24 Hours in Seattle, WA

by Sabrina Smelko

Blogger Joanna Hawley (who was one of the first Pinterest users ever) is Seattle proud. Though Joanna has also lived in San Francisco and Philadelphia, the Pacific Northwest beckons for her and continues to feel like home. Known for its tech industry as the home base of Microsoft and Amazon, Seattle also offers some of the most beautiful mountains and evergreen forests, all surrounded by water. With a thriving metropolis, even when it’s not raining in Seattle, there’s plenty of unique spots worth poking your head into and paying an unexpected visit to.

While Joanna admits there’s simply no way to fit every fantastic neighborhood within Seattle into one day, she and editorial assistant Gwen have put their heads together to come up with an ideal day spent in this flourishing emerald city. Their most important tip? “Take your time and enjoy wandering,” Joanna says, “from the waterfront up to the top of Capitol Hill.” –Sabrina


Morning Visits

9 am: Start your day in Pioneer Square, one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, and take in the gorgeous brick buildings and tree-lined squares (and where I call home!). Grab a cup of coffee at Elm Coffee Roasters, a gorgeous new coffee shop that specializes in light-roasted beans. Definitely try one of their baked goods from The London Plane, one my favorite restaurants, right around the corner.



There are plenty of great shops like E. Smith Mercantile, a boutique that has a little back bar – if you find yourself in the neighborhood by evening, definitely stop in for a meticulously prepared cocktail. Then there’s Ebbets Field Flannels, a mecca for vintage jerseys and flannels and Velouria, a boutique with some of my favorite womenswear brands.


Bonus spots: Cone & Steiner, Altstadt Bierhalle & Brathaus and Casco Antiguo.


Afternoon Visits

12 pm: Just a few blocks away in the International District, it’s a totally different vibe. Stop by Japantown for a bite to eat at Maneki or Tsukushinbo, two of my favorite authentic Japanese lunch spots, and check out the historic Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee House for a look back in time and a great cup of tea.


Pick up some beautiful handmade souvenirs at Kobo Shop & Gallery and Momo, then head over to Uwajimaya, a specialty Asian supermarket for some quirky snacks from anywhere you could imagine. On the way out, go through the Kinokuniya Bookstore for a dangerously good stationery section and some awesome international magazines.


Bonus spots: Wing Luke, Fuji Bakery and Danny Woo Community Garden.

3 pm: Next, head towards Capitol Hill, a longtime center for LGBTQ and counter-culture in Seattle. Stop along 12th Avenue for a quick recharge. A visit to Stumptown Coffee Roasters is mandatory in the PNW, and every day at 3 pm there’s a free coffee tasting open to the public. Take a peek at the roasting room downstairs for a surprise. Cafe Presse, a quintessential French bar and cafe, is right next door if a glass of wine is more your speed.


Head towards the center of Capitol Hill for one of my favorite bookstores of all time: duck into Elliott Bay Book Company and check out what the staff has recommended for the perfect read.


Right next door is Totokaelo, a local institution for modern fashion and decor shopping.


Then you’re right on time for happy-hour at Oddfellows Cafe + Bar. Grab a seat by the wall of windows for some of the best people-watching in town. Right across the street is Cal Anderson Park, where you may catch a game of bike-polo, or lounge like the locals and read what you picked up at Elliott Bay.

Bonus spots: Rainbow Crosswalks, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream and Sugar Pill.



Evening Visits

6 pm: Just a little farther down the hill is Stateside, a modern and laid-back restaurant for the best French and Vietnamese fusion in town — this one is rapidly becoming my favorite.


It’s always an amazing meal and great time, just make sure to make reservations! For a little more shopping, stop by Melrose Market, home to Sitka and Spruce, an adorable flower and home goods shop, and check out the other shops in the market. Wander next door to Glasswing, a stunning boutique full of necessities – like air plants, Ace & Jig and Aesop.


Bonus spots: Bauhaus CoffeeArea 51 and Frye Art Museum.

9 pm: If you’re ready for a night out on the town, start at Linda’s Tavern, a Capitol Hill staple for a stiff drink and courtyard to get some fresh air. Barhop down to Still Liquor, a half-underground, super hip establishment with great drinks. If you stay out into the wee hours of the night, Lil Woody’s is a great burger spot open till 3 am. Enjoy!

Bonus spots: Big MariosVermillion and Sun Liquor

This is just an overview of places to explore in Seattle and I definitely feel like I’m neglecting to mention some amazing spots in other neighborhoods! For even more Seattle goodness, check out The Walrus and The Carpenter, TNT Taqueria, Green Lake, Discovery Park, The Palm Room, and Prism.

Suggested For You


    • Oh my god, I love the Pacific Northwest so much. SO. MUCH. As a native of New York State, my first trip to Seattle was unreal. I was studying Native American art at the time, and made it my final project to go to as many museums and galleries as possible, and see as much Northwest Native American art as possible, and then write about my experience. As a graphic designer, I was immediately attracted to the bold, graphic nature of the art, and I am in love with how it is central to public art all over the Pacific Northwest. I am still fascinated by it and hope to study it more in depth. In 2014, I camped all up the coast from southwest of Portland up to Seattle, and then took a train to Vancouver. It is a cheap, beautiful ride. Sit on the left side of the train on the way up for the best view. Hoping to go back to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in 2016. I’d love to live in Seattle.

