Seattle Day Trip – Things to See and Photograph

Dave and I had the opportunity for a Seattle Day Trip the first part of January.

Neither of us had ever been to Seattle, and we had a list of places we wanted to visit and photograph.

It was hard to narrow the list of things to see and do to create our One Day Itinerary in Seattle.

We share our Seattle Day Trip Guide to help anyone else who may also only have one day to explore Seattle.

The list includes things to see and places to photograph in Seattle that include iconic sites and unique art.

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Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market Sign Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market is a must-see for a Day Trip in Seattle, Washington.

Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market is the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the United States. This nine-acre Market overlooks Elliott Bay.

We were only able to spend a short time here, but in that hour or so, we could feel the eclectic vibe and energy of the place.

Pike Place Market stalls in Seattle, Washington

Here’s a list of fun things to see and photograph at Pike Place Market:

  • Pike Place Market Sign
  • The Oldest Starbucks
  • Rachel the Piggy Bank
  • Pike Place Fish Market
  • Post Alley
  • Food & Dining
  • Street Performers
  • Street Art

Pike Place Market vendor in Seattle, Washington

We knew Pike Place Market gets crowded so we arrived early.

One tip for a crowded day is to venture to the lower levels and discover all the fun below street level.



If you only have one day in Seattle, you want to make the best of it! Check out our One Day Seattle Itinerary to capture amazing photographs of a fun, eclectic city; iconic sites and colorful and unique art. This guide also includes things to see and do in Seattle. Don't forget to save this Seattle guide to your travel board.

Photo credit: Seattle Monorail Services

Riding the Seattle Monorail is a fun activity. We used public transit and the monorail to get around Seattle for the day. 

Built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair to provide a link between the fairgrounds and downtown Seattle, the once futuristic mode of transport has become a major tourist attraction and a convenient way for locals to get to major festivals and events.

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Space Needle

Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

The Space Needle is an icon. It was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair.

No Seattle itinerary is complete without a visit to the Space Needle.

View the downtown Seattle skyline, Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands from the top of the Needle.

Seattle skyline with Mt. Rainier in the background as seen from the Space Needle.

The NEW Space Needle provides an all-glass floor on the lower level and floor-to-ceiling glass on the upper level.

The Loupe is the world’s first and only rotating glass floor.

Seattle pier with ferris wheel.

Yes, this is a busy tourist attraction, especially with the new renovations. But it’s busy for a reason: the views are stunning!

To avoid the crowds, start your Seattle Day Trip to visit the Space Needle when it opens. Many say the Sky View Observatory at the Columbia Center even affords you better views of the city that includes the Space Needle in your photos.

PHOTO TIP: Walk around to find interesting and unique views of the Space Needle from the ground looking up.

Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

The Space Needle is a wonderful subject for Black and White photography.

Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

PHOTO TIP: Images that have graphic elements, strong lines, geometric shapes or form make wonderful subjects for Black and White. Always look for lines that run diagonally, horizontally or vertically through the image and try to create interesting compositions with them.

READ: Travel Journal Ideas

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

Dale Chihuly was born in Tacoma, Washington. While studying interior design at the University of Washington, he was introduced to glass. This began his lifetime obsession with glass.

His work is included in more than 200 museums worldwide, and he has created many glass art installations in Venice, England, Paris, and more.

A few years ago, Dale Chihuly was invited to present a comprehensive exhibit of his work at the Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair, and next to the Space Needle. The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit includes a garden, an exhibition hall, and a glasshouse.

Words cannot describe the glass works of art here. Adding this exhibit to our Seattle One Day Itinerary was the best decision we made!

Chihuly Exhibition Hall

Chihuly glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

Note the Photography Guidelines found on the Chihuly Garden and Glass website:  Still photography and video is allowed from a handheld device. Photography of objects in the exhibition is permitted for personal, non-distributional, non-commercial use. Flashes, tripods monopods or video cameras in the galleries are prohibited. No photographs or videotapes may be reproduced, published, distributed, sold, transferred or otherwise commercially exploited.

Chihuly glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

Chihuly glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

Chihuly glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

PHOTO TIPS (while inside the Exhibition Hall):

  • Try to keep the overhead lights and their reflections out of the frame of your shot as much as possible. 
  • Make use of the reflections on the black glass platforms the art work is mounted on.
  • Zoom in on interesting small sections.

Chihuly Glasshouse

Chihuly Glasshouse sculpture with the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

PHOTO TIP: Photograph the Space Needle through the windows in the glasshouse. Be creative with angles and composition.

Chihuly Garden

Chihuly Garden sphere with the Space Needle reflection in Seattle, Washington

PHOTO TIP: Photograph the Space Needle reflection in the many spheres in the garden section of the Chihuly Exhibit. This is truly a photographer’s playground for creativity.

Chihuly Garden sphere with the Space Needle reflection in Seattle, Washington

Chihuly Garden glass sculptures in Seattle, Washington

TICKETS for Seattle, Washington Tours and Activities

travel gear list


Transportation in Seattle

If you aren’t staying in the downtown area, use public transportation

Traffic in and out of the city combined with the cost of parking downtown make driving your own car just not worth the hassle and expense. We were staying near the SeaTac Airport so we rode the Link light rail train. It took us within blocks of our first stop downtown.


Where to Stay in Seattle

We use Airbnb (here’s a $40 coupon)  | | HotelsCombined to rent accommodations that have a kitchen. Cooking our meals saves us quite a bit of money compared to eating out, and it’s much healthier!

