Land, Air & Sea: 12 Hours in Seattle

By Craig Zabransky,

Seattle, a gateway to the adventurous Pacific Northwest, is also a city worth a visit. There is plenty to see and do when staying in this sleepless city, but if time allots only 12 hours in Seattle, definitely consider a land, sea, and air approach. With just one day in the Emerald City, put these three activities on your list: walk through the Pike Place Market, visit the Seattle Aquarium, and the head to the top of the Seattle Space Needle.




Pike Place Market in Seattle

Photo By Craig McCracken CCBY

Start the day at the famous Pike Place Market. An official opening bell rings at 9 a.m., but breakfast options begin bright and early at around 6 a.m. in the morning, and the produce and fish markets open around 7 a.m. Spend the necessary few minutes watching (and waiting) for a fish purchase and the opportunity to witness the famous and festive tossing of the fish across the market floor. Get a picture or video and then get excited to enter the market.

Fresh Produce at Pikes Place

Photo by Loaded Aaron CCBY 

Pike Place Market is much more than fish. With six floors covering nine acres the market is complete with collectibles, arts, crafts, specialty foods, produce, fish and more. Visitors can spend hours inside shopping through the levels and also taking in the vibrant Seattle culture through its people.

The Original Starbucks in Seattle

Just outside of the Pike Place Market entrance (top floor) visitors can find the original Starbucks, the coffee shop where the company first began serving coffee. For the many faithful daily coffee drinkers such a pilgrimage is required when visiting Seattle for others it can at least make for interesting conversation on a coffee break back home.

Looking to make your Seattle vacation perfect with your dream hotel? Check out our handpicked list of our favorite sophisticated Seattle hotels here! 



Seattle Aquarium Waterfront

Photo by Craig Zabransky

The Seattle Aquarium, located directly on the pier at the waterfront, can be the perfect way to spend a few hours after lunch or even provide the perfect escape from any inclement weather visitors might face on a trip to Seattle.

Fish at the Seattle Aquarium

Photo by Craig Zabransky

The exhibits focus on both education and conservation with a strong attention to the local, diverse Pacific-Northwest species. Many displays use water directly from the Puget Sound, making the Aquarium seem like an extension of the sea.

Gnomedex At the Seattle Aquarium

Photo By Scott Beale CCBY

A highlight inside the Seattle Aquarium is the local giant Pacific Octopus. Although nocturnal and more than likely resting against the glass sleeping when viewing the exhibit, experts will approach you to explain the species, its habits and the aquarium’s program of catch and release.  The species can leave a lasting impression.



Space Needle Sunsets

Photo by Sea Turtle CCBY

After time on the land and down by the sea, it is time to explore the city from the sky. Although a distant, but doable walk from the Seattle Aquarium, taking in the view from atop the Seattle Space Needle is a must for first time visitors to the city. Transportation via the Seattle monorail (cash only) can take you to and from the heart of the city.

360 Degree Views of Seattle

Photo by Rob Flickenger

The iconic Seattle Space Needle structure was erected for the 1962 World’s Fair and was once one of the tallest structures west of the Mississippi. It offers amazing 360-degree panoramic views of Seattle and the surrounding Pacific Northwest wilderness. The view allows visitors to view the Puget Sound, the Seattle waterfront and the distant, impressive Mount Rainer.

Photo by Craig Zabransky

The line can be long, especially when the weather cooperates, so plan to arrive an hour early or reserve a time through the on-line service. The best time to visit is just before sunset to enable you to see the city skyline with both natural light and then also catch the city skyline at night.

Seattle Guide

Photo by Wonderlane CCBY

Both the Seattle Space Needle and the Seattle Aquarium are part of the Seattle City-Pass. The pass gives discounted access to the city’s major attractions and make sense if you plan to pack more into a day touring Seattle or plan to spend more than a single day visiting the city. Other impressive attractions on the pass are the Museum of Flight, a Harbor Cruise, the pop-culture focused EMP Museum and more.

So let the Pacific Northwest adventures begin in Seattle, a place where visitors can start with a land, sea, and air approach to the city all in a single day. If you so happen to fall in love with the Emerald City feel free to spend the night — there are plenty of incredible hotels to explore.

*Feature Image by David Nitzsch

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