Originally published December 13, 2017 | Updated November 21, 2018

Winter doesn’t have the best reputation. Between digging out every sweater you own and the sun setting shortly after you finish lunch, it’s easy to see why this season isn’t everyone’s favorite. Fortunately, Seattle handily counters those winter woes with spectacular snowcapped 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!

1. Space Needle

What better way to start off our list than with Seattle’s most iconic landmark, 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 white-tipped peaks of the Olympic Mountains. And with their recent 100 million dollar makeover, a visit to 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. Seattle Coffee Tour

Avoid the ever-present line at the first Starbucks location and sample some local roasts on our Seattle Coffee Tour! Visit four unique coffee shops around the city to get a peek behind the scenes and learn what goes into making the perfect cup of joe. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

3. Victoria Day Trip

Escape the city for an afternoon of international travel! Hop aboard the Victoria Clipper and cruise right out of downtown Seattle and into Victoria, BC’s Inner Harbour, where an array of unique experiences are just steps away. Whether you’re looking to indulge in an afternoon of tea and finger food at the iconic Fairmont Empress, or want to learn all about the area’s natural history at Royal BC Museum, you can do it all on a day trip to Victoria.

Choose from 21 varieties of loose-leaf tea from around the globe in the sumptuous Fairmont Empress Lobby Lounge. Credit: The Fairmont Empress

4. Discover Neighborhood Gems

From the city’s countless coffee shops, like La Marzocco in Queen Anne, to local distilleries like OOLA Distillery in Capitol Hill, to slurp-worthy ramen at Wallingford’s Ramen Man, 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.

5. Savor Seattle Chocolate Indulgence Tour

‘Tis the season for indulgence! Learn about where chocolate comes from, how it’s made and tips on what’s best to pair with this crave-worthy confection. Luxuriate in 15+ decadent chocolate tastings on the ultimate chocolate lover’s tour of Seattle. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

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

6. Cinerama

Kick your film-viewing experience up a notch with a night at Cinerama. From state of the art audio and projection technology to locally sourced concessions (don’t skip their famous chocolate popcorn!) and a rotating display of original costumes from your favorite films, it’s sure to be a movie night for the books!

7. 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 Marvel universe 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

8. 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 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 Clipper, learn more.

9. Seattle Aquarium

Learn all about the fascinating wildlife of the 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

10. Bill and Melinda 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!

11. 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

12. 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.

13. Savor Seattle Chocolate Indulgence 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

14. Seattle Distillery Tour

Discover the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into producing Seattle’s amazing libations! Explore the city on this 3-hour tour, with stops at three of the area’s distilleries to sip their spirits while you learn how your favorite local liquors are made. Book this tour with Clipper, learn more.

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, even offering an impressive lineup of 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. Children’s Film Festival

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.

17. Seattle Art Museum

Possessing the broadest array of art on display in the city, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) showcases a rotating collection of ancient and modern works from all over the globe. The perfect respite on a winter day, You’ll find 312,000 square feet of space packed with more than 25,000 pieces!

Duck into SAM’s popular Porcelain Room to see more than 1,000 intricate, fragile works of art. Credit: Benjamin Benschneider

18. 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.

19. Pacific Science Center

Spend an afternoon at the Pacific Science Center! With a tropical butterfly house, a planetarium and hundreds of hands-on science exhibits, there’s more than enough to keep the whole family entertained. At night, two IMAX theaters and one of the world’s largest Laser Dome theaters provide hours of entertainment.

20. Theo Chocolate

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

21. Sky View Observatory

If you luck into a crystal clear winter day in Seattle (or even just a break in the clouds) you’ll be treated to some truly spectacular views! Take in a 360-degree panorama of the region’s snowcapped mountains and shimmering water from Columbia Center’s Sky View Observatory. Standing at 73 stories, it is thePacific Northwest’s tallest observatory! Pair the vistas with a signature cocktail or pint of local beer from their Sky View Café for an unforgettable happy hour!

22. 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.

23. 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.

Coney Island-themed Shorty’s is a favorite hangout, offering hot dogs, nachos and most importantly, pinball. Credit: Jenni Konrad

24. Comedy of Love

Whether you’re “flying solo,” out with some friends or looking to have a laugh with your better half this Valentine’s Day, the Comedy of Love is a guaranteed good time. Chuckle along as veteran improvisers take on love, lust and everything in between using tales inspired by the audience! Hilarity and horror stories are all welcome – from awkward first dates to absurd wedding anecdotes.

25. 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!

Settle in for a decadent movie-going experience at Central Cinema. Credit: GeekGirlCon

 

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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