Seattle is a wonderful, beautiful, delicious, artistic, and unique– but expensive– place to visit. My husband and I have wanted to visit Seattle for years though, so I knew I wanted to make a trip happen despite the cost. Through planning and research– and a few helpful tips that I will share with you now– we were able to spend three jam-packed days in Seattle for just $728 TOTAL (including airfare, transportation, accommodations, food, and activities for two, and booze for one).
In this article, I’ve outlined where we stayed, how we got around, what we did, and what we ate, as well as some additional recommendations that we didn’t have time for this trip.
If you, too, want to visit Seattle but don’t want to break the bank doing so, then read on for a complete breakdown of our three-day trip. At the end of this post, I’ve included an itemized list of exactly how we spent $728 for our Seattle vacation.
If you want to skip the explanation and just blindly follow my lead, then download the itinerary of our three-day budget trip to Seattle now down below!
I also encourage you to check out the YouTube video we made about our trip to Seattle. This way, you can see all of the wonderful art, food, music, and environment I am referring to throughout this post.
Where We Stayed
Since Seattle is an expensive city, we opted to rent a room inside of someone’s home via AirBnb. We usually prefer to rent an entire, private space, but the amount of savings combined with the fact that we would be out exploring for the majority of our days and nights meant that a private room would work for us.
We visited January 2017, when AirBnb in Seattle was in the midst of a crack-down. Our host at the time explained to us that his building would no longer allow any AirBnb rentals soon, and after a quick check today, I can see that his listing was deactivated shortly after we left.
However, the good news for you visiting Seattle today is that it appears AirBnb in Seattle is currently alive and well. In fact, I found multiple options– even entire-home options!– for considerably less than what we paid, and in the same part of Seattle.
That being said, I would definitely recommend staying in the Belltown, Seattle neighborhood like we did when you visit Seattle. I would also keep an eye on the AirBnb Seattle market in case the rules change again!
Belltown, Seattle is a perfect spot to bear your grounds during your trip. We were walking distance to almost everything we wanted to do– Pike Place Market, the Post Alley gum wall, numerous highly-rated restaurants, cafes, fun bars that hosted live music, trivia, and karaoke, the ghost tour we took– everything!
Since Belltown was smack-dab in the middle of what we wanted to do, we could head north for hot spots like the Space Needle, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and the Center for Wooden Boats, or we could walk a few blocks south to get to Pike Place Market and downtown. Walking a bit east brought us to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is full of happenin’ nightlife. And the ocean was immediately west of us, which delivered outstanding views.
Staying in Belltown, Seattle and being able to walk to most of our food and fun certainly helped us save tremendously on the cost of our trip! Not to mention the views we soaked in while walking were gorgeous! Next time we visit Seattle, I’ll be booking our accommodations in Belltown again.
How We Got Around
I cannot emphasize this enough: when you visit Seattle, pick a location that allows you to walk to the Seattle attractions you want to see at least 80% of the time. This will require advanced planning of your food and fun, and mapping out your routes, but it will make a significant difference in what you will spend.
Again, visiting Seattle isn’t cheap! If you are seeking a loaded, but still budget-friendly trip, then do not drain your pockets just to get around (or to sleep). Plus, you’ll score gorgeous views while walking through this coastal city (and burn off some of the thousands of calories you’ll be eating!)
That being said, we did need to pay for some public transportation during our trip.
First, we used the Link Light Rail system from the Seattle airport to the Capitol Hill station. Each ticket was only $3.25 per person for the one-way ride. The ride took about 45 minutes, so paying only $6.50 total instead of the cost of a Lyft saved us a great deal.
Belltown, Seattle is only one-and-a-half miles from the Capitol Hill Station, so we chose to walk to our AirBnb rental from there. However, if you are too tired to do so, paying for a Lyft for such a short distance should run you less than $10. Sometimes, it’s worth the break.
We only needed to venture across town to reach a few “musts” once during our three-day trip. To get from the Belltown neighborhood to the Ballard neighborhood, we walked 3 minutes from our AirBnb to the D-Line bus stop, which then carried us to The Fat Hen for breakfast. Each bus ticket was $2.75 for the one-way, 25-minute trip. Much cheaper than Lyfting.
