The Ultimate Long Weekend in Seattle

We had miles. We had a companion pass and credit that was expiring. We had a random four-day weekend in October. And we had a desire to take a trip and visit a new place. Being West Coast based, we decided to head up to Seattle, Washington and check out the fun town known for it is low key, grunge vibes, and its unique coffee culture. What we found was a family friendly city fit for foodies and adventurers alike. Check out the ultimate itinerary for a long weekend in Seattle, and what you need when there.

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How to Get There:

Coastline of Washington state from an airplane window
  • Flying:  Getting into Seattle is easy via SeaTac Airport, a major airport serving many cities. From the Bay Area it is a 2-hour flight. We flew Alaska Air and was able to get direct flights out of SFO. United also has several direct flights out of SFO and Southwest has affordable fares and direct flights out of Oakland.
  • Driving: Seattle is right on Interstate-5 and is a straight drive up the west coast. It is a 3-hour drive from Portland and a 12-hour drive from Sacramento.
  • Train:  Amtrak goes through Seattle and is the ending point for the Coast Starlight Line which starts in Los Angeles.

4 Day Itinerary:

While we didn’t follow this exact itinerary, looking back, this is how I would have structured the days knowing what I know now. We purchased a Seattle CityPASS to be able to save money on a number of activities.

A mom and her children standing in front of the Public Market sign in Seattle
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  • Day 1 – On arrival day head to Pikes Place Market. There is a beautiful flower market, artisan goods, and a plethora of great food and snacks. Plus, you can watch the famous flying fish. Outside Pikes Place Public Market is the original Starbucks. It may not be worth the wait in line, so take a picture and visit one of the other coffee shops in Seattle.
A group of people sitting on the top of a harbor cruise sheet in front of the Seattle Great Wheel
  • Day 2 – I like to have tours that show the overlay of the city at the start of the trip. Argosy Cruises is a fantastic way to see the city from the from the water and get an overview of the history and different areas of the city from the tour guide. Once done with the cruise, check out Miners Landing right next door. It is full of arcade games, restaurants, and rides. Here you will find the Seattle Great Wheel, a 53-meter-tall Ferris wheel, where you can all of Seattle from up high in glass enclosed gondolas.
Flowers from the Chihuly Garden and Glass with the Space Needle in the background
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  • Day 3 – Now is the time to check out Uptown, and two of Seattle’s classic sites. You must, at a minimum, take a picture in front of the classic Space Needle, built for the world’s fair. I is definitely worth the cost to ride to the top and see the view. Right next to the Space Needle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, where we took 100s of pictures and still were not able to encapsulate all its beauty.
A woman and a young man in front of a Mario wall
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  • Day 4 – Today is Museum Day before you leave. We enjoyed MoPop, which as a variety of fun exhibits around popular culture. It was one of the favorite museums the kids every visited.

What to Eat:

Pike Place Chowder, mahi mahi with asparagus, expresso from Puerto Rico, and a sushi roll

There are too many scrumptious places to eat in Seattle to name, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • BreakfastStarbucks Reserve was our hands down favorite. This is the Starbucks roastery with the special Reserve blends and drinks, as well as partnership with Princi, an Italian bakery run in-house. It was dangerously close to our hotel, and we ate breakfast here almost every day.
  • LunchPike Place Chowder is next to Pikes Place Market and is a Seattle classic. Here you can get a variety of chowders. The line is long, but it moves quickly. In the Uptown tourist area, you’ll find The Armory, a food court with a mix of local and fast-food favorites.
  • Dinner – Matsu was by far the favorite of everyone it was some of the best sushi we had in a while. Cutters Crabhouse was family friendly and has some great seafood. They even let the kids pet a crab at the end.

Where to Stay:

 The outside of the Camlin

There are several great hotels in Seattle and Airbnb is abundant. If you have a hotel chain you are loyal to, you are likely to find one in the city. Downtown is the place to stay as Seattle is a walkable city and there is a lot to see in that area. We stayed at The Camlin, a Wyndham property that we booked with points. It is across the street from the construction of the Convention Center expansion, which can make it noisy. But it is central to downtown location and the monorail that takes you to the Space Needle Area.

Getting Around:

A woman and two children sitting in the Seattle Monorail
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Seattle is smaller city that is easy to get around the main areas walking. There are a few public transit options available if you need to get further afield

  • Monorail – Built for the World’s Fair, it only goes from Downtown to The Space Needle and back. But it is $2 and a fun ride.
  • Light RailThe light rail connects much of Seattle and most importantly, connects to SeaTac. From downtown it is a 30-minute ride to the airport and the most economical option.
  • Lyft/Uber There are plenty of Lyfts and Ubers in the city and we found it easy to quickly get a ride when little legs were tired, and we did not want to walk any more.

What to Bring:

A woman carrying a red backpack and wearing a black raincoat.  Next to her is a young girl wearing a pink and purple jacket.
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I read about how rainy Seattle is, so I was ready for a torrential downpour. The reality is that the rain in Seattle when we were there was more of a light, misty rain, and some periods of amazing sun and dramatic clouds in the sky. We did, however find ourselves walking quite a bit more than we expected, as the city turned out to be very walkable. A few things I recommend making sure you pack for your trip are:

  • A good waterproof jacket:  Seattle has a reputation for being a rainy city with constant light misty rain. It can cause it to be a bit cold and damp. I like to pack a lightweight packable raincoat (I use the Columbia Arcadia jacket) and wear a warm layer, such as a Merino Wool Sweater underneath. My son packed got a new Columbia Bugaboo Interchange jacket for the trip and brought the outer layer, which was waterproof and warm. My daughter opted for her new Eddie Bauer water resistant reversible coat, which was fluffy on one side, and bright pink on the other.
  • A good walking shoe:  You will walk, a lot, and on hills in Seattle. Make sure you have shoes that can stand up to that. I wore my faithful Rothy Sneakers and my Clark Knee High Boots. My husband swears by his Skechers GoWalk Sneakers as his go-to for trips.
  • Selfie Stick/Tripod:  There are a lot of Instagram able places in Seattle, and sometimes you do not want to hand out your camera to a stranger to get a picture. I have found that the selfie stick, while annoying, can get in the whole family with a nice background in the distance. But I have really liked this Self-Stick/Tripod, that allows you to set up your phone with a tripod so you can take pictures from a distance with a Bluetooth remote, and it does not feel as intrusive as a selfie stick.
  • A Good Day Bag:  You need a bag that will carry all the essentials for the day (hand sanitizer, masks, your phone and wallet, snacks, etc.)  I like to either use a small backpack such as the Pincnel backpack, or my go-to Overland Cross Body (These are no longer made, but I hear the Tavelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag is a good substitute).

Seattle has so much of a wonderful vibe to the city, and it is a great place to either wander and get lost checking out the food scene or have several adventures and places to visit. While the vacation was busy, it did not feel busy. The casual vibe of the town embodied our soul while we were there. We could get a good coffee and leisurely walk to our next destination. We could feel the quirkiness of Seattle and its music scene in the MoPop. We could appreciate its art and grandeur from up high in the Space Needle, and out in the water on the Argosy Cruise. Plus being by the water, you get some amazing seafood. Seattle is a fun city that surprised me, and I cannot wait until I get the opportunity to go back and explore some more!

The Ultimate Long Weekend in Seattle

* Photos taken by Atma Photography

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