4 Days in Seattle: Your Ultimate Guide to the Emerald City (From a Local)

4 day Seattle itinerary waterfront sunset
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Welcome to Seattle, the city I’ve been calling home for most of my life. Nestled between Puget Sound and forested hills, Seattle’s got a special kind of charm, and I can’t wait to share it with you. After countless times strolling around downtown and beyond, I’ve created this itinerary for 4 days in Seattle, loaded with my favorite spots and must-see places.

You might be thinking, “Can I really see Seattle in four days?” The answer is absolutely! This itinerary is different from your typical guide; it’s the result of my years living and loving this city, so I did all the hard work for you and cut out what you don’t need to see. It’s a blend of top attractions and lesser-known hidden gems only locals know about, so you’ll get a taste of the real Seattle.

For your four day Seattle trip. I’ve handpicked the best experiences that make Seattle the unique, vibrant, and exciting place it is. This isn’t just about seeing the sights; it’s about diving into what makes Seattle tick. You’ll get to know the city’s vibe, its history, and what makes it such a great place to visit (or live!).

So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or someone who’s been here a few times, this 4 day Seattle guide has something for you. These are my personal recommendations – things I’ve enjoyed dozens of times and know you will, too. Let’s get into the itinerary!

4 Day Seattle Itinerary: Where to Go and What to Do

seattle waterfall garden

Ready to explore? Have a look at this suggested Seattle itinerary for four days, and discover the best things to do and places to eat in the Emerald City.

Day 1: Seattle Center

The first day of this Seattle itinerary kicks off in the heart of the city. Seattle Center is a 74-acre complex dotted with over 30 arts and culture, sports, and entertainment spots. Here are some must-see sights and landmarks you should not miss.

Coffee + Space Needle

Whether you have one day exploring Seattle or an entire week, the Space Needle in Seattle Center is a must-visit. Before you start exploring this towering landmark and others around it, make sure to stop by CAFFEINATED Coffee on the corner of Broad Street and 4th Avenue for a strong cup.

After having your coffee and chocolate croissant, head over to the center for a peek at one of the world’s tallest observatories. The Space Needle stands at a whopping 605 feet. This monument symbolizes the 1962 World’s Fair, also known as the Century 21 Exposition

You can explore two levels of the Space Needle during your Seattle itinerary for 4 days. The lower level boasts an all-glass floor that makes for a thrilling experience, while the upper level has floor-to-ceiling glass walls that boast stunning background views. You’ll also find the Loupe Lounge, where you can enjoy specialty cocktails and mesmerizing city views.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

instagrammable spots in seattle chihuly space needle

Sitting adjacent to the Space Needle, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is a museum showing extraordinary art pieces from one of the world’s most renowned glass artists, Dale Chihuly. The museum boasts eight galleries, a centerpiece glasshouse, and a lush garden to wander around and is a top Seattle Instagram spot to see during your 4 days in Seattle.

You’ll find a series of Chihuly’s art collections in the galleries. I’ve been here several times because I love seeing how this talented artist was able to push the boundaries of using glass as a medium of art and how he, in many ways, shattered the proverbial glass ceiling.

The star of the show, however, is the Glasshouse. Standing at 40-foot tall, this glass and steel structure houses an installation that will leave you speechless. The 100-foot-long sculpture pays tribute to traditional conservatories, radiating a red, orange, yellow, and amber color palette. 

Tip: Get more bang for your buck with this Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass combination entry ticket and immerse yourself in Seattle Center’s most famous landmarks.

Pacific Science Center + Lunch

pacific science center

If you are a science lover or just traveling with inquisitive kids, the Pacific Science Center is a must-add to any Seattle in 4 days itinerary. Housing everything from IMAX theaters to a dinosaur exhibit and a tropical butterfly house, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the science center. While I now have kids who love going here, I went here many times over the years while I was still kidless.

In the butterfly house, you’ll find hundreds of exotic butterflies in a tropical environment, which is their natural habitat. You’ll get to see colorful critters like the vibrant Blue morpho, the intriguing Papilio memnon with its intriguing patterns, and the gigantic Atlas moth.

After marveling at the gorgeous butterflies, make your way to the heart of Seattle Center for a delicious lunch at one of the onsite restaurants. Whether you are in the mood for seafood, pizza, quesadillas, or good-old American cuisine, this food court has you covered.

