9 Iconic Seattle Day Trips

These locales are farther afield, but you’re not an official mossback until you’ve visited them all

By Hilary Meyerson June 6, 2019


This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the June 2019 issue, as part of the 150 Must-Do Summer Experiences cover story. Click here to subscribe.

> Mount Rainier. When the mountain is out, head toward it. You could just set out for the visitor center at Sunrise or Paradise, but the best way to truly experience the park is from a trail. We like the 7.5-mile (round-trip) Tolmie Peak Lookout trek for the wildflowers and the views. For a longer hike, try the Summerland Trail (10.4 miles round-trip), where you might meet some backpackers who scored permits for the Wonderland Trail, the picturesque 93-mile loop that wraps around the mountain’s summit. visitrainier.com (Both hikes can be accessed from the Carbon River entrance.)

> The Skagit Valley. Start your day in La Conner, known in the spring as tulip central. After brunch at Calico Cupboard, hit one of the area’s many antique shops. Birding fans will enjoy a nature walk at the Skagit Wildlife Area. Head a little farther north toward Chuckanut Drive for gorgeous views of Puget Sound and easy access to the small town of Edison and its artisan bakery, Breadfarm. calicocupboardcafe.com, wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit, breadfarm.com

> Woodinville. Drive, or bike the Sammamish River Trail, to taste wine at one of the area’s more than 130 tasting rooms. When evening falls, cabaret dinner theater Teatro ZinZanni is ready to entertain, and on select summer nights, you can settle onto the lawn at Chateau Ste. Michelle for a concert. Stay the night at sumptuous Willows Lodge and enjoy dinner at The Barking Frog (or at The Herbfarm, if you made reservations months in advance). zinzanni.com, ste-michelle.com, willowslodge.com, theherbfarm.com

Picturesque Snoqualmie Falls 

> Snoqualmie Falls is required viewing for Seattleites, and it’s even better when paired with the famous country breakfast at Salish Lodge. Hit nearby North Bend for a 4.7-mile hike up and down Little Si, followed by cherry pie and coffee at Twede’s Cafe (better known as the Double R Diner frequented by Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks), or soft serve at Scott’s Dairy Freeze. For a “berry” fun time, drive farther on to Carnation to pick your own at Remlinger Farms. salishlodge.com, wta.org, twedescafe.com, remlingerfarms.com

> Tacoma offers many delights, but if it’s your first foray to the city, we suggest a culture-themed itinerary. Check out the current exhibit at the world-class Tacoma Art Museum, then bone up on state history among the carefully curated exhibitions at the Washington State History Museum. Dale Chihuly’s brainchild, the nearby Museum of Glass, does a terrific job of telling the story of the region’s love affair with glass art. tacomaartmuseum.org, washingtonhistory.org, museumofglass.org

> The San Juan Islands. If you can only visit one island, go for Orcas—Oprah, who recently bought a house here, can’t be wrong! Hike up Mount Constitution for a bird’s-eye view of the island chain and plan to have dinner at Hogstone for wood-fired delicacies. Can’t get a ferry reservation? Splurge for a flight with Kenmore Air and leave right from Lake Union. You can fly directly to the dock at Rosario Resort & Spa for a classic San Juan stay. wsdot.wa.gov/ferries, hogstone.com, kenmoreair.com, rosarioresort.com

> Whidbey Island. It’s a short ferry ride away (via the Mukilteo-to-Clinton ferry) and gets you on island time in no time. Soak up the arts at numerous galleries on the Langley Art Walk on the first Saturday of the month, then swing by nearby Prima Bistro in town for some mussels at the bar. Drive to the far end of the island for sweeping views of Deception Pass from its eponymous state park, the most popular in the system. visitlangley.com/lp/art-walks, primabistro.com, parks.state.wa.us/497/Deception-Pass

> Victoria, British Columbia. It’s like Europe, but closer. For the classic trip, take the Victoria Clipper from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, enjoy high tea at the Fairmont Empress and take in the flora at the famous Butchart Gardens. clippervacations.com, fairmont.com/empress-victoria, butchartgardens.com

The Olympic Peninsula’s Ruby Beach

> The Olympic Peninsula. It’s the underrated gem of the Northwest, and while you can do it in a day, it’s worth at least two. Book a night at the Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent lodge to use as a jumping-off point to adventure. Drive up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, soak in the mineral goodness at Sol Duc Hot Springs and don’t miss the photo ops at Ruby Beach. olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/lake-quinault-lodge, olympicnationalparks.com/lodging/lake-crescent-lodge, nps.gov/olym 

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