If you’re not from Seattle originally or are visiting, what to pack for your visit is not always obvious. While the Emerald City has seasons, our seasons aren’t quite as evenly divided as in other places. The weather here likes to keep us on our toes and it’s not unusual to start the day cool and foggy and end it warm and sunny, or vice versa. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to strategize on your packing list a bit—be prepared to dress in layers no matter the season. Even in the middle of winter, Seattle’s weather is mostly temperate and it’s best to be able to remove a layer if the sun pops out.
A special perk of Seattle, and the Northwest in general, is that folks dress casually. Even for nights out on the town, you’ll spot plenty of jeans as well as more formal clothes, but rarely anything as formal as you might see in an East Coast city. This makes packing relatively easy. Unless you’re coming to Seattle for a specific purpose with specific clothes needed, dress for... function rather than fashion. Don’t be afraid to be comfortable. Seattle will accept you.
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What to Pack for Seattle in Cold-Weather Months
January and February are usually Seattle’s coldest months. Daytime temperatures are typically somewhere in the 30s and 40s degrees F, but can dip colder, especially at night. This time of year also brings regular rain and sometimes snow. While snow in Seattle usually isn’t a problem (it's usually just a dusting that melts quickly), if there’s going to be more than a dusting, it tends to be in these months.
It’s a rare November and December in Seattle that doesn’t come paired with plenty of rain. Temperatures drop as well so it’s back to planning for chilly or cold days and cold nights.
- A winter coat that does well in light to heavy rain
- Hoodies are popular due to the ease of popping up a hood when the rain kicks up
- Long sleeve shirts and long pants
- Shoes that can withstand rain (don’t bring or wear tennis shoes with mesh parts of them or your feet will get soaked straight through). Boots are a great choice.
- Either a hat, hood or umbrella
- A scarf—scarves are popular for most of the year as... both functional pieces and often in bright colors or patterns to liven up an outfit
- Warm socks
- A lint-free cloth or glasses cleaner. Misty rain + glasses = glasses that need frequent cleanings
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What to Pack for Seattle in Warm-Weather Months
April and May start to see warmer, sunnier days, but still have plenty of rain mixed in. May temperatures are fairly unpredictable and there may be an 80-degree day followed by a 50-degree day. This time of year, it’s common for days to start off overcast and cool and wind up sunny and warm. You don’t know what you’re going to get in the Seattle spring. Wear layers.
June, July and August bring Seattle’s summer weather, which means residents don short sleeves, shorts and sandals on any sunny day we get. Locals like to say that summer starts on or after July 4—because it usually seems to wait until then. June can still be cool many years. Visitors or newbies to the area may not find the temperatures quite as warm as we do. Even days in the 80s or the rare days in the 90s can have cool evenings. If you’re going out for the entire day, make sure to bring a light sweater.
- Shorts or pants. It’s rarely hot enough that a light pair of pants will be uncomfortable, especially if you pair them with... sandals or open-toe shoes
- For women, capris are a great choice in the summer
- At least a long sleeve shirt or two…just in case
- Short sleeve shirts most days in the spring and summer
- A light sweater
- Shoes can be closed-toe or open-toe, but never assume that Seattle weather will be summery every day.
- If you plan on doing any extended outdoor activities like hiking or going out sailing, bring a light rain jacket