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Best Things to Do in Seattle in the Winter

13 min read
seattle travel

From snowy mountains to vacation merriments, since it is December, in a portion of the cities, if not all in the United States, the best advantages are ready to be exploited in the days ahead. Probably the best thing about living in Seattle is the atmosphere. As a general rule, you won’t be caught out in icy snow pitiably scratching snow off your vehicle in the early mornings.

Seattle hardly faces those winter troubles with tremendous snow-topped mountain views and a bounty of stormy day asylums. While I wouldn’t say the best season to visit Seattle is during this time, it isn’t so much that cold compared to other cities in the nation.

Seattle doesn’t experience as cold or snowy a winter as some other cities in the United States. However, it can still get quite chilly and wet during the winter months, with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to the mid-40s Fahrenheit and frequent rain showers. Despite this, there are still plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy in Seattle during the winter. From skiing and snowboarding in the nearby mountains to visiting museums and coffee shops, there are plenty of ways to stay warm and entertained. Just be sure to bring a raincoat and umbrella, as the weather can be unpredictable!

So, because it’s wetter and colder, it doesn’t mean you have to remain inside!

Here is a portion of my preferred day trips from seattle in winter

1. Check Out the Bavarian-themed Town of Leavenworth


Leavenworth is a small town located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, about two hours east of Seattle. It’s known for its Bavarian-themed architecture and annual Oktoberfest celebration, which attracts visitors from all over the region.

If you’re visiting Leavenworth in the winter, there are a number of activities to enjoy. You can go skiing or snowboarding at the nearby Stevens Pass ski resort, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the town, or visit one of the many gift shops and boutiques. There are also several wineries and breweries in the area that offer tastings and tours.

Other popular winter activities in Leavenworth include visiting the Nutcracker Museum, which houses over 5,000 nutcrackers and taking a guided tour of the Icicle Creek Wilderness Area. There are also a number of restaurants and cafes in town that serve traditional Bavarian dishes and pastries.

Keep in mind that Leavenworth can get quite busy during the winter months, especially around the holidays and during Oktoberfest, so it’s a good idea to book accommodations and activities in advance.

2. The Museum of Pop Culture

pop culture

The Museum of Pop Culture, also known as MoPOP, is a museum located in Seattle that celebrates popular culture, including music, film, television, and video games. It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000 and is home to a variety of exhibits, displays, and interactive experiences.

Some of the exhibits at MoPOP include the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, which honors the contributions of science fiction and fantasy creators; the Indie Game Revolution, which showcases the work of independent game developers; and the Sound Lab, where visitors can experiment with music and sound. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits on a variety of topics, such as the work of specific artists or the history of a particular genre of music.

MoPOP is a great destination for anyone interested in popular culture, and it’s a fun way to spend a rainy day in Seattle. In addition to the exhibits, the museum also has a gift shop and a cafe.

3. Go Skiing

winter sports

Winter sports are immense in the North West with numerous choices to take part in. Delightful ski resorts are not far away, regardless of whether you favor cross-country or downhill skiing, tubing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing you don’t need to drive a long way from Seattle to discover them.

If you’re looking to go skiing or snowboarding near Seattle, there are several ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive of the city.

Some of the closest resorts include:

  1. Stevens Pass Ski Resort: Located about 80 miles east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains, Stevens Pass is a popular ski destination with 37 runs and over 1,000 acres of skiable terrain. It offers a variety of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, as well as a terrain park and night skiing.
  2. The Summit at Snoqualmie: Located about 50 miles east of Seattle in the Snoqualmie Pass area, The Summit at Snoqualmie consists of four ski areas: Summit West, Summit Central, Summit East, and Alpental. Together, they offer over 1,300 acres of skiable terrain, with runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
  3. Crystal Mountain Resort: Located about 80 miles southeast of Seattle in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Crystal Mountain Resort is a popular ski destination with over 2,600 acres of skiable terrain. It offers a variety of trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, as well as a terrain park and night skiing.

These resorts offer a variety of amenities, including rental equipment, lessons, and dining options. Keep in mind that ski resorts can be busy during the winter months, especially on weekends and holidays, so it’s a good idea to book lift tickets and rentals in advance. It’s also a good idea to check the weather and road conditions before you go, as the mountains can be prone to snow and ice.

4. Join the Feast at Fremont Market

fremont market

Fremont Market is a popular indoor and outdoor market located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. It features a variety of local vendors selling everything from produce and meats to art and crafts. The market is open year-round and is a great place to shop for unique gifts or try some local food and drink.

