Seattle is a city known for its thriving music scene, lush green spaces, and fresh seafood. If you're looking for a quick escape from your busy life in Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia, or somewhere further away, it’s hard to beat a Seattle weekend trip.
With so many neighborhoods to explore, choosing where to stay and what to do can be overwhelming. That's why we've put together a guide to help you make the most out of your three-night trip to Seattle, taking you on a journey through the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods and recommending the best activities, restaurants, and hotels in each area.
Quick Answer: Best Weekend Getaways In Seattle
Whether you're looking to entertain your kids, relax by the water, or enjoy international dining, Seattle has something for everyone’s perfect weekend.
Most Popular Neighborhoods in Seattle
- Best for People Without a Car - Downtown
- Best for Foodies - Capitol Hill
- Best for Families - Ballard
Cool & Unique Areas of Seattle
- Best for Asian Influence Admirers - International District
- Best for Beach Bums - Alki Beach
- Best for Day-to-Night Entertainment - SoDo
- Best for Pet Owners - Montlake
- Best for Nature Lovers - Magnolia
- Best for Those Seeking Quiet - Leschi
- Best for Animal Lovers - Phinney Ridge
Most Popular Neighborhoods in Seattle
Seattle is a city with many unique neighborhoods, each with its own charm and character, but there are a few areas that stand out as the most popular among visitors and locals alike. These are some of the best neighborhoods in the city that you don’t want to miss on your trip when you visit Seattle.
- Perfect for: People without a car
- Highlights of Downtown Seattle:
- Dozens of attractions nearby
- Easy access to public transportation
- Plenty of hotel options
- Walking distance to a variety of restaurants
How to Get to Downtown Seattle
Downtown Seattle is easily accessible by car, bus, and light rail. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is located about 14 miles south of downtown and is accessible by light rail. Once in downtown Seattle, visitors can easily navigate the area on foot, by bike, or by using public transportation.
Things to Do in Downtown Seattle
Downtown Seattle is home to some of the city's most famous landmarks, all within walking distance of each other, including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market (a must-see spot), and the Seattle Great Wheel. Visitors can also explore the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood or take a stroll through the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Those interested in art can visit the Seattle Art Museum or the Museum of Pop Culture for a dose of culture, especially welcome on a rainy day. Downtown also hosts the Amazon Spheres, an ultramodern office building that is open for public tours on the first and third Saturday of each month.
If you want to step out of the city for a day trip, you can access ferry rides in the bay and to other parts of Puget Sound from the downtown Seattle Ferry Terminal, located on the Seattle waterfront near Pike Place Market. From there, ferries depart regularly to destinations including Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, and Whidbey Island, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the region and its charming small towns on a weekend trip to Seattle.
Where to Stay in Downtown Seattle
The downtown area has a wide range of accommodations to choose from, including luxury hotels, boutique hotels, and vacation rentals perfect for a weekend getaway in Seattle.
I recommend this Airbnb Condo, which is located close to all major attractions and offers beautiful views of the Space Needle from the bedroom window.
If you’re looking for luxury, the Edgewater Hotel is a perfect choice. The only true waterfront hotel in the Seattle area, the Edgewater Hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the view of Elliot Bay in the hotel’s lobby, lounge, and Six Seven Restaurant.
2. Capitol Hill
- Perfect for: Foodies and young adults
- Highlights of Capitol Hill:
- On the Light Rail line
- Great nightlife and dining options
- Diverse arts and culture community
- Beautiful views of the city
How to Get to Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill is easily accessible by light rail, bus, or rideshare. The Capitol Hill Station is located on Broadway, and is part of the Sound Transit Light Rail system, providing easy access to and from the airport and other destinations throughout the city over your long weekend.
Things to Do in Capitol Hill
If you’re wondering what to do in Seattle for a weekend, head over to Capitol Hill. This is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood located just east of downtown Seattle known for its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, and bars. Visitors can explore the many local boutiques and vintage stores, grab a bite to eat at one of the many acclaimed restaurants, or grab a warm drink at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery.
