Seattle, Washington is known for its rainy climate and proximity to the Puget Sound, Cascade Mountains and Starbucks Coffee. Skiing, hiking, backpacking, biking, and windsurfing are popular activities. Rain or shine, its outdoor beauty is enjoyed by all.
Seattle, Washington, USA: Elevation 175 feet, Population 744,955 (city), 3.9 million (metropolitan)
Seattle is the most iconic city in all of Washington state. Located in the Pacific northwest, the city is known for its rainy climate as well as its close proximity to the Puget Sound, Cascade Mountains and for being the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee. The city is also an outdoor paradise due to its close proximity to seemingly countless outdoor activities. The moderate climate of the region allows for year round adventures. Sitting at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Seattle is within two hours of three major ski resorts. Hundreds of miles of trails designed for running, hiking, backpacking, or biking, run throughout the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, just a short drive away. Two hours to the southeast of Seattle lies Mount Rainier National Park, the tallest and most iconic mountain in the entire state. The high rainfall of the region pays off during the winter months, with backcountry skiing routes located less than an hour east of the city. Though a dip in the Puget Sound is sure to be a cold and refreshing one, it also offers ideal conditions for kiteboarders and windsurfers alike. Rain or shine, the outdoor community in Seattle knows how to make the most of the forests, mountains, and water that surrounds them.
Local Adventure Vibe:
Despite the rainy weather, Seattle is a hot spot for outdoor activities. The moderate climate means it’s always running weather; at least that’s what the locals say. Seattle is home to seemingly countless running groups. One major club includes Club Northwest, which allows runners to take place in everything from competitive national events to local racers. Another prominent group is the Seattle Running Club (SRC) who is primarily focused on trail running and hosts a group run nearly every day. The SRC hosts many of the iconic running events in the surrounding area. These races include a summer series along nearby Cougar Mountain, the White River 50 Miler near Mount Rainier National Park, and the Fat Glass 50K which comes both running and drinking beer from local breweries. But Seattle isn’t just a running city; it is also known for its large biking community. Cascade Bicycle Club is the largest club in the entire state and also works as a nonprofit to serve bike riders of all ages and abilities. Their most iconic events include the Seattle to Portland, Bike Walk Roll Summit, and the Major Taylor Project. When it comes to mountain biking, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is the largest group, with chapters located in Seattle and across the state. The nonprofit organization offers group rides, lessons, camps, and events to get more people involved within the sport.
Seattle is known as the Emerald City, named after its lush greenery year-round. While the city is full of outdoor activities, the culture of the city is what keeps people coming back. One of the most iconic buildings in the city is the Space Needle. Originally constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, this building stands at 605 feet tall. Today the building is synonymous with the city and even offers 360-degree views from the top along with a rotating restaurant. From the platform above the city are views of Elliott Bay, the nearby Cascade Mountains, and Mount Rainier in the distance. Another way to get views of the city comes via the Seattle Great Wheel. Installed back in 2012, this massive Ferris wheel is equipped with enclosed gondolas, allowing guests to enjoy the views whatever the weather may be. One of the reasons Seattle is so iconic is due to its location. Seattle is the largest city located on the Puget Sound. Throughout the Puget Sound are numerous islands, connected by an extensive ferry system. Enjoy a day trip to one of the neighboring islands or come visiting during whale watching season. The Puget Sound is part of the greater Salish Sea and it is here that waters are full of whales, especially during the winter months. Tours offer the opportunity to see orcas, humpback whales, and gray whales that call this region home. Nestled on the bank of the Sound lies Pike Place Market, full of countless small businesses, farmers, fisherman, and craftspeople, offering a true way to experience the city.
Food & Drink:
While the city offers a wide variety of cuisines, a few restaurants have remained a must try for those visiting. El Gaucho is perhaps the best-known steakhouse in the city and has been a family business since the 1950’s. Today the well-known restaurant has expanded with locations across the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is also known for being incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly. Café Flora offers seasonal dishes to cater to this demand, with their timeless dishes. To get some of the best seafood, as fresh as can be, head over to Ray’s Boathouse to try the local oysters, prawns, and salmon.
The Pacific Northwest is also known for its beer scene and Seattle most certainly delivers. Though there are a plethora of breweries to choose from, popular destinations include Fremont Brewing, The Pike Brewing Company, Optimism Brewing, Cloudburst Brewing, and Stoup Brewing.
You can’t talk about Seattle without also talking about coffee. The now world-famous Starbucks got its humble beginning in Seattle in a small shop next to Pike Place Market. Head on over to the Starbucks Reserves location where you can try coffee blends that are only available at that location. For a more local feel, visit Anchorhead Coffee, Seattle Coffee Works, Victrola Coffee Roasters, or Milstead & Co.
