FMTC Affiliate Disclosure: Blond Wayfarer contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This disclosure pertains to all affiliate links.
Is it your first time visiting Seattle? Or even the West Coast in general? If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the planning process, then don’t be. Seattle is a wonderful city, and it’s understandable that it’s one of the most popular “tourist cities” in the United States.
Whether you’re stopping in Seattle on a cruise to Alaska or planning a larger vacation in the Pacific Northwest, the Emerald City will help you create some of the best possible travel memories.
As a side note, I often reminisce about my own first time experience in Seattle. It feels like yesterday that I was boarding a night flight across the United States.
My First Time Visiting Seattle
To be honest, I didn’t know much about Seattle and the surrounding area when I traveled there. My decision was on a complete whim, too!
I had plenty of United miles to splurge on a plane ticket, so I figured why not enjoy a solo trip to Seattle in the height of the summer. My ticket was only $12, so you’d have to be insane to say “no” to that deal.
The main goal of this trip was treating myself to great food and museums as a reward for surviving a nasty break up (for more about traveling with a broken heart, feel free to read my suggestions, haha). And Seattle delivered! I had the best time ever!
The Seattle Museum of Pop Culture remains one of my favorite attractions of all time. I could stay in the fantasy and horror themed exhibits for hours. Not to mention, the Nirvana exhibit took me back to my high school and college years, when I listened to the band every single day on the bus.
Ultimately, I adored Seattle, so I want to help you plan your first trip.
Tips for Your First Time Visiting Seattle
As I’ve said, preparation is always useful for any trip, even a short city vacation. Doing research will ensure you don’t miss anything important.
The following eight suggestions will make your first trip to Seattle memorable and fun. Happy reading!
Bring Sturdy and Comfortable Shoes
Walking around Seattle isn’t always easy on your leg muscles. I’m not kidding, folks. Seattle’s hills rival the ones you find in San Francisco.
And you’re gonna walk a lot. I was easily averaging 20,000 steps per day in Seattle. I didn’t gain a single pound, haha.
Unsurprisingly, my first piece of advice is packing comfortable walking shoes for your vacation to Seattle.
You don’t want to skimp on your shoes. Your feet will hate you until the end of time.
Although somewhat pricey, Merrell makes my favorite walking shoes, because they are high quality and match with a variety of outfits. The soles are so soft, too. Well worth it, in my opinion.
Seattle has a lot of wonderful natural beauty close by (more on that later). So, if you’re planning on visiting Mount Rainier, then I’d also recommend bringing a sturdy pair of hiking boots with you. You’ll wanna protect those ankles!
The right shoes will make your first trip to Seattle much more pleasant.
Set Aside Plenty of Money
Are you ready for some bad news?
Seattle’s main attractions aren’t cheap. For example, the Museum of Pop (MoPOP) is $36 if you don’t pay in advance online. Going to the top of the Space Needle? $35. These admission tickets add up and fast.
So, if you’re planning to visit Seattle on a strict budget, then you need to do your research ahead of time to save money.
Pick your favorite attractions ahead of time and stick with them. You won’t be able to do everything for a cheap price.
Another way to save money on Seattle’s attractions is buying a CityPASS especially if you want to see all the best museums and iconic buildings, such as the Space Needle.
The Seattle CityPASS includes five different attractions, such as the Museum of Pop Culture and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
You’ll save 45% off tickets if you decide to go to all the sites and buy the pass. As for me, I wrote a review on the Seattle CityPASS and found it a good value.
Eat Alllllll the Fresh Seafood in Seattle
Seattle’s seafood is incredible. This city is located on the water, so, of course, you’ll have plenty of options for fish, oysters, crab, and more.
Folks, the sushi alone made my heart sing. Seattle spoiled me in that regard.
First of all, as a tourist, you’ll want to see the stacks of fresh fish in Pike Place Fish Market. This iconic stall has plenty of entertainment in addition to some delicious looking fish. Warning, your stomach is going to growl.
However, good seafood isn’t limited to Pike Place Market.
For example, my favorite seafood restaurant was The Walrus and The Carpenter located in the trendy Ballard neighborhood. You’ll have plenty of oysters to choose from in addition to other seafood dishes.