Visitors can also check out local art galleries and street art murals, as well as check out the neighborhood favorite bookstore, The Elliott Bay Book Company. Additionally, Capitol Hill is known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ community, with many gay bars, nightclubs, and events taking place in the area throughout the year.
Where to Stay in Capitol Hill
There aren’t many hotels in the heart of Capitol Hill, so I recommend staying in an Airbnb if you want to be right in the middle of the action, especially if you’re only staying three nights in Seattle.
This cozy basement floor unit sits on the edge of Cal Anderson Park, giving you a little peace from the bustling nightlife outside. With over 500 positive reviews, it’s a safe choice for any visitor.
If you prefer a hotel, the Seattle Gaslight Inn is an elegant, adults-only option great for a short weekend stay. Each room is unique, but all offer luxurious amenities like balconies or fireplaces at a moderate price.
- Perfect for: Families with young children
- Highlights of Ballard:
- Quiet and safe
- Close to the water
- Some of the best dining in the city
- Close to downtown
How to Get to Ballard
Ballard is located about 15 minutes north of downtown Seattle and can be accessed by car, bus, or public transportation. The light rail can be taken to Pioneer Square, where you can transfer to a bus for the remainder of the journey. While buses can get you around the Ballard area, we recommend renting a car for the easiest and quickest method of transportation if you plan on visiting this spot.
Things to Do in Ballard
Ballard is a popular neighborhood in Seattle, known for its maritime history and Scandinavian heritage. Its safe and laid-back vibe is perfect for parents with small children who don’t necessarily want the hustle of Downtown or Capitol Hill.
Visitors can explore the famous Ballard Locks, which connects Puget Sound to Lake Union, and watch as boats pass through the canal. The neighborhood is also home to the Ballard Farmer's Market, which is open year-round on Sundays and offers fresh produce, artisanal foods, and handmade crafts.
For those interested in history, the Nordic Museum offers exhibits and events that highlight the culture and heritage of the Scandinavian community in the Pacific Northwest. Finish the day with a warm bowl of clam chowder from Ray’s Cafe.
Where to Stay in Ballard
Like Capitol Hill, Ballard doesn’t have too many accommodations, but there are a few good options for families who want to stay close to the major attractions if they just have 3 nights in Seattle. If you’re looking for an accommodation option big enough to fit your entire family, I suggest renting this Airbnb. It sleeps up to five guests and is located just a short walk from the major attractions in Ballard.
I recommend staying at Ballard Inn, which is located within walking distance of the Ballard Locks and the Nordic Museum, making it perfect for visitors. This historic hotel is also located right on Ballard Avenue and is close to a variety of dining options.
Cool & Unique Areas of Seattle
Each area of Seattle has its own charm and vibe. The International District highlights the Asian American experience, while Alki Beach is quieter than most parts of the city, and SoSo, short for South of Downtown, is a great place for sports fans. Here are some of the most interesting neighborhoods depending on your lifestyle and preference.
4. International District
- Perfect for: Exploring Asian culture and cuisine
- Highlights of the International District:
- Easy to access on public transportation
- Delicious Asian cuisine around every corner
- Hosts cultural festivals and events
- Close to Downtown Seattle
How to Get to the International District
The International District is located just southeast of downtown Seattle and is easily accessible by car, bus, or light rail. The International District/Chinatown Station is located on the light rail line, which connects downtown Seattle to SeaTac International Airport.
Things to Do in the International District
The International District is a bustling neighborhood that showcases Seattle’s diverse Asian culture and history. It’s a must-see spot for any weekend getaway in Seattle.
Visitors can explore the historic Wing Luke Museum, which is dedicated to the Asian Pacific American experience and features interactive exhibits, guided tours, and community events. The neighborhood is also home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and bakeries, offering authentic Asian cuisine (don’t skip a visit to Dough Zone Dumpling House for tasty dim sum) and unique gifts and souvenirs. You’ll find the best Asian food in the PNW here, so be sure to stop for at least one meal.
