Trying to convince someone to come to Seattle in the summer is never a problem. We have beautiful weather with the mountains and water on either side. Trying to get them to come in the winter, though? “It always rains, right?” is what I constantly hear from potential travelers. There are many reasons to visit Seattle in the winter, plus it’ll be less crowded!
Activities in Seattle
Just because it’s colder and wetter doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do! Here are some of my favorite winter activities in Seattle.
Discover Seattle’s Music Scene
Winter is the perfect time to spend a day getting lost in the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPop as it’s known around Seattle. We had some pretty big names come from Seattle, including Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix. See some of the original lyrics that were written by them and some of the actual instruments they used when they first started. Exhibits are always changing, so there’s something new to see every time you go.
Head to the Mountains
The fact that Seattle is surrounded by mountains is the main reason I can make it through winter here. There are plenty of places to go around Washington State, but I recommend heading to Snoqualmie Pass. It’s only 45 minutes east of the city and there are a ton of activities to do there.
Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular, but you can also intertube and snowshoe. It’s the best way to spend a winter day! Head to one of the lodges afterward for hot chocolate and a warm bowl of chowder.
Watch a Hockey Game
While Seattle doesn’t have an NHL team (yet!), we do have the Everett Silvertips hockey team. There’s nothing like getting some popcorn while watching grown men get into fights! Everett is about 30 minutes north of Seattle, but you can easily take the train from the King Street Station downtown if you don’t have a car.
Explore a Glass Garden
Another famous person to come from Seattle is Dave Chihuly, who is a master when it comes to glass blowing. He has since started a school to teach his work, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass showcases some of the best of this. There’s nothing like spending a rainy afternoon under the shadow of the Space Needle walking around an assortment of colorful glass.
CityPASS before you go! It’s one of my favorite ways to see a new city on a budget.
Get Lost in a Map Store
If you’re a traveler or just love maps, you can easily spend an hour in Metsker Maps. It’s full of everything related to traveling the world, including globes, passport holders, and of course, maps. There are world maps as well as specific country maps, and they’re all surprisingly affordable. They have a ton of unique maps specific to different areas of Seattle, which one day I’ll get back to buy (when I can have more self-control!).
Visit a Bavarian Village
Leavenworth is an adorable Bavarian-themed village in the mountains that I love visiting any time of the year. Winter is especially magical, as there’s snow on the ground and Christmas lights everywhere. They have plenty of holiday events going on during this time of year, but it’s also fun to rent a cabin for a weekend and bundle up as the snow falls outside.
Go Ice Skating
If you cross the bridge over to the city of Bellevue, you can lace your skates up and go on an outdoor skate rink. It’s open from the day after Thanksgiving until mid-January. They even have free lessons Tuesdays-Thursdays if you haven’t gone since you were a kid. Grab a cup of hot chocolate to warm up and you’re in for a fun evening!
Watch a Parade of Boats
During the month of December, head down to Lake Union to see some beautiful boats lit up with holiday lights as they float around the lake. You can get a window seat in some of the restaurants near the water to get a view or book a spot on the ship for the most action. This is a pretty popular event, so book your ticket in advance.
Where to Eat
There’s nothing like getting a warm bowl full of clam chowder while inside a cozy restaurant. Here are some of my favorite ones in Seattle in the winter.
Pike Place Chowder
Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, this restaurant always has a line for people waiting to get a steaming cup of chowder. With items on their menu such as smoked salmon chowder and crab and oyster chowder, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.
With multiple locations around the Seattle area, you’ll want to stop by one of them to try some amazing seafood. While they also have chowder, they always have a seasonal menu using local ingredients. It’s a good place to stop for happy hour as well.
With locations in both Ballard and Greenlake, the middle of the restaurant has a giant open fireplace, which makes it a cozy place to go when it’s cold outside. Their menu includes salads, burgers, and sandwiches, plus they have some tasty cocktails.
Where to Drink
Of course, I couldn’t give you a guide to winter in Seattle without recommending a few breweries!
Queen Anne Beerhall
When it’s pouring rain outside, head to this beerhall to warm up. It’s a German-style hall with long tables, steins of beer, and even a sausage station. They import many German beers here, so you’re likely to find your favorite one if you’ve been to Germany.
Two Beers Brewing Company
Located in the SoDo district, this brewery combines both the companies Two Beers and Seattle Cider, so you have plenty of options to choose from. It’s a good place to spend a night playing pool, darts, or shuffleboards with friends.
Georgetown Brewing Company
Where to Stay
If you want to be centrally located during your stay in Seattle, book a room at Motif Seattle. You’ll be in the heart of the shopping district, so you can hit up Pacific Place, Westlake Center, and a variety of stores in the area before walking back to your room. They also have a rooftop dining area that has heat lamps in the winter.
I love Hotel 1000 because it’s located close to Puget Sound, so you’ll have beautiful views of the water from your room. You can easily walk to Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the waterfront from here. They also have a swanky bar that I’ve gone to when I haven’t even been staying there.
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