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5 Mistakes to Avoid when Visiting Seattle, Washington

Claudia enjoys traveling and bringing her travel tips to readers.

I would like to preface this article by saying that I've never been to a city that I didn't love, so I was sad to discover that, after a recent trip to Seattle, I think I've finally found one that I really don't care for, and it's all because of a few simple mistakes.

Over the summer, my family took a wonderful trip that we had been planning for many years. We spent two weeks in northwest Washington where we were completely awestruck by the beauty and grandeur. We stayed for 4 days in Olympic National Park, 4 days in Mt. Rainier, and a highly anticipated grand finale of 2 days in Seattle. Unfortunately our visit to the "Emerald City" didn't go exactly as we had hoped it would.

I thought I'd let you know what we did wrong, so when you are planning your visit to Seattle, you'll have a better time than we did.

5 mistakes to avoid when planning a vacation to Seattle Washington

5 mistakes to avoid when planning a vacation to Seattle Washington

Mistake #1: Staying in the suburbs

After spending an eternity looking around for a hotel in Seattle, we decided our best bet would be an option outside of the city. This was mainly because of the cost. Seattle hotels are expensive, and I mean really expensive, and because we didn't make our plans in time, any ones that weren't outrageous were booked.

We stayed about 10 minutes south of the airport, foolishly thinking that it would be easy to park our rental car at the train station, hop on a commuter train and be in the city in about 20 minutes. We were wrong. Commuter train stations don't have a huge number of parking spots so they were all taken long before we got there.

Having realized that the only way we were going to get into Seattle was by driving, we got on the road, I-5 northbound to be exact. Well my guess is that pretty much every other resident of the state of Washington was going into Seattle at the same time, so it took about 2 hours to get to a parking garage next to the Space Needle. By this time our nerves were frayed, my husband and I had gotten into a fight, and my daughter just wanted to go back to the hotel pool. We didn't even get to Seattle until 11:00 am, and we'd left around 7:30 am.

The lesson learned here is that it's worth it to spend more money and stay in the city. Check out some of the lesser known hotels and bed and breakfast places in town, and don't wait until the last minute.

The guitar sculpture hanging from the ceiling of the EMP museum in Seattle, Washington.  I cannot begin to count how many instruments make up this amazing art piece.

The guitar sculpture hanging from the ceiling of the EMP museum in Seattle, Washington. I cannot begin to count how many instruments make up this amazing art piece.

Mistake #2: Paying for attractions separately

Since we were parked next to the Space Needle, that was the first stop we made. We paid our entrance fee, went up, and got a breathtaking view of the city. After we came down we decided to head over to the EMP museum. The clerk asked us if we wanted to get the Seattle City Pass which we had never heard of. The pass gave us entry to the top tourist attractions of the city at a discount. We bought them, but only after we had already spent about $100 on the space needle.

If you are planning on visiting all of the top attractions, get this pass. It will be one of the best bargains you'll get.

5 bright spots in Seattle

AttractionReason

Space Needle

What a view. We were lucky to have spectacular weather.

Harbor Cruise

By far our favorite attraction. The cruise provided 1 1/2 hours of relaxation and a terrific view of the city.

Pike Place Market (after the rush)

Once we went back after the crowds were gone we were able to see the traditional fish toss and buy a few souvenirs before the stalls closed. If we hadn't been flying home in 2 days I would have gotten one of the gorgeous $5 flower bouquets.

Monorail

It may only be a few minutes, but it was fun, took us through a small part of the city and got us where we wanted to go for a small price.

EMP Museum

It's a hard place to describe, but it's one of the coolest museums I've ever seen and great fun for all ages.

The city of Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium from the vantage point of our harbor cruise.

The city of Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium from the vantage point of our harbor cruise.

Mistake #3: Planning at the last minute

Preplanning a trip is something I usually like to do, but for some reason all of our planning went into our visits to the national parks, not for the trip to Seattle.

Don't think you can see all of the sites on a whim but don't over plan either. Hotel rooms are hard to find, everything is more expensive than you think it will be, and everything takes about double the time you thought it would to see.

By not preplanning, we lost hours of sightseeing time and a lot of money. One of my dreams was to see the Chihuly museum so we thought we would cap off our first day by visiting it. Unfortunately it was closed that evening for a private function. Had I checked, I would have known that. I was able to peek inside the garden and see a few things, but the disappointment still stings.

The original Starbucks...bypass the wait, take a picture and head to another one close by.

The original Starbucks...bypass the wait, take a picture and head to another one close by.

Mistake #4: Visiting the original Starbucks

I love coffee, so one of the things I really wanted to do was visit the original Starbucks. Let me say right now, don't bother.

The line was huge, the place was small (I peeked inside after giving up hope of ever getting inside) and quite honestly, there is a Starbucks on pretty much every block of the city. Seriously, there are Starbucks everywhere in Seattle.

