Overcast, drizzly, windy as all get-out – so the Space Needle is a no-go today. That’s okay; there’s plenty to do in Seattle, rain or shine. Here’s a few tips on how tourists can handle a rainy day in the Emerald City.
Where to Go
1. Cafes. Shocking, right? Personally, I adore rainy days in Seattle, and I think the plethora of coffee shops is one of the biggest reasons why. Even if you don’t like espresso, most Seattle cafes have a wide selection of tea drinks, hot chocolates, and apple cider (in the winter). Picking out a few armchairs near the window and watching the rain come down with a hot drink in your hands is a great way to spend an hour or two.
2. Bookstores. The most per capita of any city in the U.S., by the way. Seems like for every cafe you pass, there’s an indie bookstore next door, and in most cases you’ll get a knowledgeable and helpful staff to help you find the perfect book.
3. Museums. It’s a great choice for a rainy day in any city, and Seattle has a ton to choose from. The fabulous SAM, the inspiring Museum of Flight, the Children’s Museum, and of course the Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museums are just a few to start with.
4. Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium is a particularly ideal place to take the kids if the weather outside isn’t agreeable; a family could easily spend two to three hours watching the synchronized swimming otters and playing in the hands-on tide pools.
5. Ferries. Yup, in the rain. My first ferry experience in Seattle was on a rainy day heading out to Bainbridge Island. Get a hot chocolate and maybe a snack from the cafe on the ferry, then take one of the many covered seats and watching the beautiful gray Puget Sound go by. It’s lovely, I mean it. (And romantic, if you’re looking for an outing for two.)
What to Wear
1. Hoodies. Rainy days in Seattle are usually off and on, so a convertible for your head is the way to go. Dress in layers – take the attitude that the sun will come out at any moment, because it might! For days when it’s really coming down, try a lighter hoodie under a more protective coat you can ditch if it lets up.
2. Boots. Puddles, puddles everywhere – and you don’t want to spend the day in soggy socks.
3. Ditch the umbrella. It’s a pain to carry around, and when it’s windy you’ll end up soaked after your brutal battle to keep it from inverting.
How to Get There
Seattle has a fantastic public transportation system that’s easy to use. While most of the bus stops are out on the street, many have covered benches so you can stay dry while you wait. And the underground stations are great – check them out if you’re in the International District, by the convention center, in Pioneer Square, around University Street or shopping at Westlake Center.
Need to get from downtown to Seattle Center? The monorail is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s cheap and super fast. And if you’re coming from the airport (or heading out that way), just catch the Light Rail at one of the five above-mentioned underground stations. $2.50 will get you comfortably from downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac in less than 45 minutes.
[photos by the author]