The Pacific Northwest is considered one of the most stunning regions in the United States, and for good reason. Whether you’ve only got a day or a long weekend to spend, there are plenty of fantastic areas to explore with Seattle as your starting point.
All in all, there are hauntingly beautiful beaches, majestic snow-capped mountains, and even enchanted rainforests.
Regardless of where you choose to go, these day trips will leave you wonderstruck and ready for your next adventure, both as a new transplant or a lifelong resident. Read on for must-do adventures from the Emerald City.
East of Seattle, nestled in the crook of the Cascade Mountains and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, you’ll find the charming, old-world Bavarian village of Leavenworth.
This idyllic little town is the ideal locale for an extended afternoon of chowing down on bratwurst and other German fares at Munchen House, indulging in baked goods at the Gingerbread Factory, and taking in the stunning peaks with a drink in hand at one of the wineries. Cap off your day at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm where these majestic animals (they’re technically caribou) will eat right out of your hands!
A pleasant drive North on the I-5 will lead you straight into the Skagit Valley, one of the most fertile farming regions in the country (and it’s outlandishly beautiful to boot). Start your day with a heart-pumping hike up the Oyster Dome, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Cascade Mountain Range, the valley, and the Samish Sea. After working up an appetite, head to the tiny, one-road town of Bow-Edison. This sleepy artist haven is home to exceptional dining options as well as funky vintage and art shops. Notable establishments include Mariposa Taqueria for seriously exceptional burritos, Tweets Cafe for rustic, hyper-local dishes, and don’t forget to grab a cookie (or five) from Breadfarm. If you’re there in April, make sure to check out the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival for the mind-blowing array of multi-colored blooming tulips.
At 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is the impressive giant you’re sure to have seen in the distance from Seattle on a particularly clear day. This extensive national park surrounding the mountain offers plenty of opportunities to hike the trails.
There’s something for every experience level, though be sure to check weather patterns before your trip as conditions can vary. Spend the day in the wilderness, or turn it into a weekend trip by camping in a tent or staying at one of the nearby lodges, National Park or Paradise Inn. Note that dogs are not allowed on the trails, and all overnight camping does require a permit, so plan accordingly.
From the Seattle Ferry Terminal downtown, a pleasant ride across the Puget Sound drops you off at quaint, cozy Bainbridge Island. Spend the day within eyesight of the Seattle skyline while enjoying island life on this 10-mile long strip of land. The ferry stops in Winslow, where you can visit the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and wander their impressive collection of Puget Sound art and craft. In the afternoon, grab a coffee and a pastry at Blackbird Cafe or a glass of something at Fletcher Winery Tasting Room. If you’ve got a car, drive north and check out the relaxing Bloedel Reserve before finishing up your day back in Winslow at Hitchcock, a sleek, modern restaurant that highlights the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. This easy day trip will have you feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the big city again.
This one is for the winter months. Located in Skykomish, Washington, Steven’s Pass is the snow-centric mountain resort go-to for fun when the cold weather hits. Ski or snowboard all weekend long, or, if that’s not your thing, stay cozy by the fire at any of the three lodges, Granite Peaks, Tye Creek, and Pacific Crest. Stay comfortable and sip hot chocolate while you wait for your friends to come piling in from the slopes. If you’re interested in learning, there are ski and snowboard lessons available, with some specifically designed for beginners, so you’ve got no excuse not to give it a go. For winter sports fanatics, Steven’s offers season passes that are an excellent deal if you plan to spend all winter around the slopes. Enjoy the pow!
Home to Western Washington University, this college town boasts an extravagant number of breweries and close proximity to mountains, water, and the Canadian border. Folks looking to get into the woods can immerse themselves in the Chuckanut Mountains, veined with trails for all hiking levels and all types of weather. Although it’s best to to bring a rain jacket along, just in case. For those looking for something calmer, serene Lake Padden offers a gently sloped walking trail around its circumference, as well as picnic areas and plenty of parking. When you’re ready to hit the town, Aslan Brewing serves its own lip-smacking organic craft beer, delicious pub food, while wine and other local brews can be found at the velvet-clad Depot. From Russian dumplings at Pel’meni to the more upscale The Fork at Agate Bay, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to try a Big Mama Margarita at Jalapenos! Bellingham offers lots of fun, food and small-town vibes only a few hours from the Emerald City.
Distance from Seattle: 5 hours by car and ferry
Length of stay: weekend trip
Considered one of the most ruggedly beautiful regions in the northwest, you’ll want to spend at least a night or two here, but preferably make it a long weekend. To get to this rather remote part of the state, you’ll drive onto the ferry to Bainbridge Island and continue north from there. For a pit stop, take a small detour and mosey the streets and marina of sea-faring Port Townsend, grabbing a bite at the Fountain Cafe after you’ve taken a stroll and stretched your legs.
Back in the car, you’ll continue west for three hours into Olympic National Park, finally reaching the lush, vibrant wilderness of the Hoh Rainforest. To have the best possible experience, unfurl your tent and set up camp at the Hoh campground, which is open year-round. You can walk the nature trails loop, or take a hike to follow the Hoh River Trail. When you’re tired of seeing green, head to the water. Take your pick from Rialto, First or Second Beach, and witness the majesty of the wind-torn coast with its miles of vast packed sand and washed up driftwood. To return to Seattle, head back the way you came or venture south around Olympia and Tacoma, completing your Olympic Peninsula loop.
After a day trip (or weekend) spent exploring the unique beauty of the Pacific Northwest, you’ll want to come back to a beautiful home, too. Consider making your next move with Blueground, which offers fully-equipped, and tastefully furnished apartments, making sure you feel just as excited about coming home as you do heading out on a weekend adventure.