A better idea is to take a selfie outside of the original store and buy the souvenir coffee mug at another location. Also, find a little independent coffee shop to buy a cup of coffee, or some grounds to take home. There's no line, and I think the coffee is better. I'm still enjoying the cherry toffee coffee I brought home.

Pike Place Market in Seattle is full of sights and sounds, but is completely overwhelming at lunch hour during the height of the tourist season.  Wait until the late afternoon to visit.

Pike Place Market in Seattle is full of sights and sounds, but is completely overwhelming at lunch hour during the height of the tourist season. Wait until the late afternoon to visit.

Mistake #5: Going at the height of tourist season

While this one is a tough one to avoid since summer is a nice time to visit, and it's when most kids have vacation time, try not to go.

We went in late July and it was so unbelievably crowded that there were moments when we had to pause to catch our breaths. I think this surprised me more than anything since I love big cities. I've lived in New York City and Washington D.C. and I've never seen either one of those places as crowded as Seattle was on the day we visited. We asked the lovely lady at the Pike Place Market visitor booth if it was always that crowded and even she was surprised at the number of people.

Another mistake we made was visiting Pike Place Market at lunchtime. Don't do it, just don't. Go later in the day, shortly before the stalls are going to close. It's much emptier and you get a much better feel for the place.

I'd love to hear from you!

A view of the Space Needle from our harbor cruise.  What a great day to be on the water.

A view of the Space Needle from our harbor cruise. What a great day to be on the water.

Disappointment has slowly been replaced by the desire give Seattle another chance

We had planned to cap off our two week trip to Washington with a visit to Seattle for a couple of days. We had hoped to see the top attractions and visit parts of the city that weren't full of tourists.

After the day we had, we were left frazzled, exhausted, and sad. We never made it back into the city on the second day. Instead we choose to drive around to the other side of the sound and visit some quaint harbor towns. In hindsight, there were a number of things we should have done differently.

Having said all of this, and having had time to look back on that day, I'd like to go to Seattle again. I wouldn't go at the end of a long trip. I'd stay in the city and I'd be more realistic in my expectations. I'd explore the lesser known areas of the city and I wouldn't go during the summer. The only thing I wouldn't change is the weather we had: mid-seventies with a slight breeze and a few clouds scattered about a clear blue sky. That was perfect.

I bet if I go back, and not make the same mistakes, I'll like Seattle a lot more, and I can once again say that I've never been to a city that I didn't love.

© 2015 Claudia Mitchell

Comments

Steve Powell on September 08, 2020:

I'm planning to visit Seattle in 2021 so this review/guide is a real help, thank you. I'll be visiting in the quieter times to geta a real feel for possible relocation from England, looking forward to it.

Kathy Davis on July 02, 2020:

I am so sorry.Yes you did everything wrong. :) Do remember and try us again.

Talk to people who live here. We are hapy to help

Maybe it is fine though.....we really want people to think it rains a lot.

Nothing to do................Cali?

Kirsten on February 09, 2020:

Skip the harbor cruise and take the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island (don't mix them up and go to Bremerton by mistake.) It's $8 per person to go to Bainbridge and free to come back. Also a food tour through pikes place is so fun and you skip the lines. I recently moved to Seattle from Chicago and while I had an instant love of Chicago, Seattle is slowly growing on me. I didn't love it at first. Good luck on you next trip to Seattle!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 21, 2020:

Next time we go we will definitely stay near the public transit system. We were not near it and really had no idea. We've gotten such great tips from this article we are ready to go back!

Brian Richer on January 21, 2020:

Seattle has some of the best public transit on the west coast. Stay somewhere near a light rail station There's free parking about 1000 foot walk from all of the ones south of downtown. Every stop has a cool neighborhood to visit. You can easily get to downtown with stops at chinatown and the market. From there you can take the monorail to the needle, or the first hill and south lake union streetcars. The train also continues up through capitol hill and the University District for great partying and the best food in town.

Mandy on January 17, 2020:

We're planning a visit this year and I appreciated your tips which I'll incorporate in my planning. I'd like to know if you learned some great places to eat or activities while there.

Priscilla Schmidt on August 03, 2019:

I would love to see a travel guide that listed places to feed the conscience in between seeing the beauties of nature and human creativity. Where can I see things like

A. a drug rehab program that works,

B) foster care that heals rather than making a child's life worse,

C) help for the homeless that puts them solidly on the path to independence and happiness.

I love to travel, but sometimes I wish I could collect inspiration and compassion as well as fun and recipes to take back home to my family and church. That guide of vacation would enrich my soul and my brain, and give the kids something important to think about.

Gabriela Moreno on August 02, 2019:

To Gina Tucci. I am going to Seattle in mid August. What recommendations can you give me? As for as what i worth visiting? Transportation? Places to eat? Etc. We rented an air bnb by space needle

Kristen Gill from USA on July 25, 2019:

Thanks for your informative article. I used to live in Seattle, and agree with everything you mentioned about expensive hotels, lots of traffic, and having to plan ahead. It does have its gems, so I hope you get a chance to go back and do it differently next time!

