Seattle is both natural beauty and cultural richness, in my mind. Nestled between the sparkling waters of Puget Sound and the impressive, snow-capped mountains of the Cascades, there’s plenty to do all year round. Here I focus on Seattle in Spring because it’s one of my favorite seasons.
I’ve lived in Seattle for several decades and have always enjoyed its melting pot of innovation, arts, and history. Its music scene is gratifying, as are the city’s culinary landscape and extensive outdoor opportunities.
Spring is when Seattle’s magic comes to life after the rainy winter months. It’s a season that offers a balance between pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a variety of activities, making it an ideal time to visit.
What is Seattle like in spring?
Lush green and flowering landscapes
Fresh seafood and incredible international cuisine
Endless indoor and outdoor activities
Seattle in Spring
What to Do in Seattle in Spring?
There are endless opportunities and things to do in Seattle in the spring. Seattle and its surrounding areas boast numerous outdoor spots that become particularly enjoyable in spring, thanks to the season’s mild weather and natural beauty.
1. University of Washington Quad
Famous for its absolutely stunning cherry blossoms, the Quad is a must-visit for Seattle in April. A pink and white confetti party, celebrating the fact that we’ve survived another winter. This is my favorite place to visit in the spring!
Generally at their peak in the early part of the month, the blooming cherry trees create a breathtaking setting, perfect for leisurely walks or picnics.
2. Washington Park Arboretum
This 230-acre park is a wonderland for nature lovers, especially in spring when many plants and flowers bloom. It includes the Japanese Garden, a serene spot to enjoy the season’s beauty.
3. Discovery Park
As Seattle’s largest city park, Discovery Park offers a variety of landscapes, including forests, meadows, and beaches. Spring brings new life to its ecosystems, making it an excellent place for walking, bird watching, and beachcombing along Puget Sound.
4. Alki Beach
Located in West Seattle, Alki Beach offers stunning views of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound, which are excellent during spring evenings. It’s perfect for walking, tide-pooling, rollerblading, or enjoying a meal at nearby eateries.
5. Green Lake Park
A popular spot for jogging, rollerblading, and cycling, Green Lake Park has a well-maintained path that circles the lake. The park is full of life in spring, with flowering trees and people enjoying the weather.
6. The Ballard Locks and Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden
This area is delightful in spring. You can watch boats pass through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. You can also stroll through the botanical Garden, beautifully maintained with spring blooms.
7. Mount Rainier National Park
While a bit of a drive from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park in spring is a wonder for those who enjoy the outdoors. Like those at Paradise, lower elevation trails start to become accessible, offering incredible views of snow-capped Mount Rainier amidst wildflowers.
8. Golden Gardens Park
Known for its sandy beaches and stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, Golden Gardens is a great place for beach bonfires, picnics, and sunset watching in the spring.
9. Kubota Garden
A hidden gem in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, this Japanese Garden combines traditional Japanese garden techniques with Northwest plants. The highlights of these gardens in spring include stunning blooming azaleas and rhododendrons.
10. The Burke-Gilman Trail
If you love cycling and jogging, this trail offers a great way to enjoy the outdoors and see different parts of the city and its natural scenery.
Each location shows a different side to Seattle’s natural and urban beauty, making them ideal for experiencing the city’s springtime charm.
Spring Events and Festivals
Seattle hosts various events and festivals in the spring that cater to a wide range of interests, celebrating everything from its rich cultural heritage to the beauty of its natural surroundings.
11. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Although not in Seattle proper, this world-famous festival in nearby Skagit Valley, happening in April, is a must-see. Fields of tulips bloom in spectacular colors, drawing visitors from all over.
I go out nearly every year, on a weekday, to avoid the crowds as much as possible.
12. Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival
Usually held in April at the Seattle Center, this festival celebrates Japanese culture with music, martial arts, food, and, of course, the beauty of cherry blossoms.
13. Northwest Folklife Festival
This is one of the largest free folk festivals in the country. Held over Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center, it offers including music, dance, crafts, and food.
14. Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)
Spanning late spring, SIFF is one of the largest film festivals in the United States. It hosts a diverse array of films, from independent to international cinema.
