Though Seattle’s winters are relatively predictable with mild, gray, misty weather, sometimes the city gets a welcome surprise in the form of a beautiful, sunny day. Summers are filled with sunshine and warmth. Spring and fall, like many places, can be unpredictable. Whether blue sky or gray, we know what to do in any weather.
What to Do on a Sunny Day
Start the day with a sunrise hike. Discovery Park in Magnolia has a nearly 12 miles of walking trails that take you through the woods, along a cliff and down to beaches. Or explore St. Edward State Park in Kenmore, Wash., along Lake Washington, where you can stroll 3,000 feet of shoreline, hiking and biking trails, a playground and more. A Washington State Park, a Discover Pass is required.
A sunny day also is perfect weather to stroll along Seattle’s downtown waterfront—you’ll find restaurants and attractions, including the Seattle Aquarium (with a variety of sea life and adorable otters!) and the Seattle Great Wheel (the enclosed gondolas make for a comfortable ride year-round). Have lunch at the recently renovated Ivar’s Acres of Clams or Elliott’s Oyster House before taking in the waterfront view from the water on a ferry to Bainbridge Island.
For a different stellar view, head to Sky View Observatory, on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center. While overlooking Seattle, enjoy a glass of wine or small plates from the Sky View Café.
What to Do on a Rainy Day
Grab an umbrella and head out to explore the city; a little rainy weather won’t dampen the day. Head to Seattle Center for a variety of indoor activities—visit Seattle icon the Space Needle before heading to the EMP Museum for all things pop culture, including movie and music memorabilia and more. From there, head to the Armory for lunch, where you’ll find a variety of local and national restaurants ready to help you refuel. In the same building, you’ll find the Seattle Children’s Museum, with exhibits and activities for the smallest travelers. The Pacific Science Center also has great exhibits for kids and adults and an IMAX theater showing both nature and science movies as well as big box-office hits.
Another great neighborhood to explore is Capitol Hill—one of the densest in the city, you can duck in and out of stores, coffee shops and restaurants all day. Can’t-miss shopping spots include Totokaelo for lux fashions, NuBe Green and Retrofit Home for gifts and Elliott Bay Book Co. for aisles of tomes. Hungry? Grab a table at Linda’s Tavern for upscale bar fare and great brunch, any of the eateries in Melrose Market—seriously, they’re all good—or Cupcake Royale, with cupcakes, coffee and ice cream.
What to Do on a Windy Day
Escape a windy day at Pike Place Market. There are six levels of vendors, shops and restaurants to poke through. Don’t miss Daily Dozen Doughnuts in the Economy Market, ready to nibble while perusing the artists and craftspeople; Ventures, a store full of locally made art and gifts; and Bella Umbrella where you can buy an umbrella in any color of the rainbow. Hungry? Dine with a view at Lowell’s Restaurant & Bar or the Soundview Café. Pike Brewing is another favorite, where you can tour the brewery (Tue.-Sat., 2 pm) before sampling a few styles and dining on things like pizza, burgers and seafood.
Find a quiet calm at the Seattle Art Museum, where you can see art from around the world in the permanent collections, plus a stellar lineup of traveling exhibits throughout the year.
What to Do on a Snowy Day
On the rare occurrence Seattle gets snow, grab a hat and some gloves and head to the Olympic Sculpture Park, where you can snap snow-filled photos of sculptures by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder and Claes Oldenburg. Enter the park at the southern tip along Alaskan Way and Broad Street—Uptown Espresso, a small coffee shop, is near the fountain at the park border if you need something warm to wrap your hands around.
Another great spot for snowy days is Pioneer Square. This historic neighborhood is gorgeous in the snow. Walk through Occidental Park to see “Sun and Raven, Tsonqua, Bear, Killer Whale,” the totem and figure poles, glittering in the snow. Another spot worth a stop is at 100 Yesler Way, which features a bust of Chief Seattle, an iron pergola and another totem pole from 1940. Stop in for lunch at Il Corvo, a favorite Italian spot with three pastas on the menu that change depending on what looks best at the market. Or, have a warm bowl of congee, a rice porridge dish, at Kraken Congee. The Asian-inspired congee bowls include things like pork belly, salmon and duck, as well as buns and small plates including mussels and clams, potato croquettes and chicken wings.