2-day Itinerary in Seattle
Explore the best things to do in Paris in 2 days based on recommendations from local experts.
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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.
According to recent visitors, the area is worth a stroll but the neighborhood has seen better days. Many commented that while the architecture is beautiful, there is a large homeless population in the neighborhood. To reach the neighborhood, you can take the First Hill Line streetcar, among other public transportation options. For more information on the neighborhood, including what shops and restaurants you can find there, check out the Pioneer Square website.10-15 minute walk
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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.
The museum does charge a hefty admission fee ($24.95 for adults, $14.95 for kids ages 13 to 17 and those with student IDs), but you can get in for free if you time your visit for the first Thursday of the month. Seniors can also take advantage of First Fridays, where admission is free to those ages 62 and older on the first Friday of the month. Paid parking is available near the museum. You can also take the Link light rail to the University Street Station, which sits within walking distance of the museum. For more information on current exhibits, hours and admission prices, visit the Seattle Art Museum website.5 minute walk
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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.
The market is divided into two levels – street-level and underground – which are open every day (except Thanksgiving and Christmas day). The official market bell sounds at 9 a.m., but some vendors start welcoming customers as early as 6 a.m. Closing times can also vary, but most merchants close up shop at 6 p.m. While you won't have to pay to explore the market, you'll want to have your money ready in case you find something that tickles your fancy. You can find the market a few blocks south of the Westlake Link light rail stop or by driving north of Pioneer Square. Alternatively, many bus routes will drop passengers off within walking distance of the market on First Avenue or Pine Street. There is a parking garage available one block southeast of the market.15 minute walk
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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.
Past visitors said a quick stop by the aquarium is worth your time, especially if you're interested in learning more about the animals that call the Pacific Northwest home. Though reviewers admit the facilities aren't as large as you'd expect, they did say the aquarium is the perfect size to keep children (and adults) entertained for an hour or two.
The Seattle Aquarium, which is located within walking distance of Pike Place Market, can be reached via several bus routes. The aquarium is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last entry at 5 p.m. Some visitors say the admission is a little pricey, but entry to the aquarium is included if you purchase a Seattle CityPASS. Otherwise, expect to pay $19.95 for children ages 4 to 12, and $29.95 for adults. Several bus lines For more information, check out the Seattle Aquarium's website.
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If there's one thing Seattle is known for (aside from coffee and Tom Hanks' insomnia), it's the 605-foot tall Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Space Needle has dominated Seattle's skyline ever since with its unique UFO-like design. The tower's round observation deck (520-feet high) offers spectacular views of the city and the nearby Olympic Mountains. Its latest feature is The Loupe, a revolving glass floor. Also at the top of the needle is a cafe and a wine bar. If you're not a fan of heights, check out the Spacebase gift shop at the bottom of the tower.
When it comes to prices, recent visitors are torn: Some said the views are worth the high admission price, while others said it's just as impressive from the ground. Even those who said it was expensive admitted that for first-time visitors to Seattle, it's a must-see and many recommend purchasing a CityPASS to save money. Reviewers also recommend you make a stop here on a clear day as you'll likely miss out on the views if it's foggy.
You can avoid the steep admission charge ($32.50 to $37.50 for adults and $24.50 to $28.50 for children ages 5 to 12) by purchasing a CityPASS that includes admission to additional attractions or by combining your Space Needle ticket with the entrance fee to the Chihuly Garden and Glass located next door. You can also book a timed ticket, which will save you waiting in line.
The Space Needle is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood (about a mile north of downtown Seattle), and the observation deck is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. You can valet park your car for $26. There are also several parking lots and garages nearby, or you can hop on the monorail to the Seattle Center stop. For more information, check out the Space Needle website.5 minute walk
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Bursting with artwork spanning the colors of the rainbow, Chihuly Garden and Glass offers visitors a look at creative, glass-blown pieces crafted by renowned Pacific Northwest artist, Dale Chihuly. The permanent exhibition opened in 2012 and has since attracted the admiration of Seattleites and tourists alike.
The venue is divided into the Exhibition Hall, which displays eight galleries of work and three "drawing walls," the Glasshouse (picture a greenhouse, but with glass-blown flowers) and the Garden, which features Chihuly's work integrated with lush shrubbery. Recent visitors were impressed by the amount of detail evident in each glass-blown piece and in awe of the intensely bright colors. Many say they were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the venue. Others recommended visiting after sunset to see the attraction illuminated.
Tickets are a bit pricey at $26 for adults and $17 for kids ages 5 to 12, but you can purchase a combo ticket and visit both the museum and the Space Needle next door for $49 for adults and $36 for kids. Keep in mind: The price of admission is included in the Seattle CityPASS, which grants entry to both these top sites along with several other attractions. You'll find Chihuly Garden and Glass in northwestern Seattle, a stone's throw from Seattle's towering Space Needle. (There are several parking lots and garages nearby, or you can hop on the monorail to the Seattle Center stop.) Ideally, you should pair a trip to the museum with a visit to the Space Needle, but also consider adding a stop at the Olympic Sculpture Park to your itinerary since it's located just half a mile southwest.
The museum opens at 10 a.m. and stays open until 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; tickets are available until one hour prior to closing. Sections of the museum can be closed for special events so check the website before visiting.10 minute walk
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There's no better way to get a healthy dose of culture than to enjoy some fine art, especially when the art is outdoors and free to peruse. In other words, you should plan on visiting the Olympic Sculpture Park, a 9-acre section of the Seattle Art Museum that's filled with works by such sculptors as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg and Roxy Paine. Once you've had your fill of art, turn your attention to the view, which stretches over Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains and is a big hit with recent visitors.
Past visitors to the park said it's an enjoyable way to experience the art and ambiance Seattle offers, especially during the warmer months. However, some said the park wasn't a "must-see" and only recommend making a stop if it's near other attractions you're visiting.
The Olympic Sculpture Park sits a few blocks southwest of the Space Needle, near the shores of Elliott Bay. The park is open every day 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. The Olympic Sculpture Garden is also home to a shop and a cafe, and free guided tours are available. Check the Olympic Sculpture Park's website for more details and tour schedules.15-25 minutes by car
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These locks – operated by the Army Corps of Engineers – are popular among visitors and locals in Seattle. The locks allow boats to pass between Puget Sound and the Lake Washington ship canal, offering a live demonstration of Seattle's maritime lifestyle (many have compared the locks to a miniature version of the Panama Canal). After you've watched a couple barges pass by, head to the south side of the locks where fish ladders help salmon migrate during the summer months; if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a sea lion looking for a quick bite to eat. The fish can be seen up close from special viewing windows. The Chittenden Locks are also home to the Carl English Botanical Gardens, which feature a variety of unique plants and beautiful views.
Many visitors suggested taking one of the free tours offered to learn more about the history of the locks. A few reviewers were disappointed that the visitor center was closed the day they stopped by. If that's something you want to explore, make sure you check the hours ahead of time.
The locks are available to visit daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and are located in northwest Seattle's Ballard district. Free one-hour tours run from March 1 to Nov. 30. A visitor center is open daily May through September from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From October through April, the center is not open Tuesday and Wednesday and closes at 4 p.m. the rest of the week. There is no entry fee for any of the attractions here. The locks can be found north of downtown and about 5 miles west of the University of Washington. You can reach the locks by driving or taking bus routes nos. 29 or 44. For more information, check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks website.
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