You make plans months in advance, book a plane ticket, and plan your trip extensively (or not). You arrive in Seattle and you’re met with… rain. Whether it’s your first time to a new city or your millionth time returning to your favorite city, a rainy weekend can often time ruin an entire destination! Dreams of laying on the beach, biking the streets, visiting rooftops, and sitting in gardens are suddenly ruined. But don’t worry! There are tons of things to do in Seattle despite the dreaded “Seattle rain”.
It’s true, Seattle weather can be quite unpredictable. While you can often time expect to be met with dreary, rainy weather from October-May… you can be surprised by rain showers any time of the year! Seattle has a reputation for being a “rain city”, but most people don’t know that the average rainfall in Seattle is oftentimes less than that of other cities across the US. The reason Seattle is often dubbed one of the rainiest cities in America is because of the number of days of precipitation. Not because of the amount of rainfall.
While the Seattle weather varies, you can expect about 150 days of rain in Seattle per year. Knowing that, know that rain or shine there is plenty to do in this fascinating city! The Seattle rain doesn’t stop locals, and it shouldn’t stop you. Below are seven things to do to beat the rain and still enjoy what Seattle has to offer.
7 Ways to Beat the Seattle Rain
1. Visit Pike Place Market
Location: Downtown Seattle
The longest-running farmers market in the US, Pike Place Market opened in 1907. One of the biggest draws to Seattle, people from all over the world come to spend time in this lively market. Dodging flying fish, shopping for flowers, and trying some of the most delicious food that Seattle has to offer.
Lucky for you, Pike Place Market is the perfect way to escape the dreaded Seattle, Washington rain (that at times can feel like it never stops). Most of the market is covered so spend the day lazily walking from stall to stall, taking your time as you make your way through the maze that is Pike Place.
Pro tip: Skip the way overrated “first Starbucks”, and instead head up to Storyville Coffee Pike Place. You’ll have views of the market plus be warm and cozy inside away from the rain.
First time visiting this overwhelming and vast market? Don’t fear! Read my guide – Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Pike Place Market
2. Visit the Space Needle
Still, wondering what to do in Seattle when it’s raining? Another draw to the city is the unique Space Needle that stands tall on the horizon. The Seattle Space Needle was built for a world fair in 1962 with plans to be destroyed. To this day it still stands and is now an icon of Seattle.
Rain or shine you can ride the elevator up to the top of the Space Needle, giving you sweeping views over Seattle. While you may not be able to see far with the clouds if you’re in town it’s worth the visit. Hang around inside for a while and don’t forget to add your name to the “map” of people who have visited!
Pro tip: Combine your visit to the Space Needle with a visit to the Chihuly Gardens and/or The Museum of Pop Culture for a discounted price.
3. Tour the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum
While the Seattle climate is at times, questionable; the Chihuly Gardens is not! A stunning museum showcasing the works of Dale Chihuly. The museum opened in 2012 and seems to fall in the shadow of Seattle’s most recognized attraction – the Space Needle. However, a visit to Chihuly Garden is worth it on its own and if you truly only have time for one – Space Needle or museum – I strongly recommend skipping the Needle and head to the museum.
Pro tip: See pro tip #2.
4. Visit the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Another way to stay dry in Seattle is by spending the day at the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP. MoPOP is a museum dedicated to contemporary popular culture. You can find odes to the history of hip hop, Nirvana, and more. The museum is constantly changing its exhibits so each time you visit Seattle you can expect something new and exciting.
Pro tip: See pro tip #2.
5. Cozy up with a book at The Elliott Bay Book Company
Location: Capitol Hill
What better way to stay dry and wait out the rain than in a cozy bookstore? In the heart of the thriving Capitol Hill neighborhood, you’ll find this neighborhood gem with the motto “Come for the books, stay for the experience”; which couldn’t be more true! With over 150,000 books you could spend hours on end perusing the bookshelves.
Know what you’re looking for? Purchase your book from the counter and grab a seat at a table or head to Little Oddfellows in the back of the bookstore for a pastry and cup of joe.
Pro tip: Head to the charming Oddfellows Café + Bar afterward for a cocktail and meal.
6. Learn the history of Seattle on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Location: Pioneer Square
Another way to wait out the rainy days in Seattle is to spend time learning about history! And there is no more unique way to do so than to do it on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. Spend a few hours in the underground streets of Pioneer Square. Learn how Seattle came to be and about the “Great Seattle Fire” of 1889 that burned down the entire city.
Pro tip: Head to the very Instagram-able restaurant The London Plane to fuel up before or after your tour.
7. Learn the craft of coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Location: Capitol Hill
In 1971 the mega coffee chain known as Starbucks came to be. Born in the heart of Seattle this chain is now recognized around the world. In 2014 Starbucks took it even further and opened a Starbucks Reserve in the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood. Head to the bar where you can learn about the art of coffee making and watch the baristas craft different types of coffee drinks. If you’re hungry you can also order food!
Pro tip: While Starbucks is incredibly popular, especially in Seattle where it was born, If you’re looking to beat the crowds instead head to Queen Anne and cozy up inside La Marzocco for a more local experience.
So, you arrive in Seattle for the first – or tenth – time, and you’re met with rain. Lucky for you you now have six different ways to beat the unpredictable, Seattle rain. So welcome to the Emerald City. Cozy in, put your rain boots on, and keep a smile on your face. There are tons of great things to do in this city rain or shine!
For a more comprehensive guide to Seattle read The Ultimate Guide to Seattle
Do you prefer visuals over text? Head over to my Instagram page/highlight reel to see more of what Seattle has to offer! Or search the hashtag #ppinseattle.