some iconic Seattle spots. Keep reading for all of our suggestions and recommendations!
Explore Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is one of the absolute best things to see in Seattle in two days, and a great way to kick off day one of your trip. The market has been in operation since 1907 and serves as an amazing opportunity for visitors to support local businesses and farmers. While Pike Place Market has become a tourist hotspot in the past few decades, it’s definitely still worth a visit.
The market hosts a huge variety of vendors who sell everything from fresh meat and produce to artwork and handmade jewelry. There are tons of hidden gems to be discovered throughout Pike Place Market, and you can have a really fun time by just wandering around and getting a little lost! Make sure to capture some photos of the iconic Pike Place Market sign, featured on our guide to the Top 20 Most Instagrammable Places in Seattle, and visit Pike Place Fish Market to watch fish fly through the air! Another fun feature of Pike Place Market is the life-sized bronze piggybanks, affectionately named Billie and Rachael, who are the mascots of the market.
Location: Pike Place Market
Hours: Pike Place Market is open daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Cost: This Seattle landmark is free to visit!
Helpful Tips: Try to visit in the morning or evening to avoid large afternoon crowds. With a market as busy as this one, there are definitely some tourist traps to be found. Explore the off-the-beaten path destinations to find those Seattle hidden gems.
Walk Down to Seattle Waterfront
From Pike Place Market, it’s a short walk to the next stop on our Seattle 2 day itinerary: Seattle Waterfront. Seattle Waterfront consists of a collection of piers that are home to numerous restaurants, shops, and activities. One of the most popular stops at Seattle Waterfront is the Seattle Aquarium, which is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Another fun activity at Seattle Waterfront is the Seattle Great Wheel, a large Ferris wheel that offers fantastic views of the city and Puget Sound. Whatever you choose to do at Seattle Waterfront, you’re guaranteed beautiful views of the harbor, city, and distant mountain ranges.
Location: Seattle Waterfront
Hours: Seattle Waterfront is open every day of the year from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Helpful Tips: Consider taking the Pike Street Hillclimb from Pike Place Market to Seattle Waterfront – it’s much more scenic than just walking along the road!
Check Out Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park
Seattle is home to a number of unique public parks, and Olympic Sculpture Park is one of the best. Located right along Puget Sound, the park is an extension of the Seattle Art Museum and features nine acres of outdoor sculptures, and even a stretch of beach! Olympic Sculpture Park is a must-visit addition to any weekend in Seattle itinerary because it’s a fantastic place to enjoy some outdoor art pieces while sipping on some coffee and getting your steps in.
The sculptures here are also very photogenic, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take some awesome Seattle photos. Some of the most well-known sculptures in the park include the striking Eagle by Alexander Calder, and Louise Bourgeois’s quirky Eye Benches series.
Location: Olympic Sculpture Park
Hours: Olympic Sculpture Park is open every day of the week from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
Helpful Tips: Keep your eyes peeled on the water as you walk throughout the park. Depending on the time of year, you might catch a glimpse of an otter, seal, or whale!
Wonder at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Art-lovers, rejoice! Our next recommendations on things to see in Seattle in 2 days is Chihuly Garden and Glass, a museum and art exhibit dedicated to the works of Dale Chihuly. Chihuly, who actually hails from Tacoma, Washington, is known for his whimsical and colorful blown glass pieces. Chihuly Garden and Glass is located just steps away from the famous Space Needle and features several distinct areas, both indoor and outdoor, that highlight some of Chihuly’s pieces and educate visitors on his background and style of art. Chihuly’s work is truly mesmerizing to see in person, and Chihuly Garden and Glass is an excellent spot to experience some of these one-of-a-kind art pieces for yourself.
Location: Chihuly Garden and Glass
Hours: Hours of operation vary throughout the year, but typically the museum is open from 9:00 or 10:00 AM to 6:00 or 7:00 PM.
Cost: General admission is $35 USD for adults ($30 USD if you visit before 11:00 AM), $29 USD for seniors 65+ ($27 USD before 11:00 AM), and $21 USD for kids 5-12 ($19 USD before 11:00 AM).