At MOD Pizza, you can build your own thin-based slice of heaven and watch it being made right in front of you. If you’re a picky eater, the restaurant offers dairy-free cheese and tasty vegan toppings. You’ll also find a coffee shop nearby where you can top up on some caffeine and grab a few snacks for the road.

International Fountain

seattle international fountain

If you’re visiting Seattle during the summer, the International Fountain is where you’ll find most of the crowds when exploring the outdoors. Initially built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the lunar-inspired fountain boasts 274 water shooters, including four super shooters that propel water to 120 feet.

The International Fountain has a water capacity of a staggering 9,000 gallons, making it a prime spot to cool down from the summer heat. You can enjoy watching five different water show programs with synchronized music; each one lasts up to 12 minutes during your 4 day trip to Seattle.

seattle ebook cover 2

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Museum of Pop Culture

mopop outside

The Museum of Pop Culture (or MoPOP) is one of the most unique museums you’ll ever see. Set apart by its kaleidoscopic exterior, MoPOP features exhibitions dedicated to modern pop culture and creativity. The museum also offers educational programs for you to learn more.

You’ll find fun and interesting things in the museum (and learn some new Seattle trivia), from an exhibition about famous artists such as Nirvana to a fantasy exhibition featuring props from Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz films. For movie and music lovers, MoPOP is an attraction you cannot afford to miss out on during your 4 day Seattle itinerary.

Day 2: Waterfront + Downtown Seattle

On the second day of your Seattle itinerary, you’ll get an opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant waterfront district and the downtown area. With 20 piers, a Ferris wheel, and the famous Pike Place Market, things to do along Seattle’s waterfront will not disappoint. This is also an ideal place to buy gifts from Seattle if you need souvenirs.

Breakfast + Pike Place Market

original starbucks

If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you’ll know that Pike Place Market is home to the first Starbucks. Situated along quaint cobblestone streets, this world-renowned coffee chain opened its doors for the first time in 1971. 

While I have this on the list for you to visit, I’ll give you a local tip that’s important for your 4 days in Seattle itinerary: don’t actually get your breakfast here. The lines are atrocious, and the food tastes exactly the same as all the other Starbucks, so get your pictures and then head over to Le Panier for some amazing French pastries (this is always my go-to breakfast place when I’m downtown).

Once you’re all charged with caffeine, start exploring Pike Place Market. Open 363 days a year, this public market is where you’ll love eating, shopping, and meeting some locals. Pike Place Market houses over 500 vendors, selling everything from fresh produce to flowers, artisanal foods, and handcrafted items. 

Strolling through this market is one of the best things to do in Seattle, so you won’t want to miss out. In the main arcade, you’ll also enjoy watching fish fly at the Pike Place Fish Market. Keep in mind that Pike Place Market is one of the most famous spots in the city, so make sure you arrive before noon to beat the crowds.

Foodie Tip: Take a chef-guided food tour of Pike Place Market and get to taste some of the most famous foods in Seattle in one go.

The Gum Wall

gum wall post alley seattle

Seattle is no stranger to quirky attractions, but the quirkiest of them all is none other than the Gum Wall. Situated about a three-minute walk from Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall is exactly that — a wall dotted with thousands of pieces of gum.

The colorful artwork continually grows as visitors keep adding to it as they pass through Post Alley. You can add to the grossness by plopping down your gum piece or simply observing from a distance. The wall is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Seattle, making it a popular backdrop for brochures and wedding photos.

Seattle Aquarium + Waterfront Park

The Seattle Aquarium is a great place to learn about various marine species found within the Puget Sound on your Seattle 4 day trip. It is located on Pier 59 along the Elliott Bay waterfront, giving you stunning coastal views. You can enjoy various daily activities in the aquarium, from feeding mammals like harbor seals and sea otters to educational programs and exhibitions like the Underwater Dome.

After seeing and interacting with Puget Sound marine life, head to Waterfront Park, where you can find many fun activities, from recreational and fitness programs to live music performances. Walking down the 20-acre boardwalk is a great way to escape the inner-city’s hustle and bustle while being awarded sweeping views of Elliott Bay.

Buying a Seattle CityPASS is a great way to save money on ticket costs, as you’ll be able to see multiple Seattle attractions for one price!

