Seattle When It’s Soggy

Photo by Julie Fanselow

How and where to laugh at the rain in Seattle

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It’s true Seattle gets a lot of rain, and our dampness is compounded by darkness, but don’t despair because there’s plenty to do in Seattle on a rainy day. If you visit November through April, odds are the weather will be bleak for much of your stay.

Here are a few attractions in or near downtown, all walkable (with public transportation noted for the few that are a little farther afield). Pick the ones that sound most interesting to you,  and you can laugh at the rain, Seattle-style.

Breakfast with Tom

Chef Tom Douglas is one of the people most responsible for Seattle’s ascendancy as a global food capital. He has more than a dozen restaurants around town. For a quick start to the day, try the simple but yummy fare (breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal) at his Dahlia Bakery on 4th Avenue. Or linger at Lola, just across the street, where options get more interesting: “Tom’s Favorite Breakfast” is a pile of octopus, sweet potato radicchio, bacon, onions, kale, a poached egg, and toast.

Soak Up South Lake Union

Catch the South Lake Union Streetcar at Westlake and Olive for a short ride (five stops) through the part of Seattle that’s been utterly transformed by Amazon’s relentless expansion. A few options along the lake: The Museum of History and Industry is a great place to learn how Seattle got its start and what makes it special. It’s next to the Center for Wooden Boats, where a little rain won’t hurt you as you survey the gorgeous vintage watercraft. Also nearby: the REI chain’s flagship store, which has an indoor climbing wall and lots of classes.

It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah!

Seattle often tops lists of the best-read U.S. cities. Visit the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library Central Library on 4th Avenue (between Spring and Madison) and take the free audio tour with your phone. Then enjoy a little time in the reading room on the top floor, which enjoys lots of natural light even on a rainy day.

See Some Watercolors

OK, maybe oils is more like it. Between major traveling shows and rich permanent galleries, the Seattle Art Museum (on 1st Avenue at Union Street) is a splendid place to spend a dreary day. On First Hill near downtown, the Frye Art Museum (Bus 3 from along 3rd Avenue) is also fabulous–and free. A highlight is the Frye Salon, a gallery stuffed with more than 140 paintings from the museum’s founding collection, hung floor to ceiling. Both museums have onsite cafes for a lunch break.

Warm Up to Cafe Culture on a Rainy Day

A rainy day is always better with a steaming latte or a bracing Americano, and you’re usually only steps away from a coffeehouse in Seattle. Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a true destination to learn about and sample coffee (and a nice selection of lunch items). Get there via a 10-minute walk up Pike Street, away from the market and waterfront.

Embrace the Dark Side of Seattle

At the movies, that is. Seattle is a film-crazy city. Top theaters downtown include Cinerama (on 4th Avenue, great for the latest blockbuster) and AMC Pacific Place 11 (in the upscale shopping mall at Pine and 6th).

No Rainouts Here

Seattle is usually much nicer during baseball season. But if it rains when the Seattle Mariners are in town, the open-air roof at Safeco Field rolls into place. That means the team can play all nine innings–and fans can still see the city skyline. Although most Mariners home games are in the evening, there are afternoon games on Sundays and select weekdays. Take the Link light rail (direction: Angle Lake) to the Stadium Station.

Damn the Weather

That’s actually the name of a popular bar (with good food) in Pioneer Square, but it’s a widespread attitude, too. Seattleites don’t let rain keep them from having fun, so pull on your raincoat and make some new friends.

Explore another Seattle Itinerary

Seattle Romantic Getaway: Loving the Emerald City … Treat your sweetheart to a good time in the Emerald City
Seattle: Fuel Up for a Perfect Day … From the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, plus some Northwest cuisine in Seattle
Seattle: Pure Gold for Families … Fun for all ages in the outdoor-loving big city of Seattle
Settle into Seattle: What to do in a Week … Your guide to a fun extended stay in Seattle, a booming destination

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