5 easy must-do weekend trips from Seattle

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Exciting weekend getaways from Seattle

Seattle, located in Washington state on the western coast of the United States, is a city that embraces the outdoors. Even from downtown Seattle itself, it’s impossible to miss the towering mountains and dense forests that surround the city, not to mention the Pacific Ocean that forms the western edge of town. And the options for weekend getaways from Seattle are almost limitless.

Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Seattle, and you’ll have your pick of spectacular weekend getaways. Traveling light will make it much easier to enjoy all the activities you can engage in around this beautiful region, and the best weekend getaways from Seattle will give you an unforgettable adventure on the West Coast.

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Weekend trip from Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls

One of the indisputably best things about living in Seattle, as well as one of the best reasons to visit, is the unrivaled access you’ll have to the outdoors. If you’re pressed for time, this quick trip to a natural wonder can make you feel like you’re much further from the bustling city than you really are.

Distance from Seattle

It’s less than 30 miles from downtown Seattle to Snoqualmie Falls, so you can get there in around 30 minutes by car. Unusually for a weekend getaway from Seattle, you can even reach the falls on public transit, though it will take about an hour and a half and require you to change buses.

Our activity recommendations

See the falls: Obviously, the main reason people come to Snoqualmie Falls is to see the waterfall itself. This 268-foot cascade is visited by well over a million people every year, and it makes a spectacular location for photos, especially in the spring when the water is at its most powerful. It’s also a popular spot for wedding and engagement photos, just as it is with nature photographers. Fans of the iconic cult TV show Twin Peaks may recognize the waterfall for its appearance in the show.

Take a hike: The waterfall itself is surrounded by a two-acre park that’s packed with hiking trails. The short trail from the parking lot will take you directly to the top of the falls for a vertiginous view, but you can also take the 0.7-mile River Trail with a descent of 374 feet to see the 1910 Powerhouse and admire the waterfall from the bottom.

Dine at the Salish Lodge: Owned and operated by the Snoqualmie tribe, the Salish Lodge is a luxury hotel and spa that overlooks the falls. The ideal place for a romantic weekend getaway, it’s also a good place to grab a meal with a view, even on a day trip from the city. The restaurant combines traditional Native American foods and local produce with international cooking techniques to create something truly unique, and the beautifully presented food looks almost as good as it tastes.

Best season to visit

If you want to see the falls at their roaring best, the spring season is the best time. However, summer and fall are usually mild in this part of the world, and they are also great times to explore this natural wonder without the heat of summer.

Olympic National Park in Washington

Olympic National Park

Seattle is absolutely surrounded by national parks that make exceptional destinations for weekend getaways in Seattle. If you want to experience the true wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, it’s well worth making the trip to the stunning Olympic National Park, where you’ll feel a world away from the city you just left. This sprawling park covers nearly one million acres and encompasses four separate climatic zones, providing an astonishing array of things to see and do just outside the city.

Distance from Seattle

Olympic National Park is just to the west of Seattle, but because of the ocean inlet that lies between the two, you’ll need to take the long way around. It’s just over a hundred-mile drive to the park, so it takes about two hours to get there by car.

Our activity recommendations

Hiking: As you might expect, Olympic National Park is a hiker’s paradise. There are miles upon miles of trails in the park, so you can explore the untamed alpine wilderness, marvel at the vibrant ecology of the temperate rainforest, or stroll along endless beaches where you’ll hardly meet another person. To make the most of your weekend getaway, you can also camp in the park and spend several days exploring everything it has to offer.

Skiing: In the winter, Hurricane Ridge is the place to go skiing in Olympic National Park. This not-for-profit ski area is surprisingly affordable compared to most Washington ski resorts, and they offer equipment rentals and introductory lessons for those just getting started. More experienced skiers can take advantage of the almost endless cross-country skiing trails that wind through the park.

Rafting: In the spring and summer, you can get your heart racing by rafting on the Ho and Elwha Rivers in Olympic National Park. These beautiful rivers provide calm stretches combined with rapids to get your heart pounding, especially during the spring melt season. Knowledgeable guides will keep you safe while you take advantage of this adrenaline-inducing activity.

Best season to visit

Olympic National Park really is a year-round destination, so the best time to visit will depend on how you want to spend your weekend getaway there. If you’re a winter sports fan or just want to see the park at its least crowded, winter is the time to go, especially since Seattle winters tend to be rainy at lower elevations and not especially cold. However, if you want to go rafting and hiking in the warm weather, summer might be a better option.

Weekend getaway from Seattle to Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is hard to avoid. Not only is the likeness of this iconic mountain plastered over advertising and souvenirs just about everywhere in the city, but you can also see this mighty volcano looming over Seattle on a clear day. Seeing the stark beauty of Washington’s tallest mountain from the city can make it almost impossible not to want to take a weekend trip to see this occasionally active volcano for yourself. That’s what makes Mount Rainier National Park one of the most popular weekend getaways from Seattle for locals and tourists alike.

