Like a row of candles flickering in the distance, the buildings of the Seattle skyline project an inviting glow that illuminates a crisp fall evening. While the scenic ride on the Victoria Clipper from Victoria to Seattle provides a fair number of breathtaking views, this is one that dictates venturing onto the deck of the ship for a quick Instagram snap.

With the blink of an eye, our fabulous PNW summer has transitioned into a fall wonderland. With everything from soft golden rays reflecting off our shimmering waterfront to piles of colorful foliage and a bustling downtown, the greater Seattle area is the perfect autumnal playground, with endless opportunities for exploration even if you’re in town for a quick 36-hour getaway. Time to get planning with our inside guide to a festive and fun Seattle fall escape!

Discover Seattle

Day 1

8:15 p.m. – Warwick Hotel

When visiting Seattle, you have more than a few great options for a hotel pick. Stay in the heart of the downtown core and explore this gem of a city by foot or venture to a cozy property outside of town for affordable rooms, fabulous amenities and easy access to Seattle’s culturally unique neighborhoods. You can also experience the best of both worlds with a luxurious stay at the sophisticated Warwick Hotel.

Located in the heart of the city, the property’s stunning plush rooms exude Northwest style and offer no shortage of breathtaking views of downtown skyscrapers. Oh, and did we mention the property has its own heated indoor pool (a rare luxury in Seattle) AND a whirlpool? These swoon-worthy digs may be the closest you come to melding style and comfort.

Soak in stunning views from your window at the downtown Warwick hotel. Credit: Warwick Hotel
Soak in stunning views from your window at the downtown Warwick hotel. Credit: Warwick Hotel

9:30 p.m.  – Knee High Stocking Co.

Luggage securely stowed in your hotel room, cap off your day with a jaunt up to Capitol Hill and search out the neighborhood speakeasy-style bar, Knee High Stocking Co., for cocktails on the hush-hush. The cozy spot continues the Prohibition-era tradition of being hidden in plain sight. To enter, look for the nondescript-apartment style building on the corner of East Olive Way and East Olive Place and ring the doorbell marked “visitors.” It’s like when you had a secret password to your clubhouse when you were a kid, but 100 times cooler.

With nearly a variety of delicious cocktails to choose from, you are sure to find something to quench your thirst at Knee High Stocking. Credit: Kenn Wilson
With nearly a variety of delicious cocktails to choose from, you are sure to find something to quench your thirst at Knee High Stocking. Credit: Kenn Wilson

Day 2

10:30 a.m. – The London Plane 

Hop in an Uber or walk over to Pioneer Square and follow the smell of fresh-baked pastries wafting through Occidental Plaza, to the bright, sophisticated London Plane. A haven for local brunchers and lunchers, the charming spot serves up creative takes on old favorites, such as the English muffin with egg, ham, gruyere and harissa marmalade. If the beautifully prepared meals don’t have you coming back for more, the spectacular views of the iconic Smith Tower up the street certainly will. (A little insider tip: The restaurant’s house-made pastries are also rightfully a big deal. Be sure to take one of London Plane’s famous, buttery croissants to go as a snack for the rest of your adventure).

11:45 a.m.  – Pioneer Square and Bell Town Shopping

Burn off brunch and stroll through Pioneer Square to soak in sights of the neighborhood’s historic brick storefronts. Should a few clouds blow your way, pop inside of one the neighborhood’s unique, quirky boutiques to warm up for a minute or two. Visit the blink-and-you-miss-it, second-floor showroom of Fresh Tangerine to snag dainty, Instagram worthy gold and silver baubles. Duck into the bright, airy Velouria down the street for a carefully curated collection of small-batch, independently made clothing from Pacific Northwest artists.

One of Seattle’s original neighborhoods, Pioneer Square is a hot spot for unique boutiques.
One of Seattle’s original neighborhoods, Pioneer Square is a hot spot for unique boutiques.

Head over to the neighboring community of Belltown to pick up hip, diverse threads at Endless Knot or a whole new stack of vinyl (as well as excellent music recommendations from the knowledgeable staff) at the eclectic Singles Going Steady music boutique. From there, make your way toward the heart of town to check out Moorea Seal’s brand new First Ave location for everything from a well-edited selection leather totes and boots to adorable stationery and desk accessories.

Browse the racks for locally produced threads in a number of Belltown boutiques.
Browse the racks for locally produced threads in a number of Belltown boutiques.

1:45 p.m. – Waterfall Garden Park

With more than 456 parks scattered around town, you don’t even have to leave the city limits to find excellent opportunities to get a peep at amazing fall foliage. A mere five-minute walk from the heart of Pioneer Square will land you in the Emerald City’s own secret garden, the serene Waterfall Garden Park.

