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Overnight Layover

North Pole, Alaska
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127 posts
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Overnight Layover

My husband and I have an overnight layover in Seattle in early March before flying home to Alaska. We will land around 9pm in the evening and don't fly out until 6pm the next day. We want to do some sightseeing (Pike Place Market, etc) while in town.

I have several questions: Should we rent a car, or rely on public transportation/shuttles and foot power? Should we stay in a hotel near the airport, or stay in one close to downtown? If we find lodging downtown, what transportation is available from the airport? (Our baggage will NOT be checked through, so we'll be hauling that with us) We'll also need to find a hotel that won't mind stowing our bags for us while we sight see, until we have to return to the airport the next evening. I hope this isn't a problem.

We are not shoppers, so run of the mill malls and shopping districts do not appeal to us. I am a photographer and I am more interested in the urban vibe, architecture, history, etc. We also prefer the outdoors (even if it's raining), landscapes, pretty views, etc.

We plan to get up as early as necessary to do as much as we can. Since we won't be getting into SEATAC until around 9pm, I don't know if there's anything we could do that evening - or whether we'd be up for doing anything that evening, as we're flying in from the east coast.

As for budget, I'd like to keep our hotel cost at $100-$125 for the night, and our transportation costs below $30 or $40 total.

Can anyone recommend an itinerary that we might enjoy?

Thanks in advance,


Davie, Florida
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1. Re: Overnight Layover

For the amount of time you have renting a car is best. Pike Place and Pioneer Square are close to each other so would be a good destination. Check a site like priceline for hotels.

Davie, Florida
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2. Re: Overnight Layover

13 coins is neaxt to the airport and a great place for a late meal.

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3. Re: Overnight Layover

Your post was perfect because you told us when you were coming, what you wanted to try to do, and your budget. This makes it a lot easier for us to put something together for you.

With regard to your stay, I would go to Priceline and offer $90 for a four star hotel in downtown Seattle. But before you do that, make sure to do the following:

- Check to make sure you are booking it in the downtown Seattle core (not Bellevue, Kirkland or the surrounding area). This is currently button number 11 on Priceline's website.

If you do this, Priceline will put you in one of these ten four-star hotels

-- the Fairmont

-- Westin Seattle

-- W Seattle

-- Hyatt

-- Sheraton

-- Hyatt at Olive 8

-- Alexis

-- Hotel Vantage Park

-- Edgewater (you won't get a room view, but still a nicely renovated hotel).

-- Hotel Monaco

All of the above are really nice hotels, and you should be able to snag a nice hotel in the heart of the city for around 90 bucks. You are lucky in that you are coming in March you are not at the height of tourist season. The only hitch would be if there was a big convention in town.

Each of these hotels is well situated in downtown, with the exception of the Edgewater. But it's only a fifteen minute walk from the Edgewater to Pike Place and you and your husband may enjoy being down on the water. Even though you don't know exactly where you will end up, Priceline is a great way to snag a hotel deal and the aforementioned four-star hotels are all really nice.

Now that you've got a room, here are a few options for how to get to Seattle.

Were it me, I would take Sound Transit Light Rail. It's $2.50 per person, so you and your husband can get from the airport to downtown and back for less than $10.00. Unless your bags are huge and don't have wheels, you should not have a problem. You'll see a lot of fellow travelers getting on the Sound Transit light rail at the airport heading downtown with their bags. Depending on which hotel you get, you will want to get off at either the Westlake Station or the University Street Station. (once you've got a hotel, just call them and ask them which station is best to exit).


(when you check out this map you'll see a dotted line to the airport - don't worry, they are finishing the last mile in a couple weeks - it will definitely be open next month).

Another option would be to take a cab, but you are probably looking at about $40.00, so perhaps you might want to cab in and then take the train back. If you are tired when you get in though, a cab may be quicker -- You'll get to your hotel about 20 minutes faster.

A third option would be to rent a car, but I doubt you'll get a car for 40 dollars and if you stay in a downtown hotel they'll want big bucks for parking.

If the bags are a problem, consider bringing a backpack for you and your husband for the one night in Seattle and storing your bags overnight at Seatac


It may be worth the money, allowing you to travel light the next day and not worry about dragging them around. Again, the Edgewater is about a fifteen minute walk from the Westlake Station or the market, so if you get the Edgewater I'd make sure to look into storing your bags overnight.

Now -- what to do:

Given that you are photographer, I would try to hit Pike Place early in the morning, before the tourists arrive. The vendors will be setting up shop and all the flowers will be fresh. I don't know what time they start throwing the salmon, but you are from Alaska so I doubt this is a big draw.

I'd also consider looking into taking a bus from Seattle to one of our Parks like Discovery Park or to one of the parks on Queen Anne Hill. You can get a good vibe for our neighborhoods and still not waste a whole day.


