What to do & See if you only have
1 Day in Seattle
As full time RVers we’ve found there is never enough time to see a destination. You are always left with feeling like you hadn’t seen enough or wish you could have done more. We’ve also found the longer you spend a city, the more money you typically end up spending, at least how we like to see cities (hint: it’s through food and drinks). So when we decided to visit Seattle on our RV we opted for a cheaper stay outside of the city on the neighboring, quieter and quainter island, Bainbridge Island. It would save us money camping, (RV parks in Seattle were outrageously expensive), was a lot calmer, and even had a commuter ferry for us to take into the city to spend 1 day in Seattle. While we realize we only got a taste of this unique city, we’re glad we could spend 1 day in Seattle and are here to show you all we did, ate, and saw!
Everyone will have different opinions on what you should do if you only have 1 day in Seattle. This is not a perfect guide to visiting the city, it’s simply sharing our experience from spending 1 day in Seattle. If you do want to see more extensive 1 day guide to visiting Seattle, click here. Don’t forget to take a look at this helpful guide on the 8 things to know before you go as well! closer to our budget in year two).
take a ferry ride
Even if you’re not staying on Bainbridge Island, taking a commuter ferry to one of the local islands within Pungent Sound is a unique and fun experience! We took the ferry from Bainbridge Island (we parked our truck on the island for $15 for the entire day), paid $8 roundtrip per person to hop on the ferry. 45 minutes later, we arrived in Seattle! The views of the skyline from the ferry were incredible. There are drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food available with two different stories to enjoy the ferry ride from. You have the option for indoor (climate controlled) travel, or outside air where you can feel the wind and smell the ocean. If you want to see all of the ferry options and schedule for each, click here.
pike Place Market
I think it’s pretty safe to say that every guide you will find will suggest this as the number 1 visit if it’s your first time to the city! It’s iconic Seattle. The market is actually a farmer’s market that has fresh produce, meat, fish, flowers, and goods for sale although it’s way more tourists than locals shopping here. Nonetheless, it’s 100% worth exploring, seeing, and enjoying. This is also where you can snap the perfect picture of a fish flying midair from one fish monger to the next! It’s such a fun way to start the day. If you took the ferry into downtown Seattle, you can walk to the market from the ferry shuttle drop off/pick up. It’s about 15 minutes and was a pleasant way to see the city up close vs driving.
Things to Know Before You Go: This market gets very busy. Make sure you go early, or later in the day to avoid the big crowds (although there will always be crowds). Also take a walk down the street outside of the market. There is a great cheese company, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese that does free tastings. Their peppercorn cheese is delicious!
visit the “gum wall”
Yes, it’s as disgusting as it sounds but you have to at least see it! If you’re visiting Pike Place Market follow the stairs to the left of the entrance (where the Public Market Sign is) down into the alley under the market. You will instantly know you’ve found it because you’ll start to see brightly colored blobs dripping from the walls! Tourists and locals have made it a tradition to chew gum and stick it to the wall the city just can’t escape from. Even though they’ve scraped the walls several times, within a few hours, it’s back and not going anywhere. Take a moment to look at the graffiti, stickers, and artwork that has also been placed on the gum wall. There’s some pretty cool images if you take the time to look.
Coffee is not just a “thing” in Seattle, it’s a way of life. In regards to American coffee culture, Seattle is the Mecca, the holy grail, the OG. You can of course go to the “first Starbucks” that was ever opened (although it’s not the original location anymore) across the street from Pike Place Market, but to really get a feel for the coffee culture we suggest visiting one of the thousands of coffee shops throughout the city. We recently made friends with another full time RVing couple who were Bainbridge Island & Seattle residents for nearly 15 years. They gave us the rundown of the coffee culture and suggested we get coffee at Cafe Vida. I have a feeling every resident has their favorite coffee shop that has “the best coffee in Seattle” since there are literally thousands to chose from. While we can’t claim it’s the best, we can definitely say it was delicious! We enjoyed a delectable almond croissant and spinach quiche with two lattes.
walk, shops, & eat in a nearby “locals” neighborhood
Since we had a friend who was living in Seattle at that time we visited. We had the opportunity to venture out of the downtown area and into the local neighborhoods that surround it. She took us to lunch in Queen Ann, which is an adorable (and massively expensive real estate area). I could have looked at those beautiful homes all day! After we went for a nice hike/walk in Discovery Park which has beautiful views of Pungent Sound. If you’re okay with climbing stairs the trek down to the waterfront is worth it. As you walk around the city make sure to look for the totem poles throughout. There is even a “Totem Pole Park” that has replicas of native totem poles as homage to this area’s native ancestral roots.
Eat amazing food
Since she had plans that evening, she dropped us off in the super fun, artsy area of Ballard. We walked around the neighborhood admiring the cute shops and restaurants. We decided to treat ourselves to a lovely meal out, and dined at Walrus and the Carpenter. It came highly recommended for sea food (which we were craving), and was absolutely incredible! We loved all of their unique dishes and the cocktails were super well balanced. To finish the night off right, we enjoyed a chocolate molten cake from Hot Cakes. They’re gluten free, organic, and scrumptious. Made with only four ingredients, chocolate, butter, eggs, and sugar you can enjoy a decadent desert guilt free (well almost guilt free). Seriously though – go there it’s worth every darn bite.
go up the space needle
We didn’t personally go to the space needle during our stay. It’s not because we didn’t want to go, it’s simply because it wasn’t at the top of our list in the limited time we had there. We’ve heard it’s a really cool experience and if you want to go but only have a day make this a priority! It’s located close to Pike Place Market so you can either walk or catch an Uber, Lyft, or taxi and enjoy the cityscape from 520 ft. up! Tickets are required which can be reserved online.
We are Dennis and Liz! We’re two travel loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America full time in a Grand Design fifth wheel toy hauler. We share our lessons learned as full time RV’ers, travel tips and tricks, and the best places to eat and see in the US with you!
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