Yeah, yeah we know winter doesn’t have the best reputation. Between having to dig out every sweater and scarf that you own and the sun setting shortly after your lunch break, it’s easy to see why this season isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite. Fortunately, Seattle handily counters those winter woes with spectacular snow-capped mountain views and an abundance of rainy day refuges. We managed to narrow down our must-see list to 25 things to do in Seattle this winter, so read on and get planning!

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1. Space Needle

No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the Space Needle! Beyond being the defining feature of the city’s skyline, it boasts some of the best views of downtown, Puget Sound and the snow-dusted peaks of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier. With their 100 million dollar makeover, including the world’s first and only rotating glass floor, a stop at the Needle is all the more essential on a trip to the Emerald City!

Enjoy the incredible view from the top on a visit to the Space Needle. Credit: Chad Copeland

2. Taste Pike Place Market Food Tour

Get a taste of the Emerald City with Show Me Seattle’s Taste Pike Place Market Food Tour! Where better to nosh on delicious eats than at the city’s source for local and fresh food, the iconic Pike Place Market. Plus, get an inside scoop on the 100+ year history of the Market and meet the community of people who keep it so lively and vibrant.

3. Pacific Science Center

Spend an afternoon at the Science Center! With a tropical butterfly house, a planetarium and hundreds of hands-on science exhibits, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. At night, one of the world’s largest Laser Dome theaters provide hours of entertainment. And while you’re there, don’t miss the chance to catch a movie on one of the world’s largest IMAX screens!

4. Museum of Pop Culture

Never met a bar trivia tournament you didn’t like? Then the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is the place for you! Before entering, take a moment to soak in the design of the building – a colorful creation of visionary architect Frank Gehry. Then, enjoy an afternoon of experiential exhibits covering everything from the Sci-Fi filmmaking to Jimi Hendrix to an ode to horror flicks.

MoPOP’s futuristic design is constructed of more than 21,000 aluminum and stainless steel shingles, and 280 steel ribs. Credit: Brady Harvey

5. Explore the Neighborhoods

From the city’s countless coffee shops, like Lighthouse Roasters nearby Woodland Park, to local distilleries like OOLA Distillery in Capitol Hill, to slurp-worthy ramen at Wallingford’s Yoroshiku, Seattle’s chock-full of secret spots waiting to be discovered. Take care of some holiday shopping while you explore the city and use our neighborhood shopping guide to chart your course.

6. Northwest Flower & Garden Festival

The Northwest Flower & Garden Festival has been heralding the start of spring for more than 25 years, as gardening enthusiasts from around the Northwest flock to this annual celebration of flora and foliage. Your ticket also allows you access to a vintage garden market, educational seminars, a gourmet marketplace of craft food and beverages and more!

7. Teatro ZinZanni Dinner & Show

Part circus, part dinner theatre and always extraordinary, Teatro ZinZanni is a three-hour whirlwind of international cirque, comedy and cabaret artists served up with a multi-course feast and generous libations.

8. Theo Chocolate Factory Tour

Did someone say chocolate? Just walk near the Fremont factory of Seattle’s favorite fair-trade chocolatier, Theo Chocolate, you’ll pick up the aroma of sweet cocoa beckoning you inside. Learn about the process of taking chocolate from bean to bar, and get a taste of their product hot off the line with a factory tour!

Experience the transformation from cocoa into what we know and love as chocolate on Theo’s factory tour. Credit: Ell Duke

9. Gates Foundation Discovery Center

Spend an afternoon at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center to learn how the world’s largest private philanthropy works in Seattle and abroad. After a visit, you might even be inspired to help change the world yourself!

10. Become a Pinball Wizard

Thanks to the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show (going on its twelfth year in Seattle) and the world’s largest weekly pinball tournament at Fremont’s Add-a-Ball, the Emerald City is something of a pinball haven.

Transport yourself back to your childhood days of arcades, lights and pinball flippers at the Seattle Pinball Museum. Or gather up some quarters and head to Shorty’s, a dive bar in Belltown credited with igniting Seattle’s pinball fever.

Situated in the heart of Chinatown, the Seattle Pinball Museum is sure to make you feel like a kid again. Credit: Amber Case

11. Pacific Northwest Ballet

Starting November 25th, the curtain rises on one of the must-see events of the holiday season. Featuring choreography by George Balanchine, The Nutcracker is presented by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Showcasing Tchaikovsky’s cherished score played live by the PNB Orchestra, with gorgeous scenery and costumes by celebrated author and illustrator Ian Falconer (Olivia the Pig), this is a Christmas tradition that should not be missed.

12. Catch a Show

Though Seattle’s grunge days might be over, the city is still breaking new ground in the music scene. Catch shows from both local and international artists at Belltown’s Crocodile, Capitol Hill’s Neumos or Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

13. Seattle Waterfront

Wondering what to do after exploring every corner of Pike Place Market? Descend the Pike Street Hill Climb and stroll along the Seattle Waterfront! Dotted with fun activities such as the Seattle Aquarium and Seattle Great Wheel, there are tons of things to discover along the banks of the Puget Sound.

