Every time I talk to someone about living in Seattle, they always ask the same question: “Doesn’t it rain all the time there?” Sure, it rains more than it might in other parts of the country, but not all the time. There are plenty of fun rainy day activities in Seattle to distract you from the weather, and it’s a shame if you spend all winter inside.
I never use the winter season as an excuse to stay indoors, so I’ve compiled a list of what to do in Seattle when it rains. I’ll be honest – I get bored pretty easily, so I’m not one for staying at home all weekend just because it’s raining. That’s why I’m always out and about on the weekends, whether it’s exploring the underground of Seattle or sampling chocolate, and I’ve found many enjoyable Seattle rainy day activities.
There’s always something to do, whether it’s the middle of winter or the occasional rainy day in the summer. I have plenty of ideas, whether you’re by yourself, with your kids, or with friends, to ensure that you’ll never get bored. So grab your rain jacket and rain boots (and all your Seattle rain gear, for that matter!) and learn about some of the best things to do in Seattle on a rainy day.
This post was first written in 2020 and last updated in September 2023.
1. Explore the Seattle Central Library
The Seattle Central Library is one of my favorite things to do on a rainy day in Seattle. This unique building is a great place to escape the rain and find a new book to read in downtown Seattle. You can stop in, grab a coffee from the cafe, and slowly make your way up each floor.
Thanks to the glass and steel structure, this is also one of the most Instagrammable spots in Seattle. The building is 11 stories tall, so you have plenty of room to explore. They also have different storytimes and other kid activities during the week, making it a perfect Seattle indoor activity.
When you’re done, I recommend heading next door to Retro Coffee for a pastry and latte to warm you up even further.
2. Go Up in the Space Needle
You don’t have to save the Space Needle for your list of things to do in Seattle when it’s raining, but it’s not a bad time to go. I love watching the rain pour down over the city as I look out over downtown Seattle through the glass. If you have 3 days in Seattle during your visit, you’ll want to put this on your list.
The Space Needle recently underwent an extensive renovation, including a glass floor so that you can see even more of the city. While you’re there looking for things to do when it rains in Seattle, check out the cafe for a snack or a glass of wine while having the best view of the Seattle skyline.
The Needle is one of the more popular rainy day activities in Seattle, especially on the weekends. Due to that, I recommend buying tickets online no matter what time of year it is. The advantage of this that is you don’t have to wait in line anymore, even at the busiest times when others are looking for what to do in Seattle on a rainy day.
If you plan on going to multiple attractions in Seattle during the week, consider buying a CityPASS to save money!
3. Eat Local Chocolate at Theo Chocolate
Nothing will cheer you up more in Seattle when it rains than eating some local chocolate at Theo Chocolate. Located in the Fremont neighborhood, you’ll see a giant building that looks like a mini Willy Wonka chocolate factory. Sadly, they just stopped offering tours of it in September 2023, but you can still walk by and smell the amazing chocolate.
Not only that, you can go in and visit the store that sells dozens of different chocolates. Even though they sell some of these bars locally, I always stop here when I’m in Fremont because there are a ton of different bars you can’t find anywhere else.
Not only that, but they have other specialty truffles, caramels, marshmallows, and more, so it’s the perfect place to stop during four days in Seattle. This is easily one of the most delicious indoor activities in Seattle.
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4. Walk Around Volunteer Park Conservatory
Volunteer Park Conservatory has been on Capitol Hill since 1912 and is one of the most scenic ideas for what to do on rainy days in Seattle. If you go on the first Thursday or first Saturday of the month, you’ll even be able to get in for free. This is a great place to go when you’re looking for what to do on a rainy day in Seattle while in Seattle on a budget.
There are five different houses to go through here, including the Seasonal, Cactus, Palm, Fern, and Bromeliad houses. You’ll warm right up if you come here on a cold day looking for indoor things to do in Seattle, plus there are plenty of other things to do near Capitol Hill.
I only came here for the first time this year, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was extremely peaceful to walk around in this beautiful, quiet environment after spending a busy morning in Capitol Hill. There were some special exhibits I was excited to see, such as the Saguaro cacti that reminded me of my trip to Saguaro National Park.
