Best Time to Visit Seattle in 2023 (By a Local)
The best time to visit Seattle is from mid-May to early October when you’re most likely to experience mild to warm weather with the lowest chance of rain. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a visit to the Pacific Northwest during other months of the year!
Seattle’s reputation for rainy weather might deter some travelers, but equipped with the right information, you might find you’d prefer Seattle in March versus July. It really depends on the things you want to do in Seattle, your preparation for the weather, your tolerance for crowds, and your budget.
I’m a Seattle local who knows the ins and outs of visiting Seattle at any time. To help you figure out when you’d like to book your trip, I’ll break down what to expect during each month of the year, what the climate is generally like, and events and festivals you might want to plan for.
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Seattle
- Seattle Travel Seasons
- Seattle Weather and Climate
- FAQs About Visiting Seattle
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When is the Best Time to Visit Seattle
Visiting Seattle from May to October will yield a pleasant Emerald City experience for most travelers. The weather is the most predictable during this timeframe which allows for the most varied experience for both outdoor and indoor adventures.
That said, you can enjoy the city during any month if you know what to expect. Here are some of the more specific determinations you can use to decide when your ideal trip to Seattle will be.
When to Visit Seattle for Good Weather
If warm weather is what you’re craving, come to Seattle between late June to September.
July through September are the months you can count on a clear and sunny day with glorious views of Mount Rainier greeting you from the south. You’ll be able to hike, spend time in the parks and soak up some rays at the beaches as well. Temperatures typically fall around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celcius), so the heat is comfortable, not sweltering.
While not as warm as the peak summer months, coming during the shoulder season of May through June and September to October is also a good option. You’ll experience good weather with a few more clouds in the mix and slightly lower temperatures (around 66-71 degrees Fahrenheit (19-21 Celsius). With fewer crowds to navigate, plenty of events to attend, and long, light-filled days, these are generally the times I recommend a visit.
When to Visit Seattle for Hiking + Outdoor Adventures
Using Seattle as your home base to go to the mountains and hit the trails? July through September are the best times to do it.
During this time temperatures in all three national parks are highest. The meadows at Mount Rainier National Park are teeming with wildflowers, the snowmelt makes it easier to access the North Cascades, and you can explore the Olympic National Park with less of the ever-present rain.
Other outdoor recreation opportunities like biking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding are also ideal during this part of the summer season.
For waterfall chasers, the best time to see the falls in their full glory is during spring between April and June when the runoff is most impressive. And if you intend to visit the mountains for skiing, snowboarding, or other snow sports, January and February are the best months to plan for.
🚗 Off to the Mountains? Rent a car: Some of the most epic hikes near Seattle are accessible only if you have a car to get you to the trailhead. Discover Cars makes it easy to rent a car online, saving you time and money so you can fully enjoy your trip.
When to Visit Seattle to Avoid Crowds
Late October to April is generally when the Seattle crowds clear out. The rainy season starts in full force around this time, and temperatures begin to drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celcius).
There are positives to braving the seemingly incessant drizzle during this time. You’ll have more opportunities to socialize with locals instead of bumping elbows with other tourists. Visit the historic Pike Place Market, go museum hopping, hit up breweries, check out live shows, and experience Seattle’s food scene without crowds. There’s no shortage of things to do.
As long as you make the best of the daylight during this time (November through February the sun sets really early), and bring warm clothes and the appropriate rain gear, this can be a great time to visit Seattle.
When to Visit Seattle for Families and Kids
Families with kids of all ages should visit Seattle between May and September. Not only will there be pleasant weather, but there are also a variety of kid-friendly events and activities that will make planning a Seattle itinerary easier.
The Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, and Seattle Center have tons of fun events and make good outings for families and kids. Venture out further to Wild Waves Water and Theme Park, go berry picking, and take a few kid-friendly hikes. Or spend time hanging out at the many city parks and enjoy the wading pools and spray parks that open around mid-June.
When to Visit Seattle on a Budget
If you’re looking for the best hotel prices and airfare costs, visit Seattle from March through May. October through December is another option if your visit doesn’t fall on holiday weekends when prices spike.
Both of these timeframes are outside of the peak summer season, so you won’t have to worry about accommodation prices ballooning in time for the summer crowds, but you should come prepared for wet weather. While you’ll save on airfare and accommodations, most activities in the area remain the same cost year-round.
