As part of a new series, Travel + Leisure is exploring America one three-day weekend at a time. Here’s what to do on a short trip to Seattle.
Heading to Seattle for the weekend? We’ve got you covered with the mix of the best attractions, including urban cocktail bars, exquisite seafood, and coastal walks. Keep in mind that Seattle’s neighborhoods are spread out, so it may be worth your while to rent a car if you’re flying into SeaTac airport. Need a place to stay? Great options include the new Thompson Seattle, (especially if you plan to spend time at its modern rooftop bar, the Nest). For music lovers, Motif Seattle will land you close to Triple Door Jazz Club and Jazz Alley (and yes, this one has a rooftop bar as well, Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails).
Start your Seattle vacation with an incredible breakfast: Portage Bay has four locations that serve hefty portions and take reservations. The restaurant serves classic fare such as Dungeness crab cake and smoked salmon eggs benedict. To work off the food coma, amble along historic Market Street afterward and peek into shops like Secret Garden Books, Ketch, and Horseshoe Boutique.
For a taste of Seattle’s unique vibe and quirky culture, take a 10-minute drive south to the neighborhood of Fremont. If you dare, visit the Fremont Troll, an 18-feet sculpture gripping a Volkswagen car sitting beneath the Aurora Bridge. After browsing Fremont’s art galleries and shops, step into Theo Chocolate Factory, a pioneer of sustainable and organic cocoa bean practices, which offers free samples and tours. If you’re a cider guru, award-winning Schilling Cider House has more than 30 craft ciders, as well as classes and tastings.
Make your way to Manolin for happy hour drinks from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ($2 off cocktails). The restaurant takes its name from a fisherman’s apprentice in Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea and has a nautical theme. Split a few small plates with your companions to start, and grab one of the fish dishes as your main meal (we recommend the ceviche).
Snag a quick breakfast close to the hotel at the Crumpet Shop. This little spot offers sells sweet or savory crumpets for under $10.
If heights don’t frighten you, jump on the 175-foot-tall Seattle Great Wheel (the tallest Ferris Wheel on the West Coast), which extends over Elliott Bay. After your ride, stroll along Waterfront Park for views of West Seattle, the ferries, and the city skyline. As you reach the northern seawall, zigzag through the paths of the (free) Olympic Sculpture Park featuring work by masters like Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, and Ellsworth Kelly. And of course, no trip is complete without a visit to Pike Place Market (a Seattle staple where vendors throw fish across the market) on your way back to the hotel.
For dinner, the Pink Door is a hidden gem in the Pike Place neighborhood. Behind the (literal) pink door, you’ll find cozy candlelit tables, Italian cuisine, a charming patio, and romantic atmosphere. That’s just the beginning: get ready for dinner and a show in the lounge with live performances of jazz music, cabaret, burlesque, and trapeze art.
When you’re ready to hit the town, head to cocktail bar/speakeasy Needle & Thread. You’ll need a reservation (call in advance) or a password to enter through a bank vault. If you would prefer a warm, plant-filled, airy environment, head to Rachel’s Ginger Beer, which serves refreshing home-made ginger beer by the pint or mixed in cocktails (our favorite: the Blood Orange Hot Toddy).
Related: Things to do in Seattle
Take it easy on your last day—make your way to the Wandering Goose for a Southern-style breakfast in a homey setting: grits, biscuits, eggs, and hash. The Old Dominican beverage nicknamed “Hangover Helper” may be your new best friend.
Hop in your car and head to Golden Gardens beach for breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountain Range and Puget Sound. At the end of the beach are wetlands where you’ll likely see beavers, ducklings, turtles, and herons. While you’re in the area, pick up some soft-serve ice cream at Little Coney, a no-frills Seattle burger and fries joint.
Finish off your weekend with refreshing cocktails and authentic Thai eats at Mai Thaiku. We recommend the Oolong Teani cocktail, with vodka infused with black tea and mixed with lemon and sugar—it’s impossible to resist.
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