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on May 18, 2019:

The Emerald City.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on May 17, 2019:

Hi Gina - Thanks for reading. I hope to get back to Seattle one day. I really want to explore it more. And I really want to go to the Chihuly museum when it's open!

Gina Tucci from Seattle on May 16, 2019:

Hi Claudia! I have to say, as a local, you are pretty spot on with your tips. Our usual commutes are at least 45 minutes into the City and that's only a few miles away. If you are still planning I'd be happy to answer any questions or give you some ideas. I'm not a travel professional or anything... just a big fan of my City and State :)

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 21, 2019:

I bet that would be lots of fun. Crowded too, but it would really give a taste of the arts of the area. Thanks.

Kelly B. on April 19, 2019:

As a resident of Seattle, I would suggest coming for Memorial day weekend. That's when the best festival of the year happens, it's called North West Folklife. All kinds of music and dancing, performing,world market, food, food and more food, drumming for everyone, a lot of vendors with all kinds of stuff you don't see everyday. The festival runs from Friday through Monday. Monday is the day you can get good deals on the market items.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 28, 2019:

I hope you have a terrific trip to Seattle. I hope one of my other readers can answer this. I think part of the decision of how to stay is what things you want to see. I know that had we not been so frazzled, we would have seen a lot more on our second day there. It also sounds like you are staying in the city, so that will affect your decision too. Have fun.

Paul (UK) on January 27, 2019:

We are planning to visit Seattle in early September this year. Your original article and all the comments have been very helpful in the planning of my trip. I meticulously plan things - how many days should we stay in central Seattle - we can manage 2 or 3? Thanks to you and everyone else.

Limpet on January 24, 2019:

TWO ENTERTAINERS I WILL ALWAYS EQUATE WITH SEATTLE ARE PERRY COMO AND PAT BOONE.

Lisa on January 13, 2019:

Thank you for this! I am researching for a mini getaway for about 3 days for mine and my husband's birthdays in February. I have been looking at hotels outside of the city. We are coming in from San Diego and already deal with the nightmare of downtown San Diego, but after reading this and looking at the map, most attractions seem to be all within walking distance. What is the best public transportation in your opinion?

David C. on December 05, 2018:

I lived in Seattle for 28 years. I've been to a lot of major cities in the United States , but nothing compares to the beauty of Seattle city skyline. The backdrops of the Sound and Mt. Rainier, the greenery. It's just unmatched. The people are for the most part friendly if they have to be. A lot of the times people seem so down though. I guess the weather doesn't help. There are a lot of tourist traps that can get very expensive. If you're looking for views the Columbia tower is much cheaper than the needle and also higher. I agree with the blog , Argosy is a must. Feed the seagulls at Ivar's on the water. Take a ferry to really anywhere for amazing views of the water and mountains. Anacortes to the San Juans is beautiful. Traffic is terrible. Not even just big city terrible , but you might as well walk because you'll get there faster. I think everyone should make it a point to spend a while in Washington/Oregon in their lives.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on October 31, 2018:

I really wish we had more time when we were there. I'm definitely thinking about a trip back with more city activities. Thanks for reading.

Mark on October 25, 2018:

I visited Seattle for three days in 1976 and on the third day decided to move here. I have never regretted it. I am an extreme homebody and miss Seattle (and my house and garden, of course) every time I go elsewhere, which is not often. Yes, the city is dirtier, more crowded, has terrible traffic and a seemingly intractable and severe homeless problem, but yet there is no place else I would rather live. I find it vibrant, I love its history (and it has so much) and what city has a more beautiful physical location, ringed by water and mountains. When you avoid your previous unfortunate mistakes the next time, I think you will love it also.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 29, 2018:

Thanks for stopping by Liz. The farther away from this trip I am, the more I really want to go back. Just need to find the time and funds. That part of the country is so beautiful

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on September 25, 2018:

I've been through Seattle, with my mom back in 1991, on our way to Canada. We stayed at a smaller motel outside of the main part of town, and it was late spring, not quite summer.

We met friends who lived in the area, and they took us to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, (location now reported as closed). It was in an interesting little center called John's Mill, or John's Bay, or something similar; the name was emblazoned on a (probably fake) antique water tower.

Since we were just passing through, with no plans to stop and sightsee, we didn't have any of the issues you described. That said, one of these days, I may go back on my own, and thanks to your article, 'forewarned is forearmed.'