To save more, head to spots outside the Seattle area where you’ll find good deals during the off-seasons. It’s also worth it to visit during a free festival like The U-District Street Fair or during an event like Seattle Restaurant Week where you can save a few bucks on food.
📚 Related Reading: If you want to know where to stay, what to do, and more tips for visiting the city on a budget, check out my budget-friendly Seattle guide to learn how to enjoy Seattle for less.
When to Visit Seattle for Festivals
Seattle has some great festivals and most of them fall between April and October with the biggest ones happening during the summer. Come between these months if you’re interested in checking them out.
There is a wide range of options – from music and food fests to arts and crafts fairs, to flower and cultural festivals. Popular ones like Seafair, Pride, and the Seattle International Film Festival are month-long events, and others like the Fremont Solstice Fest are only a weekend long.
Be sure that if you’re visiting during one you know the duration and figure out your transportation well in advance to avoid frustration with parking and crowds.
Seattle Travel Seasons
January and February
January and February are two of the sleepier times to visit Seattle. With the holiday season over and the winter chill settling in, most Seattleites use this time to recharge at home. This is right in the middle of some of Seattle’s rainiest weather and the coldest and darkest part of the year (the sun rises around 8 and sets around 5 in the wintertime so daylight is limited). Expect temperatures hovering between 30-40 Fahrenheit and possibly snow.
- ❄️ Indoor activities – Make the best of indoor Seattle activities during these months. Go brewery hopping, check out Seattle’s museums, visit indie theaters, and hit up Pike Place Market, the Seattle Center, and other touristy attractions (sans crowds).
- ❄️ Winter Sports – This is a great time to go to the mountains for snow sports! Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie Pass are good bets for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. You can also go snowshoeing at Mount Rainier National Park or ride the Mt. Rainier Gondola for bird’s eye views of Rainier and the rest of the cascade range.
- ❄️ Northwest Art and Garden Show – This annual show happens at the Washington State Convention Center and is perfect for plant lovers or anyone wanting a bit of spring in the middle of wintertime. Expect flower and garden displays, a marketplace where you can buy plants and other gardening goods, and talks and demonstrations from gardening experts.
March and April
March and April are still relatively chilly times to visit Seattle with temperatures around 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit. March weather and April weather are similar: lots of rain, lots of cloudy days, and sometimes a surprising amount of sunshine. Seattleites start coming out of “hibernation” in early spring, and events and festivals begin picking up steam. Rain jackets are still very necessary for outings.
- 🌸 Flower Festivals – During mid to late March, the city’s cherry blossoms start blooming. The quad on the University of Washington campus is the place to go to see this beautiful springtime display. Locals and visitors flock here yearly for some flower peeping. Another can’t miss springtime flower display is The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This takes place in Skagit Valley where farms grow miles of tulip fields. The event typically occurs in April, though bloom times vary year to year.
- 🌸 Taste Washington -This large festival involves wineries and restaurants throughout Washington and gives attendees a chance to try out a variety of food and drinks throughout the region. This is a great event for anyone who likes to wine, dine and discover new and unusual pairings. It typically takes place at various locations throughout downtown Seattle in March.
- 🌸 Moisture Festival – Moisture Festival is a four-week-long festival featuring a mix of comedy, burlesque, circus acts, and other live performances. With shows geared to all ages, this is one of the best ways to herald the new season. You’re guaranteed plenty of laughter from the humorous and impressive vaudeville performances.
May and June
May and June are both great times to visit Seattle, with mostly sunny weather and fewer rainy days. Temperatures begin to rise to more comfortable levels, which makes it a good time to go on hikes, get on the water, spend time in parks, see blooming gardens, and more. This is also when “festival season” starts in full.
- 🎬 Fremont Solstice Parade – One of Seattle’s best festivals, the Fremont Solstice Parade has it all – floats, performers, musicians, dancers, and the most popular and well-known part of the event, the naked cyclists ride. This weekend-long event in June has hundreds of market vendors, beer gardens, delicious food and it all takes place in one of Seattle’s most vibrant neighborhoods. If you happen to be in town during the event, this is a must.
