What can you do in Seattle in just 24 hours, you might ask? Well, if you are like us, quite a lot if you don’t mind doing a little walking. After disembarkation from an Alaskan cruise, we had limited options for flights home, and the best options left us with a 24-hour layover in Seattle.
We made a reservation at The Paramount hotel, but as it was only 8 AM when we arrived in Seattle, we checked our bags with the hotel front desk clerk, and we were off to make the most of our 24 hours in Seattle. The Paramount is a beautiful hotel that is very centrally located, which is a must when the plan to maximize your limited time in a city.
Pike Place Market:
Our first plan was to head back to the waterfront and visit the Seattle landmark – Pike Place Market. Stroll the market, smell the flowers, do some shopping, and grab a croissant and a famous Seattle coffee at one of the quaint cafes or the original Starbucks. As you walk through the market, you may not be able to buy fish, but you will definitely want to stop and check out the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market, as they put on their little show. Get your camera ready to take a video, because the show is quite entertaining as they toss giant fish across the market at each other. At Pike Place, you will also find one of the weirdest attractions you never expected to visit: Pike Place Gum Wall. That’s right. This is a wall of gum that is located at “Post Alley” behind the market theatre, where wads of chewed gum are stuck to the walls on either side of the alley.
Close to Pike Place and located on Pier 59 of Seattle’s waterfront, is the Seattle Aquarium. This is a small aquarium but definitely worth a visit, and since it is small, it won’t dig too much into your 24 hours. Watch the sea otters put on a show, as sea otters are known to do, those playful adorable little scamps.
Walk along the waterfront to Olympic Park and check out the sculpture garden. There are some great views of the city from here as well. Look up and you will see the iconic Space Needle in your sights. Head up the hill (sorry but Seattle is fairly hilly) to the Space Needle park where you will spend a good portion of your day because there is so much to do around here. In addition to a very large park with vendors and festivals, there are several great museums you may wish to visit: The Museum of Pop Culture – which includes the“experience the music project”, The Children’s Museum, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and the Pacific Science Centre.
As you tour through the city, you will see other great iconic structures like the Pink Elephant Carwash Sign, which you may recognize from many movies and television shows. Fans of Archie McPhee novelties and toys will love to stop and visit their store at N 45th St and Stone Way N. The Cinerama theatre is one of only a handful of theatres left in existence that have the ability to show 3-panel Cinerama-technology films. Fans of cinematic history will want to visit this theatre and see a movie, there is still plenty of time left in your 24 hours.
Take a load off and grab the nearest Hop on/Hop off bus. Rest up a bit as you take in the sites as you tour through the city and see as much as you can without walking. You will be able to get off the bus and visit one of the many craft breweries, or Coffee houses that Seattle is known for. Victoria Coffee House and Starbucks Reserve Roastery are both very popular spots for coffee lovers.
Our next stops may be a little out of the way, but they are definitely worth a visit. Straight up Aurora Ave heading north, you will pass the Queen Anne district where you will find some amazing homes in the Queen Anne style of architecture. Some of the locals refer to them as the “friendly witches houses”. Across the Water, you will find another Seattle icon: the Freemont Troll at the Troll Statue Bridge. This is located under Aurora Ave N at N 36th St. and is definitely worth a visit if you love offbeat roadside attractions, like we do.
Once you are back in downtown Seattle, you can do some shopping, take a spin on the Great Wheel Ferris wheel, and enjoy your last few hours in Seattle enjoying a great meal. Seattle has a reputation for being a great food town, and one of the best meals I have ever had was an amazing Mexican meal at Mama’s Cantina on 2nd Avenue. We asked several locals for some restaurant recommendations and tried to get into the top 3 or 4 options we received. As it was a Saturday night, most were busy and we couldn’t make it into any of them. Then we came across a vibrant Mexican restaurant, and while it was busy there was no wait. We had fantastic Margaritas (Jalapeno), appetizers, and a very delicious meal.
This was a very busy day for sure, however, it was one that was packed with experiences, activities, and memories that will last a lifetime. A 24-hour layover can be a lot of fun. Make the most of your time, and experience as much as you can in a new city. It may whet your appetite to come back.
Good Night, Seattle, we love you.