How to Spend 24 Hours in Seattle

Downtown Seattle
Downtown Seattle | © Tiffany Von Arnim / Flickr
Photo of Samantha Ladwig
23 March 2018

Seattle, Washington, is chock-full of activities. Its days are full of opportunities to explore scenic parks, locally sourced restaurants, and museums. And its nightlife is rich with breweries, speakeasies, unique movie theaters, and cultural events. It’s difficult to explore any city in just 24 hours, but below is a guide to navigating the Emerald City in only one day.


Portage Bay Cafe

Bar, Cafe, Market, American, $$$
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Portage Bay Cafe
Portage Bay Cafe | © Jessica Spengler / Flickr
Grab breakfast at this lively joint located in the University District. The Portage Bay Cafe is a Seattle breakfast hot spot and offers a variety of locally sourced, organic foods such as Benedicts, breakfast burritos, hot sandwiches, and salads. Its breakfast bar, which customers visit to top their thick pancakes and classic french toast with seasonal fruits, nuts, and whipped cream, makes this restaurant a perfect spot to grab a morning bite to eat.

Washington Park Arboretum

Park, Botanical Garden
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Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle | © Rosewoman / Flickr
Then take a walk through the Washington Park Arboretum. The arboretum covers 230 acres and hosts 5,500 different plants from around the world, the popular Japanese Garden, and boasts one of the largest Japanese Maple Tree collections. The beautifully maintained park located in the Madison Park neighborhood is a joint effort between the University of Washington and the City of Seattle. While any time of year is a good time to visit, spring and fall are certainly remarkable for the color and grandeur on display from the myriad plantings and native species.


Pike Place Market

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Pike Place is one of the oldest markets in the US
Pike Place is one of the oldest markets in the US | © Pike Place Market
Afterward, make your way to Seattle’s fish-throwing Pike Place Market. The market, which opened in 1907, is one of the oldest markets in the entire U.S. Its downtown location overlooks Elliott Bay where the Washington State Ferries shuttle in and out of Seattle to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton. Below the market, visitors can take a look at the infamous gum wall. Between the row of vendors selling a variety of foods and the dozens of small restaurants scattered throughout, the market is a perfect afternoon destination to grab a bite to eat and explore.


Dick’s Drive-in

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Dick's Drive-In | © nate bolt / Flickr

Sit down for a burger at Dick’s Drive-In, a Seattle fast-food institution satisfying both locals and tourists. Dick’s has been serving up cheeseburgers, French fries, and milkshakes for pennies to the masses since its establishment in 1954. It’s known primarily as a walk-up restaurant where customers order their greasy food from a window before taking it back to their car to devour, but its Queen Anne location, which sits across the street from the SIFF Cinema, offers some seating.

SIFF Cinema Uptown

Cinema, Movie Theater
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Uptown in lights | © Charlene McBride / Flickr

Then catch a movie at the SIFF Cinema Uptown theater. The Uptown location is the original of the three SIFF Cinema venues, and it’s a film enthusiast hub. From its Cinema Dissection to Screenplay Competition, the Queen Anne institution works to bring filmmakers of all ages together not only to watch films but to explore them as well. SIFF Cinema is also home to the Seattle International Film Festival, the biggest international film festival in the nation. It’s no wonder locals praise the independent theater for its exciting and fresh movie circulation.


Kerry Park

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Downtown Seattle from Kerry Park | © Tiffany Von Arnim / Flickr
Stop by the 1.26-acre Kerry Park, which lends some of the most spectacular cityscape views in all of Seattle. Perched on top of the Queen Anne neighborhood, the park overlooks everything from the Emerald City to Elliott Bay. Visitors can spot the colossal Mount Rainier during the daytime and the glowing Space Needle and Pier 57’s Great Wheel at night.

The Backdoor at Roxy’s

Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
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Rum Manhattan with Maraschino Caviar | © My Aching Head / Flickr

Finish the day at The Backdoor at Roxy’s, a speakeasy lounge located in the Fremont neighborhood. As its name suggests, visitors can access the bar via the backdoor entrance behind Roxy’s Diner. The lounge offers everything from craft cocktails, pub-style entrées, and rich late-night bites. With occasional live music, this 1920s-inspired establishment is a perfect spot to kick back and relax after a long day.

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