- 🎬 Seattle International Film Festival – A three-week-long festival typically in May/June (though 2022 will see an early return in April) that highlights indie and foreign films and documentaries. This attracts movie and film fans from all over the world who want to see the first and sometimes only showings of creative and boundary-pushing films.
- 🎬 Northwest Folklife Festival – If you want to get a good taste of the culture of the Pacific Northwest, this is the festival to attend. It takes place in the Seattle Center over Memorial Day weekend and the laid-back fest features live folk music, dance performances, art vendors, handmade goods, a variety of food, and is a prime time for people watching.
July and August
July and August are typically considered the most beautiful months in Seattle. The weather is warm but not overbearingly so, and the sun sets late so it’s light out until nearly 10 pm most nights. Restaurant and bar patios are open, beer gardens are packed, locals and visitors flock to the beaches, hiking trails, lakes, and parks. While you will have to navigate through the summer crowds during this time, the payoff of the gorgeous summer weather makes it worth it.
- 🌊 Seafair – This month-long festival has been running since the ’50s and is a Seattle summer classic. Beginning in July and lasting into August, there are a series of signature events in various locations throughout Seattle. Some of these include the 4th of July party at Lake Union, the Milk Carton Derby at Greenlake, and the Weekend Festival at Genesee Park and Lake Washington. The latter is one of the big highlights of Seafair because of the Blue Angels Airshow performance.
- 🌊 Capitol Hill Block Party – This weekend-long event in July is a celebration of music and art and has drawn the likes of Lizzo, Diplo, Major Lazer, and Still Woozy. Lesser known but equally solid acts have taken the stage here too, which makes it a good spot to discover newer artists. This can be a crowded festival, with people squished into a few blocks of the main drag of the Pike/Pine Corridor. Still, this is the best time to visit Seattle for music lovers and partiers.
- 🌊 Bite of Seattle – Bite of Seattle is the festival for foodies, and a great way to experience some of the best places to eat in Seattle. Restaurants, food trucks, and other food vendors offer select bites priced around $5. And there’s a bit of everything here – tacos, burgers, ribs, gyoza, cajun food, and more. The Bite also has beer gardens, cider tastings, cook-offs, and live music to keep you entertained while you eat.
- 🌊 Whale Watching – These months are a great time for whale watching. While you have some chance of seeing them around Seattle, take a trip up to the San Juan Islands for a guarantee. Search for whales from land at Lime Kiln State Park or book a whale watching tour far in advance, so the experts can lead you to the magnificent orca whales of the Puget Sound.
🛎️ Need a Hotel?: If your trip to Seattle falls in July or August, you’ll want to make sure you book your hotel well in advance. I highly recommend browsing Seattle hotels on Booking so that you can find one within your price point and with the amenities you desire before the pickings get slim for the summer season.
September and October
September and October are great months to visit Seattle. Even though the temperature begins to cool, the September weather is lovely and October weather is fairly mild until the middle of the month. While crowds begin to clear out as the temps drop, there’s still a lot to do, and you can get outdoors comfortably up to mid-October. Seattle comes awash in color as the leaves change and golden larches make their debut in the mountains.
- ✨ Washington State Fair – The Washington State Fair has a little something for everyone. Located south of Seattle in Puyallup, it retains the charm of a small-town fair on a much larger scale. Come here to enjoy fair food (especially the fair scones and curly fries), go on the rides, play classic fair games, see photography exhibits, watch musical performances, fireworks and so much more. The month-long event begins in early September and is a great place to spend a late summer day.
- ✨ Bumbershoot – Bumbershoot (slang for umbrella) is a large music and art festival that occurs over Labor Day Weekend at the Seattle Center. It’s been around for 50 years and has hosted top artists in the hip hop, indie, and rock genres since its creation. As of 2022, the festival’s production partner has shifted, so visitors may see the festival return in a slightly different form than in previous years.
- ✨ Earshot Jazz Festival – October marks the start of the Earshot Jazz Festival, which brings together the Seattle jazz community and showcases the talents of local and global artists. You’ll hear multiple interpretations of jazz throughout the fest, and there are performances at different venues around Seattle, making it easy to catch a few no matter where you’re staying.