The International District is also home to the Uwajimaya Asian grocery store, a local favorite that features imported goods and fresh produce from across Asia. For those interested in exploring outside, Hing Hay Park offers a peaceful escape from the city and is a great place to people-watch.
Where to Stay in the International District
The International District is relatively small and has limited accommodation options. If you want to stay in an apartment, I recommend this Airbnb located right next to Lumen Field. It’s just a couple of minutes on foot from the International District and offers beautiful skyline views of the city to the north.
If you want a beautiful cultural experience, I recommend staying at the Panama Hotel, a historic hotel that was once a popular Japanese bathhouse and now features beautifully restored guest rooms and a Japanese tea room in addition to a Japanese American Museum.
5. Alki Beach
- Perfect for: Beach bums
- Highlights of Alki Beach:
- Quieter than most parts of the city
- Popular for biking and rollerblading
- Features the nicest beach in Seattle
- Great views of the Seattle skyline
How to Get to Alki Beach
Alki Beach is located in West Seattle and is accessible by bus or rideshare from the downtown area. The most convenient way to get there is to take the Water Taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle, then take a bus or walk to the beach. If you plan on visiting other parts of Seattle during your trip, we recommend renting a car if you want to be based near Alki Beach.
Things to Do in Alki Beach
Alki Beach is a popular destination for visitors looking to soak up the sun and enjoy stunning views of the Seattle skyline. This long stretch of sandy beach is perfect for beachcombing, picnicking, and swimming in the summer months, or for anyone bored and wondering what to do in Seattle for a weekend. Visitors can also rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or bicycles to explore the scenic Alki Trail, which stretches for two and a half miles along the waterfront.
If you prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes along Alki Avenue and in the surrounding area that offer delicious seafood and other local specialties. Alki Beach also boasts a number of public art installations, including the Alki Statue of Liberty, which is a replica of the famous statue in New York City.
Where to Stay in Alki Beach
Alki Beach is quiet and residential, which means there aren’t any major hotels nearby. Because of that, we recommend renting an Airbnb close to the beach for a truly local experience.
This guesthouse is located on the south side of Alki Beach and is perfect for solo travelers or couples. In addition to a kitchenette, it features a private garden area that is beautiful during the spring and summer.
If you want to stay on the north side of the beach, this Airbnb is another great pick. Just steps away from the beach and close to a variety of shops and restaurants, this cozy apartment is perfect for three nights in Seattle.
- Perfect for: Day and night entertainment
- Highlights of SoDo:
- Home to Seattle's professional sports stadiums
- Hosts many winery tasting rooms and breweries
- Walking distance to Downtown Seattle
- Right next to the water
How to Get to SoDo
SoDo is located just south of downtown Seattle and is easily accessible by light rail, bus, or rideshare. The International District/Chinatown Station on the light rail system is just a short walk from T-Mobile Park and Lumen Field. If you're coming from the airport, the light rail is a convenient option that will take you directly to SoDo in around 30 minutes.
Things to Do in SoDo
SoDo, short for South of Downtown, is an industrial neighborhood that's home to some of Seattle's biggest sports venues, including T-Mobile Park and Lumen Field. Sports fans can catch a game or tour the facilities, while beer enthusiasts can explore some of the city's best breweries and taprooms.
In addition to sports and beer, SoDo also has a thriving arts scene. Visitors can check out the galleries and studios at the Inscape Arts Building or visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which offers exhibits and artifacts related to the 1897 Gold Rush.
Where to Stay in SoDo
The biggest advantage to staying in SoDo is being able to walk to Lumen Field or T-Mobile Park for a game (and avoid the rush for the train after). There also are not any hotels or apartment rentals south of the stadiums in SoDo, so it makes sense to stay up north, especially if you only have three nights in Seattle and want to be close to everything.
