The Best of Summer in Seattle

Ask any Seattle local what time of year to visit, and you’ll get a resounding, enthusiastic “SUMMER!” It’s easy to understand why. Summertime in Seattle is pure, unfiltered magic. The sun is out ‘til the evening hours, the weather is a perfect 70-something degrees, and every inch of the Emerald City is buzzing with life, from the lakes to the mountains, to the iconic Space Needle.

Your options for outdoor activities are practically endless here – kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, whale watching, sailing, bike trails, hike trails, and even lazy days on the beach are all within reach of Seattle. Not to mention, three National Parks where you can trek through rainforests, waterfalls, and an active volcano. And in the city center, a jam-packed social calendar of music festivals, beer gardens, cultural events, and lakeside parties await.

Families and foodies, thrill seekers and beach bums can all find their happy place in Seattle. Check out our top picks for where to eat, drink, play, and stay in the ever-spectacular Seattle, Washington.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

Summer is the ultimate season for outdoor adventures in Seattle with average daytime temperatures hovering around 70° to 80°F from June through August. Take advantage and spend some time exploring the area’s beautiful landscapes.

Water Sports & Beachside Hangs

You’re never too far from water in Seattle. In fact, the city has more than 200 miles of shoreline!

Smack in the middle of downtown, Lake Union is a popular spot for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding thanks to its calm waters and awesome skyline views. Paddle to Gas Works Park for a picnic, rent a floating hot tub, or chill on your board and watch seaplanes take off from the water.

If you’re up for a short drive, Rattlesnake Lake offers a more scenic experience popular among families and locals. Kayak or swim across the lake, then go for a hike along Rattlesnake Ledge. The views from up top are absolutely worth it.

At Lake Washington, the second largest lake in the state, you can rent your own sailboat or canoe and soak up views of the magnificent Mount Rainier. While you’re in the area, stop by the University of Washington’s free botanic gardens, located on the lakeshore.

Seattle is a haven for fishing enthusiasts too, and there are plenty of charters eager to take you out on the rivers, lakes, and ocean surrounding. As a wallet-friendly alternative, cast your line from a public fishing pier or try your hand at catching Dungeness crab with a DIY crab pot.

For a low-key beach day closer to downtown, opt for Golden Gardens Beach or Alki Beach. Both offer stunning water and mountain views, plus bonfire pits perfect for sunsets and s’mores.

Hiking, Biking & Nature Tours

Snow-capped mountains, mystical forests, remote islands in the middle of the sea. Washington state has it all, and Seattle is just a quick drive away.

Hiking is a popular activity, and there are tons of scenic trails for every experience level. Discovery Park is great for a leisurely hike with beautiful views; Mount Si is equally beautiful, a bit more rugged, and a bit more challenging. Pair your hike with paragliding at Poo Poo Point (yep, that’s the name), or venture to Mailbox Peak for a steep and challenging hike considered a rite of passage among serious Washington climbers. And yes, there is a real mailbox at the peak!

Of course, we can’t forget to mention the area’s stunning National Parks: Mount Rainier National Park, home to the famous active volcano, Mount Rainier; Olympic National Park with rugged beaches, misty rainforests and epic waterfalls; and North Cascades National Park, a remote park teeming with wildlife, alpine lakes and lush evergreens.

For a thrilling overnight trip, head to the rural San Juan Islands for jaw-dropping wilderness like you’ve never seen before. Accessible only by ferry or seaplane, the San Juan Islands are famous for their rugged beauty and wildlife sightings, including whales, bald eagles, sea lions, and countless others.

If you’re short on time or would rather stick closer to downtown Seattle, consider a bike ride along the Burke-Gilman Trail. This “trail-rail” winds through different Seattle neighborhoods, a great way to get acquainted with the area and stumble upon some local gems, all while enjoying some lovely views.

SUMMER EVENTS IN THE CITY

Part of what makes Seattle so cool and unique is its juxtaposition of metropolis and wilderness. You can spend an entire day exploring some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, then head into the city for a fancy dinner by a James Beard-winning chef.

Seattle’s cosmopolitan center offers tons to do year-round, but summertime is especially fun thanks to neighborhood block parties, cultural festivals, rooftop bars, and the like. Even famous landmarks like Pike Place Market are extra lively during summer months. A historic outdoor market in downtown Seattle, Pike Place is a cobblestone maze of local purveyors, from produce farmers to food and drink vendors, to quirky artisanal shops. For the ultimate introduction, plan your visit around the 26th Annual Sunset Supper (August 19), when nearly 100 of Seattle’s top chefs, restaurants, breweries and businesses join together for a giant party with all-you-can-handle samples and sips. Alternatively, you could enjoy your own private, chef-led food tour of Pike Place with Eat Seattle complete with skip-the-line privileges and insider access to the market’s hidden gems.

