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A Seattle Travel Guide: What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip to Seattle, Washington

Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is a shiny example of the greenery, history, and culture that exemplifies the Pacific Northwest. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful city, this travel guide will help you start planning your itinerary.

It’s also an incredibly picturesque destination! If you’re heading to the area for a micro-wedding or elopement or even for a romantic getaway, I can help you capture the memories. Learn more about that here, and read onwards to start planning your Seattle vacation!

Photo by Thom Milkovic

Where to Eat & Drink in Seattle

Brunch

Stoneburner may be known for it’s Italian dinner cuisine but they serve up a surprising and delicious brunch as well! The Hearth Fired Dutch Baby is served with lemon preserves if you’re looking for a sweet option but if you lean more savory you can indulge in the Smoked Salmon Toast. You can even try some of the pizza they’re known for, but during brunch you’ll have the chance to try the Breakfast Pizza, complete with potatoes, bacon, and two eggs - sunny side up!

Coffee

If you love coffee, you have so many options to explore in Seattle! Elm Coffee Roasters offers a welcoming environment where you can enjoy high quality coffee without any pretentiousness. Victrola Coffee Roasters, named for the popular home phonographs of the 1920s, has a cozy ambiance with hints of the jazz age in many of the details. The trendy Sound & Fog serves a variety of coffee from around the world and you can also enjoy their selections of wine and beer if that’s more your speed.

Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee and you can stop by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. This elegant and industrial venue is like a theme park experience for coffee lovers. Coffee is roasted on site and you can sample their standard blends as well as experimental varieties that are made throughout the year. There are eight preparation methods to choose from and you can pair your coffee with a pastry or fresh baked bread from the on-site Princi Bakery. 

Dinner

Shaker + Spear is the best place to go if you want a delicious seafood meal in a stylish and modern environment. Pair their locally sourced menu with any of their signature cocktails for a complete dining experience.

Upscale Dinner

If you’re looking for an excuse to dress up and treat yourself to a luxurious dining experience, head to Canlis. This restaurant is housed in a historic building and offers up stunning views of Lake Union and the mountains beyond. It has been ranked high on lists of the best restaurants in the entire United States and when you taste their Pacific Northwest fare you will see why!

Where to Stay in Seattle

Hotels

Ace Hotel

Located in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, the eccentric and cozy Ace Hotel offers rooms that feature free WiFi, locally made vintage furniture, and record players along with a selection of vinyl records that you can actually play during your visit! It’s also well situated so no matter what you have on your itinerary, you’ll be in a great location.

Hotel Max

The trendy Hotel Max is a boutique hotel for the music and art lover in all of us. You can choose from a variety of room sizes including the Mini Rooms which are a great option for anyone on a budget who isn’t planning on spending much time in their room anyways. The entire fifth floor of the hotel is dedicated to Seattle’s own Sub Pop Records with photography and Crosley turntables in each room. 

Palihotel Seattle

Located across from Pikes Place Market, the Palihotel Seattle is a great place to stay for anyone who wants to experience the best of the downtown scene. The serene and contemporary boutique hotel also has a restaurant, a coffee bar, and a lobby lounge. 

Airbnbs

City Garden Retreat in Vibrant Walkable Neighborhood

For a quiet place to stay, consider this bright and airy studio space just 15 minutes from downtown. The kitchen is complete with a coffee maker to help you get started for the day and the washer and dryer helps keep your clothes fresh no matter how long you’re staying. Wide french doors lead to a backyard area where you can relax while enjoying the green space that is bursting with flowers.

Modern Private Backyard Cottage in West Seattle

This sleek and Scandinavian expanded studio comfortably sleeps three people in two beds. Located about twenty minutes from downtown Seattle, this cozy space offers privacy and all of the essentials you need to recharge throughout your vacation. It even has extra perks like a heated floor which keeps you toasty during the colder months!

