Seattle’s quintessential rainy season (ie, ten months out of the year) is officially underway, and with it, the cold. Seattleites don’t generally have a problem with the rain. It’s in our blood, and we can wander the streets with a smile even when it’s pouring. That being said, we also know how to have a fantastic time avoiding the rain, and the city’s got a little bit of something for everybody when it comes to great indoor entertainment.
So here’s a list of our top 7 places to have a good time on a rainy day in Seattle:
1.) Start out the holiday season by warming up with a hot toddy
And because I can’t limit my fav to just one, I’ll give you three options that are sure to sleigh ;) And they’re all within a one block radius of Pike Place Market.
First, you’ll want to hit up Rachel’s Ginger Beer for a new take on the classic: the blood orange hot toddy. If you’re not feeling like you necessarily need a hot drink, any of her other handcrafted ginger beer cocktails are dangerously delicious as well. I personally recommend the Porchswing for my fellow gin drinkers out there, but she’s got options for every classic liquor-infused ginger beer your heart desires.
Second, head over to Radiator Whiskey on the corner of 1st and Pike (second floor). I’ve literally never had a cocktail I didn’t enjoy there, but their barrel-aged whiskeys are absolutely the way to go if you want to leave your taste buds tingling. Not to mention they have a tater tot dish served with a fried egg on top, which they convert into tatchos (tater tot nachos) on the weekends, both of which are to die for.
Lastly, you’ll want to head straight through the market and down a plethora of zigzagging stairs to reach--wait for it--the Zigzag Cafe. Now when I say they make incredible cocktails that will absolutely knock your socks off--it’s an understatement. Go for their hot toddy if you need a warm up, but if you’re feeling a little adventurous, ask for the penicillin with mezcal instead of blended scotch. It’s my new favorite go-to.
2.) Play Games at Mox Boarding House
If you’re into board games, grub, and good times, you’ll want to hit up Mox. Located over in Ballard, they’ve got about about a million card and board games to play, and they’ll happily let you while away the hours while you nurse one of their many beers on tap. They’re also a solid spot for events--they’ve got a couple of private rooms in the back you can rent for $20/hour (min. 2 hours)..
3.) Go For Some Live Music
Alternatively, if you just want to chill and soak in some good vibes, we’ve got a few spots downtown that are pure gold for live music almost any night of the week.
First, Jazz Alley. Some of the most well recognized jazz artists in the community have played here, and it’s a beautiful, cozy atmosphere. Their food is a little overpriced for what it’s worth, so I vote eating before you go, and then just get a cocktail or a glass of wine and enjoy!
Second, the Triple Door provides a soft, intimate ambiance with twinkle lights glimmering upon a dark velvet backdrop behind the stage. This lounge leans more upscale while remaining a low-key, so if you want something that’s a bit more casual, drop into the Musiquarium. Upon entering the Triple Door, you’ll see a large fish tank lining the entryway, and you’ll want to hang a right at the end to enter the Musiquarium bar. Its menu features a surprising number of vegetarian and vegan options as well, so it’s a great place to hit up for happy hour.
Lastly, if your style’s a bit more grungy, if you love a $6 happy hour pizza, and if you try to see as many local bands as possible, you’ll want to check out the Crocodile in Belltown. They’ll have anything from rock to folk to brass bands playing, so just hop online and check out their line-up if you need to catch a show!
4.) Whisk Yourself Away to the Chihuly Glass Museum and a Laser Show
Think Gatsby meets the whimsy of Dr. Seuss and you’ll have a spark of what Chihuly is like. Each and every display, every room, every piece, is pure magic, and the second you begin your journey you’ll feel you’ve been transported to another world.
I hesitate to even call it a museum, as the word doesn’t begin to capture the essence of Chihuly’s work. It’s the #1 place I tell people to go if they’re coming into Seattle for any length of time, and if you live here already and you haven’t had a chance to check it out, definitely head over there STAT. I recommend going at night, as there’s a massive glass atrium through which you’ll walk at one point, and with the night sky as a backdrop, the artwork truly pops.
While you’re at Seattle Center, I’d also hit up a laser show afterwards. They have shows every night except Mondays, alternating between a few permanent ones (such as Pink Floyd’s DSOTM and Daft Punk), and selected featured artists like Beyonce or Queen.
5.) Explore the Bookstores
Did you know Seattle has the most number of library cards per capita in the entire nation? Indeed, it’s a city of bibliophiles, and if you count yourself one of them, visiting the following locations ought to be a top priority on a rainy day.
If you’re downtown, skip the bookselling giant Barnes & Noble and head a few blocks over to the Seattle Public Library. The building alone is a fascinating geometrical gem of a structure, but once you’ve appreciated all its facets and angles from without, you’ll want to do the same from within. When you enter, you’ll find a massive open space filled with rows and spirals of shelves, plenty of common reading areas, and a coffee shop at its center.
Also downtown is Left Bank Books, a great little local anarchy shop just above Pike Place Market. It overlooks the water, and because it’s located upstairs, you have far fewer crowds than you might anticipate for one of Seattle’s busier areas.
Another must is the University of Washington’s Suzallo Library. With its stained glass windows and intricately carved arches it channels Notre Dame, and the interior is no less beautiful. Once inside, you’ll find wide, stone spiraling staircases, countless books, and a main reading area that might as well be a replica of the Dining Hall at Hogwarts.
Further up on Capitol Hill you’ll find Elliott Bay Book Company (think Seattle’s version of Powell’s) on 10th, as well as Twice Sold Tales at the corner of Harvard and Denny. The latter is a used book store, and the best part is they’ve got numerous cats roaming about that call Twice Sold Tales home. They’re always happy to cuddle up with you as you read.
6.) Hit Up a Few Barcades
My top two places for barcades will always be Jupiter in Belltown and Add-a-Ball in Fremont. Both are a bit of divey and a ton of fun, with classics like Killer Queen and Pac-Man, as well as more modern games like a super high-def Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting game.
Alternatively, Flatstick Pub is a great place to choose from an impressive selection of local beers and play a game of putt-putt while you drink. Flatstick has locations in Pioneer Square and South Lake Union, and while it can get a little busy, they have giant jenga and tons of board games to help you pass the time.
7.) Visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory
Located on Capitol Hill, Volunteer Park is a local hotspot for joggers, dog walkers, families, and those who just need some peace and quiet. During the summer, there are live performances every week, while during the winter is the perfect time to peek into the Conservatory. At only $4 to get in, the conservatory is a lovely way to avoid the rain and yet still be surrounded by greenery. They’ve got five different hot houses of botanical displays, and if you’re in any way a plant person, your heart will just melt.
While you’re there, also be sure to hop over to the Volunteer Park water tower, an old brick building in which you ascend a spiral set of stairs to reach the top and gain a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline and the water beyond.
As you can see, there’s no reason to keep yourself cooped up inside when Seattle’s got a world of adventures waiting just outside your rain-splattered window. So be sure to get up, get out, and make the most you can out of every season.