Seattle is a popular destination in the US’s beautiful Pacific Northwest and is a spot to spend a long weekend or a few days prior to heading off on an Alaskan cruise or before making your way down the coast. If you’re looking for things to do during a short trip in Seattle, there’s plenty to choose from as the city has a variety of attractions including museums and sightseeing options depending on your interests.
Admittedly, Seattle was not my favorite city we’ve visited. If you’re curious as to what it was I didn’t like about this “great” city, I really can’t tell you. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it. I know many people love it here. But, I just really did not care for Seattle and, unlike most other places we visit, my feelings weren’t hurt when it was time to leave. It as underwhelming and somewhat depressing to me. I think I may be the only person in the world who feels this way! Despite this, we made the best out of our time there, checking out the city for a few days before and after an Alaskan cruise. Here are our favorite places:
I loved all the beautiful flowers and delicious fruit which made this market cheery and beautiful! The flowers were so fragrant, they actually overpowered the smells of the fish and meat. Yes, it is a bit like a cattle drive here, but it is a really fun place to spend some time and get some great local items.
The cruise only takes a few hours, but you get to see a lot of cool things (many of them off the beaten path) along the way. This was also our first time experiencing a lock system, and it was really cool to see how the mechanisms worked and the boat was able to navigate the various water levels of the Puget Sound.
Chihuly Gardens and Glass
Chihuly is absolutely impressive. The skill and patience required to make these beautiful, intricate, and colorful works of art is incredible. The bright colors really pop and are so enjoyable! Although it’s a bit of a jaunt, you can walk here from downtown. And, once you’re there, you can visit other sites in the area like the Space Needle and EMO Museum if that sparks your interest.
The Post Alley Gum Wall
This little gem took us awhile to find this spot, but its right around the corner from Pike’s Market. The gum wall is pretty gross, very colorful, and the quintessential tourist spot. However, we got a good laugh looking at all the pieces of gum, some of them artfully crafted into words, smiley faces, and other designs, and we even left a piece of ours behind as well.
Notice how most of the places I did enjoy are all very bright and cheerfully colorful? I think I was unknowingly seeking out these vibrant spots to counteract Seattle’s dreary grey skies and industrial-like buildings.
What I’m glad we didn’t do
Go to the top of the Space Needle
The admission is expensive and the lines were like two hours long. Personally, I thought the whole thing was overrated. For better views at a cheaper price and absolutely zero crowds, head to the Sky View Observatory of the Columbia Tower instead!
Ride the observation wheel
These things are popping up all over the world and as far as I’m concerned, if you’ve done one, you’ve done them all. From what we could tell, the views weren’t even that great (again, go to the Sky Observatory for better views!)
What I wish we would have done
Taken a ferry to the San Juan Islands. They look beautiful and it would have been a nice way to get out of Seattle for a day.
The Mariners were playing while we were there, so we were able to catch a game, which is always fun since we don’t have professional teams back home. The Mariners’ stadium is one of the nicest ones we have been to and they put on one heck of a fireworks show!
Other Tips and Information on Seattle
If you’re staying downtown, most things are within walking distance. We stayed at the Executive Hotel Pacific and the Westin (we recommend the latter). The subway system is easy to use when needed, and is great for going to/from the airport. If you’re looking for a fantastic restaurant, Assagio Restaurante Italiano should be at the top of your list.
If you have ever struggled with similar feelings, you know it can be challenging to enjoy your time in a city. We recommend making the best of your trip. That is exactly what we did in Seattle.
Still a bit disgusted by the chewing gum wall! Love the glass sculptures. Planning a trip to the USA for next summer and trying to decide whether to put Seattle on our list. What do you think?
I’d never tell anyone not to visit a place because I didn’t like it, so sure why not add Seattle to your list!? Let me know how you felt about it once you go there!
Looks like a cool place. The gum wall is a very strange tourist attraction!
It is strange, but it was popular!
Nice to read your impression on Seattle! I have never been (even though it is a short flight from LA). I have heard different takes on the city, so, it would be interesting to see how I feel about it. We have a gum wall here in San Luis Obispo. It is grosser than what it looks in pictures. #feetdotravel
I’ve heard about the gum wall in SLO – I think that’s where the trend started!
I like your honesty about what you’re glad you didn’t do! I could have used this guide a few months ago when I was in Seattle haha. Great article. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Hope you enjoyed your time in Seattle much more than I enjoyed mine!
Wow that glasswork is amazing!!! #feetdotravel
It was amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit!
We had an overnight stop in Seattle before catching the Coast Starlight to San Francisco – and I think that is one of the most disappointing places I have been – can’t tell you why but it didn’t do much for me! Paris is another place I don’t particularly like and have been there a lot – keep trying but it doesn’t get any better! On the other hand Split was a city I had no expectations of but it completely blew me away!
We like Pike Place and my daughter was grossed out by the chewing gum wall! #feetdotravel
I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only person who felt this way about Seattle!! Would love to get to Split one day!! #travelgoals!
I also like your honesty on your feelings of Seattle. Seattle to me always seems so gloomy. I like the sunshine. The Chihuly Gardens and Glass looks so interesting. Great photos! #feetdotravel
Seattle was gloomy and it put me in a gloomy mood!
I’m with you on Seattle. It is definitely gloomy, as is most of the Pacific Northwest. We live in Portland, only a short 2.5 hours south of Seattle, but we find there is so much more fun to be had in Portland, and we never get the urge to go to Seattle. However, the touristy parts of Seattle (ie. Pike’s place, the waterfront, and gum wall area) are the most disappointing parts of what the city has to offer. There are cooler little pockets and neighborhoods with more to do and better food. It took us a few times to realize that after visiting multiple times. Sorry about your experience, I totally understand it!
I completely agree with you – we absolutely loved Portland!
Now that I think about it, many of the things I like in Seattle aren’t in that downtown area – aside from Pike Place. There are tremendous views and cool neighborhoods across the bay in Alki, and over on Queen Anne Hill. We haven’t done the locks cruise – that sounds fun. Of course, I like Seattle a lot more now that I’m not going just to see the Huskies beat my Wildcats. Every. Year. Ugh… 😉
It’s never good when someone beats the Wildcats!
A chewing gum wall?? For real? lol. Love that you have been honest about it, these posts are always a bit meh to write but every place we visit can’t all be amazing (I have a few of those lined up for release, wish me luck!!). I do want to visit Seattle, but I have a friend there, plus, Bruce Lee’s grave is there and he is our icon. However, this post is great, now I know what to go for and maybe re-consider 😀 #feetdotravel
Yes, they are quite popular! I’m sure you will have a great time in Seattle when you make it there!!
I visited Seattle on the way to a cruise and stopped by a couple of nights. I wish I had known about Columbia Tower, I would have gone there instead of the needle. Although I was there in September and the line wasn’t long – the price was still high though. Bubble gum street could be good for an IG shot with all those colours!
It is a great spot – I got a few great shots there!
We went to Seattle for the first time last year and loved it. We stayed near Pike Place and I was excited to be visiting the first ever Starbucks. It was so retro. Gr8 that is was just coffee and no Starbucks snacks. The line out the door was huge every time we went past.
I’m so glad you loved Seattle – most people I talk to do think it’s a great city! That original Starbucks is pretty famous! I doubt they ever have a slow day on the job.
Chihuly looks awesome! I love glass art and it looks incredible. I love Seattle and I think people overlook it because of the weather! Great post
I am one of those people who was not a fan of the weather in Seattle! Chihuly was a bright spot amongst all the dreary gray!