CHECK THIS OUT: $40 Coupon for Airbnb | | HotelsCombined rewards program


Seattle Map

EXTEND YOUR STAY:  Things to Do in Portland | Places to Visit Along the Oregon Coast


Seattle Day Trip Things to See, Do, Photograph + Photo Tips     If you only have one day in Seattle, you want to make the best of it! Check out our One Day Seattle Itinerary to capture amazing photographs of a fun, eclectic city; iconic sites and colorful and unique art. This guide also includes things to see and do in Seattle. Don't forget to save this Seattle guide to your travel board.    Seattle One Day Itinerary Things to Do and Photo Spots


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Such a great post, I love the pictures I have never been to Seattle so this is a great post to add to my list. Thanks for sharing


When you get a chance to visit Seattle, you will love it!


There are certainly some great photo spots in Seattle. As always you captured the best of the area. Your skyline shots are my favorites!


I’ve heard of the Pike Place Market but none of these other things! Next time I’m down south I’ll have to take the ferry over to Seattle to check these out!! 🙂


I had researched everything we did that day, but happily stumbled upon the Chihuly Gardens…it was my favorite thing that day!


Being an avid follower of Grey’s Anatomy, Seattle has always caught my interest, and your amazing photos took me on a visual tour.Really love the photography tips you mentioned.


I was hoping to see Meredith and gang while we were there 🙂 We like to give photo tips to help others capture the most amazing images they can!


You got some really great shots of the Space Needle. I would have had no idea what to see or do in Seattle so thanks for sharing these ideas. The gardens look awesome, I would love to go there


We enjoy capturing ‘different’ images of popular places to make the photos a bit more ‘us’. Thank you!


Could not agree more about using the public transport! We love photography and the photo from the glasshouse to the space needle is a great idea. One day is definitely too short in that lovely city but you have captured it perfectly.


Seattle is definitely a place you MUST use public transit. And yes, one day is not enough. We can’t wait to go back and explore more of the city.


So glad to see this post! I live in Seattle and we LOVE the Link Light Rail! Traffic and parking here is INSANE. The Chihuly Museum is definitely a must-see attraction, especially for photographers. Glad you got to experience Pike Place Market. They have been doing construction for a long time and they are finally opening up their big expansion in a few weeks. Hopefully you can return in the summer or fall!


I’ll need to contact you when we plan a future trip. There was SO MUCH MORE we wanted to see/do. We were lucky to get the weather we did and experience the popular sites with few crowds. I can imagine summer and fall is a wonderful time to visit.


I just love your photography and ideas for creating great images. The reflection of the space needle in the sphere looks so cool! The shots you took from the top of the space needle showed the landscape so well and the color of the images you took in the exhibition hall were just stunning.


We appreciate the love for our photos. We try to help others ‘see’ places in a new way and provide tips. Thanks!


When I visited Seattle I stayed closeby to the SeaTac Airport and took the Link light rail train into the center and I agree this is very convenient way to get to the center of the city. The weather you had was perfect for visiting the points of interest of Seattle. The photo you took of the skyline with Mount Rainier in the background from the Space Needle is stunning.


We were happy to have the good weather for one day and to be able to see Mt. Rainier! The next day, trying to fly home, not so lucky…


We drive past Seattle sometimes, and traffic in this area really is the worst. I love the look of the Chihuly Garden. We will definitely have to check out these glass sculptures next time we go to Seattle!


Use their transit system. Driving and parking in Seattle is horrible! And we found going in January wasn’t as crowded at the ‘tourist’ stops either.


Love all the photos, especially the glass exhibits! Great read, bookmarking for later.


Thank you Ketki, it really was our favorite thing we did that day. Amazing pieces of glass art!


Ah Seattle, one of the few American cities I’ve yet to visit! Stunning photographs. Thanks for the photography tips!


The city was amazing. So many things to see, do and photograph!


Seattle seem to be amazing, yours photos make me feel like going there!!


It’s a wonderful city and so picturesque. We hope to go back soon as we only had one day to explore!


Great photos! I need to make my way up to Seattle. I always see flight sales out of San Francisco, and your post makes me want to go ASAP!


I wish those flight sales extended to Salt Lake City….they never seem to though or we’d be there more often!


I’ve only heard great things about Seattle! Your pictures make it look amazing 🙂


We loved Seattle and can’t to go back and explore even more! Thank you for the compliment about our photos.


Sweet sweet Seattle – what a great city and so close to so many amazing outdoor escapes too! I also was lucky when I was in the area and didn’t have any rain.

Xx, Eleonore


We were lucky to get good weather for most of our trip – until the day we were to leave and our flight got cancelled due to bad weather. We had to stay an extra day, but didn’t venture out due to very cold rain.


Definitely saving this for later! I’ll be in Seattle this summer, but only for a day, so I need to map out what I’m doing. I really want to visit the Chihuly gardens!


Chihuly was the best part of our trip, and we stumbled across it on accident. You will love it!


Oh wow, you were able to see the mountains!! I’ve been to Seattle quite a few times, and while I’ve had sun sometimes, Rainier has always been swathed in cloud. Hopefully one day I’ll get to see it behind the city skyline!


We were lucky to get a clear shot of Mt. Rainier for sure! We had clear skies and no rain, just a bit cold. It was also nice to visit in the off season so not many tourists to compete with at the sites!


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