Originally published March 23, 2018 | Updated March 13, 2019

Hey there, chirping birdies! Oh hello, fragrant flowers! Vitamin D? Yes, please! Spring is making a very welcome return to the PNW, and with it comes ample opportunity to get out and explore the array of adventures the Emerald City has to offer.

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And what better way to celebrate the return of warmer days than with a day on the water? Hop aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry for a scenic jaunt across the Salish Sea. Less than 3 hours of Olympic Mountain views and back deck photo shoots later, you’ll arrive right in the heart of the action in downtown Seattle. Gather up your friends, family and travel buddies to start working your way through our list of 25 things to do in Seattle this spring!

1. Gray Whale Watching

Share the Sound with some 35-ton visitors! Each March and April, a handful of Pacific gray whales cruise into Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage during their epic 5,000-mile migration up the West Coast of North America.

Catch sight of these amazing mammals on a gray whale watching tour departing directly from downtown Seattle’s Pier 69 with a stopover in the picturesque town of Langley. (Bonus points for visiting the Whale Center during the two-hour stopover in the whale-lovin’ locale of Langley!) Under the guidance of our expert onboard naturalist, you will be on the lookout for these 50 special whales as they dive below the water’s surface feed on tasty ghost shrimp.

Join us for the chance to spot some spouts during the gray whales’ brief visit to the Salish Sea! Photo: Justine Buckmaster

2. Discovery Park

With ample hiking trails and a sprawling stretch of rugged coastline, Discovery Park is the perfect spot to while away a sunny spring afternoon. Be sure to stop by the park’s iconic West Point Lighthouse for an unbeatable view of the Sound at sundown.

3. Tulip Festival

Washington’s pastoral Skagit Valley erupts with colorful blooms during April’s Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Roam through field after field of vibrant tulips in nearly every shade imaginable, from rich scarlet to delicate pink and golden yellow to deep purple. There is no better spot for a striking photo op!

Kaleidoscopic rows of tulips fill field after field in Skagit Valley. Photo: Aaron Eakin

4. Seattle International Film Festival

With more than 400 films from around the globe and approximately 150,000 movie-goers in attendance over its three week run, the Seattle International Film Festival holds the title as the largest festival of its kind in the U.S. Choose from a wide array of ticket options, from the Secret Festival Pass to the Red Carpet Experience, to customize your experience at this impressive showing of artistry.

5. Mariner’s Game

Cheer on the home team at a Seattle Mariners game as they kick off the season against the Boston Red Sox on March 28. (Inside tip: Taste Washington falls on the same weekend and they have a phenomenal brunch lined up in honor of the event. Think West Coast-East Coast foodie throw down!)

Just a quick Light Rail ride away, Safeco Field is your source for hot dogs, peanuts and freshly poured beer – and offers up the chance to soak in the warm spring sunshine with the stadium’s retractable roof. Seattlites are nothing if not weather-prepared! (A heads up to our friends up north, the Mariners face off against the Blue Jays later in the summer. These games tend to sell out quick so snag your tickets soon!)

Enjoy some peanuts, crackerjacks and sunshine at a Seattle Mariners game. Photo: Jane Larson

6. Lake Washington Ship Canal

Providing the link between the fresh water of Lake Washington and the briny Puget Sound, the Ship Canal passes through Lake Union, Portage Bay and Union Bay. Set aside time for the Ballard Locks to watch ships pass through the complex system or walk across Montlake Bridge and peek down at kayakers passing through the Montlake Cut.

7. Taste Washington

The country’s biggest single-region food and wine extravaganza is back! Sample the creations of more than 235 wineries and 65 restaurants, made by some of the most passionate and acclaimed chefs and vintners on the West Coast at Taste Washington.

Whether you’re a self-proclaimed food and wine connoisseur or just a super-fan of eating and drinking the best that the PNW has to offer, there’ll be something to please your palate at this can’t-miss culinary event!

Enjoy a bevy of exclusive local wine pours at Taste Washington. Photo: Kristen Marie Photography

8. Walk Seattle’s Waterfront

Hang a right as you leave Clipper’s Seattle terminal and kick off more than a mile’s worth of seaside views as you stroll along Alaskan Way toward the Seattle Great Wheel, Seattle Aquarium and scenic Waterfront Park. Walk up an appetite? Treat yourself to some local fare from seafood mainstays like Anthony’s at Pier 66, Elliott’s Oyster House or Ivar’s Acres of Clams.

9. Golden Gardens Park

Situated right on the Ballard waterfront, Golden Gardens is a local favorite offering sandy beaches as well as exceptional views of the Olympic Mountains, Bainbridge Island and the Puget Sound. Duck in among the trees for a forest hike, let the kiddos explore the nautical-themed playground or wander through the park’s wetland areas for a chance to spot some local tortoises and waterfowl.

Watch kite surfers catch some air with a breathtaking backdrop at Golden Gardens Park. Photo: Barb Nelson

10. Seattle Restaurant Week

Dining deals abound during Seattle Restaurant Week, providing the perfect opportunity to explore the city’s renowned food scene without breaking the bank. Sundays through Thursdays for the first three weeks of April, more than 165 local restaurants are serving up three-course dinners for just $33, with many also offering two-course lunches for $18. Dig in!

11. San Juan Island Whale Watching

From April to October, seize the opportunity to spot some of the Salish Sea’s beloved local marine life aboard a whale watching cruise! Join our knowledgeable onboard naturalist for a guided tour of the Puget Sound and its fascinating aquatic inhabitants. Depart right out of downtown Seattle and enjoy a midday stop in San Juan Island’s Friday Harbor to grab a bite to eat and explore the charming seaside town!

Watch orca whales breach, splash and play in their natural habitat on a San Juan Island whale watching excursion.