Claudia Mitchell (author) on June 06, 2018:

Wow! It sounds like you had a great trip packed with loads of fun things. I definitely wished we'd planned it better. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

joyfuldog37@gmail.com on June 05, 2018:

We took our family to Seattle for a 5 day vacation. Planned 3 months in advance, we did use Seattle City Passes. We did rent a hotel in Tukwila Wa, 20 minutes south east of the Emerald City... did get a room at the Courtyard by Marriott by the Sea-Tac Airport. Our hotel was amazing served as a complimentary gourmet breakfast with our rooms for us and all of our children by the time we were finished eating our breakfast we headed out and the traffic was much more light going into the city and heavy coming out so we hit the Seattle Space Needle first the music museum and then hit the Pacific Science Center, those three in the same day because they're right next to each other walking distance. The next day we went to The Argosy tour when we got off the boat we had a wonderful lunch at Red Robin right off the pier great lunch wonderful energy, and next we walked right up the street to the aquarium that pretty much took up our whole day back to our amazing Hotel, next day we hit the zoo the Lynnwood Zoo had a wonderful day there. The last place we stopped was Pike's Place Market first thing in the morning just as the stores open there was not too people mostly business and shopkeepers opening up and preparing for their day, and a couple of musicians on the street. I mean headed back to Eastern Washington that was one amazing trip I did plan and itinerary before we left I knew exactly where we were going what we were going to do general cost backpacks for kids packed lunches from our cooler at the hotel and an occasional stop at a restaurant

Thomas on May 13, 2018:

These sound like your mistakes... Not Seattle's

Martha on January 14, 2018:

I have lived here 43 yrs I do not like o much traffic and like others get frustrated with too many people But it is still a nice place I am not in Seattle proper but on the outskirts but this is God's country changing though

Patty on November 25, 2017:

Update post Seattle weekend. WE LOVED SEATTLE! We did have a snafu with the hotel, Expedia forgot to book it

Patty on August 15, 2017:

I am very sorry bout your mis adventure! Hubby n I are on our way up there in 3 days, I will keep your suggestions in mind and heed your warnings. Hopefully everyone has gone back to school by now, lol. I hope you get back to the GNW soon

Claudia Mitchell (author) on July 20, 2017:

I love the Vancouver suggestion. Thanks! We definitely thought about that, but just couldn't make it work. I'd still love to get out there though.

As far as suggestions for the coast, it was all so beautiful, especially Olympic National Park, but that was a long drive. Have a great trip and thanks for stopping by!

James Flowerdew on July 20, 2017:

If you want to visit a city near Seattle that has a lot of the same characteristics vis-a-vis climate and scenery and is about the same size, I would recommend Vancouver, BC. You can stay in the cheaper suburbs and there is an extensive public transist system called the "Skytrain" that whisks you from the airport or suburbs to the downtown area cheaply and efficiently. They have an enormous park called Stanley Park that is right next to the downtown area that is surrouded by the sea. Like Seattle, Vancouver has a really interesting harbor but with the added bonus of having a fjord called Indian Arm running north 12 miles into the mountain wilderness from the inlet that forms the main part of the harbor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Arm. Additionally, our American dollar has a 30 percent advantage in Canada.

LadyB on July 19, 2017:

Thanks for this! We are headed to Seattle in mid September for vacation and to visit family. I have already booked our airbnb and am always on the hunt for more info!

We may drive out to the coast during our trip, can you recommend a fun place?

Jen on July 05, 2017:

When would you visit if you say to avoid big mid summer crowds like you experienced in late July?

Karen on February 26, 2017:

Raised in Seattle and work in the city! Our traffic will turn the nicest people into demons! Stay south of the city near the SouthCenter shopping mall. Do not take I5 ever, use airport way and always after 9am. Or, park at Sea-Tac Park at south 200th. Light rail has been expanded and will take you into the city while enjoying the sites of the suburbs. Late July until early September is the height of the tourist season. Stay away. May-July, bring an umbrella, it's just a drizzle or buy a cheap one here. You must visit our international district! Seattle is diverse! Enjoy!

Gardensofwa on February 25, 2017:

Here's an idea for people on a tight budget who want to see Seattle.

One of the best things to happen in this area recently is the rapid transit that now links Seattle and Tacoma. Between the two large cities are several smaller cities where the train stops: Auburn and Kent are old towns that have had growth spurts but still have downtown business districts that look like they are still in the 1950's. In these cities, housing is half or less than what you would pay in Seattle. There are hotels and motels an easy walking-distance from the train station; the trains will shoot you to Seattle or Tacoma in much less time than it would take you to drive. Tukwila is another stop on the route; it has less old-fashioned personality but the station is close to a big shopping mall. Auburn, by the way, has a mall called "The Outlet Collection". Worth a look.

Gardensofwa on February 25, 2017:

A tip for garden lovers:

If you want to see a truly spectacular garden without hordes of people, try Kubota Gardens in Seattle's south end. This is a beautiful Japanese garden started before WWII. The Kubota family ended up in a camp during the war but came back to continue gardening; it is now a city park. There is next to no publicity, no playground equipment, no dazzle that doesn't come from landscaping, pools and streams, or flowers. A lot of the care of the park is done by volunteers. There are quite a few weddings there, which gives the park a source of income. They also have plants sales.

Billie Kelpin from Newport Beach on August 14, 2016:

Great article! Helpful! I liked the personal point of view. Planning is everything, I found out, but I am definitely not a planner. I have very low expectations therefore when I travel!

