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Outside Aventure in the
Emerald City

By Duane Wells

Endowed with a natural beauty unique to the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is a world-class city to behold and enjoy any time of year.

Dubbed the Emerald City, Seattle is where evergreen forests meet saltwater shores and coffee shops are as abundant as mountain peaks. From the bluffs of Puget Sound to the heights of Mt. Rainier and the numerous sprawling urban parks in between, Seattle is a verdant urban oasis that continues to attract new residents (it remains one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities) and outdoor-loving tourists.


That said, there is something fascinating about Seattle in summer. During this season, Washington’s largest city has longer days than most anywhere else in the lower 48 states. Nature is in full bloom, and green spaces are transformed into vibrant hubs of community life.

Seattle’s bustling summer activity is especially notable for its white-hot festival scene, which celebrates everything from music and art to food and culture. One major festival highlight is the Capitol Hill Block Party, which is among the hottest tickets in town each year. Held in July, this annual three-day block party and music festival features performances by local and international artists across multiple stages, food vendors, art installations and more. The 2024 festival will take place from July 19-21, with headliners including dance music artists Kim Petras and Becky Hill, among many others.

Another highlight is the Seafair Festival (June 29-Aug. 4), which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. Spanning ten weeks and comprised of more than 40 events, the festival is considered the most significant summer celebration in the Pacific Northwest. Among the festival’s most high-profile events include the Amazon Seafair Summer Fourth (July 4), with a fully-choreographed fireworks presentation and musical score, accompanied by a host of pre-show activities during the day; the Boeing Seafair Air Show (Aug. 2-4), which is a showcase for vintage aircraft, parachute demonstrations and daring aerial displays by internationally-elite aviation teams; and the iconic Seafair Hydroplane Races (Aug. 2-4) in Genesee Park, which are held against the magnificent backdrop of Lake Washington.


Apart from the Seafair festivities, there’s the Seattle Art Fair (July 25-28), a signature showcase for the Pacific Northwest’s diverse arts community celebrating its eighth anniversary this year. Established by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — who also owned the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks — the fair has become a leading destination for the best in modern and contemporary art, attracting participation from national and international galleries. 

Beyond the festivals, Seattle’s sports scene also kicks into high gear during the summer. Baseball enthusiasts might catch a game downtown at T-Mobile Park — home to MLB’s Seattle Mariners — and enjoy America’s pastime amidst stunning views of the city’s skyline and Puget Sound. More sports action can be found right next door at Lumen Field, where the Seahawks begin pre-season football action in August and Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC continue regular season play through the fall.

Meanwhile, athletic types can enjoy the city’s extensive network of parks and trails, which provide endless opportunities for hiking, biking, walking and exploration of the great outdoors. One such opportunity lies in the Magnolia neighborhood at Discovery Park, the city’s largest urban park. Covering some 534 acres on the shores of Puget Sound, the park is noted for its tidal beaches, sea cliffs and forests, and boasts miles of scenic trails and panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier.

Another famous urban oasis is Green Lake Park, situated in its namesake neighborhood and offering everything from tennis and basketball courts to swimming and boating — along with a three-mile path around the lake that is perfect for a jog or a scenic stroll. At the same time, the iconic Gas Works Park offers a more laidback experience in the Fremont neighborhood, with reservable picnic areas and breathtaking views of downtown from the shores of Lake Union. Containing the remnants of a coal and oil gasification plant that ceased operations in 1956, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Finally, no visit to Seattle in the summer would be complete without a trip to picturesque Alki Beach Park. Located in West Seattle and accessible by ferry from downtown, Alki Beach is a popular destination for sunbathing, beach volleyball and water sports. Visitors can stroll the saltwater shoreline, take in views of the city’s skyline and Elliott Bay, or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the adjacent Alki Trail.

In all its summer glory, Seattle offers countless outdoor activities that cater to every taste. Whether basking in the sun at a festival, cheering for your favorite team at a sporting event, exploring the city’s parks and trails or unwinding on scenic beaches, the Emerald City promises a summer filled with unforgettable adventures.

Alaska Airlines (47x weekly), American Airlines (21x weekly), Delta (21x weekly) and United Airlines (42x weekly) fly nonstop between O’Hare (ORD) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Southwest Airlines (20x weekly) flies nonstop between Chicago Midway (MDW) and SEA.

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