When it comes to Seattle travel, it pays to do a little research about the weather. While this destination definitely has a reputation for its rainstorms and grey clouds, there are also seasons where you’re more likely to encounter sunshine. Seattle tourism doesn’t depend on sunshine however, this city is so full of attractions, shopping, dining, and atmosphere that travelers can easily ignore the grey skies. Besides, a little bit of rainy is a great excuse to get a seat in a cozy café and watch the city walk by outside while sipping on a cup of coffee.
Summer is still the most popular time to visit—if you’re wondering when to go to Seattle and expect the greatest chance of sunshine, this is it. It also stays light until about 10 pm during the longest days of the year, which is great for leisurely evenings spent wandering around the waterfront or exploring its neighborhoods.
Summer is also a great time of year for festivals. Some of the best events in Seattle are held during these months, in order to match up with the best possible weather. Bite of Seattle, an annual event held in August, is a great opportunity to try some of the city’s best restaurants, while the Bumbershoot music festival, held over Labor Day weekend attracts thousands of fans who come to see the bands. There are several stages set up at Seattle Center, and in addition to smaller independent bands, the festival has hosted the likes of Neko Case, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, and even Bob Dylan.
Early fall is still a very popular time for Seattle tourism, but as October hits, so does the shoulder season, which is great news if you’re trying to travel on a budget, as the prices of both hotels and flights tend to drop. Cool fall temperatures will still allow for plenty of walking around and exploring neighborhoods, and the hiking in the region is excellent, particularly as the fall foliage is surprisingly pretty here. Being prepared with an umbrella or rain jacket is wise, but the thing about Seattle rain is that it never rains too hard—you’re much more likely to encounter a light drizzle. If you can time your trip for October, you can also check out the famous Oktoberfest in the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth, located about two hours’ drive from the city.
The winter is a great time to take advantage of Seattle’s indoor attractions. There are far fewer festivals at this time of year, but it’s perfect if you want to visit the Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight, or one of the other interesting museums. It’s also a terrific time to go shopping, and both the University Village shops and the Pike n’ Pine area downtown have a wide variety of stores and restaurants.
Seattle travel picks up again in the spring, and by the time May and early June roll around, the city is in full swing. Day trips outside the city are popular once the weather gets warm, but there is plenty to do in the city itself. The first major festivals, such as the Sasquatch music festival, are held in the region, and the outdoor activities that Seattleites love are back in vogue. If you’re in the city over Memorial Day weekend, for instance, why not rent a kayak and spend the day paddling around Lake Union and enjoying a picnic at Gas Works Park, or take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and check out the local wine tasting scene. Every traveler will have to let their own preferences guide them on when to go to Seattle, but this city in the Pacific Northwest definitely has lots to offer all year long.