Skip to Content

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Washington in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Washington in 2024

What's the best time to visit Washington state?

Summer is the best time to visit Washington, with its mild, dry weather perfect for enjoying outdoor adventures like hiking and whale watching. This season offers the best conditions for exploring national parks and taking part in city festivals in places like Seattle. While it’s the busiest time of year, the pleasant climate and array of activities from June to September make it worth braving the crowds.

The state of Washington boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, as well as some of its hotbeds of culture. No visit to Washington is complete without a stop in Seattle, the city that gave much of what makes up modern American culture, from Starbucks to grunge music.

However, the real draw is the spectacular scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Head to Mount Rainier State Park for gorgeous views, the Columbia River Gorge, or one of the many other parks and forests in the state.

Since a lot of the main appeal of Washington is located outdoors, you’ll want to visit when the weather is good (and you can beat the worst of the state’s rain). We’ll show you the best time to visit and more below.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Washington State

View from the Cascade Mountains on a foggy day with green trees far below, as seen during the best time to visit Washington State

Patricia Thomas/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Washington is in the summer (June-September) when the weather is at its best for exploring outdoors. Washington has a mild, temperate climate, with the coasts belonging to the oceanic climate zone.

This means that summers aren’t too hot, and winters aren’t too cold. Temperatures are cool all year round, so the best time for hiking in short sleeves is definitely the summer.

Due to the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, Washington’s climate is rainy for most of the year (although some parts of the state, such as the Columbia Basin, are a lot drier). However, in late spring and summer, the weather dries out and you can enjoy plenty of sunshine.

For this reason, summer is the best time to visit Washington. Although rain can still occur, your chances of getting caught in a downpour are much lower than if you visit during any other part of the year.

This is perfect weather for activities such as hiking, rafting, kayaking, camping, and all other outdoor adventures you may want to get up to. During the summer, national parks such as Mount Rainier are in full swing.

All roads and trails are open because conditions are ideal for hiking. You also have the highest chance of enjoying ranger programming throughout the many parks.

If you want to spot wild animals, summer is the best time to visit since that is when they are the most active. Besides land animals in the many national parks, this is the best season to spot orcas along the San Juan Islands.

Although they live around the Seattle coast all year round, this season is the best time for whale-watching since orcas are more active and they are joined by other migrating species.

Although you may be tempted to spend all your time in nature during the summer in Washington, this is also a good time to visit the major cities. Seattle has a brief but glorious window of good weather, with average temperatures in the low 70s and only five or six days of rain per month.

During this season, there are also plenty of festivals in Seattle and in other places throughout Washington, like:

Keep in mind that this is the most popular time for visiting, so visitor numbers—and associated prices—will go up.

Cheapest Time to Visit Washington State

Downtown Seattle pictured in September, the cheapest time to visit Seattle


The cheapest time to visit Washington is the winter, but you can find great bargains well into spring. Winter and spring mark Washington’s rainy season, so most visitors avoid the state during this time.

Winter in particular tends to have dreary, gloomy weather. Spring is a bit warmer, and the days are sunnier, but the tourists haven’t caught on that the weather has changed yet.

That means that you can find bargains in Washington until early May. In early spring, you can find room rates at 30-40% off-peak prices even in pricey Seattle. In towns that have more seasonal tourism, you can save even more money by traveling during the shoulder season.

Getting to Washington generally costs the least in the winter. Once the holiday rush is over, airlines offer discounts on flights to Seattle and other major regional airports in January and February.

Inexpensive fares usually continue into spring, with slight increases during holiday weekends such as Easter. You save money on traveling around Washington by visiting outside of the summer season.

Washington State Ferries charge a summer surcharge from May 1st until the end of September, so you’ll save some money on your ticket by visiting in early spring or late fall.

Least Busy Time to Visit Washington State

Empty wooden chair on the black sand beach of Lake Crescent in Washington State pictured during the least busy time to visit

IG Digital Arts/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Washington is during the early spring or late fall. During these times, you’ll both beat the crowds and still enjoy good weather. Spring and fall are very unpredictable in Washington.

Some days are beautiful, with warm temperatures and sunshine, but then you can have a week full of just rainy days. As long as you are okay with gambling with the unpredictable weather, you’ll be rewarded with far fewer crowds.

Early spring or late fall are good times to visit Washington’s national parks because most of the trails are still open, but the summer high season hasn’t started.

Many popular parks such as Mount Rainier have started implementing timed entry passes from May to September, so visit outside of those times to beat the crowds. To beat the worst of the weather, stick to lower elevations.

April is a good time to admire the wildflowers in the Skagit Valley, which also hosts a tulip festival in the spring. Spring is a good time to walk around Seattle as well since there are far fewer crowds. Autumn weather tends to be a bit more stable than the spring.

September is still mostly clear and warm, and while there are still visitors, most of the crowds have gone home.

Late September and early October are good times to check out the changing fall foliage, go hiking on trails that are still clear, and visit some of the harvest festivals held in small towns and cities across the state.

Worst Time to Visit Washington State

Snow falling on the highway near Steven's Pass during the winter, the worst time to visit Washington State

Ian Dewar Photography/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Washington is during the winter, when the weather makes it difficult to do much of anything. Washington winters are long and bitter. In the mountains, the weather can get quite cold.

Heavy snowfall blocks many trails and roads, and some of the state’s most famous national parks shut down large parts of their land for visitors during this season.

Along the coast, temperatures may be milder, but the weather is no less unpleasant. Seattle averages 19 days of rain every December and January, and even non-rainy days are enveloped with persistent fog.

While the hotel rooms may cost the least during this time, expect the atmosphere in the city to be a bit dreary. However, this is a great time to visit if your main motivation for traveling is skiing or snowboarding.

The state has many great ski resorts along the Cascade Mountains, such as Snoqualmie, with reliable powder all winter long. Instead of fighting the winter weather, strap on your skis and embrace it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gorgeous road winding through a forest with tall trees for a piece on the best time to visit Washington State


Here are some additional questions to help you pick the best time to visit Washington:

What month is best to visit Washington?

September is the best month to visit Washington because the weather is still good, but you can avoid the worst of peak season’s crowds.

What is the best month to visit Seattle?

The best month to visit Seattle is October, when the city isn’t as crowded but there are still lots of harvest festivals and brewery festivals happening.

When is the best weather in Washington State?

The best weather in Washington State is during the summer, when the sun is out, and the state gets the least amount of rain.

What is the rainiest month in Washington State?

January is the rainiest month in Washington State, sometimes with over 20 days of rain per month.

How many days do you need to visit Washington?

You need at least ten days to see all of Washington state. That gives you a few days for Seattle, some days along the coast, and some days to explore the mountains.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Washington?

For the best weather and the best conditions for outdoor activities, summer in Washington can’t be beat. This is also the most crowded and expensive time to visit, so go in late spring or early fall if you’re willing to gamble with the weather.

So, with so much to see and do and no bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that Washington state has to offer. Happy travels!