As a longtime local of Seattle who thrives on all the Seattle summer activities, I am frequently asked, “When is the best time to visit Seattle?” While there’s something to do in all the seasons, you absolutely can’t beat Seattle in the summer. Everyone’s generally in a great mood because it’s warm, the sun’s out more days than not, and you won’t run out of things to do.
As a Seattle local, you’ll rarely find me outside of Washington during summer, with the exception of exploring Vancouver summer activities or other beautiful Pacific Northwest regions. That’s because I’m constantly going on new hikes, out on road trips, or visiting our national parks. I’m actually exhausted by the time the fall in Seattle rolls around because of how much I cram in during this season.
While pretty much any outdoor activities are available this time of year, you’ll also find a ton of festivals to enjoy in the sunshine. It was hard to narrow down my favorite activities during summer in Seattle, but these are the ones I tend to do over and over and recommend to others.
In this guide, I’ll share some of the best things to do in Seattle during the summer, including must-try restaurants, fun summer activities in Seattle, and more.
This article was first written in 2018 and last updated in April 2023.
18 Fun Things to Do in Seattle in the Summer
Thanks to the gorgeous weather, there are tons of Seattle summer activities to do. Here are some to check out!
1. Take a Ferry Ride
Taking a ferry is one of the most common summer things to do in Seattle, so head down to Pier 52 to catch the ferry over to nearby Bainbridge Island. For only $8, you can walk on to enjoy the 30-minute ride across the water.
Some people enjoy doing a trip there and back, while others get off on the other side and walk up to the small downtown area to enjoy their Bainbridge Island day trip. This is one of the best places to take pictures in Seattle, especially at sunrise or sunset.
If you’ve never taken a ferry ride before, it’s a quintessential activity to do in the Pacific Northwest!
Another great island to visit close to Seattle is Vashon, as you’ll find no shortage of what to do on Vashon Island.
2. Visit a Sandy Beach
Seattle isn’t known for its sandy beaches, but Alki Beach in West Seattle is one of the few places you can find them. People flock because they know this is one of the best things to do in Seattle in the summer. For example, you can play beach volleyball, swim in the water, and ride bikes down the strip.
3. Splurge on a Famous Waterfront Hotel
Since the weather is almost always gorgeous in Seattle in the summer, I always recommend splurging a bit and staying at a waterfront hotel with one of the best views in Seattle if you’re spending a weekend in Seattle.
The Edgewater holds a unique place in Seattle’s history, having opened its doors in 1962 to coincide with the World’s Fair (a fun Seattle fact). Overlooking the picturesque Puget Sound, this iconic hotel has welcomed many famous guests over the years, including The Beatles, during their 1964 tour. The band’s stay at The Edgewater made headlines when they were photographed fishing from their suite’s window.
The hotel features 223 guestrooms and suites, many boasting stunning waterfront views and cozy gas fireplaces. You can indulge in delicious locally-inspired cuisine at the on-site Six Seven Restaurant, which offers panoramic views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. The Edgewater also provides a state-of-the-art fitness center, a well-appointed business center, and an assortment of meeting and event spaces.
4. Watch a Soccer Game
Summer in Seattle is the perfect time to cheer on the local soccer team, the Sounders. Head to Lumen Field to join the enthusiastic soccer fans Seattle is known for having. Die-hard fans know every single chant, so it doesn’t hurt to learn some of the words to fit in before you go.
You can check their schedule online and buy tickets in advance if you’re interested in a game. If you want to save money, the team often offers a 4-pack deal where you can save money and see multiple games. I recommend stopping at Elysian Fields before the game for a meal and a pint of beer before you head to the stadium.
5. Go on a Road Trip
There’s no better time to go on a Seattle road trip than summer in Seattle. There are various long weekend getaways from Seattle that you can visit if you’re looking for a vacation. You can head over to the Cascade Mountains or out to the coast to see the Pacific Ocean.
If you’re looking for a longer vacation, check out my Pacific Northwest road trip, which will take you to some of the best spots in the area. You’ll get to see the mountains, ocean, and even a rainforest!
Want to get out of the state? You’ll love going on a Seattle to Yellowstone road trip that has you visit plenty of fun stops along the way to the most famous national park.
