The First-Timer’s Guide to Seattle

Seattle is a wonderful city filled with so many things to see and do. We spent 4 days in total and felt it wasn’t enough! We visited in mid April, just in time to see the blossoming trees and feel the warm sunshine.

Here’s a little guide to help you plan your next trip – I share my top recommendations on what to see, do and eat as well as some Instagram-worthy spots that you shouldn’t miss.

Queen Anne

We started our Seattle adventure with a spectacular view of downtown from Kerry Park in Queen Anne. After snapping a few pictures of the Space Needle, we sat down on the bench to enjoy the sunshine – the weather was gorgeous!

Queen Anne is a residential area with beautiful old houses and colourful trees. If you go to Kerry Park, make sure you wander around the area, you’ll find photo opportunities at every corner.

For lunch, we headed to Queen Anne Avenue North, where there’s a couple of eateries. We were too excited to keep exploring so we opted for a quick bite at a casual Middle Eastern joint called The Golden Olive. The falafel salad was delicious!

While you’re in the area, you may want to continue walking towards Seattle Center, home to the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. We decided to skip the museums but we still enjoyed sitting in the park while getting close up views of the Space Needle.

Downtown

For stunning views from high above, head to Sky View Observatory on the 73rd floor at Columbia Center – it’s so worth it! You can get 360-degree views of Seattle and if you’re lucky with the weather you’ll be able to see Mt Rainier in all its glory. The entrance ticket allows you to return during sunset for more pictures so overall I think it’s a better deal that the Space Needle Observatory.

If you’re in search of nightlife hotspots, First Ave and Second Ave in Downtown offers a line up of bars, pubs and live music houses.

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Waterfront

The Seattle Waterfront is a picturesque area along the shores of Elliot Bay. The highlight here is the Seattle Great Wheel, which makes a great background for photos.

From Pier 52, you can hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island for lunch/dinner and a stroll around this charming town. Though relatively small, there’s plenty of wine tasting and gourmet restaurants to choose from.

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Pike Place Market

No visit is really complete without a stop by Pike Place Market! Get a shot near the iconic the Public Market Center neon sign, buy some tulips from any of the multiple flower stands, and if hungry, grab a snack at Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian style bakery situated in the outside area of the market.

If you’re a Starbucks fan (and even if you’re not), you may want to stop by the original Starbucks coffee shop. During the day, you’ll see a huge line up so if you want to save time, go back towards the evening – there’ll be way less people.

Another famous spot near Pike Place Market is Gum Wall. The amount of gum on the walls will shock you. Apparently it was named one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009 – you’ve been warned!

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Pioneer Square

We loved Pioneer Square for its brick walls and artsy vibes. It’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Seattle and definitely has an European flair.

Some of my favourite stores here were E. Smith Mercantile and Fireworks Gallery. If you’re looking for the perfect gift or souvenir from independent designers, look no further. Arundel Books, which is also next door, is a super cute shop as well.

Pioneer Square Seattle

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill is one of the most vibrant and happening neighborhoods in Seattle. Historical hub for the LGBTQ community, it houses lots interesting boutiques and restaurants that are concentrated on Pike/Pine corridor and Broadway Ave.

For a wholesome brunch, head to Oddfellows Cafe – cool interior and quality food. The French Toast I ordered was quite memorable. After brunch, pop by Elliot Bay Book Company right next door – a cozy bookshop for literature lovers.

We had a good dinner at Stateside, a casual-chic joint that serves Vietnamese favourites with a twist. If you are feeling like Japanese food, Momiji looked like a very cool place too.

In Capitol Hill is where you can find a flagship Starbucks Reserve store. This place is a perfect destination for coffee lovers – you can see them roast coffee, you can purchase goodies and of course try one of their premium blends in a fancy setting. Oh and did I mention they also serve wine?!

Ballard & Fremont

If you’re in Seattle on a Sunday, don’t miss the Ballard Farmers Market. We grabbed a coffee to go at Caffe Umbria near the entrance and then started to eat our way through local gourmet stalls selling the most scrumptious bites.

Fully satisfied and jolly, we headed towards Fremont to Gas Works Park Marina. Formerly the Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, it is now a public park with stunning views of downtown. A very photogenic place not to be missed.

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Greater Seattle

If your schedule allows it, I would totally encourage you to go outside of Seattle and explore some nature.

Olympic National Park

2 hours away from Downtown Seattle is Olympic National Park, a lush forest with beautiful lakes and majestic mountains. We remained in the surroundings of near Staircase and pretty much had all the place to ourselves. I assume in summer it would be much more popular. For your return back you can opt to take the highway or the ferry from Bain Bridge. We did the latter and had fun getting into the ferry inside our car. Definitely not your usual commute!

Mount Rainier

We couldn’t make it to Mount Rainier on this trip, but I think it would make a total treat to hike around this iconic mountain – one of the most beautiful in the world.

Bainbridge Island

For great views of the city and some fresh air, I totally recommend heading to Bainbridge Island. The town is cute and fun to walk around. There’s a marina and a few hiking trails.


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Where to stay in Seattle

We booked this Airbnb in a quiet residential area close to Little Saigon (15min Uber ride to Downtown). It is a brand new condominium and the owner rents out the room on the top floor with its own private bathroom. Because it’s isolated from the rest of the house, it is quiet and gives a sense of privacy. If we visit Seattle again, I wouldn’t hesitate to rent the same place. Read the reviews and book here. Room starts at $55/night.

Fancy staying at a hotel instead? Below are some affordable options (under $100/night):

Travelodge by Wyndham Seattle By The Space Needle | Easy access to downtown, breakfast included. Rooms start at $70 USD/night. Read reviews and book here

Inn at Queen Anne | Historic hotel in one of Seattle’s most charming neighbourhoods. Each room include a kitchenette. Rooms start at $73USD/night. Read reviews and book here

Ballard Inn | Located in the heart of Old Ballard. Rooms start at $79 USD/night. Read reviews and book here

  • Find all Seattle Hotels here

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