Updated October 4, 2019

Like a row of candles flickering in the distance, the buildings of the Seattle skyline illuminate a crisp fall evening. While the scenic ride on the Victoria Clipper ferry 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.

In the blink of an eye, our fabulous PNW summer has transitioned into a fall wonderland. With everything from soft golden rays reflecting off the waterfront to piles of colorful leaves and a bustling downtown, the greater Seattle area is the perfect autumnal playground. There are 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!

Day 1

7:45 p.m. – Victoria Clipper Arrives from Victoria, BC into downtown Seattle

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 unique neighborhoods. Want the best of the best of both worlds? Opt for a luxurious stay at the sophisticated Warwick Hotel.

Located in the heart of the city, the hotel boasts plush rooms exuding 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. Book this hotel with Clipper, learn more.

Cozy up in the heart of Seattle at the downtown Warwick hotel. Credit: Warwick Hotel
Cozy up in the heart of Seattle 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. Search out the neighborhood speakeasy-style bar, Knee High Stocking Co., for a frequently-rotating list of craft cocktails – currently in its 39th iteration!

The cozy spot continues the Prohibition-era tradition of being hidden in plain sight. 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 make your way to the bright, sophisticated London Plane. A haven for local brunchers and lunchers, the charming spot serves up creative takes on old favorites. We highly recommend sampling the English muffin with egg, ham, gruyere cheese 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 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 unique and 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 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 at the eclectic Singles Going Steady music boutique. (The knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you sort through the many tunes and provide excellent recommendations.) From there, make your way toward the heart of town to Moorea Seal for everything from a well-edited selection of 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. – Elysian Fields Brewing

Seattle knocks it out of the park when it comes to craft brewing, and this time of year is no exception. Wander a few blocks down the road on 2nd Avenue to the nearby Elysian Fields and discover brewvana as you sip on a fresh lineup of delicious suds. Don’t miss out on a range of limited-time taps, such as the pumpkin-spiced Night Owl or opt for a twist of coffee with their Punkuccino.

Cozy up with a frothy pint of local beer.
Cozy up with a frothy pint of local beer.

5:00 p.m. – Pike Place Stroll

After studying up on the city’s microbrew scene, 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. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

Sink your teeth into a variety of tasty pastries. Credit: Savor Seattle
Sink your teeth into a variety of tasty pastries. Credit: Savor Seattle

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 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 fresh dishes sourced from the owner’s family recipes, you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. Save yourself some guesswork and split a plate 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. – Beneath the Streets

Following dinner, head back over to Pioneer Square to see the roots of the Emerald City on the Beneath the Streets tour. Go underground and search for the paranormal spirits thought to be the souls of Seattle’s first settlers, as you roam through the network of the city’s original storefronts, alleys and basements. Today’s version of Seattle was rebuilt on top of the old town, beginning after the 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, former citizens. Even if you don’t encounter some of Seattle’s oldest inhabitants, you’ll leave with an arsenal of tales and a newfound knowledge of why those purple glass squares are embedded into Seattle’s sidewalks. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

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, the 10-year-old bar packs a punch with innovative 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 (8:00 a.m. departure)

Grab a hot Caffé Vita latte and pair it with one of the best scrambled egg and avocado burritos around 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. Credit: Dalia RykerSoak in one last look at Seattle from the Clipper’s back deck on your way home. Credit: Dalia Ryker

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Feature Photo: Michael McNerney