Seattle Travel Guide › When to Visit
Updated: September 27, 2021
When is the best time to visit Seattle?
The best time to visit Seattle is from June to mid-October for sunny skies, minimal rain, and numerous outdoor events and festivals. Outside of this peak travel time, April and May offer great deals and tolerable sightseeing weather. From mid-October through February, you’ll likely find the city chilly, gray, and wet – but great for museums, restaurants, and Pike Place Market.
- Best time for outdoor recreation: Seattle has consistently dry, sunny, and warm weather from early July through September – perfect for local hiking, biking, and boating. April, May, June, and October are often unpredictable and swing from rainy and chilly to warm and sunny so be prepared for anything if visiting. November through March is generally cool and damp, and many Mount Rainier hiking trails are closed for the winter. Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing season in nearby mountain areas usually lasts from late November until April or May. Even in summer Puget Sound waters are not ideal for swimming, as they rarely get above 13°C.
- Best time for food and wine: The best Seattle restaurants and the winery tasting rooms in nearby Woodinville are great to visit at any time of year (though they can be very busy in the peak season months of July and August). The region’s famous Copper River salmon arrives in Seattle’s restaurants and markets in May and is generally available through mid-June. Many of Seattle’s best restaurants create and sell special three-course dinners at a discount during Seattle Restaurant Week, held twice-yearly in April and October. The Bite of Seattle, Seattle’s biggest food festival, takes place under the Space Needle in mid-July. Taste Washington, a regional wine and food event, is held in late March or early April.
- Best time to visit Pike Place Market: With dozens of covered stalls, restaurants, bars, and galleries, any time of year can be a good time to visit Pike Place Market. Blooming flowers and blue skies mean that the Market is at its loveliest (and most crowded) during the warm, sunny days of late spring, summer, and early fall. Winter months at the Market are just as charming, without being as busy. Generally pleasant weather and the thinner non-summer crowds make the months of May and September a best bet. And keep in mind: there are several great hotels near Pike Place Market.
- Best time for whale watching: Whale watching season near Seattle falls between March and October, with the species of whale you’re likely to see varying by month within that range. The first gray whales appear in the region in March and April. Orcas are common in the summer months of May through September, and humpback whales are most often seen in October and November.
- Best time to view flowers: Seattle is abloom in the springtime, making it the perfect time of year to see beautiful flowers during your visit. The University of Washington’s famous blossoming cherry trees bloom yearly in March, and April brings the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Prime blooming season at the Rhododendron Species Garden is mid-March through mid-May, and of course bright bouquets of blooms can be found year-round in the stalls of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
- Best time for music fans: Summer in Seattle is bookended by two large and popular music festivals that take place in the shadow of the Space Needle: The Northwest Folklife Festival takes place over Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May), and the Bumbershoot Festival happens over Labor Day weekend, the first weekend of September. October brings the Earshot Jazz Festival. The Seattle Symphony’s season runs from mid-September through mid-June, and the Seattle Chamber Music Festival takes place annually in January.
- Best time to visit Mount Rainier: July, August, and September are the best months to visit Mount Rainier National Park, when the snow has melted and hiking trails are open. Mountain wildflowers are at their peak around early August, and fall colors are best in the first half of October. Many park areas and roads are closed throughout the winter (mid-October/early November through June), though the road to Paradise stays open year round for those who wish to see the mountain by car.
Seattle Travel Seasons
- High Season (June to August): Sunny, dry, and warm, with daytime highs generally around 24°C and low humidity. Flights, ferries, and tours all run with greater frequency during this time. Hotel and travel prices will be higher, and availability will turn scarce – make reservations well in advance. This is cruise ship season, with many sea-going tourists in town as they journey to and from Alaska via the Port of Seattle. Expect crowds, especially on weekends, as local music and art festivals mean that both tourists and locals are out en masse.
- Shoulder Season (April to May, September to October): Crowds dwindle with the possibility of rain, though the weather is often wonderfully pleasant – especially in May and September – with plenty of sun and daytime highs around 15-20°C. The combination of lower travel prices and the lack of summer sightseers can make shoulder season an ideal time to visit Seattle if your plans do not require a guarantee of dry weather.
- Low Season (November to March): Tourists generally stay away from Seattle during the colder months. The weather is often wet, breezy, and chilly (usually around 4-10°C.), but breaks in the gloom are common and it’s not unusual to have gorgeous days (though still cool) throughout winter. Museum-lovers and those heading to the mountains to ski can find some great deals on airfare and hotel rooms during this period.
Seattle Weather by Month
The best weather in Seattle is from late June to early September. July and August are the busiest months when hotels are full and restaurants are crowded. May, June, September, and October usually have nice weather and fewer tourists making them great months to visit if you’re not after hot summer weather. Most of Seattle’s best attractions lend themselves to enjoying even with a little rain which makes Seattle a good year-round destination.