If you like renting apartments, this Airbnb sits just north of Lumen Field, making it within walking distance of both stadiums and the nearby light rail station. The apartment features a full kitchen, washer/dryer, and a fire pit on the roof of the high-rise.
If you prefer staying in a hotel, the Silver Cloud Hotel Seattle Stadium is a great pick. Nestled between the two stadiums, this property offers views of Elliott Bay and offers a rooftop pool and hot tub. The hotel also has an on-site bar-and-grill restaurant.
Hidden Gems of Seattle
While Downtown, Capitol Hill, and the International District are all worth a visit, there are many parts of Seattle that tourists don’t visit because they don’t realize what’s there. These are some of our favorite hidden gem locations in the city.
- Perfect for: People traveling with pets
- Highlights of Montlake:
- Beautiful neighborhood filled with historic buildings
- In the center of three large parks
- Close to the University of Washington campus
- Easy access to Capitol Hill and Downtown
How to Get to Montlake
Montlake is located about 10 minutes east of downtown Seattle and can be accessed by car, bus, or rideshare services. If you are taking the light rail, you can get off at either the Capitol Hill station or the University of Washington station and walk from there.
Things to Do in Montlake
Montlake is a charming residential neighborhood that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and its tourist attractions. If you are traveling with a dog that needs to be walked every day, this neighborhood is perfect as it is home to several beautiful parks, including the picturesque Washington Park Arboretum and Interlaken Park.
Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the arboretum's lush gardens and forests, as well as take a scenic kayak or canoe ride on Lake Washington, which borders the neighborhood.
For sports fans, Montlake is just south of the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, which hosts college football games and other sporting events throughout the year. Fans of architecture will appreciate the unique design of the stadium, which features a distinctive, modernist roof structure.
Where to Stay in Montlake
Montlake is a wealthy residential part of Seattle, and features some beautiful bed-and-breakfasts and Airbnbs.
I recommend Cecil Bacon Manor, an elegant bed-and-breakfast that is brimming with history and charm. It’s perfect for romantic getaways, although solo travelers, friends, and families will all enjoy the stay as well.
While the neighborhood itself is extremely pet-friendly, most accommodations within Montlake are not, unfortunately. If you are traveling with a pet, I suggest this Airbnb. Just a few blocks west of Montlake, it gives you easy access to the neighborhood and lets you stay with your furry guests.
- Perfect for: Nature lovers
- Highlights of Magnolia:
- Quiet, residential area
- Features Seattle’s largest green space
- Close to Ballard, Fremont, and Downtown
- Access to beaches and a lighthouse
How to Get to Magnolia
Magnolia is accessible by car or public transportation from downtown Seattle. Several bus routes serve the neighborhood. I do recommend renting a car if you are staying in this area and want to explore other parts of Seattle with ease.
Things to Do in Magnolia
Magnolia is a charming residential neighborhood located just northwest of downtown Seattle. The area is known for its stunning parks and gardens, including Discovery Park, which offers miles of hiking trails, beaches, and breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
For an unforgettable view of Seattle's skyline, make sure to visit the Magnolia Viewpoint. This lookout offers panoramic views of the city, including the Space Needle and the downtown skyline. You may even be able to catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier on a clear day.
Where to Stay in Magnolia Like many neighborhoods in Seattle, Magnolia is quiet and residential. While this has its perks, it also means that there are no hotels in this neighborhood, and just a handful of apartment rentals.
This guest suite is just a short walk from Discovery Park, making it a great option if you want to spend your time hiking and relaxing on the beach. It also offers free street parking and a host willing to help guests out with directions, transportation options, and local tips.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, your best option is to stay at Hotel Ballard. While yes, this is in Ballard, it is the closest hotel to the Magnolia neighborhood and can be accessed by crossing the 15th Avenue bridge. It also takes about 45 minutes to walk from Hotel Ballard to the edge of Discovery Park if you travel across the Ballard Locks.
