15 Fun Things to Do in Seattle This Summer
Now is the time for hot-air balloons, warm-weather fun, boat trips, and more in the Pacific Northwest.
There’s nothing quite like the height of summer: We’re all sweating, we’re all kind of sick of going to the beach, and it’s high time we found something actually interesting to do (preferably something that’s air-conditioned). Seattle is in fine form this time of year, so rather than engaging with the usual suspects (the pool, the beach, the rooftop bar), why not switch things up for a change? Think ice cold mushroom (yes, mushroom) coffee, natty wine tastings, hot air balloons, and homemade soft serve. The opportunities to indulge are almost endless, but don’t delay too long—because summer certainly isn’t.
If Hotel Sorrento’s iconic 113-year-old history isn’t enough to get you in the door, perhaps a sangria from STELLA. will do the trick. Nestled just outside the building on the patio, STELLA. has all the trappings of a lazy summer afternoon (three words: Italian coastal cuisine) and the ambiance to match. Extend your visit till evening to witness the star garden (lots and lots of twinkle lights) light up the night sky.
South Park’s first (and smallest) wine shop, otherwise known as Left Bank, also happens to be home to one of the coolest clubs in Seattle: Left Bank Wine Clique. What’s more, they’ve also opened a sister spot right next door called Good Voyage, which is stocked with all the provisions to pair with your booze.
Go on a thrifting tour of Capitol Hill
Capitol Hill thrifting will never be quite the same without Value Village, but there are enough alternatives to keep you occupied (and air-conditioned) for an entire afternoon. Goodwill and Out of the Closet (on Belmont and Pike, respectively) are good places to start—once you’ve exhausted their racks, why not check out Lifelong Thrift, Revival, and Crossroads, all three of which are located a few blocks north of Cal Anderson Park on Broadway.
Mushrooms may be the hottest trend in coffee right now, but it’s still kind of hard to find them at your neighborhood java joint. Not to worry: Wunderground Cafe is practically overflowing with shrooms, and they’ll happily guide you through the world of funghi brews if you’re a newbie. Oh, and if you want a meal to go with all that coffee? Lucky for you, Wunderground’s new menu is the creation of James Beard award-winning chef Maria Hines, of Tilth fame.
When the rain inevitably returns for a summer shower, head to the movies. At Northwest Film Forum, a rotating list of indie flicks make it easy to while away an afternoon. They also host other related events, like the annual Upper Left Comedy Festival, filmmaking workshops, and more.
Some cool activities also happen to be bucket-list-level items. Case in point: a hot-air balloon ride with Seattle Ballooning, which will get you truly unbelievable views of Mt. Rainier, downtown Seattle, Lake Tapps, the Cascades, and more. It doesn’t get much cooler than this.
Wallingford & Downtown
The sweet tooth is a year round phenomenon, and summer is no exception. This season, grant yours the pleasure of a visit to Black Magic Sweets, an experimental pop-up bakery currently serving up treats at a variety of Seattle locations, like Kaffa Coffee House and Wine Bar, Makeda and Mingus, Communion Restaurant and Bar, and more.
It feels slightly counterintuitive to sit in water while floating on water, but hey, who doesn’t love a luxurious hot tub ride? On Lake Union, Hot Tub Boats provides the perfect excuse to spend all day doing absolutely nothing, all the while soaking up excellent views of the skyline, seaplanes, Gasworks Park, and more.
Fast Penny Spirits is quickly becoming the most popular distillery in Seattle, thanks in no small part to its lovely founder, Jamie Hunt, and, of course, its excellent Amari. Dubbing their American-made Amaro “Amaricano”, the pair’s booze can likely be found at your local bottle shop. But visiting their Interbay tasting deck is so much more fun—splurge on a VIP tour the next time you’re there, or simply dive into a flight of spirits and try something new.
Since it opened last July, Supernova has been working on “redefining nightlife” for Seattleites, most of whom don’t regularly stay out until 4 am—unless, of course, the club calls. Themed nights are Supernova’s speciality, so check their event calendar for one that strikes your fancy, and don’t be surprised if there’s a line.
North Beacon Hill
If Homer is your go-to mediterranean joint, it’s time to pay a visit to its sister restaurant, Milk Drunk, which just so happens to be right down the street. Here, they specialize in two things: soft serve and fried chicken. Our advice? Order both.
Sir Mix-a-Lot rapped about bringing his posse by for some burgers. Macklemore danced on the Broadway location's rooftop. Esquire called it the "most life-changing burger joint" in America. But the best recommendation? The people still lining up outside these old-school joints just before they close at 2am every night, even though you can now get Dick's delivered via DoorDash.
Try out one of Seattle’s many pop-ups
Seattle’s dining options are a dime a dozen, but there’s no guarantee of permanence when it comes to a pop-up—so why not try them all while you still can? To start, we’d recommend Garzón, which is inside Black Cat Seattle in Belltown every Wednesday - Saturday, or Lenox, which is over at Future Primitive Beer in White Center every Thursday - Sunday.
Just 20 minutes outside of Seattle sits Washington State’s oldest winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, on 105 acres of wooded forest (and yes, there is an actual chateau there, too). Pay a visit and let the hours slowly melt away while you drink with a view (the tasting room is open 11 am - 5 pm, Wednesday - Sunday). There are also a few special winery “experiences” that you can book ahead of time here, like a secret garden tasting, a private charcuterie making experience, and more.
Watch the sunset at Kerry Park
Get all of the views that you’d get if you spent the money to go up the Space Needle, with none of the expense at this iconic Seattle park. Or, if you'd rather share the experience with fewer people, head a few blocks away to the lookout across the street from Parsons Gardens.