Seattle locals enjoy all kinds of perks, from tasty restaurants at every turn to wonderful outdoor recreation. Now, you can live like a local too (even if you’re just visiting Seattle for the weekend) with this three-day itinerary.

Day 1: Sightseeing Like a Seattleite

sunset view of the space needle at Volunteer Park
Sunset at Volunteer Park | Photo courtesy of 2namod

After settling into your vacation rental, take a few minutes to freshen up, check the forecast, and slip into a comfortable outfit, complete with some quality walking shoes.

Skip the major ding to your wallet from the $13 per person elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle and check out this viewpoint instead. Featured in the third season finale of The Amazing Race and as the opening scene of 10 Things I Hate About You, Kerry Park on the south slope of Queen Anne has postcard-worthy views without leaving the city. With its panoramic views of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, Elliott Bay, and even Mount Rainier on clear days, Kerry Park is without a doubt the best place to photograph Seattle.

Whiskey flight
Whiskey flight at Tavern Law | Photo courtesy of Alan C.

For dinner, pick a restaurant in your price range on Lake Union for some of the prettiest water views in the city. If you’re going for something more upscale, we recommend local steakhouse chain Daniel’s Broiler, but there are a variety of budget-friendly options out there, too.

In the evening, right before sunset, stake out a spot in Volunteer Park. Known by locals for its summer concerts and outdoor theater events, this park is the highest point on Capitol Hill and features a scenic view of the Seattle skyline.

Optional: If you still have energy after your long day of adventure, it’s worth heading down to the Pike/Pine area to check out some of the fantastic nightlife on Capitol Hill. Try Tavern Law for trendy cocktails and a speakeasy vibe, or stop by Unicorn for a truly eclectic crowd of Seattle locals and a carnival-themed drink menu.

Day 2: Boats & Burlesque

Kayaking on Lake Union
Kayaking on Lake Union | Photo courtesy of supafly

Your second day in Seattle is the perfect time for a taste of the outdoors. If you liked what you saw during dinner last night on Lake Union, today is the perfect time to see the lake again—this time by daylight and via kayak!

Lake Union has many kayak and paddleboard rental companies, so choose your favorite and get out on the lake. Paddle to the west side of the lake, near Queen Anne, to see the houseboat from the Tom Hanks film Sleepless in Seattle, then make your way through Portage Bay. When you get hungry, Ivar’s Salmon House is a great place to dock your boat and grab a quick lunch to go (a more casual seafood bar connects to the main dining area).

A performer in a show at the Pink Door in Seattle.
Cabaret burlesque show at the Pink Door | Photo courtesy of Chris Blakeley

After munching on fish and chips, paddle your way through the Montlake Cut, the site of the annual University of Washington Windermere Cup crew regatta. Then, explore the marshy wetlands of Lake Washington, the largest lake in King County and second largest in Washington state.

When you’ve had your fill of kayaking, head back to your vacation rental to freshen up. For a fun evening out on the town, round out your night at Seattle’s favorite date spot, The Pink Door, for a cabaret burlesque show and some of the best Italian food in the city.

Day 3: West Seattle & North Seattle

A large plate with a huge bread bowl with an overflow of thick clam chowder.
Duke’s famous clam chowder | Photo courtesy of Ben Y.

On your final day in Seattle, make your way over to the West Seattle peninsula for a day on Alki Beach. With stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown Seattle, this slice of beachfront living is the perfect place for people watching.

Spend the morning walking the two-and-half-mile stretch of beach, noting attractions like the Statue of Liberty miniature, the Birthplace of Seattle monument, and the Alki Point Lighthouse as you walk along the seawall or take the stairs down to the sand. For lunch, stop in at Duke’s Chowder House on the beach for phenomenal views of Elliott Bay and some of the best clam chowder you’ve ever had.

After lunch, make the drive north to the Fremont neighborhood in North Seattle to check out the Fremont Sunday Market. This year-round market models itself after similar outdoor European markets with community activities and a vibrant atmosphere. Plus, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love the hip Fremont neighborhood—it may be touristy, but you can’t miss getting a picture with the troll under the bridge!

Sunny day in Seattle, paddle boating on Green Lake.
Paddle boats on Green Lake | Photo courtesy of Chelsea Marie Hicks

Once you’ve had time to meander through the market, it’s only a little ways north to Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood, where you can walk, run, bike, or rollerblade around the three-mile Green Lake loop or even rent paddle boats to take out on the lake. If you get hungry again, Seattle’s famous Red Mill Burgers is just a few blocks from the west side of the lake.

Wind down the day with a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo. Visit in the summertime for ZooTunes, a series of outdoor concerts in the North Meadow, or have some wintertime fun at WildLights, where more than 600,000 energy-efficient LED bulbs light up the night. Just south of Green Lake in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, this 92-acre zoo is a great ending to a perfect day.

Featured photo courtesy of MILKOVÍ 

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Author: Rachael Decker

A Seattle native, Rachael first fell in love with travel on a trip to visit her grandparents in Palm Springs when she was five years old. Some of her other favorite destinations include the Amalfi Coast, Prague, Edinburgh, and London, where she studied abroad for four months. At home in Portland, you'll find her sampling regional ciders and taking weekend trips to the coast and Mt. Hood.