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As Seattle can be a starting point for the unforgettable Rocky Mountaineer train, we wanted to bring you a fantastic itinerary of things to see and do in the area. If you’re planning on spending a couple of days in Washington’s largest city before embarking, this post is for you. From iconic locations to delicious meals, it’s all here in our 48 hours in Seattle guide.
For more fantastic Rocky Mountaineer guides, make sure to read our blog and check out the links throughout this article.
Our suggested itinerary
Morning – Enjoy the views from the Space Needle
Afternoon – Meet the local marine life at Seattle Aquarium
Evening – Dine at Taylor Shellfish Farms
Morning – Explore Pike Place Market
Afternoon – Get inspired at the Pacific Science Centre
Evening – An evening at the Pacific Northwest Ballet
Enjoy the views from the Space Needle
Image credit: Chad Copeland
Why not start your first day in Seattle by visiting its most iconic attraction? The Space Needle is an instantly recognisable part of Seattle’s skyline. From the top floor, 158 metres high, visitors can enjoy incredible views of the city, the sea, and the surrounding mountains. With delicious snacks available at the Space Needle’s café, a revolving glass floor, and jaw-dropping staircase, there’s so much to look forward to.
Insider secret: You can expect queues at this popular attraction, so be sure to buy tickets online in advance and scan the barcode on your smartphone as you enter.
Meet the local marine life at Seattle Aquarium
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Heading down to Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront’s Pier 59 would be a great way to spend your first afternoon in the city. A great option for all involved, the aquarium is a fun and exciting way to discover the incredible wildlife of the Puget Sound and ocean beyond. With daily activities, such as octopus feedings and diving shows, there is plenty to see and enjoy.
Keryn, from the travel blog Walking on Travels, spoke to us about her fond memories of the aquarium, telling us that it is the perfect Seattle attraction for a rainy morning, especially if you have young children: “The touch pools are a huge hit with kids, so be sure not to miss them. You could spend hours in this section of the aquarium, but don’t miss the large tank for the scuba diver chats either. Outside you will find the marine mammals and puffins, sometimes the highlight of the trip.”
Insider secret: You can watch the fascinating marine mammals like seals and otters from multiple vantage points–make sure to get a glimpse of them underwater.
Dine at Taylor Shellfish Farms
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Join us for a bowl of Manila clams at our oyster bars from now until Oct. 14th and a hundred percent of the proceeds will go to @forterranw to help raise money to protect vital shoreline, wet lands, and working forest around Little Skookum Inlet. 📷@idrew365 #TaylorShellfish #LittleSkookum #ManilaClams #Forterra #Seattle #TideToTable
The food is a memorable aspect of any trip. In Seattle, it’s all about seafood, especially the shellfish–a must-try when visiting the city. One of the best locations to enjoy this local favourite is at Taylor Shellfish Farms. At their Capitol Hill location, you can chow down on Northwest-grown oysters plucked right from the tank. This exquisite deli truly is the perfect spot to sit down and enjoy the freshest shellfish with expertly paired wine. You can take a look at their full menu here.
Insider secret: If you like this spot so much that you want to return the next day, head over between 2-4pm for their oyster happy hour.
Explore Pike Place Market
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On the second morning of your stay in Seattle, we suggest heading to Pike Place Market –a delightful location that overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront. One of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the US, there’s also a crafts market where you can pick up some charming mementoes of your visit. Perfect for a relaxing stroll and souvenir shopping, it’s even an ideal location for a bite to eat at lunchtime thanks to its many restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Sam, from the UK travel blog SOS Travel UK, recommends this location as a must when in Seattle: “Don’t miss Pike Place Market. Seattle’s original farmers’ market on the waterfront offers fresh baked goods, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, spices, seafood (home of the flying fish), crafts, music and international restaurants.”
Insider secret: Cheese enthusiasts will want to head to the corner of Pike Place and Pine to see cheese being made through the big glass windows at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
Get inspired at the Pacific Science Centre
The non-profit Pacific Science Centre is known for igniting curiosity for science. If you have a passion for discovery or just love a top-notch museum, you won’t want to miss it during your two-day stay. The family-friendly museum brings science to life, letting visitors explore the stars via the planetarium, enjoy the charming creatures of the Tropical Butterfly House, and even try awe-inspiring VR experiences.
Insider secret: You can easily spend all afternoon going through the exhibits but if you plan on enjoying the IMAX theatre or planetarium, try to devote more than a few hours to fit it all in.
An evening at the Pacific Northwest Ballet
Why not finish off your two-day stint in Seattle with style. The perfect way to enjoy your last evening is at the magical Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the top dance companies in the world. Putting on a variety of spectacular shows–both modern and classical–the performances housed at the beautiful McCaw Hall won’t fail to impress. If you are in town during the Christmas season, make sure to grab tickets to festive favourites such as The Nutcracker and Cinderella.
Insider secret: For the best unobstructed views, consider choosing seats in the Gallery sections, either side of the orchestra.
SEE ALSO: History of the Rocky Mountaineer
If you are planning on boarding the Canadian Rockies train, utilise our suggested itinerary for a truly memorable stay beforehand. As you can see, there are some exciting things to do in Seattle over a two-day period and these are only some of the many wonderful options available.