If you’re looking for a way to escape the hustle and bustle of Seattle, then look no further. This big city is surrounded by some incredibly beautiful and exciting places to explore.
We’ll be looking at some of the best day trips from Seattle that offer plenty of outdoor activities, gorgeous scenery, and unique city experiences.
So, grab your day pack, and let’s hit the road!
Table of Contents
Best Day Trips From Seattle Under 1.5 Hour
Let’s start with the locations that are under 1.5 hours’ drive from the city. These are perfect options if you only have half a day to go on an adventure.
1. Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is a gorgeous waterfall located just a short distance from Seattle.
This 268-foot waterfall flows down into the Snoqualmie River and is one of Washington’s most popular attractions.
The best way to see the falls is from the observation decks that allow you to get up close to the awe-inspiring landmark. Not only will you see how spectacular the falls are, but you can also experience the thundering roar as the powerful water crashes down.
The surrounding area has plenty of opportunities to explore nature as well. Hike through the lush forest and along winding trails, or just spend some time near the falls enjoying the surrounding scenery.
Snohomish is a charming historic town known for its downtown area and quaint, small-town feel.
The town has a rich history, dating back to the late 1800s when it was a booming logging and farming community.
Today, you can still see many of the original historic buildings, including the Carnegie Library and the Blackman House Museum, during your visit.
As you wander downtown, you will find plenty of specialty shops and antique stores to browse. With a vibrant arts scene, you will also find plenty of art galleries and, if you time your visit right, possibly an art festival or live music event.
Just outside town, there is the beautiful countryside where you can take a scenic drive or go hiking. You can even fly over the rolling hills in a hot air balloon.
Tacoma is a fantastic city located in the heart of Washington.
If you love the outdoors, you’ll find tons of fun activities to do in Tacoma’s numerous parks. Go hiking or biking along the Schuster Trail, or take a leisurely stroll through Wright Park.
Want to cool off? Head to Point Defiance Park for a refreshing dip in Puget Sound. The park also has a zoo and aquarium, beautiful gardens, hiking trails, and a scenic drive.
On a visit to Tacoma, make sure you check out the Museum of Glass. It features glass artwork and a workshop where you can see artists creating their glass masterpieces.
4. Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island is a beautiful island located just a short ferry ride away from Seattle that has natural beauty, a delightful downtown area, and a laid-back island lifestyle.
One of the main attractions on the island is Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre public garden featuring Japanese gardens, a reflection pool, and more.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and other activities on the island. Consider taking a scenic walk on the waterfront trail or paddleboarding on the calm waters just off the island’s coast.
Or, if you have just come here to relax, spend some quality time at one of the island’s many beaches.
With stunning views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, Bellevue is full of splendid landscapes to wow you during a visit.
But it is also a thriving luxury city with high-end shopping and beautiful parks.
One popular place to stop during a visit is the Bellevue Botanical Garden. This free public garden features a variety of gardens, woodlands, and wetlands that will keep you busy exploring for hours.
If you would rather shop, head to the Bellevue Collection for luxury retailers and department stores. I recommend eating at Black Bottle Restaurant.
6. Gig Harbor
Gig Harbor is a charming seaside town that offers you the chance to experience authentic small-town coastal America.
One of the best things to do is walk along the harbor. Head to the west end for spectacular views of Mount Rainier.
If you want to be more active, rent a kayak and take a spin in Puget Sound, visit the historic sites, or get some shopping done at the unique boutiques around town.
Explore the Harbor History Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the city. Every collection in the museum connects to the places and relates to the people of the Gig Harbor area.
Olympia is the capital of the state of Washington.
It’s a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, including historic architecture, museums, galleries, and more.
While in Olympia, you should visit the Washington State Capitol Campus. This area features the state capitol building, the governor’s mansion, and a variety of historic monuments and public art installations.
You can take a guided tour of the capitol building and learn about the history of the state and the workings of the government.
8. Vashon Island
Vashon Island is a beautiful, rural island located in Puget Sound.
Filled with incredible scenery, a charming small-town atmosphere, and a thriving arts and culture scene, there’s plenty to do on Vashon Island.
You can enjoy the island’s many parks and beaches, including the Maury Island Marine Park. This beautiful park features rocky shores, tide pools, and majestic views of Mount Rainier.
Or you can explore the island’s small towns and villages, each with its own unique character and charm.
9. Wallace Falls State Park
Wallace Falls State Park is near the Cascade Mountains. The park is home to an incredible 265-foot waterfall, which is the main attraction.
The park offers a variety of hiking trails of varying difficulty levels, with the most popular route being the 5-mile roundtrip moderate hike to Wallace Falls via Woody Trail.
The trail takes you through the forest and offers stunning views of the waterfall at various points along the way.
After you see the falls, stay and enjoy fishing or camping.
10. Skagit Valley
Skagit Valley is a fertile valley located north of Seattle.
