Seattle Travel Guide

USA  #8 in Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
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1-day Itinerary in Seattle

Explore the best things to do in Seattle in 1 day based on recommendations from local experts.

Day 1

  • 1
    #13
    Pioneer Square
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    #13 in Seattle
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you like history, Pioneer Square should be at the top of your to-do list. This neighborhood was one of the first settlements in the Northwest U.S. (hence the name), and it has maintained much of its Old West identity. Today, you'll find the cobblestone area peppered with art galleries, restaurants and shops, not to mention an ornamental pergola, which provides shelter to those waiting to hop on the cable car.

    No visit to Pioneer Square is complete until you tag along on the Underground Tour. The tour leads you through a maze of subterranean passageways – which were once the city's main roads before the Great Seattle Fire in 1889 – where you learn about the quirkier side of historic Seattle, from legends of thieves to the history of the flush toilet. The Underground Tour recommends that participants be at least 7 years or older to keep up with the 75-minute walking tour. Tour tickets cost $22 for adults, $20 for seniors and students (ages 13 to 17, or with a valid college ID), and $10 for children ages 7 to 12. 

    10-15 minute walk
  • 2
    #8
    Seattle Art Museum
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    #8 in Seattle
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Spread across three locations, the Seattle Art Museum houses one of America's premier art collections, displaying everything from European masterpieces to contemporary sculpture. The Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park are also part of the complex. The museum receives some mixed views from recent visitors, but most appreciated its eclectic collection and recommend setting aside a few hours if you need to fill a rainy day. Recent travelers were particularly impressed with the museum's permanent collection of African art and its display of Northwest Coast Native American artists. 

    Commonly known as "SAM," the main part of the museum is located in downtown Seattle about a mile-and-a-half south of the Space Needle. SAM is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. 

    5 minute walk
  • 3
    #1
    Pike Place Market
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    #1 in Seattle
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Since 1907, this bustling market near the downtown waterfront has been the go-to place for local produce. Today, you can find almost everything, from local artwork to vinyl records. Plus, the flower market is a particular must-see, according to reviewers. Though Pike Place Market is one of the most tourist-heavy attractions in Seattle (plan to run into crowds, especially during the weekend) that's no reason to scratch it off your to-do list. Recent visitors said the abundance of vendors and lively atmosphere make it an experience you shouldn't pass up, no matter how busy it gets. 

    The streets surrounding Pike Place Market are peppered with restaurants and coffee shops, and there's an information booth just west of the marketplace at First Avenue. If you want a little help navigating the massive market, guided tours and food tours are available from third-party companies. You can find a list on the market's website here.

    15 minute walk
  • 4
    #11
    Seattle Aquarium
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    #11 in Seattle
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    For a glimpse under the sea, head to the Seattle Aquarium, which sits along the waterfront just a few blocks west of the Seattle Art Museum. It may not be as impressive as other cities' aquariums, but Seattle's facility offers a wonderful introduction to northwestern sea life. The highlight of your visit will most likely be the "Window on Washington Waters" exhibit, which houses aquatic animals native to the surrounding area in a 120,000-gallon tank.

    Other points of interest include a coral reef tank and a kid-friendly touch tank, where your little ones can shake hands with starfish and sea cucumbers. And don't miss your chance to get the fish-eye view from the aquarium's underwater observation dome.

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