Your First Time Guide to Seattle: Where to Eat, Stay, and Explore

Are you heading to Seattle for the first time? Here are recommendations on where to stay, eat, and explore for your first time guide to Seattle.

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As a Seattle local, I probably have over 100 recommendations for your first-time visit to Seattle. But since you’re planning your first visit to the Emerald City, I’m boiling down my advice to a handful of places to stay, eat, and explore.

How much time do you need in Seattle?

If you’re heading to Seattle for the first time, I recommend at least booking a long 3-day weekend to see the city. Seattle is much smaller than other west coast cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. But even though it’s smaller, there is still so much to see. If you can book a 4-day trip to Seattle, you’ll have space to venture outside of the city to either hike, see local waterfalls, or even go wine tasting.

Here is your first time guide to Seattle:

Where to Stay in Seattle:

There are lots of great hotels around Seattle. But my top 3 hotel recommendations are:

W Seattle

Address: 1112 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

The W Seattle is in a great spot in Downtown Seattle. It’s close to food, shopping, and local attractions. I’ve stayed here for two staycations and enjoyed both visits. I loved how spacious the rooms were and how comfortable the beds were. If you’re staying at the W Seattle, I recommend grabbing drinks and light bites to eat at the Living Room Bar inside the hotel.

You can check out my in-depth review of the W Seattle at Girls Weekend at the W Seattle.

State Hotel

Address: 1501 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

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I recently stayed at the State Hotel for the first time with my friend Gabby. One of my favorite things about the hotel is its proximity to Pike Place Market. From the hotel’s front door to Pike Place Market was only a 5-minute walk. Our hotel room also had a beautiful water view and a direct view of Pike Place Market. Suppose you’re planning to stay at the hotel. In that case, I also recommend making sure you either grab dinner or brunch at Ben Paris (the State Hotel’s restaurant). The food was delicious.

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Address: 411 University St, Seattle, WA 98101

The Fairmont Olympic is in the heart of Downtown Seattle. The Fairmont Olympic first opened in 1924 and went through renovations in the 1980s and in 2005. The hotel recently completed its most recent renovation in 2021.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has a brand-new lobby, lobby bar, and updated event spaces. The Fairmont Olympic is an excellent choice for any newlyweds looking for a mini-moon getaway in the city or friend groups looking for a friend’s weekend.

You can check out my in-depth stay at the Fairmont Olympic: A Weekend Staycation in Downtown Seattle.

Where to Eat in Seattle

There are so many great places to eat in Seattle. I honestly could recommend a dozen locations in each Seattle neighborhood but your first time guide to Seattle would become a chapter book. But if you’re heading to Seattle for the first time, here are a few spots I recommend checking out.

(Downtown Seattle) Freya Bakery for coffee and breakfast

Address: 1426 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

We recently stop by Freya Bakery for the first time and loved it. I loved my breakfast bun sandwich and oat milk latte. I also liked that there was some indoor seating.

(Downtown Seattle and University District) Mr. West Café and Bar for breakfast and coffee

Address: 720 Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98101 for Downtown location

                2685 NE University Village St, Seattle, WA 98105 for U-district location

Mr. West Café and Bar is always my go-to if I’m meeting friends for coffee or brunch in the city. There are two locations – one in Downtown Seattle and the other in the U-district. If you’re exploring the U-district and stopping by University Village, I recommend stopping by Mr. West.

(Lower Queen Anne) Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge for brunch

Address: 601 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

Toulouse Petit is great for brunch, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. It’s one of my top recommendations for places to eat in the city.

(Ballard) Sabine Café and Market for brunch

Address: 5307 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

If you’re exploring Ballard on one of your mornings in Seattle, I recommend grabbing a bite to eat at Sabine Café and Market for brunch. I love the aesthetic of the restaurant as well as the food.

(Capitol Hill) Di Fiora for lunch or dinner

Address: 1320 University St suite 1, Seattle, WA 98101

I discovered Di Fiora on TikTok, and it’s worth the hype. The aesthetic is unique and beautiful, and the food is delicious.

