Last Updated on December 24, 2022 by admin
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but it rains a lot in Seattle. It rains, on average, 152 days per year. (That’s 42% of the time!) The annual rainfall, though, is only 38 inches. (For comparison, Miami receives 59 inches of rainfall per year.) There are a few different types of rain that Seattle receives: mist, drizzle, light rain, and heavy rain. Instead of having 152 days of heavy downpours, a lot of those rainy days in Seattle consist of more of a drizzle. Not exactly picnic weather, but not exactly worthy of canceling all plans either. But since frequent precipitation is a fact of life in Seattle, it’s important to learn how to live with it and still have fun. If you are visiting Seattle for the first time or even if you’re a long-time resident, this list of 24 rainy day activities in Seattle will make sure that you don’t let the rain hold you back from enjoying this amazing city.
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Travel Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, consider buying a Seattle CityPASS. You’ll be able to save money if you plan on visiting multiple attractions. For instance, if you plan on visiting the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Museum of Pop Culture, Woodland Park Zoo, Chihuly Garden and Glass, or Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, we highly recommend that you look into purchasing the CityPASS. For more information about CityPASS, click here.
Recommended Rain Gear
First you need to make sure that you have the right gear. I’m always reminded of the saying that there’s no bad weather, just bad gear. If you have good rain gear, you’ll be able to enjoy the city no matter what the weather brings.
Women’s Rain Gear
- Hunter Rain Boots: These rain boots are a classic. These tall rubber boots will let you feel free to jump in puddles and slog through mud.
- Ankle Rain Boots: In Seattle, it’s nice to have several different types of rain boots. These ankle rain boots are chic and pair well with nicer outfits.
- Rain Jacket: This Columbia jacket features their signature waterproof material that is also breathable. It also has a good storm hood. (It’s important to make sure that the jacket you wear actually has a good hood that will cover your face!)
- Waterproof Bag: If you’ll be walking around town, you’ll want to make sure that you bring a backpack that will keep all of your items dry.
- Umbrella: I’ll be honest, most Seattleites don’t use umbrellas. If it’s drizzling, a hood will usually do the trick. But, if you’re visiting Seattle and want to take some classic Seattle photos, a good umbrella will do the trick!
Men’s Rain Gear
- Tall Rain Boots: These rain boots will keep your feet dry on especially rainy days.
- Ankle Rain Boots: If you’re dressing up, these rain boots will do the trick.
- Rain Jacket: This rain jacket from Eddie Bauer is packable and has their two-layer WEATHEREDGE technology.
Children’s Rain Gear
- Rain Boots: These are the rain boots we use for our daughter, and they work well and are easy to clean.
- Rain Jacket: These rain jackets are super cute.
- Rain Suit: If you’re planning on a lot of outdoor activities, these rain suits are awesome. Our daughter has one and it keeps her super dry. We use the rain suit for playing at the park, going down wet slides, and for going hiking.
|Traveling on a budget? Be sure to see our list of 50 free things to do in Seattle.|
24 Rainy Day Activities in Seattle
We created this useful map (below) to help you plan your trip!
1. Space Needle
The Space Needle is one of the best attractions in Seattle, and it’s the perfect place to go on a rainy day. (We wrote a full post about it here if you’re interested in visiting!) The views might not be as expansive as what they would be on a clear day, but you’ll definitely get a great view of the downtown area. To get to the Space Needle viewing decks, you’ll take the elevator up over 500 feet. There are two indoor viewing decks with large glass windows. The Loupe on the lower viewing deck contains the world’s first and only revolving glass floor. You’ll literally be able to see Seattle underneath your feet!
It’s also worth it to head to the outside viewing deck and temporarily brave the rain. The Space Needle underwent a renovation in 2018 and it now has glass walls with glass benches outside (“skyrisers”) that make for some pretty epic photos.
The Space Needle also has a trendy lounge for cocktails, a cafe for drinks and snacks, and a gift shop. It’s centrally located to other attractions as well, so it’s an accessible and fun stop for a rainy day.
