How to Visit Seattle During a Layover

Layover Guide - Seattle
Creative Commons Sailing the Seattle skies” by Bala Sivakumar is licensed under CC By 2.0

We always try to make the most out of traveling & get the most for our money.  So on our way from Atlanta to Asia for a 10-day adventure, we booked separate tickets & made a stopover for a night in Seattle (saving over $1500 on airfare).  We figured it would be great to visit Seattle during a layover and take a break on our long haul to Asia.  With so many things to do in Seattle, we had a lot to fit in over a short amount of time.

This was great because being born and raised in the South, I had only heard about Seattle and the cool vibe of the city.  Liz is from Idaho so Seattle was her second city growing up.  We were looking forward to spending a bit of time exploring Seattle before heading to Asia.

Public Transportation from Seattle Airport

We arrived late in the evening and didn’t want to rent a car, so we took the light rail train from the Sea-Tac Airport direct into downtown Seattle.  To make the most of our visit, we booked a hostel right downtown so that we could easily check out the main sights of the city in the morning.

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At the Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle – prime location right next to the famous Pike Market!

Downtown Seattle Hostel

The Green Tortoise Hostel turned out to be the perfect location, right next to Pike’s Market; we could look out our window and see the neon sign at the market entrance!  We were also located right across the street from the original Starbucks.  Although we try to support local companies, we figured this counts because it’s the original!  So when we woke up the next morning, we headed over for a cup of the original stuff to get our day up and running.

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Visiting the Original Starbucks for our morning coffee on a brisk Seattle morning!

With our cup of coffee in hand, we headed over to Pike’s Place Market.  It was barely 6 am on this cool January morning, and there was a light fog covering the street which thickened over the Puget Sound.

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Up early to watch Seattle wake-up! Walking around the market while all the shopkeepers set up at Pike’s Place Market.

All the shops were opening up for the day; trucks were unloading their goods and shopkeepers were putting out their fresh seafood, flowers, and vegetables to sell in the market.  Aside from the shopkeepers, we were the only people walking around the market.

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Watching the Pike’s Place Market open up this morning, and the shopkeepers putting out their fruits and veggies – Seattle.

Fish Toss at Pike’s Place Market

The world famous Pike Place Market did not disappoint.  With the smell of beautiful picked flowers mixed in with herbs, fruit, and of course fish, it’s easy to see that this is the heart of Seattle.  As we were wrapping up our visit, we were lucky enough to see some of the workers doing the traditional “fish toss” — a highlight for me, and something that I always wanted to see!

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Lucky enough to catch them doing the famous fish throwing at the Pike’s Place Market – Seattle!  Can you spot the fish?

Seattle Boardwalk

We made our way beyond the market to the edge of the water.  We would have loved to visit the aquarium (Liz has been a few times), but it wasn’t open this early.  So instead, we walked along the boardwalk on this chilly morning looking out toward the Sound.  We could hear foghorns from boats out in the water; however, we couldn’t see more than a 100 feet due to the dense fog.

I was feeling exhilarated this morning, likely due to the combination of the cold and all the coffee we were drinking to stay warm.  Regardless, I was really loving Seattle!  While walking along the boardwalk and exploring one of the piers, I had a feeling that there would be a Geocache around here.

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Really cool sculpture on the boardwalk overlooking the Puget Sound in Seattle. Do you think there’s a Geocache here???

Seattle is the Home of Geocaching

Groundspeak is the company that invented Geocaching and they are headquartered in Seattle.  Due to a lack of time and short layover we were unable to stop by HQ for a visit, but we had to make sure to grab a couple of geocaches while here in the home of geocaching!  We located one that had many favorite points on the way to the Space Needle next to the water.  It brought us to a really funky sculpture of a bunch of sea creatures, a cleverly hidden geocache! Washington is now checked off our list for geocaching through our states.

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A little foggy this morning – you can’t even see the top of the Space Needle!

Visiting the Space Needle

Once we found our geocache and made another coffee run to stay warm, we headed over for a quick look at the Space Needle.  We decided not to spend the money to go up because the fog made it impossible to see anything, but we did take a moment to snap a few funny pictures looking up at the needle.  Then we headed back to the Green Tortoise to grab our bags and catch the train back to the airport — time to head to Asia!

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Looking up through the fog at the Space Needle. No point in going up there today!

Although we didn’t have that much time in Seattle, we were able to mark off a couple of big must sees on the list and get a feel for the city.  We always try to make the best out of traveling.  Having a night layover with a few hours the next morning to enjoy the city actually turned out to be a great little break on our way to Asia; and we were able to save some money on flights rather than flying roundtrip from Atlanta.  Thank you Seattle.  You did not disappoint.  We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions and Things to do in Seattle

Helpful Websites to Plan Your Seattle Trip

Layover Guide - Seattle - FB
Creative Commons Downtown Seattle” by Tiffany Von Arnim is licensed under CC By 2.0

6 thoughts on “How to Visit Seattle During a Layover”

  1. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)

    I did a similar overnight layover in Seattle a couple of months ago (in my case, I was connecting there on my way back to NYC from Anchorage, Alaska). I did some different activities than you guys, though — of course, I went to karaoke the night that I arrived. I also checked out some interesting architecture, like the public library (main branch), and I walked to a park on a hill that has a great view of the Space Needle. And fortunately it wasn’t foggy the day that I was in the Emerald City so I was able to go up to the Space Needle’s observation deck and enjoy the views of the city. Oh, and I took the monorail from downtown to get to the Space Needle; it’s definitely an aged transportation system that would feel right at home in 1962 when the Space Needle opened for the World’s Fair. 🙂 But it was a fun ride.

    Your post has also given me some ideas of other things to do the next time I’m in Seattle.

    1. How fun – thanks for the comment Harvey! Agreed, there are so many things to do in Seattle, it definitely deserves it’s own trip. Josh had never been so we just hit a few of the highlights. Karaoke huh? I bet that was a great time (love your website name by the way!).

      Agree that the monorail is straight out of the 60’s. We rode it as well and Josh kept singing the Simpsons “monorail song” the whole time and was cracking everyone up (

      Happy Travels!

      – Liz & Josh

  2. saw the gum wall there.

    Life. fulfilled.

    But seriously, Seattle is so pretty! Wish we had more time to see it. Loved their Chinatown, too.

    1. Thanks Nicole! Yes, we saw the gum wall too — when the breeze would come through the area it would smell very fruity. But kinda gross to think about though! We were looking for a geocache around there, but we didn’t find it. We got a little nervous that maybe it was covered in gum or something – LOL!

      Beautiful place though. Will be nice to go back when the weather is better. Taking a cruise out to the islands is pretty fun too.

      Happy Travels!
      – Liz & Josh

  3. We would have loved to see you here at Geocaching HQ! Maybe next trip? 🙂

    PS Looks like you did Seattle right…Thanks for sharing! Did you find the famous gum wall geocache while you were at the Market?

    1. Thanks for the comment Paige!

      Yeah, we actually had made an appointment to stop by the Geocaching HQ the morning before our flight but had to cancel it because we were running behind and didn’t want to chance missing our flight to Tokyo. Definitely on our next trip though. We are heading out to Idaho in December to visit family, so perhaps we can swing by Seattle then. And yes, we did find the famous gum wall cache — smelled very fruity down in that area! 🙂

      Happy Caching!
      – Liz & Josh

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