Seattle, Washington. A charming city known for its frequent rain, grunge music, and Starbucks coffee. Seattle truly has a lot to offer, from the Pike Place Market to the Space Needle (both of which can be explored on my Seattle walking tour). But it is also surrounded by the most beautiful scenery; so today, I’m going to talk about the best day trips from Seattle.
Whether you’re dropping by Seattle for a weekend, a week, or have lived in Seattle your entire life, these day trips are worth doing. From majestic mountains to enchanting islands, I hope this list inspires you to explore more of the Pacific Northwest!
Day Trips from Seattle: The Best Cities and Towns from Seattle
Washington’s own Bavarian town, Leavenworth, WA is one of the best day trips from Seattle.
Initially a settlement that thrived from logging, it became a ghost town once the railroad re-routed. This was until the 1960s, when the city took inspiration from its surrounding mountains and enchanting creeks, and turned Leavenworth into a Bavarian town.
Leavenworth quickly became a thriving tourist destination, known as the perfect Christmas town in Washington. With its sparkling Christmas lights display and Oktoberfest, it is no surprise that so many travelers visit this delightful town.
But even when it’s not Christmas, there are an abundance of things to do in Leavenworth, WA. From window shopping around downtown Leavenworth, visiting the Nutcracker Museum, walking along Icicle Creek, or embarking on one of the many incredible trails, you definitely won’t be bored!
How to Get to Leavenworth: The best way to get from Seattle to Leavenworth is by car, with the drive taking a bit over 2 hours. However, you can also take a Greyhound, the Amtrak, or you can book a tour.
Next, Fairhaven, WA is a district of Bellingham, and one of the most charming day trips around Seattle.
While it is a pretty small neighborhood, it is filled with picturesque red-brick buildings, cute boutiques, quaint cafés, and a pretty cool bookstore. Not far away is Fairhaven beach. And, it is one of the most dog-friendly places I’ve ever been to!
How to Get to Fairhaven: The drive from Seattle to Fairhaven takes about 1.5 hours. However, you can also take the Greyhound or the Amtrak. Just remember that Fairhaven is a district of Bellingham, so you’ll have to search for a bus or train to Bellingham.
Wondering what else to do in Seattle? If so, check out my self-guided walking tour of Seattle.
Day Trips from Seattle: The Best Parks and Nature Attractions from Seattle
Mount Rainier National Park
Now, let’s talk about nature, starting with one of the most iconic mountains and best parks in Washington State: Mount Rainier.
An active volcano, Mount Rainier is, without a doubt, magnificent. I mean, look at the pictures! Filled with glaciers, temperate rainforests, alpine meadows, and colorful wildflowers, the scenery in this park is outstanding.
Which means there are a bunch of things to do in Mount Rainier. With an abundance of mountains, lakes, and trails, you won’t be bored. I definitely recommend checking out some of Mount Rainier’s easy-to-see waterfalls! And if you’re visiting in the winter, you can go skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
How to Get to Mount Rainier: So, how do you make the Mt Rainier day trip from Seattle? The best way to get from Seattle to Mount Rainier is by car, with the drive taking about 2 hours. However, you can also book a tour. Unfortunately, there’s no real way of getting to Mount Rainier by bus or train.
Olympic National Park
Now, let’s talk about Olympic National Park. Packed with stunning scenery, substantial ecological diversity, and some of the best beaches in Washington State, Olympic National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the US, and visiting should be high on your bucket list.
Indeed, with its towering alpine peaks, lush temperate rainforests, flourishing meadows, and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean, this exceptional park exposes you to the shear beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
How to Get to Olympic National Park: The best way to get from Seattle to Olympic National Park is by car, either on land or by ferry. There are also several bus and shuttle companies that take you to Olympic National Park from Seattle. Finally, you can also book a tour.
North Cascades National Park
Next, one of the most incredible day trips from Seattle is the stunning North Cascades National Park.
Venturing deep into the North American Alps, the North Cascades are the homes to some of the best mountains in Washington. With these jagged, alpine peaks containing over 300 glaciers, there are an abundance of incredible sights within North Cascades National Park.
I recommend spending your time doing some of the North Cascades hikes, journeying through the deep forests, passing by cascading waterfalls, and climbing towards these vast glaciers.
How to Get to North Cascades National Park: The best way to get from Seattle to the North Cascades is by car, with the drive taking around 2-3 hours. You can also book a tour. Unfortunately, there are not many options of getting to the North Cascades by bus or train.
Are you a beginner hiker? If you’re looking for some hiking tips and tricks, check out my article on how to start hiking safely!
While Diablo Lake is technically within North Cascades National Park, I couldn’t help but add it to this list.
While you are able to admire Diablo Lake off the highway, it is best to do the Diablo Lake hike to get close and personal with it. A hiking trail of moderate difficulty and heavy traffic, the view at the end is breathtaking. I recommend having a picnic by the lake, and soaking in the views.
How to Get to Diablo Lake: Like before, the best way to get from Seattle to Diablo Lake is by car, with the drive taking around 2.5 hours. Unfortunately, there are no real ways of getting to Diablo Lake by bus or train.
Wondering what other incredible USA destinations you should visit? I recommend visiting New Orleans!
Mount St. Helens
Next up, you should definitely visit Mt Saint Helens. Widely known for its eruption of 1980, it is one of Washington’s most iconic peaks.
With a delightful visitor center and a plethora of incredible hiking trails, there are an abundance of things to do at Mount St Helens. Specifically, I recommend embarking on the Harry’s Ridge Trail, the Norway Pass, and the Loowit Trail.
