If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, you’re going to want to put together a specific Seattle packing list. The weather in this beautiful state can change quickly, so being prepared for what to pack for Seattle is important!
I might be a native Texan, but now that I’ve lived in northwest Washington for over 20 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about what you’ll need when you visit this area. I’m here to share it with you to help you have your best vacation yet!
Having a basic idea of how to dress in Seattle and knowing current Seattle fashion trends is a great start for knowing what you should pack. Also knowing what to wear for different seasons in Seattle is helpful. We definitely have four seasons here.
Spend a few minutes checking off your Seattle packing list so you won’t forget anything important, plus you’ll be up to date with Seattle style 2021.
These are the kinds of things that can make a big difference in comfort level and peace of mind when planning a trip to Washington state.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What to wear in Seattle
What should women wear in Seattle any time of year
Just gonna be honest here and say if you walk around with that cute little umbrella, you might as well slap a TOURIST label on your back. For whatever reason, Washingtonians just don’t do umbrellas.
I know, I bummed, too. I even bought a super cute, folds-up-really-cool umbrella in China thinking I would actually use it. Sigh. We just don’t.
Instead, get yourself a rain jacket and just pull the hood up when you’re out in the rain. Not only will you look more like a local, you’ll have a new versatile piece of outerwear for your fall and winter wardrobe.
Although North Face is a popular brand, there are plenty of others to choose from. Here are some great options that come in various colors.
Believe it or not, it’s not always raining in Seattle. Even when it isn’t, mornings and evenings are often cool enough you’ll want an easy-to-pack, light weight sweater for your trip. Your best option for choosing what clothes to wear in Seattle is to choose a sweater you can easily fold up and carry in a day pack.
Seattleites are big on comfy scarves and there are so many uses for them. Not only do they take your outfit up a notch, even in summer time they’re perfect for cool evenings when you’re out sight seeing. One of my favorite travel tips is to use a scarf as a travel pillow on the plane or even get a travel scarf to keep a few small things in.
The cool thing about the Seattle dress code is there’s no one set way everyone dresses. Jeans are a staple for a Seattle wardrobe, though and good thing since they can be worn so many ways!
As you’ll see if you visit someplace like Pike Place Market, whether you prefer grunge, hipster or something you can’t even name, you do you, girl. It’s all good.
Be sure to add a pair of leggings to your Seattle packing list. Wear them with your lightweight sweater or pair them with a long t-shirt. If you’re going hiking in the winter or playing in the snow on Mt. Baker, wear these under your layers to stay toasty warm all day long.
Even if you only use them as lounge wear, they take up little space and you’ll be super comfy wherever you go.
You’ll want to pack two or three t-shirts to be the base of your layering strategy. Again, there really are no rules when it comes to any certain kind of t-shirt.
Choose a basic crew neck, a Henley or even a fun graphic tee. Layer with your sweater, vest and scarf as needed and you’re all set!
Oh, how I love a good, comfy vest! I like down vests best, but fleece and quilted are great, too. They have become a serious staple in my wardrobe here in Washington and for good reason.
They are also perfect for layering! In the warmer, but still chilly months, wear them over a long sleeved t-shirt. In the winter, layer them over a cute hoodie for extra warmth and you’re good to go. When you’re planning how to pack for Seattle in fall, winter or spring, make sure you include a comfy vest.
What should men wear in Seattle
Men, if jeans and t-shirts are your thing, you’re going to love this list of what to pack for Seattle vacation. Pacific Northwest men’s fashion includes getting comfy and that’s pretty much the #1 priority around here.
Now listen, if for some reason the bottom literally falls out of the sky and it’s pouring buckets of rain, feel free to use an umbrella. That doesn’t happen often in Seattle, though.
If you’re used to using an umbrella where you come from, you will have to give up your man-card to use it here. Just so you know.
Instead, plan to bring a cool looking rain jacket, pull up the hood and you’ll be fine. I promise! No spring Seattle packing list would be complete without one.
Your Seattle packing list wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t include a sweater or cardigan. In the cooler months, you can layer underneath and wear it all day if needed. Even in the warmer months in Seattle, the mornings and evenings can be pretty chilly. Pack a sweater and you’ll be prepared no matter what with your best outfit for fall in Seattle.