Helpful Tips: If you also plan to visit the Space Needle (which we absolutely recommend!) you can purchase combination tickets for both activities at a discounted price.
Seattle Space Needle
No weekend in Seattle itinerary would be complete without including the iconic Seattle Space Needle. The Space Needle has been a beloved fixture of the Seattle skyline since 1962 when it was first opened to the public during that year’s World’s Fair. The Space Needle is a unique piece of architecture that stands over 600 feet (183 m) tall, and even features a rotating floor at the top!
From the Space Needle’s observation deck, you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views of Seattle, Puget Sound, the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges, and Mount Rainier (if you visit on a clear day). You really can’t go wrong with a visit to the Space Needle, and a trip to Seattle would truly be incomplete without stopping by to experience it for yourself.
Location: Seattle Space Needle
Hours: Hours vary, but the Space Needle is typically open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Cost: Entry is $39 USD for adults, $33 USD for seniors 65+, and $29 USD for kids 5-12 (discounts available when you visit before 11:00 AM or after 5:00 PM).
Helpful Tips: For visitors 21 and over, consider checking out The Loupe, a cocktail bar located on the rotating floor of the Space Needle! Note as of 2023, this restaurant is currently undergoing renovations and is temporarily closed.
Museum of Pop Culture
For anyone who loves music and pop culture, this next destination on our Seattle 2 day itinerary is definitely a must-visit! The Museum of Pop Culture covers a wide variety of musical artists, bands, and pop culture icons from the last few decades. The museum is full of interactive exhibits and displays where you can really immerse yourself in the world of music and pop culture, such as opportunities to try various musical instruments for yourself! The Museum of Pop Culture is a great representation of Seattle’s thriving arts scene, and a super fun way to spend an afternoon in the city.
Location: Museum of Pop Culture
Hours: The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Cost: Ticket prices vary but generally range from $26 USD to $32 USD depending on when you visit.
Helpful Tips: The exterior of the museum itself features some incredibly unique architecture that is a great addition to Seattle photos.
Dinner Out in Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is an iconic Seattle neighborhood that is known for its historic buildings, quirky shops, and countless bar, café, and restaurant options. We definitely consider Capitol Hill one of the best things to see in Seattle in 2 days, and it’s an especially great place to grab some dinner! For plenty of variety and the opportunity to sample dishes from around the world, consider grabbing a bite to eat at Nue.
If you’re craving Italian, Rione XIII is a fantastic hidden gem that serves up wood-fired pizza and other Roman classics.
Location: Capitol Hill
Helpful Tips: If you managed to save room for dessert, Capitol Hill’s Salt & Straw is one of the best ice cream shops in the city!
The Ultimate Seattle 2 Day Itinerary: Day Two
For the next half of this Seattle 2 day itinerary, we’re venturing away from the heart of Seattle and into some of the unique neighborhoods that can be found just outside of downtown. Each and every Seattle neighborhood has a distinct history, atmosphere, and plenty of quirky hidden gems. Day two will highlight some of the most unique offerings that you can find in all of Seattle!
Start the Day with Seattle Coffee
To start day two of this weekend in Seattle itinerary off on the right foot, we recommend grabbing a cup of Seattle coffee. Of course, Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee are some of the most well-known coffee brands to come out of Seattle, but there are tons of other fantastic options as well.
If you’re a die-hard fan of Starbucks, we recommend a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which is one of only six locations in the entire world! The roastery features unique beans, methods of coffee preparation, and pastries that are absolutely to die for. Even if you’re not a big fan of the chain, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how elevated and unique the Reserve Roastery experience is.
If you want to try a true local coffeeshop, Capitol Hill is a great place to scout one out. Espresso Vivace is known for serving up beautiful latte art, while Kaladi Brothers Coffee offers classic coffee drinks in a very hip environment.
Location: Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Hours: The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is open 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Thursday, and 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Friday through Sunday.
Helpful Tips: For the ultimate experience, make sure to try one of the Reserve Roastery’s unique offerings that aren’t available at your typical Starbucks store!
