Exploring Seattle: A One-Day Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Chihuly Garden and Glass

If you’re visiting Seattle for the first time and only have one day to explore, this itinerary is for you! It will guide you through some of the city’s most iconic and lesser-known spots, giving you a taste of what makes Seattle special.

Tips for First-Time Visitors in Seattle

  • Public Transportation: Seattle has a reliable public transportation system. Consider getting an ORCA card for easy access to buses, light rail, and ferries.
  • Weather: Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable. Bring a lightweight rain jacket or umbrella, even in the summer.
  • Safety: Seattle is generally safe, but like in any city, be mindful of your belongings and avoid poorly lit areas at night.

Morning: Start at Pike Place Market

Start your day at the iconic Pike Place Market, one of Seattle’s most famous landmarks, established in 1907. Make sure to watch the famous Pike Place fish throwers in action, tossing their catch of the day before wrapping it for the customers. While at the market, browse the stalls for fresh produce, artisanal crafts, flowers, and specialty foods. Afterward, take the stairs inside the market to the Post Alley to see the famous Gum Wall.

The Gum Wall is a quirky landmark – it is a large brick wall covered in thousands of pieces of chewed gum, creating a vibrant (and frankly gross) display. Visitors from around the world have contributed to this unusual piece of public art, sticking their gum to the wall in a variety of colors, shapes, and patterns. The Gum Wall began in the 1990s, when theatergoers waiting in line at the Market Theater would stick their gum on the wall, often pressing coins into the gum. Despite efforts by market authorities to clean the wall, the gum kept reappearing, and eventually, the tradition was embraced, turning it into a unique tourist attraction.

If you’re hungry and are looking for a truly iconic experience, I recommend stopping by for a pastry from Piroshky Piroshky and grabbing a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks, located right outside of the Pike Place market.

Note: Given its popularity, the original Starbucks often has long lines, especially during peak tourist times. Consider visiting early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds.

Late Morning: Discover Seattle’s Waterfront and Great Wheel

From Pike Place Market, take a leisurely walk along the Seattle Waterfront. Stop at Pier 57, where you’ll find the Seattle Great Wheel, a 175-foot Ferris wheel offering stunning views of the city and Puget Sound.

If you would like to learn more about the marine life of the Pacific Northwest, continue along the waterfront and stop by the Seattle Aquarium.

Afternoon: Go to the Top of the Space Needle

No visit to Seattle is complete without a trip to the Space Needle. Head over to Seattle Center and take the elevator to the observation deck for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, Mount Rainier, and the surrounding waters.

The Space Needle was constructed as a cultural centerpiece for the 1962 World’s Fair, themed “The Age of Space.” Standing at 605 feet tall, it offers a thrilling experience as the elevator ascends to the upper viewing decks.

Tip: When you enter the elevator, try to stand next to the windows for the best view. Once there, you can spend some time and get a glass of wine as you enjoy the beautiful views of Seattle.

Late Afternoon: Chihuly Garden and Glass

Afterward, visit the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass to see the stunning glass sculptures created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. The exhibition includes a colorful indoor gallery, a glasshouse with a suspended glass sculpture, and an outdoor garden filled with vibrant glass installations.

It’s an unmatched experience – a unique combination of nature and art in one place. I suggest visiting in Spring when all the flowers are blooming.

If you love pop culture, you shouldn’t miss The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle, located near the Space Needle. Housed in a unique building designed by Frank Gehry, MoPOP celebrates music, film, video games, and other forms of popular media. The museum features numerous interactive exhibits, including those dedicated to iconic musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, as well as exhibits on science fiction, horror films, and fantasy literature.

Evening: Experience Seattle’s Food and Music Scene

For dinner, head to The Pink Door, a beloved Italian restaurant in Pike Place Market. Enjoy a delicious meal while watching live entertainment, which can include anything from cabaret to trapeze artists.

After dinner, explore Seattle’s music scene. Visit The Crocodile or The Sunset for live music, or check out Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley for a more relaxed vibe.

Hope you have a fantastic time in Seattle!

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Hi, I'm Marina, passionate traveler and blogger, based in the United States and travelling the world. Thanks for following me on my life and travel adventures!

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