This year, we visited my husband's son for just a day. He lives right in downtown Seattle. In spite of having been to Seattle several times, this was the first time I took the underground tour. It was interesting to learn how the city was built on top of the original and to view the structures. It was a bit less exciting than I anticipated but I am so glad to have gotten an overview of the history and to check this off my bucket list. So next time, you might want to try that tour. I like kls-Seattle's suggestion to take the trip to Bainbridge. Next time, I'm going to try to visit more of the islands because I adore the water, so getting there is half the fun for me!

Randy on August 12, 2016:

My favorite time to visit the Pike Place Market is in the morning when all the vendors and crafts people are setting up., say around 8 to 10 AM. Its magical.

Warren on August 10, 2016:

Not so easy to get around? Public transportation in Seattle is top notch. I live in Los Angeles and we are getting better but the busses there are better, get the app on your phone and it will tell you not only how and where but when. Not only that you have to give this city some real time, two weeks or more . The next time I am there I am going to try Airbnb. I do think you're correct your timing was off but if you go any other time it will rain. So I don't know what is more important to you.

LizM on August 10, 2016:

The problem was it was a sunny day. You not only had to maneuver through all the other tourists but also all the locals! Those of us who live in western Washington go a little crazy when the sun shines. While we love our rain, we are always overjoyed when the sun comes out to bless us. ;)

Jason on August 10, 2016:

I recently visited Seattle with my family and we somehow avoided all these mistakes. It was awesome,we all loved it and I would like to live there. Oh,I did wait in the line at the first starbucks and it was about 30minutes for me. I thought it was worth it just to say I'd been there.

Anon on July 12, 2016:

Go during Thanksgiving! My family and I went for four days during the Thanksgiving break. Although it's on the chilly side, there were much less crowds and we were able to watch the game in a small pub by the water.

Allison on June 11, 2016:

I've loved Seattle all my life. If you love quirky and crowded then go! If not go to quirky less crowded Portland.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on May 30, 2016:

That coffee was the best. Wishing I had some now and definitely realized that Pike Place was the wrong place to be in the middle of day!. Thanks for reading.

mary on May 22, 2016:

cherry toffee coffee?

don't eat at pike place market for lunch, too crowded.

thanks so much, sorry for your loss - u are still fortunate though!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 27, 2016:

Thanks Discordzrocks...I appreciate it.

Creeper from Aw Man on April 20, 2016:

nice hub, congrats on HOTD

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 16, 2016:

You are so right Kaili, we do all have a trip or 2 that didn't work out. I guess that the old saying "live and learn" applies here, but have rarely heard anything but good things about Seattle so we will probably give it another try sometime in the future. Thanks for reading.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 16, 2016:

Hi Bill - We are definitely considering going back but it will be a while before we do. We have a long list of places we want to visit. If only we could win the lottery and retire.....thanks for stopping by.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 16, 2016:

Hi Kristen - I appreciate the kind comments. I also hope folks find a little help from this article and have great trip when they visit Seattle. Have a good weekend.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 16, 2016:

Interesting limpet, I did not know that. Thanks for letting me know and for reading the article.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 16, 2016:

Hi Paula - Nice to hear from you. I'm finally getting around to responding because of weird computer problems. I would have let Bill know I was coming, but we were only in Seattle 2 days so didn't have the time. Next time I'll know better! As time goes on, I definitely want to go back, I just need to plan the trip better. Thanks for reading!!!!

Kaili Bisson from Canada on April 14, 2016:

Hi GTF...I think we can all say we have had similar visits to one or more places in our lives. Sometimes just luck and timing, or lack of both, can turn a trip into a horror show. I have never visited Seattle, but will be sure to remember your advice if I do.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 12, 2016:

Hi Glimmer. Congratulations on the HOTD. Well deserved. Seattle is one of our favorite places so seriously consider giving it another chance. And let Bill Holland know next time, nothing like having a local to guide and assist.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 12, 2016:

Glimner, congrats on another HOTD! This was a great travelogue hub for those who wish to go to Seattle. Hopefully your mistakes will prevent future travelers from making others for doing the same thing as you did for their trip. Hope you can go back someday to enjoy it. This is real insightful and full of interesting tips to make the most of your trip.

Ian Stuart Robertson from London England on April 12, 2016:

Co incidently, Sydney Australia also claims the title of Emerald City.

Suzie from Carson City on April 02, 2016:

Glimmer....Superb hub for anyone planning to visit Seattle. Very thorough and well written! I am shocked you only "thought" about telling bill you would be there! He's right you know, think of what he could have saved you. Plus just the opportunity for the 2 of you to meet.

I only know of Seattle what a friend of mine has told me, but she LOVED it. Bill seems to agree. Plan to go again? Peace, Paula

Claudia Mitchell (author) on April 02, 2016:

Kray - I'm trying to remember, it was at the Pike Place Market in an Italian Store on a corner, really near where they throw the fish. It was a 2 story store with coffee and wine upstairs. I think it was DeLaurenti's. Boy was that good coffee!!!! Thanks for reading.

