24 Hours in Seattle
We were very lucky to have a bunch of family help us out with free places to stay for our time in Canada so we thought we would treat a few of them with a quick overnight trip to Seattle to say thanks (and plus, we were wanting another trip to the States before we left to go to the southern hemisphere).
Since we were going for just a quick trip we were leaving early on the Saturday. Dayna’s mum (or “mom” as she would say) was coming over on the ferry from Gibsons to pick us up along with Dayna’s sister Courtney and her boyfriend (also conveniently called Matt) who we were staying with in Vancouver. We bundled into the van and were on the road by 8am with the obligatory stop at Tim Horton’s on the way to the Peace Arch border crossing.
Crossing the border
I had been worried that crossing the border into the USA might take us awhile but I shouldn’t have worried – we were over the border with just a few minutes wait. I think the multiple cameras pointed at the car with facial recognition software might have helped speed it up. Or the fact the Canadian dollar has tanked lately and nobody is popping over the border for shopping trips anymore.
One of the things we were looking forward to in Seattle was just checking out the view of that famous skyline and the best place for that is Kerry Park, just north of the Space Needle, the most famous feature of the skyline. On our first stop there Seattle was living up to its reputation of raining all the time and we could barely make out anything – even the Space Needle wasn’t visible through the cloud.
We arrived early at our accommodation right by the Space Needle so we weren’t thinking we’d be able to check in and were just hoping to be able to park the car. Hyatt House scored some early points with us by ignoring convention and letting us check in before 11am, giving us a cheap car park for the night AND offering a free shuttle to the next sight on our list.
Pike Place Markets
We were spoiled for great markets in London but Pike Place Markets is an institution. It’s been around since 1907 and as we explored the huge number of stands with cool crafts, fresh fish and local farmer’s produce we could understand how it’s been around so long.
The quality of everything at the markets was so much better than the cheap tat that big touristy markets like this often get filled with. Dayna ummed and aahed over some of the jewellery but we didn’t end up buying anything to further weigh down our packs.
The only thing we struggled with was finding a top choice for lunch; we browsed a bunch of different places but we actually ended up right back where we started at the nearby Beecher’s for the self proclaimed “world’s best mac and cheese”. That is one huge title to claim but I would at least say it was a very good mac and cheese. It’s nice to be able to stand and watch the cheese being made right there at the store as well.
Along with Beecher’s being right by the Pike Place Markets, we also had one of the most famous cafes in the world to visit.
The Original Starbucks
I recently read “Pour Your Heart into it: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time” by Howard Schultz so I was excited to go see the original Starbucks store where it all started. A LOT of other tourists had exactly the same idea and the queue was winding down the street when we got there.
This store is well used to dealing with queues though so the wait wasn’t too bad for our coffees and we got to browse the old school merchandise on sale while we waited.
After getting pepped up on Starbucks we oddly crashed for a bit and made the most of our sweet hotel room’s comfy couch while waiting for the sun to set for our next stop.
The Space Needle
I struggled to get this name right the whole time we were in Seattle for some reason. I called it a lot of things: Sky Needle, Space Noodle, Sky Tower – anything that wasn’t Space Needle really. It was easy to find at least when you’re staying right next door.
We opted for a nighttime visit so we could get to see the city lit up in all its glory and weren’t disappointed. The main bunch of buildings stand far enough off that you actually get a pretty impressive view from the top and we spent a while in the cold taking photos and timelapses of the clouds rolling over the tops of the buildings.
It was worth the $22 to get up there.
After checking out of our hotel the next day we had a bit of time spare to check out what is actually the number 1 tourist attraction in Seattle according to Trip Advisor.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
I had never heard of Dale Chihuly before but he is a famous glass sculptor. His huge works of art transformed the way Glass sculptures were made and used so we couldn’t skip town without visiting his art gallery.
Dayna often finds that museums and galleries are a little too big and boring to sustain her attention for very long and we’ve sometimes not made it around some galleries but Chihuly’s was an exception. The rooms inside the gallery are set up with only a few large sculptures in each before you get to explore the garden outside that features flowers and glass sculptures integrated together beautifully.
I can see why it is the top attraction in Seattle. It cost $22 but you can get a combo ticket for $36 that includes the Space Needle next door.
24 hours is a short period to spend in any city but I think it actually didn’t work out too bad for us in Seattle. The fact that the main sights to see are all relatively close together meant we saw a lot in a short time. It’s a great city for a weekend trip!
More information on visiting Seattle from Vancouver
How long does it take to cross the border?
When we crossed the border at the Peach Arch the wait was no longer than 15 minutes each time but apparently 30 minutes isn’t uncommon and the wait can be longer. You can check ahead as there are live cameras on the line you can check at this site.
How long does the drive take?
It’s about 230km and about a 3 hour drive with the border crossing from Vancouver to Seattle.
Where to stay?
Seattle didn’t seem a great place for driving and touring with a car due to the lack of affordable parking options so I’d recommend staying somewhere central near the sights like Pike Place, the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. We stayed at Hyatt House and loved it. It was hard to find a place that could fit 5 people, was central and had parking and wouldn’t cost a fortune and this was the best option we found. They had affordable parking overnight, gave us a really early check in, had a free shuttle to nearby tourist spots, had a good breakfast included and a comfy, clean room.
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