The top feature of Skagit Valley is the Tulip Festival, which takes place in the spring and celebrates the blooming of the area’s tulip fields.
The festival offers a variety of events, including tulip farm tours, art shows, and a street fair. You can also take scenic drives through the valley to view the vibrant colors of the tulip fields.
If you can’t come in the spring, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything for you to do here. Instead, spend time exploring the small towns that make up the area (like the one coming up next).
11. Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is a beautiful city offering many options to explore its vibrant history and surrounding beauty.
Visit the local farms and wineries to get a feel for small-town living. Or head to the downtown historic district to explore its shops or grab a bite to eat.
You can also take in some local history with the Skagit Valley Museum or take a self-guided walking tour of the city’s historic buildings and homes.
12. Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is the biggest island off the coast and makes for a wonderful day trip as there is so much to do.
Nature lovers will enjoy spending time on the island. You can explore Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve to see historic buildings, hike, and look for wildlife.
Or you can also hang out at one of the numerous beaches or rent a kayak or canoe to get out on the water.
We suggest you swing by Deception Pass State Park at the island’s northern tip. The park has plenty of activities, from hiking to boating to beachcombing.
Make sure to walk across the Deception Pass Bridge, which offers incredible views of the surrounding cliffs and forests. And if you are brave enough, look down the 180 feet to the water.
Poulsbo has an incredible Scandinavian heritage, picturesque waterfront, and small-town charm. The town was founded by Norwegian immigrants in the late 1800s and has been shaped by its Scandinavian roots ever since.
Also called “Little Norway,” the town is filled with Scandinavian stylings for you to feast your eyes on. And the streets are lined with charming, colorful buildings that will transport you to another country.
You can find all sorts of shops here, from antiques and books to handmade crafts and jewelry.
There are also plenty of options for dining, including traditional Scandinavian cuisine, seafood, and more.
Bellingham is a vibrant college town making it a popular destination for visitors and students alike.
During a visit, hitting up the historic downtown area is a must. It has unique shops, restaurants, cafes, several historic landmarks, and Victorian-style homes.
The city is also big into the arts, with several art galleries, theaters, and music venues, as well as a variety of annual festivals and events.
And if all that isn’t enough, the city and surrounding area are home to more than 20 craft breweries with a range of styles and flavors, from traditional IPAs and stouts to experimental sours and fruit beers. Our personal fave is sour beers.
Seattle Day Trips Under 2.5 Hours
The following locations are a bit further but are no less interesting. It would be best to devote an entire day to these locations.
15. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park covers over one million acres and is designated a UNESCO world heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve thanks to its diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife.
The park is home to several glaciers, alpine meadows, and old-growth forests for you to explore.
We found the Hoh Rainforest to be one of the most magical places in the park, with lush vegetation, mossy trees, and a network of hiking trails.
But if you prefer the beach, the park’s coastline stretches over 70 miles and is dotted with sea stacks and tidepools. Some of the most popular beaches include Rialto Beach and Ruby Beach.
Here are some things to do in Olympic National Park.
16. Port Angeles
Situated along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Port Angeles is home to the historic waterfront district, museums, and award-winning restaurants serving fresh seafood and local specialties.
Spend some time in the downtown area. It is full of cute shops to keep you occupied.
Or check out the historic landmarks, including the Elwha Dam Removal Site, which was the largest dam removal project in US history.
The city is also conveniently located to Olympic National Park, making it the perfect place to stay if you want to spend time inside the park.
17. Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park encompasses more than 200,000 acres and is centered around the iconic Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the state at 14,411 feet tall.
The park contains a wide range of ecosystems, including forests and dramatic glacial-carved peaks.
You can explore over 260 miles of hiking trails, which range from easy nature walks to strenuous climbs up the mountain.
Mount Rainier itself is the main draw for most individuals. The large active volcano is covered in snow and ice year-round and is surrounded by remarkable scenery.
In the spring, the park explodes with wildflowers.
Vancouver is situated in the southwestern region of Washington and is part of the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan area.
While in the city, you can explore the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a major fur trade center in the early 19th century. The site includes a reconstructed fort and several historic buildings.
Spend time visiting the beautiful parks in the area, including Vancouver Lake. Or stroll along the waterfront that runs with the Columbia River.
The nearby vicinity offers plenty of hiking trails and wildlife-watching opportunities thanks to its close proximity to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and the Columbia River Gorge.
Sequim is a small city on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula. Known for its sunny weather and gorgeous landscapes, the city has incredible views of the Olympic Mountains, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and nearby Dungeness Spit.
Dungeness Spit is a 5.5-mile-long strip of sandy land extending into the strait.
You can hike along the spit and explore the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home to various bird species and marine life. The area is popular for photography, swimming, and walking.
The city is famous for its lavender fields, which bloom in summer.
You can explore the many lavender farms in the area, which offer tours, lavender-infused gifts of all kinds, and even hand-picked bouquets for you to take home.