Plaid Shirt or Jacket
If you come to Seattle and don’t wear plaid, you need to reconsider your life’s goals. Maybe not so much in the summer months, but if you’re wondering what to wear in Seattle in fall or winter, it’s plaid. Plaid is the answer.
You can go with a soft hoodie, a solid corduroy with a plaid lining or a flannel shirt. If it’s got plaid on it, you’re pretty much good to go! That’s the best outfit for fall in Seattle.
If it seems like outwear is a big deal here, it kind of is. Since the base of a good Seattle wardrobe is generally jeans and t-shirts, knowing how to layer with vests, sweaters and jackets is important!
A good, comfy vest is the perfect choice for outings such as hikes or beach walks where you really don’t know what the weather will be when you get there. Choose one that rolls up tightly so you can carry it in your daypack when not needed. It won’t be as bulky as a jacket or sweater, but will still keep you warm when you use it to layer with.
You really only need to pack a couple of pairs of jeans for your Seattle vacation. A good rule of thumb is one pair for every three days, so 2-3 pair should get you through up to a week..
Plan to bring your trusty favorites to wear when you want to be most comfortable. Have a trendy pair for when you’re going out and want to be a little more fashionable. Lastly, pack a dressier pair for when your agenda calls for it.
You’d be surprised how often jeans get subbed for casual dress pants in Seattle!
Wondering what to pack for Seattle in May? Jeans. How about what to pack for Seattle in November? Jeans. Moving to Seattle what to wear on your mind? Jeans.
The good thing about planning what to pack for Seattle is that it’s really pretty easy. Jeans, t-shirts and outerwear to layer with it. Ta-da!
That doesn’t mean you have to wear basic Fruit-of-the-Loom tees, though. (Although, you can if you want!) While comfort is king, feel free to pack your favorite graphic t-shirt. Henley’s are also popular and don’t forget to bring at least one long sleeved shirt for layering.
What to wear in Seattle in winter: November, December, January, February
These are the rainy (aka dreary) winter months in Seattle. Sure there may be some sun popping through every now and then, but if you visit Seattle during the winter months and catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier, count your blessings!
Your wardrobe doesn’t have to be dreary, though. Plan to dress in layers, using your accessories to add a little pop. Seattleites aren’t as flashy or flamboyant as our friends down south, but feel free to add your own flare…with a bit of northwest restraint, of course.
What to wear in Seattle in summer: June, July, August, September
If you visit Seattle in the summer, first of all, you’re going to love it! The first part of June can still be rainy, but the rest of the summer is all out gorgeous. The Seattle summer fashion can be a bit more colorful than in the winter, but you’ll still want to bring a light jacket for mornings and evenings. You can keep it casual when planning what to wear in Seattle in the summer months.
What shoes to wear in Seattle
Chances are good no matter what your agenda is, you’re going to do a good bit of walking while touring Seattle. Having a comfy pair of walking shoes to get you through your main sightseeing activities is a must!
Also, if you’re staying downtown and plan to walk much, you should know it’s actually quite hilly there. Good walking shoes truly are a must so add them to your list of what to wear on vacation to Seattle!
A stylish pair of boots is essential for your Seattle must haves. Even though jeans and t-shirts are the base of the wardrobe, Seattleites wear boots at least half the year. The good thing is the style is up to you, so you’ll be able to wear pretty much any kind you like.
If ever a city was a shoe personified, it’s Seattle with the Chacos. If you’re visiting Seattle in the summertime and want to dress like a local, this is the shoe for you.
You don’t actually have to get the Chaco brand, although many people swear by them. The good news is they’ll do double duty as a comfy walking shoe for most of your excursions. Weather permitting, of course.
Best accessories for traveling to Seattle
If you’re going to do any amount of traveling, I highly recommend getting a good crossbody purse. For one thing, it will it keep your hands free and your purse on you at all times.
Another reason I love traveling with a small purse is the ability to put it inside my backpack when boarding a plane. Most airlines allow one carryon suitcase and one personal item, such as a purse or a backpack. If I didn’t check my suitcase, I simply tuck my purse in my backpack and I’m down to two. Voila!
I know crime can happen anywhere, but anytime you’re away from home you’re probably going to be carrying more cash than normal. The last thing you want is to have your purse or wallet with your credit cards, id, hotel room keys, possibly your passport, etc stolen.