Need help planning out your road trip? I’ve been using Roadtrippers for years to see exactly how long it’ll take from one point to the next and find new places to add to my itinerary!
6. Go Whale Watching
One of the most iconic things to do in Seatle in the summer is to go on a Seattle whale-watching tour. This is the perfect time to see our local whales playing in their natural habitat, and they love showing off for the boats (all of which keep a respectful distance).
I’ve done this multiple times, and it never gets old the first time you see that first whale tail. Seattle seems to be known for it, so I’m always happy to take friends on tours when they come as well. I recommend going on a morning tour while the waves are a bit calmer, plus it’s easier to spot the whales then.
Book your whale-watching tour in advance, as summer months may sell out quickly.
7. Visit Mount Rainier National Park
There are plenty of things to do in Seattle and many quick Seattle day trips you can do to get out of the city. These are a great way to experience more of the state and spend your day in Seattle in the summer.
Mount Rainier is the most famous mountain in the state and a beautiful place to visit when you’re looking for a Seattle summer activity. Depending on traffic, it’ll take you about three hours to get there, but it’s worth the long Mount Rainier day trip.
Stop at the visitor’s center at this national park to learn about the area, and then head out on various hikes around the mountain. There are hikes at Mount Rainier for every level, whether you want to take a casual hike through the wildflowers or push yourself with a tougher one.
However, you should note that the summer weather here is different, and you won’t see the snow melt until about July. That means I wouldn’t plan any hikes until that time, and the wildflowers don’t bloom until about August.
This makes the area one of the most popular places to visit in Seattle in summer and is on many people’s Washington bucket lists.
8. Watch an Outdoor Movie
Take advantage of the long days and warm nights by seeing an outdoor movie at the Seattle Outdoor Cinema. Bring a lawn chair and head to the South Lake Union Saturday Market to see films such as The Goonies and Jurassic Park. This is a perfect way to spend a warm evening during summer in Seattle.
Other outdoor movies pop up around the city, so do a quick search to see what’s playing on the night you’re interested. If you want to go when there are fewer people, check out a weekday outdoor movie.
9. Explore Underground Seattle
The current city of Seattle was built on top of the original town, which is both fascinating and terrifying, depending on how you look at it. The history is interesting, though, so it’s worth the $22 ticket to access otherwise restricted areas underneath the streets of Seattle and see some original structures left from the 1800s.
While this is a popular thing to do in Seattle in the winter, it’s also ideal when you want a break from sunny summer days in Seattle.
10. Tour the City with a Seaplane
One of the best Seattle summer activities is to go on a seaplane to see the city from above. You can book a tour out of South Lake Union or Lake Washington and do a short trip over Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Puget Sound.
If you’re in town visiting, it’s fun to do this at the beginning of your trip to get your bearings on the different neighborhoods.
You’ll also want to book your ticket online in advance to get the time and day you want, and I recommend going around sunset if possible.
11. Go Scuba Diving
If you’ve ever been in the (cold) water in Seattle, you might think I’m crazy for recommending scuba diving. However, Seattle has some fantastic creatures down below that are worth checking out, and I’ve been scuba diving in Seattle numerous times at this point.
You can rent a wetsuit if you’re worried about being cold, but I’ve found I’m fine in a dry suit during the summer. Some popular places to dive in the area are West Seattle, Edmonds, and Whidbey Island (which is one of the top things to do on Whidbey Island). There are plenty of shops to take lessons at and rent gear – I use Underwater Sports for both my gear rental and hiring an instructor for an hour to come out with me.
12. Take an Ice Cream Cruise
On Sundays, you can catch a small ferry from South Lake Union Park to get a short tour of the houseboats and other buildings in the area. They also add Saturday sailings to this as a fun Seattle summer activity. You’ll see some famous houseboats, such as the one from Sleepless in Seattle.
They also sell ice cream and soft drinks on board for those who are hungry. It’s $15 for adults, $10 for kids, cash only, and the first sailing leaves at 11 am.