When you’re done, head across the parking lot and visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Alternatively, you could also head down to Tacoma to visit the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, which is a free thing to do in Tacoma.
5. Learn About Underground Seattle
Book a spot on the Seattle Underground tour when you need an indoor Seattle fall activity due to the weather. I always take my friends in town for the weekend on this, as it’s such a unique way to see the city. If you’re in Seattle during Halloween, it’s even better if you like being spooked.
The current city of Seattle was essentially built on top of the old town from the 1800s. While most of it is closed to the public, you can still see parts of the original buildings when you go on this tour. You’ll also learn a ton of history about how Seattle came to be.
As I said, I’ve been on this multiple times (probably five and counting at this point) because each time, I learn new fun trivia about Seattle. The guides are always so funny yet educational that you’ll actually want to learn, and I always hang onto their every word.
If you’re staying downtown, you can easily visit this even without a car in Seattle, as Pioneer Square is walkable.
Book your Underground Tour online before you go.
6. Watch a Show at the Pacific Northwest Ballet
One of the most popular ballets in the country is the Pacific Northwest Ballet, so you’ll want to book tickets to a show when you need an indoor activity in Seattle. They put on various performances throughout the year at McCaw Hall in Seattle, and it’s also one of the best rainy-day date ideas in Seattle.
The most popular show during the holidays is The Nutcracker, making it a fun thing to do in Seattle in the winter. I highly recommend booking tickets in advance if you plan on attending this, as it’s a beloved local favorite.
Looking for indoor Seattle activities with kids? I just discovered the Seattle Children’s Theatre this year, which children actually love because they see other kids being the ones acting out the play. For 2023, they have Goodnight Moon, among others, which my oldest is excited to see since he knows the book well.
7. Buy Local Goods at a Farmer’s Market
While Pike Place Market tends to be the most crowded when visiting Seattle in August, the rainy season in Seattle is a great time to go. The area is less crowded, and it’s all covered, so you’ll stay dry and warm when looking for what to do on a rainy day in Seattle.
There are plenty of local vendors to buy fresh produce, flowers, and more from on the main level of the market. There are also tons of shops hidden away on the lower level, so make sure to check these out for things to do in Seattle when it rains.
You’ll also find other farmer’s markets throughout the area that may be closer to where you live. This is one of my favorite indoor activities near Seattle, as you can stock up on seasonal fruit. Spring in Seattle is when most of these start popping up in neighborhoods around the area.
8. Observe Native Sea Life
Going to the Seattle Aquarium is one of the best rainy day activities in Seattle, as there’s something fun about being surrounded by water while watching the rain pour outside. This is located on the Seattle waterfront and is the perfect way to start your morning, especially when you need indoor activities for kids in Seattle.
You’ll see various Pacific Northwest sea life, including a giant octopus, puffins, seals, otters, and more, during this fun Seattle day trip. There’s an indoor and outdoor exhibit, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a diver coming into the tank to feed the sea life.
Now that I have two kids, we’re here at least a few times a year and always in the Seattle rainy season because it’s the perfect distraction. We’ll have lunch at Ivar’s Acres of Clams and then head over to the aquarium for a fun afternoon.
The Aquarium is also part of Seattle’s CityPASS if you want to save money on multiple attractions.
9. Try Out Your Bouldering Skills
Need a little adventure when it comes to fun indoor things to do in Seattle? Head to the Seattle Bouldering Project to try your hand at indoor rock climbing and bouldering.
There are several indoor climbing gyms in Seattle, but I like this one because of how early and late they’re open (6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily). Depending on the time, they also have a cafe where you can grab a latte or a beer.
Many rock climbers in the area come here to keep up their bouldering and rock climbing skills while waiting out the rainy weather until they can get outside again. This is one of the more active things to do in Seattle on a rainy day.
I’ve also been going to Vertical World North, although they have several locations in the area. You can buy a day pass to drop in and improve your bouldering skills or sign up for lessons to learn how to rock climb.
10. Taste Local Beer
You don’t have to convince many people in Seattle to head to a brewery, no matter the weather. Brewery tours make for a particularly great thing to do on a rainy day in Seattle, and there are plenty of kid-friendly breweries in Seattle.
You could do your own walking brewery tour, especially in places like Ballard, where over a dozen breweries are close to each other. Some of the top breweries in Seattle are based there.