Miner Landing Pier 57 + Lunch

seattle waterfront miners landing

At the end of the Waterfront Park boardwalk, you’ll find Pier 57, where you can eat, drink, and enjoy thrilling amusement rides. Miners Landing offers a classic carousel with 30 beautifully hand-painted horses for kids, while adults can get an adrenaline rush at the Wings Over Washington flying theater. 

Look no further than the Seattle Great Wheel if you’d like a slower pace. Standing at 175 feet, the Great Wheel is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast, giving you sweeping views of Elliott Bay. Other fun things to do include gaming at the Klondike Arcade and catamaran cruises. It’s a beautiful time of year to walk around here when looking for what to do in Seattle in the fall.

Once you’ve had your fill of fun activities and excursions, it’s time to refuel with a tasty meal. Pier 57 boasts a food court and several restaurants where you can enjoy delicious seafood. At The Fisherman’s Restaurant, you can enjoy happy hour with appetizers and cocktails to celebrate your 4 day trip to Seattle.

Seattle Art Museum

seattle art museum

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) hosts permanent and temporary exhibits featuring about 25,000 artworks from around the world. At the SAM, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to browse historical and modern artworks from various cultures across the globe. This is also an ideal thing to do in Seattle when it rains if you catch a wet day.

SAM hosts several educational programs, talks, workshops, and live performances that any art enthusiast will love. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, so you can explore this Seattle landmark in the afternoon.

Day 3: Bainbridge Island + Chinatown-International District

If you only have three days to visit Seattle, your itinerary ends with a day trip to nearby Bainbridge Island and a tour of the Chinatown-International District. This is where you’ll learn about Seattle’s historical ties to the Asian community.

Day Trip – Ferry to Bainbridge Island

bainbridge island day trip

A few islands dotted along Puget Sound are worth visiting, but Bainbridge Island is perhaps the most famous destination. When looking for what to do in Seattle in 4 days, you’ll want to take a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle and enjoy breathtaking views of the city’s skyline from the deck.

Once you arrive on the island, it takes about a 0.5-mile walk to get to the city center, where you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, and boutiques to pursue. There are plenty of options for what to do on Bainbridge Island, such as great walking trails, art galleries, and award-winning wineries you can visit.

Before you leave, stop by Bainbridge Brewing for craft beer tastings.

Beneath the Streets Tour

underground tour seattle

If you’re a history buff, Seattle has an underground history that will leave you awestruck. The historic neighborhood of Pioneer Square is home to a series of underground passageways that date back more than 120 years. As a local, I’ve done this tour three different times now because I always have friends in town who want to go on it, plus I love learning fun Seattle facts about my city.

Take a Beneath the Streets underground history tour and learn more about Seattle’s history and the events that built the city into one of the most thriving cities in the US. You’ll have an expert guide leading you through storefronts and sidewalks from the late 1800s.

Book your Underground Tour in advance.

Visiting during Halloween? This is one of many spooky Halloween in Seattle events you can join.

Sky View Observatory – Columbia Center + Lunch

Sky View Observatory

As the tallest public viewing platform in Seattle and the entire Pacific Northwest, the Sky View Observatory is where you should go for sweeping views of the city and beyond when looking for what to do with 4 days in Seattle at night.

Located on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center, it takes a 70-second lift ride to get 902 feet above Seattle’s streets. From here, you’ll get 360 views of the city as well as of landmarks you want to visit later.

On a clear day, you can get unobstructed views of landmarks like Pike Place Market, the Great Wheel, and the Space Needle. You’ll also get to see ferries crossing Elliott Bay on their way to Bainbridge Island, views of Mount Rainier, and stunning sunsets over the Olympic Mountains. The Sky View Observatory also features a cafe and bar, where you can enjoy a tasty lunch and specialty cocktails.

Smith Tower

Built in 1914, Smith Tower is the oldest skyscraper in Seattle. Before the Space Needle passed it, the building was also the tallest structure on the West Coast. Many of Seattle’s iconic buildings boast an intriguing history, but none are more storied than the Smith Tower.

This is my go-to place when I want some of the best scenic views in Seattle, whether I’m out with my friends or on a romantic date in Seattle. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of taking the golden elevator up here, ordering a flute of champagne, and watching the sunset, and I know you’ll love adding it to your list of what to see in Seattle in 4 days.

With connections to radio, Chinese royalty, and rum-running, a tour of the Smith Tower is the best way to learn about Seattle’s colorful history. The building has an observatory on the 35th floor and a speakeasy-style cocktail bar where you can enjoy craft cocktails, Seattle’s famous foods, and 360-degree city views.

