Television shows and movies filmed in Seattle like to emphasize the rain with shots of ferries crossing gray waters and rain sloshing on the decks. Those who travel for Seattle’s outdoor activities will find a city full of verdant greenery, rejuvenating mountain air, deep powder, and adventures for rain or shine. This makes the Emerald City a great place to see the sites and enjoy outdoor fun during your vacation in this diverse cultural city.
Seattle in the winter
Western Washington is home to the Cascade and Olympic ranges and a day of fun in the snow is never more than two hours’ drive away. Here are a few ideas:
- Stevens Pass: A stunning, curve-laden drive scooped right into the mountainside, and its miles of slopes and woodsy cross-country trails challenge experts while providing an ideal introduction for first-time boarders and skiers.
- Summit at Snoqualmie: A homey, locals-friendly hill 52 miles east of Seattle that lights up the slopes at night for apres-work adventures. In addition to its 2,000 acres of free-for-the-skiing terrain, Summit offers 500 miles of backcountry trails.
- Around 80 miles north, Mount Baker is nearly as impressive — also a volcanic peak — and it happens to host a popular ski resort and terrain park as well. On a sunny day, it’s superlative.
Springtime in the city
After the long and cold winter comes spring, which many locals will tell you is the best time for Seattle outdoor activities. Check out these spots to enhance your stay in the Northwest:
- Zen out for a couple of hours at the Japanese Garden.
- Collect clams at Shilshole Beach on the west side of Ballard, a neighborhood in northern Seattle.
- Rent kayaks in downtown Seattle so you can view the amazing city skyline from a different point of view.
- Take a ferry across The Sound to experience the same views, maybe even with a cup of warm Seattle coffee in hand.
Locals almost hate for this secret to get out, but the city is a real doozy in the summertime. From the sunny and mild temperatures to the glittering ocean to the brilliant sunsets at 9:00 p.m., here’s a few Seattle outdoor activities to enjoy:
- Get on the waters of Lake Union in a rented two-person kayak or go sailing.
- Take a guided tour at Alki Beach, where sea lions and seals are often heard before they are seen, sunning themselves on any surface they can find.
- Whale-watching excursions depart from the metropolitan area and from charming nearby San Juan Island.
- Explore one of Seattle’s amazing farmers markets, including the world-famous Pike Place Market
Paradise happens to double as a spectacular approach to Mount Rainier. Lose yourself in the National Park for a day — or a couple of nights — and experience the profuse fields of wildflowers and old growth cedar trees for yourself. The very hardy and climbing-experienced might even want to plan an ascent. With an elevation of 14,411, Rainier is a jewel in any mountaineer’s crown.
- For more mountain splendor, hop a ferry to Bainbridge Island, which is only five miles wide, ten miles long and full of small town charm.
- A dense backcountry haven, Olympic National Park is criss-crossed by hiking trails and includes the Hoh Rainforest. Yes, Washington boasts its own temperate rainforest.
- Take the plunge and sign on for a whitewater rafting tour in the Wenatchee or Skagit Rivers, the second longest river in the state of Washington.
Fall in love with autumn
Summers are swell for Seattle outdoor activities, but as August turns to September, temperatures remain mild and trees begin their yearly array of colors. These spots will showcase the incredible colors of The Emerald City:
- Japanese maples. Witch hazel bushes. Experience the red, orange, and gold colors in the Washington Park Arboretum, home to 4,000 trees and the University of Washington. A great place to stop during a bike ride.
- A longer day trip to North Cascades National Park affords the opportunity to see rare groves of subalpine larches ringing Blue Lake. The subalpine larch is the only coniferous tree whose needles change colors in the autumn — to a crisp, ethereal yellow.