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One Day in Seattle

Hello, and looking for some expert opinions on Seattle. My husband and I will have a full day (a Sunday) in Seattle (2 nights) in mid-June before we head out on a road trip to some of the PNW National Parks. It’s our second trip to Seattle, and on our last trip we visited Pikes Market, the Chihuly glass exhibit, and went up in the Space Needle. This time we are considering the Museum of Flight and/or the the MoPop and we’ll probably go Pikes Market for lunch. We do like museums but would doing both of these in one day be overwhelming? Seems like the MoPop has a focus on the grunge music scene of Seattle, which is of interest to us. Also we’ve heard about a Boeing Factory tour/experience but it seems to be closed at this time? The other idea we had was to take in the Mariners baseball game (day game since it’s Sunday). Are tickets to the Mariners generally easy to get on a walk-up basis (cheap seats)? Obviously we need to make some choices with our limited time, but is there anything else we should consider? Kind of looking for a “city” experience here since the rest of our trip will be more outdoorsy in the parks. We will not have a car for this day in Seattle, we won’t be picking it up until the next morning as we leave the city. So relying on public transit (we used the light rail when we visited last time).
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Posted by
16 posts

Current resident for 50+ years in Seattle area. Mariners tix are easy to get walk up (cheap seats). Just don't buy them in front of the stadium, go across the street. I highly recommend the Museum of Flight although to go through all the exhibits it will take quite some time. It's an extensive collection but well worth it. Avoid Pike Place Market. Not really safe down there right now. Too much drug crime. If you are here in the evening, check out jazz clubs downtown or on Capitol Hill area. Lots of good music venues. Walk the waterfront for lunch and you will see many great places for seafood lunch. It's all fresh and well prepared. Enjoy Seattle !

Posted by
254 posts

I respectfully will disagree with the previous poster--downtown is a little iffy right now, but Pike Place during the day for lunch would be totally fine. I would just recommend avoiding the Belltown area. I would expect it to be pretty busy on a Sunday in June though! Cruise ships are back. I think the MoPOP is worth a visit if you haven't been before and if the Seattle music scene is interesting to you. They often have some rotating exhibits as well that can be interesting. Mariners tickets should be very easy to come by so that's something you could decide to do last minute if the weather is nice. They recently made some updates to the stadium and I haven't been myself, but have heard that the food choices are quite good now. Haven't done the Boeing stuff so can't comment on that!

Posted by
108 posts

With some good public transit planning, logistically, both museums are doable in one day, but might be overwhelming as both are terrific and could take several hours each. Adding a stop for lunch at Pike Place Market might stretch your day to the limit. MoPop is centrally located just north of downtown and The Museum of Flight is several miles south of downtown in an industrial district. It’s accessible by bus, but the connections between the two may be limited on a Sunday. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d highly recommend MoPop, especially since you mention your interest in music.

If you do MoPop and you’re looking for more to do in the Seattle Center area, you can take a number 2 or 13 bus up to Highland Dr for the iconic, postcard city view from Kerry Park. Then stroll a few blocks west past Victorian mansions to another expansive view of the Puget Sound from Marshall Park and the Queen Anne Boulevard.

Other worthwhile museums that are not far from MoPop - The Museum of History and Industry on the southern shore of Lake Union, The Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor art museum that runs along the sound. And, just south of Pike Place Market is the Seattle Art Museum with a very eclectic collection.

As others have mentioned, there are some sketchy areas downtown, especially the Market area corridor between Pike St and Third Ave. The police presence in these areas have recently been increased. During the day, on a summer Sunday, there will be many other tourists and locals in the area. Just pay attention to your surroundings and you should be fine.

Posted by
76 posts

Thanks so much for the quick, informative replies. After refining our research this afternoon, we saw that the Seattle Symphony is playing a Gershwin concert (2 pm at Benaroya Hall) that is interesting to us. So tentatively thinking we may visit the MoPop when it opens at 10, then get lunch (pikes market?) then go to the concert. It looks like the hall is close to Pikes Market. So my new questions include:

  1. What kind of dress would be appropriate for the concert? We weren’t planning on anything too dressy since this is largely a National parks trip for us. Would black capris and a presentable top for me and maybe khakis and a golf shirt be ok for my husband? We do like to pack lightly and will have little/no need for fancy clothes for the rest of the trip.

  2. Is it a safe area to walk from pikes market to the hall (before and after a 2 pm Sunday matinee)? Seems to be in the questionable corridor that posters have mentioned. We would be taking light rail, as I mentioned earlier.

Posted by
13210 posts

Another respectful disagreement with post #1 about Pike Place Market. It is Pike Street that is sketchy, especially around the intersection of 3d and Pike. Pike Place Market is below 1st Ave. While it can be very crowded, even unpleasantly so, it is not unsafe. If it were, I would not have taken my grandchildren there two months ago.