For tickets, we recommend buying the CityPASS if you’re planning on visiting multiple Seattle attractions.
|Be sure to see our article on 33 of our favorite day trips from Seattle.|
2. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Seattle is famous for its handblown glass thanks to Dale Chihuly, one of the most famous artists in the field. The Chihuly Garden and Glass museum is just adjacent to the Space Needle.
The museum contains eight different galleries and three Drawing Walls. Each gallery is distinct and showcases how Chihuly advanced glass art throughout his career.
One of the best places to see at the museum is the Glasshouse, which is a 40-foot-tall building that resembles a conservatory. Suspended from the ceiling is a large 100-foot-long suspended glass sculpture. The sculpture subtly changes colors depending on the time of day and lighting conditions. You can also see the Space Needle from the Glasshouse, which makes for a beautiful photo.
Outside, you can explore a glass garden. Chihuly’s glass pieces are blended seamlessly into the plant collection. It’s truly a unique experience to walk through this garden of glass!
|See our perfect weekend itinerary for Seattle here. We share what to see in 2.5 days!|
3. Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium is another great place to spend a rainy day in Seattle. The majority of the exhibits are indoors, and you’ll get to learn a lot about what’s below the surface of Washington’s waters! (If you’re planning on visiting the aquarium, be sure to see our full post about it here.)
The aquarium is located on Pier 59. It’s within walking distance of Pike Place Market, so it’s easy to see both during the same day. The aquarium has six primary exhibits: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Birds & Shores, the Underwater Dome, and Marine Mammals.
My favorite things to do at the aquarium are look at the large 120,000 gallon tank at the entrance and watch the otters.
|Be sure to see our post on the 101 Best Things to Do in Seattle. We put together the ultimate list!|
4. Pike Place Market
Whether you’re visiting Seattle for the first time or hundredth time, it’s always fun to go to Pike Place Market. The market is largely indoors and contains over 500 vendors. We have been to the market (as it’s commonly referred) more times than we count, and we always find something new. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to check out our guide to our favorite places in the market here. We also recommend that you go on a chef’s food tour of the market!
While at the market, you can find Pacific Northwest classics like clam chowder served in sourdough bread bowls, raw oysters on the half shell, or brunch favorites like dungeness crab benedicts. But the market also has a significant international presence. You can find French pastries, Russian piroshkis, Persian kebobs, Thai curries, Taiwanese hombows, Turkish baklava, Japanese bento, English crumpets, and much, much more.
Also be sure to check out the gum wall! Bring your rain jacket because the gum wall is outdoors, but it’s just a very quick walk down to the alley below the market.
|See our guide The Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle to help you plan your trip!|
5. The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
This museum was introduced to Seattle in 2000 as the Experience Music Project. Since then, it has evolved and changed its name to reflect its wider dedication to popular culture, hence the rebranding to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).
Just from the outside, you can tell that this is a unique experience. The building’s exterior is curved and made from thousands of iridescent and metal panels. Inside the museum, you will find exhibits dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Films, and more.
This is my husband’s favorite attraction in Seattle. If you like music or film, you’re sure to find something interesting and noteworthy in the museum. We wrote all about the MoPOP in our blog post here. If you plan on visiting, be sure to check it out for more info on what to see!
6. Seattle Art Museum
“Seattle Art Museum” by dph1110 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Seattle Art Museum is a great place to spend a rainy day. Inside, you’ll see a number of art exhibits that will get you thinking and feeling. The museum features artworks from Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Muslims.
At the time of this writing, there are a number of interesting exhibitions, including the following:
- Folding Into Shape: Japanese Design and Crafts
- Lessons from the Institute of Empathy
- Art and Life Along the Northwest Coast
- France: Inside and Out
The Seattle Art Museum also operates the Seattle Asian Art Museum. This museum was newly renovated and features artworks and displays that showcase the diversity within Asia.
7. Seattle Underground Tour
“Seattle Underground Tour” by -JvL- is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The underground tour is one of the most popular tours in Seattle. Although I’ve lived here nearly my entire life, I only recently completed the tour and got a look at Seattle’s underground! The tour was super interesting, and I learned a lot about my hometown.
