Wait, is [fill in the blank] considered normal in Seattle??
Love it or hate it, Seattle is truly unique. From its quirky residents and offbeat traditions to its diverse climate and wide variety of natural beauty, there is a lot that can surprise you if you’re new to the Emerald City.
From the funny answers to the brutally honest, here are some of our favorite responses:
Did you know it rains a lot in Seattle?
1. One of the most common responses by far: going in the rain without an umbrella. “Rain and no umbrella by choice—a real local move.” As one Seattleite put it, “People would rather be soaking wet than to be caught using an umbrella.” In fact, “Walking in the rain with no umbrella having a conversation with someone getting pelted in the face with mist and rain” is a regular occurrence here.
2. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our ways of staying dry, however: “Always having a raincoat in your car.”
3. The many ways to describe rain: “We have more words that mean water falling from the sky than any other area.” Apparently living in Seattle means “knowing the difference between ‘rain,’ ‘sprinkles,’ ‘showers,’ and ‘drizzly.'”
4. A little rain never stopped Seattleites from living their lives: “Not allowing the weather to affect your outdoor activities.” “Sending little kids out to play in the rain,” “recess in the rain,” “power washing your driveway in the rain,” and “seeing my neighbor cut his grass in the rain” are just a few rainy-day activities that we don’t think twice about.
Weather is everyone’s favorite small talk topic.
5. “Talking about the weather/forecast for small talk.” “Sun coming out will be the only conversation starter!!!” So if you want to get a shy Seattleite to open up, try mentioning the weather!
6. We’re all sun-deprived here. “Discussing your SAD with a stranger.” “Low vitamin D.” “Sun comes out on July 5th. Don’t even fight it before that.” “Getting excited after you see sunlight.” “The sun’s out… Finally!!”
7. The good news is the summer sun has us “seeing daylight at 9pm.” Sometimes we are not prepared for it, though: “Having no clue what air conditioning feels like.” “Sitting in the car in the driveway with the AC on full blast during the HOT day.”
8. The weather can be a little unpredictable: “Turning on heater and AC on the same day.” “Sunglasses and windshield wipers at the same time.” “Hail, snow, and sun all in the same day.” “Wearing winter jackets in May!” “Wearing jackets; heavy or light all year long.” “Layering. Because it can go anywhere from 50 to 80 degrees in a single day.”
9. Snow is a big deal: “A moderate amount of snow feeling like the apocalypse because the hills all turn to ice.” Which leads to: “Sledding down a city street when it snows.”
The extremely casual Seattle sense of style.
10. Nobody dresses up here for anything (except maybe a dinner at Canlis). “Hoodies in a work setting.” “Patagonia as ‘business casual.'” “Wearing Northface as business casual.” “Performance outdoor gear is the default for everything, including most nicer restaurants.”
11. Hiking boots: we own them and we want you to know! “Can’t believe no one has mentioned hiking boots with suits/business clothes.” “Everyone out here downtown or not always has hiking boots on.” “Wearing hiking boots everywhere. Sporting events, bar, work, dog walking…” “Dressing to go hiking in an urban setting.”
12. You’d think we’d be better at dressing for the weather (maybe we just can’t be bothered). “Wearing a T-shirt and shorts in winter. With rainboots.” “Flip-flops in the rain.” “Fleece and flip-flops.” “Guys wearing shorts and sandals during winter.” “Wearing shorts and sunglasses the first time it hits 50 degrees.” “Working out in five inch shorts and a tank top… in the rain.”
13. And, of course, the Seattle uniform: “Parka + shorts + Birks.” “Birkenstocks with socks.” Another Seattleite chimed in, “On the opening night of the ballet or Broadway show.” (See #10… we’ve come full circle.)
Socializing is hard.
14. Turns out the Seattle Freeze isn’t a myth: “Not saying hello to someone when you cross each other on a secluded hike and you haven’t seen anyone for an hour the freeze is real.” “Not looking anyone in the eye on the street.” “Not talking to each other. #RealTalk #SeattleFreeze” “Not acknowledging people around you while waiting in line, etc. The freeze is weird.”
15. And when you finally do make friends, good luck making plans: “Consensus… trying to reach a decision as a group… paralyzing.”
Bags of Dick’s, cream cheese on hot dogs, and other weird Seattle food.
16. We’re sorry to report that this response came up a lot: “Cream cheese on hot dogs!” (As one Seattleite explained to the uninitiated: “A ‘Seattle dog’ is one with cream cheese and grilled onions. A lot of the hot dog stands have literally a caulking gun filled with cream cheese to squeeze it into the bun. It’s pretty good tbh.”)