Seattle Temperature by Month (daily high in celsius)
Seattle Rain by Month (mm)
- January weather in Seattle: January falls squarely in the middle of Seattle’s rainy season. Temperatures are cold (though usually not cold enough for snow), it’s raining much of the time, and the air is damp. Most locals choose to stay indoors or escape to the mountains for snow activities. (Average Max Temperature: 8.3°C. Average Rainfall: 142mm.)
- February weather in Seattle: Temperatures in Seattle remain chilly in February, though rainfall tends to be a bit lighter and we begin to see a few more dry days. Nevertheless, Seattle remains grey and windy, and everything is usually wet. It’s a great time to visit Seattle’s many museums and restaurants. (Average Max Temperature: 9.4°C. Average Rainfall: 89mm.)
- March weather in Seattle: March sees about the same amount of breezy rain as February, but daytime temperatures begin to creep above 10°C. The sun also begins to poke through the clouds a bit more on dry days and bits of blue sky are seen amid the grey. Daffodils and cherry trees are in bloom, making March a good time to explore Seattle’s charming neighborhoods and parks. (Average Max Temperature: 11.6°C. Average Rainfall: 94mm.)
- April weather in Seattle: Temperatures continue to rise in April, and we start to see a significant drop in rainfall compared to the previous two months. The sky is more often blue, but breezes remain chilly and the air can be damp, so you’ll want to pack layers. (Average Max Temperature: 14.7°C. Average Rainfall: 68.5mm.)
- May weather in Seattle: May is generally a beautiful month in Seattle, with temperatures into the late teens and more days of sun and blue skies than rain. Even so, the evenings in May are chilly, and periods of rain are not uncommon, so a jacket and an umbrella are still a good idea. (Average Max Temperature: 18.2°C. Average Rainfall: 48mm.)
- June weather in Seattle: Seattle’s fickle June weather marks the change from the rainy to dry season. While some days are sun-filled, warm, and summer-like, others can feel more like March or April: gloomy, cold, and damp. Approaching the solstice on the 21st, the sun doesn’t set in Seattle until almost 10pm, providing long days perfect for outdoor recreation. (Average Max Temperature: 21°C. Average Rainfall: 40.6mm.)
- July weather in Seattle: Summer truly arrives in Seattle in July. A pleasant and predictable pattern sets in with little rain, daytime temperatures in the mid-20’s, low humidity, and plenty of sun (especially in the middle and latter part of the month). Outdoors is the place to be. High tourist season is well underway, so expect crowds on dining patios and hiking trails, and book outdoor excursions well in advance. (Average Max Temperature: 24.3°C. Average Rainfall: 17.8mm.)
- August weather in Seattle: Dry, warm, sunny summer weather continues throughout August, traditionally Seattle’s warmest month. Daytime temperatures hover pleasantly around the mid-20’s, rarely getting above 30°C. Marine air cools the city at night, so packing a light jacket is advisable. And while the sun may shine hot, Puget Sound water temperature hovers at a brisk 13°C during the summer months, so most folks enjoy being on the water, rather than in the water. (Average Max Temperature: 24.6°C. Average Rainfall: 22.8mm.)
- September weather in Seattle: Days shorten and the air begins to feel crisp at night, but Seattle Septembers still feel summerlike. Expect warm temperatures, little rain, and plenty of sunshine this month. Tourism begins to slow after Labor Day Weekend, and the combination of thinning crowds and pleasant weather make September an ideal time to visit Seattle. (Average Max Temperature: 21.4°C. Average Rainfall: 38mm.)
- October weather in Seattle: Late October is traditionally the beginning of Seattle’s rainy season. While the beginning of October is often sunny and dry, the average air temperature cools significantly throughout this month, and we begin to see the return of clouds, fog, and wet weather. Leaves turn colors and autumn begins: early October is the best time to view the fall foliage on Mount Rainier. (Average Max Temperature: 15.4°C. Average Rainfall: 89mm.)
- November weather in Seattle: Seattle’s wettest month is November, with heavy rain and winds. While not ideal for outdoor activities, the discounted hotel and travel rates that accompany the rainy season can make October a great time to visit – staying warm and dry in Seattle’s many museums, galleries, and restaurants. (Average Max Temperature: 10.5°C. Average Rainfall: 167.6mm.)
- December weather in Seattle: December in Seattle is dark and windy, with almost constant rain. Days grow shorter, and the sun sets before 5pm around the mid-month. Temperatures have dropped significantly, and though snowfall is rare in the Seattle area, the surrounding mountain peaks are newly coated in the white stuff. Nearby ski resorts are now open and busy – it’s a good time to head for the hills. (Average Max Temperature: 7.6°C. Average Rainfall: 137.2mm.)
Seattle Special Events by Month
- The Seattle Boat Show – Thousands of watercraft and marine-related seminars at the West Coast’s biggest boat show.
- Seattle Chamber Society Winter Music Festival – Two weekends of world class chamber music and visiting artists, with nightly free recitals.
