Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do on the first sunny day of spring in Seattle. You could go for a walk, place an online order for sunscreen, or search for the sunglasses that you haven’t seen since last summer. Those are all acceptable sunny day activities in Seattle, but if you really want to take advantage of clear skies and warm temperatures then you need this guide. We rounded up all the best outdoor activities, waterfront restaurants, rooftop bars, and free things to do on a sunny day in Seattle.
Here are the top 30 things to do on a sunny day in Seattle:
1. Take the water taxi for brunch at Marination Ma Kai
Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle is a popular Hawaiian-Korean restaurant with an incredible view of the Seattle skyline from their sunny patio. If you’re coming from downtown Seattle, it’s fun to take the water taxi over there on a sunny day.
2. Bike the Burke-Gilman trail
The Burke-Gilman Trail is nearly 20 miles of paved pathway that takes you from Golden Gardens in Ballard past Fremont, Gas Works Park, the U District, and finally all the way to Bothell. If you’re too tired to cycle back, you can hop on a bus to return to Ballard.
3. Have a picnic in Volunteer Park
Here’s your itinerary for a sunny day in Capitol Hill: Get coffee (or wine) and some delicious treats from Volunteer Park Cafe, enjoy it all on a blanket in Volunteer Park, and check out the epic view from the top of the water tower before you head home.
If you get tired of being out in the sun, you can step inside the Volunteer Park Conservatory or the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The latter has free admission on the last Friday of every month.
Also, in the summer months you can catch a free performance of Shakespeare in the park!
4. Take your dog to a Mariners game
Don’t leave your furry friend out of the fun! When it’s sunny out in Seattle, there’s nothing like taking your dog with you to catch a Mariners game. Upcoming Bark at the Park dates for 2023 are May 25, July 17, August 9, and September 11.
5. Have brunch with a view at Smith Tower
Smith Tower now offers weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays! If you happen to be brunching on their 35th floor on a sunny day, you’ll be treated to an incredible 360-degree view of Seattle, including sparkling Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountain range.
6. Take the ferry to Vashon Island for a day trip
Seattle is surrounded by charming islands that make for easy getaways, from Bainbridge to Whidbey. One of our favorites is Vashon, which has plenty of outdoor activities such as wineries and scenic hikes for you to enjoy on a sunny day. Check out our guide to visiting Vashon Island.
7. Rent a wooden boat for free on Lake Union
There are lots of options around Lake Union for renting kayaks, paddle boards, and even hot tub boats. If you’re on a budget, however, we recommend taking advantage of the free one-hour rowboat rental at The Center for Wooden Boats.
8. Grab a bite at Olympic Sculpture Park
Located along the downtown Seattle waterfront, Olympic Sculpture Park is open daily and free to visit. It’s a great place to relax, have a picnic, do some yoga, or even enjoy a meal. MARKET at the Park will open Memorial Day Weekend for their 2023 summer season, serving up loaded lobster rolls, fruit slushies, coffee, gelato, and more.
9. Shop and eat at University Village
There’s nothing like wandering in and out of the many shops at University Village on a sunny day. Even if you don’t have anything you need to buy, you can still treat yourself to Rachel’s Ginger Beer with soft serve or Hello Robin’s cookie ice cream sandwiches made with Molly Moon ice cream.
Note: parking can be hectic there on a sunny day (especially on the weekends) so you may want to take public transportation.
10. Grab Frelard Tamales for a Green Lake picnic
Frelard Tamales may make the best tamales in all of Seattle, and their Green Lake location is so convenient for a sunny-day picnic. When you’re done eating and people watching, you can stretch your legs with a stroll around the lake’s 3-mile path. Green Lake is also a great place to go kayaking or paddle boarding on a sunny day!
11. Go brewery-hopping in Ballard
Why would you close yourself up in a dark bar when it’s sunny out in Seattle? Instead, have your friends join you in Ballard for the finest brewery hopping Seattle has to offer. See a full list of Ballard’s breweries on the Visit Ballard website. Almost all of them have outdoor seating, and many have food trucks parked outside.
12. Enjoy a waterfront meal of local oysters
There’s nothing like treating yourself to fresh, local oysters on a sunny afternoon. Our suggestions for Seattle restaurants that have oysters and waterfront seating are Elliott’s Oyster House on the downtown waterfront, Westward in Wallingford, The White Swan Public House in Eastlake, and Ray’s Cafe in Ballard.
13. Embark on a nearby waterfall hike
Although there’s plenty of scenic city parks that will make you forget you’re in Seattle, sometimes it’s nice to go deeper into nature. Plan ahead for your next sunny day off with our guide to stunning waterfall hikes near Seattle.