15. University District Street Fair
Held in Seattle in May, this is the longest-running street festival in the U.S. You want to experience the incredible variety of craft and food vendors, live music, and fantastic performances representing the vibrant culture of Seattle’s University District.
16. Opening Day of Boating Season
The first Saturday in May officially starts Seattle’s boating season, featuring a parade of boats and a rowing regatta on the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington.
You’ll walk a great distance for parking here, but it’s worth it every year.
17. Seattle Pride Events
There are several events leading up to the Seattle Pride Parade in late June. These events in celebrate LGBTQ+ communities, including festivals, concerts, and more.
18. Pike Place Market Flower Festival
Coinciding in the best way with Mother’s Day weekend, this festival showcases beautiful flower arrangements and offers a great opportunity to explore one of Seattle’s most iconic locations.
Catch a ride on the Great Wheel while you’re down there for a special treat, but dress warmly!
19. Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade
This quirky, fun event in the charming Fremont neighborhood celebrates the summer solstice in June with a parade featuring creative floats, street performers, and local vendors.
Dining and Seasonal Cuisine
Seattle’s food scene is a vibrant tapestry of flavors and cuisines, flourishing particularly in the spring when fresh, local produce becomes abundantly available.
With its proximity to the Puget Sound, Seattle boasts an array of fresh seafood in spring. Look for dishes featuring salmon, halibut, and shellfish like oysters and clams. Or better yet, give it a try at clam-digging yourself!
Recommended Restaurants and Cafes
- The Walrus and the Carpenter. Located in Ballard, this oyster bar is perfect for enjoying fresh, local seafood.
- Canlis. A fine-dining institution in Seattle, offering a seasonal menu with ingredients sourced from local farmers and foragers.
- Tilth. This restaurant in Wallingford is known for its commitment to organic and sustainably sourced ingredients, with a menu that changes with the seasons.
- Wild Ginger. For an Asian twist on spring ingredients, this downtown spot is a must-visit.
20. Pike Place Market
While not a specific event, this iconic Seattle market comes alive in spring with fresh produce and is a great place to experience the city’s food scene.
21. Seattle Restaurant Week
Held in April, this event offers a chance to try special menus at reduced prices at various restaurants across the city.
22. Ballard Farmers Market
Open year-round but particularly lively in spring, offering fresh produce, artisanal foods, and more.
23. University District Farmers Market
One of the oldest and largest farmers markets in Seattle, ideal for sourcing local spring produce.
From fine dining to casual eateries, the focus on local and seasonal produce provides an authentic taste of the Pacific Northwest.
Cultural and Indoor Attractions
Seattle, known for its rainy spring days, offers world-class museums and art galleries, vibrant theaters, and no shortage of cultural and educational experiences.
24. Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP)
Ideal for music, sci-fi, and pop culture enthusiasts, MoPOP’s dynamic exhibits are both entertaining and informative.
25. Chihuly Garden and Glass
Experience the stunning glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. This exhibition, with its vibrant colors and intricate designs, is perfect for a rainy day.
26. Pacific Science Center
Great for families, this center offers interactive exhibits on science and technology, often featuring special spring exhibitions.
27. The Museum of Flight
Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the history of flight through exhibits and accurate aircraft displays.
28. The Paramount Theatre
Hosting Broadway shows, concerts, and comedy acts, there’s always something exciting on the schedule.
29. Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall
Enjoy world-class orchestral performances in a stunning setting. Spring concerts often feature a mix of classical and contemporary pieces.
30. 5th Avenue Theatre
Known for producing classic and contemporary musicals, check out their spring lineup for a memorable theatrical experience.
These activities and venues offer enriching experiences that can make a rainy spring day in Seattle as memorable as a sunny one. Whether you’re interested in arts, culture, history, or science, these indoor offerings provide plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy.
Tips for Visitors
Utilize Seattle’s public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and ferries, at your own risk and leave plenty of room for things not going according to plan. The light rail is convenient for traveling between the airport and downtown and spots in between the two.
Ride-Sharing and Taxis
Apps like Uber and Lyft are widely used in Seattle and can be convenient for quick trips around the city.
Walking and Biking
Walking or biking can be a pleasant way to explore Downtown, Capitol Hill, and Ballard neighborhoods. The city offers bike rentals and shared e-scooter services.