13. See Hydroplane Races
The weather during a Seattle summer is perfect for any and all water activities, and Seafair takes full advantage of that. It’s a week of boats tied up together partying on Lake Washington, a milk carton derby, and races, but the hydroplane races are the main attraction.
It’s a blast to see them race around the lake and cheer on your favorite driver. The Blue Angels also make an appearance, which you can hear for miles around the city. One of the best things to do in Seattle in the summer is being outdoors for Seafair.
There are various events for Seafair, but the main weekend will be August 4-6, 2023.
14. Attend Bumbershoot
Seattle has been celebrating Labor Day weekend at Bumbershoot since 1971. It’s a fun weekend of food, art, comedy, and music.
They always get some pretty big acts to play, such as Macklemore, Blondie, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, and Skrillex, among many others. You’ll want to add this to your list of things to do in Seattle during summer, as it’s an event you won’t want to miss.
Bumbershoot is a fun way to celebrate the unofficial end of summer. The weekend is a time many locals get together to see each other before the kids go back to school and enjoy some good food and music. Check out this year’s lineup online before you go.
Bumbershoot will take place on September 2nd and 3rd of 2023.
15. Head Out on a Hike
Locals are big into hiking in Seattle during summer, so head up to whatever trail you decide to do early to get a spot in the parking lot. There are many summer hikes along I-90, so you can be hiking in less than an hour from leaving Seattle.
Some popular ones are Mt. Si, Rattlesnake Ridge, and Twin Falls. Just make sure to go early to get a parking lot, as hiking is popular in Seattle in the summer.
My favorite hikes in the state are in the national parks, so I encourage you to check out hikes in North Cascades and Olympic National Park hikes (I love going on a trip from Seattle to North Cascades National Park in the summer).
Hiking is also a great cheap activity in Seattle when you’re on a budget. You may need to pay $5 for a day pass to parking at the hiking trailhead, but you can save money by bringing your own snacks and water.
16. Visit a Waterfall
There are many beautiful waterfalls in Washington, but Snoqualmie Falls is one of the closer and bigger ones. You can see it from the top or walk down about a mile to get great photos from the bottom.
We also have some beautiful waterfall hikes in Washington you’ll want to check out this time of year that will take you around Seattle, Mount Rainier, and the Olympic Peninsula.
Similarly, Portland in the summer is a fun time to take a trip to see the waterfalls down there as well.
17. Eat Local Seafood
There is no shortage of amazing seafood in Seattle, so you’ll want to try some of the freshest fish and crab when looking for what to do in Seattle in summer. Here are a few places I recommend:
- The Crab Pot – One of my absolute favorite restaurants during the summer in Seattle is The Crab Pot. There’s nothing better than sitting outside on their deck on a sunny day on the waterfront. These have a variety of crab, potatoes, corn, and sausage in them and are a blast to eat. They even give you a bib and a hammer to use!
- Red Mill Burgers – The first Red Mill Burgers opened in 1937, and there have been several locations around the area that have opened since. Everything from their burgers to their buns is tasty, and I always get the Verde Burger (warning – it’s spicy!).
- Dicks – Dicks is the place to go late at night to get cheap, greasy food. With multiple locations around the area, there’s almost always a line at this old-school drive-in no matter which one you’re at. Sir Mix-a-Lot and Macklemore both made the one on Broadway (in the Capitol Hill neighborhood) famous for shooting music videos there.
- Molly Moon’s – Possibly the most popular ice cream place in the city, you can spot it by the constant line that winds around the corner. There are half a dozen different locations, including Capitol Hill and Wallingford, and I recommend trying the honey lavender ice cream.
Buying a Seattle CityPASS is a great way to save money on ticket costs, as you’ll be able to see multiple Seattle attractions for one price!
18. Picnic at Gasworks Park
The hill at Gasworks Park is massive, so it’s the perfect place to grab your blanket and picnic basket and enjoy a scenic lunch. You’ll be at the north end of Lake Union and have beautiful views of seaplanes flying in and out, boats going by, and downtown Seattle.
This is also a very kid-friendly destination, as they can roll down the hill or walk around the structures. Gasworks is also one of the best spots for viewing the 4th of July fireworks but go early to grab a spot because all the locals will have the same idea.