After breakfast, we opted to take a Lyft from the restaurant to our next activity. The three-mile walk would have taken us one hour, and walking to the bus stop and then riding the bus would’ve been cheap but also would have eaten up a lot of time. So, a Lyft for $16 was the best choice in the end, despite the cost.
We also chose to Lyft home at the end of our activities. Since our fun on this side of town ended right around sunset, it was too dark and chilly to deal with walking, waiting at the bus stop, or wasting the extra time to save ten bucks. The Lyft ride back to our AirBnb in Belltown, Seattle from Gas Works Park cost us $15 plus a $3 tip. Again, worth it in my opinion, especially because we walked for the majority of our trip.
We also Lyfted from our AirBnb to the Seattle airport when it was time to leave. Since we had an early-morning flight, public transportation wasn’t running yet. The Lyft from our Belltown AirBnb to the Seattle airport was $35 plus a $7 tip, costing a total of $42.
What We Did
Everytime we visit a city, we try our best to experience what makes that city unique– the flavors, vibes, culture, activities of that city. When we visited Seattle, I think we pulled that off pretty well!
Seattle, WA is known for a few things: Pike Place Market, ocean/coast/fishermen life, seafood, rain, grunge, art, coffee, comedy, and ghosts.
On our very first day in Seattle, we hit up Pike Place Market. We grabbed an awesome lunch, we ventured through all of the stalls, we watched the fishermen throw gigantic, smelly fish around (and got that classic photo), we sampled Beecher’s Cheese, we saw the “first” Starbucks, the famous gum wall in Post Alley– we did all the things.
We ended our first night with a ghost tour through Spooked in Seattle. We bought a Groupon for our ghost tour, which I highly recommend doing since the Groupon is pretty much always active. It was only $17 for both of us for the 90-minute walking tour.
Spooked in Seattle’s ghost tour was super informative, creepy, and a lot of fun! We fancy scary stuff, so we have done several haunted/ghost/murder/etc. walking tours across various cities, and this was one of the best we’ve experienced, especially for such a low cost.
Since this city is known for his dark, grunge-y, rainy, dreary vibe, it’s the perfect place to embrace some spookiness. And due to its gold-mining past (and previously poor infrastructure), Seattle’s history is rich with murder. In other words, add a ghost tour to your list when you visit Seattle!
On day two, we started our morning with some local, fancy-schmancy coffee. We couldn’t come to Seattle without drinking a super serious cup o’ Joe, right? We headed back to Pike Place Market– this time, with new food stalls in mind– and we had a mini-photoshoot along the infamous Market Theater gum wall.
This Seattle gum wall is a local landmark that is both intriguing and disgusting. It is exactly what it sounds like: a long brick wall absolutely drenched in used chewing gum. Oddly enough, I feel like it is a Seattle tourist attraction, but also a unique thing to do in Seattle at the same time.
Since the gum wall is tucked in Post Alley, it feels hidden– like a secret– and there was no one around when we
In the afternoon, we took in the views at Olympic Sculpture Park and ate more great food. You can score a perfect photograph of the Space Needle from inside of Olympic Sculpture Park, which is outside, open, and free. We decided to skip going into the Space Needle since it would’ve cost about $70 for us to go inside. To us, not worth it.
That night, we ventured around the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is lined with extremely active and fun bars and restaurants.
Our first stop? Unicorn. “Unicorn bar,” as some people mistakenly call it, is a must-do in Seattle in general, but especially for its karaoke night. Seriously, we were stunned by the performances! Every single Seattle local who took the stage sounded exactly like the artist he/she was covering.
We heard Usher’s “Nice & Slow” by a middle-aged white guy who sounded JUST like Usher! Someone sang a Rob Zombie song, growls and all. A witch-lady sang a Stevie Nicks song, exactly the way Stevie would have. It was glorious.
You should also know that Unicorn itself is quite an attraction– the decor, the layout, the arcade games. The staff is super friendly, and there was no cover charge to get in. Unicorn is a fun way to spend at least an hour, and it is such a unique, local hot spot that I feel like you have to at least swing through it when you visit Seattle.