Kray on April 02, 2016:

Where did you purchase the Cherry Toffee coffee?

Claudia Mitchell (author) on February 21, 2016:

Hi breathing - I hope this article helps people when they are planning their vacation and I thank you for stopping by to read and comment.

TANJIM ARAFAT SAJIB from Bangladesh on February 20, 2016:

Seattle is a very much anticipated place for most of the tourists. But by reading this post the tourists will be realty benefited by knowing how to make the journey a fruitful one. After all who likes to make a visit to a place like Seattle an awful one? You can enjoy the different historic and cultural places only when you are free of all kinds of problems and this post has guided us exactly how to do that. So if you are planning to go there, just list these thing in your to-do list and enjoy the tour.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on February 13, 2016:

Jodi - We definitely should have stayed in the area you stayed in. It would have made those days much better. Oh well, live and learn as the saying goes. I'm thinking I'd really like to go back now. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jodi on February 13, 2016:

I visited Seattle in September, and didn't want to have to rent a car. I stayed halfway between Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. Best decision ever. I was able to walk to everything but the Fremont Troll/Theo Chocolate factory, and loved the city. I would love to go back. Fyi, I was traveling alone so the walking might not work for everyone.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on January 25, 2016:

Thanks Leslie Kay - I hope you and your mother have a nice visit. The Underground tour was on our list for the 2nd day but because we didn't go back in we didn't get to do it. I've heard good things about it. I'm not sure about what kind of accessibility the sites in the city have. Thanks for reading.

Leslie Kay on January 25, 2016:

Great Article ! Mother is coming for a visit. Plan to pick her up at airport and spend the week in Seattle doing the tourist attraction thing. Neither of us have seen anything in Seattle. I wondered about the Underground City if that was a must see or not? I am disable, so I know we will run into snags along the way just because of that. So we are really trying to have all pre-planned so we can ready set go when we get there.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on October 29, 2015:

There is definitely Bill for next time and you are right, every city has it's peculiarities. I've lived in DC and NYC and love them both, but have talked to folks who totally don't get them. Thanks for stopping by!

Mary Craig from New York on October 25, 2015:

Unfortunately we all learn from our mistakes, however, you sharing your mistakes makes it easier for everyone else. It sounds like a great city and any city has its peculiarities and busy times. Being prepared always makes it better.

Of course, there's always Bill!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on October 05, 2015:

You are right travmaj, it shouldn't be that big a deal going somewhere without too much planning, but boy, this time it just didn't work out for us. Hopefully you'll make it to Seattle some time and then let us know how you liked it. Thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on October 05, 2015:

Hi FlourishAnyway - Interesting that you wouldn't vacation there and lucky that you were able to see the main sites on the company dime. That would have been nice for us, but maybe next time. Thanks for reading and commenting!

travmaj from australia on October 04, 2015:

It's always the way isn't it? I've done similar things by not researching before I travel. But in theory it ought to work. You make some most valid points and it's refreshing to read of a trip that didn't quite make it. I've never been to Seattle but I'll remember your advice.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 04, 2015:

I went there several times on business during November/December. I was able to stay in the heart of the city and catch the sites I wanted to see on the company's dime. It's not a place I would vacation, however.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 27, 2015:

It always helps to have a friend in a city. We did look at small rental apartments but since we were only there 3 nights it wasn't so easy to find. Ah well, next time will be better. I appreciate the visit.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 27, 2015:

Hi Jeannie - I'm now pretty sure that everyone thinks Seattle is a terrific city so I am pretty sure I'll be heading back someday. Just not sure when. I'll be staying in the city too! Thanks for stopping by.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on September 27, 2015:

I went to Seattle once, and had a grand time. I stayed with a friend, which made all the difference in the world. The traffic is always bad, but not much you can do about that. Check with a realtor, and many times you can get house rentals for short periods at a reasonable price. Then use public transport.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on September 27, 2015:

Thanks for sharing this information. I've never been to Seattle before, but my husband assures me it is one of his favorite cities in the world. He longs to go there again one day. I hope to at least visit it, but I will definitely stay in the city now after reading this.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 27, 2015:

Hi sajupalu - The hotels are definitely expensive but it's worth it to spend the money so one can stay in the city. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 27, 2015:

Bill - The underground museum was on our list, but since we didn't go back in the 2nd day we didn't get to it. The Klondike museum would have been interesting. We did enjoy the Museum of Flight, but that was by the airport. Lesson learned, but thankfully the majority of the trip was glorious. Thanks for reading!