- Northwest Flower and Garden Show – Stunning exhibition gardens, seminars, and vendors, all warm and dry in the Washington State Convention Center.
- Wintergrass Music Festival – A celebration of American bluegrass music, with dozens of performances and workshops for all ages.
- Emerald City Comicon – The Pacific Northwest’s premier comic book and pop-culture convention.
- Seattle Irish Fest – Music, dance, and vendors galore to celebrate St. Patrick and all things Irish.
- Taste Washington – Local wineries and award winning restaurants sample their wares at the nations largest regional food and wine event.
- Moisture Festival – An annual celebration of Vaudeville, comedy, burlesque, and all things weird and wonderful. Lots of fun performances, a few of them kid-friendly, most adults only.
- Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival – Traditional and contemporary Japanese cultural performances and cuisine.
- Skagit Valley Tulip Festival – Acres of tulips and daffodils abloom in the charming rural farmland north of Seattle.
- Opening day of Boating Season – Sailboat races, boat parades, and the University of Washington’s Windermere Cup regatta.
- The Vigor Seattle Maritime Festival – A celebration of Seattle’s working waterfront, with demonstrations, tours, and kids’ activities.
- Seattle International Film Festival – A month of independent, International, and documentary films at one of the top film festivals in North America.
- Northwest Folklife Festival – Music, dance, food, and crafts from local and international cultures. A bit like Bumbershoot, but free and not nearly as commercial.
- Fremont Solstice Fair – A whimsical summer celebration of music, food, and art, featuring a free-spirited parade with over 1,000 nude-but-painted cyclists!
- Seattle PrideFest – The largest LGBT gathering in the Pacific Northwest: bands, DJs, drag queens, and Seattle’s annual Pride Parade.
- Seafair Summer 4th – Fireworks, food, and family fun on Lake Union.
- Seattle International BeerFest – Exotic beers and bands under the Space Needle.
- Sequim Lavender Festival – Annual street fair and self-guided tour of area lavender farms in full bloom.
- Seattle Chamber Music Society Summer Festival – World-class chamber performances at Benaroya Hall, with free pre-concert recitals.
- Ballard SeafoodFest – Traditional salmon barbecue and local music, arts and crafts, and family entertainment.
- Bite of Seattle – Seattle’s biggest food festival, featuring local chefs, restaurant tastes, entertainment, and wine and beer gardens.
- Capitol Hill Block Party – Three-day music and arts festival, with food, beer gardens, and over 100 local and national artists in indoor and outdoor venues.
- Chinatown DragonFest – Pan-Asian cultural performances and $3 restaurant tastes in Seattle’s International District.
- Seafair Torchlight Parade – Balloons, bands, and swashbuckling pirates parade through the heart of Seattle’s downtown.
- Hempfest – Political rally, concert, and arts and crafts fair celebrating marijuana on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
- Seattle Seafair Weekend – Air shows, picnics, and hydroplane races on Lake Washington.
- Bumbershoot – Expect crowds, along with concerts, comedy, food, and film at this monster-sized music and arts festival under the Space Needle.
- Washington State Fair – Animals, rides and games, fair food, concerts, and a rodeo, held annually in nearby Puyuallup, WA.
- PAX Prime Gaming Show – A celebration of gamer culture, with concerts, panels, an exhibition hall, and digital and tabletop game play.
- Fremont Oktoberfest – Beer gardens, live music, food and a 5K at this popular neighborhood festival.
- Seattle Children’s Festival – Global culture for kids, with live performances and interactive workshops.
- TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival – Annual celebration of queer film, accompanied by GLBT community parties and gala receptions.
- Earshot Jazz Festival – Dozens of local and international jazz acts perform at various local venues.
- Seattle International Auto Show – The lastest models from international automakers, featuring rare and high-end vehicles and on-site test drives.
- Sheraton Seattle’s Gingerbread Village – Local architects and baking teams unite to create and display holiday scenes made entirely of candies and treats. Runs through early January.
- Macy’s Holiday Parade – Floats, costumed characters, and of course Santa Claus kick off the holiday season in downtown Seattle. The Parade usually kicks off at 9am on the Friday following Thanksgiving.
- Best of the Northwest Art & Fine Craft Show – Locally crafted jewelry, clothing, painting, and sculpture for purchase and perusal. Held in Magnuson Park in Northeast Seattle.
- Magic in the Market Holiday Celebration – Holiday treats and activities, caroling contest, and tree-lighting ceremony in historic Pike Place Market.
- Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition – Festive holiday team sing-off held annually in Westlake Center, benefitting Pike Place Market’s food bank and senior center.
- Argosy Christmas Ship Festival – Enjoy on-board or ashore as a flotilla of illuminated and choir-carrying ships visit local waterfront communities for caroling and bonfires.
- Winterfest – Seattle Center’s month-long seasonal celebration, featuring performances, ice sculpting, ice skating, and a model train exhibit.
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