Seattle is truly one of a kind because it’s surrounded by so many exciting things to do in addition to having endless opportunities within the city itself. The traffic and the noise can get a bit old sometimes, so why not take advantage of the incredible scenery and diverse communities all within two hours?! There’s always something new to try…
This Bavarian village is like a picture perfect peak into Santa’s workshop during the holiday season. And during the summer months, it’s just as beautiful and even easier to drive to! The warmer months feature a plethora of activities including, but not limited to: shopping, golfing, zip-lining and lazy river tubing. Right in line with classic German Christmas celebration, Leavenworth offers traditional snacks such as a gingerbread factory and a cheesemonger shop. And of course a proper Bavarian village wouldn’t be complete without loads of beer to enjoy in lederhosen. Leavenworth is chock-full of fun activities to take part in, and there is no shortage of festivals such as Oktoberfest, Valentines Weekend, Maifest and plenty more. All these activities and festivals are amusing either with a group of friends, by yourself or with the family! Because there is so much to do here, you may want to consider staying more than one day in the alluring Leavenworth.
A mere 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle, Bainbridge Island provides the small-town feel that Seattle is missing. Make a left just after the ferry to enjoy Winslow way, which is the center of the town and is full of charming boutiques that feature the Pacific Northwest as its muse. Various small restaurants are scattered about, but make sure to stop by the splendid Blackbird Bakery to grab a delicious bite to eat. Also, the Bainbridge Island Art Museum is hard to miss and definitely worth a visit. Just a year after opening its doors, BIMA was rated one of “America’s Best Small-Town Art Museums” by Travel & Leisure. If you’re a history buff and are up for a walk (or maybe you brought your car), work your way over to the National Parks/Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. If coming to Bainbridge Island wasn’t enough of an “unplug” from the chaotic city of Seattle, the serenity and quiet of this park will definitely do the trick. In summary, Bainbridge is a quaint town full of hidden gems and a serene water landscape.
When people living in Seattle announce, “the mountain is out!” (which will happen pretty much any day you can see it), it’s old Mount Rainier that they’re referring to. One of the most recognizable features of Washington, it’s nearly impossible to miss Mt. Rainier on a nice day in or around Seattle. The Mt. Rainier National Park was the fourth national park created in America and has multiple access points. It’s very popular, especially during July and August when the subalpine wildflowers are doing their best work, so make sure that you can get there as early as possible. The winter months are just as beautiful and offer enthusiasts the opportunity to snowshoe or cross-country ski. And of course, with every great national park, there is an abundance of hiking trails – 50 to be exact. The Skyline trail, which circumnavigates the Paradise area of the national park, treats hikers to the magnificent scenery of Mount Rainier as well as neighboring peaks like Mount Adams and Mount Hood. If you want to check an iconic visit off of your bucket list, Mount Rainier is the perfect day trip from Seattle.
One of the largest of the islands in the Puget Sound, Vashon Island provides a pleasant sense of isolation to its population of less than 11,000 people. Vashon Island’s community feeds off of its artistic nature with an art walk every first Friday of the month. There is also a lively music scene that just tops off this eclectic group. Apart from the abundance of art here, there is also plenty of nature to explore. The Vashon township is surrounded by a dense forest that is perfect for hiking or biking and makes for a perfect rush of greenery. It’s also encompassed by various beaches that offer a beautiful view of Mount Rainier. While you’re visiting the island, be sure to stop by the Point Robinson Park and its well-known lighthouse. The lighthouse is open for tours and is actually also open for a one or two night stay for those who really want to immerse themselves in the experience of Vashon Island.
When thinking of the Pacific Northwest, most people think of rainy evergreen states that love fish. Well, they’re not wrong, but there is a ton more to the PNW than what meets the eye. The landscape to the east of the mountains is completely different than quintessential PNW that comes to mind; it offers a contrasting backdrop for some of the same activities. Yakima Valley, for example, is the #1 hop region in the world (yes, the world) and is home to over 120 wineries. There are five American Viticulture Areas just within Yakima Valley, which means that there are lots and lots of grapes to explore. If you’re more on a beer buzz though, no worries at all! Yakima Valley brews over 75% of our nation’s hops, so there’s just as many breweries, as well as cideries and distilleries, to choose from. Unlike Seattle, the Yakima Valley experiences nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, making it perfect for all kinds of outdoor adventures. With hiking, skiing, water rafting, climbing and more, there is always something to do no matter what time of the year you’re going.
San Juan Islands
If you’re looking for an exciting but relaxing weekend getaway, the San Juan Islands are the place to go. Each island of these northern archipelago offers something different. Although there are 172 named islands and reefs within the San Juan county, the main few islands are San Juan Island, Orca Island, Shaw Island and Lopez Island. Enjoy the walkable seaport full of lovely shops and even better food in Friday Harbor, the commercial center of San Juan Island. Or try your luck at whale watching on Orca Island. Even join them in the water as you race your canoe against the pristine sunset. The landscape on all of the San Juan Islands are downright breathtaking, and after just a hop, skip and jump from Seattle on the ferry, you can join the incredibly friendly locals in enjoying it!
Seattle itself is a hub of excitement, but there is so much to explore outside the city itself. Offering a wide variety of activities for each and every lifestyle, these six day-trips are just a few of the endless possibilities that the Puget Sound offers its residents and visitors.