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Guide to Experiencing the Seattle Summer

There's no better place to be than in the PNW during the summertime. With long days of sunshine and very little rainfall, it's hard to find reasons to not to be outside. I spent about 5 months there this year from June through the end of October and then ended up moving back years later.

seattle skyline in the summertime

My favorite part about living in Seattle is the easy access to the ocean, lakes, and mountains. Yes, there are wildfires to worry about, and we had a terrible heatwave the week I moved there, but things improved quickly after that. Right before my move from Denver, I won a SUP board on instagram and that easily became one of Sora and my's favorite summer activity. Instead of always hiking after work, i'd opt to go to the lake near my apartment and swim with her to cool down and relax. It only rained about 3 days the entire summer.

Lots of days i'd take my laptop to the roof of my apartment with Sora and take in the views of the ocean, the smells of the sea, and the sound of the city seagulls. Growing up in suburbia Virginia I never experienced the mountains or oceans on a daily basis, and I truly feel like i've been missing out. The Olympic mountain range gives you the comfort of mountains while the sea below it allows you to feel free and not claustrophobic.

Lakes & Parks

The city offers great places to see the ocean and mountains. Discovery Park was a short stroll to the coast and not too crowded after work. It felt like a tropical hike within the city, one of my favorite city parks ever. Green lake was a great after work swim and paddle. The lake doesn't have any motor boats or jet skis, so it's very calm for learning how to paddle or just relaxing out with a drink. The water is also very warm in the summer, so you can actually swim in it! If you don't mind a drive, but want a super cool view, Picture Lake has some stunning views and reflections of the mountains. I didn't take my SUP on the main lake since it was very crowded, but there's one nearby that's virtually empty. If you're looking for a really scenic walk for after work, or to take the hammock out, Gold Creek Pond is always a great choice. You can't swim or SUP there, but there are always photographers here doing shoots and there's a flat trail that goes around and makes it a nice after work stroll that feels further from Seattle than it is.


We did our fair share of hikes this past summer; it was definitely a struggle dealing with all the off-leash dogs since Sora is dog-reactive, but we made the most of our time there this summer.

North Bend & Snoqualmie Pass

The name North Bend confused me because I had just been in Bend, Oregon on my roadtrip to Seattle. However, from what i've gathered it's a great area for decent elevation gain and mileage hikes; they aren't the most stunning during the summer in comparison to other areas, but I liked how shaded they were. Snoqualmie Pass area has some incredibly beautiful hikes; it's hard to believe some of them are just an hour's drive from the city.

  1. Rattlesnake Ledge: This one is beautiful and super close to Seattle. It's extremely crowded though, so I never ended up bringing Sora on this one. The parking lot gives access to the lake where you can SUP or the trailhead to hike at. It's a great after work workout or halfday weekend trip.

  2. Little Si & Mount Si: These are both great hikes. Little Si is significantly easier, and still has a great view. I didn't find it as crowded as Rattlesnake, but still a decent amount of people.

  3. Snow Lake: This was one of my favorite hikes I did this summer. The alpine lake wasn't that cold (coming from Colorado), so me and Sora got ourselves nice and refreshed during the hot summer day. It was insanely crowded even on a weekday, so can't imagine how it looks on a weekend.

Other Notable Hikes/Areas

1. Mt Baker Ski Area: Picture Lake has a beautiful drive-up spot for photographers and others to enjoy a perfect reflection of Mt Shuksan. When I arrived in the summer, the entire area was covered in wildfire smoke, so we couldn't do the hike we had planned. Chain Lake Loop would be the ideal hike in the summer, and Artists Point would be the picturesque one for the winter time.

2. Maple Pass loop was insanely beautiful, and insanely crowded. It was rated hard, but I would considerate it moderate. Do not hesitate when you see it's 3 hours away, just go for it!

Mt Rainier National Park

This still remains one of my favorite national parks, and i've been to a lot of them! There are 2 main visitor centers: Sunrise and Paradise. Both of them provide incredibly scenic views, especially in the summer months from July-August. September brings some fall colors and cooler temps which can be nice. The crowds are insane though, so you'll be hiking single file line if it's one of the main popular hikes here. Skyline trail is the most common and probably the most stunning, but I also love Burroughs Mt trail (you get views the entire way, so you dont have to hike the whole thing!). Right outside the park is Sheep Lake trail which is beautiful and dog-friendly!

In the summertime, you can take your dog on the Crystal Mountain ski Gondola and hike around the top or just enjoy a coffee or lunch with a great view. Panoramic views of Rainier and the mountains in every direction. You can reserve tickets online in advance.