(South Lake Union) Wilmott’s Ghost for lunch or dinner

Address: 2100 6th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

If you want a unique restaurant setting, I recommend stopping by Wilmott’s Ghost because it’s inside the Amazon Spheres. I recommend grabbing the pizza and taking a few photos inside the restaurant.

Where to Explore in Seattle:

Pike Place Market

Address: 85 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101

Pike Place Market - First Time Guide to Seattle - Seattle Weekend - www.emmasedition.com

There are over 500 small businesses in the 10-level market. I recommend taking your time through the levels and eating through the market. The iconic Gum Wall, the first Starbucks store, and the Fish Market are all within Pike Place.

Even though it may not seem very big, there are many things to see at Pike Place Market. Here are a few recommendations if you’re planning your visit to Pike Place Market:

Check out the small businesses and flower vendors. You can find everything from homemade candles, jewelry, honey, knitted items, and so much more.

  • Daily Dozen Doughnut Company – You can grab donut holes/mini doughnuts to snack on as you explore the market.
  • MarninSaylor – If you’re looking for something adorable, I recommend wandering down to MarninSaylor. You can find Donut Cat merchandise and get a pastry pet to take home!
  • Pike Place Chowder – My favorite chowders at Pike Place Chowder are the New England Clam Chowder and the Smoked Salmon Chowder.  
  • Sisters European Café (in Post Alley)– I love their grilled Focaccia bread sandwiches.
  • Ellenos Yogurt – I love marionberry and trying out any seasonal flavors they might have.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese  – The grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese are SO GOOD. I think Beecher’s mac and cheese is my favorite in the entire city.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109

Chihuly is a local Washington glass artist with his work displayed in over 200 museums worldwide.

The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum opened at Seattle Center in 2012. There are eight galleries, the garden, as well as the Glasshouse. The Glasshouse is my favorite part of the museum. After you’ve wandered through the museum, I recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the Collections Café.

Space Needle

Address: 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109

Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle is a defining landmark on the Seattle Skyline. It’s an iconic Seattle landmark with beautiful views of the city, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade Mountains.

Fremont Troll

Address: N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103

If you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Seattle, I recommend stopping by to see the Fremont Troll. Located on Troll Avenue in Seattle’s Fremont Neighborhood, the Troll originally opened in 1989. Designed by Steve Badanes, the Fremont Troll was inspired by the folktale Billy Goat’s Gruff.

Kayak Elliot Bay with Alki Kayak Tours

Address: 1660 Harbor Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98126

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Another unique thing to do in Seattle is head to West Seattle to kayak Elliot Bay. I recently took the water taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle for an Elliot Bay Kayak Tour. It was $89 for 2 hours of kayaking on the water. We saw incredible views of Seattle and learned more about Elliot Bay.

Book a Get Your Guide Tour to see Snoqualmie Falls and go wine tasting in Woodinville

Emma and Gabby @packslight - Snoqualmie Falls - Get Your Guide Seattle Tour

If you’re looking to venture outside the city but don’t want to rent a car, I recommend checking out the Get Your Guide Seattle Tours. My friend Gabby and I recently did the Day Trip: Snoqualmie Falls and Woodinville Winery Tasting tour. We had so much fun seeing Snoqualmie Falls and trying wineries around the area.

I think my favorite winery was the first stop of our trip! I’m local to Washington and even got married in Woodinville. But the three wineries we checked out were brand new to me.

Visit local parks:

  • I recommend checking out Kerry Park in Upper Queen Anne for a view of the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline.
  • I recommend stopping by Gas Works Park in Fremont to view the Seattle skyline and the water.
  • For walking trails and the rocky beach and lighthouse, I recommend trekking out to Discovery Park. Over 500 acres of open meadow lands, forest groves, and trails exist.

Thank you for reading your first time guide to Seattle!

What other things would you recommend adding to your first time guide to Seattle?

For more travel guides, I recommend checking out:

Your First Time Guide to Amsterdam: Where to Stay, Explore, and Eat

Things to Do in Seattle: Visit Seattle Landmarks

4 Summer Flower Photo Shoot Locations Outside of Seattle

10 Eiffel Tower Photo Spots for Your First Time in Paris

Your First Time Guide to Denver

Thank you for reading!

Love,

Emma

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