Pike Place Penthouse

If you’re interested in a luxurious experience, try this penthouse perched above Pike Place Market. Enjoy panoramic views as well as all of the building's amenities such as the fitness center, hot tub, and pool.

What to See in Seattle

Photo by Sabine Ojeil

Pike Place Market

Pikes Place Market has been open since 1907, making it one of the longest operating farmers markets in the United States. It’s located on a steep hill so there are different levels of the market and you can explore for hours without getting bored. You can walk through Post Alley underneath the Market to see the Market Theater Gum Wall where people have been sticking chewed up gum since the 1990s! 

The Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture, of MoPOP, is a non-profit museum that explores many aspects of pop culture including the iconic Seattle music scene. You can see original handwritten Nirvana lyrics as well as instruments played by the members of Pearl Jam.

Pioneer Square

This historic neighborhood of Seattle is home to art galleries, cafes, boutiques, nightclubs, bookstores, and more. It’s a great place to browse and take in the magic of the city.

The Best Day Trips from Seattle

Snoqualmie Falls

Located just thirty minutes east of Seattle, the gorgeous Snoqualmie Falls is the place to go if you’re looking for a breathtaking view and places to go hiking. Stop for a meal at one of the restaurants in the small town nearby or treat yourself to a bite to eat at the restaurant at Salish Lodge, the hotel that is perched at the top of the picturesque waterfall. 

Mount Rainier National Park

A two hour drive south will take you to Mount Rainier National Park. This is one of the best places to go to experience the outdoors and you can hike, climb, and enjoy ranger-led programming when you visit. 

Leavenworth

For a truly unique excursion, head two hours east to the town of Leavenworth. When you arrive you might think you traveled much further because the entire village was constructed to look like a Bavarian village and even includes traditional elements of the architecture. You can find some incredible German food and beer here and if you visit during the winter the sight of Leavenworth blanketed in snow is something worth seeing in person.

Photo by Vincent Camacho

Travel Mistakes in Seattle

Waiting in line at the Original Starbucks.

If you walk by the Original Starbucks location in Pikes Place Market and there’s only a few people in line, there’s nothing wrong with stepping in and grabbing some souvenirs and a drink. But if the line is going out the door, head to another location or to the Starbucks Roastery instead. There are so many things to do in Seattle that you don’t want to waste your time in line.

Buying admission to museums and landmarks separately instead of buying a CityPass.

If your trip to Seattle is going to involve visiting iconic landmarks then you’ll want to invest in a Seattle CityPass instead of buying tickets to each attraction separately. For $109 you can visit the Space Needle, the Seattle Aquarium, and a selection of other museums and landmarks including the Museum of Pop Culture. 

Avoiding local establishments.

While there are many places to go and things to do that are specifically designed for tourists and there’s nothing wrong with experiencing them, you should definitely try to stop into shops and restaurants that are a little further away from the touristy areas. You’ll get a better idea of what the city is like if you let yourself wander a little bit.

Photo by Ryan Wilson

How to Get to Seattle

Seattle is a major U.S. city and is home to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. No matter where you’re coming from, you can probably find a flight that will take you to Seattle as it’s a fairly major transportation hub. There are also Amtrak trains that serve the city and if you have the opportunity to take one, make sure it’s the Coast Starlight Express. This type of train has large windows that curve up and cover some of the roof above the traincar so you can enjoy stunning views of the west coast while you travel.

How to Get Around Seattle

Seattle has a decent public transportation system that you can use but the easiest way to get around by far is to use taxis and rideshare services. Renting a car is also a great option but if you’re not used to driving in a city environment you might find yourself intimidated by the traffic.


I hope you love your time in Seattle. It’s certainly a beautiful place and if you’re interested in a photography session while you’re exploring the area, I can help! I love capturing those beautiful intimate moments and if you’re heading to Seattle to elope, I can definitely help with that too - I love planning! I actually planned my own elopement and I love supporting other couples as they navigate the process. Contact me here to get started!

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