21 Actually Cool 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.

Spring was kind of a bust this year, but we’re holding out hope for summer—that blissful three-month period in the Pacific Northwest when the weather is undeniably perfect and the sun just keeps on shining. Accordingly, we’re planning on spending as much time outdoors as physically possible, and our bucket list of things to do this season reflects that aim. Whether it’s up in the sky in a hot-air balloon or down on the water at Lake Union, you know exactly where to find us this summer: outside.

Lastly, though masks are no longer required in most places, you might want to hold on to yours for a little longer, as some businesses will likely retain their mask mandates for the time being. That said, here are 21 actually cool things to do in Seattle this season, all of which are much more fun now that the weather is finally looking up.

Capitol Hill
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.

Capitol Hill
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.

Seattle Ballooning
Seattle Ballooning

Auburn, WA
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.

Hot Tub Boats
Hot Tub Boats

Lake Union
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.

Ballard
Trivia is always a toss-up depending on the host, but what it’s really about is spending time with your (smart and competitive) friends, right? At Barking Dog Alehouse, enter the game for free every Tuesday night, try your hand at winning a gift card (or booze), and try to think of a non-embarrassing team name, because the host is going to yell it out… a lot.

Tiger Mountain Trail
Tiger Mountain Trail | davidrh/Shutterstock

Issaquah
If you’ve been stuck inside all spring avoiding the never-ending rain, consider this the sign you needed to get outside—especially now that the sun should be appearing, like, any day now. Tiger Mountain Trail is a prime spot for mountain biking—or just walking—and will provide plenty of that fresh air we’re all in need of this season. The best part? It’s only a 30-minute drive from the city.

Fast Penny Spirits
Fast Penny Spirits

Interbay
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.

SoDo
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.

milk drunk
milk drunk

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.

Neptune Theatre
Neptune Theatre

Various locations
Almost all Seattle venues are now open (and requiring proof of vaccine), so there’s plenty of shows to choose from this spring. Check the lineups at Tractor Tavern, Neptune Theatre, Neumos, or Barboza if you’re not sure where to start.

Various locations
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. 

Black Hole Sun sculpture at Volunteer Park
Black Hole Sun sculpture at Volunteer Park | Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Find a Sound Garden and The Black (Hole) Sun

Sand Point/Capitol Hill
Soundgarden is one of Seattle's seminal bands, and a pioneer of '90s grunge. A Sound Garden is a collection of towering metal sculptures in a park overlooking Lake Washington that turns the wind into an eerie, but soothing kind of music… and is the inspiration for the band's name. The inspiration for the title of the band's most famous song? Another art installation: this one called The Black Sun, overlooking the city from another local park.

Magnolia
The fact that Seattle has a humongous—like, 534-acre—park just a hop and a skip from downtown is a flex that simply never gets old. This summer, spend some time getting reacquainted with its trails (and stunning views) as the weather warms up. You just can’t beat that fresh Puget Sound air.

Museum of Pop Culture
Museum of Pop Culture

Downtown
You may think you know everything about your favorite celebrity, but do you really? Put your wisdom to the test (and pick up some new trivia while you’re at it) by paying a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture, which has so many exhibits on view right now that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Pro tip: Start with “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop” and you won’t be disappointed.

Try out one of Seattle’s many pop-ups

Various locations
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.

Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum

Downtown
Seattle Art Museum has been open for a while now, but if you’ve yet to visit, there’s no time like the present to get reimmersed in the world of art history. Take a date, drag a friend along, or go solo; there’s plenty to see, and a ticket will only set you back $19.99 (and, on that note, SAM highly recommends that you purchase them online in advance). The museum currently has three shows on view: “Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time,” “Lauren Halsey,” and “Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water,”

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Woodinville, WA
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.

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market | cdrin/Shutterstock

Shop at Pike Place Market

Downtown
It's the best farmers market in the country. Period. So heading there for some shopping (provided you wear a mask) is a no brainer, but figuring out what to do once you get there isn't. Luckily, our guides to the 50 Best Things to Eat, and the Best Secret Shops in the Market, will get you started, but the still newish Marketfront, and the myriad shops/stalls lining Post Alley give you almost endless options. There are even options for people who aren't comfortable actually going to the market—boxes of items from market vendors you can get delivered to your home.

Kerry Park
Kerry Park | Daniel Avram/Shutterstock

Watch the sunset at Kerry Park

Queen Anne
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.

Your home
If you’re still not ready to dine out at a restaurant, simply bring the restaurant to you—with a virtual cooking class hosted by Chef Brian Clevenger (of Vendemmia, Haymaker, and GH Pasta Co fame). Here, you’ll pick up a new skill, eat some delicious food, and get one-on-one advice from the master himself.

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Emma Banks is a contributor for Thrillist
Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who you and your guests will probably run into at Dick's.