I think it’s safe to say that Seattle caught us completely off guard!
The only expectations we set were: Enjoy a day off and do what we love when heading into a city – explore the heck out of it!
And while we’re not usually “organized tour” people, we are so happy we decided to do the Seattle One Day Tour with Tours Northwest!
Honestly, it was the BEST way to see so much of Seattle in just a few hours – and we still had plenty of time for our own exploring at night!
So without further adieu, here are our MUST DO’s when visiting this beautiful city (aka our tour took us to ALL of our must-see destinations throughout Seattle!)
As much as we love living in an RV full-time, sometimes it’s fun to get away for a little date day/night in a city! 😍⠀ ⠀ So yesterday we found an awesome @Roverdotcom for Russ, played hooky from work, cashed in some of our @spg points for a room at the @westinseattle, and romped around Seattle with @toursnorthwest for the day!⠀ ⠀ And holy moly – this city has SO much to see! Honestly, we’re not normally “tour” people, but we have to say our full day tour was the BEST way to see so much of Seattle in just one day! And our little geeky selves really really loved learning all of the history behind everything (definitely going to have to write a longer blog post on all of that) – HUGE shoutout to Mark from @toursnorthwest for sharing so much of the city with us 🙏🏽⠀ ⠀ Some of our favorites were:⠀ 🥣 lunch at @pikeplchowder⠀ 🏫 walking around Pioneer Square and learning all about the underground⠀ 🐟 seeing the baby salmon running at Ballard Locks⠀ 🍫 tasting ALL the free chocolate samples at @theochocolate⠀ 🏙 and taking in the view from Kerry park! ⠀ ⠀ We ended the full-day tour with a trip up the Space Needle – where I gently hugged the wall and took deep breaths, and Pete proceeded to lean against the glass and pretend he was falling 🙈 ⠀ ⠀ Needless to say, we made the most of our one day in Seattle!
We knew this was a must-see before we ever stepped foot in Seattle. Historical market + the most delicious food = our kinda place!
One of the benefits of visiting Pike’s Place – and all of the other places we’ll mention – with Tours Northwest was that our guide, Mark, was a total history buff! He had SO much knowledge to share and it honestly made the experience that much more awesome to get to learn so much about the city as we toured it!
A fun fact about Pikes Place: It opened in 1914, which makes it the longest continually-operating farmers market in the country. It’s definitely worth waiting to see the fish being thrown, but a quick tip: They only do it when someone makes a purchase. So if you want to speed things up, buy some local fish! They’ll actually deliver it to downtown hotels and package it for flights home if needed!
Our tour guide also told us that most people just stay on the top level of the market, but there are more levels below. We love getting local tips like these, and we had a blast checking out the less popular spots like the magic shop and the hidden coffee shop near the gum wall.
Speaking of gum wall, the “famous” (I put it in quotes, because I was totally grossed out by it!) Seattle Gum Wall is located in a little alley right next to Pike’s Place!
Pioneer Square is the oldest neighborhood in Seattle, and it’s worth the visit.
In 1850, Doc Maynard claimed 250 acres for FREE due to the 1850 Donation Land Claim Act. Apparently, this was the place to be back then and you can see why. It’s got a lot of charm that isn’t found in every part of the city. If you’re like us and enjoy walking around, be sure to check out the Glass House Studio – our minds were blown! You can watch them blow glass right in the shop.
Since we only had one day in the city, we didn’t actually do an underground tour, but our guide told us all about it as we drove through the city!
In 1889, Seattle was a city that had been built up with wood. One day, a cabinet maker had a pot of glue that overflowed, and it burned everything down.
This was devastating to the city, but when it came time to rebuild, they took it as an opportunity to finally implement new building codes (aka brick and stone!).
Before the fire, Seattle had been built on a tidal flat at sea level. With these new building plans, they decided to raise the street level by 14 feet. But since the residents still needed a place to live while the city was being rebuilt, they actually built their houses so that the second story could eventually become the main story. This left a whole subterranean level of housing once the new street level was complete.
In the 1920s, those subterranean storefronts were used for the prohibition, and you can now take tours of the Seattle Underground. Definitely adding this to our list for next time!
Mercer Island has a fascinating story – but you’ll have to take the tour for the fun details!
Named after Thomas Mercer and his family, who also named Lake Washington and Lake Union, this island has a medium income of $160,000 and includes residents like Paul Allen.
It’s also the most populated island on a freshwater lake anywhere in the world! It was a beautiful drive and has incredible views of Seattle.
This was such a cool and funky neighborhood to drive through – it reminded us a lot of Fishtown and Northern Liberties back home in Philly!
It has a really artsy vibe, and honestly we probably could’ve spent a whole day just walking around the little coffee shops and streets.
We took a brief stop besides the Fremont Troll, which is actually holding a crushed up mini in it’s hand!
Our drive through an awesome neighborhood wouldn’t have been complete without a stop at the most delicious chocolate factory. Theo’s is all organically made chocolate and it has an ENTIRE wall of samples!!
It was a tiny detour by our tour guide, but totally worth adding to your list! After sampling a bunch of different flavors, Pete came home with his go-to of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate and I bought some of the Ginger Dark Chocolate (it had real pieces of ginger in it!)
This was another must-see on our list, and I’m not too sure we would’ve driven all over the city in our truck to see it if it weren’t for this tour!
The locks connect the Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington. It’s a popular tourist spot, an in the right season you can watch the running of the salmon!
We got lucky with our timing and saw a boat and a large barge go through the locks, and we even saw a baby salmon in the viewing station!
