When is the Best Time to Visit Seattle?

Cindy Richards Avatar

Iconic Seattle view, from Bainbridge Island ferry
Iconic Seattle view, from Bainbridge Island ferry. Photo credit: Judy Antell 

Seattle is a beautiful city located in Washington State, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. With its stunning waterfront views, iconic landmarks and rich cultural history, Seattle attracts millions of visitors year-round.

Choosing the best month to visit Seattle can be challenging due to the city’s unique climate and wide variation in cost.

Read More: Super Fun Things to Do in Seattle with Kids

Weather in Seattle

While Seattle’s climate is mild and temperate throughout the year, the city has a reputation for being rainy and overcast. Ironically, though, Seattle actually gets less rain each year than Portland, Oregon, its neighbor to the south — 38 inches of rain falls in Seattle on average each year, compared to Portland’s 43 inches.

But Seattle wins on the number of rainy days — 165 vs. 164.

The bottom line: Weather in Seattle can be unpredictable. It’s essential to pack for all possibilities when visiting the city. Chances are good there will be some precipitation, so definitely pack a good rain jacket and an umbrella.

Visiting Seattle in the Summer (June to August)

The summer months from June to August are peak season in Seattle.

The summer season brings the most pleasant weather, with temperatures averaging between 65-75°F (18-24°C), and the city experiences sunny days and the least amount of rainfall. The long days and warm weather make summer an ideal time for outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking and biking.

One of the most popular outdoor activities in Seattle during the summer is whale watching. The local tourism organization says that it’s possible to spot Orcas, gray, and humpback whales year-round in the Pacific Northwest, southern resident Orcas typically travel through the San Juan Islands May through October.

Take a whale-watching tour from Seattle to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Summer Festivals

  • Boeing Seafair Air Show at Lake Washington features US Army and Navy fighter jets as well as civilian pilots and vintage aircraft.
  • Bite of Seattle is a food festival that takes place in July and features more than 200 restaurants and food trucks, live music, grill competitions and more.
  • Capitol Hill Block Party in July is a music festival featuring local and national indie rock, hip-hop and electronic artists.
  • Bumbershoot Arts and Music Festival happens on Labor Day weekend at the Seattle Center and features a diverse lineup of musical acts, comedy shows and art exhibitions.
  • Fremont Solstice Parade celebrates the longest day of year each June.

Visiting Seattle in the Fall (September to November)

The fall months of September to November bring comfortable temperatures of 50-65°F (10-18°C), although precipitation increases. The fall months of the year bring beautiful foliage. Take a day trip to Olympic National Park for its hiking trails and other outdoor activities.

Fall Festivals

  • Refract, the Seattle Glass Experience is a four-day celebration of Seattle’s glass art community with exhibitions, demonstrations, art parties, open artist studios and more.
  • Día de los Muertos, a cultural celebration at the Seattle Center happens in November and features traditional music, food, and art to honor the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead.

Winter (December to February)

The winter months of December to February bring the rainy season and chilly weather. Temperatures average between 40-50°F (4-10°C), and the city experiences lots of rainy days. On the plus side, you’ll miss the summer crowds.

In the city, you’ll find festive holiday celebrations and winter pursuits such as ice skating at the city’s iconic ice rink at the base of the Space Needle. The rink is open from November to January and offers stunning views of the city skyline while you skate. Drive a few hours outside of town and you’ll be in the Cascade Mountain range with a variety of resorts for skiing and snowboarding.

Winter Festivals

  • Seattle Center Winterfest is five weeks of free fun, including an ice skating rink and the Winter Train and Village.
  • Seattle Christmas Ship Festival is a holiday celebration that has been a Northwest tradition since 1949. The Spirit of Seattle is decorated with hundreds of white lights and sails to different Puget Sound waterfront communities.
  • New Year’s at the Needle: This annual event takes place on New Year’s Eve at the Space Needle and features live music, a fireworks display, and a countdown to midnight.

Spring (March to May)

The spring months of March to May can be unpredictable in terms of weather. Temperatures range from 45-60°F (7-15°C).

Washington DC might get all the press for its Cherry Blossom festival, but there are cherry trees in bloom in the Northwest too! The Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival celebrates the pink and white blooms each April.

Spring Festivals

  • Seattle Restaurant Week in April.
  • Seattle International Film Festival, which takes place in May.
  • Emerald City Comic Con, an annual comic book convention attracts fans from around the world.
  • Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival: This festival takes place in April and features traditional Japanese music, dance, and art, as well as a cherry blossom viewing area at the Seattle Center. You can also see cherry blossoms at the University of Washington’s Quad in late March and early April.
  • Northwest Folklife Festival: This festival takes place in May and features music, dance, and other traditional arts and crafts from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.Event Considerations

When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Seattle?

Seattle is a popular tourist destination, and the cost of travel and accommodations can vary depending on the time of year you visit. Here are some cost considerations to keep in mind when planning your trip:

Summer

Thanks to the warmer, sunnier summer weather, summer is the peak tourist season in Seattle, so airfare and accommodation prices tend to be higher during this time.

Fall

Fall is a great time to visit Seattle if you’re looking to save money on travel and accommodations. Thanks to the cooler, often rainy weather, prices for flights and hotels tend to be lower during this time, and you can still enjoy mild weather and outdoor activities.

Winter

Winter is the low season for tourism in Seattle, and prices for flights and hotels are often at their lowest. However, keep in mind that some outdoor activities and attractions may be closed or have limited hours during the winter months.

Spring

Spring is another shoulder season for travel in Seattle, and prices for flights and hotels are generally lower than during the summer months. However, keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable during this time, and some outdoor activities may not be available.

Places to Visit in and Near Seattle

Mount Rainier

Located just over an hour’s drive from the city, Mount Rainier National Park offers a chance to explore the stunning wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. The best time to visit Mt. Rainier is during the summer months of July and August when the park is accessible and the weather is mild. However, be aware that this is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

Pike Place Market

This popular destination in Seattle attracts tourists year-round. This historic market, located in downtown Seattle, is home to dozens of vendors selling fresh produce, seafood, crafts, and other goods. The best time to visit Pike Place Market is during the spring and summer months when the weather is mild and the outdoor stalls are open.

Fremont

This trendy neighborhood in northern Seattle offers a unique blend of art, food and nightlife. Explore the neighborhood’s eclectic public art installations, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants or food trucks and enjoy the vibrant nightlife scene. The best time to visit Fremont is during the summer months when the weather is mild, and many of the outdoor events and festivals take place.

Lake Union

Known for its picturesque views, refreshing breezes and water activities. Lake Union is the place to rent a paddleboard or kayak, or simply relax by the shore and enjoy the scenery. The best time to visit Lake Union is during the summer months when the weather is warm and the water activities are in full swing.

Cindy Richards Avatar
Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of SheBuysTravel.com. She also is the mom of two now grown kids who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.
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