Seattle, the city where nature thrives and green prevails. Here, the air is clean and crisp. The trees stand tall and full year round. And, the mountains turn the skyline into jaw-dropping vistas.
But, our Pacific Northwest wonderland also happens to be one of the wettest cities in the United States. Seattle receives roughly 38 annual inches of rain! Fortunately, it rarely comes down in massive storms. The days are often a simple gray drizzle, offering visitors and Seattleites the kind of wet that makes a raincoat and sturdy shoes perfect exploring.
While raincoats are nice, one can only be expected to wear one for so long. Luckily, there are a plethora of dry, indoor activities that inspire and delight.
5 Fabulous Rainy Day Activities in Seattle
Seattle's Museum of Flight
This all-ages museum has something for everyone. With more than 150 real aircraft on display, including jetliners, an Apollo 17 lunar module, and WWII helicopters, the rich history of aviation spans decades. Featuring six unique exhibits (five indoor and one fully covered), you can explore at your own pace.
But don't expect to see it all in a single day. The Museum of Flight spans more than 3.3 acres and include a 3 million-cubic-foot, six-story, glass-and-steel exhibit hall. This is perhaps the exhibit for which the museum is most well-known. And on rainy days, it's the perfect way to enjoy some natural daylight, without the hassle of an umbrella.
with some 150 aircraft on display—from simple gliders all the way up to an Apollo 17 lunar module.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Massive chandeliers hang from ceilings. A dramatic seafloor-inspired installation stretches the length of a ballroom. At the Chihuly Garden and Glass, colors pop in expertly placed lighting. Even if you’re familiar with the stunning work of renowned Northwest glass artist Daley Chihuly, you haven’t seen his pieces displayed like this.
The grounds span 45,000 square feet and most of the exhibits are indoors. The exhibits range in size, with the one of the smallest – the Persian Ceiling – being one of the most surprising. Initially, this small, brightly lit room is in such contrast to the darker visitor-designated walkways that it’s shocking. The unadorned walls and lone bench feel a bit like you’ve left the grand displays of earlier. And then you look up and discover ceiling – an intricately arranged collection of delicate glass pieces. The light behind them catches their edges.
In contrast to the Persian Ceiling, the soaring ceilings of the Glasshouse exhibit is illuminated by Mother Nature. Cathedral-esc in nature, the soaring rafters are adorned by a 100-foot long glass sculpture. Like an exotic patch of wildflowers floating overhead, the red, orange, yellow and amber piece features an ever-changing backdrop of the clouds, Space Needle and whatever birds or planes can be seen flying by.
Queen Anne Beerhall
More than just a spot for a pint, the Queen Anne Beerhall is a community waterhole. Housed in a 7,000 square-foot former industrial building, it features long communal tables and a lively atmosphere. (Parent’s rejoice. Kids are even welcome!)
Though it only opened in 2015, it has the worn-in look of a bar that’s been well-loved for generations. There are stained tiles, foggy windows, and scuffed antiques. The bar rail, a thick slab of wood, is standing only (and the only place kids aren’t welcome). It stretches from one end of the hall to the kitchen – a large, bustling destination which frequently wafts the smell of grilled brats and sauerkraut throughout the space.
While selections change, you’ll find 25 premium beers from Germany, Belgium, and Austria on tap. Live music often takes center stage at the front of the hall. And, if you’re looking for a spot to watch the Sounders game, this is it. Games are projected on a large screen.
Museum of Pop Culture
For decades, Seattle’s been a hotbed for great rock bands. Here, legends like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain were able to give their sound a spin all their own. Today, this relatively small city remains a hotbed for up and coming artists. Their contribution continues a history that’s rich with personal expression and often that’s a tad bit alternative. It’s this one-two punch combination that the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly known as the Experience Music Project or EMP) captures.
The 140,000-square-foot museum is as attention-grabbing outside as it is in. Some call the large, multi-colored exterior Seattle’s biggest eyesore. Regardless of your impression, it’s hard to contest that makes you do a double-take.
However, it’s inside that the museum really shines. There are the typically educational exhibits where old artifacts are labeled and described. But as the name would suggest, this “museum” is focused on experience – hands-on experience to be precise. It features 12 mini-studio rooms where you’re invited to jam with your friends. There’s an interactive drum set, a live stage for impromptu performances and more.
At the Seattle Aquarium, a glimpse under the sea is a no-splash-required event. Tucked against Seattle’s waterfront, it features a variety of exhibits, including a mammoth, 120,000-gallon exhibit. Filled with more than 800 native fish and invertebrates, the main viewing window at “Window on Washington Waters” is a breathtaking 20x40 feet. It’s like stepping beneath the surface of Puget Sound.
And why leave when it’s so beautiful? At the “Underwater Dome” exhibit, you’ll stay under the sea with a 360-degree ever-changing view. But perhaps the favorite exhibits of all are the marine animals. The Seattle Aquarium is home to a delightful assortment of otters and seals. Daily talks and feedings happen at 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM, meaning these little guys are regularly active and playful.