The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, tech-forward Seattle is booming. One of the coolest spots to visit any time of year (in spite of the rain, which locals will tell you is generally more of a drizzle than a full downpour), 2018 brings even more reasons to book a trip to the Emerald City.
February brings Seattle Museum Month, when visitors staying at participating downtown hotels will have access to more than 40 local museums at half-off admission pricing.
In March, culinary offerings take the stage as Seattle hosts Taste Washington, a four-day food fest featuring some of the best chefs and bites from the state.
If you need more reasons to visit, then consider this: come spring, the Space Needle will debut a new and improved SkyCity restaurant (with a rotating floor), and the Amazon Spheres — three futuristically designed giant glass domes in the heart of downtown — are set to open.
Are you ready to book your tickets yet? Here’s our ideal itinerary to 48 hours in this thriving Pacific Northwest metropolis.
With only two days in Seattle, convenience and comfort are key. You’ll want to be close to all the action, and that means booking accommodations in bustling downtown. The classic, luxurious Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Fairmont Olympic Hotel is perfectly situated to suit your needs.
Downtown Seattle is great for walking, but it’s very hilly, so once you’ve settled in and freshened up with the Fairmont’s signature Le Labo Rose 31-scented toiletries, don a water-resistant jacket and a comfortable pair of shoes, and set out for Pike Place Market.
A five-minute walk downhill from the hotel, the city’s original farmer’s market, which celebrated its 110th anniversary last August, recently completed a $74 million MarketFront development with 47 new stalls and gorgeous, unobstructed views of Puget Sound.
Spend some time watching the market’s fishmongers toss the day’s fresh catch in the air (a crowd is always gathered around as they do this), browse the fresh fruit stands to pick up a juicy snack, snap some pictures on the open pavilion, then prepare for a market feast.
Jack’s Fish Spot in the center of the market is an excellent pit stop for freshly steamed Dungeness crab or English-style fish and chips. If you’re in the mood for a hearty seafood soup, don’t hesitate to get in line at Pike Place Chowder. Usually boasting a 30-plus minute wait, this storied shop always has a line at least 20 people deep for its selection of chowders and lobster rolls (Pro tip: if you’re only getting chowder, order online and take it to go).
Next on the agenda, and an absolute must-visit, is the Space Needle. Catch a 10-minute Lyft to the attraction, then walk the circular observation deck to take in the incredible 360-degree perspectives of the city.
When you’ve gotten your fill of the city from above, grab a drink so you can experience the rotating floor action at SkyCity Restaurant. While the entire structure is undergoing a multi-million-dollar restoration project (the restaurant is scheduled to reopen this spring), the observation deck will remain open through the construction.
Soak up another scenic view, this time from the ground floor, by heading next door to Chihuly Garden and Glass. Opened in 2012, the marvelously manicured garden, which showcases the works of renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, gives off an Alice in Wonderland vibe with massive installations made of multi-hued blown glass. Give yourself enough time to ooh and aah over the fantastical works and make sure your phone is well charged, because you’ll want to capture as many of these Instagrammable pieces as possible.
As you leave the gardens, you might wonder if Seattle has anything else that could top Chihuly’s masterpieces. A 15-minute walk away (or five-minute drive), you’ll find the magnificent (and revolutionary) Amazon Spheres. The structures are not open to the public, but if you situate yourself just across the street, you can snag a few selfies with these orb-shaped office buildings of the future.
By now, you’re probably ready for a light siesta, so head back to Fairmont for a nap.
After your rest, freshen up and make the 10-minute trip to chef Josh Henderson’s Westward. Try to time your visit so that you’re there for the sunset — the orange-pink color that lights up the sky as the sun disappears is a sight to remember.
Either way, make sure you order the unforgettable beef tartare along with whichever other small plates catch your fancy, like the shawarma-spiced pork cheeks or grilled octopus salad.
Afterward, get a digestif and, weather permitting, snag a seat by the fire pit before calling it a night.
Start your day off with breakfast at The Georgian, Fairmont Olympic’s Four-Star flagship restaurant. With impossibly high ceilings, lush foliage and splendid crystal chandeliers, dining at this elegant eatery is an indulgence you want to take advantage of when staying at the historic hotel.
Today, art, sightseeing and shopping are on the agenda, so head four blocks downhill to the Seattle Art Museum. Recent exhibits at the SAM include a wildly popular collection of works by Yayoi Kusama, but be aware that showcases rotate at least quarterly, so check the website for the most up-to-date programming.
After the museum, head a couple of blocks down to the waterfront to buy tickets for the Seattle Great Wheel at Pier 57. At 175 feet, this massive attraction is the tallest Ferris wheel on the West Coast, offering glimpses of Seattle from a vantage point you won’t experience anywhere else.
Because so much of the city’s identity is tied to the water, a boat ride is in order. Let’s Go Sailing’s 90-minute tour (there’s a sunset option, too) will give you plenty of Seattle skyline photo opportunities.
You’ve probably worked up an appetite by now so, for lunch, head to Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market, a trendy food hall set in a beautifully restored set of historic automotive buildings constructed between 1919 and 1926.
If you’re in the mood for a sit-down lunch, go to the back of the market to sample the seasonal à la carte menu at Sitka & Spruce by chef Matt Dillon. The offerings change daily, but expect starters such as housemade charcuterie, and entrées like duck confit with rye berries.
Once you finish lunch, it’ll be time to explore Ballard, a trendy neighborhood and the local choice for boutique shopping. Notable spots include Baleen for fashion jewelry and Ballard Consignment for some cool vintage finds.
Take a break at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery for an afternoon snack and to rest your feet for a little while.
Save room for your last meal, which will be at James Beard winner Renee Erickson’s critically acclaimed The Walrus and the Carpenter for oysters and her daily changing menu of small plates like uni panna cotta.
For the final hurrah, finish the night with drinks at Canon, where the shelves are filled to the brim with more than 4,000 spirits — reportedly the largest collection in the country. An intimate, dimly lit cozy bar, it’s one of those places that stays with you even when you leave, much like Seattle itself.