You’ll also have fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Seattle with the many pubs that join in on the fun.
There are also plenty of guided food tours in Seattle to go on to complement your beer:
- Pike Place Market Food Tour: Join a tour to see some of the best places to eat around Pike Place Market.
- Underground Donut Tour: Join Seattle’s only donut tour to visit some of the best donut shops in the city.
- Chef-Guided Food Tour of Pike Place: This two-hour tour makes ten different stops at the best of Pike Place Market.
Hungry? Here is the list of must-eats in Seattle.
11. See How Airplanes Are Made
Seattle is known for many large companies, such as Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft – and Boeing. If you’ve always wanted to go behind the scenes of how these massive planes are built, you’ll love the Boeing Factory Tour. You can spend hours here, making it one of the best rainy day activities in Seattle.
You’ll start with a video of the history of Boeing before heading to the factory. From there, you’ll go to different sections of the factory to see how various parts are made. Even if you’re not big into aviation, you’ll likely find it fascinating to see how an airplane is put together.
I didn’t think I’d like this at all, yet I’ve spent hours here multiple times because it’s really interesting to see the planes up close. This is my go-to spot to take visitors from out of town as well.
Book your Boeing tour online before you go.
12. Admire Stunning Glass Sculptures
One of the most impressive museums in the city is Chihuly Garden and Glass, so put it on your list of things to do in Seattle when it’s raining. You’ll walk by and under some beautiful glass-blown pieces. I’m always in awe of how beautiful these art pieces are every time I’m there, and it’s great for things to do when it’s raining in Seattle.
In addition to the central part of the museum, the garden outside has more beautiful pieces. The glass house is one of the most photographed places in Seattle, making it one of the best indoor activities in Seattle.
They always have different events going on in the glasshouse, such as yoga classes or cocktail hours. I would check out their calendar when you’re visiting to see if you can get tickets to any special events.
Make sure to stop at the gift shop to get some beautiful Seattle souvenirs for yourself or a friend. I have several stunning pieces of my own in my home.
Chihuly Garden and Glass is also part of Seattle’s CityPASS if you’re looking to save money on multiple attractions.
13. Visit the National Nordic Museum
The National Nordic Museum is located in the Ballard neighborhood and is great for rainy day things to do in Seattle. This is the best place to learn about the Nordic influence of this area on a rainy day in Seattle. You’ll see exhibits from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden throughout the museum.
This isn’t just for adults, either – I recently came here on a day I was exploring Ballard with the kids, and the front desk worker asked if we wanted to do a scavenger hunt. What went from them only being partly excited about the museum led to them excitedly going from room to room to see if they could find what was on the paper. They even have a kid’s corner on the second floor for them to play more.
I always stop at the Freya Cafe to try Nordic food like Danish Dogs, Smørrebrød, and more. They also hold the Yulefest Festival every December, where you can buy traditional Nordic arts and crafts and homemade food.
14. See Famous Music Memorabilia at MoPop
Music lovers will love visiting the Museum of Pop Culture when figuring out what to do in Seattle in the rain. You’ll see everything from Britney Spears’ dance outfits to handwritten lyrics from Kurt Cobain at this museum. There’s a significant focus on artists from the Pacific Northwest, making it one of the best things to do in Seattle, but they also have exhibits on other big stars.
You can visit the interactive Sound Lab, where you’ll have a chance to try out various instruments. There are soundproof rooms where you can jam with other people or learn to DJ on turntables.
Visiting the Museum of Pop Culture is one of the more popular Seattle indoor activities, as you can spend hours here warm and entertained. When you’re done, head over to the Seattle Center to get lunch at MOD Pizza.
MoPOP is also part of Seattle’s CityPASS if you want to save money on multiple attractions.
15. Check Out Airplanes at the Musem of Flight
Heading to the Museum of Flight is one of the best things to do in Seattle on a rainy day. You can easily spend a whole day here with how many exhibits there are.
If you like old airplanes, make sure to check out the Aircraft Restoration section. You’ll be able to see cars and planes from decades ago being worked on.
My favorite parts, personally, are where you can pretend you’re a pilot. You can “fly” an airplane from the cockpit as well as take a shuttle trainer tour, which is perfect for indoor activities in Seattle for adults.