Sajesh from India on September 24, 2015:

Thanks for signifying the mistakes generally done by new visitors. I think main problem of Seattle is finding a good place to stay, as the hotels are too much expensive. If anybody wants to pay a visit there, he or she must be certain about this problem and manage accordingly.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 23, 2015:

Hi Glimmer. Sorry Seattle didn't work out as planned. My brother and his family live just outside Seattle and we have visited numerous times. It's a wonderful part of the country and we have come to love Seattle. It does pay to know someone there to help avoid the mistakes. We've been to many of the places you mentioned and loved them all. Next time try the underground tour and visit the Klondike Museum. If you like baseball try to take in a Mariners game, wonderful ballpark.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 22, 2015:

Wow kls-seattle - You have loads of info on the city. Thanks for all of the hints. I will go back someday, just not sure exactly when. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Hopefully you guys have gotten rain since we were there. It was all over the news that it was so dry and I've seen the coverage on all of the wildfires out that way. Not sure if the city itself had gotten any respite.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 22, 2015:

Thanks Blossom! It's funny how one can imagine how a visit to a city is going to be marvelous and then it kind of falls apart. Unfortunately that does happen some times, but I'm still glad I got out to the Pacific North West. Now I just need to go back some day. I'm glad you stopped by!

kls-seattle on September 22, 2015:

Sorry to hear about your trip. Hope you try again. I live in Seattle in the Ballard neighborhood.

One option if you find the hotels too expensive is to look for apartment/condo rentals. You can look at listed rentals on TripAdvisor or use AirBnB. As alternatives to downtown you can try nearby neighborhoods like Capitol Hill or Queen Anne. Make sure you map search wherever possible and determine for neighborhood listings how you will get into downtown. Most neighborhoods have easy bus service to downtown.

If you plan in advance consider the Silver Cloud hotels (there are three locations on the peripheries of the downtown core -- in First Hill/Capitol Hill, South Lake Union and by Century Link field). They all get good reviews on TripAdvisor (ranked #11, #12 and #16 respectively) and have relatively good pricing. And they offer a local shuttle.

The Homewood Suites is also a possibility. It is just east of the Convention Center. Technically it is not downtown ... it is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. But it is still walkable to Pike Place Market and other sites downtown and has the advantage of being close to all of the restaurants in the Pike/Pine corridor.

And dovetailing with your experience at the oldest remaining Starbucks The Homewood Suites is extremely close to the Willy-Wonka-esque Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. The oldest Starbucks has only a tiny bit of character given that the market has restrictions on what can be done to spaces but keep in mind it is not the original Starbucks (regardless of what it was called). The original was on Western Avenue a few blocks away. It is long closed.

By the way there are some good local coffee shops affiliated with locals roasters all over downtown -- like Fonte across 1st Ave from Seattle Art Museum or Seattle Coffee Works on Pike just east of Pike Place Market. Cafe Ladro is a chain of cafes associated with a local roaster as well. They have a location between the market and the art museum just off 1st Ave. In Pioneer Square are Elm and Umbria. On Capitol Hill there are numerous indie coffee shops like Victrola and Bauhaus. More and more places are offering multiple options for brewed coffee like French Press or other pour overs like Chemex or Aeropress or clover. Seattle Coffee works offers six options in their slow bar.

Regarding the Seattle CityPass I don't necessarily recommend it unless you are going to really do most of the things on the pass and I wouldn't necessarily recommend getting it every time you are in town as some of the attractions are really things that you wouldn't want to do on every trip. Amongst other things it includes a day/night visit at the Space Needle when most people would pay less for a single visit. It makes you choose between EMP Museum and the zoo and it makes you choose between Pacific Science Center and Chihuly Garden and Glass (basically it makes you choose between two attractions oriented to your kids and attractions oriented towards adults). And it no longer includes the excellent Museum of Flight. Also keep in mind that some attractions participating in the pass have packages with other attractions like Argosy and the Aquarium have their own discount package deal as do EMP and the Space Needle. But noting that the CityPass always includes the Space Needle and Argosy Cruise and aquarium I wonder whether those are things most people would want to do on each visit. For an on-water experience I would take a public ferry ride to Bainbridge Island and back or take the West Seattle Water Taxi. Instead of doing the Space Needle O-deck again do the much taller Columbia Tower or the historic Smith Tower (or book lunch at the rotating Sky City at the Space Needle, which includes a visit to the O-deck after your meal).

In terms of avoiding crowds that is getting harder and harder but the absolute peak season spans July and August. You can shave off dollars and crowds by trying May/June or September/October. The latter will still enable you to get up to Paradise at Mt. Rainier (you can go up in May/June but typically the subalpine areas are still melting out). Also count on more rain in both shoulder seasons than in July or August. But there are some interesting things going on all year round in Seattle. Over Memorial Day weekend is the huge Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. The Seattle International Film Festival with its hundreds of offerings runs from mid-may to mid-June. Ballard has its large Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) parade and associated events on May 17 . At the Summer solstice Fremont has its massive and funky Fremont Solstice Parade and Fremont Fair. September and October are quieter but there are several local music fests, film fests, and Fremont Octoberfest.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on September 21, 2015:

Like you, I didn't plan well enough and was disappointed, not with what I saw, but with what I'd hoped to see. Obviously planning is important as it's not so easy to get around when there are crowds of people. I hope you have the opportunity to go again and wish you a great visit next time.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 21, 2015:

Hi Robin - I know, I definitely need to give it another chance and the rest of our trip was perfect! You are probably right, these mistakes probably apply to every big city. I do love San Francisco, loved it the minute I was in the hotel. I'll let you know if we ever go back. Thanks for reading and commenting. The more people tell me how great it is the more I want to give it another shot.

