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One Day in Seattle: What To See and Do
Editorial note: This article on Seattle was updated at 8:10 p.m. ET.
Seattle is a city in Washington state located on Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, the city is known for its beautiful views of the water and green landscapes, making it the “Emerald City.”
Things To See and Do in Seattle
Tourists enjoy visiting Seattle for its many things to see and explore. Mount Rainier is an active volcano that offers excellent views for hikers on a clear day. And Bainbridge Island is a popular attraction where visitors can see a performing arts show, tour a farm, or even take a yoga class.
To learn about the city’s history, visit Capitol Hill. Not to be confused with DC’s Capitol Hill district, the Emerald City’s Capitol Hill includes lush parks and progressive ideals, while proudly billing itself as the “Capital of Fun.” And there’s no question that it lives up to its name!
Seattle is known for its great food, and especially its seafood and coffee. So try a cup of coffee from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery for an interactive cafe experience filled with coffee tastings, educational tours, and more.
Or have a taste of Seattle’s famous ice cream at Creamy Cone Cafe. Their Magic Cookie Bar ice cream made with graham crackers, chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and caramel is a customer favorite and one of the best things on the menu.
And if you can’t pick just one, try them all! Take a Seattle food tour where you can sample foods and desserts from a number of local eateries.
With so many things to see and do there, it can seem challenging to cover it all with limited time. However, if you’re planning a trip to Seattle but are short on time, you can still see much of the city! Here are six must-see places to visit on a 24-hour stay in Seattle:
1. Chihuly Garden and Glass
The Chihuly Garden and Glass is a colorful exhibit and garden featuring art made entirely of glass. Dale Chihuly, a renowned Seattle glass artist, created the site to showcase his work. The Seattle native studied and taught the art form for many years. Now, fans can find his art in more than 200 museums worldwide.
The exhibition houses eight galleries and Drawing Walls filled with his brightly-colored glass art. And its garden is a picturesque wonderland that combines natural plant and flower species with fairytale-like models.
Don’t forget to explore the garden’s 40-foot tall Glasshouse, a focal point for many visitors. Modeled after a conservatory, the Glasshouse is filled with 4,500 square feet of pure, natural light.
2. Pike Place Market
The iconic Pike Place Market is a popular tourist destination for those visiting Seattle. The marketplace is a great place to sit down for a bite to eat after a full day in the city.
From sushi to crumpets, the Pike Place Market has something for everyone to enjoy. You can try French cuisine at the popular Maximilien, a Parisian-inspired restaurant. Or pick up some pad thai to-go at Jasmine Thai Restaurant LLC, a local favorite Thai spot.
Its farmer’s market offers the chance to sample a variety of fresh produce from local farmers. And if you’re into DIY, the market also has a craft fair where local artists sell their most prized pieces.
Be sure to visit the Original Starbucks located at Pike Place to experience the first Starbucks established in 1971!
3. Olympic Sculpture Park
Olympic Sculpture Park is a beautiful green park and the largest in the downtown area. With incredible views of Elliott Bay, the park is one of the best places to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Its nine acres of land are covered with spectacular, contemporary sculptures that are a treat to capture in photos.
Don’t forget to check out the nearby Seattle Art Museum for some great examples of the city’s art and history.
4. Seattle Great Wheel
Take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel, a giant 53-meter tall Ferris wheel. The wheel is a quintessential Seattle landmark popular with locals and tourists alike.
On the weekends, you can see the Great Wheel all lit up to display its over 500,000 LED lights. And if you have a special event to celebrate, the Great Wheel can help! You can request a custom light show with your choice of light patterns, colors, and designs.
For an intimate setting, try The Great Wheel Private Dining. It’s an unforgettable dining experience featuring a 4-course meal curated by a private chef and views of the Puget Sound!
5. Museum of Pop Culture
The Museum of Pop Culture is a fabulous tourist destination filled with various works of art inspired by popular culture. From collections with themes like hip-hop or science fiction, the museum is a must-see on your Seattle itinerary.
Check out the Ruth E. Carter exhibit that features a collection of Afrofuturism costumes and designs from popular Black movies like Black Panther and Coming to America. And if you’re a punk rock fan, the museum’s Nirvana exhibit provides over 200 rare artifacts, photographs, and oral histories of the famous band.
After perusing the museum, it’s common to work up an appetite. Fortunately, the museum’s got you covered. Its Culture Kitchen serves an array of delicious global cuisines so you can sample foods inspired by cultures from around the world.
6. Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square is a quaint neighborhood in Seattle with an incredibly rich history. Called Seattle’s “first neighborhood,” it’s the site where the city’s pioneers called home.
The site is popular among locals who frequent it for its various shops and eateries. You can find whatever you’re looking for at the Square, from fashion to home decor.
There are plenty of recreational activities to enjoy, too. On the first Thursday of every month, the neighborhood hosts the “First Thursday Art Walk.” The art walk offers a collection of galleries and exhibits featuring art from local artists.
For a unique way to tour Seattle, Haunted History Ghost Tours of Seattle offers tours for guests who want to learn about the spooky side of the city’s history.