Don’t feel like doing a self-guided tour? You’ll love this 3-hour guided Seattle city tour.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Learn about Seattle’s role in the Klondike Gold Rush during the 1890s. The gold rush led to an estimated migration of about 100,000 prospective miners to the Klondike region of the Yukon Territory in north-western Canada from 1896 to 1899.

Seattle is one of the famous west coast port cities that many hopeful miners passed through, and local merchants would supply gold seekers with resources for their adventure. You can learn more about the gold rush and its impact on the city through exhibitions, ranger programs, and self-guided tours. 

Hing Hay Park

Sitting in the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown–International District, Hing Hay Park is a 0.64-acre public space that celebrates the city’s rich Chinese history, dating back to the 1860s and 1870s. 

The park is a great place to people-watch and find a bit of reprieve from the hustle and bustle.

You’ll find a performance space where you can watch martial arts practitioners or locals doing their morning meditations. The park boasts an ornate Grand Pavilion perfect for taking pictures, numerous artworks, staircases with iconic Asian figures, and outdoor fitness equipment.

Seattle Pinball Museum

Seattle Pinball Museum
Image by Seattle Pinball Museum on Facebook

Bring out your inner child at the Seattle Pinball Museum. It boasts an extraordinary collection of over 50 pinball machines from 1960 until today. 

This eclectic museum is a fantastic place (perhaps the only place) to play vintage pinball games such as The Addams Family (1992) by Midway and ​Buckaroo ​(1965) by Gottlieb. 

The Seattle Pinball Museum also offers vintage sodas and snacks. You can also enjoy a few local craft beers and ciders. The machines all have cup holders to keep your drink within reach.

Uwajimaya Seattle

Your last stop in the Chinatown–International District is none other than the famous Uwajimaya Asian Market. Operating since 1928, Uwajimaya has come a long way from providing basic food staples to being the ultimate destination for experiencing Asian cuisine and culture.

You’ll find lots of interesting departments in Uwajimaya, from Asian groceries to a full-service seafood counter, a gift shop, and a food court featuring over ten different dining options to try. 

Day 4: South Lake Union & Capitol Hill

Lake Union

Day four of your Seattle itinerary takes you to some of the city’s most famous landmarks. From the tech-savvy neighborhood of South Lake Union to hip restaurants and LGBTQ bars in Capitol Hill and unrivaled lake views from a unique park, there’s so much in store for you.

Coffee + Westlake

Start your day along the shores of Lake Union in the narrow yet vibrant neighborhood of Westlake. Stop by Caffe Umbria on Westlake Avenue North Street, where you’ll find numerous caffeinated drinks, fresh pastries, and delicious baked goods.

After breakfast, continue walking down Westlake Avenue towards South Lake Union. As you stroll along the lakeshore, keep your eyes peeled for seaplanes taking off or landing at the Kenmore Air Base.

Lake Union Park

Cross the Lake Union Park Bridge from Westlake Avenue onto a 12-acre public park nestled along the lakeshore. This lush outdoor space features a boat ramp, a model-boat pond, and plenty of space for sitting and taking in the Seattle skyline.

Lake Union Park is nothing short of an urban gem, providing access to a large green space, fun water activities, and an intriguing maritime heritage. You can rent a rowboat, take a cruise on a historic vessel, or stroll along the waterfront, spotting geese.

Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

Dominating Lake Union Park, the Museum of History & Industry, or MOHAI, is a white-washed building housing several permanent and temporary exhibitions. These range from maritime to innovation, artificial intelligence, and historical exhibitions.

MOHAI hosts plenty of programs and events, like printmaking workshops, art and music shows, as well as summer camps for kids. You’ll also find a cafe – Gourmondo, where you can grab a quick bite and a shop to pick up a few souvenirs.

Capitol Hill + Lunch

capitol hill crosswalk

You cannot visit Seattle and not spend time in the hip neighborhood of Capitol Hill. This is a great area to explore the city’s nightlife because it is famous for its trendy bars, quirky thrift shops, indie bookstores, and lively LGBTQ+ community. There are also tons of things to see in Capitol Hill Seattle during the day.

In addition to the photo-worthy rainbow street crossings dotted around the neighborhood, you’ll find the most vibrant spots in Capitol Hill along Pike and Pine Streets, coming from downtown. These two streets have the highest concentration of restaurants, Seattle brewpubs, and music venues, and you’ll want to put at least a few on your Seattle 4 day itinerary.