Or -- you may want to take the ferry to Bainbridge and back. (I doubt you'll have time to do both a trip to discovery parks and the ferry unless you get up before dark -- hence the word "or" at the beginning of this paragraph). But if you are on East Coast time this might not be a problem.

Just make sure you are back in the tunnel by about 3:30 to guarantee you can get light rail back to the airport. If you are in the tunnel by 3:30 you will get to the airport not later than 4:30 allowing you to get your bags back, get through security and get on your plane with a bit of time to spare.


Renton, WA
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4. Re: Overnight Layover

NapoDyno's answer was perfect. Just a note...you don't have to walk up and down hills to get to and from the waterfront because there are many buildings with escalators/elevators that will take you between levels. The Pike Place Market parking garage is probably the easiest to find, but just walking into building lobbies and checking their elevator listings will be a big help.

Destination Expert
for Seattle
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19,216 posts
108 reviews
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5. Re: Overnight Layover

since you want to spend the entire day downtown and be back at the airport the next nite staying downtown or at the airport would be ok cause your only sleeping there on arrival. If you stay at an airport hotel there is a shuttle service called Seattle Express that will bring you to mkt, or take the train. On right side read one day itinerary without a car. That starts at the space needle and will give you a good game plan. I wouldn't rent a car. The buses downtown are free so its not hard to get around. If you do stay downtown cabs are a flat rate to seatac at $32. Plan on 42-45 coming in. Towncars are almost as cheap. Look at arriving and departing.

North Pole, Alaska
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6. Re: Overnight Layover

Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful information! I am excited about visiting Seattle, as we didn't get a chance to stay and explore when we drove through in 2003 en route to AK.

As for the fish tossing, that is actually something I want to see. Granted, I see my fill of salmon up here, but I've never seen AK fishermen throwing them, so that sounds fun.

I like the idea of packing our luggage to combine the items we need for the overnight stay into one backpack and stowing the rest of our luggage at the airport. That will probably be the best way for us to travel lightly between the AP and downtown. Good idea!

Thank you NapoDyno for the suggestion about visiting one or more of your local parks and for the links. I will also look into the ferry as a consideration instead of the parks.

I also appreciate the information about transportation time back to the AP so we can be sure to be on the train in time to make our flight out.

I'm looking forward to visiting, and hope to make the most of our layover.


western WA
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7. Re: Overnight Layover

Regarding the bidding, March is still well out of tourist season so you might pay less than $90. I stayed in a 4* for $70 with tax in October. $45 with tax at the airport is very doable -- just don't have any expectations about the airport neighborhood being worth spending time in.

Everett, Washington
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8. Re: Overnight Layover

Shuttle Express says it's $27 r/t for two between SeaTac and downtown. I went all the way through the reservation system but could not confirm if this is "for two" or "each when booking two". Seemed go be "for two" though so a pretty good deal. We're considering this for an early Feb trip. Only downside is they really take seriously the advice to check-in very early so their recommended pickup time can be as much as four hours before flight time.

Be flexible about exactly what to do based n the weather. If conditions are right an early morning (counter-commute) ferry to Bremerton or Bainbridge Is. could provide some great photog opportunities from the water. Especially if slightly foggy or misty with sunrise light behind downtown in March.

Tucson, Arizona
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9. Re: Overnight Layover

Re your interest in architecture, don't miss the modern Seattle Public Library Downtown, 1000 Fourth Ave. Enter at Fourth Ave. and take a look at the floor to the right in the Foster Learning Center. This floor includes 556 lines of text, in reverse, in 11 languages and alphabets and consists of the first sentences of books found within the collection -- an amazing work of art that covers a huge area. Then take the escalator upstairs to look at more of the interior design.

The Kerry Park Viewpoint on Queen Anne Hill is a photographer's dream. Located at the corner of West Highland Drive and 2nd Ave. West, the view includes the Space Needle, Downtown Seattle, Mount Rainier (on clear days), Elliott Bay with ferries plying its waters, and Puget Sound. It is a 15- minute ride from Downtown on either the #2 or #13 bus, and is just up the hill from the Seattle Center. There is some interesting historic architecture on West Highland Drive. Check out the two mansions that have been converted into apartment buildings in the first block of W. Highland Drive after you get off the bus. The big, white, classical-revival house has an interesting information plaque out front. Consider walking along the street for a few blocks to the Betty Bowen Viewpoint and check out the eclectic architecture along the way.

I agree that the new light rail would be the way to go with minimal luggage.

Get a schedule and aim for a time that will get you to the airport when you want to be there. They are advertising a 36-minute travel time between West Lake Center and the airport once the final section is completed later this month.

10. Re: Overnight Layover

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