After the Great Fire of 1889, the city of Seattle was rebuilt on top of the old city. That means that beneath the busy streets of Seattle lies the old storefronts and sidewalks. You’ll learn all about the hidden history of Seattle when you go on this tour.
8. Smith Tower
“Smith Tower, Seattle, Washington” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The Smith Tower used to be the tallest building in Seattle. Built in 1914, it was the first skyscraper in the city. A lot of tourists go to visit the Space Needle for views of the city, but fewer people know that there is an observatory at the top of the Smith Tower. We highly recommend that you visit the observatory, it’s a lot of fun! The entire experience is themed as a speakeasy-style bar from the 1920s. When you purchase an admission ticket, a historic elevator will take you to the 35th floor. There’s a bar and lounge that are perfect for a date night. The observatory has an open-air observation deck that provides 360 degree views of the city.
9. Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center
The Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center hosts a number of educational and community events. At the time of this writing, the current exhibit is Spirit Returns 2.0. The exhibit addresses the complex stories between the Duwamish tribe and the white settlers that arrived to the Seattle area.
10. Pacific Science Center
“Pacific Science Center, Seattle” by rutlo is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Pacific Science Center is an interactive science museum located in Seattle. In addition to a number of engaging exhibits, the Pacific Science Center has a planetarium, laser dome, virtual reality, and two IMAX theaters. The science center has had limited operations due to covid, so check their website for current ticketing information. We hope that the pandemic will improve and that the museum will open again soon.
11. The Seattle Great Wheel
“Seattle Great Wheel” by Cindy Stuntz is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Seattle Great Wheel is a giant ferris wheel located on Pier 57. It’s the largest observation wheel on the west coast. There are 42 gondolas, one of which is a VIP cabin with a glass bottom floor. Each gondola is fully enclosed, so it makes for a good activity to do on a rainy day.
12. Wings Over Washington
The Wings Over Washington attraction is located near the ferris wheel. When you book admission tickets, you’ll be strapped into a theater seat and experience the most state-of-the-art theater in the world. The theater uses 5k cameras, laser projection, surround sound, and more to offer a very realistic look at the geography of Washington State.
13. Boeing Future of Flight Tour
“016 – Boeing’s Future of Flight” by Max Boss is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Learn all about the work Boeing is doing when you take their Future of Flight Tour. There are all sorts of aviation exhibits located within the tour.
14. Seattle Central Library
“Betty Jane Narver Reading Room, Seattle Central Library” by Hillbraith is licensed under CC PDM 1.0
Another unique building in Seattle from an architectural standpoint is the Seattle Central Library. Whether or not you plan on sitting down and reading for awhile, walking through the library on a rainy day is worth a visit if you have never been inside before. The building is 11 stories tall and features a glass and steel honeycomb design.
15. Flatstick Pub
Flatstick Pub has several locations in the Seattle area. It’s a great idea for a rainy day because it’s a bar that also has an indoor miniature golf course. If you’re looking for an indoor activity, it’s a really fun place to hang out.
16. University of Washington
“Suzzallo Library, one of the great libraries of the world – studying here embues you with a feeling of scholarly history, Seattle, Washington, USA” by Wonderlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The University of Washington has a beautiful campus, and there are a number of buildings open to the public. Note that some buildings may be currently closed due to the covid pandemic. But, if you get the chance, Suzzallo Library is beautiful and the Burke Museum is an interesting place to spend the afternoon.
17. Museum of Flight
“Museum of Flight, Boeing Field, Seattle” by InSapphoWeTrust is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
The Museum of Flight is one of the largest aviation museums in the world. There are a variety of aircraft and spacecraft for viewing at this museum. Learn about untold stories of World War II, see aircrafts from the 1930s, and see a contemporary duplicate of the Sputnik 1 satellite.
