Seattle might be an awesome city, but we all need to escape our hometown every once in a while. Fortunately, Seattle is perfectly positioned to offer an endless variety of day trip possibilities. Within just an hour or two, you could be at the beach, at the top of a mountain, on an island, or in the middle of one of the US’s best national parks. Add a few more hours onto the journey, and you could even be in Canada. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next adventure, check out these 20 awesome day trips from Seattle.
20. Tacoma, Washington
History buffs shouldn’t miss the chance to visit Tacoma. This big, vibrant city is packed with attractions, but its biggest selling point is its museums. There are dozens to choose between, including the Tacoma Art Museum, the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the Museum of Glass, and the LeMay Family Collection Foundation. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes so you can run around as many as possible.
19. Anacortes, Washington
Located an easy hour and a half drive from Seattle is Anacortes. A jumping-off point for some of the best attractions in the state, its chief selling point is its proximity to Deception Pass, a narrow waterway that runs between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island. The two bridges that straddle the pass offer breathtaking views, so be sure to bring your camera. You could even tackle the steep trail down to the water if you’re feeling adventurous. On the other side of the pass is Deception Pass State Park, a glorious reserve crammed with sandy beaches, ancient woodland walks, and lakes.
18. Hoh Rain Forest, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest – four hours driving distance from Seattle, Hoh Rain Forest is a bit of a trek, but it’s more than worth it. As its name suggests, it’s one of the wettest areas of the state, receiving between 140 and 170 inches of rainfall every year. The result of all that water is a dense, emerald green paradise packed with trees, ferns, and a huge variety of mosses. The visitor center boasts numerous exhibits and fun facts about the area, so be sure to pop by before heading out into the forest. If you decide to delay the trip back to Seattle for a day or so, you’ll find plenty of campsites scattered along the river bank.
17. Boeing Factory Tour, Washington
If you’ve got kids, don’t miss the chance to take part in the Boeing Factory Tour in Everett. Public tours are available seven days a week, offering visitors the chance to learn about the company’s history, watch jets being assembled on the factory line, and explore the exhibits and displays at the fascinating Future of Flight Aviation Center. Tours book up quickly, so reserve your space in advance to avoid disappointment.
16. North Cascades National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park might get all the attention, but North Cascades National Park has enough going on to hold its own. Located two hours from Seattle, the park is a paradise for nature lovers. Expect scenic vistas, thick glaciers, dramatic alpine peaks, and lush greenery every which way you turn. If you get peckish either on your way to or from the park, stop by Cascade Burgers, a 1950s style diner that does a fine line in burgers, shares, and onion rings.
15. Lakewold Gardens, Washington
Lakewold Gardens – 50 min you don’t want to venture too far from the city but still want to leave behind the crowds and the noise for the day, Lakewold Gardens makes a sound choice. Located just 50 minutes from Seattle, this non-profit garden was expertly designed by architect Thomas Church. Boasting a gorgeous rhododendron collection, a crustal clear alpine stream, three very charming waterfalls, and an intriguing garden of boxwoods, it’s the perfect place to while away a few pleasant hours in nature. You’re free to wander around independently but if you’d rather get the low down on the sights you’ll see along the way, it’s worth booking a place on one of the various tours offered throughout the day.
14. Lake Cle Elum, Washington
Lake Cle Elum – 1 hour 40 min Lake Cle Elum’s primary purpose is as a storage reservoir for an irrigation project run by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, but don’t let that put you off. Located just over an hour and a half from Seattle, it’s a hugely popular spot for fishing, with kokanee, rainbow, and cutthroat trout representing some of the most common catches. It’s open to anglers all year round, but you’ll need to come before mid-summer if you want to use the boat launch facilities. As fishing regulations are in place, check the website for advice before heading out.
13. Whidbey Island, Washington
Recommended as one of the best day trips to take from Seattle by Postcards to Seattle, Whidbey Island is a great choice for anyone looking to indulge in some sea, sand, and shopping. To reach the island, take the short ferry ride across from Seattle’s main ferry terminus. Once you arrive, you’ll find a smorgasbord of beaches, hills, cliffs, and trails to explore. There are also some excellent shopping opportunities to enjoy in its coastal towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley, so be sure to bring along plenty of spare change for souvenirs.
12. Bellingham, Washington
With almost 90,000 people to its name, Bellingham isn’t exactly small, but it still manages to retain a quaint charm, particularly in its historic downtown and busy bay area. With a prime location just 20 miles from the Canadian border, it’s a great place to book a boat ride over to Victoria, Vancouver, and the San Juan Islands. If you’d rather stay put, there’s plenty to keep you entertained thanks to its lively bar scene, lovely array of parks (be sure to check out the waterfalls at Whatcom Falls Park in particular), scenic hikes beside the ocean, and plethora of shops, galleries, and museums.
11. The Bloedel Reserve, Washington
The Bloedel Reserve – 70 minutes Drive just 70 minutes from the center of Seattle and you’ll stumble on the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre forest garden that’s a riot of color, exotic blooms, and water features. Inspired by Japanese gardens, it features no end of attractions, including a moss garden, a bird marsh, a bloom-laden glen, and a formal Japanese garden. Tours are included in the price of admission and come highly recommended.
