Seattle Skyline
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How-to City: 36 hrs in Seattle

Seattle embodies everything that the Pacific Northwest is famous for. From pristine outdoors to excellent museums, a lively arts scene and delicious seafood, Seattle has something for everyone. There’s always something new happening in Emerald City. Recently, it was ranked the 4th most hipster city in the world! However, make sure you carry your raincoat for Seattle is notorious for year-round drizzly weather.

Olympic Sculpture Park | 7:30 AM

Start your morning in Seattle at the Olympic Sculpture Park, an open-air park with monumental sculptures. If you prefer starting your day with a run, head over to Myrtle Edwards Park across the street. Nothing feels more rejuvenating than a morning run along the waterfront! Both offer stunning views of the Olympic Mountains, the Puget Sound, and the Seattle Skyline with the iconic Space Needle piercing the purplish skies.

Pike Place Market | 8:45 AM

Join the Market Walk with Seattle Free Walking Tour (and tip your guide generously) or let the aroma of freshly cut flowers, smoked salmons, baked goodies, raw seafood, spices, or coffee lead you around. There are enough samples to count for breakfast and if you are still hungry, walk into any of these places for a sumptuous breakfast!

Columbia Centre Sky View Observatory | 11 PM

For half the price that you’d be paying for a view from the observatory in the Space Needle, enjoy breath-taking views of the Puget Sound and the city of Seattle. Most of all, your photos will include the iconic Space Needle! Admission Fee: $9.75 – $14.75

Pioneer Square | 12 PM

Known for its Romanesque Revival architecture, Pioneer Square is perhaps the Seattle’s oldest neighbourhood. Some of the buildings date back to the Klondike Gold Rush era— spend some time at Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park— that was central to Seattle’s economy and its establishment as a metropolis. One of the most fascinating is the history of the Tlingit Totem in Pioneer Square. It appeared there in 1899 after members of the Chamber of Commerce stole it from Tlingit Indians in Alaska who sued for its return and $20,000 in damages but were paid only $200. In 1938, vandals set it on fire and the damaged remains were shipped back to Alaska. Tlingit craftsmen carved a reproduction as a replacement but many scholars believe the motifs on the new pole symbolize “shame” as a reminder of the 1899 theft. Most of Seattle’s famed underground and haunted Seattle tours start here. I paid $22 for one but didn’t find it extraordinary though it sure was thrilling to be walking beneath the sidewalks. I recommend Seattle 101 with Seattle Free Walking Tours and though they don’t take you underground, their guides are very informative and well-versed in the history of their city. The Smith Tower Observatory is nearby.

Architecture at Pioneer Square

Architecture at Pioneer Square

Seattle Underground Tours

Our guide with Seattle Underground Tours

Seattle Centre | 2:30 PM

Seattle Centre has a host of attractions: Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Museum of Pop Culture, Pacific Science Centre, Seattle Centre Armory, and others. I had time only for the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass which, along with the Seattle Art Museum, are my top two recommendations. The exhibitions are stunning in their other-worldliness. Gigantic glass flowers, flaming suns, forests, ikebana, boats, etc. create a 3D-kaleidoscopic extravaganza that you want to continue gazing at. I’d suggest skipping the Space Needle and visiting the Museum of Pop Culture instead. I’ve heard great reviews about it!

Space Needle, Seattle

Space Needle, Seattle

Glasswork by Chihuly

Glasswork by Chihuly

View from the Space Needle

View from the Space Needle

Kerry Park | 5 PM

Pick up a bottle of wine, some cheese, and sandwiches for a sunset picnic at Kerry Park which, in my opinion, offers panoramic views of the city’s skyline with snowy Mt. Rainier adorning the horizon. To your right, is the calm Puget Sound awash with the purplish-pink ardour of twilight. Brightly lit ferries gleam in the darkening waters. And with all its neon and gold glowing lights seeping from windows, the city begins to resemble a fantasy land at night.

Discovery Park | 8 AM

Situated on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound, Discovery Park is perhaps the best place in Seattle to view birds and marine mammals. Bald eagles and great blue herons are common and in winter, you might spot a rare Arctic Snowy Owl. You can to protected tidal beaches across open meadow lands, forest groves, thickets and streams. The park boasts of some dramatic sea cliffs and you can also encounter active sand-dunes here.

Museum of Flight | 10 AM

Welcome to the world’s largest private air and space museum! Spend hours exploring an incredible collection of aircraft, spacecraft, artefacts, exhibits, facts and stories that embody the past, present and future of flight. If you have limited time, start with the Aviation Pavilion and the Space Gallery.

Seattle Art Museum | 12:30 PM

Perhaps my favourite spot in Seattle, the Seattle Art Museum or SAM is a treasure trove for any art-lover. If you are extremely limited by time and can see only one collection, I’d recommend the Native American Art Collection. The collection of masks is unmatched! Their Pacific Northwest Collection showcases local artists and I recommend it. If you plan on perusing all the collections, set aside at least 3 hrs. Did I say its pay-as-you-like?

Ferry to Bainbridge | 4:30 PM

Enjoy stellar views of the Seattle skyline on your way to and from Bainbridge Island. The 35- minute ferry ride across the open waters of Puget Sound is an unmissable part of any trip to Seattle. Return at dusk when the sky lights up a vivacious shade of salmon and lights begin to glitter in the skyscrapers on the mainland. There are some excellent spots for dinner on Bainbridge but Mora Iced Creamery is a must if you love ice-cream. If you have time, go on a hike or rent a bike and explore the lush island. If visiting over the weekend, check out the Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery.

On the way to Bainbridge Island

On the way to Bainbridge Island


  1. Free Museums Thursdays: Most museums, including the SAM, are free on the first Thursday. Others on this list include Seattle Asian Art Museum, Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Museum of Flight, and the Northwest African American Museum.
  2. Art Walks: They are free and are led by local artists. Check the schedule here.
  3. Centre for Wooden Boats: The museum is always free plus free boat-rides on Sunday mornings.
  4. Newspapers: Pick up a copy of The Stranger or the Seattle Weekly for a schedule of weekly events.
  5. Happy Hours: No matter what cuisine you are craving, almost all eateries and bars in this city has Happy Hours every single day!
  6. Ballard Locks: If visiting between mid-June and mid-September, take some time to cheer for the salmons as they climb the fish ladder at Ballard Locks!

32 thoughts on “How-to City: 36 hrs in Seattle

  1. Louise says:

    Ooh I gotta save your post! We live in Victoria so Seattle is not too far of a trip for us 🙂 Looks like a great itinerary for 36 hours.


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