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on September 21, 2015:

I feel like every big city needs to be visited at least twice. You have to get the major attractions out of the way to really see the heart of the city. Seattle is one of my favorite cities in the world; the people, the food, the landscape. I hope you go again. If you do, we can chat. We lived there for four years and know the hidden gems. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think the mistakes you made apply to traveling to most big cities.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 20, 2015:

Hi tirelesstraveler - It will be a while, but I will go back. Sounds like your son had a good visit and honestly while we there, we did not get any rain, bad for them, but great for us. Next time we'll stay in the city, that's for sure. I like California when I went. I was in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Now San Francisco, that is a great city. I could have packed my bags and moved there in a heartbeat! Thanks for sharing and reading. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 20, 2015:

See Donna - We definitely should have stayed in the city. I think that would have made all the difference. I have never heard a bad thing about the city. All that being said, it was still a great couple of weeks and that area of the country is unbelievably beautiful! Thanks for reading.

Judy Specht from California on September 20, 2015:

Bummer. Seattle is a lovely city. My son was there last month to visit his friends. They picked him up at the airport and drove him to where they work. Said," Be back when we get off at 5". He did the city on his skate board with his phone for his guide. Had lovely weather, but determined he couldn't live there. No matter what kind of lovely job his friends found for him. He loves rain, but he likes sunny California better. Friends were in Washington for Moose Fest also and they chanced a drive into the city and got seriously lucky. They grew up there so they at least knew what a chance they were taking. Yes, you need to go back. Going to share. This is a really good article.

Donna Herron from USA on September 20, 2015:

Sorry to hear you had an unpleasant trip, but I can see why. I went to Seattle a few years ago and had the most amazing time. I went in early May and the weather was just wonderful. It was sunny and in the mid-70s the entire time I was there (rare, I know). I stayed downtown and walked almost everywhere, including Pikes Market and Pioneer Square. I took city buses to go to the Space Needle and up to the University of WA campus. Too bad your trip did not go better, but now at least you know what to avoid! Thanks for sharing your experience!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 20, 2015:

You hit the nail right on the head Nell! It just didn't come together like we had hoped it would, but the majority of the trip was marvelous so we really can't complain too much! If you ever visit you ought to go to the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for stopping by!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 20, 2015:

Thanks teaches - We definitely were able to squeeze a lot into that one day so we were exhausted by the end of it. It was also a beautiful day weather wise so that helped and may have been one of the reasons it was so crowded.

Nell Rose from England on September 19, 2015:

Yep I have had a few trips like that too! it starts out well and then goes downhill! lol! just things go wrong, and even though the place itself is fine it just doesn't meld together properly, but at least your tips here will help others and I am sure it will be great the next time you go. I had to look it up, I wasn't sure where it was in America, but the photos look great, so yes I would definitely visit, but take your advice before we do!

Dianna Mendez on September 19, 2015:

I've never been to Seattle but would love to make the trip one day. Your tips will help me not make the same mistakes. It looks like you still managed to see some interesting places. The photo of city and space needle is impressive.

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 19, 2015:

Wow RTalloni - At $5 a bouquet I would have bought a whole bucketful. It definitely helps to know someone in a city and I'm glad you like the city. The more I read this and the comments the more I'm convincing myself to give it another shot. Now I just have to save up my pennies! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Claudia Mitchell (author) on September 19, 2015:

Hi Bill - I thought about letting you know, but we were all over the place and weren't quite sure about time tables. As I was writing this I really convinced myself to give Seattle another shot because there were some bright spots. All I've ever heard were great things so I/we were so surprised at the outcome. As for Mt. Rainier, well, words cannot adequately describe its beauty. The wildflowers were in bloom and we saw a marmot, which may not seem exotic to Washington state natives but was a treat for us, even though they look just like our groundhog. Olympic's coast was inspiring, just amazing. We really did have a wonderful trip but blew it at the end. Thanks for reading!

RTalloni on September 19, 2015:

These are great tips for anyone planning to visit this city! Your learning experience is a real benefit to others.

When I fly in I grab a rental car and go north for a night before going farther north. Grands are my goal… :) but it's been neat to visit the city a bit with them. And a blessing to have my daughter's experience to guide me!

If you had purchased a bouquet it could have been one of my hers! She is in the business and sells there.

Glad you might be able to go back and take advantage of what you learned from the first trip. Who knows, we might cross paths. ;)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 19, 2015:

Well the biggest mistake you made was not telling me you would be there. I could have saved you all the headaches and given you a tour you would have seriously enjoyed. I went to school in Seattle, lived and worked there for seven years, and I love that city...but you managed to make just about all the mistakes possible while you were there. :) Next time call me.

I'm glad you enjoyed Mt. Rainier, though...that's a church to me.