However, while not “unsafe”, I think PPM is overrated as a tourist activity, particularly the fish-throwing spectacle. Fun to see, but not worth giving up other worthwhile activities. On the other hand, my favorite restaurant for lunch, Place Pigalle, is right there, so if you are interested in that you could pause on your way to watch the fish fly (if anyone is buying at the time).

There are lots of other good restaurants in and around the Market, and along the waterfront, especially if you enjoy seafood. Avoid the Crab Pot. Anthony’s Fish bar has a nice deck on the water by the cruise ship dock; you order at the window and then find a table. The menu is not limited to fried fish and chips.

https://www.anthonys.com/restaurant/anthonys-fish-bar/

The Boeing Museum of Flight is where we take our out-of-town guests, and they all love it. You can get there with Uber or by bus—-No. 124 goes right there from downtown, taking about 25-30 minutes. Looks like Sunday service is every half-hour:

https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/hastop/124.aspx

To get to the MoPop at Seattle Center, you could take the Monorail, or you could walk from the waterfront area on Alaska Way, up Broad Street. Check out the Olympic Sculpture Park on the way. The museum is just over half a mile from Pier 70 where the Olympic Sculpture Garden starts.

It would be a busy day, but it is certainly possible to do both, with lunch in between, if you do not spend too much time at your morning choice. We generally only spend 2 hours at the Museum of Flight but we don’t need to see it all—-we focus on the Great Gallery and the outdoor Pavilion area where you can walk through the planes, from the 1960’s Air Force One (a 707), to a Concorde SST, a 747, 787, and more. But if you want to see and experience all the space travel exhibits, etc. it will take longer.

I cannot say how long MoPop takes as we have only been once, 15 years ago, to see a special exhibit.

But if you do both museums you will miss the baseball game. . . . Choices, choices.

Do you need any help with the national parks, especially Rainier? There will still be snow at Paradise in mid-June, likely too much for actual hiking. It has been snowing up there the past few days—-you can check out the Paradise webcams to see how deep it is around the parking lot.

https://www.nps.gov/mora/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm

Posted by
13210 posts

I was writing at the same time as you, and just saw your change of plans.

The concert sounds like a great choice. You will be fine walking from Pike Place Market to Benaroya along First Avenue—-south on First from the Market to University, then up University to the concert hall. That will avoid the problem area at 3d and Pike (which isn’t much of a problem on a Sunday afternoon in any case; just avoid it late at night).

Seattle is very casual, and at an afternoon performance you will see people in everything from jeans and flannel shirts to “business” attire. It’s all OK. You won’t feel out of place in dark capris and a nice top. I am sure you don’t plan to wear your hiking boots!

Posted by
108 posts

Lola gave you spot on advice. The symphony is a lovely choice and a nice counterpoint to MoPop.

Posted by
5262 posts

Nothing wrong with the Pike Place Market, but you've been there before and there are lots of good places for lunch. The Symphony sounds like a good idea, better than the Mariners. I also like the Flight Museum. The Boeing factory tour is about 20+ miles north of Seattle at Paine Field, too far for your purposes.

If the weather's nice, you might consider riding a ferry to Bainbridge Island and back, about half an hour each way, just for the views of the water, city skyline, and mountains. Just walk on and enjoy the ride. It takes another half hour or so to load and unload the cars at Bainbridge; you'll have to walk off but can get back on for the return trip. They collect fare in only one direction (I forget which).

Posted by
254 posts

Speaking as someone who takes public transit in Seattle 5 days a week to work and is in fine health--you'll be fine, especially during the day.

Posted by
678 posts

So many great suggestions already, so I won't repeat them.

I do think the Argosy locks cruise is something to look at. We take visitors on that and even though we have done it many times, we still enjoy it. That is something you would need to buy tickets for ahead of time as it does sell out. The Ballard Locks are very interesting and it is fun to actually go through the locks on the boat.

The Mariner's games usually do not sell out (far from it, sadly), but if they are playing certain teams then yes it will be harder to get tickets. We used to have season tickets and gave them up a few years ago. If you want to see a game, you could go and even just stay for half of one. That would let you see the stadium and have the experience, but save on time to see other things.

The Boeing Factory tour is very good, but you are running out of time especially since this is north of the city. The Museum of Flight is a must though, IMO, even though it takes a bit to get to since it is not in downtown.

As mentioned, definitely avoid the Crab Pot.

For lunch or dinner, take a look at Ivar's Salmon House. It is not right downtown, but on the other side of Lake Union. They have their own parking lot though (no extra charge) with plenty of parking or you could Uber etc. Anyway, this location was built like a native longhouse and is quite interesting. Plus it sits right on the water so you get to watch all the float planes take off and land, boats go by, etc. The food is very good too, not edgy or anything, but very solid. It is again a place that we take visitors to and has always been a hit. If the weather is good, sit outside on the deck. They do have umbrellas on the tables so you can get some relief from the sun if need be.