14. Get splashed by the fountain at Seattle Center
The International Fountain is popular amongst kids of all ages in Seattle on hot days, but the young at heart can run through it too. And if you actually do have kids with you, Seattle Center is also home to the best playground in Seattle.
15. Dine at Harry’s Beach House after a day on Alki Beach
We love spending a sunny day at the sandy Alki Beach in West Seattle. The water of Puget Sound remains cold year-round but there’s plenty of fun in the sun to be had with volleyball, paddle boarding, and sunbathing.
When you get hungry, there’s plenty of amazing restaurants nearby. Our favorite is Harry’s Beach House for fresh seafood, craft cocktails, and great vibes.
16. Join a free event on the Seattle waterfront
Take yourself over to Pier 62 on the Seattle waterfront on the next sunny day and you may be surprised by all the free events available, from Zumba classes to live music. See upcoming events on the Waterfront Park website.
17. Eat Molly Moon ice cream at Kerry Park
Kerry Park has one of the best views in Seattle. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Mount Rainier and the Olympics. Best of all, it’s within walking distance of Molly Moon ice cream!
18. Visit Seattle’s rose garden for free
The Woodland Park Rose Garden is located right next to the Woodland Park Zoo in Phinney Ridge. It’s free to visit and is open daily, so if you’re nearby on a sunny day make time to stop and smell the roses.
19. Play volleyball on the beach at Golden Gardens
Golden Gardens in Ballard is the only sandy beach in Seattle other than Alki. Be warned that the water in Puget Sound is frigid year-round, but luckily beach fires are allowed here so you can warm up and toast s’mores after watching the sunset.
20. Eat and shop at Seattle’s outdoor markets
Seattle has tons of weekend markets, farmers markets, and flea markets that only become more numerous in the warmer months. We have a roundup of Seattle’s weekend markets that gets updated every week, and you can also check out our guide to Seattle’s farmers markets.
21. Watch the sunset at Gas Works Park
Gas Works Park is the perfect place to have a picnic, fly a kite, and watch the seaplanes on a sunny day. We suggest starting at nearby Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden, then walking over to the park to watch the sunset. And get tacos and margaritas for dinner at Pablo y Pablo!
22. Enjoy a meal on a sunny rooftop patio
One of our favorite places to eat on a sunny day in Seattle is Terra Plata, thanks to their rooftop patio. We love going on Mondays for paella.
23. Take a free yoga class outside
You can usually find at least one free outdoor yoga class in Seattle. Currently there is a free yoga class on May 31st at the University of Washington and a free yoga class happening every Thursday this June at 12th Ave Square Park.
24. Explore one of Washington’s many state parks
Washington is home to over 100 state parks, as well as three stunning national parks. There are three days coming up this June with free admission to state parks (June 10, 11, and 19) so check out our guide to the best Washington state parks and plan an adventure day.
25. Go on a winery-tasting tour
And don’t miss out on the Chateau Ste. Michelle summer concerts this year!
26. Enjoy soft serve on The Flora Bakehouse rooftop patio
The Flora Bakehouse in Beacon Hill has a rooftop patio that is perfect for enjoying iced coffee and pastries on a sunny day. Best of all, they just reintroduced their soft serve for summer 2023. You can eat their soft serve out of a croissant cone!
27. Hike through Discovery Park to the lighthouse
If you want to enjoy a gentle hike without leaving Seattle, head to the city’s largest park: Discovery Park. This 534-acre park includes a scenic view of Puget Sound from Magnolia Bluff, two miles of tidal beaches, expansive meadows, shady forest paths, and the historic West Point Lighthouse. You can head down to the beach to explore tide pools at low tide, or hike to a high viewpoint to watch the sunset.
28. Visit the Woodland Park Zoo
We love the Seattle Aquarium but suggest saving it for a rainy day. A sunny day at the zoo is a crowd-pleaser whether you’re entertaining your kids, planning a fun date, or spending time with out-of-town guests. Get tickets and all the info you need at the Woodland Park Zoo website.
29. Enjoy drinks with a view on Seattle’s best rooftop bars
Seattleites love their rooftop bars. From mbar in South Lake Union to The Mountaineering Club in the U District, rooftop bars in Seattle are packed with revelers on sunny days. See our list of the best rooftop bars in Seattle.
30. Go swimming in Lake Washington
Madrona Beach and Madison Park Beach are two popular options along Lake Washington on sunny days for sunbathers, paddle boarders, and brave swimmers. Although calling these grassy waterfront parks “beaches” may feel like a stretch, Seattleites are just happy to swim in water that’s not quite as cold as Puget Sound.