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3 Itineraries to do Seattle in a Day

Seattle is a city frequented by business travelers and tourists alike. If you work in the Tech industry like I do, it's highly probable that you'll pass through Seattle at some point for work. Of course, business trips mean you are often short on time. I've compiled 3 one day in Seattle itineraries to help you make the most of a business trip. Read on to discover how to do Seattle in a day. 
Seattle in a day: Pike Place Market at Sunset

Seattle in a Day Itineraries in Brief

  1. Four Seattle Neighborhoods
    • Breakfast in South Lake Union
    • "Jeff's Balls" and the Space Needle
    • Queen Anne for Lunch
    • Pike Place at Sunset
    • Dessert for Dinner in Capitol Hill
  2. South Lake Union
    • SLU Coffee
    • Lake Union Park
    • Tex-Mex or BBQ for Dinner
    • Nightcap in SLU
  3. Sunday in Seattle
    • Breakfast at Top Pot Doughnuts
    • Ballard Locks and Farmer's Market
    • Fremont Troll and Lenin Statue
    • Fremont Farmer's Market
    • Theo's Chocolate
    • Schilling Cider House
    • University of Washington
    • Union Bay Natural Area
    • Dinner in Capitol Hill

1. One Day in Seattle, Four Neighborhoods

This one day in Seattle itinerary will introduce you to four of Seattle's vibrant neighborhoods. 

Breakfast in South Lake Union

Head to Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood (SLU) for breakfast. You have two choices: comfort food at Serious Pie and Biscuit or a locavore experience at Portage Bay Cafe. If you choose Serious Pie and Biscuit, try a fried chicken biscuit smothered in black pepper gravy with a cup of bottomless coffee. If you choose Portage Bay Cafe, you could order something sweet like pancakes which comes with one trip to their fresh toppings bar. I was in the mood for eggs so I chose migas (Mexican style eggs and salsa) and amazing applewood smoked bacon washed down with a bottomless cup of locally roasted coffee. 
Seattle in a day: Migas at Portage Bay Cafe in SLU

Check out "Jeff's Balls"

Amazon has built three large glass geodesic domes in the heart of Seatle's South Lake Union neighborhood. Sometimes referred to as "Jeff's Balls" by locals, the Amazon Spheres are impressive to behold. You need to be an employee to get inside but they are still cool to admire from a distance.
One day in Seattle: Amazon Sphere (aka Jeff's Balls)

Swing by the Space Needle

Take a quick walk by Seattle's iconic Space Needle before the rain comes in. Consider peeking into the Museum of Pop Culture if the weather is bad. If you're lucky and are experiencing a sunny day in Seattle, spend time in the Chihuly garden which features some outdoor installations.

Coffee and light lunch in Queen Anne

Climb the hill behind the Space Needle toward Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood. Stop to rest in Kerry Park on the way up for panoramic views over Seattle and maybe even a glimpse of Mount Rainier. Browse the shops of Queen Anne and then stop for a light lunch. Order coffee and pretzel challah bread with honey butter at the Queen Anne Coffee Company.

Pike Place Market Sunset

Make your way to Pike Place Market in Downtown Seattle in time for the sunset. If you get there early, window shop in all the great stores in the area. Seattle has a large concentration of travel and adventure gear shops in which to spend some time. The views over Pike Place Market and the Sound on a nice winter day can be amazing so make sure to have your camera ready. 

Dessert for Dinner

Finish the day in Capitol Hill and have dessert for dinner at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery. Yes, you read that right, I discovered a molten chocolate cake restaurant in Seattle. They should have just named it Dr. J's place. I love a good lava cake. Try one of the many flavor combinations washed down with a glass of milk.
One Day in Seattle: Molten chocolate cake at Hot Cakes in Capitol Hill

2. South Lake Union Seattle in a Day

If the work week has begun you may not have time for lots of fun diversions during the day but why not make the most of the morning and evening with this South Lake Union Seattle itinerary? 