North Cascades National Park

This park is slightly less traditional than the other main national parks in Washington state. It takes about 2.5-3 hours to get there, but it has some of the most beautiful water you've ever seen! Accommodations are slim to none here, so you're best off camping or sleeping in your car in this area. We went to Diablo Lake and did the Thunder Knob trail hike to get some good views! We also took the paddleboard on a ~1 mile hike to Ross Lake, which was a little too fast to paddle enjoyably, but certainly had stunning views.


For camping, I had to reserve my sites back in April (and they were all pretty much fully booked). I was able to get a spot snagged at Cougar Rock campground in Mt Rainier National Park and Marble Creek campground in the Northern Cascades National Park. These are both dog-friendly and have plenty of amenities for a comfortable night or two's stay. You can reserve sites in the early spring on, so just check out which sites are near hikes or places you want to explore.

Weekend Trips

Olympic Peninsula:

This was definitely on my list of places I wanted to see here. Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out great in terms of getting the most out of our girls trip around the coast. The Hoh rainforest was extremely dried up from the heatwave (so i'd personally recommend going outside of the peak summer months to get more of that moist/rainforest vibe). We stayed in Port Angeles as our base and then traveled around from there for a few days. We hiked in the Olympic National Park, so obviously the dog had to chill in the hotel for a few hours that day, but we brought her to the other trails after. We did Sunrise Ridge trail which you can access from the Hurricane Ride visitor center. It's a stunning trail that takes you along a scenic ridge-line all the way up to Mt Angeles (so it starts getting very hard by the end).

We drove through Forks, which is the town where the Twilight Series was set! It was definitely underwhelming, but you have to drive through here to get to the Hall of Mosses in Hoh Rainforest and the ocean sites like La Push.

From Seattle, you can drive your car onto the Bainbridge ferry, stop at some wineries on the island, and then stop at Purple Haze Farm for a dog-friendly lavender field.


This adorable Bavarian-style village is the perfect place for a fall weekend getaway. At the time we were there, they were doing Oktoberfest. The river is walking distance from town where you get stunning mountain views and can walk alongside the water. Lake Valhalla hike is located nearby to the town as well. Lodging is limited, so book early if you can. It's about 2 hours from Seattle and in the Christmas time, they brighten up the town with festive lights.


This city is very similar to Seattle, but truly unique in its own way. Stanley Park had incredible skyline views and was one of my favorite sunset biking trails i've done in a long time. The food was delicious - we loved our breakfast at Catch 122. We stayed at the Pinnacle Hotel which was dog-friendly and in a great location. If the weather is nice you can go to Kitsilano Beach, and if the weather is rainy, you can go to Lynn Canyon and hike in North Van.

San Juan Islands

I never got around to doing this because all the places were booked up for the summer weekends, but someday i'd love to go here and see the orca whales and cycle around the island. Definitely a must from what locals have told me.

Seattle City Overview

1. Food: My first impressions are wow, what a cool city. As a pescatarian, I don't eat other meat, so having such close access to the sea brings it lots of food options for me: fresh sockeye salmon, crab, oysters, chowder, etc. I actually gained a little bit of weight just because the food is that good! Favorite notable places where I was a regular this summer.

2. Coffee: To say i'm a coffee addict is an understatement. There are plenty of worse things to be hooked on - and no one will judge you for your caffeine addiction here, because they likely have one too. My favorite coffeeshop so far is Anchorhead; the flavors there are incredible and thoughtful; their lavedar coconut latte tasted just like the aroma of the lavendar farms out by the coast, and their honey . You can't go wrong with any local chain or standalone coffeeshop in this city. I was a regular at Umi Sake House for their happy hour sushi; it's located in belltown, be sure to reserve the "garden room" when you make a reservation there.

3. Diversity: Being surrounded by people of different backgrounds makes life interesting and fosters a more open-minded community. With people from all kinds of backgrounds, I got the chance to do several dog meetups with other Shikoku owners and other Japanese dog breed owners.

4. Cleanliness: Sure every city will be dirty and there will be rats running around here and there, but Seattle is a city that definitely tries. There is greenery all around and I didn't find the city to be anywhere near as dirty in terms of trash etc. as many east coast cities i've been to.

5. Neighborhoods: Cap hill is great for going out/nightlife and dance clubs; it's where many mid-late twenties live because the area is residential and offers a lot to do. Queen Anne is where I lived, I was on the lower end right below Kerry Park. The part of the city has small buildings, but huge hills!!! So you'll get a view from any rooftop over there. Belltown is solid location, but not my favorite neighborhood; it's close to the market and has easy access to the Olympic Sculpture Park which was my main running trail as it goes along the water and offers views of the Olympics and Rainier. The only area i'd avoid is Pioneer Square; it's generally considered unsafe and there are lots of homeless people here. Ballard is further from Seattle, but very close to Golden Gardens beach which is one of my favorite parks in the city. Lots of unique breweries there too; my favorite was a viking brewery called Skyr.


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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