Best Times to Visit Attractions
Avoid peak hours. Popular tourist spots like the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Seattle Aquarium are busiest on weekends and during midday. Try to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Museums are typically less crowded on weekdays. Plan museum visits on a weekday for a more relaxed experience.
Making the Most of Seattle’s Springtime
Each neighborhood in Seattle has its unique charm. Areas like Fremont, Queen Anne, and Georgetown offer a mix of quirky shops, local eateries, and art galleries.
Visit local gardens and parks like the Washington Park Arboretum or Kubota Garden to see spring flowers in bloom.
Discover hidden gems like the Volunteer Park Conservatory, the Seattle Central Library, or the Ballard Locks for a more local experience. These beauties are perfect for solo travelers or with friends!
Take advantage of the occasional sunny days by visiting Alki Beach or taking a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island.
Explore Seattle’s renowned coffee scene beyond the big names. Local coffee shops in various neighborhoods offer unique blends and cozy environments.
What is the weather like in Seattle in the spring?
From March to May, Seattle experiences a transitional weather pattern, gradually shifting from the cooler, wetter winter conditions to the warmer, drier summer climate.
Spring tends to bring milder temperatures to the area. In Seattle in March, the average highs are usually in the low to mid-50s°F (around 10-13°C), gradually warming up in April and May when the highs often reach into the low to mid-60s°F (around 15-18°C).
Nighttime temperatures can still be quite cool, particularly in early spring, with lows in the 40s°F (4-9°C).
Rain is a significant characteristic of life in spring. While it’s less intense and frequent than winter, rain showers and cloudy skies are expected. As spring progresses, the amount of rainfall typically decreases, and there are more extended periods of dry and sunny weather.
The days gradually get longer throughout spring, leading to more daylight hours. Who doesn’t live for these longer days? By late spring, Seattle enjoys up to 15-16 hours of daylight, contributing to the warming temperatures and providing ample opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities.
It’s not uncommon for Seattle to have occasional cold snaps or warmer spells in spring. Sometimes, there can be surprisingly warm days when temperatures briefly reach the 70s°F (over 21°C), especially in late May.
You’ve got to love the unpredictability. Where else can you experience all four seasons in a week, sometimes in a day?
You’ll find a little bit of everything: a dash of rain, a sprinkle of sun, and a lot of lively, blooming joy. It’s the perfect season for those who enjoy life’s little plot twists and don’t mind a bit of rain with their cherry blossoms.
What is spring like in Seattle?
Seattle’s nickname, “The Emerald City,” is well-earned. The frequent rain showers ensure the city’s abundant plant life remains vibrant and lush. Gardens, parks, and forests around the town burst into life with verdant foliage and colorful blooms.
The air resonates with the smell of green all year round, but the springtime smell is uniquely fresh and often combined with the smell of wildflowers.
The rain provides more than sufficient water for a variety of flowers. Cherry blossoms, rhododendrons, tulips, and daffodils are just a few examples that create picturesque scenes every time you turn around.
Impact on Outdoor Activities
The unpredictable weather means that outdoor plans often need to be flexible. I typically prepare for rain and sunshine wherever I go, carrying layers and rain gear even on seemingly clear days.
Seattleites are well adapted to this mix of weather. We often embrace the outdoors regardless of rain, taking advantage of the sunny spells when they occur. The culture around outdoor activities in Seattle is very much about enjoying the natural beauty in all types of weather.
What to Wear in Seattle in Spring?
Dressing appropriately for Seattle’s spring weather, known for its variability, is key to enjoying your visit comfortably.
Layer Your Clothing
The cornerstone of dressing for Seattle’s spring is layering. Start with a base layer like a t-shirt or a long-sleeve shirt, add a warmer middle layer such as a sweater or fleece, and top it off with a waterproof outer layer.
This approach allows you to adjust your clothing to suit changing conditions throughout the day.
A waterproof jacket or raincoat is essential. Seattle experiences frequent rain showers in spring, so having a jacket that can keep you dry is crucial. Make sure it’s breathable to prevent overheating if you are prone to it.
Choose waterproof or water-resistant shoes. Comfortable walking shoes or boots are ideal, especially if you plan to explore the city on foot or venture out on hiking trails. Avoid shoes that can get easily waterlogged or damaged by rain.