Posted by
13210 posts

I will just say that Joe’s comments about Seattle do not match my experience. I was on a bus from downtown to my home last Friday and I saw ( or smelled) nothing amiss. Same with our numerous trips via light rail to Nd from the airport.

Regarding downtown safety after sunset, keep in mind that the mid-June sunset is around 9 pm or later, and it doesn’t get dark until 10. It is good practice to be cautious in any big city that late at night.

Leaving valuables visible in a parked car is ill-advised anywhere, whether in the city itself, the suburbs where I live, or at a remote trailhead. I don’t think Seattle has a problem nearly as bad as San Francisco in this respect—- both of our adult children who live in that city have had “smash and grab” attacks on their cars. We know to be very careful with our car when we visit that city. The only such incidents I have heard of in Seattle itself recently involve catalytic converter theft, not broken windows.

Since Barbara and her husband will not have a car in Seattle, and the advice was directed to “the parks”, I will address that more specifically. Car break-in at trailheads is a known problem here, as well as elsewhere (California, Oregon, etc.) It has been for as long as I have lived in Washington (over 30 years). Experienced hikers are aware and take precautions, leaving nothing in sight in the passenger area of their vehicle.

It is less of a hazard inside Mt. Rainier National Park, where one must pay an entrance fee to enter, and then generally they park in a large, well-populated parking lot at Paradise or Sunrise. But Olympic National Park and North Cascades NP consist of large remote areas that are served by public highways with no entrance fee, and trailheads may be accessed by lonely roads to remote parking areas. One should be especially cautious around Port Angeles, Forks and the ocean beach areas. Access to Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest areas require passing through an entry station with long lines and a fee, so the parking areas are much safer.

Posted by
836 posts

I will add my 2 cents as someone who lives about 40 miles from Seattle, rarely visits downtown Seattle but who has been twice in the last month. It's fine. The horror stories from the news are just part of the "you could be next" form of journalism. Lola's suggested itinerary is a good one. Pike Place Market and the Olympic Sculpture Park are safe during the day and a pleasant walk if sunny. The area around Benaroya Hall is also safe, especially during the day and especially on a performance day. Will you see homeless people? Probably. Will you see garbage? Yes. Drug activity? Maybe. It's a big city with big city issues.

Posted by
76 posts

Thanks so much everyone, for the responses-this has been so helpful!
@Lola, I especially appreciate your detailed walking directions to the concert hall from Pike Place Market. We enjoyed the market the last time, and just thought it would be a good place to grab a quick bite to eat. But maybe we’ll expand our horizons and try one of the other spots you mentioned instead.
I think we’re leaning towards the MoPOP Museum and the orchestra since it’s all downtown-probably a better use of our limited time that way. My husband is checking into tickets for the concert-looks like some are still available. I’m glad to know our business casual clothes will probably fit in well with the crowd. I’ll be sure to wear my sensible travel walking shoes rather than my hiking boots, haha.
I appreciate everyone’s opinions on safety in the city. As out-of-towners it’s something for us to be aware of. Overall it sounds like we’ll be fine, and we won’t forget that Seattle is a regular big city with city issues. Since we’ll be just in from the eastern time zone, I’m pretty sure we’ll be safely in our hotel room by nightfall, LOL, so not planning to wander around after dark.
For the national parks part of our trip (Olympic, Mt Rainier, and Cascades), I’ve been following the TripAdvisor forms pretty closely in my planning, and have also been warned about the trailhead smash and grabs by posters there. I know it’s a real thing. We are planning to store all extra items in the trunk (and not opening the trunk to prying eyes when we arrive at the trailheads). And also avoiding having all of our luggage in the car whenever possible. I know it’s too early for the higher elevation hikes, especially in Rainier and Cascades, but June works the best for our travel at this point in life. So we’ll spend a larger chunk of time at Olympic for hiking on the beaches and in the rainforests, both of which are new to us. In Mt Rainier NP we’re planning on some lowland hikes, and just enjoy the views from Paradise (staying one night at the Paradise Inn). For Cascades we are staying a night in Stehekin (sounds like a unique experience) and after that we’ll hoping to drive the Cascades highway, knowing that we probably won’t be able to do much hiking there bc of the mountain snow.
Thanks again for the insights!

Posted by
678 posts

Yes, Stehekin is a wonderful unique place. Be sure to stop at The Garden there. He grows amazing dahlias that line the rows of veggies. My describing does not do it justice. The bakery there is very good too and they are famous for their cinnamon rolls. I can vouch that they hit the spot on a long hike😉 If you have time, do the Agnes Gorge hike. Rainbow falls is a nice stop and look place that requires no effort.