Find a Hotel in Seattle, Washington
Places to Stay
Whether you’re looking for a unique stay or contemporary view of the city, Seattle is full of quaint spaces for you to stay on your next visit. The Tiny House Comfort located in West Seattle is complete with a lofted bed and views of the surrounding greenery, making it feel like you’re sleeping in a treehouse. For a more modern take, the Space Needle Views in Northwest Seattle is complete with views of the skyline along with a rooftop deck perfect for the summer months. If you’re looking for views of the water, be sure to check out Sky Cabin located in Eastlake, right near the houseboat where Sleepless in Seattle was filmed.
While there aren’t any campgrounds located within the big city, Seattle is surrounded by a plethora of outdoor spaces perfect for camping.
Dash Point: Located south of the city, near Tacoma, lies Dash Point State Park. The park contains miles of trails for hiking, biking, and running all while being located right on the Puget Sound. Pack a kayak, stand up paddle board or bring a skimboard to enjoy all that the campground has to offer.
Tinkham Campground: East of Seattle, within the Cascade Mountains, lies Tinkham Campground near Snoqualmie Pass. The campground is located along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. The quaint views and expansive Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will make it hard to believe the city is just a short drive away.
Fay Bainbridge Park: There are many campgrounds on the islands within the Puget Sound including Fay Bainbridge Park. The waterfront campground offers breathtaking views of the Sound, Cascade Mountains and the snowy peaks of Canada to the north.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bouldering session in the city, or a more experience multi-pitch the region of Seattle is full of places to explore and climb.
East of Seattle lies the Cascade Mountains along Interstate-90. The region surrounding North Bend is known for its climbing with 612 different routes. A majority of the climbing in this region can be found off of Exit 38 and Exit 32. Exit 38 is broken down into three major climbing areas; Mt. Washington, Deception Crags, and Far Side. Popular routes in the area include Absolutely Nothing, Endless Bliss, Blockhead, Bad Choo Choo, and various others.
Northeast of Seattle, along scenic Highway 2 lies a multitude of climbing routes. The region boasts over 1,332 routes spanning from Monroe to Stevens Pass. A majority of the routes lie just outside the small town of Index. Here popular routes include Godzilla, Princely Ambitions, Senior Citizens in Space, and Toxic Shock.
Seattle: Within the City
While there are numerous climbing gyms within the city of Seattle, some residents also turn to urban climbing which mainly consists of bouldering. Popular areas to climb include Marymoor Park Outdoor Sport Crag and the region surrounding the University of Washington campus.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its spectacular hiking, rugged peaks, and lush forests. Whether you’re looking for a secluded stroll through the city, or wanting to explore the highest peak in the state, Seattle is sure to deliver.
Mount Si: Along Interstate-90, about 30 minutes east, lies Mount Si, home to some of the most popular hiking trails in the region. From the summit of this iconic peak, hikers have views of Seattle, Bellevue, Mount Baker to the north and Mount Rainier to the south. The main trail totals eight miles roundtrip with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain, offering spectacular views at the top.
Mount Rainier National Park: At 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in the state of Washington and can easily be seen from the city of Seattle. This national park is full of 260 miles of maintained trail. Popular hikes include Tolmie Peak, Skyline Trail, and Mount Fremont Lookout. For those looking to challenge themselves, the 93-mile Wonderland Trail is a route that circles the entire mountain. In order to summit the mountain, proper mountaineering gear and experience is required.
High rainfall year round leads to high snowfall during the winter months, making for some incredible backcountry routes.
Snoqualmie Pass: While there is also a resort in this region, the backcountry skiing is abundant and it’s close proximity to the city makes it a popular destination. While there are countless chutes and peaks to ski down, popular ones include Kendall Trees and Mt. Margaret.
Crystal Mountain: Located off of Highway 410, on the way to Mount Rainier National Park, lies a network of backcountry skiing. While some routes drop off the backside of the ski resort, others lie just off the highway. Popular routes include Lake Basin, Crown Point, Bullion Peak, and Norse Peak.
Mount Rainier is an incredible destination for backcountry skiing with its world record snowfalls and wide variety of easy, moderate, and advanced terrain. After hiking up to Camp Muir skiing or boarding down the broad Muir snowfield puts you right back at your starting point at Paradise.
Issaquah: Located just 20 minutes east of Seattle lies the city of Issaquah set in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Just outside the city are 126 miles of mountain biking trails, many of which run through what is known as Tiger Mountain. Sixty-six trails run through the mountain with a wide range of difficulties. Popular trails include Off the Grid, Summit Trail, and Bootcamp.
Highway 410: Near the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort lies a mountain biking paradise during the summer months. The region has over 115 miles of trails with long loops in the mountains. Parking is often available in Snoquera and well known routes include Suntop Trail, Palisades Trail, Skookum Flats Trail, and Ranger Creek Trail.