20. North Cascades National Park
At opposite ends from one another, the Grand Canyon is the 4th most visited national park, and down near the bottom, we have North Cascades National Park as the 4th LEAST visited.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time just because it isn’t as popular as other parks in the US.
North Cascades National Park comprises some of Washington’s most rugged and wild terrain, filled with mountains, waterfalls, and meadows.
Visitors to this incredible park can enjoy spectacular views, including unparalleled mountain scenery. The park has several peaks over 8,000 feet, including Mount Skuksan, one of the most photographed mountains in the park.
The park has over 400 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. And if hiking isn’t your cup of tea, there is a scenic road that runs through the park for you to enjoy.
21. Port Townsend
Port Townsend is a charming Victorian seaport town on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
This picturesque destination is best known for its more than 100 Victorian-era buildings that date back to the late 1800s.
Stop by Fort Worden Historical State Park during your visit to the city.
The park holds a military installation used from the late 1800s until the mid-1900s. It contains several historic buildings, including a lighthouse.
Similar to how Poulsbo is Scandinavian-inspired, Leavenworth is Bavarian-inspired.
Known as “Little Bavaria,” the city holds Bavarian-style architecture, which was implemented in the 1960s as part of a revitalization effort.
You will find buildings with peaked roofs, flower boxes, and murals, which create a charming and authentic Bavarian atmosphere.
The town celebrates its German heritage throughout the year with various festivals and events. Oktoberfest is a huge celebration and is considered one of the largest outside of Germany.
Best Day Trips From Seattle Under 3.5 Hours
Our final section of best day trips from Seattle includes places under a 3.5-hour drive. For some, this might be too long of a day as 7 hours in the car plus time at the activity can turn into a 12+ hour day.
We don’t mind long days like this when traveling as there is always limited time to see an area, but you can certainly turn them into a great overnight if you would rather.
23. Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
Established in 1982 to protect the area affected by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, this monument includes rivers, streams, and forests that were heavily damaged by the eruption.
The main focal point is, of course, Mount St Helens itself.
During a visit, you can explore the trails in the area, which have phenomenal views of the volcano and the surrounding landscape.
One of the most popular trails is the Harry’s Ridge Trail.
At the monument, you will also have many opportunities to learn about the geological forces at play that caused it to erupt and how nature is beginning to recover from the devastating consequences.
24. Long Beach
Long Beach is situated on the Long Beach Peninsula, a narrow land strip separating the Pacific Ocean from Willapa Bay.
It is famous for its, you guessed it, LONG beach. It stretches over 28 miles and is perfect for walking, swimming, and other water activities.
Because it is a tourist hotspot, the town has plenty of restaurants, shops, and even an amusement park and boardwalk to keep you busy.
We suggest stopping by the World Kite Museum, which features exhibits and displays about the history of kite flying and its cultural significance worldwide.
You can also participate in kite-flying demonstrations and workshops or watch the colorful kites fly high above the beach.
25. San Juan Island
San Juan Island is one of the largest islands in the San Juan archipelago in Puget Sound.
People flock to this island for nature and the chance to spot whales.
The island is home to a large population of orcas and is one of the best places in the world to see them in the wild. You can view them from various viewpoints on the island or book a boat tour to see them up close from the water.
In addition to orcas, you may also spot humpback whales, minke whales, and other marine mammals.
While on the island, enjoy the hiking trails, which offer incredible views of the island’s forests, beaches, and coastline.
26. Yakima Valley
The Yakima Valley is home to wineries and vineyards, making it a popular spot for wine connoisseurs.
The region has over 90 wineries, producing various types, including chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. You can participate in wine tastings, vineyard tours, and other wine-related activities, as well as enjoy the beautiful views of the valley.
Besides vineyards, agriculture and farming are also prominent in the valley.
The region produces a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, cherries, and hops for beer. You can explore the local farms and orchards and even pick your own produce during harvest.
27. Orcas Island
Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands and has beautiful natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and adorable small towns.
On a visit, we recommend stopping by Moran State Park. The park has plenty of hiking opportunities as well as forests and lakes for you to explore. Enjoy the island’s stunning scenery while fishing, boating, or doing other outdoor activities.
Keep an eye out for wildlife while on the island. You can often spot bald eagles, deer, and other animals in the forests and fields. And, like San Juan Island, you have a high probability of seeing orcas in the coastal waters.
Conclusion – 27 Best Day Trips From Seattle
Seattle is an incredible city with plenty of attractions, but sometimes it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Whether you’re interested in hiking in the mountains, exploring charming small towns, or sampling world-class wine, there’s something for everyone within easy reach of Seattle.
From the rugged beauty of Mount Rainier to the quaint streets of Port Townsend, the region’s diverse destinations offer a chance to experience Washington’s culture and picturesque landscapes.
So, if you have a free day, definitely hop in the car and take one of the best day trips from Seattle. We know it will be an experience you won’t soon forget!
Guest Post by Jenny & John of Traveling In Focus