Seattle is one of the largest cities on the west coast and you might be wondering, is one day enough to visit Seattle? Well, maybe not the entire city, but it’s entirely possible to enjoy all of the Seattle’s most popular attractions in a single day. It takes a bit of planning and an early start to the day – but you can totally do it!
While I had my own vehicle during the visit, you really don’t need one if you’re taking public transportation or an Uber into the city. Everything I did during my day in Seattle was on foot or on public transportation once I parked my car first thing in the morning.
You can certainly alter my itinerary or add other things you may want to see or experience. But during my visit, I hit the spots that most people would consider Seattle’s top tourist attractions.
Using a CityPass, I had easy access to all of the things I had on my list of things to see. The CityPass not only saves you money, it’s also much faster than having a bunch of tickets or reservation numbers to keep handy while you’re running around town. With the CityPass, it’s literally one barcode you can screenshot on your phone and scan when you arrive at the attractions.
The current cost of a CityPass for Seattle is: $119 for an Adult. $89 for a child. You’ll save more than half the cost of individual tickets at the attractions. You can purchase the CityPass on their website.
Park your car at the Seattle Center Parking Garage. (Or Uber to Seattle Center to start the day) It’s a safe, covered parking garage that was relatively inexpensive. (Of course, be forewarned that nothing is cheap in Seattle.)
Get in line to be among the first to go up into the Space Needle. The Space Needle typically opens at 9:00 (8:30 in the summer) and it shouldn’t be too crowded if you’re there when it first opens. You’ll scan your CityPass at the kiosk to get a physical ticket. You’ll be guided through security and into an elevator that takes you to the top levels, including an observation deck.
You’ll want to spend some time enjoying the views, taking selfies, and standing on the glass floor looking down. I spent about 30 minutes at the top and then came back down to continue my Seattle adventure.
Next up: you can choose either the Museum of Pop Culture or Chihuly Garden and Glass – both of which are within easy walking distance from the Space Needle. The CityPass includes admission to both of these attractions. How much time you spend in both is up to you.
I found the Museum of Pop Culture slightly underwhelming though you may really enjoy it. Chihuly Garden & Glass was very cool. Again, both are included in the CityPass so don’t skip either of them.
If you spend an hour in each place, you should be ready to ride the monorail and grab some lunch!
After you’ve wrapped up your time in Seattle Center, you’ll want to head to the monorail station and buy a ticket for a ride. A ticket is cheap and can be purchased at a kiosk that day. The ride will last just a few minutes and take you close to another one of Seattle’s top attractions, Pike Place Public Market. You’ll need to walk a bit from the station down to the market but it’s not difficult. This will save you from having to move your car and find parking again which is a huge hassle.
Once you get to the Public Market, there are plenty of options in this area to grab a bite to eat. I found a small deli nearby and took my sandwich back over to some public seating by the waterfront.
After lunch you’ll spend time exploring the Public Market. This place is massive and it’s almost certainly going to be crowded. How well you deal with crowds is probably going to determine how long you spend here. It’s an amazing place though and you’ll be stunned at how many different things are for sale.
The original Starbucks location is across from the market and worth a look if you’re a fan of the chain.
Another quirky (and some would say disgusting) attraction is the “Seattle Gum Wall”. It’s actually an alley that runs outside and below the Public Market. It’s a popular spot for photos and you should take a few minutes to see it.
By now, it’s probably mid afternoon and you can decide if you want to walk back to the monorail for a ride back to the parking garage – or if you still have enough energy to see some other attractions.
Amazon’s world headquarters is about a 15 minute walk from the market and definitely worth seeing if you have the time and energy. It’s known as the “Amazon Spheres” and is unlike any company headquarters you’ve seen before. While you can’t tour the inside, it’s still worth a look. As a bonus, you can claim a free banana at a “banana truck” (not a joke) outside in the public picnic area.
From Amazon, it’s another 15 minute walk back to the Space Needle and the parking facility.
By now you’ll most likely be wiped out but you will have seen Seattle’s top attractions in a single day.
Once you’ve gotten back to your car, you’ll want to head up to Kerry Park. This small park sits atop a hill and gives a really cool view of downtown Seattle, including the Space Needle. Find someone to take your photo (selfies don’t really capture the best view) and call it a day!
If you purchase the CityPass, you can certainly substitute any of the attractions I listed. However, it will be a bit more difficult to easily see everything in one day.
Other options on the Seattle CityPass include the Seattle Aquarium; Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour; and the Woodland Park Zoo.
Considering that you’ve probably been to an aquarium and a zoo before – I’d recommend skipping those. The only option you may want to include is the boat tour of the harbor. Initially I tried to include this one for my own schedule but their reservation website was clunky and confusing to use with a CityPass so I skipped it. You may have better luck!