18. Volunteer Park Conservatory
“Volunteer Park Conservatory” by Seattle Parks & Recreation is licensed under CC BY 2.0
On a rainy day, head to the indoor botanical gardens at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The conservatory has been a part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1912. They are currently open Tuesday through Sunday. There is an admission charge, but it is pretty affordable. ($4 for an adult and children 12 and under are free.)
19. Visit a Brewery
Seattle is known for its craft beers, and there are plenty of breweries that are a fun place to spend a rainy day. Rooftop Brewing Company is a fun brewery that is both dog-friendly and kid-friendly. There are a number of seating options, and they have lots of interesting beers to try. They have three flight options if you want to taste a few of their beers. This brewery is also a fun place to go to because they have rotating food trucks on-site.
Pike Brewing Company is another brewery worth visiting. It’s located within Pike Place Market. (So if you’re already planning on visiting the market, make a pit stop at the brewery and grab a pint!) They also have a microbrewery museum and brewery tours, but be sure to check their website because some of these have been temporarily limited due to the covid pandemic. This brewery is also a good place to pick up some souvenirs to take home, like the Space Needle IPA.
20. Visit a Barcade
There are a few barcades in Seattle that are super fun. (Barcade = bar + arcade.) If you like video games, pinball, and drinking, a barcade is a good idea! In the Fremont neighborhood there is Add-a-Ball, and in the downtown area there is GameWorks. Wait out the rain while you play games, eat wings, and drink beers.
21. Grab a Cup of Coffee
Seattle is famous for its coffee shops. On a rainy day, head to one of the signature coffee shops to enjoy latte art, have a good conversation with a friend, or cozy up with a book. The Moore Coffee Shop, in particular, is known for its latte art. If you want that perfect Instagram photo of Seattle coffee, be sure to head there.
|Seattle is known for coffee. Want to find the perfect cup? See our post on the best coffee shops in Seattle.|
22. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour
“Seattle: Theo Chocolate Factory Tour” by eliduke is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Nothing will lift your spirits on a rainy day like sampling gourmet chocolate. Theo chocolate is based in Seattle, and you’ll likely see their products across the city. They offer an hour-long interactive tour where you can see how their chocolates are made while also getting to sample different types of chocolate. The tour ends in their chocolate shop, where you can then purchase more chocolates. I’ve gone on this tour several times, and it’s always enjoyable.
23. Catch a Show
“Wicked Paramount Theatre Seattle” by Lisa D Elliott is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
The 5th Avenue Theatre and the Paramount Theatre are two theaters in Seattle that host a variety of productions and musicals. If rain is in the forecast, book a show to pass the time!
24. Indoor Playground
If you have young children, you might be interested in checking out an indoor playground like PlayDate SEA. There are three levels that feature fun activities, slides, and even ball cannons. For the adults, they serve coffee, beer, and wine.
If you have a group of at least 10 people, you should try out a game of WhirlyBall! WhirlyBall is a team sport in which you drive a bumper car and try to score points by tossing a whiffle ball with scoopers. It’s kind of a like a mix between lacrosse and basketball. It is such a blast to play! We played recently with my family, and we haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time. In our full post on WhirlyBall, you’ll learn how to play this really fun game!
Where to Stay in Seattle
The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is a 5-minute walk from Pike Place Market. It’s a gorgeous 5-Star hotel located centrally in downtown Seattle. If you can afford it, this is our first recommendation. The hotel has an outdoor infinity pool with a view of the Seattle waterfront, lots of amenities, and is within walking distance of a lot of Seattle attractions.
The only hotel that’s actually within Pike Place Market is the Inn at the Market. You can’t get a better location! You’ll be able to watch Pike Place Market come alive in the morning, and you’ll be well-positioned to grab lots of delicious meals and snacks. See our full post on Pike Place Market here for food ideas!
The Charter Hotel Seattle is a moderately-priced hotel that’s only one block away from Pike Place Market. It’s also only a mile away from the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is located). The hotel is sleek and many of the rooms have nice city views.
The Seattle Marriott Waterfront has views of the water, as well as an indoor-outdoor pool. Every room has a view of the mountains and water.
For a full list of hotels in Seattle, click here.
