Buffered from severe hot and cold weather by the Cascades, the Olympics, Puget Sound, and Lake Washington, Seattle’s climate is decidedly mild most of the time—winters in the 40s, summers in the mid-70s, with the occasional heat wave (a record of 103) or snowstorm (20 inches, way back in 1950).
The rain is a bit of a sore spot for Seattleites. Locals defensively love to point out that it receives less annual rainfall than New York, Atlanta, and Houston. The difference? Here, between October and May, overcast skies and drizzle are a near-daily affair. Seattle sees only about 70 clear and sunny days annually, and some sort of precipitation fizzles down an average of 150 days a year. But the weather is largely gentle—no thunderstorms, no blizzards, and little humidity.
Each season provides a home to a top-notch festival or gathering. The biggest summer event, Seafair, centers around hydroplane races on Lake Washington, and everyone with a boat is out on the water. Northwest Folklife (Memorial Day weekend) and Bumbershoot (around Labor Day) are the top eclectic music fests. Summer also brings the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s month-long series (July–August) to the city. In July, you can also hit the Capitol Hill Block Party (uber-hip indie bands), the Bite of Seattle (restaurants to nosh), and even the World’s Quickest Theater Festival. Autumn brings celebrations of local food and farms—pumpkins, salmon, corn, apple cider, wine. And when the rain rolls in, hit the Seattle International Film Festival (May), the largest in the country with 400-plus films in 25 days.