While many locals might forego an umbrella, visitors might find it helpful, especially during frequent light rain showers.
Consider bringing a hat and gloves, especially in early spring or if you plan to spend time outdoors in the evenings when it can still be quite chilly. Sunglasses are also a good idea for those brighter days.
Wear pants that dry quickly, like synthetic blends, in case you get caught in the rain. Jeans can become uncomfortable when wet and take a long time to dry.
I usually wear hiking apparel because it’s easy to layer, dries fast, and keeps me warm.
Backpack or Daypack
A small backpack or daypack helps carry layers you might remove, your umbrella, and any other essentials you need for a day out exploring.
On sunny days, remember to apply sunscreen. The sun can be surprisingly intense, especially in late spring.
The key to enjoying Seattle’s spring weather is to be prepared for anything. Dressing in layers with waterproof options will ensure you’re comfortable, dry, and ready to explore all the city has to offer, regardless of the weather.
✅ Dress in Layers. The weather can be unpredictable, so wear layers and a waterproof jacket.
✅ Stay Flexible. With changing weather and various events, having a flexible itinerary can enhance your experience.
What Not to Do in Seattle
While Seattle is a welcoming and diverse city with a lot to offer, there are certain things you should avoid.
❌Don’t ignore the weather forecast or be unprepared for rain – it’s a key part of the Seattle experience.
❌Avoid driving in the city center during rush hour if possible.
❌Don’t Stay only downtown. While downtown has its attractions, Seattle’s neighborhoods, like Fremont, Capitol Hill, and Ballard, have unique cultures and sights.
❌Please don’t ignore pedestrian and cycling laws. Seattle is very pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly. Pay attention to crosswalk signals and bike lane rules to ensure safety and respect local laws.
❌Don’t forget to tip. In Seattle, as in most of the United States, tipping is customary and expected in restaurants, bars, and for services like taxi rides. The usual amount is 15-20% of the bill.
By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can enjoy a more authentic and enjoyable visit to Seattle, experiencing the city like a local and making the most of what it offers.
The official city website, Seattle.gov, is a comprehensive resource for current news, events, and city services. It’s a great place to find information about local happenings, city parks, and public facilities.
Washington State Tourism
The Washington State Tourism website offers a broader perspective, covering not just Seattle but the entire state.
This site is ideal if you’re looking to explore beyond Seattle, offering insights into outdoor activities, food and drink, arts and culture, and scenic destinations across Washington.
Travel Information on WA.gov
The WA.gov travel page provides practical information about different modes of transportation in Washington, including details on airports, buses, trains, and ferries. This is particularly useful for figuring out how to navigate around Seattle and the surrounding areas.
Each of these resources can help you plan your visit effectively, whether you’re interested in exploring Seattle’s urban attractions or the natural beauty of the surrounding Washington State.
FAQs on Seattle in Spring
Yes, spring is a great time to visit Seattle. The city blooms with cherry blossoms and mild weather, offering outdoor activities, vibrant markets, and cultural events, with fewer tourists than in summer.
Yes, Seattle in April is worth visiting. The city’s famous cherry blossoms are in bloom, and the milder weather is ideal for exploring outdoor attractions and vibrant cultural festivals, with fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season.
The ideal time to visit Seattle is from May to September. During these months, the weather is enjoyable, and the city is lively with a mix of outdoor pursuits, cultural happenings, and comparatively less rainfall than in other periods.
Seattle in March is worth visiting for early spring blooms, unique cultural events, and fewer crowds. While rain is expected, the city’s indoor attractions and emerging outdoor beauty provide a diverse and enjoyable experience.
Final Thoughts: Seattle in Spring
As the days grow longer and warmer, the city’s famous drizzle gives way to bursts of sunshine, illuminating the lush greenery that earns Seattle its nickname.
Streets and parks are adorned with blooming cherry blossoms and daffodils, painting the city in bright colors. It’s a refreshing backdrop for leisurely strolls in the city parks and more adventurous hikes in the nearby mountains.
In essence, experiencing Seattle in the spring is to witness a city blooming, not just in its gardens and parks, but in its streets, communities, and the hearts of those who call it home.