12. Argosy Tillicum Village Excursion

Cruise through the Sound to nearby Blake Island State Park and explore the 475-acre island while learning about the history of Tillicum Village and its Native American inhabitants. Feast on a Northwest-inspired buffet (the alder fire roasted fish are a must-try!) and experience ancient Salish stories told by dancers in traditional wooden masks. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

13. Gas Works Park

With sweeping views of the Seattle skyline alongside antique pieces of machinery from a bygone gas plant, Gas Works Park is unquestionably one of the most unique city parks around. In a true lemons-to-lemonade turn, the city made use of the lingering gas plant equipment by turning some into picnic shelters, painting others to transform them into a children’s play area and allowing the rest to sprout out of the lawns like modern urban park art.

Antique gas plant equipment set against the sleek Seattle skyline at local favorite Gas Works Park. Photo: Brian Lahiere

14. Beer Tour

Celebrate Seattle’s other favorite kind of brew on a Seattle brewery tour! During the 3-hour outing, you’ll visit three different microbreweries, where you will learn the steps behind creating the perfect pint. The insider knowledge flows as freely as the sudsy samples! Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

15. Seattle Aquarium

Become an expert on the extraordinary sea life of the Puget Sound at the Seattle Aquarium! Meander through immersive underwater exhibits that put the marine life high above you, watch the playful harbor seals splash about or stroke a sandpapery starfish in the touch tank. You are sure to walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of our waters and their inhabitants.

Make some otterly adorable new friends at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo: Seattle Aquarium

16. Center for Wooden Boats

Perched on the edge of the stunning South Lake Union waterfront, this experiential maritime museum is a long-standing local favorite. The Center for Wooden Boats offers a place where boat-lovers can come together through a shared passion for wooden boats, aquatic skills, history or simply their love of the water. Don’t miss their Sunday Public Sails, which allow you to cruise around the lake on a yacht, steamboat or schooner for free!

17. Climb Tiger Mountain

Just east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, Tiger Mountain is one of the most popular metropolitan-area hikes in the state. If you’re looking for a manageable day hike, opt for the West Tiger 3 Trail – a three-mile hike offering breathtaking views of Lake Washington, Tacoma, Seattle and Cougar Mountain.

One of the stunning views you’ll be treated to along the way on West Tiger 3 Trail. Photo: Flickr user Brewbooks

18. Fremont Sunday Market

Dozens of food trucks, more than 100 curated vendor booths, vintage and antique shopping, plus local art and music make the Fremont Sunday Market a must-visit. The quirky market is free to the public, pet-friendly, bike accessible and happens rain or shine.

19. University of Washington Quad

The University of Washington’s acclaimed cherry trees have long marked the arrival of spring. Celebrate the season with an afternoon spent strolling among the cotton candy-hued trees and velvety green lawns of the historic campus. If your visit falls on May 19th or 20th, pop over to University Way (affectionately dubbed the Ave by locals) for amazing crafts, delicious food and lively tunes at the U District Streetfair!

Delicate pink cherry blossoms transform the University of Washington quad into a springtime utopia. Photo: Jeff Boyce

20. Northwest Folk Life Festival

A regional cultural epicenter, the Northwest Folklife Festival features more than 5,000 performers from over 100 ethnic communities and offers a space to learn, dance, play and try something new. Head over to the Seattle Center for an immersive (and free!) artistic and musical experience, right in the heart of the city.

21. Seattle Sounders Game

Spend a day rollicking among raucous fans as the Seattle Sounders take the pitch at CenturyLink Field. If you luck into a winning game night, celebrate the victory (or drown your sorrows after a loss) with a frosty pint at Pyramid Alehouse or Elysian Fields.

Don some green and join the roar of the crowd at a Seattle Sounders game. Photo: Freeman Mester

22. Bacon and Beer Classic

Indulge in a day of celebration for two of America’s favorite vices at the 6th annual Bacon and Beer Classic! Sip on suds from more than 45 craft breweries paired with bacon-centric dishes from local favorites like Warthog BBQ Pit and A Southern Soul. Round out the day with some live music and lawn games (giant Jenga, anyone?), and you’ve got yourself one unforgettable foodie fiesta!

23. Ballard Farmer’s Market

Load up on some Northwest bounty in one of Seattle’s most charming neighborhoods with a Sunday spent at the Ballard Farmers Market. The city’s first year-round community farmers market, this weekly event offers local produce, fresh baked bread, vibrant seasonal flowers, live music and a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere.

Take a stroll through the Ballard Farmers Market to sample, smell and stock up on some fresh spring goodies. Photo: Heather O’Neill

24. Kubota Gardens

Tucked away in South Seattle, Kubota Garden offers 20 lush acres of landscape that blend traditional Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. Kubota’s spectacular grounds are comprised of hills and valleys interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, ornate bridges and rocky out-croppings with a rich array of plants that come alive with color during the spring season.

25. Alki Beach

Take a beach break in Seattle’s own backyard with a visit to Alki Beach. Hop on a water taxi and cruise over for a day of beach volleyball, sunbathing, kayaking and soaking in some gorgeous views of the downtown skyline. Keep the beachcomber vibe going through lunchtime with a classic crab melt from Salty’s or Aloha pork sliders at Marination Ma Kai.

Enjoy all the fun of a day at the beach with a unique view of downtown Seattle at Alki Beach. Photo: TIA International Photography

With glittering bodies of water every way you turn and dramatic mountain vistas to the east and west (when the clouds are feeling cooperative), the return of sunny weather in Seattle allows this scenic city to truly shine. Whether you’re braving a mountain summit, feasting on local produce or just strolling along the sprawling waterfront, it’s time to get and soak in the Seattle spring sunshine!