Next, we walked to Capitol Cider, a vintage tavern with free live music, free games, free shuffleboard, and tons on pour. I would absolutely add Capitol Cider to your list of best places to visit in Seattle! (Or “best restaurants in Seattle” because they do have a full menu! We just came through Capitol Cider as more of an activity than a stop for food.)
Especially if you are looking for things to do in Seattle at night, you really cannot beat Unicorn and Capitol Cider. Unicorn has something going on every single night (karaoke is every Monday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Capitol Cider also hosts awesome events Mondays through Thursdays.
Don’t forget– you can see some clips of Unicorn’s karaoke night (and our stunned reaction, lol), the scene at Capitol Cider, and the art at Olympic Sculpture Park in my Seattle vlog here!
On day three, we ventured across town to the Ballard neighborhood for breakfast, and then to Fremont, Seattle for a few activities on our list. Fremont is an awesome neighborhood that I definitely need to come back and spend more time in. Just in case you have more time on your trip than we did, I would stay in Fremont, Seattle longer and add:
- Lunch at Paseo Fremont
- Beer flights at Fremont Brewing Company
- A special dinner at Cafe Turko
- And then live music at Substation Seattle
- ….And then maybe a late-night dessert at Simply Desserts if we’re feelin’ crazy
In fact, I think I’ll do exactly all of those things next time we visit Seattle. Anyways!
Our first activity in Fremont, Seattle was taking a tour at Theo Chocolate. The tour cost $10 per person, but it was totally worth the charge. We learned a ton about how chocolate is created, including ethical practices, and we received a plethora of samples. Seriously, so much chocolate.
After our tour at Theo, we walked ten minutes to view the Fremont Troll, a gigantic sculpture underneath the Aurora Avenue Bridge that is free and open to the public. This is a small attraction, yes, but it was such a cool sight to see and honestly a lot of fun to climb on top of for a unique, Seattle-themed photo-opp. In my opinion, this little stop is a Seattle must-see.
From there, we headed over to Gas Works Park, another free destination with some amazing views and pieces of art. Gas Works Park is in the Northlake neighborhood, immediately east of Fremont, Seattle, and walkable (0.8 mile) from the Fremont Troll.
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record here, but Gas Works Park is another Seattle-must-see! This is honestly one of the coolest, most unique-looking parks I’ve ever seen anywhere.
If you are into photography at all– or just Instagram-worthy pictures of yourself– then plan on bringing a few changes of clothing and spending a couple of hours taking photos here.
My husband was actually able to fly his drone at Gas Works Park, which is right along the water. Not only is the park itself incredibly cool-looking, but the shots we were able to get of Seattle over the water are gorgeous! See what I mean in my Seattle travel vlog!
After Lyfting back to the Belltown area, we ended our night by seeing a show at Comedy Underground. We attended “Call-back Night,” which takes place every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. for only $6/person (regular price!) Seattle is such a talented city, so it was no surprise that every comedian was super professional and hilarious. You can buy your tickets online.
Since Seattle’s comedy scene is well-reputed, I would call a comedy show of some sort– an open mic, an improv night, a professional comedian on tour– a must-do in Seattle. Seeing some comedy is also one of the best things to do in Seattle at night (in my opinion, at least), especially if you want something other than bar-hopping.
There were a handful of other awesome, FREE things to do in Seattle that I wanted to squeeze in but couldn’t, including:
- Taking a free sail ride on Sunday with the Center for Wooden Boats
- Visiting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Taking a free meditation class
I guess that means we’ll just have to go back and visit Seattle again one day! Oops! 🙂
Take a peek at the Pike Place Market, Fremont Troll, Theo Chocolate, Capitol Cider, Unicorn Bar, Gas Works Park and more by watching the Seattle travel vlog I made!
Overall, I felt great about experiencing Seattle in its authentic form. We had fancy coffee, we went to Pike Place, we felt the grunge and culture, we walked through a constant drizzle for three days, we took in the sea-side views and art, we heard all about the ghosts of the city, and we saw some awesome local talents with music, singing, and comedy.
What more could we have asked for, especially on a tight budget? Well– of course, we need to eat some amazing food… which we also achieved, despite being on a budget!