SLU Coffee

Seattle in a day: Evoke Coffee SLU
Seattle is a city known for coffee. For this one day Seattle itinerary, go for a morning coffee run in South Lake Union. Consider Cascade Coffee Works, Herkimer Coffee, or Evoke Coffee. Cascade Coffee Works has a great buzz and is situated in an old brick warehouse building. I really liked Herkimer Coffee which has a chill coffeehouse vibe. Herkimer coffee pairs well with their homemade buttery chocolate shortbread. Evoke Coffee has a great chill and friendly vibe and you'll get a perfectly prepared cappuccino. Forego Starbucks on this trip to Seattle and check out South Lake Union's local roasters.
One day in Seattle: chocolate shortbread at Herkimer Coffee

Lake Union Park

Walk around Lake Union Park near the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Admire the boats at dock nearby. As you round the eastern side of the park, start to notice the charming wooden boats moored here. This part of the park is home to the Center for Wooden Boats. A walk through Lake Union Park is a great spot for a short 15 minute walk before heading to the office.
Seattle in a day: Boats at Lake Union Park

Tex-Mex or BBQ for Dinner

Surprisingly, Seattle's South Lake Union has some fun Tex-Mex places for dinner. I was in my happy place at upscale Cactus after ordering my margarita with a slushy floater. It was definitely delish but beware of the brain freeze! I also tried fry bread for the first time at Cactus. It was like a cross between churros and fried dough that you might find at the county fair. For more traditional Tex-Mex, head to La Palmera and order the carnitas and a jumbo margarita. I absolutely loved the spicy salsa served with tortilla chips.
Seattle in a Day: margarita at Cactus in South Lake Union
If Tex-Mex isn't your thing, head to Cask and Trotter for some proper barbecue. Have you ever heard of a BBQ sundae? Discover beef brisket, Seattle succotash, and mac n cheese layered together. It may sound decadent but the BBQ sundae is a less indulgent and less expensive option than a full platter of 2-3 meats with sides. You can choose your meats and sides to layer together in the BBQ sundae. Wash down the sundae with some Washington State craft beers.
One Day in Seattle: BBQ sundae at Cask and Trotter

Nightcap in SLU

Finish this Seattle in a day itinerary in a comfy chair at Art Marble 21 sipping a local pint of cider while watching whatever game happen to be on on the big screen.

3. Sunday in Seattle

If you have time to extend your business trip and turn it into a proper bleisure experience, I recommend doing so. Spend the weekend in Seattle and you won't be disappointed. This itinerary explores how to spend Sunday in Seattle.

Breakfast at Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts

With my home base at the chic and affordable Hotel Five in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, I was at the center of all the action and in a good neighborhood to access Seattle's public transportation. I started out my Sunday of exploration in Seattle at Top Pot Doughnuts, rated one of the top doughnut shops in the world.
Seattle in a day: Top Pot Doughnuts
Unsurprisingly, given Seattle's reputation, the coffee was excellent at Top Pot. I couldn't decide on a single flavor of doughnut to try so I bought two doughnuts and ate half of each (they were huge). Top Pot's cherry fritter was super sweet, fruity, and very dense. The chocolate on my iced ring was silky and sublime. I can understand why Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts rates so highly. 

Seattle's Popsicle Bus Stop

How to Spend a Perfect Sunday in Seattle - Popsicle sculpture

Full of sugar and caffeine, I made my way to the bus stop. I was delighted when I saw this quirky popsicle sculpture nearby. popsicle seemed just perfect on a sunny day. I love Seattle's personality.

BALLARD

Seattle is really spread out but I'd come up with a plan for the day to explore three different neighborhoods. For just $2 USD, I boarded the bus and headed to Ballard, the first stop on my perfect Sunday in Seattle.

Seattle's Ballard Market

Seattle's Ballard neighborhood features a Sunday farmers' market offering amazing fresh produce, local foods, and hipster musicians dotting the path at regular intervals. I bought myself some local cheese with chives and a loaf of rosemary sourdough bread to fortify me during for my Sunday in Seattle.

Seattle in a day: Ballard Farmers Market

Seattle's Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

How to Spend a Perfect Sunday in Seattle - Drawbridge in Ballard

From the Ballard Market, I walked to Seattle's Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, aka the Ballard Locks. I watched as the railroad bridge levered open to let ships pass. The enormous lock then filled with small pleasure boats and they were slowly lifted to lake level for a day of sailing on a sunny Sunday in Seattle.
Seattle in a Day: Ballard Locks
During certain times of year in Seattle, you can see salmon running through the fish steps located beside Ballard Locks. The steps were fish free when I visited Seattle but I did see an amazing flock of Barrow's Goldeneye ducks and even a seal as I sat beside Ballard Locks just drinking in Seattle's great atmosphere.
One Day in Seattle: Barrow's Goldeneye Ducks at Ballard Locks

Seattle's Botanical Gardens at Ballard Locks

How to Spend a Perfect Sunday in Seattle - Botanical Gardens

Ballard Locks also features its very own botanical gardens. I stopped to snack on my bread and cheese while admiring the cherry blossoms in riotous bloom.