17. “Sausage gravy on chicken fried steak.” (Sounds better than the cream cheese hot dog!)
18. Dick’s Drive-In is always a fun one to explain to your out-of-town parents: “Saying you are in the mood for some ‘Dick’s.'” “Literally eating a bag of Dick’s.”
19. “Smoked salmon and cream cheese in every backpack or cooler.”
20. “TERIYAKI! Other states don’t have teriyaki joints!”
21. “Fries with tartar sauce.”
The caffeine dependency is unparalleled.
22. Coffee, duh. “The love for coffee.” “Coffee shops everywhere.” “Starbucks within a stone’s throw of another Starbucks.” Even when it gets expensive: “$9 lattes” one Seattleite bemoaned.
23. “Drive-thru espresso.” “Drive-thru coffee kiosks LITERFIGURATIVELY everywhere.”
24. Another awkward bonding moment with your parents: Bikini baristas! “Stopping at a coffee shack with your visiting family but having to double check that it isn’t one of ‘those’ coffee shacks…”
We have some weird traditions…
25. The Underground Tour! “Doing an underground tour of the city and having to make the decision of whether you want your history session to include ghosts or no ghosts.”
26. “Bikini baristas.” It’s a rite of passage to pull up to a drive-through coffee shack only to realize it’s that kind.
27. “Talking about time instead of miles… ( Jane lives an hour away from me instead of Jane lives 35 miles from me).”
28. “Saying thank you to the bus driver.” At least we’re polite!
29. “Fish tossing!” If you’ve been to Pike Place Market, you know. (And remember, it’s not called Pike’s Place Market!)
30. Our athletic traditions: “Starting the Wave at sports events.” “Having a twelfth man at the stadium.”
31. “The annual Solstice naked bike ride!” It’s in Fremont every June, in case you don’t believe us.
32. “The Gum Wall.” “A wall full of gum that people actually make plans to go see.” “Sticking gum on a wall.” Truly a Seattle rite of passage.
33. “The Space Needle.” More of a landmark than a tradition, but needed to be included! Also a tradition: every few years we have to argue over the appropriate color for the Space Needle.
… And also some driving quirks.
34. “Parking in either direction on both sides of the street. Totally normal in Seattle. Would get you a ticket elsewhere.” Also on the topic of parking: “Backing into parking spaces. Usually only reserved for trucks but everyone does it here!”
35. A few people had complaints that they needed to get off their chest about other Seattle drivers: “Driving slower than the speed limit in the left lane.” “Not using turn signals.” “Forgetting how to drive in the rain even though it rains most of the year.” “At four-way stops no one wants to go, they want you to go. So it’s 30 seconds of ‘you go,’ ‘no you go,’ ‘no no you go’ and nobody goes.”
36. “Exiting left off the freeway.”
37. “Having three potholes on every local street you drive on in Capital Hill.”
Yes, we have legal weed.
38. “Legal marijuana.”
39. It’s everywhere: “The amount of weed dispensaries in a given area.”
40. Even when you can’t see it: “Smell weed everywhere you go.”
41. Really, everywhere: “Smoking weed in front of cops.”
We are obsessed with our dogs.
42. “Dogs everywhere.” One local said they “feel like 85% of people have dogs” here.
43. And when we say everywhere, we mean inside public places too: As one Seattleite put it: “I can bring my dog in here, right?! Of course I can.”
The extreme, in-your-face natural beauty.
44. “Getting excited when the mountain is out.” It’s tradition to “tell everyone that ‘the mountain is out today.'” “Our children weren’t old enough for school when we lived there, but we walked every day to see if ‘our’ mountain was out – rain or shine!” (FYI nobody really says Mount Rainier; it’s just “the mountain.”)
45. The wild blackberry bushes. They seem to take over in the summer. Just let them take you as one of their own: “Becoming one with the blackberry bushes.”
47. You’ll smell it and you’ll like it: “Smelling the tide flats.” “Liking the smell of low tide.”
48. The urban gardens: “Everyone owns a garden or is into gardening.” And if you think you don’t have a garden, yes you do. Google the term “P-Patch.” You’re welcome.
49. We have access to a lot of bodies of water: “The urge of owning a boat.”
50. The endless options for recreation: “Go west just a bit and you’re in a heavy trafficked city, go east just a bit and you run into cows!” “Freshwater parks near ocean water parks.” “Skiing access.” “Winter snow and summer beaches both an hour away.” “Beach, mountains, lake, and city all in one place!” Now you just have to get your friend group to agree on which one to enjoy on a sunny summer day.