Tiger Mountain: While Tiger Mountain is known for its mountain biking trails, it also boasts 86 miles of designated running trails. Just a short drive from Seattle and runners will feel like they are out in the depths of the Washington wilderness. The mountain offers a diverse network of trails ranging from rolling easy trails to technical and rooty trails that climb to the summit. Well-known routes are Cable Line Trail, Tiger Mountain Trail, and Poo Poo Point Trail.
Cougar Mountain: On the west side of Issaquah lies Cougar Mountain. The area has 55 miles of trails and can be accessed from either the east or east side. Indian Trail, Licorice Fern Trail, and the Coal Creek Falls Trail are all popular and easily accessible.
You won’t have to travel far outside of the big city in order to find some incredibly scenic overlanding routes. Many trails start just off of Interstate 90, east of Seattle.
McCellan Butte Trail: This route totals 11 miles with nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The trail climbs up into the Cascade Mountains through the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. Much of the trail winds through the lush forest that the Pacific Northwest is known for before offering views of the distant Interstate down below.
Mount Margaret Trail: A bit further east along the Interstate 90 lies the Mount Margaret Trail. This 15 mile point to point route has 2,200 feet of elevation gain. The trail rides through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, past subalpine creeks and lakes all while offering expansive views of both western and eastern Washington.
Along with being located on the Puget Sound, Seattle is also right next to Lake Washington. Between these two bodies of water, and the wind coming across the Salish Sea, Seattle is a great place for both kiteboarding and windsurfing. The most popular spot is Golden Gardens in Ballard. The water offers flat sections for freestyle as well as Carkeek beach known for its high winds. The best time to visit for kiteboarding and windsurfing is generally Map through September.
Best Guided Adventures In Washington
57hours offers numerous guided adventures in the State of Washington. Here are some of our favorites:
Climb Mount Baker With an All-Female Team: Spend three days with professional mountain guides and a group of like-minded ladies and learn the fundamentals of alpine climbing! This instructional course will teach you the basics of glacier mountaineering, proper ice axe use, and self-arrest skills.
Multi-Day Alpine Climbing on Mount Baker: The Easton Glacier Route is the easiest way up the challenging Mount Baker. It is the best route for first time climbers as it offers a direct and relatively moderate route up the south side of the mountain with the fewest technical difficulties.
Multi-Pitch Rock Climbing on Beacon Rock: Explore the various multi-pitch lines that Beacon Rock State Park offers with a professional and experienced guide! Let your guide take you to the best spots and make sure you have fun on the rock. No matter how much experience and skill you have, there are many routes for all levels.
Backcountry Skiing in Snoqualmie: If you are new to the backcountry, go out with a professional and friendly local guide, and let them teach you all the basic techniques and skills needed for a safe and fun adventure out of bounds. Snoqualmie offers a few locations for those who wish to uncover the wonders of backcountry skiing. Learn the tips and tricks, and have fun on the low-angle powdery slopes!
Backcountry Skiing at Crystal Mountain: Still trying to figure out all the quirks of backcountry skiing? Let the guide show you all the tips and tricks, and learn about backcountry safety from a friendly expert guide. The amazingly diverse terrain of Crystal Mountain offers plenty of options for all skill levels! Let your guide plan out the perfect day, and fall in love with the freedom and adventure the backcountry provides.
Seattle sits just two hours south of the United States-Canada border. In BC, 57hours offers numerous single day and multi-day trips. Learn more about rock climbing or take a one day mountain biking course in Squamish. For a more challenging trip, check out their 3-day Tantalus Alpine Climbing Tour helping you scale these iconic peaks. During the winter months, explore some of the best backcountry skiing in the world with a four day trip at Journeyman Lodge.
Seattle is a unique city that is completely surrounded by outdoor adventure. The down to earth community that calls this place home, has a plethora of trails and activities at their fingertips. Long days spent exploring the lush forests and stunning peaks of the Pacific Northwest are nicely paired with enjoying the local cuisine and breweries. Plus no Seattle adventure is complete without starting the day with a cup of iconic Seattle coffee. Whether you come during the sunny summer months, or when the snow is dumping in the mountains, your trip to Seattle is sure to be an adventure you won’t soon forget.
evoTrip Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Trip Packages
Skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry is about as thrilling and rewarding as it gets. But these experiences are also labor-intensive and, due to risk of avalanche, require that you have the tools and education to make safe, smart decisions. evoTrip has partnered with some of the best mountain schools & guides around to deliver a series of backcountry courses and trips with education, safety, and – of course – fun, top of mind. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get your AIARE 1 Avalanche certification, or an intermediate to advanced backcountry user looking for guided trips with famed traverses and epic big-mountain descents, they’ve got you covered.
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