19. See Live Music Outdoors
Every July in Seattle, the Capitol Hill Block Party shuts down the bustling neighborhood of Capital Hill so local and famous artists can play in the streets. This is one of the best things to do in Capitol Hill during the summer.
It’s fun to see them play in this setting, and restaurants and bars in the area always get in on the fun with food and drink specials. You can check out the music lineup on their website and decide if you want to go for one day or all three days.
Capitol Hill Block Party will be held from July 21-23, 2023.
Tips for Visiting During Summer in Seattle
Here are a few tips to keep in mind during this season.
What to Pack for Seattle in Summer
Here are a few things to keep in mind for your packing list:
- Lightweight clothing: Summer days in Seattle can get warm, so pack breathable clothing like T-shirts, shorts, skirts, and dresses made from fabrics like Merino wool.
- Layering pieces: Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable, with cooler mornings and evenings. Be sure to pack light jackets, cardigans, or hoodies for easy layering.
- Rain jacket: While Seattle is known for its rainy reputation, summer is generally drier than other seasons. However, it’s always smart to bring a compact rain jacket or umbrella for unexpected showers.
- Comfortable walking shoes: Exploring the city and its beautiful surroundings will require a fair amount of walking. Pack comfortable sneakers to keep your feet happy (I swear by Brooks for every trip now).
- Sunglasses: It gets bright in the summer in Seattle, so keep your eyes protected.
Weather During Summer in Seattle
This season is the best time to visit Seattle, in my opinion. Here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect for each month during Seattle in summer.
Seattle in June
There is still rain in June in Seattle, and the local saying is summer doesn’t truly start until July 5th. While this is often true, you’ll still get beautiful sunny days, and temperatures can often get into the 70s. In June, on average, Seattle has an average low of 54°F and a high of 66°F.
I recommend coming at this time if you want to save money since it’s not yet peak season, plus you won’t have as large of crowds quite yet when looking for summer activities in Seattle.
Seattle in July
July in Seattle is when you’ll see all of us locals hit the lakes and Puget Sound every weekend, as the weather tends to be mainly dry and overall beautiful. The average low is 54°F, and the average high is 72°F. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Seattle in July.
Seattle in August
The hottest weather out of the year is found during August in Seattle. The average low is 57°F, and the average high is 72°F, although we’ve had plenty of days where it’s over 90°F in Seattle in August.
This is the best time to plan any water activities you may want to do, such as boating, jet skiing, or kayaking.
Looking for the ultimate Seattle travel guide written by a local that tells you all the best places to go and what to see? My new ebook is now live, so click here to buy your copy!
Visiting the city? Here’s how to get from SeaTac Airport to downtown.
Where to Stay During Seattle in the Summer
You can either drive there by taking the West Seattle Bridge, a bus, or an Uber (plenty of options for getting around Seattle). Additionally, you can take a water taxi over as a unique way to get around in Seattle in summer.
There are tons of places to stay in the area, but it’s fun to stay closer to the waterfront during this season. Here are a few places that I recommend:
- Belltown Inn – Conveniently located near the Seattle waterfront, this budget-friendly hotel has easy access to the city’s top attractions. You’ll enjoy amenities such as complimentary bicycles, a rooftop terrace, and well-equipped guestrooms with kitchenettes. (Rates start at $150 per night; book your room on Hotels.com or Booking.com)
- Seattle Marriott Waterfront – Situated in the heart of the city’s waterfront district, the Seattle Marriott Waterfront offers stylish rooms, many with impressive views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Amenities include an outdoor pool, fitness center, and on-site dining options. (Rates start at $250 per night; book your room on Hotels.com or Booking.com)
- The Inn at the Market – Located within the bustling Pike Place Market, The Inn at the Market provides picturesque views of the waterfront and easy access to the market, waterfront, and more. You’ll enjoy the hotel’s rooftop deck, modern guestrooms, and proximity to tons of restaurants. (Rates start at $280 per night; book your room on Booking.com)
Visiting Seattle in the summer is the most enjoyable time to be here. Whether you decide to relax at the beach, eat seafood, or watch a soccer game, you’ll love your time during summer in Seattle.