Waterfall Garden Park provides a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Credit: John Seb Barber
Waterfall Garden Park provides a calm oasis in the heart of the city. Credit: John Seb Barber

Pull up a chair, soak in views of trees splashed in crimson and gold, and forget about the rest of the world as you listen to the sound of water gushing down the park’s 22-foot waterfall. (A little insider tip: If your adventures land you in Capitol Hill, scamper up the Howe Street Stairs to see the hidden Streissguth Gardens ablaze in purple and fuchsia as asters and penstemon fill this urban oasis.)

2:30 p.m. – Seattle Brewery Tour

Wander a few blocks north up First Avenue to meet up with Seattle’s beer experts from Road Dog Tours and study up on the city’s micro-brew scene with a mini tasting adventure to three of the city’s unique breweries. Discover brewvana as insider knowledge is freely dispensed along with a fresh lineup of delicious suds. (A little insider tip: If you are looking for more brews, check out a few of our favorite pubs around town or head to the Elysian to sample their “Punkuccino” Coffee Pumpkin Ale, which combines classic fall pumpkin goodness with the flavors of Stumptown’s coffee toddy.)

5:00 p.m. – Pike Place Stroll

After the tour, refuel with a progressive happy hour through Pike Place Market’s vibrant stalls. Just be sure to save room for dinner later. Stop by Mee Sum for savory hombow the size of two fists loaded with chicken, mushrooms and onions. Pop into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to snag a bag of creamy, bite-sized Beecher’s curds or pick up a fish-shaped smoked salmon pastry at Piroshky Piroshky, which features more than 20 varieties of the handmade treats. As a final stop, swing by “Crabby Hour” at Etta’s to feast on some of the freshest steamed crab around.

6:30 p.m. – The Pink Door

Meander off Pike Place’s beaten path and duck inside the unmarked, pink entryway to Post Alley’s bohemian and aptly named, Pink Door restaurant. Part burlesque show, part circus (trapeze artists regularly swing over dining room guests) and part rustic Italian-American eatery, the restaurant is everything you want in an intimate date night spot.

Watch for The Pink Door's pastel entrance as you wander down Post Alley. Credit: Mark Ordonez
Watch for The Pink Door’s pastel entrance as you wander down Post Alley. Credit: Mark Ordonez

With an impressive variety of locally-sourced dishes, many of which derive from the owner’s family recipes, you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. Save yourself some guesswork and split a bowl of bruschetta, before digging into the phenomenal lasagna or the restaurant’s daily risotto special. Still hungry? Sample the cabaret cake for the fancier, adult version of those ooey gooey Nutella sandwiches you loved as a kid.

8:00 p.m. – Underground Tour Paranormal Experience

Following dinner, head back over to Pioneer Square to see the roots of the Emerald City with a trek through the catacomb-like passageways of the Seattle Underground. Search for the paranormal spirits thought to be the souls of Seattle’s first settlers, as you roam the network of storefronts, alleys and basements buried underground when Seattle rebuilt on top of the original city after great Seattle Fire.

We’ll leave it up to you to decide if those chills up your spine are from an errant draft or the spirit of one of the neighborhood’s eccentric citizens. Even if you don’t encounter some of Seattle’s oldest inhabitants, you’ll leave with an arsenal of tales about the city’s colorful past and a newfound knowledge of why those purple glass squares are embedded into Seattle’s sidewalks.

Discover another side of Seattle as you explore the historic underground. Credit: Karen Neoh
Discover another side of Seattle as you explore the historic underground. Credit: Karen Neoh

10:00 p.m. – Bathtub Gin & Co.

While your sleuthing skills are still sharp, seek out Belltown’s hidden gem, Bathtub Gin & Co. for a post-tour cocktail. Nestled in the alleyway between First and Second Avenue, discovering the location of this laidback spot does take some work, but you will be rewarded with amazing list handcrafted beverages. Choose from the bar’s excellent gin selection or let your talented bartender know your favorite spirit and watch them work their magic to whip you up a fabulous concoction – you won’t be disappointed.

Day 3

7:00 a.m. – Clipper Terminal at Pier 69

Grab a hot Caffé Vita latte and paired with the one of the best scrambled egg and avocado burritos around and locally-made Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt topped with a blend of Northwest berries at the Clipper Café  before embarking on your journey home (if you find yourself short on time you can always get it to go as well).

As the boat pulls out of Elliot Bay, take one last look at the Seattle skyline (and maybe snap one final selfie) as you cruise out into the Puget Sound, sea spray rooster-tailing behind you.

Soak in one last look at Seattle from the Clipper's back deck on your way home. Photo: Dalia Ryker
Soak in one last look at Seattle from the Clipper’s back deck on your way home. Photo: Dalia Ryker

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Feature Photo: Michael McNerney

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