Seattle Travel Guide


Seattle was founded on the rough, physical industries of fishing, logging and coal mining, with San Francisco as her primary customer. Boeing, founded in 1916, grew to be Greater Seattle's primary industry as natural resources were depleted. The region's strong economic dependence on Boeing gave the oil recession and cancellation of the SST (Supersonic Transport) in the early '70s a grim effect. Over the last twenty-five years, the area has become less seedy and more developed with the massive influx of Microsoft money (and other software and biotech proceeds), but Pioneer Square is still the original Skid Row. (Yesler Way was a "Skid Road" for logs skidded downhill using dogfish oil to Henry Yesler's lumber mill).

Seattle is also substantially influenced by the presence of the University of Washington (the largest single campus in the state and recipient of over $1 billion in research grants annually), as well as multiple smaller colleges and universities. Seattle is also the center for financial, public health, and justice systems in the northwestern part of the U.S.


The weather can be rainy (but is usually just drizzly) on any given day. It can also be sunny and pleasant in January. Mid-June through early September is often sunny. The record high is 103°F (39°C); the record low is 0°F (-18°C). The warmest months are July and August, with average highs in the high 70s (about 25°C), though often having days in the 80s and even 90s (32°C). The coldest month is January, with average lows in the mid-upper 30s (about 3°C), although occasionally can get cold, especially when it is not cloudy. The dark, short, and overcast winter days can be unpleasant and depressing to some, although the bright side is that they are not as cold as the latitude (47.6 degrees North) might lead you to think. The summer, however, is very pleasant. Temperatures are very mild, and most locals do not have air-conditioning in their homes, though all hotels will, and it is advisable to have it for a car if you are there in the summer. The days are also very long, and sunset (let alone twilight) is after 9PM for weeks. Also, the vast majority of days in the summer have no rain, and despite its reputation, many people's lawns go brown in the summer if they do not water. The main challenge of Seattle's weather is more the overcast skies than the rain. One interesting fact is that Seattle has less annual rainfall than New York City; however, the rain is spread out over a larger number of days, so while NYC gets heavier downpours, Seattle's rain usually comes in a drizzle, which only occasionally strengthens to a full-blown torrent. Despite this, if you come in the summer, you should see plenty of sunny weather. The month of December tends to be extremely wet, although due to the fact that Seattle weather is unpredictable, it can still be sunny and mild.

A rule of thumb sums up Seattle's month-by-month weather as such. January starts the year off with a relief from December's torrential rains, but just as quickly subjects the city to what is, for the area, an intense chill. Temperatures can fall below 30°F and snow may fall on several occasions. As Seattle's infrastructure is not built around this, even a moderate freeze creates major problems. In February, the weather is still cold and easily prone to snow, but often is sunny with entire weeks of sunshine. This is only a tease, though, as March is windy and unpleasant. April is when spring makes itself apparent, with schizophrenic weather which will see rain, then sunshine, then hail, then more sunshine, all in one afternoon. May is almost always the best non-summer month, as rain is rare and sun is in ample supply. Temperatures can hit 80 or more. But then June hits and the weather becomes cloudy and rainy once more, though fortunately it's a warmer rain and there is still good weather occasionally. An often said phrase in Western Washington is that summer does not start until the Fourth of July. July through September, however, are what make Seattle a bearable place to live, as rain almost never falls, and temperatures hover around 70 to 80 the whole way through. Toward the end of September, the weather cools, and by early October, it is once again very unpleasant with frequent cold rain and cloudy skies. November and December just get worse, and add possible snow to the mix. Then the cycle begins again, and with the passing of Christmas, the anticipation of increasingly longer days is tempered by the inexorable advent of freezing weather and black ice.

Tourist information

The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau operates two visitors centers:

Seattle Visitors Center and Concierge Services7th and PikeHours: Daily 9AM-5PM during summer, M-F 9AM-5PM during winter
Market Information Center1st and PikeHours: Daily 10AM-6PMServices are more limited than the main location at 7th and Pike.

source: Wikivoyage

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