16. Observe Local Art at the Seattle Art Museum
Visiting the Seattle Art Museum is one of the more popular things to do inside in Seattle, especially for tourists. The museum is located downtown by the waterfront, so it’s close to many hotels and restaurants you might already plan on visiting.
There are over 25,000 different pieces of art here, so it’s safe to say a visit could easily take up a day. They have a variety of permanent collections, such as Native American pieces. There are constantly rotating exhibits as well, so there’s something new almost every time you visit.
17. Explore Science at the Pacific Science Museum
One of the most kid-friendly places in Seattle is the Pacific Science Center, although all ages are welcome. That makes it one of the best Seattle indoor activities when it’s raining outside. The center is large enough that you could spend a good part of the day here.
There are exhibits for all ages, including a toddler exploration area. My kids love coming here when we need fun indoor activities in Seattle to do. One of my favorite areas to stop in is the planetarium, where you can learn all about space.
Be sure to check out what the IMAX theater is playing so you can get tickets in advance for the latest shows. They always have something fun and educational, such as “Dinosaurs of Antarctica.”
The Pacific Science Center isn’t just for kids; however – the laser shows at night make for a great date night. The Laser Dome puts on themed music for each show, such as Elton John or Pink Floyd, so it’s perfect when looking for things to do indoors in Seattle.
18. Have Your Kids Play Pretend at the Seattle Children’s Museum
Looking for things to do on a rainy day in Seattle is incredibly challenging when you have kids who need to get energy out. The Seattle Children’s Museum solves this problem, with over 18,000 square feet for children eight and under to explore.
The museum has numerous “adult” scenarios that kids can re-enact, such as grocery shopping or doctor visits. They can also pretend they’re working at a construction zone, waiting for the bus, and more, making it one of the best indoor kids’ activities in Seattle.
My kids are constantly asking to come here, as they love all the fun exhibits. I love that the food court at the Seattle Center is on the second floor of this building, so it’s an easy fix when they go from happy to hangry (Subway is a great, cheap option).
I also love visiting the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, as it’s more extensive, and they recently did a massive renovation there. We actually have a family membership to the museum because my kids love it so much.
19. Run Around a Playtorium
If you need somewhere safe for your kid to bounce off the wall and things to do in Seattle indoors, head to the Funtastic Playtorium. They have locations in Lynnwood and Factoria and are one of the easiest things to do in Seattle during the rain.
Kids 10 and under can crawl, jump, bounce, and slide their way around this giant indoor playground. This is also a great place to throw a birthday party if your kid’s birthday occurs during the rainy season in Seattle.
The Lynnwood one is in the Alderwood Mall, so you can get some shopping done after or go to the free play area in the mall if your kids need more indoor kids activities in Seattle.
20. Take a Ferry Ride to an Island
One of my favorite rainy day activities in Seattle is to walk on the ferry to take a trip across the water. There are so many islands around Seattle to choose from, such as the ferry that’s downtown and goes to Bainbridge Island, where you’ll be able to walk to multiple restaurants and shops once you reach the other side.
You could also take the ferry to explore all the things to do on Vashon Island, south of the downtown area. However, you will need to drive your car on the ferry for this one, as there isn’t much when you first get off on the other side.
If you feel like going farther, you can drive up to Mukilteo to spend a day on Whidbey Island. Or you can head all the way to check out things to do in Anacortes and then get on a ferry to explore San Juan Island or Orcas Island (but you will need a reservation in advance).
Need more adventure? Book a whale-watching tour during the spring and summer!
21. Go on a Road Trip
Sometimes when I’m going a little stir-crazy in the house after a period of multiple rainy days, I love getting up, making coffee to go, and heading out on the road. We have some beautiful places for scenic drives in Washington, making it one of the easiest rainy-day Seattle activities.
Some of my favorite places for a road trip from Seattle include:
- Olympic National Park
- Whidbey Island
- Leavenworth (in the summer or winter in Leavenworth)
- North Cascades Highway (only part of the highway is accessible in the winter, so check reports first)
As you can see, there are many rainy day activities in Seattle you can enjoy! Save this post to refer to for the next time you’re looking for what to do in Seattle when it rains.