Packed with exciting attractions (and our Seattle terminal!), the Elliott Bay waterfront offers a full day of family fun. Credit: Montane Productions

14. Wings Over Washington

Take a ride in Wings Over Washington’s state-of-the-art “flying theater” and allow it to transport you on an aerial adventure high above Washington! 5K Cameras and Mushroom VR make for an immersive and lifelike experience as you soar over the state’s most scenic landmarks.

15. Dig Some Crates

There’s nothing more satisfying than unearthing a rare gem in a dusty stack of albums, and fortunately, Seattle has no shortage of record shops. If you’re in Ballard, Sonic Boom Records is a must-visit, sometimes offering in-store performances and events. Easy Street in West Seattle is another local favorite, also doubling as a diner café! Vinyl and hash browns, is there anything better?

Explore the eclectic interior of West Seattle’s Easy Street Records. Credit: Patrick O’Brien

16. Volunteer Park Conservatory

On a chilly winter day, balmy 75-degree heat can feel like a far-off dream. Luckily you can find a steamy oasis right here in the city at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. The 100-year-old greenhouse is made up of 3,426 individual glass, and recently underwent a $3 million restoration and improvement project. Inside, the warm air will transport you to a tropical paradise bursting with a world-class botanical collection ranging from cacti to rare succulents from around the world, some as old as the building itself!

17. Seattle Public Library

Strolling down 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle it’s hard to miss the geometric, futuristic design of the Seattle Public Library. The real treat is inside, where colorful hallways and escalators add to the sensory experience.

The Seattle Public Library’s 11-story glass and steel building is eye-catching, to say the least! Credit: Ming-yen Hsu

18. Plan a Romantic Dinner

It’s no secret that Seattle is a city with a wealth of incredible dining options, which makes it an ideal place to be when Valentine’s Day rolls around. For dinner with a view, try Six Seven, with its sweeping vistas of the Olympic Mountains or fine dining institution Canlis, set into the hillside above Lake Union. For an intimate atmosphere, grab a table at The Blue Glass in Ballard or Single Shot in the heart of Capitol Hill.

19. Seattle Chocolate Factory Tour

Give in to Seattle’s sweet side! Learn about where this local confectionary’s chocolate comes from, how it is made and tips on the best ways to savor this crave-worthy confection. Sink your teeth into an array of chocolaty treats on this chocolate lover’s tour.

Sample delicious chocolates and other sweet treats at some of Seattle’s finest confectionaries. Credit: Show Me Seattle

20. Seattle Museum Month

Celebrate the diversity of Seattle’s museums and cultural institutions throughout February during Seattle Museum Month. Guests of participating hotels around downtown Seattle have access to the region’s top museums for half-price.

With a museum ready to be explored in nearly every neighborhood, it’s the perfect way to duck the raindrops for an hour or two. Map out your route with our top picks for must-visit exhibits!

21. Central Cinema

Lights, camera, snack-tion! Central Cinema brings together some of Seattle’s best qualities – great beer, great food and top-notch rainy day entertainment. As one of the first theaters in the area to add dinner and drinks to your moviegoing experience, they have this model down. Order bites from the wait staff, then choose from draft beer, cocktails or wines to wash it all down!

22. Seattle Aquarium

Learn all about the fascinating wildlife of Puget Sound at the Seattle Aquarium. Stroll through immersive underwater exhibits like their 400,000 gallon Underwater Dome or reach into the touch tank to feel the spiky back of a sea urchin!

Learn all about the colorful world under the surface of the water at the Seattle Aquarium. Credit: Flickr user Christine A

23. Children’s Film Festival Seattle

Hosted by the Northwest Film Forum, the Children’s Film Festival Seattle celebrates the best and brightest of international cinema for children. Each year, films from dozens of countries are chosen and featured at this cinematic extravaganza, alongside live performances, animation tutorials and immersive educational workshops, all curated with care for the next generation of movie lovers.

24. Beneath the Streets Tour

Get a whole new perspective on the city with a trek through the subterranean corridors of Seattle’s historic underground! Learn about the Emerald City’s origins and how it was rebuilt after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, which buried what was once the hub of downtown 20 feet below the streets we know today. Book this tour with FRS Clipper, learn more.

25. Renegade Craft Fair

We dread it each year. The throngs of people, long lines, endless traffic, and not to mention the outrageous cost of last-minute holiday shopping! Well, fear not, present procrastinators! The Renegade Craft Fair is coming through town just in time to offer you an artisan alternative to crowded shopping malls.

With two days’ worth of meaningful, handmade goods from all around the Northwest, the Craft Fair makes unoriginal gift-giving a plight of the past. Go ahead and finish off all your shopping in one go, your friends and family will thank you!

Spend an afternoon browsing through one-of-a-kind goods at the Renegade Craft Fair. Photo: Sam Majerowicz

Though wintertime in Seattle is known for being a bit dreary, that doesn’t have to mean a bleak calendar. From eclectic cultural experiences to local cuisine that will broaden your palate, the Emerald City is bursting with winter activities to keep your mind, belly and schedule fulfilled!


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