- Perfect for: People who want a quiet vacation
- Highlights of Leschi:
- Away from the hustle and bustle of the city
- Less than 15 minutes by car from Downtown
- Views of Lake Washington
- Easy access to Mercer Island, Newcastle, and Bellevue
How to Get to Leschi
It takes about 30 minutes by car to get to Leschi from the airport. If you want to use public transportation, you can take the light rail to Mount Baker and transfer to a bus from there. I do recommend renting a car if you are staying in this neighborhood and want to visit other parts of the city.
Things to Do in Leschi
Leschi is a picturesque neighborhood located on the eastern shore of Lake Washington in Seattle. The area is known for its quiet residential streets, beautiful homes, and stunning views of the lake and mountains. The neighborhood is also home to several parks and trails, including Leschi Park, which features a playground, tennis courts, and a waterfront promenade.
Leschi is a great place to explore on foot or by bike, with many scenic routes and trails that wind through the neighborhood and along the lakefront. The area is popular with outdoor enthusiasts, and there are several parks and green spaces where you can enjoy a picnic, play sports, or simply relax and soak up the views.
If you want to get out of Seattle, Leschi offers easy access to the I-90 freeway, which takes you to Mercer Island, Newcastle, Bellevue, and other areas east of the city. You can take a day trip to the North Cascades National Park, a beautiful area in Washington State that contains the Cascade Mountains, which resemble the Alps in Switzerland.
Where to Stay in Leschi
Leschi is a quiet, safe neighborhood and you won’t find many hotels or apartment rentals here. However, there are a few options if you’re willing to be flexible with your location.
This guesthouse is nestled in the north section of Leschi and is just a short walk to Lake Washington. It’s also within walking distance of several neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops, as well as four convenient bus lines.
If you would prefer to stay in a hotel, the Art Inn Seattle is your best option. This property is located about halfway between Leschi and Downtown, making it an ideal spot for people wanting a vacation that include city life and peace and quiet. It’s also close to Capitol Hill if you want to explore that vibrant neighborhood as well.
10. Phinney Ridge
- Perfect for: People who love animals
- Highlights of Phinney Ridge:
- Location of the Woodland Park Zoo
- Borders a beautiful park and lake
- Numerous restaurants and cafes nearby
- Easy access to Downtown via public transit
How to Get to Phinney Ridge
It takes about 30 minutes by car to reach Phinney Ridge from the Seattle airport, or about 15 minutes from downtown Seattle. You can also take the light rail from the airport to the Pioneer Square station before transferring to a bus for the remainder of the journey.
Things to Do in Phinney Ridge
Phinney Ridge is a charming neighborhood in Seattle that is known for the beautiful Woodland Park. The park features playgrounds, walking trails, and picnic areas with stunning views of Green Lake all around.
In the same area is the Woodland Park Zoo, which houses more than 1,000 animals and is committed to conservation efforts and educating visitors about wildlife and their habitats. Visitors can explore the zoo's exhibits, including the Tropical Rain Forest, Northern Trail, and African Savanna, which showcase a variety of animals from around the world. There are also numerous events and activities hosted at the zoo throughout the year, including summer concerts and ZooTunes, a popular outdoor music series.
Phinney Ridge is about halfway between Ballard and the University of Washington. It is also easy to take a bus to get downtown.
Where to Stay in Phinney Ridge
If you’re staying in Phinney Ridge, it’s probably because you want easy access to the Woodland Park Zoo. I recommend this apartment located on the north side of Woodland Park. It’s easy to walk to the zoo, the rest of the park, and Green Lake. It also offers free parking if you decide to rent a car.
The closest hotel to Woodland Park is Staybridge Suites Seattle in Fremont. Although it’s in a different neighborhood, it only takes about 20 minutes to walk or five minutes to drive to Woodland Park. A full kitchen is provided in each room, and the hotel features a rooftop terrace with a fireplace, a gas grill area, and a pet play area.
I hope that this outline of a few of the coolest and most unique neighborhoods helps you plan your weekend getaway to Seattle!