What We Ate
The first thing we technically ate in Seattle was a sample of Beecher’s Cheese. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is a Seattle staple and has been selling its cheeses out of Pike Place Market since 2003. Their samples are free, and the cheese was absolutely delicious, so be sure to swing through the shop and grab and taste!
Our first real meal was at a different Pike Place stall: Country Dough. Although you may not have guessed from its name, this stall serves mouth-watering Sichuan flatbreads, Chinese crepes, and noodle bowls. Authentic Asian food of all sorts is prevalent throughout the city, so be sure to eat some when you visit Seattle.
Country Dough is small and unassuming, and there are no frills. The food is incredibly tasty and fresh, and the prices are much lower than most other stalls you’ll find in Pike Place Market, let alone across Seattle in general.
Although loved by locals, this spot is tucked away and a bit hush-hush. So much so that I would call having lunch at Country Dough a unique thing to do in Seattle.
Later that day, we stopped at Belltown Pub (now called Towne Pub) to split an order of wings. I wouldn’t say this place was unique stop or a Seattle-must, but a) we were craving wings; b) the wings were surprisingly good, c) the pub was super cute and clean, d) it was affordable, especially as far as Seattle goes, and e) the pub was right near our AirBnb.
After our ghost tour, we each grabbed a big slice from Belltown Pizza. If you need a late-night bite, I would definitely recommend this place. The pizza was delicious, the prices were cheap, they were open until 2 a.m., and the staff was friendly.
On day two, we slept in, had some coffee, and then grabbed what felt like a light brunch spread from Piroshky Piroshky, a Russian bakery, back at Pike Place Market. Now this place is a definite must for your trip. Piroshky Piroshky is small, but it certainly makes the list of best restaurants in Seattle (is a bakery a restaurant? IDK.)
We ordered one savory and one sweet pastry and split them both. Honestly, I would tell you to get exactly what we got: the smoked salmon pate pastry, as well as the cream cheese vatrushka. Both pastries were seriously to-die-for, and this stall was certainly a unique stop for us. Be weary of long lines at this place, though– know what you want to order before you arrive!
I’m sure you know that seafood is incredibly fresh and abundant in this city; most tourists consider it a must to eat something from the ocean when they visit Seattle. However, seafood isn’t very budget-friendly, so ordering the smoked salmon pate pastry was a great way to check that box without breaking the bank.
For a late lunch, we went to Umma’s Lunch Box. Umma’s is hidden in an underground food court and offers a buffet of Asian fare like sushi, noodles, rice, veggies, and meats. The prices are by the size of your to-go box, and they offer reduced prices from 2-3 p.m. We each loaded up a 16-ounce box for $6 since we ate lunch during this time!
If you are looking for the best cheap eats in Seattle, Umma’s Lunch Box should be on your list.
After lunch, we grabbed a large to-go container of clam chowder from the famous Pike Place Chowder. We took it back to our AirBnb to store while we recharged and ate it before heading out again that evening. If you want another inexpensive way to add a taste of seafood to your trip, then grabbing a bowl of clam chowder would definitely be a must-do in Seattle!
We ended day two with some late-night munchies from 5 Point Cafe. This place was super close to our AirBnb, super affordable, friendly, and open 24/7, so it was a great resource for us. If you’re within walking distance of his local staple, I’d keep it in your backpocket at all times.
Day three started with an incredible breakfast from Fat Hen. Although this restaurant was not near our neighborhood and required paying for transportation, it stood out as one of the highlight meals from our trip.
I can easily say that Fat Hen tops the list of best breakfasts in Seattle. Honestly, I might even go as far to say that this was possibly the best breakfast of my entire life! Not kidding. If you do visit Seattle, get there for breakfast! (And be prepared to WAIT because the place is tiny!)
I ordered the eggs alla boscaiola and oh. my. gosh. Seriously, amazing! Delectable! If you do not know what to order, please get this dish! I also added a side of potatoes, which I had zero regrets in doing because, a) potatoes are life, and b) these were some of the best breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had. LOOK AT THEM!
My husband ordered the house-made granola with yogurt, which also includes nuts, fruits, and local honey. I wasn’t in the mood for a taste, but he said it was outstanding.