FREMONT

Next up, I took the bus from Ballard to Fremont, a Seattle neighborhood with a combination of eccentric and more traditional sights to see. 
How to Spend a Perfect Sunday in Seattle - Fremont Street Art

The Troll Under the Bridge in Seattle

Sunday in Seattle: the troll under the bridge
I stepped off the bus and made my way to see Fremont's famous resident: the troll under the bridge. Located under a highway in Seattle, this amazing giant sculpture crushing a VW Bug is indeed a sight to see! Not sure where to find the troll in Seattle? Search for 'Fremont Troll' on Google Maps.

Lenin in Seattle

One Day in Seattle: Lenin Statue in Fremont

Surprisingly, Seattle's Fremont neighborhood also features a statue of Lenin prominently on display. This particular statue was removed from Czechoslovakia when the Iron Curtain fell in 1988. While controversial, the statue seems to fit right in given Fremont's artistic vibe. 

Fremont Farmers' Market for a Slice of Seattle

Seattle's Fremont neighborhood also features its very own Sunday Farmers' Market. In addition to the usual produce, arts and crafts, this market hosts a fleet of hipster food trucks. I sampled the Domo Arigatou, Mr. Roberto, a savory mix of chorizo, peppers, and local cheese. The fish-shaped waffle itself was sweet for an enjoyable contrast. The waffle was a bit pricy at ~$6.50 USD but worth it given the chance to sample Seattle's local specialties.
One Day in Seattle: Fish waffle at the Fremont Farmer's Market

Theo's Chocolate in Seattle

One Day in Seattle: Tour Theo's Chocolate

Theo's Chocolate may be just one of many Seattle chocolate shops but it's situated just around the corner from the Fremont Farmers' Market and is a Seattle institution. Theo's factory tour is fascinating and covers their bean to bar production process. I learned that Theo sources their beans from small farming cooperatives in Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Expect plenty of chocolate samples and discounts on purchases in the store after the tour. Definitely pick up some artisan Seattle chocolates to take home as gifts. Pro-tip: grab a coffee to go with your chocolate at any one of the many great coffee places in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

A Short Cut through Seattle

Seattle in a day: Fremont Cut

Located on Fremont Cut, a passage connecting Puget Sound with Lake Union, Seattle's Fremont area features a relaxing walking path. I strolled beside the water admiring a party barge and other small boats as I passed on my idyllic Sunday in Seattle.

Seattle's Schilling Cider House

Seattle is known for its microbrew culture. In addition, it's possible to find excellent cider in the capital of the Pacific Northwest. I popped into Schilling's Cider House for post-lunch refreshments to fuel my Sunday of exploration in Seattle. 
One Day in Seattle: Schilling Cider House
Seattle's Schilling Cider House features more than 30 ciders on tap (many of them are super-local). For a fixed price, you can sample six different Pacific Northwest ciders. Simply take a card and pencil in the numbers of the ciders you want to try. The ciders are conveniently labeled with the alcohol percentage and color-coded based on how dry/sweet they are. Not a bad way to while away a Sunday afternoon in Seattle!

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

Stroll the University of Washington Campus in Seattle

How to Spend a Perfect Sunday in Seattle - university of washington

The University of Washington is about a 30 minute bus ride ride from Fremont but the bus lets you off right in the heart of campus. I love touring college campuses. They typically have fantastic energy and some really cool architecture. UW in Seattle was no exception. 

Detour Through the Library at University of Washington

On my walk around the UW campus in Seattle, I took a detour into the impressive library which seemed to be open to the public.
Sunday in Seattle: Library at the University of Washington
I loved the display of birds in the main atrium of the library. The birds were swirling over an exhibit of travel books throughout history. How apropo.

Seattle's Union Bay Natural Area

The Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle is connected to the University of Washington campus. I took some time to explore the trails that led right up to Puget Sound. Nothing like a relaxed hike and a bit of birdwatching to round out a perfect Sunday in Seattle.
Seattle in a day:  wooden arrows pointing to places at Union Bay Natural Area

Dinner in Capitol Hill

Finish this Sunday in Seattle one day itinerary with dinner in Capitol Hill. Keep it casual with craft beers and mac n cheese covered in bacon at Deluxe Bar and Grill in Capitol Hill. Deluxe looks like a dive bar but has a great vibe and delicious food.
One Day in Seattle: Mac and cheese with bacon at Deluxe Bar and Grill in Capitol Hill

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 3 Itineraries to do Seattle in a Day
3 Itineraries to do Seattle in a Day
Read about things to do in Seattle in a day. Discover three different one day in Seattle itineraries covering Seattle neighborhoods like Fremont, Ballard, and South Lake Union (SLU). Explore cool things to do in Seattle Washington.
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