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Seattle Travel Tips


  When to Visit Seattle
  Average Temperatures
  What to Wear




Smoke Tree in Bloom on University of Washington Campus


Smoke Tree in Spring        University of Washington Campus


Spring is a riot of colors.  The vast variety of blooming flowers, shrubs, and trees is dazzling.  Late April through May is the peak rhododendron season and the "rhodies" put on a fabulous show to complement the other seasonal flowers. 

Summer is usually pleasant.  Seattle can have a couple of days over 90 degrees but that is rare.  Summer is also the driest season of the year.  Due to its northern latitude,  summer days are long.

Late fall brings the gorgeous fall leaf colors.   Days are quite cool and the area is not nearly as crowded as in the summertime.

Winter is not the prime tourist season for Seattle.  From November through March, Seattle has a lot of rainy and gray days.  However, for photographers, the gray days also make for taking gorgeous photos of landscaping and architectural details. 




Av MinTemp


Av Max Temp


Rain (inches)
Jan 36 46 5
Feb 37 50 4
Mar 39 53 4
Apr 42 58 3
May 47 64 2
June 52 70 1
July 56 76 1
Aug 52 76 1
Sept 52 70 1
Oct 46 60 3
Nov 40 51 6
Dec 36 46 5
Total     36

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Waiting in the Rain in Seattle

Waiting in the Rain        International District Station


Seattle has a notorious reputation for rain.  Because it is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, it actually receives less rain (36 inches annually) than many other major cities.  Having rain in the forecast for Seattle is no big deal.  In my many visits to Seattle, I have discovered the maxim–“If you don’t like the weather in Seattle, just wait an hour.”   Seattle has a lot of days when it drips or has light drizzle.  The positive benefit of the cloudy days is that photographs of landscaping and of a lot of architectural highlights are much easier to take on cloudy days.  Seattle takes on a beautiful aura on cloudy days. 

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Unless you are traveling to Seattle in the summer, you need to dress for warmth.  Seattle has a moderate climate that is warmer than other northern states like Montana but it gets cold for five months or so. The cold months rarely bring snow. The key to dealing with Seattle's climate is to wear layers.  The weather conditions in Seattle can change almost hourly sometimes and layers are the solution for navigating  the whims of the weather gods.  Carrying a backpack where you can store some of your garments gives you a lot of flexibility to deal with Seattle's fickle weather.

Here is my recommended clothing list based on my travels to Seattle.

HAT   A hat is essential on colder days to keep you warm.

LAYERS  A warm layer like a sweater provides the edge that you need on the coldest days.

COATS AND JACKETS   A windbreaker to stop the cold helps a lot and works well except for the coldest months when you will have to wear a heavier coat.  A light jacket can be worn in the summer since evenings are cool in Seattle. You can wear a windproof jacket with fleece lining for a lot of your outdoor excursions. 

GLOVES For the late fall through early spring, gloves are highly recommended.  For photography, I use gloves that have a removable flap that exposes the bare finger tips.  These gloves work well on colder days to allow proper control of the camera while you are shooting.  You can then cover your finger tips when you aren't shooting.

UMBRELLA   Seattle has a lot of gray days that may mist a bit or have a little rainfall.  Most Seattleites don't bother with an umbrella on those days.  For these days, a small folding umbrella in a backpack helps you stay dry.

SHOES    If you are going to explore Seattle's great parks and botanical gardens, wear shoes that can navigate muddy and uneven terrain.  I have seen people wearing high heels in Kubota Garden.  Kubota Garden has muddy and uneven walking trails that don't work with high heels.

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A Steep Seattle Street

Steep Seattle downtown street


Pedestrians have the right of way at designated crosswalks.  Jaywalking is discouraged and is fairly dangerous.  Seattle pedestrians can be aggressive at using their right of way. Do not assume that they will stop in a crosswalk. Once a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, traffic must stop to let them cross the street.

A note about walking in downtown.  Seattle has some seriously steep streets.  On a few streets, it feels like you could lean over just slightly and touch the sidewalk. Plan your walking if possible so you are always headed down the really steep streets. There are some buildings that are set up so that you can ride an escalator or an elevator to avoid a steep climb.


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