How to Get to Mount Saint Helens: The best way of getting to Mount Saint Helens is by car, with the drive taking around 3 hours. You can also book a tour.
Now, let’s talk about one of the best waterfalls near Seattle: Snoqualmie Falls. 270 feet tall, this Seattle waterfall is a sight to behold. With an easy hiking trail to an upper and lower viewpoint, this is the perfect day trip for a relaxing day out!
How to Get to Snoqualmie Falls: The best way of getting to Snoqualmie Falls is by car, with the drive only taking around 30 minutes. However, you can also take the bus!
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Next, one of the best day trips in Washington State is the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
A vast and diverse forest close to Leavenworth, it is filled with some of the best Washington State hikes, and marvelous camping spots! I would definitely recommend stopping by the tranquil, glacier-fed Lake Wenatchee.
How to Get to Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest: The best way of getting to the Okanogan National Forest is by car, with the drive taking around 2 hours.
Day Trips from Seattle: The Best Islands from Seattle
If you want to have a serene day trip from Seattle, I recommend visiting Vashon Island. A peaceful island with a charming main town, it is a scenic, rural area with a good sense of community and a welcoming atmosphere.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Things to do in Vashon Island include relaxing at Saltwater State Park, visiting the Point Robinson Lighthouse, and wandering around downtown.
How to Get to Vashon Island: The only way is to get a ferry to Vashon Island. However, you can reach this ferry by car, or by bus. There is also a foot ferry, allowing passengers without a car to easily get to Vashon Island!
Another tranquil day trip, Bainbridge Island has that enchanting small-town charm. With a bunch of things to do on Bainbridge Island, from window shopping the eclectic boutiques, visiting Lytle Beach, and admiring the urban art at Blakely Harbor Park, you won’t regret visiting this charming island.
How to Get to Bainbridge Island: The best way to get to Bainbridge Island is by taking a ferry. You can easily walk onto the ferry, or you can bring your car. It is also possible to drive all the way to Bainbridge Island, but it’ll take a lot longer.
Next, Whidbey Island is one of the best places to go in Washington State. Well known for the Deception Pass, there are many other things to do on Whidbey Island: you can picnic on Ala Spit beach, hike the Crocket Lake Loop, or embark on the South Whidbey Loop.
With beaches, campgrounds, and state parks on Whidbey Island, you definitely won’t be bored spending the day.
How to Get to Whidbey Island: The best way of getting from Seattle to Whidbey Island is through taking a car onto the ferry. You can also only go by car, by taking the Deception Pass Bridge.
San Juan Islands
With an island-life vibe, a temperate climate, and a slew of awesome activities, the San Juan Islands are one of the best Seattle day trips.
Things to do in the San Juan Islands include camping, whale watching, and visiting Lime Kiln Point State Park, Jones Island Marine State Park, and Turn Island State Park.
How to Get to the San Juan Islands: The most common way of getting to the San Juan Islands from Seattle is to drive a car onto the ferry. Overall, this typically takes about 2 hours. However, if you are unable to drive, you can also take a small flight.
Day Trips from Seattle: Canada
That’s right – you don’t have to stay in the US! Vancouver, Canada is only a 2.5-hour drive from Seattle (not including the border wait). It is also a common weekend getaway from Seattle, if you want to spend more time in this delightful city.
Vancouver’s an exceptional city with an abundance of things to do. From walking along the Seawall to window shopping in Granville Island, you can easily spend a day walking around Vancouver.
How to Get to Vancouver, BC: There are numerous ways of getting from Seattle to Vancouver: you can get there by car, plane, train, bus, or with a tour.
If you don’t want to go to Vancouver, why not check out Victoria? The capital of BC, Victoria sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
Victoria is a charming city, with a plethora of things to do. From walking around the Inner Harbour, touring the Parliament Buildings, visiting the Royal British Columbia Museum, and going on a whale watching tour, you can easily spend a whole weekend here.
Furthermore, you don’t have to confine yourself to Victoria! There are a ton of things to do on Vancouver Island, like embarking on one of the many enchanting hikes, relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches, or touring one of the many Provincial Parks. Or you can even visit the neighboring islands, like Salt Spring Island!
How to Get to Victoria, BC: There are many ways of getting to Victoria from Seattle, such as by plane, ferry, or through a tour.
Seattle, Washington is surrounded by an abundance of charming towns, breathtaking scenery, and picturesque islands. It’s also surrounded by some of the best national parks in the US; after visiting Washington state, you can definitely cross a few parks off on your national park scratch off maps!
Overall, I hope this list has helped you plan some incredible day trips! And if you’re wondering what to do in the city of Seattle, check out my Seattle walking tour.
Thanks for reading the article! If you have any questions, feel free to comment down below, and if you want to see more travel and hike-related content, make sure to check out my other articles.
Photos by the author, Canva, and Pixabay.
If you love the American outdoors, then check out my other articles! Click here for my ultimate guide to the hikes in Oahu. Or, if you’re more interested in waterfalls, click here for my top 10 favorite waterfall hikes in Oahu!
About to embark on a trip? Here are some helpful articles to make your trip as awesome and stress-free as possible:
- How to Travel Without Breaking the Bank
- 15 Things to Do Before a Trip
- How to Start Hiking: 15 Beginner Hiking Tips
And here are some additional helpful links:
- Click here for my walking guides
- Click here for more posts on North America
- Click here for more resources
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