Curious for other cultural experiences? Seattle has plenty, like daily flameworking demos led by the masters of glass art at Chihuly Garden and Glass. This museum is a must-see for art lovers, especially during warmer months when artist Dale Chihuly’s mind-bending glass is displayed amid botanical gardens. And at the Seattle Art Museum, you can check out rotating exhibits of world-class artists like this summer’s exhibition on Alberto Giacometti (July 14-October 9) and the Indigenous Matrix exhibition (June 15-December 11) featuring silkscreen prints and other contemporary works by Indigenous women.

No summer event round-up would be complete without mention of Seafair, an annual 10-week festival with tons of events throughout June through August, including a “fleet week,” a milk carton derby, and an epic Fourth of July celebration on Lake Union with one of the nation’s best fireworks displays, according to USA Today. The fanfare culminates with the Seafair Weekend Festival (August 5-7), an unofficial holiday for locals who descend on Lake Washington to watch hydroplane races and exhilarating air shows by the US Navy’s Blue Angels.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK LIKE A LOCAL

In between your festivals and festivities, make time to enjoy Seattle’s incredible bar and restaurant scenes.

As you may have guessed, Seattle is famous for its freshly-caught seafood, especially salmon and oysters. Sample some local delicacies at Elliotts Oyster House, an upscale restaurant with unbelievable seafood, waterfront views, and a great happy hour menu. For a more low-key (but no less delicious) experience, head to Salty’s on Alki Beach for a seafood-filled brunch or lunch. Wine lovers will especially love Salty’s, which recently won an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for its exceptional beverage program.

In the mood for something different? Try Reckless Noodle House for authentic Vietnamese street food and creative cocktails, or head to The Pink Door for an unconventional dinner and a show. This hidden Italian-American restaurant on Post Alley entertains with a range of nightly performances, from cabaret acts and jazz ensembles, to tarot readings and trapeze artists. Of course, sometimes you’re just in the mood for good ol’ fashioned pizza. When the craving hits, go to Post Alley Pizza, a no-frills spot serving some of the best damn pizza in all Seattle; even James Beard-winning author J. Kenji López-Alt, a Seattle local, says so.

Need some liquid libations to wash it all down? Check out Von’s 1000 Spirits nearby, which houses the city’s largest collection of spirits, or snag a table for happy hour at Jarrbar, a charming little neighborhood bar with classic cocktails and wine from Spain, Portugal, and, of course, Seattle. Thirsty for some craft beer? Head to Fremont, a funky bohemian-meets-hipster neighborhood with many breweries and taprooms, and a famous troll statue. Or for cocktails with a view – and a side of history – visit the Smith Tower Observatory, a speakeasy-style bar housed inside the Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper.

PLAN YOUR SEATTLE SUMMER ESCAPE

With so much to see and do, a central location is key to your Seattle vacation. Stay in the heart of the action in downtown Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, or with a family and kids in tow, Pan Pacific Seattle has the perfect accommodations to make you feel at home, filled with thoughtful amenities and design details that’ll remind you you’re certainly not at home, like wraparound windows with stunning lake and city views. A newly renovated fitness center, a 24-hour business center, and a dedicated concierge are here to handle anything you want and need throughout your stay.

The hotel is also home to South Lake Kitchen + Bar, a delicious on-site restaurant with a focus on Pacific Northwest cuisine. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, the eatery serves fresh seafood dishes like King Salmon and perfectly-seared scallops, Dungeness crab Po’ Boys and an indulgent Dungeness benedict for brunch, plus Washington-inspired cocktails like the Mount Fernow Sour and the Saint Helen’s Rain, a tequila-based drink with notes of ginger and habanero bitters. Bonus: South Lake Kitchen + Bar also serves in-room dining for days when you simply don’t want to get out of bed.

The hotel is located just a quick walk, drive, or streetcar stop away from famous attractions like the Space Needle and the famously gross-but-Instagrammable Gum Wall. The Great Wheel at Pier 57 offers beautiful sky-high views of the city, while the first-ever Nordstrom department store is a must-do for shoppers who like their retail therapy with a spa day and live entertainment. And for those with no shame in their selfie game, grab your camera and head to the Selfie Museum for the coolest color-filled backdrops guaranteed to brighten your feed.

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