There are also many family-friendly Seattle breweries with food options, such as Optimism Brewing Company.

You’ll also find plenty of dining options along Broadway. Altura offers seasonal Italian cuisine, wine tastings, and a casual vibe. You can get hearty all-American foods at the Deluxe Bar & Grill, from beef burgers to loaded nachos.

Volunteer Park Conservatory

The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a scenic botanical garden in the heart of a 48.3-acre public park. It features a whitewashed Victorian-style greenhouse modeled after the Crystal Palace in London. Inside the conservatory, you’ll find five distinct exhibitions of ferns, palms, cacti or succulents, and bromeliads.

The lush grounds at Volunteer Park are ideal for leisurely strolls and family picnics. You can also visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Here, you can peruse ancient and modern exhibitions from Japan, China, Korea, India, the Himalayas, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

If you’re a movie fan, you may also like to visit the burial site of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee to pay your respects. The action movie star rests next to his son, Brandon.

Gas Works Park

gasworks park

Last but certainly not least, Gas Works Park is one of Seattle’s most unique landmarks and a great place to wrap up this 4-day itinerary in Seattle. Sitting on the north shore of Lake Union, this former coal and oil gasification plant supplied the city with gas until 1956.

The gas plant is one of the first post-industrial landscapes that were toxic and inhospitable to be transformed into a public space. This urban park boasts an expansive playground and vast open space for events and festivals. Kite flying is also a popular pastime here, although accessing the lake from Gas Works Park is strictly prohibited due to hazardous residue.

4 Days in Seattle: Practical Tips & FAQs

4 days in Seattle

This 4-day Seattle itinerary takes you to the top landmarks located in different parts of the city. Here are a few practical tips and frequently asked questions to keep in mind while planning your trip:

Where to Stay in Seattle

The following hotels range from budget-friendly to mid-range accommodations you can find around the Central Business District, Downtown, and neighborhoods like South Union Lake. If you want more options, read this full guide to the best places to stay around Seattle.

  • Hotel Theodore: This 4-star hotel sits in the heart of downtown and offers warmly decorated rooms with rustic furnishings to boot. It’s six blocks from Pike Place Market and about 0.9 miles from The Space Needle. (Rates start at $126)
  • citizenM Pioneer Square: Situated in the historic neighborhood of Pioneer Square, this 4-star hotel offers colorful art-deco decor and spacious rooms, some with sea views. You’ll also have access to free Wi-Fi and a restaurant. (Rates start at $159)
  • MOXY Seattle Downtown: This 3-star hotel in South Union Lake boasts an industrial and contemporary look with modern bedrooms and a cozy onsite bar. MOXY is a walking distance from popular landmarks like the Museum of Pop Culture. (Rates start at $183)

How to Get Around Seattle

There are several ways you can get around Seattle without much hassle. The city’s efficient public transportation system, numerous biking lanes, and walkable streets make it easy to get around Seattle without having a car.

I also have a thorough guide on how to get from the Seattle airport to downtown Seattle easily.

You can access Seattle’s public transit system using an ORCA card. This smart card system allows you to take bus and train rides across Puget Sound. You can easily top up your account via the myORCA app or at a light rail station along the way.

Is Spending Four Days in Seattle Enough?

Yes. Four days in Seattle gives you enough time to explore the city’s best attractions as well as some off-the-beaten-path landmarks. You can even afford to take a few short day trips near Seattle.

What Months Are Best To Visit Seattle?

The best time to visit Seattle depends on what you’re looking for. If warm weather and fun outdoor activities are what bring you to the Emerald City, then you’ll want to visit between June and August. Keep in mind that summer brings crowds, and hotel rates tend to increase.

If you’d like to avoid the crowds and still enjoy pleasant weather, Seattle during the spring (March to May) and during fall (September to October) offers lower hotel rates and scenic landscapes. 

Is Portland or Seattle Better To Visit?

Both these cities are fantastic places to visit in the Pacific Northwest. The answer to the Seattle vs. Portland question ultimately depends on your preference. If you’d like a laid-back vacation, Portland is best for quieter holidays, while Seattle boasts a fast-paced and vibrant environment like most major US cities.

Now that you have all that information, it’s time to start planning your 4 days in Seattle! I know you’ll love your visit here, no matter what you do.

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