Gay Vacations in Seattle, Washington

Dusk over the marina and business district in downtown Seattle, Washington
Seattle's marina and business district at dusk (Justin Lightley/Photographer's Choice/Getty)

Seattle Highlights

  • Hop on a boat. Many straight and gay cruises use Seattle as a jumping-off point for Alaska-bound voyages. Seattle also has a number of commuter ferries that can take you around Puget Sound.
  • Consider a ski trip in winter. Seattle is all about the surrounding mountains, and the nearby ski areas of Snoqualmie Pass, Stephens Pass, and Crystal Mountain draw regional snowboarders and skiers.
  • Plan early for summer. Hotels can be sold out from June through September, when weather is generally good. If you plan to visit during the city's annual Seafair summer festival in late July and early August, reservations are mandatory. But hotel rates here are much better between October and March, when over 75 percent of Seattle's annual rainfall occurs.

First of all, don’t worry: Seattle only has an average of 36 inches of rainfall a year—less than New York, Chicago, or Miami. Yes, it can be drizzly, but in the summertime you’ll find a sunny, robust, proud city that relishes its rich outdoors and liberal politics. Its residents are well-educated and forward-thinking—Microsoft and Starbucks are both headquartered in the area. The Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges are visible from the city, including Mount Rainier, a 14,410-foot-tall dormant volcano that looms large on the horizon. A trip to the top of the iconic Space Needle showcases Seattle’s wondrous views of the mountains and Puget Sound.

At the bottom of the Space Needle is the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project museum and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. There’s the famous Pike Place Market, originally a farmers market, founded in 1907 and now full of produce, fish, and arts and crafts. Seattle is a city of neighborhoods: Check out Belltown north of downtown, full of antique shops, galleries, and live music venues. Just northeast of downtown is the gay epicenter of Capitol Hill, with myriad bars near Pine and Pike streets and Broadway Market, a queer indoor mall with scores of shops and eateries. There’s even gay sunbathing at Madison Beach on the shores of nearby Lake Washington.

Seattle is said to have the second-highest percentage of LGBT residents among large U.S. cities, right after San Francisco, and domestic partnerships for city dwellers were voted into law in 2007. Seattle Pride in June is one of the city’s largest annual events, and there’s also an African-American pride celebration in late July. Seattle has a huge lesbian presence, with hundreds of women flocking to the slick Girl 4 Girl parties held monthly at venues around town. There’s also the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in October, and the quirky, gay version of Syttende Mai, a celebration of the Norwegian constitution day and one of the biggest Norwegian parades outside of Oslo, held annually on May 17.

Published: 17 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 8 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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