In addition to the regular vendors, Fremont Market also hosts a number of special events and festivals throughout the year. One such event is the Feast at Fremont Market, which is held annually in December. This holiday-themed event features food and drinks from local vendors, as well as live music and other entertainment. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and support local businesses.

Whether you’re looking to shop for gifts, try some local food, or just enjoy the festive atmosphere, the Feast at Fremont Market is a fun and festive way to spend a winter day in Seattle.

5. Check Out the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Winthrop

hot air balloon festival at winthrop

The Hot Air Balloon Festival is an annual event that takes place in the small town of Winthrop, Washington, located about three hours east of Seattle. The festival, which is held in February, features hot air balloon rides, live music, food and drink from local vendors, and other activities for all ages.

During the festival, the skies over Winthrop are filled with colorful hot air balloons, making for a truly unique and breathtaking sight. Visitors can take a ride in one of the balloons, or just enjoy the spectacle from the ground. In addition to the hot air balloon rides, the festival also features live music, craft vendors, and food and drink from local businesses.

If you’re looking for a fun and festive way to spend a winter weekend, the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Winthrop is definitely worth checking out. Keep in mind that the festival can get quite busy, so it’s a good idea to book tickets and accommodation in advance.

6. A Visit to the Space Needle

space needle

The Space Needle is an iconic landmark in Seattle, and a visit to this iconic tower is a must for anyone visiting the city. Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, the Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city, the Puget Sound, and the surrounding mountains from its observation deck, which is located 520 feet above the ground.

To get to the observation deck, visitors can take a glass-enclosed elevator that travels up the Space Needle’s central spire at a speed of 10 miles per hour. Once at the top, visitors can walk around the deck and enjoy the views from the various viewing platforms. The Space Needle is also home to a rotating restaurant, SkyCity, which offers fine dining with a view.

The Space Needle is open year-round and is a popular attraction for both tourists and locals. Keep in mind that it can get quite busy, especially on weekends and holidays, so it’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines.

7. Watch A Hockey Game

watch a hockey game

If you’re a fan of hockey, you may want to consider attending a game while you’re in Seattle. The city is home to the Seattle Kraken, an expansion team in the National Hockey League (NHL) that began play in the 2021-2022 season. The Kraken play their home games at Climate Pledge Arena, which is located in downtown Seattle.

Attending a hockey game is a fun way to experience the energy and excitement of live sports, and it’s a great activity for a cold winter day. You can purchase tickets to individual games or season tickets, depending on your schedule and budget. Keep in mind that hockey games can get quite loud and rowdy, so they may not be suitable for young children.

In addition to the Kraken, Seattle also has a number of other hockey teams at the amateur and junior levels. If you’re interested in watching a more low-key game, you may be able to find a game at one of the city’s community rinks or ice arenas.

If you’re interested in participating in low key sports, there are many resources available to help you get started. You can join a local club or group that focuses on the activity you’re interested in, or you can simply find a partner or group of friends to join you in your chosen activity.

Although running probably won’t be at the highest priority on everybody’s rundown of activities in Seattle in the winter, it’s shockingly a popular movement. Get a group of companions, put on your running shoes, and run or walk together. You’ll see numerous vacationists also doing the same dressed like Santa, reindeer, turkeys, and that’s just the beginning. The reward toward the end is frequently a cup of hot cocoa, so it’s more than justified, despite all the trouble!

9. Go Dancing

go dancing

Visit the Q Nightclub, Kremwerk, or The Cedar Room to let free and work the entirety of the undigested holiday food off. Winter is cold and long, dancing, however, could most likely help with letting off some steam.

If you’re looking to go dancing in Seattle, there are a number of options to choose from. The city is home to a number of clubs and bars that feature live music and dancing, as well as dance studios that offer a variety of dance classes. Here are a few ideas for where to go dancing in Seattle:

  1. Clubs and bars: There are many clubs and bars in Seattle that feature live music and dancing. Some popular options include the Showbox, a music venue that hosts a variety of concerts and DJ nights, and the Crocodile, a live music venue that hosts a mix of local and touring acts.
  2. Dance studios: There are several dance studios in Seattle that offer a variety of dance classes, including salsa, ballroom, and swing. Some popular studios include the Century Ballroom, which offers a variety of dance classes and social dances.
  3. Cultural events: Seattle is home to a diverse population, and there are many cultural events that feature live music and dancing. For example, the Folklife Festival, which takes place in the summer, features a variety of music and dance performances from around the world.

Whether you’re looking to dance the night away at a club or learn a new style of dance at a studio, Seattle has plenty of options to choose from.

