Which Seattle Summer Activities Are Essential?

Judging which Seattle activities are actually worth your time during the sunny season.

While Seattle summers are magnificent, they’re also fleeting. There’s a ton to do, but what’s really essential? We’ve graded some of the city’s go-to activities (on a scale from 1 to 10) to help you maximize your time.

Fremont Solstice Parade

June 16 in Fremont

If Seattle were interested in encroaching on Austin and Portland’s “keep our city weird” territory (p.s., we’re not), the naked bike riders of the Fremont Solstice Parade would champion the cause. Go fourth and pedal, ye weirdos! Essentialness: 7

Seattle Sounders

Thru Oct 28 at CenturyLink Field

The atmosphere for games at CenturyLink is still electric, and any other year this would receive a much higher score. But this year’s team? Yuck. Essentialness: 3


June 23 on Capitol Hill | June 24 at Seattle Center

There’s never a dour moment as the LGBTQ community celebrates its local culture through arts, music, vendors, and food. Essentialness: 8

Spending Time on the Beach

Nobody thinks of Seattle as a beach town, but the sandy stretches along the Puget Sound—including Alki Beach, Discovery Park, and Golden Gardens—make for prime summer-day getaways. Essentialness: 9

Seafair Summer Fourth

July 4 at Gas Works Park

Actually getting to Gas Works Park to watch the Fourth of July fireworks can be a pain, but the actual spectacle always delivers. Just watch from somewhere else around Lake Union. Essentialness: 8

Wooden O

July 12–Aug 12

Seattle Shakespeare Company’s summer performances offer a delightful treat in the theatrical doldrums of the outdoor season. This year the company invades various area parks with King Lear and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Essentialness: 7

Ballard SeafoodFest

July 13–15 in Ballard

What good is living by the ocean if you don’t occasionally stuff your belly with seafood? Ballard SeafoodFest offers plenty of fish and crabs, plus local crafts and an always-solid live music lineup. Essentialness: 8

Bite of Seattle

July 20–22 at Seattle Center

With over 60 restaurants and vendors, it’s easy to pig out at the Seattle Center food bash. If anything, the amount of choices can make things a bit overwhelming. Essentialness: 4

Capitol Hill Block Party

July 20–22 on Pike Street

Sure, it’s always a congested mass of humanity and loud noises, but it truly feels like a music fest with an urban identity. Essentialness: 7

Ferry to Islands

Seattleites are lucky to have the ability to hop on a ferry and explore the bevy of natural wonders and small-town communities of our surrounding isles. Hop on one and explore our slice of the Pacific Northwest sometime (now with bonus Oprah on Orcas Island!). Essentialness: 8

Seafair Weekend

Aug 3–5 at Genesee Park

The annual celebration of … wait, what does Seafair actually celebrate? Just summer in Seattle in general terms? Who knows? But they have hydroplane races! Then again, you can catch digital hydroplane races on the scoreboard at a Mariners game, and those are honestly easier to follow and cheer on. Essentialness: 3

The Blue Angels

Aug 3–5 in the sky

The annual Blue Angels Seafair visit is cool for about two seconds. After that, it’s all sonic boom-creating annoyance and pet terrors for the rest of the weekend. Essentialness: -4

Hanging at the Waterfront

While riding the Seattle Great Wheel isn’t worth the cost, exploring the rest of the Waterfront on a sunny day can blissfully pass the hours. Essentialness: 5


Aug 17–19 at Myrtle Edwards Park

Not to harsh anyone’s buzz, but the celebration of all things cannabis just feels much less vital in an era of legalized weed. Essentialness: 1


Aug 31–Sept 2 at Seattle Center

While spending Labor Day weekend at Bumbershoot still feels quintessentially Seattle, the fest’s community feel has dwindled since AEG took over production in 2015. It’s still fun, but with less character. Essentialness: 6

PAX West

Aug 31–Sept 3 at Washington State Convention Center

The annual gamer convention can be a blast with its nerdy community vibe. That said, it’s basically hanging out inside and waiting in lines for hours to demo video games that will be released in the next few months. Essentialness: 2

Watching the Sunset at Kerry Park

There’s no more scenic view of the city… but the sunset view is actually better at nearby Marshall Park. Essentialness: 6