January 24, 2023
Guests visiting Seattle often ask us for recommendations for what to do. The tough part is narrowing down the list to something reasonable whether you are staying one day or a week! Here is our favorite 3-day itinerary from Greenlake Guest House in spring and summer, updated for 2023.
Day 1: Downtown Seattle and Waterfront and Greenlake Neighborhood
After a scrumptious breakfast at Greenlake Guest House, visit the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Stroll through merchant stalls with local food, crafts, and beautiful and inexpensive flower bouquets. Visit the site of the original Starbucks, opened in 1971, or beautiful Storyville Coffee. The Market is the most famous attraction in Seattle, so visit right after breakfast and beat the crowds! There is a large parking lot below the market, or you can easily take public transportation or a ride share like Uber or Lyft. Read our recommendations for getting around Seattle here.
From the market, it’s an easy walk (downhill) to the waterfront. Our top recommendation on the waterfront is the 2-hour Argosy Cruise of Locks . This cruise is a fun way to explore the city on the water. The narrated route motors from the downtown waterfront of Elliot Bay and on through the historic Ballard Locks into Lake Union. See the famous Alaska fishing boats featured on “The Deadliest Catch” and the Lake Union Houseboats as featured in “Sleepless in Seattle.” Snacks and drinks are available for purchase on the cruise, which has both inside and outside seating.
Take a spin on the iconic Seattle Great Wheel for beautiful views of the waterfront and Seattle skyline in your own private cabin high in the sky.
Return to the Greenlake neighborhood for an easy walk to a casual seafood dinner at Duke’s Chowder House or enjoy seasonal, European-inspired dishes at Nell’s, the fine dining restaurant in the neighborhood. Other excellent walkable options include Noi Thai Cuisine for a locally owned, upscale Thai experience, or our favorite, family-owned Mexican restaurant, Rosita’s. See our website for more details.
If you haven’t done it yet, walk the entire loop around Greenlake Park, just across the street, in about an hour. In summertime, it will be light until 9 or 10pm.
Day 2: Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and Ballard Neighborhoods
After another hearty breakfast at Greenlake Guest House, head to Chihuly Garden & Glass (Queen Anne/Seattle Center). This top-rated, unique exhibit located at the base of the Space Needle features stunning glass installations by famous glass blower (and Seattle local) Dale Chihuly. Be sure to visit the outdoor garden as well as the interior.
After you are finished with the Chihuly Garden & Glass, walk next door to the iconic Space Needle, which was built in 1962 as a symbol of the Seattle World’s Fair. Enjoy 360-degree views of Seattle and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mt. Rainier, and Puget Sound. The 2018 “Spacelift” renovation added multi-level floor to glass viewing windows and a revolving glass floor for an even more spectacular experience. In 2020, the Space Needle completed another $1 million in coronavirus-oriented safety upgrades. Soak up the sunset sights and city lights while enjoying appetizers and drinks in the Loupe Lounge
If you have time, treat yourself to a unique coffee drink at the luxurious Starbucks Reserve Roastery, located just east of downtown. Taste high end coffee that you can’t find at a regular Starbucks and watch the beans get roasted. The gift shop is great too.
In the evening, we’d recommend a trip to the Ballard Locks, also called the Hiram Chittenden Locks . They are a 10-minute drive from Greenlake Guest House and are open until dusk. Watch the boats passing through between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the cut to Lake Union. Be sure to go below to the fish ladder viewing window to watch the salmon swimming upstream. Stop and smell the roses at the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden onsite.
From the locks, walk or drive just a few blocks to get to lively Ballard Avenue, home of dozens of locally owned restaurants and bars. Ballard is a foodie’s dream! Stroll along the cobblestone streets for window shopping and people watching. Try a new board game at Café Mox. Most Ballard restaurants offer both indoor and outdoor patio and sidewalk dining. Some of our favorite restaurants in Ballard include Staple & Fancy, Walrus & the Carpenter, and Stoneburner. Cap off the evening with something sweet at any of these spectacular options: Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, Pie Bar, or Salt & Straw Ice Cream. Read our blog on the Ballard neighborhood for more details on what to see and do.
Day 3: Airplanes and Dinner with a View
Enjoy your cooked to order breakfast at Greenlake Guest House, then make a trip to visit airplanes. After all, one of Seattle’s nicknames is “Jet City.” You can either head north or south. The Future of Flight Boeing Assembly Plant is a30 minutes’ drive north in Everett/Mukilteo. Although the factory tour is temporarily closed, guests can see the airplane gallery, enjoy movies about the plant, and view the exterior of the plant and the flight deck. As a current Boeing engineer, Innkeeper Blayne will be happy to share lots of background about the various planes built in Everett if you catch him on the weekend helping to serve breakfast. South Seattle offers the Museum of Flight, a huge world class museum dedicated to all types of aviation and space. Many of the docents and museum volunteers are former Boeing Employees and offer a wealth of information.
If you are up north at Boeing, have lunch on the nearby Mukilteo waterfront at the Diamond Knot Brewery & Alehouse. This restaurant is of Blayne’s favorite spots for gathering after work with other Boeing engineers. They have good food and beer, Puget Sound views, and a casual atmosphere. You can toss your peanut shells right on the floor. After lunch, take a walk along the Mukilteo waterfront after lunch or come back to beautiful Greenlake Park.
On your way back home, you might enjoy strolling through one of Seattle’s beautiful parks or gardens such as the Arboretum’s manicured Japanese Garden. See our recent Garden post for suggestions.
On your last evening, plan a special dinner with a beautiful view at one of our favorite Seattle view restaurants. Our top picks for a memorable dinner include Canlis, Ray’s Boathouse, Westward, or Palisade. We’ll be happy to make you a reservation.
Have More Time?
If you have more time, add a spectacular day trip on Day 4. Guest favorites include Mt Rainier, the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, and the Woodinville Wineries. You can easily spend a week here! See details on our favorite day trips on our website under “things to do.”
Know Before You Go:
Museums, outdoor sporting events, and attractions are fully open in Seattle. Many attractions require advance tickets or reservations and some may still request masks or proof of vaccination. Hours of operation change may change seasonally so call ahead or check online.