Find yourself in the beautiful state of Washington and have the luxury of spending a day in Seattle? Well aren’t you lucky!? It is an absolutely gorgeous city and there are so many things to do in Seattle that I’m already dying to go back. The combination of mountains, volcano, and ocean visible from so many spots in the city make it incredibly special.
There is truly so much to do in Seattle, be it downtown or on the outskirts, that you’ll never be able to get through everything in just a day. However, don’t be discouraged because you can hit a lot of the major spots during your day in Seattle if you want, each of these places being well known and loved for a reason. So, if you’re looking to spend a day in this amazing coastal city and looking for what to do while you’re there, I’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Seattle in a day for you.
And just a note, this is super doable. I did this while visiting Seattle and never felt like I was terribly pressed for time or having to speed through things I wanted to see.
The Short Version:
- Wake up early to go explore Pike’s Place Market and the infamous (and admittedly gross) gum wall without a huge crowd
- Explore Seattle Center and see some of Seattle’s most famous attractions
- Find the very strange but equally rad Fremont Bridge Troll
- Eat the best seafood chowder at Duke’s Seafood and no I’m not exaggerating
- Watch the most magical sunset at Kerry Park
The Long Version of the Best Things to Do in Seattle
Pike’s Place Market
If you’re like me and really only know of Pike’s Place Market from the classic shots on Instagram (that I, too, am guilty of capturing), you’re in for an exciting time because no “Best Things to Do in Seattle” list is complete without Pike’s Place Market, and that’s for good reason. It truly is an open air market with incredible produce, shopping, food, and views. If you ask a local what to do in Seattle and they don’t tell you Pike’s Place, they don’t love you. Okay I’m exaggerating (and they’re probably tired of the tourists in fairness), but it’s so worth experiencing. While you’re there, you definitely have to check out the following:
- Take a picture in front of the iconic sign
- Grab a snack of Greek Yogurt at Ellenos Yogurt or some fresh cheese at Beecher’s
- Buy a surprisingly inexpensive but insanely beautiful bouquet while the florists make them on the spot
- If you’re staying somewhere where you can cook, definitely use this opportunity to grocery shop for some of the most delicious produce and seafood in the area
- If you’re a coffee lover, check out the original Starbucks location (second overall location but first to sell cups of coffee)
- Watch the fishmongers throw fish around like a symphony of scaly awesomeness
- Visit the objectively disgusting but ya-just-gotta-do-it gum wall and if you feel like being a part of the grossness, leave some of your own gum there
- Eat some incredible seafood for lunch at The Athenian or Lowell’s
You may not have heard of Seattle Center by name, but you’ve definitely heard of some of the iconic spots located there. Wandering around this area of downtown Seattle ended up being one of my favorite things I did while visiting Seattle for a day. You could spend hours here – and should – exploring the different museums, building, and art installations. Some of the amazing things you’ll find in this area really are some of the best things to do in Seattle, and a trip, even just wandering around and not necessarily stopping in to visit, is well worth it. In and around Seattle Center, you can check out the following:
- Space Needle
- Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Museum of Pop Culture
- Pacific Science Center
- International Fountain
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
Find the Fremont Bridge Troll
This is something you might not find on most best things to do in Seattle lists, but it’s perfectly weird and I needed to see it. The Fremont Bridge Troll is an art installation that has been around for a couple of decades now, and while we visited had a fresh new manicure to show off. Is “under a bridge” probably one of the weirder places to visit in Seattle? Sure. But is it worth swinging by and stopping for a photo if you’re visiting Seattle for a day? Definitely.
Eat the Best Seafood Chowder at Duke’s
So I could just say “eat anywhere” and would still be right that that would be one of the best things to do in Seattle. However, I was lucky enough to eat at one of the multiple Duke’s Seafood locations during my day and I have been craving the clam chowder ever since. Luckily for you the multiple locations make it easy for you to find one that’s located closest to wherever you need to go, and all of them have beautiful views. 10/10 you have to eat here… so good!
Sunset at Kerry Park
Now, if you know anything about me it’s that I love a magical sunset view. I can absolutely, without doubt, say that I found said magical sunset view and it is for sure one of the best things to do in Seattle without hesitation.
Head on up to Kerry Park, sit on the ledge, and watch the setting sun turn the skyline and Mount Rainier into incredible pinks and oranges. Check out all my tips and recommendations for enjoying sunset at Kerry Park and you’ll see why this is one of the best things to do in Seattle.
So there you have it, my list of the best things to do in Seattle! Your day in Seattle is going to be amazing, I can guarantee you that. Unless you don’t like good food and good views… then I can’t help you. 🙂