  • While you’re in Pioneer Square, why not stop in Stonington Gallery for gorgeous Northwest Native American art? (I love that neighborhood too!)

    • See my comment about the art. I love Stonington Gallery (and the entire Pioneer Square neighborhood), it is one of my favorites. Have been there twice and will go every time I visit Seattle. I am so drawn to the art of the Native Northwest people.

  • This is great stuff. I am a native of Seattle and love to provide links like this to my out-of-town couples. Thanks for the compilation. I bet there are 100 versions of this but this is a great one to add to my repertoire.

    • Hi Elaine!! We are heading up there at the end of the month and have never been. Any tips, aside from this one that was posted, would be so wonderful!! We want to do touristy things but definitely love seeing cities from a local’s perspective!! Thanks!

  • Sabrina, so fun that you found the hidden gem of Japantown — you’re on to something that most Seattleites don’t even know exists! Thank you for the reveal, what an exciting itinerary, like having an inside guide.

  • Great write-up! As a long-time local living on First Hill, these are places I frequent.

  • As a native Seattleite and fellow Pioneer Square resident(!), I agree with every one of your recommendations – this is a fantastic lineup for a day in the city. I feel like I shouldn’t pass up an opportunity to put in a plug for a few of our other wonderful neighborhood establishments, in case anyone decides to spend more time in Pioneer Square. We have the best lunch spots in the city – Salumi, Il Corvo, and Pizzeria Gabbiano are some of my favorites. For dinner and/or drinks, Damn the Weather, Good Bar and Radici are all fantastic. And The Good Coffee Company, located in Post Alley, is Seattle’s hidden gem of a coffee roaster/tea purveyor. Thanks for putting this together and see you around the hood!

  • Hey all of the galleries you missed while eating and drinking in Pioneer Square…they are all there and not to be missed next time.

  • Sending this to my son who will be living there next summer. Great selection, some of our faves and some new ones. Thanks this is awesome. Love D*S so much xx

  • Although I only lived in Seattle for 7 years, it’s always been a part of my life in the Pac NW. It’s constantly changing, so a lot of these suggestions are new to me. Good to know Bauhaus Coffee is still there, and Cafe Presse is a more recent addition that is so lovely!

  • This is a great line up! I’ve never found a city guide for Seattle that I heartily approved. Thanks, Joanna!

    Also, 100% agree with the Damn The Weather recommendation, Alison :)

  • Born and raised in Seattle, I appreciate all your recommendations.

    I would also recommend Poppy restaurant and Herkimer Coffee. Thai Thom on the Ave and Bakery Nouveau, (La Carta De Oaxaca and Bitterroot in Ballard). The arboretum is also beautiful and even as a grownup, I always recommend the Woodland Park Zoo.

  • I’m a Seattleite currently living in Indonesia. This post makes me incredibly homesick! I’m so jealous that my friends and family are currently enjoying a gorgeous autumn (my favorite!). Thanks for the reminders of home.

  • HELP! Our family is heading there soon and I’d LOVE to hear some suggestions…and I have a feeling you all will have some good ideas! We’ll be traveling with kids (8 & 10 y/o) and want ideas of where we can take them to eat. We want to avoid the usual “family friendly” restaurants and see the true good foodie-type hot spots, as they’re old enough now to behave. But we don’t want it so stuffy it’s only adults all the time. No why’d-you-bring-your-kids-here stank eyes! We’re staying in Queen Anne. Any ideas???

    • Karla – For a fun breakfast location at is a slightly foodie version of a diner try The 5 Spot. It’s a family favorite in my house and the food is always great. Try How to Eat a Wolf for dinner. Both are on top of Queen Anne and sure to please. If there on a Sunday I’d suggest walking across the Fremont Bridge and over to the Fremont Market for food and shopping. That’s also fun for the whole family.

      • Sarah, thanks so much for the tips! I saw How to Eat a Wolf and was hoping it would be a good spot. We just may try it all!

  • I’m from Seattle and spent the majority of my life there. Now I live in the SE US and I miss it when I read posts like this! (But not during winter). Thanks for it.

    Let me just second all the places I know about in this post: Elliott Bay Books is a MUST. If in the ID: the Maneki is amazing, Uwajimaya is always fun and may I recommend Hing Loon (Chinese)?

    I can’t believe that Linda’s is still going strong. I spent most of the 90s there. :/

    The 5 Spot! Perfect for brunch but you’ll prob have to wait!

    The arboretum is gorgeous if you have time.

  • Thanks for this great guide! I was just in Seattle for the first time and used this guide to explore the city. I so appreciated the nicely curated list of neat shops and restaurants. Really enjoyed Maneki, London Plane, Elm Coffee, Kinokuniya, Melrose Market, and Stateside.

  • Thanks for this post. My husband, 11 month old and I are visiting the first week of February 2016 and this has made a lot of my planning much easier!

  • as someone who lives in Seattle this is a great list! however I recommend Bluebird ice cream over molly moons any day its right on Pike in Capital hill and is filled with local art and actual handmade ice cream!! (Molly moons does not make her own). Seattle has so much to offer so of course we could all go on and on but just thought I’d throw some local love in there !:)