10. Build A Snowman

build snowman

While Seattle doesn’t get as much snow as some other cities in the United States, it is possible to see snowfall in the city during the winter months. If you’re lucky enough to experience snowfall while you’re in Seattle and you’re in the mood to get creative, you could try building a snowman.

In Seattle or any other location. However, winter storms can bring a variety of hazardous weather conditions, including snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, strong winds, and cold temperatures. These storms can disrupt travel, cause power outages, and make it difficult to stay warm and safe.

To build a snowman, you’ll need to gather a few materials:

  1. Snow: The first step in building a snowman is finding a good spot to work. Look for a place where the snow is deep enough to roll into balls, but not too wet or slushy.
  2. Carrots: You’ll need carrots for the snowman’s nose. You can also use other items such as sticks or stones for the eyes, mouth, and buttons.
  3. Scarf: A scarf is a great way to add some color to your snowman and keep him warm. You can use any scarf you have on hand, or you can make your own out of fabric or paper.
  4. Hat: A hat is another way to add some personality to your snowman. You can use a real hat, or you can make one out of construction paper or other materials.
  5. Arms: You can use sticks or branches for the snowman’s arms, or you can get creative and use other objects such as pipes or broom handles.

Once you’ve gathered your materials, roll three balls of snow of different sizes and stack them on top of each other to create the body of the snowman. Then, add the carrot nose, scarf, hat, and arms to complete the look. You can also add other details such as a pipe or a broom to give your snowman some personality.

11. Warm up at an outdoor fire pit

warmer outdoor fire pit

If you’re looking for a way to warm up on a cold winter day in Seattle, you might consider visiting one of the city’s many outdoor fire pits. These fire pits are a great way to enjoy the outdoors while staying warm and cozy, and they can be found in a variety of locations around the city.

Here are a few places where you can find outdoor fire pits in Seattle:

  1. Parks: Many parks in Seattle have fire pits that are available for public use. These fire pits are typically located in designated areas and are equipped with benches or chairs for visitors to sit on. Some popular parks with fire pits include Green Lake Park, Discovery Park, and Gas Works Park.
  2. Hotels and resorts: Some hotels and resorts in Seattle have outdoor fire pits that are available for guests to use. These fire pits are usually located in common areas or outdoor patios and may be accompanied by seating or other amenities.
  3. Restaurants and bars: Some restaurants and bars in Seattle have outdoor fire pits that are available for customers to use. These fire pits may be located on the patio or in a designated outdoor area and may be accompanied by seating or other amenities.

If you’re planning to use an outdoor fire pit, be sure to follow any rules or guidelines that are in place, and exercise caution when using the fire. It’s also a good idea to bring a blanket or warm layers to stay cozy while you’re enjoying the fire.

12. Seattle Aquarium


The Seattle Aquarium is a public aquarium located on the waterfront in downtown Seattle. It is home to a variety of marine animals, including fish, invertebrates, birds, and mammals. The aquarium is dedicated to promoting conservation and understanding of the marine environment and offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits for visitors of all ages.

Some of the animals that you can see at the Seattle Aquarium include sea otters, octopuses, jellies, and puffins. The aquarium also has a number of interactive exhibits, such as the Touch Tank, where visitors can touch and learn about marine animals, and the Window on Washington Waters, a 120,000-gallon tank that features a variety of local marine life.

The Seattle Aquarium is a popular attraction for both tourists and locals and is a great place to visit on a rainy day in the city. In addition to the exhibits, the aquarium also has a gift shop and a cafe.

The ESTA for International travelers

international travellers

The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an electronic system that is used by the U.S. government to determine the eligibility of travelers from certain countries to visit the United States. The ESTA is required for travelers from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows citizens of those countries to visit the U.S. for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.

To apply for an ESTA, travelers must complete an online application on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. The application requires personal and travel-related information, and travelers must also pay a fee. If the ESTA application is approved, travelers will receive an email confirmation with their ESTA number, which they will need to present at the border when they enter the U.S.

Travelers who are not eligible for the VWP or who need to stay in the U.S. for longer than 90 days will need to apply for a visa through the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

It’s important to note that the ESTA is not a visa and does not guarantee entry into the U.S. It is only a pre-screening requirement for travelers from VWP countries. Travelers who are approved for an ESTA may still be denied entry at the border if they do not meet other requirements for admission to the U.S.

About the ESTA visa processing, the requirement for this kind of visa is quite straightforward than you think. For starters, though, your international passport must be valid while applying for the visa and also at the departure time to the United States. However, in case your ESTA approval expires during your visit to the U.S, you may not have to re-apply but have it in mind that you must not be in the state for a total of ninety days during your visit. You can also check the ESTA official website for other required information.