Seattle Travel
The Definitive Guide on the Best Time to Visit Seattle

The Definitive Guide on the Best Time to Visit Seattle

Post created August 23, 2023

One of the best things about traveling to Seattle is that the weather rarely gets too cold or too hot. Sure, there is a lot of rain, but not as much as you would think and certainly, not every month. So, when is the best time to visit the Emerald City? That depends on who you are and what you are looking to do. For most people, summertime is the best time to explore because of the sunny weather and myriad of outdoor activities available. But each season in Seattle offers different adventures. 

We’ve broken down some of the best things to do in Seattle for each season. See if you agree.

Spring

Average Temps and Rainfall

  • March: 54°/39° – Rainfall: 5.13 inches
  • April: 60°/42° – Rainfall: 3.43 inches
  • May: 67°/48° – Rainfall: 2.69 inches
Green Lake Seattle Aerial View
Green Lake Seattle aerial view (Image Credit: SEASTOCK/iStock Photo)

If you’re runner or biker (using a bike with pedals) or hiker, spring is an excellent time to get back at it. You might have to dodge a few raindrops, but the weather never gets too cold or too warm. It’s a great time to exercise. The 2.9 mile Green Lake Trail loops around Green Lake with a pathway dedicated for bikers and another for walkers and runners. It’s a tranquil spot that’s safely away from traffic. 

The Burke-Gilman Trail is an urban 18.4 mile trail that begins at the Ballard Bridge and ends in Bothell (or vice versa depending which direction you’re heading). It is mostly flat with plenty of benches and picnic tables along the way available for resting.

Springtime Tulip Fields (image Credit: iStock / LoweStock)

Spring represents new life and nowhere is that best displayed than up north in Mount Vernon during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Held all month long in April, the festival features many events held at a variety of tulip farms. It is not only a hit with the locals, but the festival boasts of catering to guests from all over the country. Other annual events include Irish Week (which includes the St. Patrick’s Day parade and other events) and the Spring Fair at the Washington State Fairgrounds, which is sort of a “mini” version of the fall fair with great shows and plenty to see and do.

The Seattle Mariners baseball team begin their season in April at T-Mobile Park. Not only have we put together a list of the best food and drinks to find at the park, but also a guide some of the best things to do nearby the park as well.

Marines game at T-Mobile Park (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

Summer

Average Temps and Rainfall

  • June: 72°/53° – Rainfall: 2.13 inches
  • July 78°/56° – Rainfall: .85 inches
  • August: 78°/57° – Rainfall: 1.1 inches

There is SO much to do in Seattle during summer that’s it’s hard to mention everything, but we’ll do our best! From camping in the state parks to watching outdoor movies at a local park, this is the season where everyone in Seattle is outside. It’s the perfect time of the year to take a boat tour and we know of 10 of the best ones. And if you’re game and the weather is chilly, try out a hot tub boat – seriously!

Puget Sound Express whale watching (Image Credit: Shutterstock / T.Schofield)

Those of us who live in the Greater Seattle Area are fortunate enough to experience wildlife up close and personal. The Pacific Northwest is home to many orca whale pods. We know of six great whale watching tours to take advantage, some which leave from the Seattle waterfront. Others take place near Anacortes and the San Juan Islands. You don’t even have to take a tour to see them though. Alki Beach is known for a being a good place to spot those majestic creatures.

If you’ve been to Seattle before, but would like to see something new, we suggest taking a day visit to some of other noteworthy towns. Snoqualmie Falls is breathtaking and The Dining Room at the Salish Lodge & Spa offers the perfect view of them. (It is also the place where the TV series Twin Peaks was filmed by the way!)  The Bavarian town of Leavenworth is not to be missed. Every building in downtown (and many others for that matter) are themed to look as if they were transported from Bavaria. In town, you can experience Washington’s only Alpen coaster, enjoy the many shops and restaurants with the sounds of accordions in the background and there is always an excuse to celebrate something here.

Seattle Wheel (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

Summer is also the best time to visit all of those touristy things along the Seattle Waterfront including the majestic 175-foot tall Ferris wheel known around here as the Seattle Great Wheel. It is located at Miner’s Landing on Pier 57 which is home to a bunch of great restaurants, shops, an indoor carousel the amazing Wings Over Washington “flying theater.” That attraction alone will make you think that you are in Disneyland. Located practically next door is one of Seattle’s most iconic restaurants, Ivar’s Acres of Clams. It’s been around since 1938!

The cool breeze from Puget Sound make even the most scorching days bearable. Just a short walk away, the Pike Place Market, one of the oldest and largest outdoor markets in the country, is in full bloom during the summer months with fresh produces, street buskers and lots of shops to conquer.

If there is only thing that you do on your visit to Seattle, it is to visit the Space Needle. I mean, how could you not? The observation tours has only gotten more amazing in recent years with the addition of a revolving glass floor and lookout out views that appear to be endless as you are only stopped by more glass walls instead of a railing. 

The Space Needle is part of the Seattle Center which also features other fantastic places to check out including the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture and the Pacific Science Center.

