Travel

Actually Cool Things to Do in Seattle This Winter

Fun still exists. We promise.

Winter in Seattle usually means that your polar fleece might not be enough to keep you warm when you go out. And that it gets dark at like five o'clock everyday. But during a pandemic it means those things, and some legitimate confusion about what's safe—and worth doing—once you do leave your house. Probably in just a polar fleece, obviously. 

We've got you covered with the best things to do every weekend in Seattle, but we've also put together a list of mostly outdoor, or virtual things you can do during the holidays or all winter long, including heading into the woods with an axe, eating at an iconic drive-in, or bringing a bit of your favorite bar home with you. 

Cut down Christmas Trees

Various Locations
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One of the best things about living in the Northwest is that we're constantly surrounded by potential Christmas trees, and there are at least a dozen places in the Puget Sound, where come the holidays, you can chop one down for yourself instead of hoping that place in the parking lot you drive by on the way home from work has something worth decorating. One of the closest is Red Wood Christmas Tree Farm in Redmond, where you can sip on free cocoa and cider to keep you warm.
 

Enjoy Fine Dining in a Yurt

Canlis
$$$
No Seattle restaurant has responded more creatively to COVID-19 than Canlis, and their latest endeavor is setting up a series of Yurts in their parking lot and serving a $145 tasting menu of their usually outstanding food. Of course, you won't get the usual views from their dining room but you will get a memorable night out at what is arguably Seattle's best restaurant. 

Find a Sound Garden and The Black (Hole) Sun

Sand Point/Capitol Hill
Free
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.

Eat a “life-changing” burger at Dick's

Various locations
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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. 

 

hot dog
Bradley Foster/Thrillist

Eat a classic Seattle dog

Various locations 
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People are always a little horrified when you first suggest it -- “you want to put WHAT on a hot dog?!?” -- but once they try the admittedly strange combination of grilled onions and cream cheese on a lightly toasted bun, they understand why, for the last 20 years, the Seattle dog has  been a mainstay at street food vendors across the city. 
 

Go skiing

Various Locations
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So the number one reason people move to Seattle, instead of just visit, is... well, tech jobs. But they also really like the outdoors, and skiing/snowboarding are basically the best ways to experience it this winter. At the very least you're guaranteed to see some snow, which isn't always the case down here at sea level. Not sure how to get started? Check out our round up the area's ten best ski spots

Pike Place Market

Downtown
$$
It's the best farmers market in the country. Period. So heading there for some holiday 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.
 

Stream the best Nutcracker performance outside NYC

Starting December 18
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We still miss the iconic Maurice Sendak-designed sets used by the PNB for 32 years, but their performance of the George Balanchine classic version (with sets/costumes by the guy behind beloved children's book, Olivia the Pig) offers all the holiday magic you need to make a cozy night at home with a date—or an evening with the family—special.
 

Watch the sunset at Kerry Park

Queen Anne
Free
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. 

Brave the elements at a rooftop bar

Various locations
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People in Seattle seem to think roofs are only there to keep the rain off them. But there are several establishments in this city willing to provide a sanitized, socially distanced place to drink with views of the city, which along with the current emphasis on al fresco dining, makes them the perfect place to go even in less than ideal weather. Some of our favorites include downtown destinations the Fog Room and Mbar, or the quirkier Rooftop Brewing in Queen Anne
 

Get some of the city's best cocktails at home

Various Locations
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One of the underappreciated benefits of Washington's COVID-inspired shut downs is that the state now allows restaurants and bars to include booze in takeout orders. Some of our favorites include Capitol HIll's Bar Cotto, where you can take home Old Fashioneds and Negronis, the sort-of speakeasy Knee High Stocking Club, which has some creative offerings like a spice rum based "Kool-Aid", and some not very wintery Margarita's from Portage Bay's Aqua Verde.

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