- ✨ Seattle Restaurant Week – Seattle Restaurant Week is a bi-annual event that happens in the springtime and in late October. During it, hundreds of participating restaurants offer fixed prices for lunches and dinners (typically around $20 or $35) that include multiple courses. This is a great time to discover some local restaurants, and try something new at a reasonable price point.
November and December
Expect colder temperatures and shorter days in November and December as the rainy season starts in full force. While both months are similarly cold and wet, there is a relatively low chance of snow in either. Despite the weather, these months are good times to get cozy and festive, so it’s not a bad time to visit Seattle. Holiday festivities start picking up, and there are many events to attend – from tree lightings to craft markets to holiday shows, and more.
- 🎄 NW Chocolate Fest – This festival is a must for chocolate lovers. Expect exhibits, workshops, and demos from some of the best chocolatiers around. Not only do you get to learn from the experts you’ll also get to sample a wide variety of chocolate confections and other sweet treats.
- 🎄 Winterfest – Winterfest happens annually at the Seattle Center from late November through December. The family-friendly event features live ice sculpting, lighting ceremonies, a model train and winter village, and many plays and musical performances. One of the best parts of Winterfest is the ice rink where kids and adults of all ages can practice some ice skating.
- 🎄 Argosy Cruises Christmas Ship – Argosy Cruises offers regular boat tours year-round, but during the holiday season they have a special Christmas Ship cruise. The boat is decked out in lights and sails along the Puget Sound visiting different communities along the shore. While aboard, choirs serenade the riders who also have access to a full-service bar.
- 🎄 Day trip to Leavenworth – Taking a day trip from Seattle to Leavenworth is particularly special during December. The entire town transforms into a magical village, officially referred to as Christmastown, with half a million lights to complete the transformation. There are holiday-themed activities to enjoy every day in December like gingerbread house building competitions, daily giveaways, carolers, bands and choirs, and carriage and sleigh rides.
📚 Related Reading: Want to know what else there is to do in the Emerald City no matter what month or season you visit? Check out my article on the best things to do in Seattle so you can start adding even more to your itinerary!
Seattle Weather and Climate
Seattle’s temperate climate means that it has pretty mild weather year-round. Winters are cold and wet and summers are dry and warm. Neither season reaches extremes very often, but when Seattle gets a blanket of snow or a heatwave, it doesn’t last long.
Seattle gets around 38 inches of rain per year, with around 152 days of rain throughout the year. Both of these are higher than the national averages in the United States. While Seattle sees a lot more days with some rain, it doesn’t experience heavy downpours as much as other parts of the country.
Despite all the rainfall, and having an average humidity of around 70-80%, Seattle doesn’t feel very humid. This is because the relative humidity is lowest during the summer months, meaning those muggy days are extremely rare. Wildfires from surrounding areas have been affecting Seattle summers more in recent years. If visiting during a smoky episode, visitors should make sure to check the air quality before doing outdoor activities.
FAQs About Visiting Seattle
What is the rainy season in Seattle?
What is the sunniest month in Seattle?
July is typically the sunniest month in Seattle and is the month with the least chance of precipitation.
How many days do you need in Seattle?
Four or five days is a good amount of time to visit Seattle. This gives you a chance to see popular Seattle attractions, explore neighborhoods further from the city center and then venture out further for a day trip, hike, or both.
If you are short on time, you can follow my one day in Seattle guide to make the most of it.
What is the warmest month in Seattle?
August is the warmest month in Seattle. Temperatures average around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 Celcius) during the month.
Hopefully, this breakdown has helped you determine when you want to book your visit to the Emerald City! While there are a lot of options to weigh when deciding the best time to visit Seattle, as long as you know what you want to get out of your trip, you’ll be able to time your trip with confidence.
Excited to check more items off your trip planning list? Check out my other Seattle and Washington state guides to help you along the way:
- Where to stay in Seattle
- Seattle travel tips
- Things to do in Washington state
- Best places in Washington state
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Hi! Thank you for sharing your knowledge on Seattle!
My boyfriend and I wanted to go in early November, but wanted to go to Olympic Natl Park. I imagine hiking is a no-go but wondering if they have scenery spots were you can stop at? Would you recommend still going to Olympic, or even Port Townsend and Port Angeles?
Actually October is often one of the nicest months in Seattle for weather and there are fewer crowds. April thorough mid June are still pretty rainy which surprises many visitors.