Seattle is a city surrounded by natural wonders which makes it a great place for adventure seekers and nature lovers. However, the nickname “Emerald City” came about due to the abundance of greenery in the area, something that is attributed to the large amount of rain that falls in the Pacific Northwest. Which begs the question: What to do in Seattle this weekend if it’s raining?
Having spent many years in and around this fabulous city we have experienced our fair share of rainy weekends which means that we have come up with some pretty awesome alternatives to immersing ourselves in the great outdoors. Luckily Seattle is also a vibrant, hip and interesting city so it really wasn’t that difficult.
If you know the city then you’ll likely be familiar with some of our suggestions, but hopefully we can inspire you with a few more unique things to do in Seattle. If you are exploring with a family, you may be interested in these things to do in Seattle with kids.
Tip: If you plan to visit more than a couple of these sites take a look at the Seattle City Pass to save some money.
Ideas for a Rainy Weekend in Seattle
Sky View Observatory
If you are looking for a spectacular 360 degree view of the city, and the mountains beyond, then the Sky View Observatory Seattle should be your top choice. Located downtown on the 73rd floor of Columbia Center the almost 1,000 foot high observatory offers the tallest public viewing area in the Pacific Northwest.
In fact, the views are even better than from the more famous Space Needle as you can have the iconic tower in your photos. An added bonus is that you can visit the Sky View Observatory at a fraction of the cost of the Needle. Oh and of course a view like this deserves a toast so be sure to grab a glass of wine or craft beer at the Sky View Cafe.
Pike Place Market
Probably one of the most famous and popular spots in Seattle, and definitely one of our favorites, is Pike Place Market. Come hungry and sample some of the amazing fresh, local food so beautifully displayed you will want to photograph it.
Once you have had your fill of clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, fish and chips, beef jerky and tempting baked goods (just a few of our usual choices) pick up some farm fresh produce, fish and locally made cheese to take home. The market is not just about food however, it is a true feast for all the senses with hand crafted products and artwork to view and live music to listen to.
Museum of Popular Art (MoPOP)
Formerly known as the EMP, the Museum of Popular Art is a great place to spend a rainy Seattle day. Founded by Microsoft magnate, Paul Allen, MoPOP is a fabulously eclectic mix of music, science fiction, fashion and video games.
The permanent and temporary exhibits will take you back decades to the early days of David Bowie and the original Star Trek through the world of Jim Henson and the Muppets and into today’s world of gaming with “Indie Game Revolution.” There’s also an interactive Sound Lab for music creation and our personal favorite “Scared To Death” which covers over a century of horror films.
Tip: Covered with the Seattle City Pass
Fremont Vintage Shops
Fremont aka the “Center of the Universe” is a colorful Seattle neighborhood known for it’s festivals, free thinking and funky bars and restaurants. It’s also home to the Fremont Solstice Cyclists where cyclists ride through town in nothing but body paint during the Fremont Solstice Parade.
It’s a great place to chill by the river, sip a craft beer on a patio or visit the farmer’s market in the summer but if you love vintage it’s also a great rainy day place to go. There are numerous boutiques and vintage shops here including the Fremont Vintage Mall where you can find everything from antique and retro furniture and clothes to memorabilia, collectibles and vinyl records. I’ve even seen the elusive black velvet Elvis painting.
Craft Brewery Tour
Seattle is quickly catching up to it’s craft beer mecca neighbor of Portland, Oregon and now boasts over 60 breweries in the city. Many of these breweries have tasting rooms and even brewery tours open to the public making it a great Seattle rainy day activity. You can choose from a small and simple tasting room at one of the fabulous micro breweries such as Cloudburst Brewing or opt for a bigger player with a full food menu and plenty of seating in a place like Pike Place Brewing. Wherever you go you can count on plenty of fellow craft beer lovers, knowledgeable and passionate brew masters and world-class craft brews.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
There has been a curio shop on the Seattle waterfront pier since 1899 and some of the wares displayed today appear to date back even farther. It was founded by Joseph Edward Standley and I believe it is still owned by his descendants. Ye Olde Curiosity Shop attracts over a million visitors a year who pour in to view the bizarre and macabre oddities and wonders. If you’ve never seen a mummy, a shrunken head or a two headed rabbit this is your chance. There are also plenty of less gruesome curios such as an old animated fortune teller which always reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie, “Big”
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Renowned, award-winning glass artist, Dale Chihuly, is from Tacoma and has his work displayed all over the world. In 2012 a long term exhibit opened at the Seattle Center and a visit is a great way to brighten up a grey day in the city. There are eight Galleries and a glass Garden displaying the most beautiful, colorful pieces of glass art you have ever seen. But the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass is the incredible Glasshouse which holds one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculpture, a 100-foot long glass sculpture in an intense palette of reds, oranges and yellows. Be sure to bring your camera!
Tip: Covered with the Seattle City Pass
The Pink Door
Come evening you will be ready for some libations and a good meal. As you probably already know, Seattle is a haven for foodies so it’s not hard to find a really great restaurant. But how about a restaurant hidden at the bottom of some stairs in Post Alley with live music, cabaret and trapeze acts? The Pink Door is all of this plus great Italian-American dining, fantastic cocktails and wines and a sultry, cozy ambiance. Understandable the trapeze act on Sunday and Monday evenings is very popular as are the cabaret nights so call ahead to reserve if you can.
So now you have some of our personal favorite things to do on a grey day, you have no excuse for staying home on a rainy weekend in Seattle!
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Writer, traveler, wine & food lover and co owner of Discover the Pacific Northwest and Live Dream Discover.