If you’re looking to get an idyllic photo of Seattle look no further. This is the place to snap a pic, hang with friends or just sit and take in the whole city.
What’s pretty cool about this area is that a few houses up from the park are the houses of the Nordstroms Brothers. Ding Dong Ditch, anyone?
You don’t have to be a fisherman to appreciate the hard work the men and women put in to bring us a fresh catch. It’s worth strolling around the docks to see the massive boats coming and going to and from their long voyages.
If you’re lucky, you may even see one of the crews from “The Deadliest Catch.”
We drove past the Amazon Towers, which are these two insanely cool, giant glass balls in the middle of the city.
We were told that close to 50,000 people are employed by Amazon in Seattle alone. That’s insane!
What’s really cool is that those glass balls are actually greenhouses that host a variety of rare plants. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to head inside for a tour, but you better believe we will next time!
Our organized tour of Seattle ended at the iconic Space Needle. It was really awesome to have the admission included in our tour, because truthfully, we probably wouldn’t have purchased one on our own.
The Needle was still under construction when we visited, but the viewing station at the top still has plenty to see! Apparently, the glass walls can hold up to 2,000 pounds, so Pete decided to be a crazy person and test that theory out. I stayed back against the wall and took deep breaths.
As this was the last spot on our Tours Northwest journey, we were able to stay as long or as short as we wanted. After taking in the sights from above, we grabbed an Uber back to our hotel to get cleaned up and ready for Pete’s date night!
This place is world famous for it’s chowder. Because of this, the line gets very long (and rightfully so).
Pro tip: Order online with the app and grab yours to go! Walk across the street and sit by the water. We tried the chowder sampler and it was amazing. They rotate what they serve on it, and you get 4 different cups of chowder, 2 bottles of water and a couple of apples for $15!
Apparently, Oprah says their Mac and Cheese is the best in the world and has trays frozen and shipped to her in Chicago. So if Oprah loves it, you know it has to be good.
This cheese shop specializes in cheddar cheese products, and you can even watch the cheese being made in the windows next to the shop!
We were told by a ton of people to check out this Russian bakery. To be completely honest, we’re not really “sweets” people, so this was a stretch for us. We had some kind of rhubarb pastry that was delicious but super sweet. We split one and couldn’t even finish half!
Spoiler alert: but this isn’t actually the true original Starbucks!
The original Starbucks burnt down, but this little shop next to Pike Place Market now holds the title of being the “original” since it’s so close to where it was started.
It’s kind of funny that there are a few other Starbucks so close by – that all serve the same exact coffee – and yet this line is almost constantly out the door!
Somehow, there was no line when we passed by after lunch, so we popped in to grab an ice coffee!
We happened to be there the day after Howard Schultz announced his retirement, and we saw a handwritten note from him written on the wall in Sharpie dated from the day before! That was pretty cool to see.
For date night, Pete loves to find local happy hours and local eats. We knew we wanted to try some seafood in Seattle, and Blue Acre was the best find!
Their happy hour deal was great – draft beers were only $4 (we love trying local ones!) and we had some fresh local oysters for $1.50 each.
We’re always sucker for good wings, so we also tried the crispy chicken wings (delicious) and the waiter’s recommendation of Catfish Tacos (SO good!).
This actually wound up totally filling us up and being the perfect mix of a Happy Hour/dinner!
Another one of Pete’s favorite things to do is find speakeasies. He found some awesome ones when we were in Philly, and now he’s on a hunt to find hidden ones all over the country.
We took a few wrong turns and tried a few locked doors before we found the real entrance of Bathtub & Gin down a little alleyway.
We went to for a fun drink and weren’t disappointed! We grabbed a tiny table tucked under the stairs and just took it all in (you can actually see the table we sat at on their homepage hero slider!) The decor inside made us feel like we were truly in the prohibition era.
Get there between 5 and 7 for drink specials!
After a long day of touring around Seattle and an early “dinner” at Blue Acre, we were a little hungry by the time we got back to our hotel.
Thankfully, the Westin has a delicious little burger bar right in their lobby called Relish. We split a burger and tots to bring back to the room. And guys – the tots were SO good! Worth the splurge for sure.
After working in management consulting and traveling almost full-time for work, I became Starwood’s biggest fan.
Now, whenever we want to treat ourselves with a night away from the RV, we always try to find Starwood hotels in the area.
For our date night in Seattle, we used Starpoints to book ourselves a waterview room at the Westin Seattle!
I mean, LOOK at that view!
The location was prime – we were walking distance to Pike Place, the waterfront, Blue Acre, Bathtub & Gin, and so much more. As always, the staff was super accommodating, welcoming and willing to help us out with our luggage for the day while we were on the tour. The gym was super convenient too, although Pete obviously found an Orange Theory gym nearby 😉
All in all, it was the perfect place to stay for our date night in Seattle!
Normally, we try not to rush through cities or places we visit. However, with our work schedule and staying at an RV park about an hour outside of the city, we opted to just block out one full day and night to explore Seattle.
We are so thankful that we did the One Day Tour with Tours Northwest, because there’s no way we would’ve been able to see so much without them!
If you only have a limited amount of time visiting Seattle, we highly recommend checking them out! If we had an extra day, we totally would’ve gone on one of their Mt Rainer Tours too!
We really enjoyed our time in Seattle and can’t wait to go back. I’m sure there’s a few local favorites that we missed – and we’d love to hear YOUR favorite spots! Have you ever been to Seattle? Which must-see places would you add to our list?