Annual events that happen in the Seattle area during the summer months include the Edmonds Art Festival (possibly the state’s largest) which is always held on Father’s Day weekend, Tacoma’s Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show in June, the Bite of Seattle in July and the big Seafair Weekend Festival featuring the US Navy’s Blue Angels and hydroplane races on Lake Washington in August. The Evergreen State Fair in Monroe is also kind of a big deal at the end of August too. 

US Navy’s Blue Angels at Seafair (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

The Seattle Night Market takes place every month in the Magnuson Park Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park. The Summer Solstice Market, held in June, features over 100 vendors, three bars and a bunch of food trucks. Check out our complete guide to night markets here.

Though technically the Seattle Sounders FC begin their season in the spring, the bulk of their games are played in the summer and even in the fall. Fans of the Seahawks will have to wait until fall to watch the “real” games, but you can be a part of their training camp at Lumen Field in late July and/or early August.

Fall

Average Temps and Rainfall:

  • September: 73°/53° – Rainfall: 2.13 inches
  • October: 61°/46° – Rainfall: 5 inches
  • November: 51°/40° – Rainfall: 7.8 inches

Early fall is a very pleasant time to visit Seattle. While the mornings and evenings are cool, the temperatures during day can get downright toasty believe it or not. It’s the time of the year when runners tie up their shoes and race for charities, hikers visit waterfalls and various Oktoberfests pop up all over the place.

Every September, the Washington State Fair takes over the town of Puyallup for three whole weeks! This isn’t your little town fair with pig races and woodcarvers (although we’ve got those too), no, it’s a big event that brings in big entertainers like Zac Brown, Pentatonix, Chicago, Dan + Shay and more. The Fisher Scones are legendary and the amusement park rides huge. You can literally spend a whole day here.

Seahawks at Lumen Field (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

Tailgate parties lead up to the home games of the Seahawks playing home games at the big and incredibly loud (thanks to all of those 12 fans) Lumen Field. We hardly need to give you a reason to come to game, but while you’re there, we’ve got the guide to the best food and drink at the field.

Annual events held during the fall include the Ellensburg Rodeo which happens every year on Labor Day weekend. It just so happens that the Rockin’ the Chutes concert series and the small town Kittitas County Fair happens at that same time just down the road.

In September, blockheads are eager to attend BrickCon, the longest running LEGO fan exhibition in the U.S. and corn mazes pop up all over the Greater Seattle area in October.

In November, you’ll laugh yourself silly at the Seattle International Comedy Competition. With 22 shows taking place over 26 day at 18 different venues, it boasts of being America’s biggest touring comedy festival. 

Turkey Trots are a real thing here but it’s nothing compared to literal traffic-stopping Seattle Marathon (which includes a children’s marathon) held in late November.

Winter

Average Temps and Rainfall: 

  • December: 46°/36° – Rainfall: 7.2 inches
  • January: 47°/37° – Rainfall: 6.96 inches
  • February: 49°/36° – Rainfall: 4.63 inches

No matter how cold it gets in other parts of the country, the Pacific Northwest stays relatively mild during winter season but cold enough and just enough snow at times that it still feels like the holidays. We like our lights during the holidays. Visiting downtown during the winter months compared to the summer months gives a whole difference experience. For those who love the holidays, winter is definitely the time to visit.

There are two main ski areas near Seattle to take advantage of when you’re in town. Stevens Pass is about 88 miles from Seattle and Snoqualmie Pass is approximately just 52. Both get good ratings. Stevens gets high marks for its skiing while Snoqualmie is popular with its additional winter activities like tubing and cross country skiing. Both provide for a fun adventure (as long as the weather cooperates!).

Seattle Kraken game at Climate Pledge Arena (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

With games played at The Climate Pledge Arena at the Seattle Center since late fall, the Seattle Kraken hockey games are very popular during the winter months. Both the arena and the team are fairly new (well, the arena was built for the 1962 World’s Fair but it had a major improvement before the team moved in) so, everything here feels fresh, shiny and new.

Winter time is a time for live stage shows from holiday concerts to various Nutcracker performances. Pacific Northwest Ballet leads the pack when it comes to the popular ballet presentation while ACT Contemporary Theatre has got “A Christmas Carol” down pat. Both are very popular with Seattle families and visitors won’t be disappointed. 

Christmas light displays are larger than life here as well. The biggest displays worth a drive to include Woodland Park Zoo’s Wild Lanterns and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s Zoolights. Both are big productions with lots of photo ops. The first features a modern twist on Chinese lanterns with many displays based on animals. The latter is more traditional but still pretty spectacular with creatures created with over 800,000 shiny lightbulbs.

Over at the Washington State Fairgrounds, Holiday Magic offers a holiday experience with interactive displays, a forest of decorated Christmas trees, ice skating, an Arctic Adventure laser show, festive games, good food and a nativity scene with live animals.

Snowflake Lane (Image Credit: SeattleTravel.com)

One of the more unique traditions in Bellevue is Snowflake Lane where a street parade and performances are held nightly during the holiday season between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. The show is pretty amazing with falling “snow”, dazzling lights, contemporary festive music, human “toy” drummers and dancers at 7 p.m. sharp each night. It’s not your traditional Christmas show either. They go all out.

New York has its Time Square to celebrate the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve. Here is Seattle, we celebrate with fireworks shooting off and above the Space Needle!

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