Head North to Kerry Park
For some incredible views of the Seattle skyline, head to Kerry Park, located just on the outskirts of downtown Seattle. The view from Kerry Park is without a doubt one of the top things to see in Seattle in 2 days, and is the perfect stop as you make your way out of the downtown area. Kerry Park is initially pretty unassuming, as it’s tucked among a neighborhood of historic homes
Don’t let its size fool you – the park may be small, but it offers amazing unobstructed views of downtown Seattle, including the Space Needle! You’ll be able to score some awesome photos at this spot, and you can walk over to one of the many cafes in the nearby Queen Anne neighborhood afterwards if you need some extra coffee or a quick breakfast.
Location: Kerry Park
Hours: Kerry Park is open every day from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Helpful Tips: We recommend taking an Uber to Kerry Park, and to the next destination we’ll be talking about as well!
The next stop on our Seattle 2 day itinerary is the Fremont neighborhood, which is known for being an artistic haven. If you’re able to visit on a Sunday, you can check out Fremont’s Sunday Market where you can browse work by local artists, antiques, and grab a bite to eat from one of many food trucks that participate in the market.
Otherwise, there are plenty of shops, cafes, and bars to check out in the Fremont area. Fremont is very pedestrian-friendly, making it the perfect place to wander around at your own pace. An especially fun landmark in this neighborhood is the Fremont Troll, a large sculpture of a troll located under a bridge. The sculpture has even been featured in the Twilight movies and Sleepless in Seattle!
Helpful Tips: Another fun spot in Fremont is the Fremont Rocket, a sculpture of a rocket that’s attached to a military surplus store!
Stretch Your Legs at Gas Works Park
Another public park we knew we had to feature on this weekend in Seattle itinerary is Gas Works Park. Gas Works Park is a large hilltop park that was once a fully-operational gasification plant. The park was opened to the public in 1975 and has since become a classic Seattle spot for picnicking, kite-flying, and jogging. Gas Works Park overlooks Lake Union, where you can often spot paddleboards, sailboats, and houseboats during the warmer months. The park also boasts impressive views of downtown Seattle, making this a great place to take photos. You may even recognize Gas Works Park from the 90’s classic 10 Things I Hate About You!
Location: Gas Works Park
Hours: You can visit Gas Works Park every day of the week from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Helpful Tips: The actual oil plant buildings are off-limits to visitors due to safety concerns, but you can still walk around the plant and catch some pretty unique views!
The next neighborhood we’ll be exploring is Ballard, which has a rich waterfront history and is home to some of the best breweries in all of Seattle. Thanks to the plentiful salmon and clams that occupy the waters of Ballard, the neighborhood has become a hotspot for sailors and fishermen who pass through via the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The area’s historic past is evident as you walk the streets, and many of the buildings in the area today are remnants of the city’s initial “boom” back in the 1800s.
Live music is also a key feature of the Ballard neighborhood, and there are countless bars and music venues where you can catch a show. If you’re a beer-lover, you can also embark on a self-guided brewery tour through a few Ballard establishments! Reuben’s Brews, Stoup Brewing, and Urban Family Brewing Co. are some of the highest-rated brewery options in the neighborhood.
Helpful Tips: Historic Ballard Avenue is one of the best spots in the neighborhood for shopping and dining.
Ballard Locks and Discovery Park for Sunset
The very last destination on our Seattle 2 day itinerary is actually two in one: the Ballard Locks and Discovery Park. The Ballard Locks are a super interesting area of Ballard, and one of the most unique things to see in Seattle in 2 days. A lock is a system that raises and lowers ships, enabling them to pass through canals and waterways of various levels. The Ballard Locks is a system of these locks that enables not only watercrafts but also salmon to pass from Puget Sound to Lake Washington or Lake Union, and vise versa. It can be a little hard to understand unless you see it in person, so we definitely recommend paying a visit to see how it works for yourself!
After exploring the locks, we then suggest heading over to the nearby Discovery Park to close out your trip by watching the sunset. Discovery Park consists of over 500 acres (2 sq km) of forests, meadows, and shoreline, all in the heart of Seattle! There are tons of hiking and walking trails throughout the park, and one of the most beloved features is the charming West Point Lighthouse.
