City Guide / Seattle

The 15 Best Outdoor Activities in Seattle for Adventure Lovers

By Landing | Apr 30, 2024
Man outdoors in Seattle overlooking Space Needle

With a nickname like “The Emerald City,” it’s no wonder there are so many outdoor activities in Seattle. Here are 15 favorites for some fresh air fun.

Seattle lives up to its reputation as Emerald City. The Pacific Northwest metropolis draws locals outside with lush public parks and views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier — and all the rain makes everything greener than you can imagine.

So when Seattlites aren’t cozying up to a book and hot coffee, they explore the region’s abundant natural escapes. With water, mountains, and evergreen forests to choose from, there’s never a shortage of outdoor activities in Seattle to enjoy.

Whether you’re discovering hidden corners in the million-acre Olympic National Park or biking around Discovery Park, here are the best Seattle outdoor activities.

The 15 Best Outdoor Activities in Seattle

Kayaking, mountain biking, and parasailing — oh my! An obvious pro of living in Seattle is an activity for every kind of adventure seeker. Here are the top outdoor things to do in Seattle, organized by land, sea, and air.

Hit the Trails: 5 Best Hiking Adventures in Seattle

Mount Rainier is just as much a part of the Seattle skyline as the Space Needle. And for hiking fanatics, it’s one peak on a long list of trails to explore. Here are five great places to discover on foot:

1. Climb Mount Si

A favorite among local hikers, Mount Si is an eight-mile hike, perfect for a full-day trip. And with a 3,200 feet elevation gain, it offers more than a great workout. From the top, you’ll see miles of evergreen trees leading down to Puget Sound, the Seattle skyline, and the Olympic Mountains.

2. Hike in Mount Rainier National Park

A trip up Mount Rainier should be on every outdoor lover’s Seattle bucket list. It’s the highest peak in the U.S. outside of Alaska. But the mountaintop is only one feature of the Mount Rainier National Park, which is also full of glaciers, river valleys, and old-growth forests. The park’s wildflower meadows in summer are a must-see, transforming the landscape into a gorgeous mosaic of colors.

3. Explore Rattlesnake Ledge

Near the Snoqualmie Pass, the Rattlesnake Ledge is a rocky trail that offers sweeping views of Rattlesnake Lake and the Cascade Mountains. It’s a great spot for early risers, as the ledge has spectacular views of the sun cresting over the mountains and lighting up the valley.

4. Relax in Chihuly Gardens, Olympic Sculpture Garden, and Discovery Park

No matter what Seattle neighborhood you’re in, you’re always within 10 minutes of a green park, which can make this city’s cost of living worth it. Chihuly Gardens in the Seattle Center and the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Belltown are just a handful of the city’s abundant green spaces.

With 534 acres of beaches, sea cliffs, and forests, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest urban park. Overlooking Puget Sound, it has miles of easy walking trails with views of the Cascades and Olympic mountains. If you’re looking for Seattle outdoor kid activities, a trip to the jungle gym before relaxing on the beach to look for whales is the perfect weekend plan.

5. Discover Olympic National Park

Not to be overshadowed by Mount Rainier National Park, the Olympic National Park on Bainbridge Island is a world unto itself. Just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle are alpine peaks and moss-laden rainforests. You can even enjoy unmaintained hot springs in the Elwha River Valley or mineral baths at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort.

Make a Splash: Best Water Activities in Seattle

Whale watching in the San Juan Islands. Kayaking on Lake Washington. Fishing in Puget Sound. There are plenty of fun outdoor activities on Seattle’s waterways:

6. Test the Calm Waters of Lake Union

Romantic comedy buffs can make a day out of walking around Lake Union to spot the houseboat from “Sleepless in Seattle.” Hint: it’s off a dock on Westlake Avenue North. But Lake Union has plenty of other sights to see, and you can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to navigate the calm waters. On windy afternoons, you can even join a sailing class.

7. Enjoy Sand and Sun on Alki Beach

Seattleites flock to Alki Beach in West Seattle for sand and sun. The beach is perfect for paddleboarding, playing beach volleyball, or soaking up views of the Olympic Mountains and downtown Seattle. The waterside path — which runs from Alki Beach Park to Jack Block Park — is ideal for biking, jogging, and rollerblading all year round.

8. Explore the Underwater Parks of Puget Sound

Puget Sound is the gateway to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a vast ocean inlet and estuary with forested shores and wildlife — all easy to navigate by sailboat or kayak. It’s also a popular diving spot with several underwater parks full of small wrecks and diverse marine life.

9. Take a Swim in Green Lake

Green Lake is a freshwater lake in North Seattle. Its gentle waters make it a perfect swimming hole on warm summer days. And on overcast afternoons, you can enjoy canoeing, paddle boating, or fishing. The lake is open to year-round fishing, but early spring is ideal for catching rainbow trout.

10. Look for Orcas on the San Juan Islands

A scenic ferry ride from Seattle takes you to the storybook San Juan Islands, one of the region’s best-kept secrets. The San Juan Islands are renowned for orca sightings and boating. These islands are full of secluded coves and beaches that you can explore by sailboat, motorboat, or kayak. And if you’d rather sit back and relax while you see the sights, the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau works with several charters and tour companies.

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Take in the Fresh Air: 5 Best Open Air Adventures in Seattle

Although the Pacific Northwest doesn’t have a great reputation for sunny skies, Seattleites still enjoy getting a dose of fresh air. Here are five great adventures to enjoy under the gray sky.

11. Take a Seaplane Tour

I spy with my little eye… all of Seattle under your feet. Once you’ve hiked the highest peaks, catch a glimpse of the city and the Cascade and Olympic mountains from the sky. Kenmore Air takes off from Lake Union before taking in scenic views all over Seattle, from Elliott Bay to the Space Needle.

12. Helicopter Over the Cascade Mountains

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Atomic Helicopters is another option for bird’s eye views of Seattle and surrounding landscapes. The company offers city tours, but their bread-and-butter are helicopter rides into the Cascade Mountains. You’ll fly over 5,000-foot mountain ridges and zoom over lakes and river valleys with privileged views of Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and the Seattle skyline.

13. Paraglide Down Tiger Mountain

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A helicopter or small plane might be enough to get your adrenaline pumping, but paragliding can also give you a healthy dose of excitement. There are a few different paragliding companies, and all of them give eagle-eye views of evergreen forests and wildflower meadows.

14. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset from a Hot Air Balloon

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For a truly magical experience, just make the short drive to Woodinville, where Over the Rainbow offers group and private hot air balloon flights. Hot air balloons glide slowly with the wind, offering a peaceful adventure as you enjoy views of Lake Washington and the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges. Plus, Over the Rainbow is within Woodinville wine country, which makes a compelling case for choosing the sunset trip followed by a wine tasting.

15. Skydive Over Snohomish

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For the ultimate adrenaline junkies, the Snohomish River Valley is regularly credited as being one of the most gorgeous places in the U.S. to skydive. Imagine a 360-degree view of Mount Rainier and Mount Baker in the Cascades, evergreen forests for miles around, and the green San Juan Islands. From the mountain to the sea, this drop is a feast for the eyes. Try diving in spring when the wildflowers bloom and paint the ground with a kaleidoscope of color for a truly unforgettable experience.

Ready for Adventure in Seattle?

You worry about packing hiking boots and a tent. We’ll figure out where you’ll rest after a day of adventure. Landing has fully furnished apartments in Seattle with flexible leases. Stay for a few days, weeks, or months — it’s up to you. Become a member today.