When it rains...

* distances indicated refer to walking distance from the Seattle Convention Center - Arch Building


ARVO 2024 attendees have a lot to feast their eyes on in Seattle this year. Much has happened since ARVO's last Annual Meeting here in 2016, including a major Convention Center expansion, the addition of several Downtown waterfront parks, and upgrades to Seattle Center. If it’s your first time visiting, you are in for a treat whether you’re an outdoors person, a foodie, a music lover, a sunset photographer, or are just looking for a quiet space between Meeting sessions.


entrance to the Seattle Convention Center Summit Building flanked by a Native American totem poleLittle can beat Seattle on a sunny day, but if you happen upon one of this year’s 150 rainy days there are plenty of places to cozy up with some reading, gather with friends and colleagues, or seek indoor adventures. The Seattle Convention Center's new Summit Building is just a block from its original Arch Building and features a large public lobby with WiFi, casual meeting areas, lots of natural light and urban views (fyi, the ARVO Foundation Gala will be hosted here on May 4) . Just outside the Convention Center, the main floor lobby at Pacific Place (0.1 miles) has an airy seating area with white noise that is great for working. Also, the lobby of Rainier Square (0.2 miles) offers coffee aromas from Fonte Bar, cozy chairs, and a seasonally-roaring fireplace.


If records, coffee, and independent radio are your jam, head to the KEXP Gathering Space (1.5 mi). This unconventional radio station headquarters serves locally-roasted coffee, contains a small but meticulously-curated record shop (Light in the Attic), and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a free live studio performance. Nearby, the restored historic Seattle Center Armory (1.2 miles) has a lively food court with several local restaurants, a spacious dining hall, and even more white noise. It’s also home to a Seattle Kraken Team Store, and a quaint vintage 1960s tiled bathroom on the first floor.


Seattle Central LibraryA UNESCO-designated City of Literature, few things are more Seattle than devouring a good read on a rainy day. The Seattle Central Library (0.4 miles) is a formidable temple devoted to books that occupies an entire block. It was erected in 2004 with an architectural style you’ll either love or hate, but won’t soon forget. The library is also home to a chocolate café (Chocolati) and while seating and WiFi can be found throughout, the 10th Floor Reading Room is worth the trip to the top. If you’re after a quiet place with amazing views, this is it! You can find numerous independent bookstores in the area as well plus several in Pike Place Market, but the crown jewel is the Elliot Bay Book Company (0.7 miles). Spanning multiple floors of a 1918 Ford truck shop, it boasts 150,000 titles and is home to Seattle’s first bookstore café.


Dancers at Seattle's Century Ballroom

The natural splendor of the Pacific Northwest lends itself to active lifestyles, and even under rain there are plenty of attractions to exercise the mind and body. The REI Seattle Flagship (0.7 miles) houses an indoor climbing pinnacle, or you can ascend more dedicated indoor walls at Seattle Bouldering Project (1.7 miles, $25 per day, free shoe rental for first-timers) and Momentum Climbing (2.6 miles, $25 per day, $6 shoe rental). If you prefer moving to music, dancers of all levels and styles can find something at the beautiful Century Ballroom (0.7 miles, $15-30).


For those seeking a cerebral indoor adventure, several escape rooms lie within blocks of the Convention Center: Puzzle Break (0.7 miles, $40-60), Fox in a Box (0.7 miles, $40-45), and Room 5280 (0.5 miles, $38-42). The Annual Meeting is also near an axe-throwing bar (0.9 miles, $36), and equidistant from two expansive indoor miniature golf pubs (Pioneer Square or South Lake Union, both 1.2 miles, $10 for mini golf). You’ll find an assortment of more traditional bar games with ample room for groups at Art Marble 21 (1.1 miles), ping pong tables for a crowd at SPIN (0.2 miles, tables $40-50/hour), a serious pool club at Ox Billiards (0.6 miles, tables $12-20/hour), and a mix of billiards and bowling at Garage (0.7 miles, price varies by day).


If it rains on your ARVO Annual Meeting, open an umbrella (if you must) and go explore the great indoors!


Have you discovered a remarkable Seattle place to stay dry on a wet day? Leave a comment below!


Michelle M. Giarmarco, PhD

A proud Seattleite since 2002, Michelle Giarmarco became fixated on vision science in 2012. She earned her doctoral degree in biochemistry at University of Washington (UW) under the mentorship of James Hurley, PhD and Susan Brockerhoff, PhD, developing tools for live ex vivo imaging to answer questions about retinal metabolism, calcium signaling and more. Since 2021, she has been a lead scientist in the UW Ophthalmology Microscopy and Histology Core. Giarmarco enjoys supporting the department in an endless variety of projects, working with Ophthalmology trainees, and exploring new imaging methods to better understand the retinal landscape. Away from the microscope you’ll find her on her houseboat, kayaking or cycling along the Seattle Ship Canal, or making carbohydrates disappear at Pike Place Market. An aspiring retiree tour guide, she loves to show off the many facets of the Emerald City.