While the cost to live in this Pacific Northwest city might be high, the price to be a tourist isn’t. Hopping with innovation (hello, Amazon!) and trend-setting art, culture and dining, it’s easy to build an itinerary for a long weekend in Seattle. Here's how to do it on a budget.
Where to Stay
Rates at Motif—a few blocks from Pike Place Market—plummet as low as $135 come fall. Its artist-in-residence program offers experiences you don’t normally get through a hotel stay (currently, glassblower Julie Conway at her nearby studio) and the rooftop restaurant/bar hosts bands (maybe you’ll spot the next Nirvana?) at night, and yoga in the early morning. Rooms are spacious—thanks to a $34 million renovation in 2017—and just got Alexa.
Want to live in luxury for a few nights? Rates at Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa, on the western shores of Lake Washington, 15 minutes from downtown Seattle in the connecting ‘burb of Kirkland, fall to $229+ in November (then $209 in early December), a deep dive from summer’s average rate of $369. Beach Café’s daily happy hour features $6-$9 apps (like tuna tacos) plus $6 glasses of wine.
What to See
Earlier this year, the Space Needle—built for the 1962 World’s Fair—unveiled a major $100-million facelift, including a rotating glass floor (dubbed “The Loupe’) and new restaurant. Use the $89 CityPASS and, by bundling with other attractions—like Chihuly Garden and Glass and Museum of Pop Culture, which are just steps away from the Needle—you save cash. For example, you’d pay $32.50-$37.50 for the Space Needle alone.
Seattle Spheres is one of those “only in Seattle” experiences, merging nature with technology. In January, Amazon introduced a trio of glass domes—like the kind you might find at a botanical garden’s conservatory—that function as social spaces for employees during the week and are open to the public for free on weekends (first and third Saturdays). Understory functions as a drop-in visitor center with exhibits about flora and fauna while the Spheres’ require a reservation through this link.
Nordic Museum's new contemporary building (open since May) hugs the waterfront near the Ballard Locks, which is another free activity, where you can witness the channel “unlock” to let boats through, and you even glimpse salmons swimming through glass windows. At the museum lies the country’s largest collection of artifacts related to Nordic immigrants. The $15 admission is waived on the first Thursday of the month.
Where to Eat and Drink
In late August, James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson’s culinary empire expanded to Deep Dive, a bar tucked into the Spheres. Emulating one’s living room—with little curiosities tucked into the built-ins and space for only 30—cocktails skew classic. The Whale Wins is another Erickson favorite for locals with its vaulted ceilings and farmhouse-chic aesthetic. Take a cut on menu items via happy hour (Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) when several items (like smoked herring on toast) cost between $4-$10 and select wines from its impressive list run $6-$7 a glass.
Everybody knows that a quick, affordable way to eat locally made foods in Seattle is a walk-around at Pike Place Market downtown. Some must-eats are Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (made on site) market, indi chocolate (also made on site, including bars of dark chocolate and bath-and-body-care items). A few storefronts down, the original Starbucks (in operation since 1976) sports the original mermaid logo.
Seattle’s distilleries are opening at record levels. At current count: about 30. Road Dog Tours offers tours of a handful of distilleries in one afternoon, and in a chauffeured van ($79).