Put your most important and valuable items in a neck wallet and wear it tucked inside your shirt. You’ll drastically cut down on having them stolen while you’re out touring Seattle.
If there’s one thing I tend to forget and then kick myself for it, it’s this! It’s especially useful on days when we got up super early to see a sunrise or catch a plane. (Like this epic adventure watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon!)
My iphone has a decent battery, but taking tons of pictures and videos usually drains it before I can get back to charge it again.
This is super handy since I can keep it tucked in my purse and still use my phone while it’s charging. It’s also worth its weight in gold when Bella’s kindle dies on a several hour flight. Just plug that baby in and she’s back in business. Whew!
Sunglasses in Seattle? If you’re coming anytime between April and October, definitely bring them. You’ll most likely need them all or part of each day if you’re outside. The rest of the year, not so much.
Best rain gear for Washington state
Waterproof phone case
Depending on your itinerary, you may want to consider having this added protection for your phone. Whale watching trips, playing in the pool at the hotel, a day trip to the beach…these are all times when you’re going to want to have your phone available to take pictures without stressing over getting it wet.
I take one with me on every vacation now and am surprised how often I use it.
If your vacation to Seattle is anytime between November and April, this is a great time to invest in a cute, but practical pair of rain boots. The good thing is, they can be worn with most Seattle outfits pretty much all day long.
I know I stated pretty clearly that Washingtonians just don’t use umbrellas. I do remember visiting a dear friend in Alabama who popped open her umbrella to escort us from her car to the front door a few feet away, in the MIST. Not rain. Mist.
Here’s where I say, you do you. If using a travel umbrella instead of a rain jacket makes you more comfortable, then by all means, bring it. You may tag yourself as a tourist, but you know what? Who cares? It’s all good.
What to wear hiking for your Seattle packing list
If you haven’t yet invested in a day pack, now would be a great time to do that. There are so many beautiful hikes in and near the Seattle area you could easily fill your days out exploring what Washington has to offer. (Definitely check out Olympic National Park!) Having a good day pack to carry your necessities in will make your excursions so much better.
Hiking shoes or hiking boots
Washington has some absolutely amazing hiking opportunities and many are an easy day trip from Seattle. If you’re doing more than just a leisurely hike though, consider investing in a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots in Seattle. You’ll not only appreciate having good footwear, but also not ruining your every day shoes while you’re out enjoying nature.
Wools socks are a go-to choice for novice and series hikers alike. For starters, they regulate the temperature of your feet and who likes wet or sweaty feet? They also provide a nice cushion which is important, especially if you’ll be hiking more than you’re used to walking.
Pick a fun pair of fashion wool socks and wear them with your stylish boots for double duty during the rest of the week!
Hiking Pants or Shorts
Comfortable, quick-dying and easy to move it. These are the qualities to look for in good hiking pants or shorts. They should also be durable and breathable. You may be tempted to wear your comfy yoga pants, but if your hike includes any climbing or areas with brambles, yoga pants can easily get shredded.
Of all the things I’ve listed here, this may be the last thing you expected to see on a suggested packing list for Seattle! If you’re coming in the summer time, temperatures are warm enough you’ll definitely need it. Throughout the rest of the year, you never know when the sun is going to make an appearance. Pack a travel size bottle of sunscreen with you so you’ll always be prepared.
Travel accessories for your Seattle packing list
By now you’ve surely heard some packing tips about using packing cubes. I was not a fan of them at first and dipped my toes in super slowly. I tried my own version of using gallon sized ziplock bags at first (that didn’t work) among other ideas.
Now that I’ve finally got the hang of how to really use them, I don’t see ever going back to not using them! They seriously do make a difference in not only how much space you can save, but how organized you can stay. They are worth it just for that!
Tip: Don’t go too cheap on these or you’ll end up with zippers that easily break. (Speaking from experience.) This is the exact set I’ve been using for over a year now with no broken zippers!
Since this isn’t a tangible item you can add to your packing list, you may not have thought of it. However, I highly recommend having a VPN whenever you are traveling, domestic or internationally.
A virtual private network (VPN) will keep all your private info in your phone safe from hackers who can steal your passwords, credit card numbers and other personal info. Get a monthly plan and cancel as soon as you’re home so you can rest assured your info is secure.
Reusable Shopping Bag
Many cities in the Seattle area now charge for shopping bags and they are almost all paper instead of plastic. These reusable bags fold up so small and are easy to tuck in your purse, day bag, rental car or anywhere else you may need them!