Be warned. You need to arrive at the restaurant as soon as it opens to score a seat at the bar. A line already forms prior to opening.
If you’re not keen on eating alone, then book a spot on a Gourmet Seattle Walking Tour to experience the city’s great food scene.
Be Careful of Seattle’s Homeless Population
I promise I’m not mocking or belittling homeless people. Quite frankly, I was hard for me to see so many people in pain.
All in all, homelessness is a very serious and sad issue that plagues all major cities in the United States. Not to mention, it’s a complicated societal problem that we all should strive to fix.
However, I don’t want to act like the homeless population in Seattle is non-existent. As a tourist, you will notice it.
In the Seattle and King County area, as many as 12,500+ homeless people live on the streets or in shelters. Before I left, I was warned that Seattle has a big homelessness crisis even in comparison to New York City.
While most homeless individuals will leave you alone, aggressive beggars can still make travelers uncomfortable. I was hyper aware of my surroundings as a woman traveling alone.
While there is no way to avoid all homeless people in Seattle, you can do your research to stray away from areas where they tend to congregate. In particular, stay away from the 3rd and Pike area in downtown Seattle if possible.
Be safe on your first time visiting Seattle. If you want to help the homeless, consider making a donation to a local charity that works close to the ground.
The “Seattle Freeze” Exists
The term “Seattle Freeze” implies that making new friends isn’t easy if you move to this city. All in all, people tend to keep to themselves.
I’m not saying Seattle’s residents are rude. I had a lot of help from locals, and didn’t find them anymore aloof than people I’ve encountered in New York City.
However, don’t come to Seattle expecting to make a huge circle of friends.
To tell you the truth, it didn’t bother me that most people kept to themselves. I wanted some peaceful self-reflection on my first time visiting Seattle.
See Washington State’s Natural Wonders
Don’t limit your trip to the city. Seattle is close to many incredible natural wonders that are worth your time and money.
For example, I took a delightful day trip to Mount Rainier from Seattle, and the colorful wildflowers still remind me of magical fairy tale stories.
If you’re visiting Seattle in summer, bring some hiking gear and get out into the wilderness. The Pacific Northwest has nature quite unlike anywhere else in the country, and you should take advantage of that on your first time visiting Seattle.
Mount Rainier, Bainbridge Island, and Snoqualmie Falls can all be seen in an afternoon. Take a guided tour if you don’t want to be responsible for your own transportation (I don’t blame you).
Day Trip Suggestions for Seattle
- The Bainbridge Island Sightseeing Tour
- Mt. Rainier Day Trip from Seattle
- Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle City Tour
Prepare for Rain Even in the Summer
Rain, rain, go away, please come back another day.
Sorry, folks, but it rains in the Pacific Northwest, including in Seattle. Did you really think those green trees appeared out of nowhere?
Sure, you’ll have some glorious sunny days in the summer months, but still bring a rain jacket to Seattle in case of an unexpected rain shower.
My favorite rain jackets are produced by North Face. The women’s venture rain jacket is well-made (mine has lasted for five years), and they come in a variety of fun colors. They also pack very easily.
Seattle has many delightful cafes for escaping the rain. The coffee scene here is second to none, so if you have a sudden shower, grab a lovely ice brew until the clouds disappear.
Don’t Skip Seattle’s Iconic Neighborhoods
Although Downtown Seattle has the most tourist attractions, I thought Seattle’s true beauty existed in its delightful “outer” neighborhoods. If possible, I’d recommend staying in Fremont and Ballard rather than the Downtown core of Seattle.
I’m didn’t stay in the Downtown when I visited Seattle.
On my own trip to Seattle, I stayed in Fremont at Hotel Hotel Hostel. Fremont has lots to do and see. I seriously loved this neighborhood and even envisioned myself living there. The residential streets and coffee shops and quirky boutiques provided a more “authentic” Northwest experience.
Accommodation for Your First Time Visiting Seattle
- Hotel Ballard in Ballard, from $263 at TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com
- Hotel Hotel Hostel in Fremont, at TripAdvisor.com
- The Mediterranean Inn in Queen Anne, from $129 at TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com
I hope your first time visiting Seattle is memorable! For my readers, have you ever visited Seattle? If so, what other tips would you add to this post? Have a great trip, and thanks for all your continued support!