10. Darrington, Washington
Darrington is small, rural, and packed with charm. Surrounded by mountains and rivers, it’s a huge draw for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Whatever your favorite outdoor pursuit, it’s on offer here, whether that’s horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking or bird watching in summer, or snowmobiling and cross country skiing in winter. If that sounds too tame for your tastes, take to the skies on a thrilling sightseeing helicopter tour. If you’re lucky, you might even be in town during one of its regular seasonal events, such as the annual harvest festival or summer concerts in the park.
9. Snoqualmie Falls, Washington
Named as one of the best day trips from Seattle by The Culture Trip, Snoqualmie Falls offers nature lovers the chance to indulge in the kind of short, sweet outdoor adventure that offers plenty of reward without taking up masses of time. There’s a short hiking trail to discover, several picnic spots for some al fresco dining, a couple of observation decks to grab some photographs, and, of course, the falls themselves, which might well be one of the most charming waterfalls in the state. If you’ve got the time, stop by the nearby Northwest Railway Museum to learn a little more about the Victorian-era train life in Snoqualmie Valley before heading back to the city.
8. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Why limit your day trip to the US when Canada beckons? Numerous international cities are within reach of Seattle by ferry or seaplane, with Victoria being one of the most visit-worthy. Once you’ve landed, head to Craigdarroch Castle to check out the Victorian architecture before admiring the blooms at the stunning Butchart Gardens. After a quick tour of the museums and galleries, indulge in a leisurely high tea at The Fairmont Empress Hotel before hopping back on the ferry home.
7. Port Townsend, Washington
Ranked as one of the best day trips from Seattle by Time Out, Port Townsend is small but charming, with enough Victorian-style buildings to keep architecture buffs more than happy. Located an easy two hours drive from Seatle, it’s perfect for a relaxing day of strolling, eating, browsing the shops, and enjoying the fine sea views. Key attractions include the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in Fort Worden State Park, which offers a wonderful insight into the underwater flora and fauna systems of the northwest, and Water Steet, a treasure trove of trinket shops, art galleries, and gorgeously preserved 19th-century buildings. If you get thirsty, pop by Pourhouse for a glass of cider in its peaceful waterside beer garden.
6. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington
If you’ve ever wanted to find out more about volcanoes, don’t miss Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Located around 3 hours and 15 minutes from Seattle by car, the 110,000-acre site is dedicated to educating and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – 3 hours 15 informing visitors about the volcanic history of the area through a series of fun activities and attractions. Hikers will find no shortage of trails to explore, although those who prefer to leave the leg work to someone else will find plenty of scenic viewing points that are accessible by car. Hiking the volcano is possible, but be sure to obtain a permit first.
5. Olympic National Park, Washington
Located just two hours from Seattle, Olympic National Park makes a fine destination for a day trip. Boasting wonderfully diverse scenery and a host of outdoor recreational activities to choose between, it’s a little slice of paradise for nature lovers. Explore glacier-capped mountains, trek through rainforests, relax on the beach, swim at Lake Cushman, discover the wildlife…. the opportunities are endless.
4. Leavenworth, Washington
As US News and Travel says, Leavenworth is small town USA at its finest. Which would be true, were it not German. Designed in the style of a Bavarian village, it’s a charming place to spend the day, with plenty of traditional restaurants serving up authentic German cuisine, a good selection of breweries, and plenty of cute little shops and galleries to browse. If you can, visit in December to check out the European-style Christmas markets.
3. The San Juan Islands, Washington
Located just a short ferry ride from Seattle are the San Juan Islands. Despite their proximity, their peaceful surroundings and tranquil vibes feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. San Juan Island is one of the most popular islands in the chain, offering enough eateries, art galleries, and boutiques to keep you busy from dawn to dusk. Be sure to check out the San Juan Island National Historic Park and The Whale Museum while you’re there. If you want to get away from it all, head over to the glorious 5,200-acre Moran State Park on its sister island of Orcas.
2. Bainbridge Island, Washington
As Lonely Planet notes, if you don’t want to venture too far from the city, Bainbridge Island is perfect. Located just 35 minutes by ferry from downtown Seattle, it’s a hugely popular destination for both locals and visitors alike. The view from the ferry is outstanding and well worth the cost of the ride. Once you arrive on the island, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained, whether that’s by indulging in one of the Bainbridge Brewing Alehouse’s 18 varieties of craft brews, tucking into some warming pho broth at Thuyu’s Roosters Cafe, buying some tea at Paraffine’s Tea Shop, or checking out the work of local artists at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.
1. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park ranks as one of the most impressive state parks in Washington, if not the country. Spread over a mammoth 236,381 acres and encompassing the majestic Mount Rainer itself, it’s home to more glaciers than any other peak in the US, not to mention a vast array of hiking trails, climbing spots, picnic areas, and camping sites. If you’re hankering to shake the crowds of the city and enjoy some top-notch nature, it’s unbeatable.