You can also use them to pack dirty shoes in on the way home. Just wash them when you’re done and they’re ready to go again!
Reusable Water Bottle
Having a reusable water bottle is great for traveling just about anywhere, including Seattle. Carry an empty one with you until you get through security at the airport and then fill it before you get on the plane. Once it’s empty, simply tuck it back in your bag again.
You’ll also want your own water bottle when you’re out hiking and exploring or even just touring the city. Fill it at your hotel and you’ll be all set to go. Plus, you’ll save so much money not having to buy disposable water bottles on your vacation!
Seattle Guide Book
I’m a girl who likes to do a ton of research before I travel to a new place. Sometimes though, it’s just so handy to have a guide book with all the pertinent info right at my fingertips. This little book will come in quite handy as you’re out exploring!
It’s especially useful if you didn’t get time to do as much research as you’d like. (I once read an entire guidebook on my way to Paris and another on the flight to Disneyland!) This will give you a good idea of what Seattle has to offer no matter how much research you did beforehand.
Now that you’ve got your packing list figured out, here’s more helpful info to help you plan your next trip to Seattle.
Seattle, Washington weather
What is typical Seattle weather in June and July
Summer is a terrific time to visit Seattle! The weather in the first half of June can still be rainy, but with an average high of 63°F and only six days of rain, it’s still a great time to visit.
The weather in Seattle in July is about as perfect as it gets. With the high averaging 72°F and only three days of rain, you’ll likely see nothing but blue skies and sunshine while you’re here! If you’re visiting Seattle in August, expect more of the same beautiful weather.
What is typical Seattle weather in September, October
This is a beautiful time of year to visit Seattle with the weather in September averaging between 69 and 73°F and October averaging between 59 and 62°F.
September also averages 1.3″ of rain for the month, while October sees 3.4″ on average, most of it coming in the second half of the month.
What is typical Seattle weather in April, May
April has pretty moderate weather with temperatures averaging 58 and 62°F. May starts warming up a bit with temps averaging 63 and 68°F.
They say April showers bring May flowers, but you won’t see much difference between the average rainfall of 2.8″ the first month and 2″ the second month. Seattle weather in May is still pretty rainy, but most of it comes as a drizzle and not a quick, heavy rain.
Is the weather in Seattle really grey and rainy every day
No, in fact it only rains an average of 150 days a year! It doesn’t have to rain to be cloudy, though. Admittedly, the Emerald City definitely has its share of grey days, but at least they aren’t all rainy.
Where to stay in Seattle
For those wanting to stay right in the heart of Seattle, you’ll have a number of hotels to choose from. The Staypineapple has great reviews for families and is definitely worth considering.Staypineapple, The Maxwell Hotel, Seattle Center Seattle
If price is your top priority, here are some options for budget friendly hotels in Seattle: Travelodge by Wyndham or the Ace Hotel. (Tip: If you are able to stay further out from town, you’ll get better value for the money.)
Things to do in Seattle
Before you head to Seattle, but sure to read my article on what there is to do in Seattle. No matter how many days you’re staying, it will help you figure out what to put at the top of your agenda.
You may not have even thought of some of the places and activities listed, so use it as your own personal Seattle travel guide!
Best time to visit Seattle
If you don’t mind coming during high tourist time, July and August are your best bets for beautiful, sunny days. Once kids are back in school, September and October are also great choices since it’s still sunny with relatively little rain.
Really though, it completely depends on your reason for visiting. If you’re here to see the beautiful tulip fields, you’ll need to come in April. Planning a ski trip? Obviously you’ll be here during the winter so why not tie in a visit to Leavenworth for the Christmas Lighting Festival? Don’t forget we have three national parks in Washington and summer is the perfect time to visit any of them.
There’s so much to do when you visit the Pacific Northwest that you’ll want to plan your agenda ahead of time. Using well planned out packing lists for your trip to Seattle can make a difference in how comfortable and prepared you are for all your outings.
What to pack when traveling to Seattle (bullet list)
- Rain Jacket
- Light Sweater
- Comfy Vest
- Plaid Shirt or Jacket
- Hiking Pants
- Wool Socks
- Chacos and/or Good Walking Shoes
- Crossbody Purse
Read next: How to spend a weekend in Seattle
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