Distance from Seattle

Mount Rainier is a large park, so the distance from the city will depend on where you enter. However, it’s about 85 miles from Seattle, so expect to drive around an hour and a half to two hours.

Our activity recommendations

Hike the Skyline Trail: This popular hiking trail begins in Paradise - literally. From this beautiful and aptly named town, the trail climbs an astonishing 1900 feet over its six-mile length, giving you absolutely phenomenal views of the mountain and Mount Rainier National Park as a whole. If you’re up for a strenuous hike, this is one of the best hiking trails in all of Washington, not least for the sense of achievement you’ll get from having conquered it.

Take a scenic drive: If you want to enjoy exceptional views but would rather take it easy while you do it, Mount Rainier National Park has some truly incredible scenic drives to enjoy. The Chinook Scenic Byway will take you over the Chinook pass at 5,430 feet and give you incredible views of lakes, mountains, and the endless forests Mount Rainier National Park is known for.

Eat at Washington’s highest restaurant: The Summit House Restaurant has an outdoor patio with views that are absolutely unrivaled and getting there is half the adventure. You’ll need to take a gondola up the hill to reach this iconic dining establishment, but dining with views of the snow-capped volcano is an experience not to be missed while in Mount Rainier National Park.

Best season to visit

Spring and summer are the most popular times to visit the park, though if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, winter might be your preferred choice. Whenever you choose to visit, you’re guaranteed an incredible weekend getaway here.

North Cascades National Park from Seattle

North Cascades National Park

Another of the astonishingly beautiful national parks that make ideal weekend getaways in Seattle, North Cascades National Park is a place of alpine peaks, crystal clear lakes, and rushing rivers that often feels like something out of a fairytale.

Distance from Seattle

Just over a hundred miles north of the city, you can expect to reach the park in around two hours of driving from Seattle.

Our activity recommendations

See Diablo Lake: One of the most popular viewpoints in North Cascades National Park overlooks the almost surreal turquoise waters of Diablo Lake. Created by glacial runoff, the startling color of the waters has to be seen to be believed, and this lookout makes it easy to enjoy one of the park’s most beautiful locations.

Go boating: Sometimes, the lure of the beautiful though frigid waters of the park is just too much to resist. If you want to get out on the water here, there are plenty of options. On Ross Lake, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and even motorboats. There are no rentals on the more scenic Diablo Lake, but you could always rent a kayak in Seattle itself and bring it with you.

Fishing: Pick up a Washington fishing license before you visit the park, and you’ll be able to try your luck in the park’s fertile waters. Fish for trout or five species of salmon in the park and see if you can land a trophy on your weekend getaway.

Best season to visit

Like most of the national parks surrounding Seattle, the best time to visit North Cascades depends on how you want to spend your time. However, the warm months of summer are the most popular.

Weekend trips from Seattle to the San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands

Just a short ferry ride from Seattle, the archipelago known as the San Juan Islands is like a glimpse into a different era. Relaxation is the name of the game here, and you won’t find rowdy nightlife, traffic, or chain stores on these islands. San Juan Island is the gateway to this island chain and is a fascinating place to explore history, nature, and an atmosphere that feels a long way removed from the city.

Distance from Seattle

The only way to reach any of the San Juan islands is by boat. You’ll need to drive to Anacortes, then take the ferry to Friday Harbor. All in all, the journey will take around three hours, making this one of the longer weekend getaways from Seattle but also one of the most rewarding.

Our activity recommendations

Discover history: The San Juan Islands were first discovered by Spanish explorers, And it’s easy to contemplate how American and world history might have been different if this part of the country had stayed in Spanish hands. Later, San Juan Island was the site of a border dispute between the USA and Britain that led to the Pig War, a minor conflict in which the only casualty was a pig. San Juan is still home to opposing forts built by British and US forces that now make a National Historic Site.

Explore other islands: It’s easy to island hop between the San Juan Islands, and when you do, you’ll find that each island has its own unique and fascinating character. Allow yourself some time to soak up the atmosphere and explore the natural wonders on these beautiful islands.

Go whale watching: With a resident population of orcas and a huge annual migration of both humpback and gray whales, this may be one of the best places in all of America to go whale watching. In the summer season, you can even see these amazing creatures from the shore at times. But a better option is to head out on a boat tour where you’re almost guaranteed to encounter these giants of the deep.

Best season to visit

Summer is the best time to explore San Juan Island since it’s such an outdoor paradise, but it’s also when you’ll find the island at its busiest. A good alternative is to visit after the Labor Day weekend in early September when the weather is still good, but the tourist crowds are fewer.

Best weekend trips from Seattle


There are so many great weekend getaways from Seattle that it can almost be difficult to choose the best weekend trip for you. And if you only have three days in the city, for example, you may want to focus on maximizing your time in the Emerald City.

But with a little more time on your hands, consider taking a weekend trip or even a day trip from Seattle to see more of what the Pacific Northwest has to offer. There’s so much to see and do here that you certainly won’t regret it.

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