We wrote an article about our favorite hotels in downtown Seattle. You can check it out here! We go into greater detail about hotel locations, amenities, and more.
Tip: If you’re looking for flights, I recommend checking the SkyScanner website to see the best prices for your dates of travel!
Ideas to Embrace the Rain
With the right rain gear, there’s no reason to cancel plans. Most Seattleites have just learned to live with the rain. Some of our favorite hikes have been done in the rain. There’s often less people, and the forest takes on a different moody feel on a rainy day.
About a half hour east of Seattle is Snoqualmie Falls. We highly recommend that you visit these falls during a visit to Seattle. We wrote an entire blog post on visiting the falls here if you are interested in planning a visit there. The falls are 268 feet tall, and the view can be quite dramatic after a heavy rainfall!
You can easily walk to the upper observation to see the falls, and then enjoy a nice meal at Salish Lodge. If you’d like more exercise, there’s a trail down to the lower falls viewing area as well. (You can also drive to the lower falls separately.)
Woodland Park Zoo
We purchased annual memberships to the Woodland Park Zoo, and we have gone quite frequently! We like to visit the zoo on a sunny day, but we also have surprisingly really enjoyed going to the zoo on rainy days. We’ve noticed that there are less crowds, and the animals are usually more active too. If you are planning to visit Woodland Park Zoo, see our blog post here.
Seattleites love to hike. The trails near Seattle can often be busy, but on a rainy day, you’ll experience fewer crowds. Some of our favorite hikes over the years have been on rainy days. Just be sure to pack waterproof hiking boots and a good waterproof shell. Many of the hikes are in the forest, so the trees will also provide a natural canopy. So, you might find out that the rain is less of an issue than you thought.
Some popular hikes near Seattle are Twin Falls, Wallace Falls, and Franklin Falls. (If you plan on visiting Franklin Falls during the winter when the falls are frozen over, see our guide to accessing the falls here. To this day, it was one of the most magical hikes we have ever been on.)
Head to the Beach
Seattleites flock to the beach on a sunny day, but they are typically empty on a rainy one. If you’re bundled up, going for a nice beach walk can be an invigorating way to start your day. In this blog post, we share our 15 favorite beaches near Seattle.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days does it rain in Seattle per year?
It rains approximately 152 days per year in Seattle.
How many inches of rainfall does Seattle get per year?
Seattle receives approximately 38 inches of rainfall per year.
Does it actually rain a lot in Seattle?
Yes, compared to most cities in the United States, Seattle has a fair amount of rainy days. However, many of these days do not contain heavy rainfall. Instead, there may be a slight drizzle. So although Seattle has more rainy days than most cities, it actually has less annual rainfall than cities like Houston, Miami, and New York.
Why does it rain so much in Seattle?
Seattle is geographically located in a rain shadow. Because the Cascade Mountains are to the east of the city, clouds coming in from the west coast get trapped in the mountains and let their rain down in the Seattle area. Seattle is also located in a convergence zone, where multiple weather patterns meet.
When is the rainy season in Seattle?
It generally rains the most in the months between October and March. November, December, and January are typically the rainiest months.
Summary: 24 Indoor Activities in Seattle
We hope you enjoyed this post on rainy day activities in Seattle. We worked hard on researching the information for this article. If you find yourself in Seattle on a rainy day, have fun!
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If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in the following posts:
- A Local’s Guide to the Space Needle
- 50 Free Things to Do in Seattle
- What to See at the Woodland Park Zoo
- 33 Day Trips from Seattle
- The Best Hotels in Downtown Seattle
- Where to Find the Best Donuts in Seattle
- Perfect Weekend Itinerary for Seattle
- The Complete Guide to the Best Coffee Shops in Seattle
- Complete Guide to Pike Place Market
- 6 Things to See at the Seattle Aquarium
- Complete Guide to Visiting Snoqualmie Falls
- What to See at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
- 15 Best Beaches Near Seattle
- 50 Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii
Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please see individual websites embedded in this post for the most current trip-planning information.
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