pacific northYES
June 5, 2019 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I will have an opportunity to visit Seattle at pretty much any time this year or next, for a week. When do I want to go, and what do I want to do?

To my surprise, I have recently found out I will be going to Seattle for a week, but the time I go is up to me. I work freelance and I'm a grad student, so I do have to take school breaks into account, but basically, when is the best time to visit Seattle? I've only been once before for a weekend, in August, and I don't know that I got an accurate impression of what Seattle is like in August according to my PNW friends. I'm not GREAT with intense heat.

And, what should I do? I did a lot of big toursity things last time i.e. Space Needle, Pike Place, Fremont, but I'm a lifelong East Coaster who is enchanted by the Pacific Northwest and I'd really like to explore. I have chronic pain and fatigue which makes big nature-y things like super long hikes difficult depending on the day, but I'd still like to at least try and do cool nature things. I love to eat/cook/learn about food and will eat anything, I also like museums, theater, weird niche cultural stuff, uh, water, beautiful things? Anything that is totally different from what I'm used to in NYC. Tell me what you love!

Thanks, I'm pumped!
posted by colorblock sock to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (17 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Late spring has the best weather. The best non-physical nature thing is to check out the San Juan Islands. Direct from Seattle you can take the Clipper - or if you have a car, drive up to Anacortes and take the ferry (make a reservation first!) then you can drive around the island(s) one your own schedule.
posted by Diddly at 4:11 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you're into the PNW for PNW's sake and driving is an option, I recommend the (aptly named) Hoh rainforest on the Olympic peninsula, and doing the interpretive loop hike there. It's ridiculously mossy and green. You can do this any time of year, though.

The Wing Luke museum is kind of similar to the Museum of Chinese in America.

Do you like old computers? There's the Living Computer Museum. If telephone technology is more your speed, there's the Connections Museum. For more modernity, there's the Amazon spheres / Bezos balls.

The Fremont troll is weirdly PNW.
posted by batter_my_heart at 4:49 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

The best way to enjoy the water is to go to the ferry terminal and take a ferry to a random destination. When you get there, either stay aboard or get off and get the next ferry back. A ferry ride is one of the cheapest ways to see beautiful Puget Sound.
posted by monotreme at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, if you're into buses (trolley buses; I learned at transit trivia that there are only five systems in the USA that still use wired trolley buses), check out the schedule on - you ride around the city in an antique bus.
posted by batter_my_heart at 4:52 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Okay, this is a slightly weird suggestion, but! I will recommend a trip to the MOHAI or Museum of History and Industry. It's not a huge museum, but it has some fun Seattle history exhibits and rotating exhibits dealing with technological or cultural history related to the area. The reason I recommend it to you (and that I recommend it to anyone, if given the chance) is that it contains a 10-minute long multimedia experience about the Great Seattle Fire - an event that the people designing the exhibit decided for some reason would resonate best with their audience if presented in the form of a comic musical sung by various inanimate objects. It is astoundingly weird, well-worth the price of admission, and something I try to get everyone who visits me to see.
posted by darchildre at 4:56 PM on June 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

I live in Capitol Hill. Come here anytime after July 5th and just go walk about, bop around and enjoy the “Capitol Hill Urban Center Village” I absolutely am in total love with Capitol Hill. Just come hang, message me, we can do stuff, there’s a lot to do!
posted by nikaspark at 5:02 PM on June 5, 2019

Towards the end of the summer when the snow has melted enough to clear from the road, one can drive to the end of the road on Mount Baker, get out at the Artist Point trailhead, and hike as much of the Ptarmigan Ridge trail as one feels up to. Early sections of the hike are not strenuous and the scenery is spectacular even by Pacific Northwest standards.

It's a several-hour drive from Seattle but you can plan some stops along the way, get out and walk as much of the trail as you wish, and admire the views of Mt. Shuksan before returning.

And if you like live music you can spend some of the rest of your week visiting Bumbershoot (which takes place Labor Day Weekend..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 5:38 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

It doesn't really get disgustingly hot but once or twice a year, so don't worry too much about that. I would agree with late spring or autumn, though, or very early summer. August is turning into Wildfire Smoke season, and I'd recommend not visiting then.

For gentle nature-y stuff, I practically live at Discovery Park. It's accessible by public transit (or has a parking lot if you're driving). Many trails are paved, and it's possible to have a nice walk in the woods with very gentle ups and downs. (I think the shortest trail is around 3 miles, but obviously you can walk out however far you want and come back -- it immediately plunges you into forest.) There's also a shuttle bus that runs to the beach, if you want to spend some time there. It's lovely.
posted by kalimac at 6:54 PM on June 5, 2019

If you can go SOON, the Fremont solstice parade is on the 22nd and is super fun.
posted by metasarah at 7:16 PM on June 5, 2019

For more modernity, there's the Amazon spheres / Bezos balls.

Just a brief note that the balls are pretty from the outside, but access to the garden inside is restricted to Amazon employees and their guests. If you know someone who works there, I would recommend asking to go; it is something unlike anything you'll experience in the PNW — perhaps even most of the country.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:26 PM on June 5, 2019

Late May or early June is when the sun comes out consistently after months of rainy gray, but before the wildfires come and you need a face mask. Like, right now. Also, everything is blooming.
posted by matildaben at 7:57 PM on June 5, 2019

Seconding getting here ASAP. I don't know if this is the new normal but wildfires the last few years have made late summer unlivable.
posted by rouftop at 8:10 PM on June 5, 2019

Yes, NOW. Or wait until anytime September (you may be ok thru mid-October). It’s going to become hot and a lot less green, and the wildfires have already begun. August has been the worst in that regard.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:32 PM on June 5, 2019

The Amazon spheres are open to the public the first and 3rd Saturdays every month, but you need to make reservations in advance, and reservations open up 30 days prior to the date.
posted by amarynth at 4:32 AM on June 6, 2019

Drive out of seattle!. Pacific northwest is fantastic outside. You dont have to hike to see them, Mount Rainier national park, snoqualmie falls, barclay lake are all accessible by the car and stunning scenery
posted by radsqd at 10:37 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do you know where you'll be staying when you arrive? If it's downtown, I'd do everything listed above, but would head to Pike Place Market in the early morning hours. Just find a place to sit and watch the ferries come in.

As for the time to arrive? I've been here for over 15 years and the saw is true: it's never really summer until July 5th. I'm still amazed to see dawn at 4:30 am. Never. Gets. Old.

Gonna have to put in a plug for the other art museums: SAM is fine, but BAM and TAM are really good in their own right. I would strongly recommend spending a day in Tacoma, if you can. It has a burgeoning food scene and Point Defiance Park is a treat.

If you're limited to Seattle, check out the University District (the bulk of the students should be out of school) is pretty awesome and I am a big, big Wallingford fan (you *may* even see Dave Matthews). Seattle is so neighborhoody, you should do some research and find one that appeals to you - my wife is an east coast native and loved Ballard when she first moved here, but I think her favorite now is West Seattle.

Be sure to ride a ferry, too! You never know if our resident orcas will pay a visit...
posted by theseventhstranger at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

I like September or early October. Used to live in Seattle and grew up north of there. Bumpershoot music festival is in early September, if you enjoy music festivals. I think it's fun to go to neighborhoods not on the tourist map. Greenlake, Ballard, Queen Ann, Cap Hill. Day trip to Olympic peninsula a great idea. San Juan islands too.
posted by DixieBaby at 1:57 PM on June 6, 2019

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