The Emerald City is notoriously known for its gloomy weather. However, as any local will tell you, Seattleites won’t let a rainy day ruin their plans. From unique museums and city tours to historic high-rises and eats, there are plenty of fun things to do, even when the weather isn’t ideal. So whether you’re renting an apartment in Capitol Hill or just bought a house in Queen Anne, grab your rain jacket, and let’s check out the best activities for a rainy day in Seattle.
Explore a museum or aquarium
Seattle is home to many unique museums located all over the city. Learn more about the Nordic heritage from the National Nordic Museum in Ballard, or explore the funky Museum of Pop Culture in the city center. Whatever you feel like that day, museums not only keep you dry but will teach you a thing or two.
Don’t let a slight drizzle stop you; you’re in Seattle, after all. For a fun-filled afternoon, The Seattle Historic Waterfront Association recommends “Starting your adventure at the Seattle Aquarium, which offers a close-up look at local critters. Afterward, walk to the next pier and grab a ride on Wings Over Washington, one of the most technologically advanced experiential movie theaters on the West Coast. Wrap it up with fish and chips at Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Pier 54 and watch the ferries go by.”
The Museum of Flight
When the rain comes, The Museum of Flight has got you covered. Located in Tukwila, play, stroll, contemplate and even learn a few things while being sheltered from the rain. Forget the weather in a windowless gallery, or engage your seasons of emotions surrounded by a glass building that touches the sky.
James, an award-winning Tlingit artist and carver of James Johnson Native Art recommends checking out The Burke Museum, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish People, located in the University District neighborhood. “The Burke is home to one of the most impressive collections of Northwest Coast Native Art in the world,” says James. “You can learn about the First Nation’s people, their incredible works of art, and their rich culture. The Burke also features an artist studio where you can see Northwest Native Arts create firsthand. Enjoy a cup of coffee and delicious food at an on-site Indigenous-owned restaurant.”
Seattle Chocolate Factory tour
Everyone knows Seattle for its coffee, but craft chocolate is the true gem of the Emerald City. To try some of the best chocolate in the area, Experience Tukwila recommends “Indulging your sweet tooth with a tour of the Seattle Chocolate Factory. Founded in 1991, this Seattle staple creates bold new chocolatey creations that are a must-try for everyone passing through.”
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
Jen and Sia, Seattle locals from Thrifty NW Mom recommend, “Spending an afternoon exploring the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. It’s free and sits right across the street from the Space Needle. There are interactive experiences throughout the center that are fun, and they will also help you learn how they are helping around the world too. The Seattle Grind, one of my favorite coffee shops, sits next door. Their cardamom lattes or lavender lattes are heavenly with syrups made in-house.”
Rock out to a concert in Seattle
There’s no doubt that Seattle has a lively music scene. From the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana to the home of Seattle Symphony and Macklemore, you’ll be able to rock out to your preferred music taste – whatever your taste may be.
Early Music Seattle concerts
With transformative and one-of-a-kind experiences, Early Music Seattle celebrates the music of the Baroque, Renaissance, and Medieval periods. You can check out the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and other internationally-renowned touring artists at venues around the Puget Sound region, including Nordstrom Recital Hall, Seattle First Baptist Church, St. James Cathedral, and Bastyr University Chapel.
Experience Seattle’s vibrant art scene
If you’re interested in art, look no further. Seattle has a dynamic arts scene featuring a wide range of talent. From the First Thursday Art Walk of sophisticated galleries along the streets of Pioneer Square to various galleries and exhibits, you’re sure to find some unique art pieces perfect for your home.
See the city’s best art museums and galleries
Flow into Authenticity, a professional artist, speaker, and creative coach suggests, “Visiting the J Rinehart Gallery in Pioneer Square, where you’ll find some of the best up-and-coming artists in Seattle. Then head to the Seattle Art Museum downtown, where you can view a wide range of unique exhibits and educational programs for the kids. Lastly, visit the Museum of Museums in the funky Capitol Hill neighborhood and wander through their hip, mid-century building filled with installations, murals, galleries, and a gift shop.”
Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit
When the weather is dreary, it can be wonderful to escape to the colorful art exhibits and galleries in Seattle. Going to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit in the shadow of the Space Needle, the Woodside Braseth Gallery downtown, and the Foster White or Kucera Gallery in Pioneer Square always lift my spirits,” says Colin of Totally Seattle Tours. “Follow up that with some artificial energy from our local authentic coffee shops such as Café Vita, Cherry Street Coffee, or Anchorhead, and you’ve officially beat a grey, dreary day in the Pacific Northwest.”
Spark your creativity and join Seattle Makers
Looking for a creative maker community but not sure where to start? Spend your rainy day with Seattle Makers, where they have a woodshop, sewing studio, laser cutters, 3D printers, and much more. Become a member to tackle your project list, attend a Hardware Hackers meetup, or take a class in laser cutting.
Spend a rainy day in Seattle immersed in an escape room
If you need things to do in Seattle on a rainy day and want a unique experience, Seattle is home to some of the most famous and advanced escape rooms in the world, just blocks from the Space Needle and the Seattle waterfront.
Hourglass Escapes has the only officially licensed comedic Evil Dead 2™ escape room, which is based on the hit movie and puts players in a comedic game where they have to solve puzzles to save the world. They also have the new Officially licensed Arkham Horror™ Mystery at Innsmouth starring the voice of Cecil Baldwin, where families have to solve puzzles and codes in a movie-style set of a strange seaside hotel. See why people come from all over to try these advanced escape rooms.
Head downtown to one of Seattle’s first skyscrapers
Completed in 1914, the Smith Tower holds a special place in local history. Enjoy views of downtown and the Puget Sound while enjoying good eats. Go back in time through the exhibits and experience a cultural icon.
Seattle Entertainment Group shares their favorite rainy day spot within the Smith Tower “Thirty-Five floors above the misty streets of Seattle; you’ll find the city’s best-kept secret, the Smith Tower Open-Air Observatory Restaurant, and Bar. The Smith Tower hide-out features barrel-aged libations, a unique 360-degree view of Seattle, and the best flatbread pizza in town.”
Embrace the rain and spend the day hiking
The city is perfectly located near Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, The Cascades, and many islands, so the hiking opportunities are endless. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, grab your hiking shoes and a rain jacket and head outdoors.
Head to The Summit at Snoqualmie
Alex, a Seattle local from Anderson Sobel Cosmetic Surgery, suggests, “When it’s raining in Seattle, it’s snowing in the Cascades. A beautiful 50-minute drive from downtown has you to The Summit at Snoqualmie. Enjoy epic views of Mt. Rainier while having a well-earned halibut and chips or wild game chili in the 6,872 ft.-elevation Summit House at Crystal Mountain Resort. Stevens Pass and the ever-white Mt. Baker are day-drive options as well.”
Explore Seaward Park
Seattle’s Child, a local publication, Recommends checking out Seward Park. “The park has one of the only two remnants of old-growth forest within Seattle. Hike among the Douglas firs, red cedars, and big-leaf maples on the network of trails through the woods, or take the flat and wheels-friendly trail along the Lake Washington waterfront.”
Take a day trip from the city
If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, consider taking an afternoon or day trip from Seattle. From Bellevue to Bellingham, there’s plenty in store to escape a rainy day in Seattle.
Located just to the east of Seattle and separated by Lake Washington; you can spend an afternoon or even an entire day in the nearby city of Bellevue. Bellevue has something for everyone – unique shops, theaters, restaurants, museums, and more.
Visit Bellevue WA recommends “Exploring the Bellevue Collection that homes fashion, tech, dining, and entertainment. Get cozy at the Lakehouse while you dine on farm-to-table cuisine prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson. Work off your meal by cutting loose at the luxury arcade and bowling alley, Lucky Strike. Then head to the Bellevue Arts Museum for some culturally acclaimed inspiration.”
If you want to get even further outside the city, take a day trip to the charming town of Bellingham. This area is one of Washington’s hidden gems near the Canadian border. Surrounded by scenic lakes and rivers, snow-capped mountains, and the San Juan Islands, Bellingham’s outdoor activities are endless. The downtown area features many shops, restaurants, and a vibrant craft beverage scene if you want to stay inside.