After breakfast and while on our Theo Chocolate tour, we sampled more chocolates than I could count. Truffles, crunchies, bits and pieces of this and that. It was a welcomed sweet treat after our meal.
Later that evening, we finished off the leftovers we acquired throughout our trip instead of buying a full dinner. During the show at Comedy Underground, we ordered a few refreshments– two waters and a beer with a plate of nachos to share, followed by a hot chocolate. Comedy Underground serves a full menu— standard fare, but it’s nice to have a nibble while enjoying the show.
Seattle is certainly a city that will keep your taste buds tingling. My husband and I stayed fat and happy during our entire trip while sticking to a budget. To me, that’s a perfect trip.
How We Spent Our Money
We spent a total of $728 for our budget Seattle vacation. That cost covered two round-trip tickets from Denver, CO, all of our food, all of our fun, all of the booze Kory drank, and all of our additional transportation costs for three full days. We flew in early Sunday and left very, very early Wednesday morning.
For all that we got to see, eat, drink, and experience, I would definitely say that $728 to visit Seattle is an exceptional price . We weren’t there terribly long, but we jammed in a lot of food and fun. Below I’ve outlined exactly how we spent our money.
Two RT plane tickets = $141 (leaving from the Denver airport)
Accommodations (Airbnb) = $225 for 3 nights
Link Rail from Airport = $6.50 ($3.25 per one-way ticket x 2 tickets)
Bus = $5.5 ($2.75 per one-way ride x 2 tickets)
Lyft, total = $76 (three different trips)
Activities = $49
Food+Booze = $225 ($75/day for both of us, but I was NOT drinking alcohol! Additional booze can affect your total cost a lot!)
TOTAL: $728 for a full-blown, 3-night vacation for two people
Breakdown of activities cost: $49 total
Haunted Tour = $17 for two people via Groupon
Theo Chocolate Factory = $20 for two people (included lots of chocolate samples)
Karaoke show at Unicorn Bar = FREE
Olympic Sculpture park = FREE
Gas Works Park = FREE
Troll Under the Bridge statue = FREE
Comedy Underground Show = $12 for two people — buy tickets online
Live music + games at Capitol Cider = FREE
Post Alley Gum Wall = FREE
Breakdown of food (for two) + booze (for one) + tip costs: $225
Country Dough– a flatbread (7.25) and dry noodle bowl ($11), split both = $20
Piroshky Piroshky– one salmon pate pastry, one cream cheese vatrushka , split both = $14
One large bowl of clam chowder to-go, split = $11
Wings (split) and a beer (Kory) from Belltown Pub (now called Town Pub) = $18
Breakfast for two at The Fat Hen (granola bowl and eggs alla boscaiola) = $33
Two giant slices from Belltown Pizza = $8
Umma’s Lunchbox during happy hour = $13 for two 16-ounce boxes
Drip City Coffee (now closed) for two people = $9
Late night food from 5 Point Cafe = $21
Kory’s drinks at Unicorn bar: $26
Kory’s drinks at Capitol Cider: $21
Refreshments during Comedy Underground show = $24
Misc. snacks from grocery store for plane ride: $7
Being able to visit Seattle– including round-trip airfare, all other transportation, delicious food (including local musts), booze, awesome activities, sightseeing, everything– for three full days, for just $364 total per person? That’s a win!
I mean honestly, can you really say right now that you can fly yourself to a big city in a different state, get around quickly and conveniently, eat great food, drink, and have a blast for three full days– all for a total of $364? In my humble opinion, that’s extremely hard to pull off in this day and age. Especially on a time-frame that accommodates your work schedule, as it did for us.
We’ll definitely have to visit Seattle again one day. There is so much to see, do, and eat; three days is not nearly enough time! In the meantime, I’ll always love the memories we made during our first trip.
Don’t forget to check out the vlog I’ve created about our trip to Seattle! You can see all of the delicious food, the gorgeous art, and views from around the city for yourself.
And if you want to do exactly what we did during our budget trip to Seattle, WA, then download my FREE itinerary below! You can simply print it out at home and follow along during your trip.
I hope this helps all of my fellow budget-travelers out there. Be sure to tag me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter if you visit Seattle and use any of my suggestions– I would absolutely love to witness your fun!
Happy traveling, everyone!