Helpful Tips: You will likely want to catch a ride to Discovery Park, as it’s a bit off the beaten path. If you have the time, pick up some local eats in Ballard and head to Discovery Park for a sunset picnic on the beach.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Seattle?
Generally, the best times to visit Seattle are spring, summer, and early fall. These months usually have fairly mild, warm weather, and fewer rain showers than late fall and winter. Ultimately, deciding what time of year to visit Seattle will depend on what activities you plan to do, what kind of weather you prefer, and how many crowds you’re prepared to encounter.
Winter in Seattle
If you want to avoid crowds and don’t mind cold and rainy weather, winter is a great option as you plan what time of year to visit Seattle. Temperatures typically hover around 40 to 50 F (5 to 10 C) during the winter, and there are significantly less crowds than in warmer months. You might not be able to enjoy Seattle’s outdoor activities as much during the winter, but there are plenty of indoor sights to see as well.
Spring in Seattle
Spring is a fantastic time of year to visit Seattle if you want to catch the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Some of the best places in Seattle to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous cherry blossoms is the University of Washington campus and the Washington Park Arboretum. Temperatures in spring can vary greatly, ranging from 50 to 70 F (10 to 21 C), so make sure to pack layers! You’ll also be missing the surge of summer tourists, so you won’t have to worry too much about excessively large crowds.
Summer in Seattle
Summer in Seattle offers the best weather of the year, making it the most popular time for tourists. You can expect temperatures that range from 65 to 80 F (18 to 27 C), and significantly lower chances of rain than other times of the year. This usually means it is pleasantly warm, but not too hot thanks to the cool ocean breezes. However, expect large crowds at Seattle’s top sights if you visit during the warm summer months.
Fall in Seattle
Fall is an exceptionally beautiful time of year to visit Seattle, though you’re likely to experience a decent amount of rain. If you visit during the fall, you’ll generally find temperatures that range from 45 to 60 F (7 to 15 C). Rain is common in Seattle from mid to late fall, so be prepared for changing weather. Fall is also a popular time of year to visit Seattle, though it isn’t as crowded as summertime.
Where to Stay in Seattle
There are a large number of hotels in Seattle, giving you plenty of choices for your weekend or 2 days in Seattle. We’ve selected some of our favorites in each price category in the city.
Budget Hotel Options
Thankfully, there are plenty of budget-friendly hotel options in the downtown Seattle area. Hotel Max is a great option if you’re looking for unique accommodations in a convenient location. If you’re looking for something simple and straightforward, Holiday Inn Seattle Downtown is another great hotel that offers a comfortable stay at a reasonable price.
Mid-Range Hotel Options
If you have a little more flexibility with your budget and want a more boutique hotel experience, we recommend staying at citizenM Seattle South Lake Union. Situated along the popular Lake Union, citizenM is a chic and comfortable hotel in a great location that provides something unique compared to your standard hotel chains.
Luxury Hotel Options
Our top choice for a luxury hotel option in Seattle is the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has been in operation for almost 100 years and features gorgeous accommodations right in the heart of Seattle. If you’re willing to splurge a bit, we promise you won’t be disappointed with the Fairmont Olympic.
The Ultimate Seattle 2 Day Itinerary Summary
If you’ve always wanted to explore Seattle but can only manage a two-day trip, we want to reassure you that is plenty of time to see some of the best that Seattle has to offer! While we’ve only scratched the surface on all there is to see and do in Seattle, we made sure to highlight only the best of the best so you can make the most out of your short visit.
Whether you’re visiting Seattle for two days or twelve, there is always something new to discover, whether it be a beautiful park, a unique piece of architecture, or a delicious restaurant. This Ultimate Seattle 2 Day Itinerary is the perfect tool to use as you plan your own trip, and we hope you find it helpful!
Be sure to pin this 2 Day Seattle Itinerary to your Pacific Northwest Pinterest Board so you have it ready for planning your next trip!