17 Reasons to Visit Seattle in the Summer

seattle waterfront
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Many people ask me what the best time to visit Seattle is and without any hesitation, I always say to come to Seattle in the summer. It’s sunny most days, in the 80s, and overall a gorgeous time of year to come. You can take full advantage of the outdoors, from the ocean to the lakes to the mountains, and numerous activities happen during this season.

Summer in Seattle is so beautiful that I rarely go on vacations during this season, as the city has everything I could want. I love nothing more than spending a summer evening by Puget Sound or doing a sunset hike in the Cascade Mountains.

Here are some of the best things to do in the summer in Seattle including places to eat at, where to stay, and places to visit.

This article has been updated and is accurate as of May 2021.

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. On average, Seattle in June 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 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.

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17 Things to Do in Seattle in the Summer

There are tons of Seattle summer activities to do thanks to the gorgeous weather. Here are some to check out!

1. Take a Ferry Ride

washington state ferry summer in seattle

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 thing to do in the Pacific Northwest!

Another great island to visit that’s close to Seattle is Vashon, as you’ll find no shortage of what to do on Vashon Island.

2. Visit a Sandy Beach

seattle in the summer west seattle

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.

You can either drive there by taking the West Seattle Bridge, a bus, or an Uber. Additionally, you can take a water taxi over as a unique way to get around in Seattle in summer.

Note – as of May 2021, the West Seattle Bridge is currently under construction, so you’ll need to drive south around the water to access the area. You can check online to see the current status.

3. Splurge on a Waterfront Hotel

seattle summer activity downtown

Since the weather is almost always gorgeous in Seattle in the summer, I always recommend splurging a bit and staying at a hotel with views of the water. You’ll love having a glass of wine while watching the sun go down over Puget Sound. In the morning, you can take your coffee outside on your balcony to watch the city start its day, making these hotels one of the best places to visit in Seattle in summer.

Here are a few Seattle hotels I recommend based on their location and amenities:

  • The Edgewater – Located right on Puget Sound down by the piers, you can get a room with a balcony at The Edgewater to have your coffee on as you watch the ferries pass by. It’s a bit pricey, but I don’t think there’s a better hotel to stay in at this time of year. (rates start at $215 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
  • Seattle Marriott Waterfront – Another great Seattle waterfront hotel is Seattle Marriott Waterfront. Not only will you have great views, but you’re in an ideal location close to Pike Place Market, the Seattle Aquarium, and more. (rates start at $208 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)

4. Watch a Soccer Game

seattle soccer

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 pint of beer before you head to the stadium.

5. Go on a Road Trip

north cascades road trip

There’s no better time to go on a 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.

A great idea for a road trip is doing a drive around the Olympic Peninsula. You can walk through a rainforest, visit the coast, and spend a day in Olympic National Park.

If you’re looking for a longer vacation, check out my Pacific Northwest road trip that 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 also to find new places to add to my itinerary!

6. 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.

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.

They are not currently putting this on for 2021, so check back next year to see the full lineup!

7. Visit Mount Rainier National Park

summer in seattle mt rainier

There are plenty of things to do in Seattle, but also 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. It’ll take you about three hours to get there depending on traffic, 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 for every level, whether you want to take a casual hike through the wildflowers or push yourself with a tougher one. 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

outdoor movie seattle

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.

There are also other outdoor movies that 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

seattle underground tour

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 get to access otherwise restricted areas underneath the streets of Seattle and see some original structures that are left from the 1800s.

I recommend booking your ticket in advance, as this can sell out during peak times. This way you’ll get the exact time you want.

Alternatively, you could do the nighttime tour which tells the more scandalous stories of old Seattle while visiting haunted pubs.

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10. Tour the City with a Seaplane

summer in seattle 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 from Kenmore Air out of South Lake Union 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 of the different neighborhoods. You’ll also want to book your ticket online in advance to get the time and day you want. 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.

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.

12. Take an Ice Cream Cruise

lake union

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

hydroplane seattle

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.

Seafair is canceled for 2021 but will resume the event and hydroplane races on August 5-7, 2022.

14. Attend Bumbershoot

concert 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 to 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.

Bumbershoot is postponed for 2021 and will resume again in 2022.

15. Head Out on a Hike

seattle hikes lake

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.

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 besides that you can save money by bringing your own snacks and water.

16. Visit a Waterfall

snoqualmie falls

There are many beautiful waterfalls around 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.

I highly recommend staying at the stunning Salish Lodge & Spa located right on-site and having breakfast with a view of the falls in the morning.

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.

17. Eat Local Seafood

Seattle summer activities crab pot

There is no shortage of amazing seafood in Seattle, 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. I recommend trying the honey lavender ice cream.

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.

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